Saturday, May 19, 2018

Coorg, Karnataka

Recently we had a chance to travel to Coorg, a picturesque hill station in the Western Ghats of south western Karnataka. We did a road trip directly from Chennai via Bangalore and it took around 12 hours with all the breaks. The stay was fantastic in Hotel Coorg International with both breakfast and dinner buffets and a beautiful pool to chill out. The most fascinating place in Coorg is the Thalakaveri where the river Kaveri originates. One gets a fascinating panoramic view of the lush green Western ghats and the architectural temples nearby. Madikeri is the capital of the district and Raja’s seat park is a popular touristic spot. A pleasant spectacle of refreshing layers of greenery, chain of high and low rise mountains attired with mist.

Abbey falls is a scenic waterfall around 5kms from Madikeri which was a treat to watch. The best part of driving to Coorg is without the hairpin bends and you are still at around 1,170 m above the mean sea level. The food in this place is simply amazing: Kadumbuttu and pandi curry is a local dish of Coorg and the Sambhar, Dosas are simply mouth watery. The Tibetan Buddhist Golden temple on the foothills of Coorg in Kushalnagara is worth visiting and a huge Tibetan refugee settlement. Dubare is an elephant capturing and training camp on the bank of river Kaveri. Anish loved this place and we did elephant bathing here. All in all, a great place to hang out during summer and its worth to cover Mysore and Ooty nearby.

Sathish Kumar S

Yelagiri Hills

Recently we had a chance to travel to a small hill station in the Eastern Ghats, Yelagiri: around 1,110 m above the mean sea level. It’s not as developed as other hill stations like Ooty or Kodaikanal. It takes about 3 to 4 hours from Chennai and a nicely constructed road to the top from the foot hills. The rose gardens is worth visiting and the musical fountain show in the night was a treat to watch. The boat trip in lake Yelagiri is a must and there are lot of recreational activities near the lake for the kids. Definitely a place to be during the weekend in Summer.

Sathish Kumar S

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mini Runs and Triathlon

Recently I had a chance to take part in Triathlon in Kovalam beach, Chennai. 750 m Swimming in the sea, 20 km Cycling and 5 Km Running. I was very skeptical to take part in swimming since I never swam in the sea for a long stretch. I even decided to cancel the swimming and take part only in Duathlon i.e. Running and Cycling. The Organizers gave lot of confidence to take part in Swimming by saying there will be lot of life guards, kayaks, buoys in the sea. Got up early and went to the Kovalam beach in the morning at 5.30 AM and saw the tides were very low in the morning. My inner instinct said, I need to do swimming and complete the full stretch irrespective of the time it takes.

The first 100m were the difficult part since one has to swim against the tides. After crossing 100m I was asking for the help of life guard to follow me. Thanks to Ibrahim who followed me in Kayak with lot of patience and motivated me to complete the full stretch. I took enough breaks in between by touching the tip of the Kayak and did enough breathing to continue with the stretch. Thanks to Wild Warrior Racing club for conducting the first Triathlon in Chennai. Swimming is the toughest part and I completed the cycling and running with ease. 

Anish ran his maiden run of 1Km in Dawn to Dusk event in Anna University. He thoroughly enjoyed his run in the circular tracks for the cancer patients. Then he ran 5Km in Besant Nagar beach with his mom and dad, the first 3 Km was not at all a problem for him, the rest 2 Km was bit of a challenge for him. Then he ran 3Km for saving the turtles in Palavakkam beach. It was a good start and exposure for him w.r.t running and fun in the social events. The MEPZ 10Km run along with Kalai was a day to remember. It was so fun to run around the MEPZ campus which was a huge one. Then I did Half Marathon (21.1) Kms along with Kalai who did a great job on his maiden run. Anita and Anish did 3 Kms and gave us the company in the finishing lap.

Sathish Kumar S

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Kolli Hills, Eastern Ghats

Kolli hills is a small mountain range located in central Tamil Nadu in Namakkal district of India. The mountains rise to 1300 m in height, they are part of Eastern Ghats which runs parallel to the east coast of India. Kolli is site of pilgrimage for the famous Arapaleeswarar temple but also popular for the hikers and nature lovers. Akaya Gangai is the waterfall situated near the temple and it’s a great trekking experience to walk 1050 steps down to visit the falls. Another waterfalls is the Masi waterfalls which is easily accessible by foot. Anish enjoyed this place so much with waterfalls, boating and natural parks in nearby areas. What I liked with the Kolli hills is, it’s not touristic like other hill stations of Tamil Nadu. Lush green forest, the 70 hair pin bends to drive to the top, very less hotels, buildings and more vegetation/greenery makes it a perfect holiday spot for a weekend.

Sathish Kumar S

Mahabaleshwar, Grand Canyon of India

Mahabaleshwar is a small town in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is a hill station located in the Sahyadri mountain range with the elevation of 1,353 meters above the sea level and it used to be summer capital of Bombay province during the British Raj. Mahabaleshwar is definitely the Grand Canyon of India with deep gorges and beautiful view points of the Western Ghats. There are various viewpoints like Arthur Point, 3 Monkey point, Kate point, Needle hole point, Savitri point. The most stunning was the Kate’s point which gives the panoramic view of the Balakwadi dam and the river Krishna piercing through the mountain ranges. Its around 125 kms from Pune and easily accessible by road. Definitely one of the scenic touristic spots to watch out for in Maharashtra.

Sathish Kumar S

Taj Mahal, Agra

Recently we had a chance to visit Taj Mahal in Agra. We took Gatiman Express from Delhi to Agra and since it was winter time with dense fog, there was a delay in reaching Agra. Otherwise Gatiman express takes about 1hr 50 minutes to reach Agra from Delhi. Taj Mahal is one of the famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s favorite wife Mumtaz. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world and one of the world heritage sites in Agra. Agra is commonly identified as the ‘City of Taj’. The package had a buffet in the five star hotel and we thoroughly enjoyed the cuisine, ambience and the hospitality. It was too crowded on that day since it was a long weekend and it was a herculean task to get an entry to Taj. We had to skip Agra fort and we caught the train in the last minute to Delhi with the same Gatiman Express.

Sathish Kumar S

Historic Delhi, Capital of India

Recently we had a chance to visit Delhi, the capital city of India during Republic Day holidays. We covered the famous touristic spots like India Gate, Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Supreme Court, Lotus Temple, Qutub Minar, Iron pillar, Jama Masjid, Red Fort. I must say Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world with thick dense fog affecting the total visibility. Delhi, officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), is a city and a union territory of India. It is bordered by Haryana on three sides and by Uttar Pradesh to the east. The Delhi Metro forms the life line of the working population of Delhi and OLA/UBER is quite popular in this capital city. All in all, we had a great time in the capital city to see various historic places.


Sathish Kumar S

Maldives, Pearl in Indian Ocean

Recently we had a chance to visit Maldives, the Island nation in Indian Ocean during Christmas holidays. We took Sri Lankan Airlines from Chennai to Colombo and from Colombo to the capital city of Maldives, Male. The trip started with an adventure with my son’s passport not valid for six months, expiring in 4 months. The Sri Lankan Airlines officials refused to give the boarding pass for Anish and said he can’t travel to Maldives. It was a huge disappointment for Anish since he was excited about the trip in the last 10 days before the travel. We were waiting for around 30 minutes, bit puzzled what to do. Then the Sri Lankan officials checked with Maldives immigration authorities and informed us saying Anish can travel if accompanied by parents at their own risk. 

Anish came back to the spirits and he was very much excited to board the flight to Maldives finally. Male is the capital city and most populated city, traditionally called the ‘King’s Island’ for its central location. Independence Square, the mosque in Hulhumale, Parliament House are some of the attractions in Male. We went for a snorkeling and it gives a great view of the coral reefs, fishes underneath the water. Then we went to a local island which gave the glimpse of the life style of the Island nation. The Sand Bank Island is a small island somewhere in nowhere in the midst of Indian Ocean. It was fascinating to see the water all around in pristine green color and a very small portion of the land mass where stayed for a while.

The most fascinating experience in the Island nation was Scuba Diving. Wearing tight fish like dress, carrying a cylinder, wearing the masks and jumping in the middle of the ocean. For the first 10 minutes, I couldn’t survive inside the water, with heavy pain in the ears, couldn’t breathe properly. But the instructor guided well to release the pressure by pressing the nose, ears, shaking the head and after that I started to enjoy the stay inside the ocean. Honestly, the depth, the flora and fauna, the colorful fishes inside the ocean was simply breathtaking. Its indeed one of the tremendous adventure to try out for one time.

Anish thoroughly enjoyed the pristine beaches and we did lot of water sports. The kayaking, jet speed boat, banana boat, building sand castles along the shores of the beach were truly rewarding experience in the island nation. What fascinates about the beaches in Maldives are the Green color, shallow ones to try various water sports, low tides and the warm temperature to do swimming/bath any time. The economy of the island nation is mainly tourism and fishing. Most of the people were speaking fluent English. All in all, a perfect touristic country to visit during December and January when it’s damn cold in Europe/USA. 

Sathish Kumar S

Thursday, December 07, 2017

2017 - Run Run Run !!

2017 has been a year with various runs spread across different months. Recently we had a chance to run The Wipro Chennai Half Marathon of about 21.1 Kms in 3 hours and 13 minutes. Running 10 km is an easy task but 21.1. Kms definitely needs lot of practice, endurance and fitness in the body. After running 10 Kms, there is lot of dehydration in the body and one has to take lot of water, salt, bananas, energy drink. Good thing about these runs are one has a good eye on the food habits, regular practice sessions during the week and the satisfaction one gets after crossing the finish line. This has been my second half marathon and full marathon is a distant dream for now. Running is indeed a great sport for IT professionals who rarely move their body anytime in their work.

2017 Running:
1. Wipro Chennai Marathon (Postponed from Dec 2016 to Jan 2017) – January 
2. Tamil Nadu Marathon – June
3. Dream Runners Half Marathon – July
4. Give a Brick Run – August
5. Terry Fox Run – September
6. Chennai 10k Challenge – September
7. Alertathon – October
8. Wipro Chennai Half Marathon – December
Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up – Dean Karnazes

Sathish Kumar S

Sachsen, Germany

Recently I had a chance to meet one of my best German friends Angela and Torsten in their hometown in Chemnitz, Germany. It was so nice that they also planned their vacation exactly the same time and we explored the different places in Sachsen for a week. I landed in Frankfurt from Dubai and took the train to reach Leipzig and they picked me from Leipzig. We had a chance to visit Leipzig Panometer. It is visual panorama displayed inside a former gasometer, accompanied by a thematic exhibition. Next day we went for a short walk to Totenstein with in Chemnitz. It was autumn time and it was so colorful to see the leaves in the tree and at the top of Totenstein tower gives a panoramic view of the city of Chemnitz. 

Then we went for a wonderful trekking to Saechsiches Schweiz which is a hilly climbing area and national park around the Elbe valley south east of Dresden in Sachsen. The Bastei is a famous point in Saechsiches Schweiz and we went to Stammstein which is a pretty decent trek to the top. One gets a panoramic view of the city of Dresden from the top and the beautiful landscapes along with the Elbe River. We went to Dresden for a day and went to the top of Frauen Kirche. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the border with the Czech Republic. It is indeed the cultural, educational and political centre of Germany and Europe with really artistic buildings and architecture. 

We had a chance to visit Freiberg which is a University and mining town in Sachsen. The Freiberg City and Mining Museum is one of the oldest publicly erected museums in Saxony. Then we had a great feast of buffet with Noetzold family in Greek restaurant hosted by his daughter. Last but not the least, Torsten and I went for a swimming in a very big Swimming Hall in Chemnitz. Thanks to Torsten who suggested a sports shoe in Chemnitz which helped me to complete the half marathon without much pain. 

Torsten and Angela has always been a great friends for us for a long time now. We made it a practice to visit them in Chemnitz once in summer and once in winter when I was in Germany and they visited us in USA. It’s always very nostalgic to catch up with nice friends and well-wishers after a long time in their backyard. Thanks to Angela and Torsten for a wonderful holidays in Sachsen, Germany for a week which will reside in my memory forever.

Ich liebe Deutschland!
Sathish Kumar S

Dubai, UAE

Recently I had a chance to meet my school friend Damo in Dubai. Infact this is the third time I am visiting Dubai on my transits to Europe. Always a place to be during the transits and especially in November, December, January, February when it’s not too hot and mild temperatures to hang out. We went to Dubai Mall, the famous mall in the heart of the city and to Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world. Since I already went to the top, this time we just stayed near it and watched the spectacular colorful waterfall show next to it. All in all, wonderful times spent with Damo, his son and daughter and thanks for showing a great hospitality. A trip to remember and will stay in my memory for long time.

Sathish Kumar S

Temple Tour in Thanjavur District

Recently I had a chance to visit lot of temples in Thanjavur district. Thanks to Periappa and Lal Aunty who accompanied me in this temple tour. Really amazed with the huge artistic temples spread across various places in Thanjavur district which clearly shows the rich cultural heritage tamil culture had before some centuries. The tip of the iceberg is always the Brahadeeshwarar temple known as Thanjai Periya Kovil named as UNESCO site heritage. Below are the list of temples which we covered in 3 days in Cauvery Delta District

1. Anjaneyar Temple, Pachavadi
2. Natarajar Temple, Chidambaram
3. Vaitheesvaran Kovil, Sirkazhi
4. Thirukadaiyur
5. Thirunallar
6. Thirupampuram
7. Uppuliappan
8. Thirunageswaram
9. Swamimalai
10. Thiruvalanchuli
11. Kumbeswarar
12. Chakrapani
13. Thirukarugavur
14. Brahadeeswarar Temple
15. Punnai Nallur Mariamman
16. Mailam
17. Adi Parasakthi

Service to Mankind is service to God!
Sathish Kumar S

Friday, September 15, 2017

Thiru Kazhu Kundram - Temple Town

Recently I had a chance to visit Thiru Kazhu Kundram, serene scenic city near Mahabalipuram with my Aunt known for its temples. The steps were very steep to climb up to the top and my aunt did a great job in climbing those steps to visit the temple. One gets a panoramic view of the city of Thiru Kazhu Kundram from the hill stop and it was simply breathtaking on a sunny day. Before a decade, two eagles come exactly during the lunch time and the prasadam from the deity is presented to these eagles. On the foot hills, one gets a chance to see Thirupura Sundari temple which is really vast and huge. Definitely a place to visit on a weekend.

Sathish Kumar S