A December 2005 trip
to Bangalore by am331
Quote: We traveled to Bangalore, India, for my mother's medical school "Golden Jubilee Celebration" (she attended Bangalore Medical College). We also took the opportunity to explore interesting parts of South India, including Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Approximately 100km east of Erunakalam/Kochi, this is a lovely hill station town, nestled in the southern reaches of the western ghats. High in the mountains, it makes a great getaway location.
It is most easily accessible by Jeep/SUV. The mountain roads are narrow and winding, so taking a bus is not advisable, and taking riksha is absolutely dangerous! Once there, resorts and hotels are numerous, and they span all price ranges. Club Mahindra is a top of the line, five-star resort. Cost for one bedroom with a queen bed and pull-out sofa bed is Rs. 5000 per night. This place was very family-friendly—they had a game room with table tennis, caram, billiards, and other activities. Nightly family events included, bingo and bonfires. Their food is of average quality, and pricey, about Rs. 200 for each dinner/lunch dish. Standard Indian vegetarian and non-vegetarian is available. A meal plan is available as well, most people opt for buffet (on the meal plan). The rooms, however, are equipped with full kitchens and there is a small, quaint grocery store with supplies located nearby.
**Note: you must be a member and pay annual dues to stay there.** A tour of the Kolukumalai Tea Factory is a must!! Only accessible by jeep, which must be hired the day of the trip (or one day prior). You can sign up for the tour at your hotel/resort (pay per person), but there are private jeep drivers who wait outside the hotels every morning, and their rates are a fraction of what the hotels charge for their tour. The hotel also offers numerous other full-day and half-day trips.
**Note: The ride up the mountain is very steep and bumpy, not advisable for the elderly, or anyone with a bad back!**
The tea factory is at 8,500 feet above sea level. Informal tours of the actual tea factory are provided, where you can see the process of cutting the tea leaves off the plant, bringing them into the factory, sifting them through machines, crushing them, packaging them, etc. Green, Darjeeling, and many other varieties are available. The factory still operates in the same way as it did when it was first established by the British in the 1800s.
**Late afternoon tours are not advisable because it will be dark during the return trip down the mountain, the jeep driver may not be able to see very well.**All in all, a very lovely mountain hill station stop.
This town is located on the west coast, approximately 100km south and west of Thekkady. Its main attraction is taking a houseboat along the Kerala backwaters. Just like Thekkady, it is very popular among European tourists. The boarding time is in the morning, at about 10 or 11am, and the boat leaves the dock and drifts down the serene backwaters, with fascinating views of surrounding villages. Communities here live on narrow strips of marsh land, surrounded on all sides by water.
There are many great photo opportunities! The boat stops for lunch (provided on the boat), tea/coffee, and a snack, are provided as well. The boat docks at around 8pm, followed by dinner (again, on the boat). All meals provide the choice of Indian or Western food. When the boat leaves the next morning, breakfast is provided, and returns to the dock at 10am. The meals are excellent, Indian cuisine is recommended (fresh and tasty vegetable preparations, shallow fried fish, idli sambar, etc.). Western breakfast option is usually an egg omelet. Downsides: Lots of mosquito's, so don’t forget to put the net around your bed before you sleep, or you will get eaten alive! Also, there are some cockroaches on the boat and they climb up the walls. But, overall, the boats are very clean. Prices range depending on air-conditioning or no air-conditioning. From November-March, air-conditioning is not necessary. A two-bedroom boat (queen bed in each room,) is approximately Rs. 10,000 for the one day excursion, about Rs. 30,000 and if you want air conditioning.
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