A visit to St. Thomas Mount!

 

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Well, don’t let the ‘mount’ in the name throw you off. St. Thomas Mount is actually a tiny little hillock at the heart of Chennai, overlooking the airport on one side. There’s a suburban train station with the same name, but I wonder how many locals have actually tried to explore this quaint place!

Being the sunset freak that I am, my primary motivation to visit this place had been to capture decent sunset shots over the landscape. Well that and the fact that I do really admire churches and the kind of tranquility that prevails around them. With that in mind, I wouldn’t suggest anybody to visit this on a Sunday evening unless you don’t mind the prayers and hymns blasting through the speakers wherever you go.

Getting here is easy enough, one could either drive all the way up. Or better, take the 135 steps to the top! Easy-peasy and you get to enjoy the scenery as well. The entry to the hill is open from 6 AM to 8 PM, so if you can make it I would heartily suggest making the trip either early in the morning or just when the Sun is setting.

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To give you a little history of the place, St. Thomas Mount is deemed to be a holy ground as this is where St. Thomas, one of the apostles, was martyred. They have some rare relics on display including a finger bone of the Saint himself. While the church itself is very unassuming, it is charming nevertheless and has some nice artwork. There’s a side chapel which has the Last Supper in bas-relief which I thought was pretty cool! I suppose the actual mass is undertaken outside in the pavilion as the church is indeed very small.

This place is something I would definitely suggest everybody to visit for a change of perspective. Chennai looks amazing from a height, and the vast plains of the airport runway to one side just sweeten the deal. The cherry on the cake is of course getting to catch the Sun like this. It’s like the sky is playing with a paint can, splashing these gorgeous swirls all around.

WPC: Oops…!

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Yea, you’d think I should have been able to notice those damn fingers while clicking but call it a slight-of-the-sun, I only realized how I ruined a perfect shot when I got home and saw those big Yeti fingertips staring at me from the computer screen.

I can’t even crop this one as it would just disturb the equilibrium. I had it perfectly framed, and got zilch.

Oh well.

Location: Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad. 


 

For WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops

WPC: Nothing more Ornate than the Taj!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate.”

The Taj Mahal is an amazing sight from a distance, but dig deeper and you’ll find that the beauty also stretches to every nook and cranny.

There is just so much intricacy in the design and layout that I was left utterly dazed after the visit.

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Colored stones in-laid into marble.
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More of the floral design. And then the grill cut-out of marble!
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Atop the cupola
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Since I cannot resist a good Sunset shot. 🙂

I took Taj Mahal out of symmetry in the last one but it still works!

WPC: Happy Place

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Happy Place.”

I have a lot of Happy Places. You people already know that beaches are one. I can also actually be stuck in my house, with a book or a spatula or a game controller in my hand and call it my happy place. Or the times I visit my family, when I don’t have to do anything other than eating and sleeping, that’s a happy place too! 🙂

And recently I have added one more to the list. Cabin in the woods. The ones without a secret basement, I mean.

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Isn’t it lovely? Surrounded by trees and birds, waking up to a soothing breeze every morning. Far away from all the noises and ruckus. This is a wonderful place to do some creative work like writing or painting or whatever.

Shot at my recent trip to Kemmangundi, Karnataka.

A Trip to Varkala – Part 2

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In the beginning there was the sea,
Then there was a coconut tree,
And then a glass was placed in front of it,
And I thought it was good.

So, in the Part 1 of my travelogue, I told you how I made the trip from the east coast of India to the west to visit a charming little sea-side town called Varkala. Relatively unknown by the general populace, it makes for a fantastic getaway nevertheless. Be it for just a weekend, or months together. Varkala is one place where you can find time slipping by without notice as you lazily amble through the day. And like I said, it is one place I wouldn’t mind moving to for good if I could.

It is also obvious why the average see-all-the-things tourist might give this place a miss, because “technically” speaking, Varkala just has a beach (with a cliff, though), a temple and a handful of restaurants that serve good food. Just as well, because Varkala is not a place you come to to see things. It’s where you come to relax and rejuvenate yourself. Basking in the glorious sunsets everyday on an ever changing beach, letting the whiff of fresh air from the sea sweep over you, and taking in the splendid beauty of the coconut trees lined up pretty much everywhere – it’s an assault to the senses in the most pristine form.

And that is what you do best in Varkala. Nothing.

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Varkalizing

WP_20150918_18_12_53_RichOkay I’m doing this over the pathetic app on my phone for the first time, so I’m not liable if this doesn’t turn out well! Just saying.

So I’m here in Varkala, you folks. And having one of the best holidays I’ve ever had! Everything’s so laid back and serene, man I never wanna return to the hustle and bustle of the city. Damn, I should be taking longer vacations than this!

I’m attaching a photo just to give you a taste of what I’m up against. 🙂

P.S I’m so sorry for not replying to any of your comments in the past couple of days! It’s so crappy to do that on my phone. Will remedy that ASAP!

What! I’ve only been to 2 out of Top 25 Indian beaches??

Well, it must be evident by now that I’m a Son of a Beach.

Hehe, really! I love beaches!

But you know what’s actually weird? My initial impressions of beaches were pretty colorless; I mean, I really thought – it’s just sea and waves and sand. You see it once, you’re done. What is so alluring about it that someone would want to return again and again? Oh how little did I know!

Up until then I’d always been going with a bunch of people, so the focus was more on the conversations outside. But then one particular morning I found myself alone on the beach, right at the time of sunrise. The weather was chilly, it had rained the previous night. And just sitting there by myself, soaking in nature’s beauty – I felt something shift in me. I was high, but not the kind of high you get when you’re wasted. It’s the kind of high one gets from listening to mind-blowing music, the kind of high you get when you’ve just finished a masterful book, or when you’ve written hundred lines of code and everything works the first time! (hasn’t happened yet, for the record)

And it that state, I saw my mind clear itself. None of the shitty stuff from the previous day competed for priority anymore. I was at will to choose whatever I want to paint the blank canvas with. It was then that I realized the beauty of a beach doesn’t just lie in how beautiful it is, but in what it does to your senses. And if you’re in the right place at the right time, how they give you ample opportunity to do some serious thinking. And come up with new ideas! Because hey, blank canvas! (If you have to know, much of the story of the book that is in planning stages now has taken shape on my trip to Mangalore earlier this year.)

And I haven’t stopped. Even today, there has to be a mandatory visit to the beach at least once a month. Or else, it feels like I’m slipping away from my sanity. Addicted? Maybe. I really need the “fix” as often as possible.

Anyway, just yesterday I was lazily browsing through TripAdvisor when my eyes lay upon their Travellers’ Choice awards for 2015. And me being me, pulled up the list of the Best Beaches in India. There were twenty five in all, and I realized that I’ve only been to two of them till now!!! That’s it.

  1. Dhanushkodi beach, Rameshwaram (A truly infinite beach, at the country’s farthest point. What’s amazing is that it’s a thin strip of land and you have Bay of Bengal on one side, the Indian Ocean on the other!)
  2. Kapu beach, Udupi (One of the cleanest and charming beaches I’ve been to. Rocks, mangroves, estuaries just complete the experience)

With the trip to Varkala (Kerala) coming up next weekend, I will cover four by the end of this year. But when am I ever gonna visit all the remaining ones! Well I guess the beaches in Andaman islands are pretty much out of bounds for now as that’s a long journey, something that I cannot afford at the moment but the rest of the ones should be pretty much doable. But what sucks is that most of them are on the west coast of the country while I’m on the east. All four states on the west – Kerala, Karnataka, Goa & Maharashtra have amazing beaches. Coming to the east, Tamil Nadu and Odisha are the only ones to feature with Andhra Pradesh taking a miss from the list. Quite understandable, I suppose.

As for the trip to Varkala, yes it’s happening next week! 🙂 I’m excited to be traveling again, and look forward to great times on this little sea-side town.  So expect a little non-activity on my blog until the 21st or so, as I’m gonna be busy planning and stuff! And I might also not carry my laptop with me this time around.

How many beaches have you been to? And which is your favourite? Let me know as I’d love to hear it.