October 21st, 2016 by Jeet

On Navami we decided to have prasad at Bengali Association Durga Puja, Ulsoor. This pandal is near to us and we thought we can spend some time there. To go there I booked an Ola cab. After booking I called the driver to make sure he is aware of the route. Then minutes later I see a cancellation notice. I was disappointed. I booked another Ola cab. I called the driver to check how much time he might take to reach. He said he is near Baiyappanahalli railway station and there is some traffic. It may take around half an hour’s time. He said if you can’t wait that much time you can cancel through the app. I said there will be charge for that and asked him to cancel. The driver said there will be a charge for him and that I need to cancel. I did not wanted to go over that anymore and simply cancelled the booking. The service graph of Ola has been going down continuously for quite some time.  Also, the drivers now innovatively playing around with the Ola system.


Then we started our endeavour to look for an auto. I say endeavour as it is not easy to hear an auto driver say yes to your destination quickly. We tried more than 10 autos then we were able to board one. At Rs 55 we reached RBANMS ground. After entering the ground we noticed there was a huge line for the lunch. As we stood in line, I was hearing a discussion about food coupon. One women asked a gentleman that if food coupon will be required. The gentleman replied yes and without that lunch won’t be served. The women was furious that the pandal is taking money to serve food (prasad). But I have seen they do not deny food or prasad to anyone even without coupon. One visitor was saying he do not have coupon and if coupon is required. The man at the gate just said no problem, please come. Inside they served khichdi, vegetables. dal, papad and payasam. The food was tasty.

After food we went to the section where goddess Durga idol was kept. We took few pictures and then sat there. Meanwhile one of our brother came. He fed us chicken and veg roll. The stall in which he ordered, the cost of one chicken roll was Rs 150. The shops besides had a cost of Rs 80. Promptly he cancelled and ordered the one with Rs 80. A chicken roll costing Rs 150 looks preposterous. A kilo of chicken would come in that amount! Then we went for little food walk around the stalls. A gulab jamun cost Rs 20! Was happy to see tea in mud cups. Lastly the walk was closed with a sweet pan in the mouth.


We sat in the ground and chit chatted. Looked around and enjoyed the festive atmosphere. Around 6 PM we went to the section where Bollywood singer Anwesha Dutta Gupta was to perform. We booked sit for our self. The program was supposed to start at 7.30 PM but it started well past 8 PM. She sang both Bengali and Hindi songs. She sang both old and new songs. When she sang Manna Dey’s Laga chunari mein daag, the performance of the tabla player (Shomu da) was awesome. He received all round applause. We left little before 10 PM before the show ended. Outside it was chock a block traffic. After reaching the main road I tried to hire autos who were quoting Rs 300 – 400 for around 3.5 KM. What can I say apart from God bless them! Then tried to book Ola cab but nothing available.  So took chance with auto on Ola. Was able to book one. Called and spoke to the driver who said he is on the side of Lavanya theatre. He said he will not be able to come as there was huge traffic. I asked if it is walkable and started walking towards Lavanya theatre. After a short walk, we boarded the auto. At Rs 80 we were home.

October 16th, 2016 by Jeet

Durga pujas which takes place in various parts of Bangalore are quite a distance apart. So on the day of Ashtami, we hired a car to see the pandals. An Etios sedan for 8 hours – 80 KM should not cost more than Rs 1000 but for the last moment booking I was ok with Rs 1200. Overall I am happy with that amount as the driver was good and well versed with the routes.

kundalahalli Durga Puja 2016

We started our tour around 4 PM and headed to Kundalahalli durga puja. In Kundalahalli, the puja takes place at VSR Convention Hall or Kalyana Mantapa on ITPL road.  I have been visiting this puja for few times now. It do not get that crowded but have decent amenities in place. The highlight of this pandal is the beautiful idol of goddess Durga.

Sarathi Trust Durga Puja koramangala

Then we headed to Koramangala. From 2015 I am noticing that two durga pujas taking place under the name Sarathi albeit in a little different name – Sarathi Socio Cultural Trust and Sarathi Cultural Association. The puja by Sarathi Socio Cultural Trust takes place at Mangala Kalyana Mantapa, 80 Feet road, Koramangala. For visitors apart from doing darshan of goddess Durga, this place is a foodies paradise. Good food outlets / restaurants setup their stalls here. Prices are little bit on the upper side but you will be happy with the food you get to eat here. You will also be happy to hear that free parking facility is available. After parking our car, first we went for darshan inside the Kalyana Mantapa. Then it was feast time. I noticed that Royal restaurant of Kolkata has opened a stall here. Other two members went for veg paneer roll (Rs 100) and I savoured non veg chicken roll (Rs 100). I also went for a chicken stick (Rs 100) which was very tasty. I would say this is one of the best Durga Puja in Bangalore and given that it takes place at a prime location like Koramangala, the pandel could be pretty crowded. They also organize good cultural / entertainment programs over the 4 / 5 days of puja. Upcoming bollywood singer Anwesha Dutta Gupta performed here this time.


Next we went to Sarathi Cultural Association puja. To reach there we had to walk little bit. This puja takes place on a ground besides Koramangala 80 Feet road park. The idol of goddess Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesh were very beautiful. There were not much food stalls and the cutlets we had were not that great. However, this pandal manages to get good artists to perform. This time they had Bhoomi, a Bengali band which specializes in folk songs. Earlier, I had never heard Bhoomi’s songs but one of our accomplice pointed to Bhoomi after seeing their lead singer Soumitra Roy who was doing sound check on stage. Bhoomi’s performance was very entertaining with songs like Lale Laleshwari, Sohag Chand etc. That day our plan was to cover Kundalahalli puja, Koramangala, Palace ground and Bengali Association grand puja in Ulsoor. To watch Bhoomi’s performance we cancelled visit to Palace ground. After Bhoomi’s performance there was a huge rush at the exit. I feel the organisers should anticipate such situations and should have plans in place to manage better.


Around 10 PM we left Koramangala to reach RBAMNs ground in Ulsoor for the Bengali Association Durga puja. As expected there was traffic on the road leading to the ground. So got down from the car and walked little bit to reach the pandal. There dhunuchi dance performance was going on. This is dance done with incense in front of goddess Durga. One of the boy did a awesome performance.  This is the biggest and best Durga puja in Bangalore. It is said to have around 15000 to 20,000 foot falls on the days of puja. There are huge arrays of food stalls. One can also find stalls for imitation jewellery, builders, amway etc. They provide lunch on the days of puja. One can buy coupon in this regard but I have not seen them telling no to people who do not have coupon. Also, it terms of entertainment they get the some of the best people to perform. This time they had Anwesha Dutta Gupta on Navami. Last year they had Cactus. We left the pandal around 11 Pm and reached our house by 11.30 PM. Been a very entertaining and satisfying day. Thank you Maa Durga.


At Sarathi Cultural Association Durga puja, Koramangala


RBAMNS ground, Bengali Association Durga puja, Ulsoor


Anwesha Dutta Gupta performing at Bengali Association Durga puja, Ulsoor

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September 26th, 2016 by Paramita Mukherjee

Eagle Roost

Who does not love colors??….and when it is the beautiful nature itself, we are bound to fall in love. Located at the junction of two rivers Mississippi and Illinois is the city Grafton. The oldest city in Jersey County, Illinois-Grafton is a must visit for the nature lover.Our group started from Saint Louis at around 8 am. It took almost 2 hours to reach there. Of course we halted in between at Alton to have breakfast. It was the first time I was about to see fall colors in USA. So no doubt I was very excited. The weather was perfect for driving and the road was super smooth. Till the time we reached Grafton I could not take my eyes from the beautiful road alongside Mississippi river with colorful flowering trees on both ends. The Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail which is a stretch of about 20 mile is a perfect place for biking with a perfect scenic view of river on one side. I could see lots of cyclists on the stretch. If you are a wine lover then this place is ideal for you. There were lot of winery shops and you can enjoy the art of preparing wine at the Grafton Winery & Brewhaus. We stopped at the Grafton Harbor which is an ideal place for boating experience. There were lot of boats which were available on rents. Also there were ample good restaurants to satisfy your hunger.

Grafton Road

It was the month of October and the weather was pretty chill. I was lucky to carry my jacket. So I would definitely suggest you guys to check the temperature for the day before starting your journey. After spending a quality time at the Grafton Harbor we headed for Pere Marquette State Park,which looks exceptionally colorful during the fall. The park has 10 about hiking trails and also provides horse riding. Once we reached there,the first thing I saw was a beautiful wooden house with colorful flowering trees in background. There was a beautiful water fountain in front of it. Until that moment i had seen such scenic beauty only in books. Of course i couldn’t resist myself from posing in front of camera. After spending a good amount of time here,we decided to have our lunch at the picnic spot. Lots of picnic areas are available through out the park. These areas are well equipped with tables,grills and trash containers. We were carrying our food from home. So without wasting any time we started our lunch. I couldn’t have asked myself for a better place to explore the fall. There were lot of camping opportunities provided by the park. There were also equestrian trails which is about 20 miles provided by the park with a parking area for visitors on Graham Hollow Road.

River Mississippi Grafton

After lunch we headed for “Eagle Roost Scenic Overlook”. The town is called “The Winter Home of The Bald Eagle”and i came to know that there are guided eagle watching tours from late December through mid-February. Of course I was not lucky to spot any eagle but definitely visiting during the right season would make you enjoy the guided eagle tours. After this we decided to go for a long drive around the park. The weather was pretty gloomy and it was an ideal driving place. Since we had just planned for a day, it was the time for us to start heading back to Saint Louis. Also if you love to do fishing,then this place is ideal for u. The town has lots of events such as Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair, Music in the Park, and Art in the Park,which makes this place a very popular tourist attraction. More then anything else I just couldn’t stop myself from admiring the mother nature. Its an ideal place to go for weekend vacation away from the noisy city and enjoy the scenic beauty.


Traveling information:

Place: Grafton

County: Jersey County

State: Illinois

Country: USA

Tourist attraction spots:

Grafton Harbor
Pere Marquette State Park
Grafton Zip line Adventures
The Sam Vadalabene Trail near the Brussels Free Ferry
Hiking Trails at Pere Marquette State Park
Best time to visit for fall color: Late september-Mid october
September 21st, 2016 by admin

Durga Puja our biggest celebration is becoming a even more quieter celebration for me. This year I came to know about the date after my mom told me about it. These days in Bangalore, a number of public Durga puja celebrations takes place. This first time I went to one of the venue was on Ashtami to pickup my mother from there at night. However, I did not go inside (not sure why). On Navami, in the afternoon went to the 12th main, Defense colony, Indiranagar Durga puja venue for pushpanjali. This time their preparations seemed to be better in terms of people management and systems. In quick time I was able to perform pushpanjali. Most puja pandels have foods stalls and outside this venue some Lumbini women selling their artifacts. I was there for sometime and came back home.

In the evening around 5 pm went to the RBMNS ground Durga puja venue near Ulsoor lake. This is probably the biggest puja in Bangalore and is conducted by the Bengali association. Inside the venue went to the pandel. After offering a prayer, tried clicking snaps. But as usual it is very tricky to click a good shot at an event in India. A photowalk was also organized by the BLR Photowalk team there. Met some of the photowalk members there. This venue almost resembled like a mela (fair) with food stalls, product stalls and various people selling artifacts. The organizers should be able to retrieve a good percentage of the money they spend on the puja from these stalls as rent.

Without doubt the food stalls are good and is a hit. One can find some authentic Bengali food here. To start with I tried chicken momo and chicken lollipop from a stall run by a Nepali/Tibetian. The man was very enthusiastic in calling customers and he was doing so in Bengali. However, his helpers were slow in delivering and exchanging money. Nevertheless, the food stuffs at his stall was tasty. Then went to try prawn lollipop. 6 pieces for Rs 150. Tummy was almost full. So went around walking and smelling around food stalls. Finally around 7.30 pm left the venue with reminiscences of Durga puja at my native where the four days of the puja used to be a feast. Not even a single moment to spare.

Father son duo at venue

Balloon seller at the venue

To view more pictures visit: Travelingbeats Photo Gallery

September 16th, 2016 by admin

Mayapur is located at the confluence of river Ganga (Hoogly locally known as Ganga) and Jalangi near Nabadwip in Indian state of West Bengal. It is the headquarters of ISKCON temples. Also, it is said to be the birthplace of sri Chaitanya mahaprabhu. Though some people debate it. To reach there one typically comes to Nabadwip which is around 130 KM from Kolkata. Here they typically do Mahaprabhu darshan and visit temple at Poramatala. From Nabadwip the shortest route to reach Mayapur is by a boat ride. Buy a ticket at the ghat entrance and then board the next available boat. The boat typically leaves after passenger fills. On the other side you can either walk a distance of around 1 km or take a rickshaw to reach ISKCON temple.


7 AM to 12.30 PM
4 PM to 8 PM

There is no entry fee to the temple. A lot of people visit here. During weekend and festivals, the crowd flow is even more. A board in the temple complex says no entry to the temple with camera, mobile, laptop, i-pod and other electronics goods, luggage. There is also a dress code as the temple forbids anyone entering the temple wearing half pant, bermuda, shorts, night dress, three quarter, lungi, unsocial dress ( not sure what is their definition of antisocial dress). Any form of intoxication is not allowed.

On one side of the temple there is field where one can see monks chanting hymns. There are shops side by where one can buy local stuffs. If you walk further than you can go to cowshed and the paddy field side. The complex has also lodging option for visitors. There is a separate quarter for monks or residents of the temple. One can also have prasad by paying a nominal fees.

The main temple requires one to climb some steps. This leads to a big hall with view of Radha Madhav, Krishna, Radha, Lalita and Vaishakhi. There is also idols of Pancha Tattva. There is also idol of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ( an incarnation of Lord Krishna). Typically during everyday evening, dance and song procession Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is taken out in the temple complex.

They are building another grand temple called the Temple of Vedic Planetarium. It is still under construction.

Temple of Vedic Planetarium,mayapur

This is how the temple would look once completed. Image provided by TOVP website.

September 13th, 2016 by admin

This was my first visit to Hyderabad and when the time for booking tickets came, we zeroed on train as my mom was also traveling with me. While looking for train found a Rajdhani is available between Bangalore and Delhi which goes via Secunderabad. This was my first travel on a Rajdhani train. Read the thrilling journey from our home to Majestic railway station in Bangalore to board the train in a separate post.

For a Rajdhani train, it runs very slow. Indiarailinfo.com says it runs on an average of only 62 km/hr. Bed kit was good but food was not upto the mark. We reached Secunderabad at 7.35 AM right on time. Alighted on platform #1 and took the left way to come of the station. Little further was the taxi and auto stand. I booked a MERU cab for Rs 900 to Gowlidody (near Gachibowli).
Hyderabad is still a well breathing city and better on traffic compared to Bangalore. On the first day went to Karvy as I had little work there. It is located in the Financial District, Nanakramguda, Gachibowli. This area is like Electronic city / Whitefield of Bangalore. Big beautiful campuses of the likes of Microsoft, Infosys, Wipro, ICICI bank etc. Nice tree lined roads with footpaths makes this area a good workspace.

Golkonda fort

Golkonda fort

I kept the second day for sightseeing. In the morning, we went to Golkonda fort. I wanted to have biryani in Paradise but was unable to locate one after leaving Golkonda fort. After going round and round for a long time we settled for shahi Dastarkhwan. This is a nice restaurant in the Lakdikapul area of Hyderabad. We went for biryani and some chicken starters. The starters included Irani Jhoole Kebab and Chicken Malai Kebab. The taste of biryani was good but such biryani could be found even in Bangalore. The most unique and tasty item in the lunch was Irani Jhoole Kebab. It was just awesome – melting in the mouth. After lunch, on the opposite side of the restaurant found a paan shop. I am not a regular paan eater but an occasional sweet paan after a pomp lunch makes it good. Well, the sweet paan do not come cheap at Rs 20 a piece. Then we went to Charminar. Finally ending our day tour at Hussain sagar in the evening.

Makkah Masjid

Makkah masjid as seen from Charminar

The third day we were to attend a birthday. In the afternoon I went to Telecom nagar to buy a gift for him. In the evening went to playstreat in the Telecom Nagar area of Gachibowli for the birthday party. It is a nice children’s cafe with lots of games. They charge on hourly basis.



The fourth day was marked for our return to Bangalore. So spent the morning of the final day in leisure. In the evening we had to board the train Duronto AC express from the Secunderabad railway station at 9.30 PM. I was planning to leave Gowlidody at 7.30 PM on Ola. But got late as I went to the nearby market to finish some chores. By the time we boarded the Ola cab it was 8 PM. Given Hyderabad’s low traffic I said to myself, we should be able to reach. Asked the cab driver, he also said it should take around an hour. But after we crossed Hussain Sagar, we were caught in a traffic jam. The pace of the can kept going down due to slow moving vehicles and was coming to a standstill often. After sometime, I could see the railway station but there were bumper to bumper traffic before us. At that moment it veered in my mind that if I am going to miss the train. Landed at the front of the station couple minutes before 9.30 PM. Took our luggages and ran towards the platform. On inquiry found that Duranto to Bangalore is going to leave from platform # 3. At platform #1, there was a escalator which was of great help to my mom. Hurriedly we went towards platform # 3 but I could see no train at platform # 3 from the overbridge. Oh did I just missed the train! On getting down to platform # 3, we found that the train has not arrived yet. What a relief it was! The train chugged in 10 minutes later. We boarded our compartment. Our bogie was low on passenger. My mother and my berths were on different compartments in the same bogie. However, during ticket checking TTE provided berth in the same compartment. The Duronto AC express runs very well and takes less time than the Rajdhani express on the same route. Next morning the train reached Yeshwantpur station on time. After getting off the train, booked an Ola cab and reached home.

Sitting at the leisure of home I still sometime think about the nerve wrecking moments to catch the train both while going to Hyderabad and leaving from there!

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