Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mysore Tips

Mysore Palace

Getting there: 
from Bangalore it is a short train or bus ride; if you can, take the Shatabdi express (refer to our blog for details)

Attractions:

Mysore Palace- 250 Rs entrance fee with audio guide included; audio guide is comprehensive and takes you through the whole palace in about an hour and a half (no cameras allowed- 10 Rs storage or hide them when going through metal detector)

Chamundi Hill- temple on top of the hill with view over Mysore; about an hour climb up steps; alternatively there is a bus (8 Rs) that takes you to the top and down

Devaraja Market- nice fruit/veggie market that gets started early; great photo-ops.


Rail museum- showcasing old train cars and the Indian rail history, rail enthusiast or kids check it out and ride the toy train; 10 minute walk from the rail station, 5 Rs.


Jagan Mohan Palace- small palace with museum, memorabilia and art, not a must, 20 Rs.

Accommodation:
Dhasaprakesh Hotel- huge hotel complex with various rooms; double room w/ bathroom and hot water- 470 Rs, located by ghandi square; tel: 0821- 2442444/2444455; email: mysoredasaprakash@airtelmail.in ;www.mysoredasaprakashgroup.com
*suitable for mid-range travelers as well

Food:
Food Kourt- fair priced Indian restaurant; thalis or dishes, on Sri Harsha Rd.
(there are many similar restaurants on the same street, this one was the best that we tried)

Shopping:
nice shops with world brands on devaraja urs road
big supermarket called- "more"
other things to buy- aluminum goods

Transport:
Easiest way to get there is by rail, 2.5/3 hours, all trains come from Bangalore.
Mysore to Bangalore on express train - 200 Rs chair car/ac

More in the Blog:

Mysore

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chennai (Madras) Tips



Getting There:
from Mamallapuram there is an AC bus (70 Rs) that will take you to the bus station in the western part of the city; from there are numerous buses to Egemore Train station (9 Rs) or Prepaid Rickshaws (100 Rs);

from Chennai you can go south to Mamallapuram or West to Bangalore/Mysore

Shatabdi Express leaves Chennai for Bangalore/Mysore at 6 am; a great way to travel

Attractions:
large, polluted city; the beach is nice for walking, not swimming
the suburban train system is a rather convenient and cheap way to get around

Accommodation:
hotels can be found opposite Egemore train station and also around Tirukallikeni train station

Salvation Army Guest House- near Egemore train station; Northwest about a 20 minute walk or 5 minute rickshaw; a double room with bath- 300 Rs; the room is musty and dingy but fine

More in the Blog:
Chennai

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) Tips



Getting there:
1. pondicherry to mamallapuram: local bus (no AC) 33 Rs; 2.5 hours
2. chennai to mamallapuram: many local buses (30 Rs) and probably an AC bus for 70 Rs from the bus station in Chennai (western edge of city)

Attractions:
Mamallapuram in known for rock carvings and reliefs. If you've been to Hampi you should probably skip it.

2 main complexes: The Shore Temple and the Five Rathas; the combined ticket is 250 Rs;
there is another complex which is free hosting Krishna's butter ball (a large gravity defying balancing boulder) as well as the famous relief of Arjunas penance.

There are also numerous day trips possible from here that can be done with a scooter or public transport; inquire at the local government tourist office on the main road near the entrance to the city; a free map is also provided

Accommodation:
Silver Moon Guest House- basic double with bath 300Rs on Othavadai Cross Street, Tel 044-27443644
Siva Guest House- across the street and similar room double with bath, starting 250 Rs.

Transport:
the best option is to rent a scooter (250 Rs for 24 hours) ask around; you can then explore the different complexes and surrounding areas/beaches.

More in the Blog:
Mamallapuram

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pondicherry (Puducherry) Tips




Attractions:
Heritage Walk- there is a nice walk you can do through the streets near the beach; just wander up and down; there are 2 nice churches in the southern half of the city


Auroville- 8 km from Pondicherry; the best way is by scooter along the ECR(east coast road) and then take a left after 5 or so km. Ask the locals, head to the visitor's center where you can get informed and tour the area; make sure to see the Matrimandir (the heart and soul of Auroville)

Accommodation:
Park Guest House- huge double room with bath (no hot water) with sea-view; 600Rs; located on the southeast tip of the city right on the beach; this is part  of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram collaborative and has certain house rules you must comply with (no alcohol/cigarettes/drugs/10:30pm curfew) tel: 91-0413-2233644; email:parkgh@sriaurobindoashram.org; scooter and bike rentals can be made here

Food: 
Hot Breads- good breakfast/baked goods, on Ambour Salai street

Auroville visitor area cafe- delicious, fresh, and good prices; have the lunch special and a piece of cake
Getting Around: bike, scooter, and walking

More in the Blog:
Pondicherry

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) Tips



Attractions:
Rock Fort- buses go here or expensive rickshaws from main bus stand; 500+ steps to the top and very worth it to see the view of the city from above; water/juice stand is waiting at the top-not to worry :-)

Sri Ranganthswamy Temple- a huge temple complex, with 7 concentric walls with gates leading to the center.
There are numerous other smaller temples and a few churches that are worth a visit if time permits.

Food:
Sree Krishnas- just opposite the main bus stand on Rockins road; you can grab a pretty good banana leaf thali for cheap; around the back is a hotel as well that looked decent with a WC in the lobby to freshen up.

More in the Blog:
Trichy

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Munnar Tips


Getting There 3 options: 
buses from Cochin (4.5 hours)
hired car from Cochin
organized tour from Cochin.

Attractions:
Contact Joseph for information about Munnar and surrounding area; there is a small tourist office in the main road of New Munnar or ask anyone for him; tel: 9447190954.

Tea Museum- 75 Rs; an extraordinary museum for India; nice documentary about the history of the plantations as well as a thorough explanation on how tea is grown and prepared with machinery in place with live demonstration

Hiking- numerous hikes and walks through tea plantations, to waterfalls, dams, lakes, etc.

Eravikulam Park- 200 Rs entrance; all there is to do here is to see a rare species of goat (Tahr) only found here and in Australia; nice views of the surrounding hills and tea plantations.
Accommodation:
stay in old Munnar at the bottom (near the tourist office); there are several guest houses with double rooms between 400-600 Rs.

Food:

solid and cheap indian food in Munnar New Town; not many other options available.

Shopping:
buy tea from the outlets and get some munnar coffee and high range strawberry preserves


More in the Blog:
Munnar

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cochin (Kochi) Tips




Ernakulam
The main section of town, has both train stations Ernakulam and Ernakulam Town.

Fort Cochin
From Ernakulam boat jetty (near bus stand) ferries jump across to Fort Cochin (2 Rs).

Attractions:
Saint Francis Church-site where Vasco de Gama was buried for some time and then later moved
Santa Cruz Basilica-huge basilica worth a visit
Chinese Fishing nets- right by the jetty, slightly interesting yet not too efficient.
Jewtown- location of old synagogue with dwindling jewish community
Mattancherry-really nice area to walk around and browse shops; wholesale depots containing rice, potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, etc.

Accommodation:
Vintage Inn- nice family owned, with clean and comfortable rooms; to get there walk on Jacob Rd past the basilica and at the roundabout take a left, double room with bath (hot water) 350 Rs.

Vypeen Island
to get to Vypeen Island take a ferry from Fort Cochin or Ernakulam.

Attractions:
Cherai Beach- a typical Indian style beach; about 40 min bus ride once on Vypeen.

Food:
Baywatch- basically the only restaurant on the beach, pretty good food. nice place to sit and relax with oceanview.

More in the Blog:
Cochin 1
Cochin 2

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kollam (Quilon) Tips



Attractions:
Backwater village tour- tourist government board offers this tour; taken from boat jetty tourist office on small bus to backwater village (1 hour ride); from here you jump on a small canoe and explore the backwaters with a "guide"; 300 Rs per person; Nice introduction to the backwaters, leaves twice a day at 9:00 and 14:00.

Backwater ride to Allepy- about 8 hours, goes through the main, wide canals, so there's not a ton of sightseeing, leaves at 10 am, 400 Rs.

If you have some extra time in town, there are some churches and a bazaar that are worth a look.

Accommodation:
Hotel Sudarsan- very nice hotel with various rooms, non-ac rooms starting at 660 Rs for double with bath and tv, they also have a pretty good restaurant, on Parameswar Nagar, Tel- 2744322, www.hotelsudarsan.com

Train Kollam to Cochin, about 3 hours, 45Rs

More in the Blog:
Kollam