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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

A birthday gift to 'Light of the Lamp'

Hi,
        In my earlier post    'Lamp Lamp, burning bright-Happy 3rd Birthday' , I put in the P.S (postscript) that I'll post a birthday gift to celebrate the 3 years of blogging. :) I delayed a little bit, but it is always said that 'better late than never'. Well, here is the gift.




                  It is done with watercolor pencils. The image is a bit dull, and I'll post a brighter one soon!!!
              HAPPY BIRTHDAY once again.
Lots of  love,
Deepa.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Lamp Lamp, burning bright-Happy 3rd Birthday

Hello,

            Happy holidays to all of you.  Finally, the wait is over and most of us take time off to spend vacation with family and friends. When many parts  of our planet will be freezing with cold weather, places in South India generally has tolerable weather and folks enjoy the moderate winter before bracing up for the harsh summer days. I look forward for the winter days when there is festive mood in the air with the colours of Christmas. I listen to a lot of Christmas songs that is played in an online radio station.

                                                This day of the month marks 3 years of completion of my blog writing. I started to write in December 2010 by inaugurating with a simple post "Quote for thought" which contains        “Instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.”. It is just one line, but very weighty in message. It is so easy to write a line like this, but so difficult to follow. The next post followed very shortly titled    'Spirit of every festive season' to celebrate Christmas and New Year. The title of the blog was inspired from my own name 'Deepa' meaning lamp.

                                                 It has been really an amazing journey and experience. It was a journey in which I was not sure which direction to take. Frankly, I did not want this blog to stick to a particular subject like technology, travel, cooking, art etc. As the thoughts shaped up in form of each post, I felt like seeing my own child growing up in front of my eyes with my careful nurturing. Initially, I had lot of free time in my hands and so I followed the current events and read newspapers with passion and interest. More than 30 letters have been published in The Hindu newspaper's 'Letters to the editor'. The two posts in this blog contain a collection of my letters to The Hindu. I have written lot of articles on social issues and current events. To name a few, they are:
 Sabarimala tragedy , Lathicharge at Ramlila Maidan (Baba Ramdev's , Anna, Anna, rock the empire!!! ,ARE WE REALLY WORSHIPPING LORD GANSabarimala temple-The discrimination rule,Murder in the classroom-Murder of innocence?   are some of them. Then there are two articles
contributed by my dad which are 'Energy Prospects for future' and 'Alpam Chirava Puranam'.                  


         Then of course, there are posts on my artworks, travel experiences, experimenting on writing book reviews, poem etc. This is more than just a blog for me. It has kept me afloat during tough times and still gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day. The feelings that I go through and the kind of satisfaction that I experience when I finish entering each post cannot be expressed fully in words. I wish to thank my friends and some family members who have been supportive and encouraging. I am fortunate enough to live in this era of internet and social media because of which instant publication and viewership is made possible.
                         I do not know if there is anything special associated with number 3. It is always said that if you go wrong the first time you will get it right the third time. Many recruiters give the candidates three chances to pass the tests and qualify. Hindus do pradakshina or circumambulation around most of their dieties  counting 3. Why this talk of number 3? Some things seem to coincide with this number. When I complete 3 years of blog writing, the viewership coincides to the multiple of 3 and the number of posts entered is 48, which is again a multiple of 3. I cannot bring out multiple specialties associated with 3, but I want to keep on writing so that this blog crosses the multiples of 3 (years). I wish to write more articles which will be of lighter vein and with some dash of  humour. One article  I wrote recently is Bhanumathi please!!! which received record response from readers within few hours.


                                                     
                                                                                                                    
                                                           HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

                                                   

                               I hope to continue to burn this lamp with same or more zest and zeal in the coming days and wish to celebrate many more birthdays.

P.S. I will post a birthday gift for my blog very soon.....

Lots of love,
Deepa.                                                

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Peer Pressure




Hello,
                I vaguely remember having read somewhere that when a 100-year old woman was interviewed, what is one thing she had to say. She laughed and said, "at 100, I do not face any peer pressure."
                          The moment a child is out of the womb, the one thing that constantly follows him/her is peer pressure. My baby's weight is only 2.5 kg, while her baby's weight is 3 kg. We will not say that it is peer pressure, but comparison. If a baby's weight falls within normal, there is no need to worry that it is underweight and weak. But when relatives or friends start telling about the weight to the new parents, it will set them thinking.
                                As per Wikipedia, peer pressure usually sets in during adolescent stage, when students feel pressure to perform better in studies and other activities. The toppers will be the envy of other students in the class. Smart students will form a group and they may not mingle or interact with other classmates in their class. Parents will want their average child to perform better than those brilliant classmates. This puts unnecessary stress and pressure on the child.
                                         Now with the changing scenario compared to about 3 decades back, the child will feel the pressure as early as the age of 5. Today's child is born with video gadgets, cartoon characters like Chotta Bhim, friendly Ganesha, Scooby Doo, Mr Bean, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse, to name a few.  These days, it does not end with watching programs of these characters. Marketers make lots of toys, gadgets, T-shirts, bedspreads et al, anything related to these cartoon characters attractive enough in a child's eyes. It goes without saying that if a child sees his/her friend having that item, then the child will press his/her parents adamantly till he gets a similar one like that. If that child goes to any birthday party, he/she will notice the themed cake, gifts, the extravaganza and starts making demands for that. These are all peer pressures relevant to that age.
                                                       

                                       As the child enters teens, he/she will lose interest in cartoons and birthday parties conducted by their parents and other priorities take over. Academics become a top priority, and the child always feels the pressure to excel in the class. This is where parents and teachers should see that the child's self esteem is not lowered and they should strive to bring the individuality in him/her. Sometimes the peer pressure may work out in a positive manner when the child himself wants to improve upon himself either in sports or academics or anything other than that.
                                          Teenage or adolescent stage is the phase when the individual is neither a child nor an adult. During this period, he/she undergoes lot of changes mentally and physically and the personality is mostly cemented. This is the vulnerable age when he/she starts smoking and drinking just to please his friends. What starts off just for fun may become lifelong habits which will affect the health of that individual and his/her family. With our society becoming more westernized, teenagers feel that they will be left out of the crowd, if they do not have girlfriends/boyfriends. This is when he/she would have learnt driving and just to feel the thrill of it, lot of rash driving is done leading to accidents and death. This is when parents feel generation gap, especially when their wards do not listen or talk to them. Teenagers are like brittle glass objects who need to be handled with utmost care.
                           Adulthood has different pressures to offer. Once the teenagers become adults, they see their peers getting married and settle down to family life. Many of the teenagers repel at the idea of married life. But later on, they eventually fall in the 'trap' of  marriage. Then of course, there is always pressure to have 'good' careers and high-paying jobs, promotions. Women always feel the constant pressure to have a perfect family, good career and job. Since managing house, children is still considered a woman's job, juggling all these multiple roles put lot of stress and pressure and if they are not handled properly, it will lead to fatigue and health problems later on. Men who are still considered main breadwinners, always try to have   jobs with steady income, even if they become routine and boring. It is a minuscule percentage of  men/women who fearlessly get out of the steady/routine jobs and make a career of their own passion. If a couple is childless, they always feel the stress and heartbreak and also the feeling of being left out from the 'normal' group.
                         So we can see that there is always some or other form of pressure following every person throughout his life. If a person is of strong character, he will not bow down to the peer pressures and bring out unique personality in him. Peer pressure can have negative or positive impact depending on what kind of a person he or she is.

                             Take care,

Deepa.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pearl Valley- Muthyala maduvu

Dear friends,
                         Hope all of you had fun during Diwali bursting lots of crackers and distributing sweets among your friends and relatives. Last year, during the time of Diwali, I posted an article titled 'Lighting the Lamp'(Go to the link http://deepanagaraj.blogspot.in/2012/11/lighting-lamp.html)  which highlighted the tragedy at Sivakasi factory which involved more of onlookers than the workers in the factory. This year, there was a different kind of tragedy. Just three days before Diwali, a bus traveling from Bangalore to Hyderabad hit a divider at Mehaboob Nagar in the wee hours of morning killing about 45 passengers. Most of them were traveling to the hometown to celebrate Diwali with their families. According to the follow up investigation, reckless driving, faulty road and poor safety measures were responsible for the accident. The bus was also carrying passengers above the normal capacity and had only 1 driver for the long distance. Anyway, it did dampen the spirit of festivity in at least some of us to see these people die for no fault of theirs.
                     I am sure, at least some of us would have traveled to resort or any other place to escape the normal routine. Okay. We did not travel anywhere far off from our place. Just for a day, after Diwali, we went to Pearl Valley or Muthyala Maduvu as is known among the locals there. This is situated after Anekal taluk and is about 40 km from our place. It is a 'not so famous' tourist destination but a good one for trekkers. "Pearl Valley? Vahaan to kuch nahi hai. Hum us din gaye to waterfalls mein paani bhi nahin tha". This was the feedback we got from our neighbour.
                                      After a late start, we took the Chandapura road and reached close to Anekal taluk. The one spot which attracted our attention was Visala Sky Trust ashram.  It is a place where followers of that organization come to meditate. It is a well-maintained place with sprawling fields around. Some of the snaps we took are below.

                       


                                                   
The entrance of Visala Sky trust

                                                     
                                                           Metallic lotus inside the structure

                                                 
The fields outside the ashram


                                                           The structure
                                           
                                      Shortly afterwards, we reached our destination. The place was not overcrowded, and the few were parking their bikes and cars. We descended a series of granite steps to go to a waterfall. The water there was muddy. The fall was not spectacular. Most of the visitors spent some time near the falls, but a daring few (like us.....he he!!) ventured into the forest. From then on, our trekking adventure began. Out of many trails, we took a trail. After a short distance, there was a small stream and to reach that, there was a steep climb down the rocks. We washed our feet in that stream and then proceeded further. On our way, we met a couple who were going back. But they became our fellow trekkers. As we proceeded, we encountered thick bushes which were full of thorns. It was getting more exciting. At one point, there was a low and narrow trial, and so we had to bend and go. We felt like we were getting in touch with the unspoiled nature with full of trees and only the sweet sounds of birds. At one point, there were elephant droppings which made me feel scary. It was not fresh, still.  My husband joked if we were lucky we would spot an elephant!!! Phew....'luckily' we didn't. After many twists and turns, the trail became straight and we could enjoy the beauty of valley and the mountains around filled with trees, bushes and shrubs. We stood there for sometime forgetting everything and just admiring the beauty and the serenity of the nature.


                                                     
                                                     During the drive somewhere near Anekal...

                                               

                                               During our trail in the valley
                                        

                                               
                                                 The valley from the top...



As it was getting late, we trekked backwards to reach the entrance. After having some tea and snacks, we were ready to hit the concrete jungle from which we were not very far. Though we did not find any pearls in the valley, it has so much to offer for the nature lovers and trekkers.

Until we meet next time, goodbye and take care.
Deepa.

P.S. More photos of the place and fellow trekkers will be uploaded soon!!! So watch out!!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bhanumathi please!!!

Hello readers,
                        The other day, I was having breakfast of dosas with my parents. I love dosas. If  I go to a restaurant, especially the South Indian ones, the first thing that is tempting for me to order is always dosa. Masala dosa, plain dosa, ghee roast, paper roast, butter dosa, rava dosa, rava-masala dosa....the list is endless. Slurp.  But, one variety of dosa which is not in my favourites' list is wheat dosa. As a child I shied away from it as much as possible and these days I am trying to like it. :) My father usually makes batter for wheat dosa. He is very good at making dosas. As we were eating the wheat dosas, we were discussing that wheat dosas are something which people loved to detest. Even  Bhanumathi did not like wheat dosa.
                                     Who is this Bhanumathi I am talking about? The famous actress of yesteryears?  My cousin, friend, aunt, or any other relative? No. She belonged to the feline family. She was a  cat (do not know whether she is alive now) and a regular visitor to my house in my hometown (Trivandrum). As a kitten, she was 'pampered' by my parents and became the unofficial pet. I named her Bhanumathi. My sister, who was not married at that time, was staying with my parents. Every morning, when she left the house for work, Bhanumathi used to descend down the stairs with her and see her off. Then she came back and spent time in our house. Bhanumathi is different from other felines. She never used to spill the milk from the vessels in our kitchen. My parents kept a separate plate for her on which they poured milk.
                                              My memories of Bhanumathi is limited to summer visits to my hometown. To help my mother in the kitchen, I used to scrape coconut in the coconut scraper. When I squat on the scraper and start scraping, Bhanumathi used to appear from nowhere! She will gently and quietly sit before the scraper and wait for me to finish scraping. After I finish coconut scraping and get up, she will get up and come running behind me. Until I part with some freshly scraped coconut, she will never leave.
                                                  Bhanumathi was very fond of crispy dosas. Again, when dosas were made, she used to make her appearance from nowhere. If we wanted to sit and have dosas peacefully, we had to share some pieces of dosa with her. But, Bhanumathi is choosy when it comes to dosas. If we gave her crispy dosas, she relished and enjoyed like us homo sapiens. If we put some pieces of not so crisp wheat dosas, she will turn her head away from that. Crispy dosas, juicy coconut were her hot favorites. As time went by, she went to neighbourhood houses in search of fish. But the visits to our house staunchly continued.
                                One day, Bhanumathi gave birth to kittens and was in search of a secure place to protect them. Yes, you guessed it! Its our house. She brought her babies and placed them in a cupboard in the bedroom. Among the cats, the male cats or tomcats have the habit of eating their own children. So the female cats are very protective regarding their kittens. We are not used to having cats or any other animals permanently stationed in our house. From then on, my parents had tough time driving her out. As she tried to come to our house repeatedly, my parents closed every other door and window. It was a virtual prison for them for some days. Finally, she stopped coming to coming to our house much to the relief of my parents. But for me, she is still around somewhere. When I think of her, I imagine her as sitting in front and very close to the coconut scraper waiting for those juicy scraps of coconut.

P.S.    I do not have any photo of our Bhanumathi. If I put an image of any other cat, I feel I am not doing justice to her. I miss her. Nobody can replace Bhanumathi.


Deepa. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Toilet problem in India- A stinking reality

Hi dear friends,
                          It is that time of the year when the festival of nine days (Navarathri or Dasara) is celebrated in full swing. In southern India, ladies invite each other to view the sequential doll arrangements and gifts are exchanged along with snacks. Ladies and children are encouraged to sing the deity songs. In north, Dasara is celebrated with Dandiya  and Gaarba dances. Ravana effigies are burnt to celebrate the good over evil.
                          Instead of writing about Navarathri festival and the traditions that are followed during this time, why have I chosen to write about a stinking topic? Let any number of festivals come and go, we cannot deny that our country has a dubious statistics of more than half of the population not having access to toilets and sanitation. It is a shameful joke that more Indians have access to cellphones than toilets. According to First Post India, our government has spent Rs 1,250 billion on water and sanitation projects in the last 20 years. For this fiscal budget, the UPA government increased the sanitation budget from Rs 13,000 crores to Rs 15, 260 crores. But, where is all these money going? To which drain?

                                   

                          If we set aside these lengthy statistics and step outside our houses everyday, a few feet of distance is enough to see men relieving themselves in full public view. You can piss in public but a crime to kiss in public. If we take many side roads and smaller village roads, it is a common sight to see adults and children defecating in open. As we are helpless souls, we pretend not to see and turn to the opposite side. My earliest memories(stinking memories) are the train journeys every year from Trivandrum to Chennai where we get to see the village people defecating in open when we reached close to the capital of Chennai. Even today, the scene has not changed much. I have not traveled much to North India or to the interior of villages, but I can imagine how depressing the scenes will be. If we think of railway stations and platforms we cannot exclude the stink from it. If one travels frequently to many parts of India either as a tourist or for work reasons, the lack of toilets will make his/her travel even more painful. Women and children are more affected compared to men. Women need more privacy and so they are forced to retain throughout the day which will lead to health problems later on. More children die due to lack of sanitation and hygiene problems.
                                       'Pehle shauchaalay, phir devaalay' (First toilets, then temples) is the catch phrase of the prime ministerial candidate Mr Narendra Modi. Cleanliness is next to godliness. What is the point of going on constructing new temples while we ignore this basic requirement of humanity? Even if public toilets are constructed in many places, they turn out to be badly maintained and unusable after sometime. We can hope this slogan will turn to be a reality.
                                  One organization which has consistently worked towards improving sanitation, promote human rights, non-conventional sources of energy is Sulabh International. Thanks to this non-profit organization, travel to many of the tourist spots and spending time is not a nightmare. This organization has constructed pay-and-use toilets in many parts of country.

                                Sulabh was founded by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak in 1970. Innovations include a scavenging-free two-pit pourflush toilet (Sulabh Shauchalaya); safe and hygienic on-site human waste disposal technology; a new concept of maintenance and construction of pay-&-use public toilets, popularly known as Sulabh Complexes with bath, laundry and urinal facilities being used by about ten million people every day and generates bio-gas and biofertilizer produced from excreta-based plants, low maintenance waste water treatment plants of medium capacity for institutions and industries. (Source-Wikipedia).

                                                   Rajiv Gandhi launched Total Sanitation Programme to cover all Indian households with water and encourage to construct a toilet in every household, especially in rural areas. The mission was renamed Nirmal Bharat Abiyan which provides subsidies to rural and poor households to construct toilets. It is praiseworthy that the celebrity Vidya Balan chose to endorse this movement with the message 'Jahaan shauch, vahaan shauchaalay.' The organization will conduct village like melas and through entertainment the message of hygiene will be subtly passed. Let us hope that the situation will improve drastically in the next few years. 

Take care,
Deepa.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Medley

Hello friends,

                         When this blog was started, I was not sure which path it will take. In the first few months, I touched on lots of social issues such as fight against corruption, Sabarimala Temple articles, Arab Spring, safety of women to name a few. I put few letters which were published in 'The Hindu'. Then there were few articles on my artworks like 'The humble obstructive tamarind seed', 'A rocky storky experience', 'Nature's Work of art-Coppersmith Barbet birds'. Some articles like Atheists or escapists, Two songs in Kalyani raga, Review of 2 old books, Why this Kolaveri, For a change....., do not come under any category. With the article 'Glimpses from my hometown visit', I started to write topics on travel off and on. I am sure I'll keep writing more travel articles if I visit places. What has been observed by me is that I have written about 30 posts in the last 2 years, but only 6 posts this year to the date. Yes, keeping a blog alive and entering posts frequently require lot of time investment, energy, passion, keep oneself updated with current events. Otherwise, as one keeps writing, topics deplete which calls for perseverance. I have read somewhere that a blog's life is an average of 2 years. I still do not want to be known as a 'former blogger.' It may sound as an excuse if I say since I have joined workforce I find short of time. I do admit that it has sapped lot of my energy which I used to invest in writing, reading, drawing, painting.


                                                        




                                                        As I am writing this post, many parts of our country would have celebrated Ganesh festival with usual fervor and festivity. This will be followed by immersion of idols of all sizes mainly in Maharashtra, parts of AP, (Telengana?), Karnataka, Tamilnadu etc. I posted the article below 2 years back. Now, Government is trying to create more awareness about the harmful effects of 'Plaster of Paris' Ganesh idol immersion in seas, lakes, rivers(especially the giant ones). But, the topic I wrote is still valid as Ganesh idol making is a thriving industry and idols these days are made in China also!!The article below is the one I posted 2 years back.

                                                            ARE WE REALLY WORSHIPPING LORD GANESH?
                               
                            As change of leadership looks imminent next year, UPA government has voted for creation of Telengana State for its own advantage. This has, predictably triggered the demand for more states. Will the formation of this new state be for better or for worse? As you would have all guessed, Hyderabad will be the capital for both AP and Telengana , like Chandigarh.
                                           
                                                    Another burning issue is the series of gang rapes that keep happening in different parts of our country. The gang rape of a physiotherapist that took place at the end of 2012 in our national capital shook the whole nation and was followed by series of protests. While this remains fresh in our memory, I am sure many of us would have forgotten the one which took place in Guwahati sometime in the middle of 2012. The article below was written in September last year.
 
                               
                                               Very recently, the gang rape of the photojournalist in Mumbai received widespread publicity. The victim is a true fighter in every sense that she was ready to go back to work as soon as possible. Due to her co-operation, some of the perpetrators were caught. Is is that these gang rapes have increased in our country or they are getting much more publicity than before? One troubling aspect in these crimes is that juveniles are involved in them. It has outraged the whole nation to see that the juvenile of the Delhi gang rape crime almost 'escape' the law with just three years of imprisonment when he attacked the victim in the 'most foul' manner.  This has triggered the debate that juveniles who are just months short of 18 should be given same punishment as the adults are given, considering the gravity of crime. There is some justification in that argument because if these juveniles who are close to adulthood and if the crime is of grave nature, laws should be amended to suit the crime. As I write this, the four people are convicted in the crime and declared to be awarded the maximum punishment. Will this give some relief to the victim's family?

                                        In the international side, there are continued threats of impending US attack on Syria. This is based on the allegation that Syria has piles of chemical weapons which looks to be a threat to the international society. Majority of the countries oppose this attack on Syria which looks to be baseless, but many countries, especially European nations approach with caution. We can hope that this is not going to be another 'Iraq'. Today's BBC news reported that Mr Obama will pause military strikes against Syria if it agrees to place the chemical weapons under international control. It is a wait and watch situation. If US decides to strike Syria going against the UN resolution, I consider that the Nobel peace prize given to Mr. Obama has no value.
                                       I will pause here for now to get back as soon as possible. :)

Take care,
Deepa.
                         

                         

Saturday, July 27, 2013

For a 'change'.....'I want some change please!'

Hello,
              This article is for a change. Yes, a change from the travel articles, social issues, poems, book reviews, art & craft, et al. Phew, what a change!!! What is that change?? Is this about something totally out of our universe? No prizes for guessing. It is something about us only. Our change-expecting habit. Habits do become second nature when they are with us for long.

                                                 


                                                     I do not know about people in other countries, but we Indians have this 'incorrigible' habit. Forget about shopping with credit or debit cards. There are many shops and establishments in our country that don't accept these plastic cards. We carry a bunch of 500-1000 Rs notes. We go to buy groceries in those kirana or pop & mom stores. One may either buy a bulk of things or just 1-2 things. Then he/she pockets out a 500 or 1000 Re note to the shopkeeper. If they are generous or if you are lucky you will get some change in 100s, 50s, 10s. If the amount stands out in units (like 164, 567 etc), the rest of it is compensated with chocos like Eclairs. From where did we develop this undying habit? Yes, we need change to pay those autowallahs, bus conductors, ironwallahs, or at places where there is no possibility of getting back any change. But expecting to get back the change each time, every time and fatten our purses with those 10s, 50s, 100s all the time?  Can't we spare a second thought to those shopkeepers or anybody who get fed up seeing customers giving them full notes all the time? How would you feel if u are in their shoes? I will feel irritated. Searching for the change and keeping the next customer waiting. Recently, I went in a cab from one place to another and when I got out and handed him a full note, the driver said he had no change at all. The destination was a hotel, and an employee took the note from me and hunted for that 'change'. After some time, he managed to get some notes, but still I had to forgo 10 Rs.

                             "Bhaiya, aap ke paas change hai kya?"
                              "Bilkul nahin, sir/madam."

         These are the two dialogues we Indians are always familiar with. When they declare that they do not have change, we will pay the exact amount which we already have. Yes, though we have the amount in our purse that can be paid in exact way, we still do not want to part with that valuable change. We expect more of the smaller notes. Why do we have this mentality? We have a convenience store in our complex. The other day, when the employee from that shop door delivered things worth Rs 75 and no, I did not give him 100 Rs expecting a change of Rs 25. For a 'change', I paid him the exact amount. I am sure he would be happy seeing these exact amounts making his job easier. If everyone of us are paying only full notes, how will he have change? Come on, he needs a change from giving us back those changes!

PS. Read my previous article 'A Trip to Munnar' which was posted recently. I could not wait to publish this one!!!

Deepa.

A TRAVELOGUE FROM AN EVER EAGER TRAVELLER-Part 2- MUNNAR TRIP.


Friends,
                I hope you are all enjoying this cloudy, gloomy weather with rains in between and lots of steaming cups of tea, when time permits. As the continuation of the last travelogue article, this one mainly focuses on Munnar trip. I wanted to encompass all the details of our vacation trip in one, but found that it was becoming too lengthy. So, this one stands out from the rest :). 
                                 After having the complimentary breakfast at our hotel in Thekkady, we started with renewed vigor to explore Munnar. It is about 110 kms from Thekkady and we took NH 49. As we progressed, the road became narrow and winding, forcing us to go slow with caution. Munnar's altitude varies from 4,760 ft to 8,842 ft above sea level (the upper limit is close to the altitude of Mt. Everest). So, it was understandable that we got to see more of mountains on one side and valleys filled with greenery on the other side.  As we ascended, we seemed to float among the clouds. When we reached the town, it was evening and to our dismay, we found that the hotel we were supposed to stay was 20 kms backwards. We were fatigued and hungry and so we had a late lunch and headed back to the hotel. It was a  resort named ' Falling Waters' in the place known as Kurisupaara. The resort itself was a feast for our eyes, as it was surrounded by nature and there was waterfalls behind (and hence the name).
                     
                                                         Munnar town images

                               


       

                                 The next day morning, eager to explore the place, we stared after the breakfast. We headed to a place known as 'Top Station'. To go inside and explore the valley part, we had to purchase tickets. The view from there to various merging of valleys was beautiful and breathtaking. The adventure part involved in that was climbing down a series of steps (about 250) and coming back. Folks, even in some of these famous spots, there are no decent toilets or vegetarian food (for vegetarians), and so prepare yourself for these basic discomforts. There are some toilets built near the spot 'Echo Point'.
                                     View of the valley from 'Top Station'
                                      




                   After exploring the 'Top Station', we came down to the 'Echo Point'. Echo Point had everything from people, shops, animals, river, 'BUT ECHO'!!! Yes, we shouted loud but did not hear any echoes. It was a place spoilt with the incoming of large number of tourists and bad maintenance. If you want to have shopping experience, there are any number of fancy stores and shops which sell local spices and chocolates.


                                     
                                                Echo point????

                                              


                         From there, we went to the well known 'Mattupetty dam.' This is one of the 'must see' spots for anyone coming there. The dam was opened in the year 1953 and built conserve water for hydroelectricity. The solid structure and the surrounding scenery there are beyond words. Boating services are also offered there.  Feeling tired for the day, we went back to our hotel.
                                                    Dam pictures
                                   

                                  
                                   

                             

                             Our resort was surrounded with tall trees and we explored a bit around that part. At some point near the water falls, we had to climb up barefoot and we were quietly bitten by leeches. These leeches silently tug to our legs and toes and so, keep checking for those creatures if you are going for an adventure like this. After getting a lot of fresh morning air and brush with leeches, we packed our bags to go to Eravikulam National Park.
                                                       Resort pictures






                                               Entrance and our baggage......



                                                          the thin waterfalls behind 'The Falling Waters'...
                                                    




     
                                          Eravikulam National park is one of the top most destinations in Munnar as there are certain attractions like the mountain goat Nilgiri Tahr and the highest peak of South India, Aanamudi. If you are going there during a weekend, expect to wait in a long queue for about 2-3 hours. So better start out as early as you can. We waited in the queue for about 1-1/2 hours which is 'less' compared to other days. We were not allowed to drive inside the park and buses are separately provided to go inside the park. The lush, never-ending tea gardens are no doubt feast for our eyes. That day, we were so lucky to see lots of Nilgiri Tahrs which our relatives could not spot after two days. They belong to the goat family and little different from the goats. They are generally brown in colour. Some even seemed to pose for our cameras. At the end of the park, we got to see the 'famous Aanamudi peak'. There is a museum with some animal horns preserved and scenic images. Our trip to this park was pleasant and memorable. The lucky sighting of Nilgiri Tahrs made it more memorable.

                                       

                                                                   Aaanamudi peak...

                                                             A misty view from a point....
                                           

                                             
                                                   Thanku for posing, dear Tahrs.....

                                                     

                                                      It was all 'Tahry Tahry'......
                                                   

No, the image inside the museum..




                                                            Horny Horny......
                                                  
A view of tea garden in the park...

                                          Due to the paucity of time, we could not go to tea factory. We bought some tea packets, chocolates and spices. All these are available at unbelievably cheap prices. So do not miss that. In between rushing from one destination to other, get out of your vehicle and take a walk in the tea gardens. You will see the tea workers, mostly women carrying their bags to pluck leaves working from morning to evening. It will be a sight for us to watch, but if possible, talk to them about their daily lives and the hardships they undergo for their living.

                             We finished our vacation with the visit to Guruvayoor temple.

 
 'Night life' in Guruvayoor.....

Garuda Statue in front of the temple..

                                    Phew!!! Finally I finished this long pending article. Yes, better late. The next one is coming very soon, so please watch out....

Love and cheers,
Deepa.