Birds and Animals

PelicanTime for some restlost in thoughtspotted a spotted deer :)Rose-ringed parakeetdeer
a small fightPaintedStork3PaintedStork2PelicanPaintedStork1Stork
egret in flightpelican in flightPelicanSunbathinglonelyTake-off
busy day

BirdsAndAnimals, a set on Flickr.

Wanted to try clicking birds and animals. Loved the clicks as I managed some decent ones. A visit to the local zoo is long pending and hopefully better photos are in store πŸ™‚

Sri Padmavathi Ammavaari Temple, Tirupati

It is believed that after a visit to Lord Balaji at Tirumala, one has to visit Sri Padmavathy Ammavari Temple.
After darshan at Tirumala, we had lunch and then proceeded to this temple around 04:00 PM.
I was told that the temple is open all day with a break between 06:00PM and 07:00PM. So we planned accordingly.
We took the Rs100 ticket and it was less crowded compared to the other lines. Since we had a car journey back to Chennai ahead of us, we were short of time and we managed to finish darshan in about 30 minutes. We also got a laddu free with that ticket. πŸ™‚
Volunteers here are even more high-handed and I personally did not like either the pujaris or the officials in the temple. The priests eye money even before giving the prasadam by explicitly indicating with the rupee notes in their hand. It was like “If you want prasadam, give money”. Pathetic !
What mattered in the end was I had a glimpse of Ammavaaru and it was enough !!

Visited January 2013

Tirumala Temple

It is a wonderful feeling when you see Lord Balaji which cant be described in words !

However, it doesnt come easy – be prepared for long queues, madness of the devotees, constant pushing in the queue, and overall the way the volunteers hurry you up within the 5 seconds that you get to see the Lord.
After reading on the internet, and asking around, we took the ticket for Sheegra darshan @ INR300 per person. “Sheegra” means quick and that took us 5 hours to finish the darshan. Probably if you stand in the queue at 05:00AM, you have a chance for a quicker darshan. We were there at 06:15 AM and by that time, a lot of people were already in line. We managed to come out around 11:30 AM.

Some good things –
Overall, didnt find too many instances of people jumping and bypassing queues. It was well-controlled with one or two exceptions.
The place was very well-maintained and clean, much better than many places I have visited in spite of the crowd it handles.
After 2-3 hours in the queue, they served Upma in paper plates and not all, but a lot of them got that. It was really welcoming when the kids began to feel hungry. We were hungry too when the biscuits do not help beyond a point.
In general, toilets also were clean and well-maintained and there are access to toilets in the queue now and then.
Volunteers were less pushy this time without the ususal “jaragandi” shouts (meaning move in telugu).

Tips for the first-timers – For those who are planning to visit for the first time, this might just help –
Keep away from touts and middle men.
Do not carry mobiles, camera and other electronic items.
Have a small backpack with just water and some eatables like biscuits, etc etc. That is allowed.
A wallet/purse is allowed.
Wear full-pants, dhoti, pyjamas, etc. Shorts are NOT allowed for adults. I saw a few people being asked to go out of the queue because of this.
If you want to buy something, buy it from the shops @ the shopping complex, or beside it, not from people trying to sell them on roads.
After the darshan, buy a cover for laddus first for Rs 2 and then go to the laddu counter πŸ™‚ Or you will end up struggling to buy a cover with the laddus in hand πŸ™‚
If you have a car, make sure you know the name of the place where it is parked. The place where you enter the queue and the place where you come out after darshan are not the same. You have to find your way by asking unless you know the place well. Experience πŸ™‚
You can have a glimpse of the counting of rupee notes and you will know why He is called rich God.

Overall, It is a feeling which has to be experienced to be believed !

Visited January 2013

Fortune kences Hotel, Tirupati

Stayed here with family on 27/01/2013. Ours was a two-day trip with a one night stay, just for a darshan. We drove from Chennai and reached around 18:00 hrs. Check-in was smooth. The general ambience of the hotel was very good. It is located bang opposite to the APSRTC bus stand and thats a plus.
The room was good and beds comfortable. Asked for an extra bed and that was good too. Room service and house keeping were quick and availability of hot beverages round the clock was good.
Got delayed at the temple and missed eating the complimentary breakfast. So cant comment on the food. 24-hour check in is comfortable. Travel desk was helpful and provided information on temple timings, etc.
However, check-out took about fifteen minutes. As another user wrote earlier, they had a difficulty to trace the payment I made through Net Banking. I had to give them my account details and then it was traced.
Rest was all fine and I would definitely stay here again.

Stayed January 2013, travelled with family

Kailash Parbat

After raving reviews of the restaurant by a lot of friends, I was there for dinner with family. I should say everything was good, but still fell short of expectations after hearing so much about the place.
General – The place was very nice and the ambience was welcoming. We managed to get a table within minutes. As time progressed, it was getting increasingly crowded and the waiters/managers were under constant pressure to find tables for the waiting guests. That is when they obviously got a little pushy in hurrying up our meal. Even before we finished our starters, the plates for the main course were set. I can understand quick service in terms of clearing finished plates, but not so quickly that you have to hurry up.
Food – starters were ok, Dhokla and Kasthi Kachori (hope I spelled it rite) was good, but lacked the “wow” factor. The Chat Platter was initially tasty, and again got boring with too many similar kinds of stuff. Masala chas was ok.
My two-year-old daughter was adamant on having noodles and that was very average, typical Sangeetha Hotel kinda stuff. So dropped the idea of ordering pasta and lasagna. Ordered Dal-bati and that was far from what we understood..it was so hard that we could neither use the fork, nor our hand. Not sure if that is how it is supposed to be since I was having it for the first time.
Overall, similar items that I have eaten in Rajdhani restaurant were much tastier than what I had here. Wouldnt be too eager to go there again !

Visited January 2013

Hotel Maurya, Tirupati

We were there for two days in Tirupati with family and we ate twice here in this restaurant, a dinner and a lunch. This place basically brings backs lot of childhood memories and hence made it a point to eat here !
Good tasty food, a tad expensive if you look at the ambience. It is probably a 3-star restaurant and the ambience doesnt justify that. In fact, there was a puja(ritual) being performed and the whole place smelt like a temple πŸ™‚ Well, at least I feel that a restaurant should smell of food, not incense sticks.
I found the service pretty good, and no complaints on that. Valet parking is helpful as the parking might be full and congested.
Overall a nice place to eat good food in Tirupati.

Visited January 2013

Subway

This review is for the Subway outlet at the Express Avenue and Citi Center.
Have been to both these outlets recently and started to love the Sub. Dont know why we havent considered it all this while, but really a nice choice compared to other Pizzas and stuff.
Tried roasted chicken, chicken tikka, chicken tandoori, panneer tikka and all of them were yummy…You can see it being prepared..select the veggies of your choice..opt for extra chicken or cheese..so you know it is fresh !! Not very fond of the hard bread so always opt for the soft one (Italian) and thats it !
The guys at the counter are polite and friendly and it makes it a nice experience.
Would definitely try again !

Visited January 2013

Simran’s Appa Kadai

This review is for the Velachery restaurant.
Have been here a few times, the latest was to collect a take-away for Sunday Lunch.
Food is okay taste-wise, and no complaints.
Dont know why, but they do not have Egg Biriyani on the Menu. So if you(or whoever) do not want the chicken in the biriyani, you have to order for chicken biriyani and tell them to take out the chicken. You still have to pay for the chicken biriyani.
It is not about the few extra bucks that you have to pay, but why complicate things when it is so common to have Egg Biriyani on the menu in almost all Chettinad restaurants?
During the fifteen minutes of waiting, there were quite a few houseflies around that reminded me of naan-ee movie πŸ˜‰ The waiters were struggling to kill them with a mosquito bat. πŸ™‚
On the positive side, I have seen this restaurant open at least till 11:30 at night, so if you are late for dinner, this is definitely an option.
Overall, a decent place in Velachery.

Visited December 2012

Hotel Saravana Bhavan

This review is for their restaurant in Parrys, close to the High Court.

The restaurant is located quite in the centre of Parrys area, close to the High Court. We had been there a couple of times in the last two months.

Once, we had breakfast and it was good. No complaints at all !

A couple of days ago, went with family and had lunch at the AC restaurant in the first floor. Small place, very few tables. Had to wait 20 minutes for a table for four. The supervisor tried to help, but couldnt do much.
Ordered Noodles, Fried rice, Gobi Manchurian and the taste was just ok, nothing amazing, but the quantity was attrocious. Quantity of South/North-Indian meals seem ok, but these items that you order separately are too little. Service was ok.

In that area, if you want Veg food, it is a decent option. Nothing worth recommending though !

Visited November 2012

Banasura Hill Resort, Wayanad

Salad3Salad2Salad1Chole BaturaChukku Kaapirestaurant
FrontageCorridorsRooma broken tuskera view from the boat4a view from the boat3
a view from the boat2a view from the boat1Banasura waterfallBamboo forestMist covered Banasura Hill

WayanadVacation, a set on Flickr.

A wonderful trip to Wayanad with family. Stayed at Banasura Hill Resort and here is my review –
We were here for 3 Nights and 4 Days from 19/10 to 22/10. We were two families (myself and my co-brother) with kids.

Ambience and Rooms
Very beautiful and unique. It is definitely not like the usual hotels that I have stayed. It gives you a feeling of being very close to Nature and at the same time, doesn’t compromise on the niceties of life.
We stayed in the Earth Rooms, located in the same building as the reception. Rooms were very spacious and spotlessly clean. Bathroom was very clean and all basic toiletries were in place.
The bed was very comfortable and since we were four of us, I had requested for an extra-bed and that was good too. An LCD TV and a water kettle to make coffee and tea are provided in the room.
Every day, the room is cleaned and the beds are made. So when you come back tired after an outing, you find the bed welcoming 

Food
We ate here three times a day for almost four days and were not even close to being bored. Delicious, yummy food with a nice variety. They have a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They maintain a good balance between Keralite food and North-Indian food. At least one or two items are typically tasty Keralite food. The spread was very good with soups, starters, salads, and decent variety for main course and a nice dessert. In addition to the normal variety, they have cornflakes, bread and jam and fresh juices for breakfast. So it was easy with small kids too. A few dishes we loved and remembered – Pazhapradhaman, Puttu and Kadala Curry, and all Keralite chicken dishes 
We loved the welcome drink (Ginger/Chukku Coffee) and ordered that at the restaurant at least thrice.  Don’t miss that !

Location
We drove from Bangalore, and took the route mentioned in one of the earlier reviews.
Bangalore – Mysore – Gundlupet – Muthanga – Mysore Road – Sultan Bathery – Beenachi – Kenchira – Nadavayal – Panamaram – 4th Mile – Tharuvana – Vellamunda – Pulinjal – Banasura Hill Resort.
The sign-boards were clear almost everywhere and we double-checked in a couple of places just to be sure. General rule – as you pass by one, ask for the next town  However, after Vellamunda, probably we missed it or there was no board, we took the other road instead of going to Pulinjal and had to come back at least 2 KM. That was the only miss .
Good if you have a vehicle at your disposal, but If you take a package that includes a few trips around, resort arranges the vehicle and then you don’t need one.

Customer Service
This beats all other categories hands down. Everyone serves you with a smiling face, be it a room boy, or in the restaurant, or at the reception. That was something very pleasant and not easy to see everywhere.
Mr Rajesh, GM of the resort was very friendly and helpful. In fact, he drove us to Vellamunda late in the night, to buy some medicines for my child. Many thanks for that. πŸ™‚
Mrs Swapna, Manager Reservations, was a very pleasant person enquiring now and then about our stay and suggesting places to see and so on.
Praveen was very helpful at the reception.

Around the Resort
Lots of greenery, plantations of coffee, tea, spices in and around the resort. A small trek and there is a beautiful waterfall. A trip to a tribal village is interesting. Speed boating at Banasura Sagar Dam was good. Tholpetty Wildlife sanctuary was disappointing, just saw a few deers.

General
There is a free wi-fi that you can use around the reception area. It works fine.
Mobile signal is not available in the rooms. Airtel works at the main gate. Vodafone and BSNL are better I guess.

Overall, this turned out to be a very memorable vacation for our families. Another trip with friends is definitely on the cards !

Room Tip: 106 and 107 have a good scenic view.

Stayed October 2012, travelled with family

Food, Travel, and more…

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