Friday, May 31, 2019

Beef Briyani in Vaniambadi - Worth for a pit-stop

There are still people like me who would look out for a nice Beef Biryani when you are in a new town. I was on a Solo bike ride to Yelagiri. I choose Yelagiri for two reasons, one is a good climate and proximity to Vanuambadi and Ambur to try some good food.

Famous Biryani in Vaniambadi would be Khaja and Ahmedia Briyani, but putting up shop in a Muslim heart land, these two places do not serve Beef. If you want to try Beef, you can try shop in the street next to Ahmedia, items to try are Beef Chops, it is a nice beef steak, along with the T bone deep fried in oil. Meat becomes tender and taste is just wow. Also try Sheek kabab. Now coming to Beef Briyani, I went searching for it during evening, started asking people, was pointed to a street next to a Mosque, I did see KR Briyani, but the shop was closed at 8 pm. I was told they do not serve Briyani during evenings. Next was Arshad, I saw the Arshad Beef stall, but again Briyani place was closed. After hearing from people how tasty the briyani is in these places, I wanted to try these at any cost.

Next day I made another 30km trip to Vaniambadi to try  this briyani. I selected Arshad, it is a very small shop which can seat a max of 15 - 20 ppl at a time. Being Ramzan season, it was just 4 people having Briyani. Half place briyani us Rs. 45. If you are eat well, you need to have 2 - 3 plates. Taste, just yummy. No complaints, masala was balanced, no separate masala or tomato on the rice that you need to separate and have. Meat was very tender. Taste is comparible with Ritche Street Briyani. Meat tenderness is same as in Sukku bhai.

If you are crossing Vaniambadi, I would definitely suggest a pit-stop for this amazing briyani.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Baby's (Kaniyan) day out for 1st Birthday - Varkala, Kovalam Thiruparappu falls and Padmanabhapuram palace

The last time I went to Varkala, it was a solo trip when my wife stayed back home with our new born. I had promised them that I'll take them to the places I visited without them last time. So that's how this trip shaped up as Kaniyan's first birthday trip. The plan was Varkala - Kovalam - Thirparappu falls and Padmanabhapuram palace this time. We booked the train tickets and rooms well in advance and were eager to see if Kaniyan will have fun in his first trip. We had booked the Tambaram to Kollam Suvidha express to kickstart our trip.

Day 1, destination - Varkala:

At 05:40 AM, the train reached Sengottai and from there to Kollam, the train took its path on the hill. As the day slowly dawned, we could see the misty clouds hovering over the hill. As the train moved on, we saw the mist slowly giving way to the hidden trees. The path unwinded through numerous tunnels and curves along the hill with few houses here and there. We got to see such green beauty and passing streams while Kaniyan kept snoozing peacefully in an almost empty train. This train travel in itself was a dreamy experience and our trip started to get its meaning.

We reached Varkala from Kollam through another train. The beach and our hotel were 3 KM away from the railway station. We started walking to reach our destination after a small refreshment. We could not help but observe the houses along the way. They were either huge houses with huge gardens or small houses with huge gardens. This gave a pleasant feeling even though it was sunny. Most of the houses we noticed had rainwater harvesting system installed in their rooftops. It was nice to know that the people living there were responsible of their surroundings. Deep down somewhere, I wished that how nice it would be if our city/town was also like this. But thinking about how we build up all available spaces and how we sit inside concrete forest and talk about modern economic development, made me feel somewhat sad.

We reached our hotel and were welcomed by the sound of some group of friends singing "Happy birthday" for their friend. Smiling at Kaniyan, we took the keys to our room and freshened up. Then after lunch and some rest, we set off to the beach. The crowd was very less and nothing compared to my last visit when it was pretty crowdy. Kaniyan had a very good time playing at the beach. So we chilled for some more time there. Then we started walking on the cliff. The entire stretch is lined with hotels, restaurants and shops albeit with very less crowd this time, which is unusual for December season. Walking on the Varkala cliff means there are hotels and restaurants with nice decorations and music on one side and the sea with it's never ending waves on the other side. Then we had our dinner, reached our hotel and called it a day.

Day 2, destination - Kovalam:

We reached Varkala station via auto this time after breakfast at our hotel. From Varkala we boarded a train to Trivandrum. On reaching Trivandrum while we were about to go to the bus stand, a policeman helped us out in getting an auto to Kovalam beach as it was hartal on that day and no buses were plying. We must say that from our experiences so far, auto rides are much better priced in Kerala than in Chennai and buses run on time at jet speed throughout Kerala.

We reached Kovalam beach and walked to our room on the lighthouse beach. Crowd was less there too and our hotel manager upgraded our stay. We had lunch and in the evening we went to the lighthouse. One can see the abundance of coconut trees from the lighthouse top. As acknowledged widely, the view of the sea from the lighthouse is a divine sight and I cannot describe it better in words. Just to top this, Kaniyan decided to run round and round the lighthouse and had a hearty laugh when we caught him. Then I swam for some time in the sea and had the chance of interacting with two localities and swim with them. Then we sat for some time on the beach while observing the surreal surrounding as dusk crept in. Though the crowd was less, it added beauty to the beach in both our destinations. At night, we could hear the splashing of the sea waves from our hotel room. It gave us a distinctive sense of contentment.

Day 3, destination - Thiruparappu falls:

We got to know from the hotel managers and auto drivers that many tourists, especially foreigners didn't turn up or cancelled on them for two reasons. One is the nippah virus scare and the other is the flood. Otherwise this used to be their flourishing season.
From Trivandrum, Thuckalay was 60 KM away. So we thought that we could reach in one and half hours. But the route went inside the city and the towns on the way. And our bus had a breakdown. So finally we reached our room at Thuckalay at 02:00 PM. From our room, it would take more than an hour to reach Thiruparappu falls via bus as it had numerous stops on the way. While we were thinking about it, our host offered to lend us their bike for rent. We enjoyed our ride to the falls. We could see the western ghats yonder and nearby too the roads were surrounded with trees and vegetation. It was a cold day.

We reached the falls and completed the ritual of bathing in it. Then we went to dam from where the falls originated. We saw an elephant taking bath too and I had a short swim. After this, we felt that the entire day's travel was totally worth it and we returned to our room.

Day 4 - Padmanabhapuram palace:

Since the palace was close to our room, we took our time to start the day. The palace had the royal feeling intact with the traditional furniture, building style and materials used dating back to the 18th century! We were like, "What a life the kings had". Then we visited the museum. It had ancient sculptures and rock scriptures, many written in Tamil. Then we returned to our room. After lunch, we boarded a Kerala bus to Nagercoil junction. That route also had some nice views of farmlands and mountains and then we reached the junction.
With that, our trip ended and we just had to board our train to Tambaram.

In this entire trip, Kaniyan coped up well and didn't give us doubts on our decision to take him to a trip so soon and in a cold weather. His food habits let him have something from everywhere we went (only less spicy). So he enjoyed the trip with good food, good playtime and good sleep at night. We were happy to have celebrated his b'day this way. Celebrating our kids' birthday with friends and family sure gives happiness but in our opinion, often is a stage to showcase where we stand in the society, to the people in the society.

Going to such trips that take us closer to nature only makes us feel how far we have moved away from nature. With this guilty realisation only this trip ended.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Preparing for your first ride? Here is one more blog to read

Riding is a really fun activity. Along with the fun, also comes the responsibility for one self and for others. Unlike other travel options, bike riding has its own advantages and challenges. The liberty and freedom in unmatched when comparing with any other travel option. Preparing for a ride is pretty important. Anything less than 500km would not need a serious preparation, still need some basics taken care. This is to make sure, we do not waste time while on short rides, take care of our safety and others around. Here is a list for reference, feel free to let me know if we need to add anything more.

 Way to Athirapally with biker pointing the direction

  1. Personal safety:
    1. Helmet. Not just on rides, even otherwise helmet is pretty important for riders. On long rides, it is the must for pillions as well. Just having an helmet is not enough, it has to be of a good quality and has to be buckled up all the time. Here is an incident  that happened few years back just firming up my beief,
    2. Riding gear: The only purpose of it is to make sure you are up and can take care of yourself in case of an eventuality. Basic starts with a tough jean and a glove. Even a basic glove is good enough as we get our palm to support intuitively. To have it padded or protected will give us the confidence to use it without fear. A shoe that can protect your feet. Hard one will be preferred. These three I would say is the basics for rider and also for pillions. If you want added protection, a basic ankle and knee guard will cover all the initial impact points.  Level up will be riding shoes, riding pants and jacket, which gives you protection in case you had to slide.
    3. (Optional) This is for solo rides. Share an option to track you down in case you do not contact for a specific period of time. I would usually leave my google login, so that my mobile can be tracked without activating real-time share which will drain the battery. 
  2.     Bike:
    1. Make sure the bike is in a good riding condition. Brakes working properly.
    2. Side mirror is a must for highway riding. Even on a straight road you will need eyes all around you. Side mirrors add a couple.
    3. Chain has to be cleaned and lubricated if possible
    4. Ropes (Depending on the ride and luggage)
    5. Mobile holder (Optional)
  3. Packing:
    1. Plan for wet condition. Always carry enough covers to protect your dry cloths and electronic gadgets. You may never know when this will come handy.
    2. Always carry a small knife and two sources of fire (Matches and lighter)
    3. Always travel light. Try to fit in everything in a single bag. An additional bag or cover that you will need when you are on and off your bike (Optional)
    4. Always have water with you. At least 500 ml all the time. This is for drinking, cleaning, first-aid etc.
    5. Carry some snacks with you, compact. I would suggest groundnut burfi as it will take care of your protein, carb and sugar needs. There are days I cover distance just snacking on these burfies and settle for a good dinner when sun is down.
    6. If you are planning to get lost, carry a compass with you.
  4. Preparation:
    1. Have a checklist prepared
    2. Make sure you have everything in the checklist
    3. Download and keep offline map of the places you are planning to visit and if possible, the whole route.
    4. I usually lay down everything on the floor before I start to pack. I also take a picture, tat way I also know what went in and possibly which bag.

Riding is not everyone’s cup of coffee, but still it is not a bad idea to try that coffee and decide if it is yours or not. This blog should help you get prepared if you are planning to venture out and try it for yourself alone or as a group.

Be responsible on the road and have fun riding!

If you are interested reading, click here to read my first first solo ride covering Coimbatore - Coonor - Valparai - Athirapally and back to Coimbatore. This is an unplanned ride.