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3D/2N Relaxed & Romantic Getaway to Yercaud

Oh, seems like I took a while to wake up from my coma (induced by job changes and personal priorities). Nevertheless, I am here to set you off on your way to this small less-crowded hill station within 5-hours from Bangalore – YERCAUD!

Off to Yercaud
Started on 18th Apr 2019, 10:00 am. Opted to drive down and try Drivezy.com. Hired a Swift VDI with ‘no fuel’ option. The car offered to us was extremely unclean both inside & out, but beneath the hood, the engine was in prime condition. With minimum luggage in the boot we started our journey through Attibele-Shoolagiri-Krishnagiri-Thoppur-Salem. Once we reached Salem by 2:30pm we pulled up near a food court (Crosstown Eatery) and had some decent burgers/fries/milk shakes. By the time we drenched our throats the skies opened up and a heavy rain started. After the scorching heat, the rain provided much respite to us and I personally was more excited with it since it offered the double treat of driving the upcoming Ghat section under the drizzle! The next section which lasted 20 hair-pin bends, and a few nature-gazing stops, took us till 4pm to reach our hotel.

By this time, we were too exhausted from the excitement of breaking away from the hectic & mundane routines of Bangalore and the drive itself. We slept like logs till 8pm upon hitting the bed! Next, we strolled a little around town, had an early dinner in the same hotel and called it a day.

Local sight-seeing day
Keeping with our resolve to spend a “relaxed” weekend, we woke up at 9am on 19th April, had a mediocre breakfast at the hotel, and then again hit the bed to let the dosas & vadas settle down a bit before setting out to explore around 11:30 am. First place of visit was Pagoda Point which offers a beautiful view of Salem town lying underneath it.

View of Salem from Pagoda Point

After a 30 min stroll, we moved to the next place – Lady’s seat. Clearly, this place offered little of interest – it was nothing like it looked in the preview photos on various blogs, nor was it clean. Except for this cheeky public warning notice, nothing else was worth visiting this place.

An ominous warning sign!

Up next was the Karadiyur view point, for which we needed to come back to Yercaud and take a different route. Upon reaching Yercaud by around 2pm, we scavenged for lunch at every eatery we could set our sights upon. Beware, Yercaud may not be so hospitable for late eaters, since most places are closed by 2 pm. Finally, we had to settle for some less-than-mediocre fare at a veg hotel before heading to our next stop. The trip to Karadiyur view point was just like the place itself – very few people, densely forested and breathtakingly beautiful. This was the only place in our itinerary that made us actually do some physical activity! The trek from the car park to the view point was a good 20 min walk. Once again the sky was overcast during our walk, and just when we reached the roofed view point, the downpour had started (saved from the rain again!). After enjoying the spectacular views from the top, while the breeze blew the rain as hard as possible to drench our sheltered bodies, we waited for the rain to stop and then set out for the next destination.

Karadiyur view point

On the way back to town, we took a road that next took us to the famous Shevarayan Temple of Yercaud. The sanctum sanctorum is actually in a cave, into which one has to grovel one’s was through, to see the deity – Lord Vishnu. After spending a few minutes thanking the Lord for being kind, we started back to Yercaud. By around 6 pm we finished seeing all that we set out to see and were back at the hotel. And having witnessed the lack of proper availability of food in town, we ventured out scouting for decent hotels serving dinner. Yet again, we ended up having food at a below-mediocre place. But with the satisfaction that the rest of the day went just as planned, we went back to the hotel to play some indoor games that we laughed and kicked each other over, followed by some romantic bedtime catch-up.

Check-out
Next morning on 20th April, we checked out form the hotel at 11:45am after having a filling breakfast. Then, we headed to the last place on the itinerary – Killiyur waterfalls. From previous experience of being to Jog Falls, I expected a steep descent to actually get to the falls. While the drop here was around 200 steps beneath, the vertical descent itself was physically taxing. But even before we started down the steps, a family group who went were on their way back told us that there was no water, only big boulders. We then looked at each other and then at the blazing sun above, and decided to be smart enough about it – so we walked back to the car and headed back to Bangalore.

The ride back to Bangalore was even more relaxing – the traffic was less denser and the weather too was cooler then during our journey to Yercaud. With my wife-cum-navigator-cum-DJ playing the good old songs from yesteryear Hindi movies, we reached home by 7 pm.

Note:
1. If you are hiring a car, take the 600 km with-fuel option, it works out cheaper for this Bangalore-Yercaud-Bangalore segment.
2. Yercaud offers very few places that offer really good food (never mind if you are not so keen about what you eat). Try Hotel Selva for lunch, dinner or both. We heard from the locals that its good (though its mostly non-veg fare).
3. If you are making room reservations online, make sure there are no price changes post booking! We had a bad experience on booking.com and ended up paying more than what we had been promised.

All in all, if you are looking for that short escape from the rough & tumble of your routines, Yercaud ought to be there on your bucket list.

Happy Traveling!

Krakow: A thrilling experience for the gun-loving types!

Introduction
One might have read several pages of reviews on Krakow’s vivacious night life, strip clubs and palaces. But there is an unexpected attraction in Krakow that is less spoken of and yet is a must-try!

An unexpected attraction
This August, on my second trip to Europe, I decided to visit Krakow in Poland – both because I wanted to experience the much-written-about night life as well as because of its proximity to Auschwitz-Birkenau (the horrifying reminder of the Holocaust) which I wanted to visit. And it was at the reception of my hostel where I was picking the receptionist’s brains for planning my itinerary that I came across a tiny sticker on the desk that had an image of a guy at a shooting range. I immediately asked the receptionist and she explained that it is a package that offers one to shoot a range of weapons at a shooting range at the edge of the city. For a guy fascinated with firearms but never held one in his arms (except imitating the Hollywood gunfight scenes with an umbrella), I was salivating by the time she finished explaining what the package entails. So I paid 200 Zloty in cash and she picked up the phone to make a reservation for me for the next day.

Three guns and a target
The intervening night seemed too long and I spent it praying for the morning sun to appear at the earliest. At the break of dawn, I sprang out of my bed, finished my morning routine, had my breakfast and headed to the pickup point at Rynek Glowny – the main square in the city – a full hour and half ahead of the appointed time, unable to contain my eagerness for the moment to begin. And right at the appointed time, the pick-up driver arrived at the spot and asked me to hop in into his non-descript minivan. We rode for about 20 mins passing through the main thoroughfares until we cut onto the highway headed out of the city. A short while later, we slid off the highway into a private driveway with thick vegetation on both sides, that took us into the shooting range. As we parked and stepped out of the car, the driver took me to a corner of the wooden garage and introduced me to the instructor by the name Alex. Once we stepped in, I found at least 20-25 different guns on the opposite wall, hanging like trophies in one’s living room. Alex read out the names of weapons on display while I marvelled at their variety – Glock, Kalashnikov, Sig Sauer, Uzi, Heckler & Koch, Colt, Smith & Wesson – every make that I ever read of in the various spy novels. As part of my package I was given a choice of 3 weapons and I chose the AK47, Uzi and Glock. After listening to his instructions on how to handle the weapons, I put on the goggles and ear muffs and Alex finally put the loaded Glock in my hand. With a wave of adrenaline rushing through me, I looked through the sight of the Glock and gently squeezed the trigger to take my first shot at a target sheet placed some 30 meters away in the backyard from the shooting bay. I fired my 10 rounds and realised I hit the target not even once. Alex looked at the disappointment in my face and before handing the next weapon – the AK47 – helped me to adjust my posture and rest the weapon’s butt on my shoulder without hurting myself due to the recoil. This time I fared better. Well, at least I managed to shoot one round on corner of the target sheet, though completely missing the guy on it. With the Uzi however, I felt far more in control. It weighed lighter than the AK and also seemed far easier to handle with its compact size. With the Uzi I fired 9 out of the 10 rounds into the guy on the target sheet. This time Alex looked at me a tad amazed and I brushed it off saying it must have been beginner’s luck!

Conclusion
At the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of firing live rounds from some of the most famous weapons in the world that I never imagined I would ever be able to do. Alex gave me the target sheet as a memoir to keep and I thanked him for it. And with the target sheet as proof of my “marksmanship”, I headed back to the hostel imagining of ways to narrate this exciting experience to my wife!

Being a travel lover, I thought of sharing some of my not-so-common experiences so that more people can enjoy the same. Do let me know if you find this post interesting and leave your opinions in the ‘Comments’ section.

Bitnami