Recently I have been to Karnataka state in India to explore the wildlife and beauty of the hill station. Before we head for nature, we had a day stopover to Mysore City. Once upon a time, Mysore was big city ruled by Wadiyar dynasty. It is a small city, however, the brilliant history of Mysore makes it an interesting place to visit.

Our stay in Mysore was in Country Inn & Suites near one of the industrial area, Hebbal Industrial Area. The hotel was outside the city centre and very apt for business trip. From a leisure perspective, it is good if Mysore if your stopover. We left Bangalore later in the afternoon and make it to the Mysore city late in the evening. Since our hotel was far from the city, we spent the rest of the day in the hotel. Best part of staying in Country Inn & Suites is their extensive breakfast. The options were endless and the quality of food was fantastic. The start of our journey was on a very good note with friendly staff and delicious food.

Deluxe Room at Country Inn & Suites
Dosa for Breakfast at Mosaic, all day dining restaurant
After breakfast, we started on exploring Mysore and various sightseeing. The one we were keen to see and also near to our hotel was Brindavan Garden, sadly, due to some riots, it was closed. Brindavan Garden is vast and the best part of the garden is in the evening when they showcase laser & light show before closing. 

Brindavan Garden
Picture Courtesy: 
Moving on, the second best attraction in Mysore is Mysore Zoo. Around 3 km long, Mysore Zoo is the residence of many animals, insects and birds. We got to see tiger, leopard, zebra, giraffe and many more! Click here to see the detail Photo Journey of Mysore Zoo. Most of our daytime went in Mysore Zoo.
Giraffe in Mysore Zoo
Next stop is none other than Mysore Palace. I come from the state of Rajasthan where every city has a huge palace and Haveli, hence, my interest in the viewing Mysore Palace was more. The palace is big (some areas are restricted for tourist) and the architecture inside is different than what I saw in Rajasthan. The viewing in the palace is very organised with a pathway created for tourist to move and see different rooms and areas. The thing which intrigues me more is whatever temperature is outside (in this case heat), inside the Palace, it was cool and soothing. Since I went on Weekends, Mysore Palace was filled with tourist and locals who came with their families and friends. If you are planning to visit Mysore Palace, do it in the morning to avoid crowds or in the early evening to avoid heat. 

Mysore Palace
Further ahead in our sightseeing tour, we went up on the Chamundi Hill. Chamundi Hill is located outside the city some 10 km away. On the way to the hill, you can also check out Sand Sculpture Museum. We had limited time so we skipped the museum and headed straight to the top. The view from Chamundi hill of Mysore is must see. The city looks great with nothing but greenery and Mysore Palace stands out amongst many buildings. The hill has a big figure of Chamundi and a temple around it. 

Chamundi Hill
View of Mysore city from Chamundi Hill
Near Chamundi Hill is also Sri Nandi (Big Bull) Temple. Before you head into the city, you can take a turn to head towards Bull of Mysore. It is a temple where there is a big Nandi (bull) sculpture. Another great spot to see the Mysore city from the top. 

Nandi (Bull) Temple near Chamundi Hill
Apart from the above main sightseeing, you can also pay a visit to a second palace of known as Lalit Mahal Palace, now a five star hotel, St. Philomenas Church and many temples around the city. The thing which surprises me about South India is number is temple of various gods around the city. 

Lalit Mahal Palace
Picture Courtesy:
St. Philomenas Church, Mysore
Picture Courtesy: BookmyFunction
After this many visits, you will feel hungry and will look for a place to have lunch. The best place to have food in Mysore is Vinayak Mylari. A very small (kinda shady joint) where they serve only two dishes - Dosa and Masala Dosa. One of the best and heaviest dosa I had in my journey. Unlike what you eat in Mumbai or any other restaurant, this dosa is a soft, thick layer with butter on top. Also, the masala inside was well prepared and spicy. Must visit place to get the best of Mysore Dosa. 

Masala Dosa at Vinayak Mylari
Though I had a stopover in Mysore, but the city requires 2 days to explore it at leisure and also known about the history of their king. 

A city of temple, culture and history, Mysore is a place to get away from crowded metros. 

Category: Heritage and City 

Location: Mysore is in Karnataka and quite close to Tamil Nadu state. It is approximately 150 km from Bangalore. 

Time: Closest airport to Mysore is in Bangalore and you will take approximately 2 hours to reach the city. There are many other tourist destinations from Mysore which are 2-3 hours away from Mysore.

Carry: The climate in Mysore is pleasant throughout the year. Afternoon can be little hot, so don't forget to carry sunscreen, glares and hat/cap. Also, nights can be chilly in winter season, so carry one pair of jacket / stole.

Temple in Mysore

Temple near Mysore Palace
During my trip to Karnataka, we decided to opt for Club Mahindra Medikeri property as it was one of their old and well known property. Then some changes in the plan happened and we booked another 2 night in their second property in Coorg, Club Mahindra Virajpet. Our stay in Virajpet was before Medikeri and I am glad that we opted for Virajpet.

Night view of Reception Building of Club Mahindra Virajpet
Being a new property of Club Mahindra, it is huge, well designed with new state of art technology. The theme of Club Mahindra Virajpet is Butterfly. From the shape of the entire property to the name of all the room quarters is based on the butterfly names. 

Butterfly theme everywhere!
The grandness of the resort is felt as soon as you enter the reception. The staff is welcoming and soft spoken. As you enter the hotel, one staff member is allocated to you, who takes you through the check-in process. The view from the reception will take your breath away. That view was the most impressive I have ever seen in a Club Mahindra hotel. Check in process was smooth and we were led to our room. On the way, the staff member explained the concept and facts abut Club Mahindra Virajpet. 

View from the reception
The entire hotel is built on the butterfly theme. From the design of the hotel to the name of each building block, they are on various butterfly. Each block has about 4 rooms and there are other blocks which has more than 4 rooms. Reception is on top and you find your way down to find various facilities provided in the resort. Club Mahindra Virajpet was constructed in 2012 and it is only 3 years since the hotel is operational. The location is quite inside and there is no network available in the hotel, which in turn is blessing in disguise. The hotel gives you an opportunity to mingle with the nature and relieve yourself with your loved ones.

Day view of restaurant wing
Most of the rooms in Club Mahindra property as studio room and also with one / two bedrooms. We opted for studio room which can accommodate 3-4 adults in a room. The rooms are well furnished and quite spacious. All rooms are accompanied by a balcony. Since Virajpet is closer from the sea level, there is air conditioned provided in the rooms. All rooms also have a kitchenette which consist of microwave, dishes, cutlery and other basic necessities. The bathroom is also good and spacious. The hotel uses the concept of dispenser for body shower and hand wash gel which in a way is good as there is very minimal wastage. The bed is as soft as a feather. If you don't feel like leaving your room, which is the case most of the time, you can just relax on a soft bed with television providing you the entertainment. 

Super soft bed
Welcome from housekeeping
Fun Zone
The highlight of Club Mahindra Virajpet is Fun Zone. All Club Mahindra properties have a fun zone where various activities are planned throughout the day all 7 days of the week. It helps families to have their kids occupied and spend some time mingling with the other guests. Fun zone is Virajpet is modern with new state of the art technology. It is can accommodate around 100 people at a time with different zones created. Inside the fun zone, you can find a library, kids play zone, video game zone to shops selling Coorg specialities. During my stay, they had a musical night (Karaoke come music competition) along with dance workshop and on the second night, Fashion Show. There are some free activities and some are charged. You can either play table tennis, pool, ride a quad bike, go for zip line, try your hands on swag-way, play Badminton, basketball and many more. Fun Zone will keep you occupied throughout your stay. 

Karaoke Night
Swimming Pool and Svaastha Spa
The pool is another highlight of the hotel. It is not exactly infinity pool, but you can see various plantations and trees from the pool. Everything in the hotel is big, so why not a swimming pool! 

Svaastha Spa is further inside the block and again one of the highlights of Club Mahindra Virajpet. They offer a range of services and those who are visiting the hotel, must remove time from their busy schedule to rejuvenate and revive.

Spa and residential wing
The only thing which is expensive in Club Mahindra Hotel is food. They have two restaurant offering all day dining and al carte food. Also, there Poolside cafe offering snacks and beverages. The food is comparatively expensive in the hotel. However, you can save some bucks by opting for a combo of breakfast with lunch / dinner. The location of the hotel is in interiors, hence, you will end up eating dinner in the restaurant. I tried both the restaurant during my stay. The buffet in Coorgenburg restaurant offer wide range of delicacy to choose from. Indian to some continental food, the restaurant will not disappoint you. The quality of food is good and the buffet will make you feel all the more lazy. Breakfast yet again, like dinner buffet offers many variety. During my trips, I have a simple rule, eat heavy breakfast buffet (provided it offers variety like this hotel) and have a light lunch and end your day with a delicious dinner. The other restaurant Aromas also offer continental food along with a pool table to spend your night eating and chilling.

Aroma restaurant
The hotel will keep you occupied throughout your stay, however, if you still crave to step out and explore the city, there are many things one can do. The furthest away from the hotel is Irrupu Fall and Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary. Apart from these two, one can explore the city of Medikeri (Largest city in Coorg) which is some 20 minutes away. The hotel has tours which cover the sightseeing around the hotel, one can book based on their interest and time. Must to do at Club Mahindra Virajpet and also in Coorg, is Coffee Plantation Tour. The guide will take you around the coffee plantation and share the information about various flora and obviously coffee. Based on the season you will see the growth of coffee beans, during my stay, coffee beans were still maturing. 

Coffee plantation walk around Club Mahindra Virajpet
My expectations from Virajpet were very minimal as I didn't know about the hotel and hardly travelled to any of them. After visiting Virajpet, I really feel glad that we have opted for Club Mahindra membership. If utilised in a good way, Club Mahindra will give you a reason to travel more and more! Out of both the property in Coorg, for those seeking comfort of the hotel and relaxation, book Club Mahindra Virajpet. The hotel will ensure that your stay is memorable! 
Location: Virajpet is located in Southern part of Coorg district. It is 2 hours away from Medikeri. Club Mahindra Virajpet is located in outskirt and the road leading towards the hotel is small and bumpy. 

Unique: The hotel is grand and located in the middle of plantation makes it a unique resort. Also, it gives you the opportunity to connect with nature and yourself.

Room tip: All rooms are well made and neat. The property comes with the options like studio apartment, one and two bedroom apartment. Rooms which are on the first floor has better view compare to ground floor, however, resort is surrounded with greenery so every room has good view. 

Don't miss: Make sure that you attend atleast one of the evening event in the hotel. It lives up to its name, Fun Zone with energetic staff and their creative ways to bring out smile on everyone's face.

View from the balcony
Rooms around the hotel
India is full of surprises. I thought I knew most of the destinations in and around Mumbai only to be proved wrong by having a weekend outing to a totally unknown place, atleast for Mumbaikar (or only me). When my family told me that we are going to Rajpipala, I didn't know in what and which part of Gujarat I am entering. Only when we started driving and I put the coordinate of Rajpipala on the map, I discovered the destination (also reading about it on the way helped me understand the place more). 

The place where we headed was Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is some 10 km away from Rajpipala, a small town in the Narmada district. The closest big town near this unexplored place is, Ankaleshwar which is around 30 km. It took us some 7-8 hours to reach the sanctuary from Mumbai. The Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary unlike Kanha or Bandhavgarh, has less animals, to be precise no tiger. During my visit also, we couldn't do the morning safari in the midst of the forest and went only to the area accessible by localities. 

Aerial view of Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
Since it was a weekend trip and a lot of time we spent in traveling, we had limited time to go around and do the sightseeing. At the entrance of the sanctuary is Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Dam. The Gujarat Government has taken years to finish the dam which now provides energy to states like Maharashtra, Madhy Pradesh and Gujarat. The Dam is constructed on the Narmada River and water from the river is used to generate hydro electricity. We headed to see the dam and from there went below the Dam and understand the working of the project. The local guide gave us the briefing of how the entire process works, the equipment used and the amount of electricity is generated. It was more of educative tour. Once we saw the dam from 2-3 viewing point, we headed towards our accomodation place. 

Far away view of Sardar Sarovar Dam
Closer view of Sardar Sarovar Dam
The stay is available in Rajpipala, Dediapada and Zarwani. Zarwani is located inside the sanctuary, hence, you need to enter the forest before 7 to reach the guest house. The accommodation in Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is very moderate and basic. If you crave an air conditioned room, then opt to stay in either Rajpipala or Dediapada. The Zarwani accommodation is in dormitory style with an additional 4 rooms available accommodating 2 adults. The food is prepared by the caretaker in the guest house is a staple food, but indeed tasty. 

Top view of stay in Zarwani
Flowers around the guest house
Next day morning, we started our day with a small walk around the guest house just to breath in the fresh air and admire the beauty of the forest. We visited during the monsoon season, so the greenery abundant and there was no sun as black clouds overpowered the sky. We passed by many small villages where people started their daily routine.

Houses in the village
Crossing path with childrens staying in Zarwani
We headed back to our room for some breakfast and later started our journey towards the Zarwani Waterfall. We parked our car in the parking space and started the walk towards the waterfall. There was some construction work going on, the local told us that they are making a bridge connecting the two villages. Due to monsoon, there was water on the way towards the waterfall. We walked in the rough road, then in the water and they again on rocks to again crossing ankle length water to finally crossing hip level water to reach the Zarwani waterfall. Many people skipped the waterfall as after monsoon the road becomes slippery and difficult, especially for aged people. Zarwani waterfall was beautiful, but very crowded with people came from all possible nearby towns.

Distant view of Zarwani Waterfall I avoided going closer due to crowd
On our way back to the parking lot, some localites told us about the second unnamed waterfall in the same area. A small walk in the other direction and we reached the second waterfall. This one, unlike Zarwani Waterfall was empty and there was no crowd at all. Personally, I found this waterfall much better than the Zarwani. Unfortunately, this one doesn't have a name as such, but it is located in the same area. This waterfall is small, however, we enjoyed our time by having some photo sessions.
Second unnamed Waterfall - Front view
This is the side view of same waterfall
Good force can always break through the rock
Everywhere we went, whether it was a dam or waterfall, we saw many people selling corn on the cob. Unlike what I see in Maharashtra, these corns on the cob were boiled inside the vessel and kept in hot water till you order one. It is must eat as the corn is soft and sweet in taste. Too hot to handle, I had a fun time eating them. Apart from corn, you will find all types of street food available. The unique item to try is Khichu (steamed corn flour prepared with spices). As it is said that Gujarati's (residence of Gujarat state) loves food and there is no shortage of variety available in any part of Gujarat, even if it is a small village in the interiors. 

Localities continuing their daily routine
On your way, you will also see shops selling 'Live waffers' (Live Chips). These are freshly made banana and potato chips. Right behind the shop, you can see the people cutting the banana and putting in the hot pan to deep fry the chips. Full of oil, but worth it if you love chips! 

Small boy frying chips
Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is completely government owned and to visit or stay inside, one needs to take the permission. As for the cost, this trip was one of the cheapest I had in many years. Since everything is basic in this town, we spent hardly any bucks on stay or food. The entry Ticket issued by government is also very nominal making it the cheapest nearby destination for a weekend getaways.

Having fun with water and camera
Category: Nature and Wildlife

Location: Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat - 30 km from Ankaleshwar and 5-10 Km from Rajpipala in the Narmada District

Time: From Mumbai, it is a 8 hour journey via Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway. 1 night stay in the sanctuary is enough and if time permit, stay for an additional night and go for the safari in the forest.

Carry: The accommodation is basic so carry bed covers and blanket. Wear comfortable shoes, for waterfall visit, opt for slippers or waterproof sandals. It is preferred to take regular clothes like Jeans and top as there will be lots of walking and the entire area is in the village.

This is sign of monsoon season, small waterfall gets created!
Fresh and also cold water - Beware of slippery rocks
One selfie is mandate :P
Happy Halloween !!!

One of the tradition of Halloween is Trick or Treat and I had an opportunity to experience a well organised Trick or Treat in Bandra by TimeOut Mumbai - Halloween Dessert Crawl 

The Crawl for desserts started at the Ellipsis Bakery inside Godrej Nature's Basket where organisers handed over a Crawl Booklet with all the information about the event and 10 participating outlets. 

Along with Booklet, they also gave us voucher from Flintstop. Flintstop, an online place to find the wackiest product to the creative one. Follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to get update on the latest products and offers!

Your Crawl Badge
I was amazed to see the outcome of the event, many kids and youngsters, came dressed up in the scariest costume. From Vampire to Adams Family to Fairy to Harry Potter to Dexter (Serial killer one), the event was buzzing and people were excited to head for their Trick or Treat.

Anyone can start their crawl and head to dessert outlet based on their choice and convenience. All you have to do is head to the outlet, show your booklet, get stamped and your free dessert. 

Dessert Crawl Booklet
I started my Halloween Dessert Crawl with Chocolate Fudge Brownie at Ellipsis Bakery. The yummy chocolate brownie and so heavy that I was dreading my crawl and more desserts on the way.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie at Ellipsis Bakery

I headed my way towards Mamagoto to get another stamp on my Crawl Booklet with Caramel Pastry. The pastry was decent, the sponge cake was soft with caramel layer on the top.

Caramel Pastry at Mamagoto
The Next stop on the crawl was Sassy Teaspoon. The team has props where one can click a funky picture with props and get discount on their next visit. They offered Carrot Cake, which personally, I didn't like it much. However, the place was happening with great interiors. 

Carrot Cake at Sassy Teaspoon
Heading ahead, we went to Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House. Again a brilliant place to hang out in the evening time with various tea options available on their menu. My Crawl Stamp earned me one of their Tea along with Scones to munch. Tea was fabulous compared to their macrons.

Tea at Taj Mahal Tea House
Scones available with hot cup of Tea
Moving ahead in my crawl, we headed to get a drink at Cool Story. The options available were Guava and Mango, we opted for Mango slush. It was a refreshing drink and definitely break from dessert eating.

Mango slush at Cool Story
Next to Cool Story was Bombay Waffle Co. The most crowded place of all, Bombay Waffle offered their signature waffles in three flavour - Chocolate Mousse, Red Velvet and Regular Vanilla. Obviously, my choice was Chocolate. This was the heaviest dish out of all I ate so far!

Chocolate Mousse at Bombay Waffle Co.
The crawl continues and we head to another amazing place, The Boston Cupcakery. They had many options to choose from Macroons and eggless Cupcakes for Vegetarians. We went to their Eggless Pan flavour Cupcake. The Pan Cupcake had gulkand flavour with base of chocolate. Perfect combination!

Pan Cupcake at Boston Cupcakery
My stomach was already full, however, crawl was yet to get over. The break from dessert like Cake was offered when we headed to Menchie's Frozen Yogurt. Personally I am not fan of yogurt, but Menchie's had one of the best one I had. We choose Chocolate Mint flavour and it was as good as chocolate ice cream.

Chocolate Mint Yogurt at Menchie's Frozen Yogurt
Last stop to the crawl was Raasta. The ambience of the place is good, however, their offering was literally too small. They gave us smallest serving of chocolate mousse possible. Since we were full with all the desserts offered by other outlets, I didn't mind gulping Chocolate Mousse.

Chocolate Mousse at Raasta
There was another stop in Halloween Dessert Crawl name Scoopalicious - Ice Cream Truck, sadly, we couldn't locate them in the entire experience at Hill Road or also at Bandstand where it was suppose to be.

Overall, an amazing event and really filling from all the desserts I had from best of place in Mumbai. I had to skip my dinner to digest all the sweetness I had!

Thanks to TimeOut Mumbai to arrange an event closer to Halloween Tradition and I am surely looking forward to my next crawl. :D

After crawling through 10 outlets! :)