Goa Family Trip

We left our home at 4.15am on Saturday early morning in Meru cab and reached Bangalore Airport at 5.25am. Nandini, my wife and I had coffee and I bought a water bottle. This was the second time my wife was travelling by flight. Also my daughter Keerthana too. However, Keerthana doesn’t remember her first flight as she was just two years old then. Both wanted to sit by the window to see the view from the flight. Keerthana took the window seat and Nandini sat next to her.

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I had booked a room in the hotel called “Mariaariose ~ Melody of the sea” much in advance and had spoken to them the night before the journey. The hotel people sent us the pickup cab to the airport. I had booked this particular hotel as it was near to the Goa Airport. Also it was near to the BOGMALO beach.

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The Hotel staff were friendly and they agreed to early check in by 8.20am. Usually, the check in is at 2PM in most of the Goa hotels. Also they gave us an upgrade from Classic to Deluxe room. The Classic room is smaller as compared to the deluxe room. The only advantage Classic room has is a balcony, which we felt was okay to not to have.

We got ready and had breakfast at in our hotel restaurant itself. Then the hotel person introduced us to a cab owner. We came to know that they charge Rs.3,000/- for one day. They cover North Goa and South Goa in two days and that would cost us Rs.6,000/-. I decided to see North Goa on the first day. Fortunately, we got a Kannada speaking cab driver named Pandu. I started conversation with him and we both got connected soon.

We first went to DONA PAULA is a former village, and tourist destination in the suburbs of Panaji, Goa.

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We clicked some memorable snaps at this place. Also three of us bought hats and cap as summer heat was too much for us, though there was cool breeze.

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Then Pandu took us to FORT AGUADA which was nice. We had spent some time over here.

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Later we went to the DOLPHIN POINT which cost us Rs.600/- per person for the boat ride. Luckily, we didn’t have to pay for Keerthana.

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The boat person took us the point where Dolphins are usually sighted. We waited for some time until Dolphins made their appearance blissfully swimming in the sea.

Then Pandu took us to two more beaches CANDOLIM BEACH and CALANGUTE BEACH. Then we had our lunch. We found one WAX MUESUM next to the hotel where we were having food. We decided to give it a visit after completing our lunch. It was really good one. Keerthana asked me to take her snaps along with each wax statue of famous personalities and I obliged.

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We went to see 9D movie which was okay. Later, we both played in dashing cars outside the Wax Museum. Then we went to BAGA Beach, which is the biggest beach in North Goa. Keerthana and Nandini had a nice time playing in the beach.

We went to PANJIM BOAT CRUISE late in the evening and it was one hour ride, with lights and music. People danced to the native songs.

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Finally, we stopped at one restaurant to have our dinner. We returned to our hotel to take rest for the night.

Next morning, we had breakfast on the way. We were to see places in SOUTH GOA on the second day, which was Sunday, 21st May 2019. Pandu took us to FISH AQUARIUM and the guide explained about various fishes that were there in that Aquarium.

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Then we went to some old Church in Goa and it was nice.

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Pandu took us to the LORD BALAJI TEMPLE and it was nice.

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Also the journey in South Goa was wonderful as greenery was spread across everywhere. It was a treat for a nature lover like me.

Then we went to MANGESHI TEMPLE which was built in 1539.

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It was very hot to walk barefoot inside the premises of the temple. We did some shopping after returning from the temple. We skipped the SPICE PLANTATION as we were running out of time. We had lunch near to MANGESHI TEMPLE.

We went to BIG FOOT OLD HOUSE which had history about Goa.

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Then we left to COLVA BEACH the last beach to end our day’s trip.

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We had dinner at some sea side hotel and then Pandu dropped us at our hotel. We settled two days Cab charges and also I paid some extra money to Pandu, which made him happy. For next day we had requested for a bike so that we could visit nearby places.

The hotel stay was comfortable with electric kettle, so that we could make coffee whenever we wanted. Next day, we only got the bike by 12 noon. So we had to have our breakfast at hotel itself. Then we left the hotel on Activa. We wanted to see the Japanese Garden, which Pandu had mentioned the previous day. Japanese Garden was just a normal park with the amazing view of the sea and beach below it. I found some stairs which lead to the beach. We walked down to the beach which was solitary as hardly a few came down. We clicked some picks at this nice beach.

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Then we went back to our Hotel as it was already 3pm. We had lunch on our way to hotel and it was good. Then we got ready and left to BOGMALO BEACH. It was a nice beach. I took some wonderful pics at this beach and sharing them with you.

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Then we had dinner at a hotel near to the beach. After dinner, we left to our hotel. Finally, our trip was coming to an end.

We got up early next morning as our flight was at 8.30 am. The hotel staff arranged drop to the airport. We reached Bangalore by 9.45am.

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Sai Heritage Village, Shirdi P.3

This one is the concluding part of Sai Heritage Village, Shirdi visit of last week..

Sai Baba serving food for his devotees…

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A child peeps from the trailer’s shop..

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While other kids are playing..

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A seller in his shop…

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A lady putting rangoli in front of her house…

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A little girl outside her house..

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A typical village panchayat where justice is served like in courts..

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A man doing his job outside a dead person’s house…

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Woman drawing water from the well…one carrying water in earthen pots.

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A person selling oil..

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A boy singing…

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A cobbler doing his daily work under a tree, seated upon a stone platform…

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Sai Baba treating a sick person and healing him..

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A man purchasing vegetables from a vegetable vendor….

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The village school teacher teaching the kids…

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Two men selling in the sidewalks of a street..

A Brahmin speaking while Sai baba and others listen…

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Kids playing with bullock cart at Dwarakamai…

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Some lady leaving the village

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in a tonga..a horse driven cart in those days this was a means of transport.

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The day Shirdi Sai Baba breathed his last breath and left his mortal body..

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Sai Heritage Village, Shirdi P.2

Well, continuing the Sai Heritage Village visit in Shirdi last week..

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Sai Baba seated in the veranda outside a house with a lady named Bayajabai Maa who giving food and wate, while having a conversation.

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A little girl doing some house hold work in the back yard of her house..

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Two women having conversation while doing some work.

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An old man taking some rest under the shade of a tree..

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Sai Baba helping a kid at work.

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A lady doing some work behind her house..

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Young Sai Baba meditating at Gurusthan.. this was the first time Sai Baba appeared in Shirdi.

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A lady giving alms to Sai Baba..while a dog is watching them.

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A trailer at work in his shop..

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Another person at work in his hut..

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A lady biding farewell with tears in her eyes..

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Sai Heritage Village, Shirdi P.1

We had been to Shirdi last week and the first place we had visited was Sai Heritage Village. I didn’t know about it, my wife had found this one on Youtube.

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There is an entrance fee of Rs.125/- per person which includes a toy train ride and the railway track is much above the ground level. It appears like a roller coaster ride.

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Well, visiting this place magically takes you to the era of Shirdi Sai. 

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The life time of Shirdi Sai Baba is wonderfully depicted through various life size statues/replicas.

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Also the village life of that era is shown very well.

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Like this pandit and an old lady selling temple pooja requirements at the steps of the temple..

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The Khandoba temple replica is done very well.

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A farmer ploughing his field with oxen..

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Bhakta Kumbara, a potter who is a devout follower of God.

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One day while curing the clay to make pots, Kumbara gets so immersed in his chanting that he tramples and kills his young son. That is shown well in the above replica.

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A lady seated in front of her hut.

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A seller in the streets of Shirdi.

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The pot seller seated with pots outside her house.

 

The Mathura – Agra Trip


A Short Story 

It was Saturday early morning, I had got up at 4 am and got ready. The over night stay at Hill Palace hotel in Chana market, Karol Bagh was really good. I checked out, and started walking towards Panicker Travels for my trip to Mathura – Agra. I had a hot cup of tea on the road side and got into an auto, he dropped me just before the bus that was about to leave to Mathura. 

When I got into the bus I found someone had occupied the window seat. Actually, when I had booked that seat on this bus then I was the first person.

‘Do you want your seat back?’ He asked, lifting his face from some book which he was reading.

‘No, you can have it!’ I said, keeping my luggage, taking my seat next to him. Anyways, you don’t really need a window seat in a Volvo bus, I told myself.

‘Thank You.’ He said, returning back to reading the book.

The bus left the place at 6.03 am. The cool air coming from the air conditioner felt good inside the bus. I looked back and found the bus completely occupied. The bus stopped on the way to pick a family who sat on the seat opposite to me. They were young and had a cute little daughter. An old couple were seated behind their seat.

The bus conductor distributed free water bottles to all passengers. The driver inserted some DVD into the DVD player. I wondered which movie it would be? It was Amir Khan’s PK. I had seen this movie more than once and I had liked it.

‘It’s a good movie..’ He said, looking at the TV screen. I was able to see the book cover now…it was ‘The girl on the train’ by Puala Hawkins.

‘Yeah..’ I replied, ‘How is this book?’ I asked him.

‘Well, it is a thriller something line ‘Gone Girl’. Actually, the only similarity between these two is the missing girl. Nowadays, thrillers have all bad people in it. They are either bad or worse..’ He replied, ‘I like Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer books…am a fan of their writing.’

‘Even I like Sidney Sheldon and am his fan too. I have read all his books. They are good page turners, you can’t put them down until you complete them..I had spent many sleepless nights reading his books..’

‘Same here!’ He said, still smiling at me.

‘I still remember during my return train journey from Hyderabad, one fellow had borrowed one of Sheldon’s novel which I had bought in that city. He stayed awake whole night and kept on reading…whenever, I woke up from my sleep I saw him busy reading the book. I was worried whether I’ll get back my book. Fortunately, he completed it as the train reached Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station.’ I said.

‘Is it? So, you stay in Bangalore…are you visiting Delhi for the first time?’ He asked me.

‘No, this is my second visit to Delhi. I had come earlier too.’ I replied.

‘So, what do you do?’

‘I used to work in a MNC at Bangalore.’

‘Used to work?’

‘Well, I don’t any more. I had quit my job sometime back…Actually, my dream was to travel across India and I never planned to quit my job. It just happened.’ I said, occasionally looking at the television screen.

‘Oh..’ He said, somewhat surprised to hear this.

‘It was , as if, something was beckoning me to give up on my mundane existence and experience something more fascinating in the outer world which I realized was welcoming me with wide open arms.’ I said, ‘After eight years in the corporate sector I quit in 2013.’

‘Please continue…’ He said, insisting me.

‘In fact I didn’t even have the required savings but still I went ahead with my decision to quit. I believed in my dreams and took a leap of faith. I decided to travel solo and discover myself and India.’ I continued.

‘That’s something wonderful !’ He replied very pleased, ‘Even I dream of traveling across India, learning about different cultures and people. Every person has a story to tell. Maybe, I could bring many real stories to my writings…like the one of yours, which has touched me.’

‘You know, Every one of us dreams in some way or the other, but only few of us dare to risk everything and go after it.’ I said, smiling at him, ‘Somehow, our heart and soul knows more than we know. If we trust them they will be the torch bearer in our unknown journeys of lives.’ I added.

‘Agreed. That’s what my fav book of my life The Alchemist says!’ He said.

‘It’s my fav book as well. By the way, tell me something about your writing?’ I asked.

‘I started writing short stories and poems. Now, I even write my travel experience in my travel pages. Also reviews on movies and books.’

‘That’s really good. Only few people find time to do it in their routine busy schedule of life.’ I said, ‘even I write short stories and poem in my leisure..’

‘That’s good. Nice to meet a fellow writer in this trip.’ He said, smiling at me.

As I was tired and had limited sleep for last couple of days, so went to sleep. When I woke up I found that a guide had got into our bus. He started adjusting the mike, as he had to address something to us all.

‘Mike testing 1,2,3… All Panicker travels people…you will having breakfast now. All giving 100 rupees to the reception in hotel. You having idli, upma, bonda, etc. Only half an hour time giving and you getting into the bus back.’ He spoke to all of us.

Soon, the bus came to a halt near some hotel. I found him seated alone in a corner and having his breakfast.

‘May I join you?’ I asked him, holding my plate in my hand.

‘Sure..’ He said, looking at me, with a smile.

We finished our food and got back into the bus. Soon, we entered the old Mathura city. The guide instructed us to leave behind our cameras, mobiles, and bags behind as photography was not allowed inside the Mathura temple. We left our foot wear in the bus too. Mathura temple was really good. After sometime, the bus left to the Agra Fort. The guide had got down on the way, before leaving the Mathura city.

A new guide got into the bus entered Agra and his English was far better than the previous guide. We entered the Agra fort, our guide started explaining us about the fort and its rulers. Then he took us to the terrace of the Agra fort, showed us the place where Shah Jahan was kept as a prisoner, but my eyes kept drifting towards the Taj Mahal which was visible at some distance. I tried to zoom my camera lens to capture it.

‘We will be going there shortly…don’t worry!’ The guide said, smiling at me.

Later, the guide took us to a place where he said was the great King Akbar’s court and he explained how the King’s voice reached everyone with a mike in those days. His narration was so interesting that I found even a squirrel from a tree looking at him, as if listening to him with full attention.

My writer traveller was trying to take a selfie with his mobile.

‘May I click your picture?’ I offered.

‘Sure..’ He said, smiling and handing his mobile to me, ‘I didn’t bring my camera along as it was a business trip.’ He added.

‘No worries..’ I said, clicking some picks of him with the fort in the back drop, ‘If you don’t mind, I can click some of your pics in my camera and send them through mail later.’ I offered.

‘Okay…’

‘Cool..’ I said, clicking his snaps with my canon power shot camera. I showed him his pictures clicked with my camera and he liked them.

‘You seem to know photography well too.’ He said.

‘Well, I did a course on photography…’ I said, with a smile on my face.

‘That’s really good..’

Next we went to a handicrafts showroom and the guide told us that we can get Taj Mahal replicas made out of pure marble at that place. However, no one bought anything from that place. Later, we went to a hotel nearby to have our lunch. We both shared the same table and ordered the South Indian cuisine. The food was okay .

Finally, the bus went to Taj Mahal. The place I had wanted to see since my childhood days. Finally, it was coming true now. He told me the same thing, which brought a smile on my face. I came to know that the old couple had lost all their valuables like credit/debit cards the previous day. They too were from my city.

They asked me to click some of their snaps on my camera and send them by mail later. I readily agreed to do that. I also clicked some of his pictures. He clicked my pictures before the Taj Mahal as well..

‘You too seem to be good at photography..’ I said, seeing his clicks on my camera.

‘Thank you, I like photography…’ He said.

Later, the bus left back to Delhi in the express high way. I found him trying to get some sleep and even I tried to get some sleep. Later, the bus stopped for a tea/coffee break.

‘Well, the journey is finally coming to an end…’ I said, sipping my cup of coffee.

‘Yeah, it was really wonderful experience..’ He said, sipping his cup of tea.

‘Really nice to meet you,’ I said offering my hand for sake, ‘It’s so strange we don’t even know each others names…’

‘Oh, yes, I’m Vasu!’ He said, shaking my hand.

‘I’m Swati!’ I said, smiling at him.

He showed me his family picture which he had in his wallet.

‘Your daughter looks so cute…so much like you!’ I said, ‘What’s her name?’

 ‘Thank You,’ He said, ‘Her name is Keerthana!’

‘That’s a good name!’ I said.

The bus resumed the journey back to Delhi. He had provided me his email id as well as his blog id. I had taken the email id from the old couple as well. I like going on solo trips with complete strangers, have been doing it for quite some time now. I have made some really good friends through these solo trips I had been. Every person has a story tell and my journeys provide not only story ideas, but also wonderful characters for them as well.

The bus finally reached Delhi, and I said bye to my new friend, Vasu and the wonderful old couple as well, promising to send them their snaps soon.

Lalbagh, Botanical Garden, Bangalore

We had been to Lalbagh, botanical garden in Bangalore yesterday. It was a relaxing though on a hot summer afternoon. We went for a ride around the botanical garden in the buggy car. They charge Rs.100 for adults and Rs.50 for kids. Also we got a glimpse of wood carvings near the glass house.

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Some of the wood carvings were in progress like this one below.

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My personal favourite was this eagle wood carving.

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Also I felt this giant lizard was well done.

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Bulls carving was good one too.

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The peacock carving..

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The giant crocodile..

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They were many more…some were small and some in progress like this one.

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Also we got to see a pigeon peeping out from a tree hole.

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The lake is peaceful…

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And not to forget the floral clock which has been running from a long time now..

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There are some trees which are more than 300 or even 500 years old in this botanical garden. And the glass house which was now empty would be decorated twice a year for flower shows.

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The Toy Train Journey…

We reached the Coimbatore railway station almost half an hour late and had to catch a taxi to Mettupalyam, so that we don’t miss the toy train which would leave by 7.15 am or so. It proved to be the right decision, if we had come by bus then we would have certainly missed the toy train. We had enough time to have a hot cup of coffee in the railway station canteen.The train left the Mettupalyam station at 7.30 am. 

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This train journey covered about 46 kms in about 5 hours journey passing through Hilligrove, Coonoor, Wellington, Aravankadu, Keeti, Lovedale stations and finally ends at Udagamandalam or Ooty at about 12 noon. 

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The train had passed through jungle…some elephants crossed the track. We were lucky to take the picture of a langur.

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The climate became cooler as the train started to ascend the mountains. The strange thing was that the train was pushing the carriages from behind. It was wonderful to witness the train passing through the dark tunnels. We even saw some small waterfalls on the way. We even witnessed a peacock dance, spreading its feathers.

People used to shout in joy whenever the train went through the dark tunnel.

Steam engine was stopping after every one hour of journey to take water in small stations during its journey of 19Km up to Coonoor. At Coonoor steam engine was replaced with a diesel engine for the last part of the journey ending at Ooty.

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We saw the tea gardens; valleys with pine trees through open window of the compartments.

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During five hours of journey the train has passed through 16 tunnels and 250 bridges.

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I would like to mention that this is once in life time experience…one should experience it once to cherish the joy for a life time.

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One should note that the compartments of this train doesnt have any toilets.

The train tickets can be booked well in advance through IRCTC website.

 

Indian Railway Station Codes

METUPALAIYAM MTP

UDAGAMANDALAM – UAM