Holidaying in Masai Mara, Nyeri and Mombasa

Mombasa, Masai Mara and Nyeri are some of my most unforgettable travel experiences. Both Masai Mara and Nyeri have modern tents right in the middle of a thick forest where I once drew the curtains to see a wild rhino in my verandah.

Midnight safaris let me watch lions, cubs, leopards, elephants, zebras, giraffes and gazelles from a distance of a few feet. If you get lucky, a kill is in store for you, too.

The hot-air balloon ride that costs $400 per person will allow you to see these animals from the heavens. This is followed by a sumptuous champagne breakfast you will not forget in a long time. Only, make sure you don’t land in the jaws of a lion.

The food is thoroughly to the taste of an Indian with butter chicken, biryani, dal and butter naan in every buffet. Here, you don’t see animals; you live with animals, as a Masai tribe. 

Mombasa is a perfect holiday spot for all the unwinding and rejuvenating you deserve. The most striking feature is the colour blue. With four swimming pools and an attached private beach, the hotel I stayed catered to the adventurer in you.

I tried jet skiing and parasailing and also jumped into the sea while I was at it just for the thrill of being in the middle of an endless blue. The spa offered a variety of remedies to relax my mind and muscle. I tried reflexology which had its own little pool with pebbles and a waterfall to stimulate my nerves. Food again is a major attraction here, for tourists as well as locals.

The moral of the story? It’s healthy to pamper yourself.

— Guest post by Shriya Narayan

Bangalore-Mysore highway: How safe?

Think of safe, it’s fatal. A trip on the Bangalore-Mysore highway is sure to send jitters down your spine if you exceed your speed limit.

Think eighty and you’ve had it. Countless speed-breakers (aren’t they spine-crackers?), autos turning round and round, tractors making that occasional peep, the highway has it all. The worst part, however, is when a herd of cattle decides to make the celebrity appearance. You’ve had it. Sheep running all over the road (and sometimes over you, literally), cows acting like cops, dogs running across, this would leave applying your breaks with force.

Dangerous, it is.

Not surprising that the Bangalore-Mysore highway sees so many accidents and most of them, fatal. Somehow, the Indian system of highway lacks a certain something. Where highways are meant for high-speed travel (with the intent of reducing the time taken to cover distances), in India, they do exactly the opposite. The highway too is some kind of a democracy – it’s meant for all, not just vehicles.

Ah, well!

— Guest post by Rohit Nair

Architectural marvels in Bangalore

A mix of the old and new. That’s what Bangalore offers if you look at the city’s architecture.

Monkey tops, typical of the city, are still to be found in several houses. Today’s builders have built apartment complexes that reflect the architectural styles of Spain, Morocco and California, among others. While most companies like Intel and Reuters have gone for glass and chrome buildings, there are the Wipros and the Infosys’ that are eco-friendly and devote a major portion of space for landscaping, natural lighting, ventilation and epitomise in bringing ‘the outside, inside’.

Many old bungalows and Victorian-styled houses are making way for commercial complexes and apartment blocks. The city’s spaces are an eclectic mix of the old and new. They range from the Windsor Castle replicated in the Bangalore Palace to the Vidhana Soudha with the serene bungalows of different Indian and European styles. If you look around the city, you will find some private bungalows built in the Tudor style, especially the turrets (small towers). Take that to mean, grey sloping roof and the timbering on the exterior of the windows and the walls to emphasise predominance of wood as was used in European architecture. Only recently, a temple has been sculpted in the 750-year-old Hoysala style of architecture characterised by the use of soapstone and square-shaped structures at Swanandashrama in Agara village on Kanakapura Road.

Masterplan 2015 is all for mixed-use neighbourhoods and more floor area ratio. That’s the city growing vertically.

Have a happy stay!