Weekend getaways from Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata and 10 other Indian cities

HolidayIQ has just revamped its weekend getaway section. Now one can find weekend getaway destinations as well as weekend getaway resorts/hotels by distance from each of the top 17 Indian cities.

Click here to see the new pages:

Weekend getaways from Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata

Weekend getaways from all 17 cities

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Yossi Ghinsberg & HolidayIQ

With almost 150,000 travel maniacs as members, HolidayIQ has been bombarded with the question of organising some kind of a get-together for members. So, finally we decided to take a small step and have a cocktails & dinner evening in Mumbai. We also got Yossi Ghinsberg, one of the better known international motivation speakers to be a focal point of the evening. Not as a motivational speaker, but as a traveller and a nomad which is what Yossi’s true passion is.

So, a couple of Fridays ago, about 50 of us trooped into a room at the Leela Kempinski in Mumbai and had a great time.

Yossi spoke of his travels worldwide. About his longstanding love affair with the Bedouins. And how he went to the remotest island in the Pacific. And many more. While each story stuck in my mind, a couple of points he made about travel really resonated with me.

He said he always travels alone, since that is the only way to connect with the place and the people. I find this absolutely true and this is what I do every time I ‘travel’ (ie. when I am not taking a vacation with my family). Incidentally, Paul Theroux mentioned something similar in a recent talk – read related posts here & here.

Yossi also said he uses the Lonely Planet each time he travels – and he uses it in a pretty unique way. He decides on a country to go and then looks up the Lonely Planet and reads it from cover to cover . Then he finds a place on the map of the country that is NOT covered in the Lonely Planet. He goes there. The idea, he said, was to go to places that even backpackers don’t get to. That is when you see the real country.

Yossi lives in Byron Bay in Australia, a place I went to about a year ago. Of course, I didn’t know Yossi then and so didn’t meet him. But I now have an invite from him to visit Byron Bay & since it is one of the more beautiful places I have been to, I just might take him up on it sometime.

Business trips – the new lesiure travel frontier

Shashank S, the flautist who played at Dakshinayan at the Nehru Centre in Mumbai

(Shashank with Pandit Ravishankar)

In Mumbai over the last two days on some work, I decided to turn over a new leaf. Instead of doing 18 meetings in one day and flopping tiredly on to my hotel bed, I did a bit less of work and decided to take in a show. A quick glance at what was happening in Mumbai took me to a Carnatic music show, Dakshinayan, run by Banyan Tree at the Nehru Centre. It must have been at least 15 years since I last went for a Carnatic music concert and boy, did I enjoy it.

There was music in the air in my childhood, what with a mother deeply interested in it and a sister learning it for many years. I even had a minor & not very productive brush with Mridangam, although it did leave me with a deep and abiding interest in percussion.

Shashank S played the flute that evening. Shashank is among the young, new breed of Indian musicians. He spoke to the crowd in English, educated us a bit on the connect between Carnatic & Hindustani, played extraordinarily versatile stuff and generally gave us all a great time. For far too long, with a few notable exceptions, India’s classical music virtuosos have not felt the need to communicate to a wider, more cosmopolitan audience. I think that is about to change. Shashank and artists of his ilk will do it. It is this breed that can eventually connect Indian music to the wider world.

The next time you are on work in Mumbai or Delhi or Bangalore or Kolkata or Chennai or Pune or…, take time away from your schedule to figure what is on in the city. I wonder why I never did it before.

Click here for my posts on City vacations>>

And here for all my stuff on Music vacations>> 

On a passenger train from Mangalore to Madgaon on the Konkan Railway

26 stations separate Madgaon from Mangalore on the KR2 passenger. It took me 7 hours and I didnt mind it one bit. And, yes, the KR2 passenger has one reserved compartment and seats allotted are zealously guarded by the TTE. So, go ahead and climb on it the next time you are in the west coast. It is a great journey.

This is a particularly blessed land. As you go north to Goa, you get the sea on your left and masses of open, rolling country on your right. And to make it all very agreeable, the train runs over innumerable rivers and goes through long tunnels that have the exotic smell of damp red laterite soil; the same smell that greeted me in my grandfather’s house deep in the Keralan country, every morning when the dew was fresh on the ground.

And, now for my 10-second primer on the Konkan railway. The four Konkan coastal states (Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka & Kerala) hold 49% and the Indian Railways hold 51% of the Konkan Railway corporation. About 20 odd scheduled passenger trains run on Konkan railway in addition to a number of cargo trains. It has about 1900 bridges and 91 tunnels. The celebrated Mr Sreedharan, who then went to do a number of Metros in urban India, was the first head of the company. His team got the job done in about 7 years time and if other Indian government projects are anything to go by, this verges on the truly miraculous.

Like all big developments, the locals love it and hate it by turn. Continue reading

Black bean sauce over Indian skies

It was after some time that I was flying Kingfisher. On the way to Mumbai, they served chinese which included chicken in black bean sauce. Now, I have never really found black bean sauce in India with the pungent aroma that it has in the far east. This came close, what with the fermented black beans, the rice wine and the sesame oil strutting its stuff. Except for the excess of corn flour, it was quite well done and very good for an airline meal. I like Kingfisher food.

Click here for all my posts on Chinese Food.

Chelsea Harbour, London

chelsea_harbour_marina-7.jpg

(photo courtesy : Chelsea Harbour Marina)

Get on to the District Line (green) on the London tube and aim for Wimbledon. Alight at a station called Fulham Broadway and turn left as you come out of the station; walk for about a quiet mile and you get to Chelsea Harbour. London is full of surprisingly nice boroughs and Chelsea Harbour is one of them. If you are in London, are interested in Interior Design and have a few hours to spare to meander out a bit, this is an interesting little trip.

I found Chelsea Harbour a few years ago because I was chasing up a new design centre I had heard rumours of. Chelsea Design Centre – CDC – is a nice concept if you happen to like anything associated with Interior design. (I do, so the interest). CDC is a one-stop mall for various outlets providing designer products for all interior design requirements. When I visited it a few years ago, it was almost exclusively focused on Architects and Builders. I recollect wondering why they had not promoted themselves among the aam janata and I am happy to report that they seem to done it now. It is a concept crying out to be done in India; I think Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore can each take one such place.

The other interesting place is the Chelsea Harbour Marina which as the name suggests is, well, a Marina. A lovely little marina on the Thames ringed by residential buildings that obviously provide a respite for harassed but well-heeled Londoners.

Here is the link to all my Europe posts.

And, here you can find stuff classified under European Cuisine.