Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mumbai Metro

Mumbai is the real commercial hub of India aptly referred to as Gateway of India. Travelling to mumbai can be a pleasure combined with challenge to overcome the crowded metro.

Currently Mumbai metro is on the revamp mode, with lot of developments on the infrastructure front, which may take another 3 years to really bear fruit. The bride across the sea face at Bandra is being linked, Sky bus from Andheri (w) to Ghatkopar is under-construction, Bridge near Thane station is underway, further the road widening and concreting in many places across the city is being developed.

The best way tourist can overcome hurdles and travel across Mumbai quickly is to board the Metro train with a tourist pass for 5 days costing Rs 105 second class or with a smart card. Smart card is accepted in both metro as well as BEST buses. Auto travel is recommended for short distance.

Recently I had a misfortune of being fined for crossing the Bandra bridge for ticketless travel, while I was using only the over head bridge for crossover, there is no public cross over bridge at all Bandra and many of the stations. The ticket checkers conviniently fine the tourist. All tourist should be careful by obtaining the 5 day pass or one can obtain 1 day pass which is charged @ Rs 50/-

Metro travel can be challenging, It is recommended to travel between 10.30 AM to to 5.00 pm on sub urban trains. The travelling discomfort is at peak between 8 AM TO 10.30 & between 5.30 pm to 9.30 pm. One will not be able to board the train at Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Kurla and other crowded stations. If one does manage to board the train, he does with a risk to his life and does get exposed to pickpocketing. It is better one carries a pouch hanging to neckline to protect ones mobile, money and credit cards.

Mumbai boasts of number of restaurants, pubs, bars and eating joints. Majority of the eating joints are dominated by the shetties, who own and manage them beautifully. The recomended restaurants are Mahesh in S.Mumbai, Dragon for Chinese, Sachin for Seafood ( expensive ) Modern Lunch Home Sion, Saiba @ Bandra, Harish @ Vile Parle, Gomantak for Konkan food, Daras Dhabba at Dahisar & Lambas @ Chembur.

The most popular spots in Mumbai Metro are Juhu Beach, Gateway of India, Nehru Planetarium, National Park, Elephanta Caves and ESSELWORLD. For Religious people Mahalaxmi temple, Siddivinayak temple, Bandra Church, Haji Ali Darga, etc is recommended.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cool Cool Wooden Palace @ Thucklay, T.N

Padmanabhapuram Palace :

It is located 55 kms south of Trivandrum in kulkulam taluk, Tamil Nadu near the NH 47highway junction of Thucklay. The fort and palace is situated in an area of 186 acres. Currently the fort ramparts are surrounded by houses and commercial hub. The palace is restricted to 6.5 acres. The Padmabha Palace consists of 14 palaces of which only 3 are accessible to the public due to the fear of crumbling edifice.

The palace is said to be rebuilt in 1744 AD, wherein an old mud Kalkulam palace was demolished. Over a period of 150 years the extension of the palace took place with subsequent rulers. Marthanda Varma dedicated the Sri Padmanabha temple @ travancore in 1750 paving way for shifting the capital from Kalkulam to Trivancore.

There seems to be some sort of curse after the palace was built fully in 1839 AD the ruler died at an young age of 34, just 9 months into the reign from the palace. The palace was shut for more than 150 years only reopened in 1991 for public viewing. The Vaastu of the palace seems to be wrong, ancient Hindu architectural guidelines for prosperity.

The palace is built with wooden pillars and supports, the ancient laterite stones with bricklime mortar is used along with red inclined tiles to reduce intensity of the rainfall. The palace consists of :

1. Mint
2. Dining Hall
3. Visitors chambers
4. Scholar’s Room
5. Queen’s chamber
6. King’s Bedroom
7. Mural Painting Room
8. Kitchen
9. Water Tank
10. Navarathri Mantapam or dancing chamber

The palace ramparts consists of a museum which is filled with artifacts, ancient coins, weapons of war, puppets, cutlery, throne, etc. This museum was finished in 1993 in line with the palace reopening.

Alas one cannot enjoy the videography, which is probhitively expensive @ Rs 1500/-. One has to be content with still photography. One should not miss this spectacular edifice on a trip to TN or Kerela. The itineary to Kerela or Kanyakumari should definitely include Padmanaba Palace.