Goa-I visited Goa in off season March. After landing at the airport we rented a scooty for the next 5 days. I and my friend with our two big back packs underwent the first experience of being true backpackers. Loaded with 30 kgs of stuff on my back and with one leg dangling from the scooty we set on our ride for South Goa. The start was pretty arduous as the distance is good enough 30 kms and with the weight on my back it seemed never ending. As a break we halted in Madgaon for breakfast and covered the next half in another 45 minutes. Finding an accommodation was the easiest part. With tourist dwindling we got our self a small make shift cottage just 100 meters away from the palolem beech in just 400 bucks. Since the days were hot and sultry we preferred to start the day at around 3 in the afternoon till late night as per wish. The daily itinerary included walking along the long beach, soaking in the sun, playing with plastic football, having fried fish in the night along the beach as the waves made noise and a daily trip to Agonda beech which is very peaceful and scanty. On one the days we headed to North Goa and as usual were extremely disillusioned by the heavy crowd. However we completed the customary visit to the Aguada fort, Bagha and Calangute beech and as usual with our desire to find fewer crowds we visited Anjuna beech and drifted to the part where there was a small fresh water lake near the beach, the only high point of the visit to the North Goa. Being teetotaler drinks is definitely not the highpoint of my Goa trips. But being big sea food fan I odes of fun having fried fish near beech. South Goa is all about serenity and peace of mind far away from the maddening crowd. Each day looking at the setting sun is soothing and if given a chance you might actually want to stay longer.
Hampi- Having seen a lot of medieval drama on the television from childhood it has always been a fantasy of how life would be in the land of kings and queens. To my great ignorance I didn’t know about this place till I visited and I thank my luck for that. I have a bad habit of over reading about a place on google before visiting and to a great extent spoiling the surprise the place might hold. I met a foreign couple who were bewildered at my ignorance. Anyways way lay ahead was extreme bliss and next days was liking finally getting a chance to jump through my TV in the era of Tipusultan. After a joyous ride playing cards with firnagi couple I reached Hospet the nearest railway station. The train ride from Goa to Hospet is through lush greens forests and the route was a topping on the cake. Another half an hour ride by an auto and you enter this UNESCO protected heritage site called Humpi. This place is frozen in time and appearance. The entire town of hampi is surrounded by boulders which acted as a natural boundary and helped intact a beauty of its own. The place is dotted with beautiful temples and relaxing cafes. The place has totally adapted itself to the tourist. Almost everybody can converse in English. Each of the small village houses have been converted in home stays ranging from cheap rooms from 200 to posh rooms in thousands. Most of these places have cafes where they serve one of the awesome foods you can expect in India. The variety and the taste of the food they offer in Breakfast is just mind blowing. Sit in one these cafes in the evening as the sun goes down behind the rocks and fills the sky with an orange hue.
Mangalore/Suratkal/Manipal-We basically covered these three places in two days as they happened to be a part of our visit to Suratkal. The Konkan coastline is one the mostly lively places as you hop from place to another. We spent the evening at the cliff facing the sea in Suratkal. Spend more time in these places to have a good feel of the Mangalorean weather and people. Would definitely need one more trip for this.
Aurangabad-We visited the famous Ajanta and Ellora caves. Aurangabad is actually the base to visit these caves and you easily available autos and cars which can be booked for entire day. You also get local buses which might make more sense when travelling alone. Ellore caves is around 30 kms and Ajanta around 100 kms. In the town of Aurangabad you can visit “Biwi Ka Makbara” which was built by Aurangzeb and is a poor replica of Taj Mahal. Though you spend an evening there. The caves of Ajanta and Ellora are each one day trip making Aurangabad as the base though recently accommodation facilities have been built up near the sites.Bothe the sites have around 30 caves. Some of these caves are high on architectural design. Ajanta caves have many frescos which have lost their charm due to deterioration over time due to tourism. Efforts are there to restore but the damage seems irreversible with some of the paintings are there just for name sake. However the history of the caves and there existence over the years hidden under forest makes tourist attraction. The caves are must visit if you happen to visit that part of the country.