Year 2011 Trips


The year started out with my husband deciding to quit a regular job and start freelancing. His aim was to be able to spend more time on travel, especially to the hills. He had always dreamed of moving to the hills and work from there. Unfortunately, our company didn’t support working from home on a permanent basis. Hence, the decision to freelance.

The previous year he had done several exploratory trips to find a suitable spot on the hills. It couldn’t be too remote as Internet access was important for his work profile. Plus he would be frequently travelling back and forth from home (since I was continuing my fulltime job in Delhi NCR). He finally settled on Bhimtal, which was about 45 minutes drive from the nearest railway station in the foothills.

January 1 – 3 to Bhimtal

The first trip of the year was to a house we rented in Bhimtal. We got together some old furniture and other essentials and hired a van to deliver them to the rented house.

View from the terrace of the house

The trip was spent arranging furniture, settling in, and enjoying the gorgeous view.

The bare-bones kitchen
View from the kitchen

May to Bhimtal

After a few trials, my husband settled into a pattern of spending two-three weeks on his own in Bhimtal and the next two-three weeks with us in Delhi NCR. In May, I joined him in Bhimtal for a short vacation. One of my colleagues, who had become a very close friend by then, also joined me.

Although I’d already been to Bhimtal several times, living in a house versus a hotel gave the trip a different flavor. We had our own kitchen, so we could cook whatever, whenever we wanted.

My husband’s delicious aloo parathas
The Perfect Plate of Maggi

We also had plenty of time to explore neighboring houses and hotspots.

Admiring flowers at a nearby cottage
View of the lake from a higher spot on the hill
Local kids jumping into the tal (lake)

A popular hangout is Brownies, near the Birla Institute of Applied Sciences. College students often wind up here in the evening, enjoying the delicious patties, burgers, and other savoury and sweet snacks on offer here.

At Brownies

August to Rishikesh

We couldn’t stay away from Rishikesh this year as well. Unlike previous years, we didn’t stay at Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) hotel at Rishilok. Instead, we decided to stay at an ashram, primarily because it was nearer to the Ganga, in fact directly on its banks.

Swarg Ashram

Ganga was a bit muddy at this time of the year, because it was right after the monsoons.

Because of the rains, snakes and leeches had come out. We followed a snake till it disappeared into a hole in the wall.

October to Kerala

This year we decided to spend our son’s birthday in my hometown in Kayamkulam, Kerala so that his maternal grandparents could be part of the birthday celebrations. But before going there, we decided to stop enroute at Athirapally for a couple of days.


We landed at Kochi airport and hired a taxi to Athirapally town.

Athirapally Hills

We stayed at the KTDC (Kerala Tourism) guest house in Athirapally, . It is a small guest house, and its specialty was its spicy food.

View from the guest house

The main attraction of the place, of course, was the legendary Athirapally falls. The entire Chalakudi river, that otherwise meanders calmly, jumps off a cliff at this point to form this spectacular waterfall, and then continues on its placid way.

The spectacular Athirapally falls, where Bahubali and many other movies have been filmed

There was a walkway to the base of the falls, through the densely forested area. The path to the base is closed just before sunset.

From the base


From Athirapally, we caught a bus to the nearest railway station and then took a train to Kayamkulam. The highlight of the trip was Aakash’s birthday and our reunion with assorted relatives.

Tapioca root from my mom’s garden

Freshly made tapioca chips


After spending a few days in Kayamkulam, we took a train to Kovalam, a beach resort about an hour’s drive from Thiruvanandapuram. On our Kerala trips, we always try fit in a night in or two at Kovalam before catching our return flight from Thiruvanandapuram.

Kovalam is a beach resort, popular with both local and foreign tourists.

Lighthouse beach, Kovalam

December to Bhimtal and Mukteshwar

Every year, our office closes down for the Christmas to New Year period. We used the opportunity for a return trip to Bhimtal. A friend and her niece joined us for the intial part of the trip and with them we made day trips to nearby Naukuchiatal, Saat Taal, and Mukteshwar as well.

Hanumanji temple near Naukuchiatal
Kids try their luck at the hand pump


Published by Leena T Pandey

I have been reading voraciously since the age of five when I first discovered the joys of reading. I would lap up anything in print. Unrolling an emptied newspaper cone with one hand, stuffing roasted peanuts in my mouth with the other, all the while devouring the printed content on the cone with my eyes, was one of my first experiences in hedonistic pleasure. In fact, sometimes I feel that I am on an adventurous journey through the secret dreamworld of other people's imaginations, interspersed with occasional visits to my own life to attend events like graduation, first job, marriage, and so on. As a true-blue reader, I think I am uniquely qualified to comment on and critique other people's works of labour. I can tell exactly what puts the average reader to sleep, what sets their pulse racing, and what has them salivating for more. Write to me at

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