31 July 2013

Temples of south india: Bangalore-Vellore- kanchipuram- tirupati- Bangalore. Part 1.

Finally it happened, and i hope you were reading or checking on my blog.
as i wrote earlier, this was interesting because we were planning to cover some interesting places on the way. secondly i was planning  to do some live blogging while being on the road.
live blogging started but i couldn't do it post second day, for multiple reasons.
1. the blogger app sucks.
2. the trip timings were tight. i was driving around and very little except nights where we would stop and have some time.

Anyways, it was still a good experience trying out those things. Hopefully things will be better for my next trip. maybe there is a better app for blogger, or may be i should integrate twitter with blogger to keep all the updates on the blog.
Here is how i am going to write about the three places i covered- Vellore, Kanchipuram and tirupati.
For each of the places, i would cover, Road recommendation and details, tips for the travel, places to visit, and lots of photos.
hence keep glued here.

Route Traveled: Bangalore- Vellore-kanchipuram-tirupati- Bangalore
Day/Leg 1: Bangalore - Vellore.
Road recommendation and details:
  • Route: the route is simple. take the electronic city elevated highway towards Hosur and this road takes you towards Tamil Nadu. at Krishnagiri, watch out since you don't want to continue down to Salem, but instead take a left turn towards Chennai. once on Chennai road, there is no stopping until Vellore.
  • Road condition: the condition is brilliant. until krishnagiri, the road is great with few patches where construction work is underway. after Krishnagiri, the road gets even better, but with much more diversions. the best part is the labeling of diversion is so well done that driving becomes easier.
  • Stop overs: the distance isn't much but if you want to stop, there are lot of good places on the way. A2Bs, macdonalds, hoards of Cafe coffee days throng the sidelines. i recommend the Vadas, tea and breakfast at A2B.
  • Travel time: from Bangalore to Vellore, the distance of 212 can be easily done in around 3 hours or a little more than that based on your stops on the way.
  • Fuel: on this road, you don't have to worry about fuel availability since there are plenty of fuel stations. although finding a shell may need 'Google maps'.
  • Options to eat: At Vellore, there are all types of options available for food. from A2B, sarvana bhawans, to all sorts of Bengali restaurants(due to huge number of Bengalis in Vellore #CMC) and all types of uptown places like pizza huts, etc are available. we had food at the GRT Sameera and the buffet was impressive, in terms of spread of food. our breakfast buffet was equally good there.
  • Options to stay: we stayed at GRT Sameera, which is exactly on the national highway. i saw other hotels too lined up near by, like river view, etc. the major benefit is to be able to drive out of hotel and hit the highway in 2 mins. the downside was that in the rooms there was still a bit of noise coming from the road, which could be bothersome. the hotel was very contemporary and very good in all guest comforts. the staff helpful except couple of instances.
  • Misc Tips:

  1. There are multiple tolls on the way. in-fact you shell-out a lot of money in toll taking these roads. be ready with the change and cash while traveling.
  2. I have always tried to start earlier in the day, since it helps dodge lot of unwanted traffic during the day. this tip should influence your travel time.
  3. the temples close by 12:30 and normally open by 3 pm. plan accordingly if visiting a temple.
  4. Photography at temples is a huge confusion.  at temples like Tirupati, or golden temple, the devices are not allowed to enter the complex, but everywhere else it is different. Most of the temples, they don't let you click if they see you but everyone takes pictures. so, take a call accordingly.
  5. The golden temple is closely 7-8 kms from the main Vellore city. Pls plan your conveyance accordingly. 
  6. also, at the golden temple, the Shorts/Barmuda are not allowed. though also to note is the fact that you can buy/rent dhotis at the spot. planning is useful.

  • Places visited: we had planned to visit the fort, Jalakandeswar temple and the golden temple. 

  1. At the fort, there is nothing much to do. there are outer walls of the fort with nothing much inside the fort happening. there are police quarters and the famous jalakandeswar temple, hence i would recommend not really taking time for the fort. for photos, you could do a quick walk through, but nothing to be excited about.
  2. The jalakandeshwar temple was a beauty. all the temples of this trip were beautiful and timeless. some great architecture at work and fine art works on display.

            Road near krishnagiri. beautiful weather and long views of roads. intermittently, you get obstructions as well, like a truck crosses the road here.

            But over a very peaceful stretch on NH7. mountainous beauty surrounds you.

            One more from the road.

            Lunch at GRT Sameera was a treat. the buffet i guess had costed around 550 but had elaborate menu on offering. It was a mouthful. Also, may be in my imagination, i was expecting this kind of option at a city like vellore, but surely it changed my mind about vellore. my VIT friends who passed out from here 8 years ago, may have missed such a nice place to eat at :-)

            The rooms were beautifully done, and the complete design of the hotel was very contemporary. the staff was pleasant, and except couple of instance it was nice experience. the resturant 'gingee' is tastefully done, and the overall feel of the hotel is very spacious.

            A wall decoration on the theme of local art work and fort theme.

            vellore fort. gave it a sepia treatment, since to my eyes it went very well with the feel of ancient temples and forts. brings that timeless feel to the photos.

            Someone really toiled to have their love life recorded on the stone walls of the vellore fort. :-)

            Outer walls of the fort.

            Jalakandeshwar temple in its full glory, as seen from the fort wall.

            © SAURABH MITTAL
            If you would like to buy this photograph for commercial use or would like to buy rights to this photography, contact me at for further details.
            Use without permission is illegal

            30 July 2013

            George Washington monument-Date with american history.

            It was a beautiful day. from the cold winters, the weather was getting much more soothing. however, there was still some chill in the wind. But, today was different. I drove new jersey, and reached earlier morning at washington. Heard so much about it, i was raring to go around the city. The map, directions from friends and internet, everything all set. i had my hotel reservations confirmed, and was going to live close to the capitol building. I had started my tour of DC on foot and covered the capitol building first. washington monument was an amazing sight. the way it has been maintained, the park around it, the proximity to all the key places like the capitol, white house etc, makes it an amazing monument. its enormous size also is such a huge mark for american history and their independence. I leave you with some pictures which show different perspective f it. do tell me your thoughts on the pictures.
            Washington monument from lincoln memorial
            see my other post on washington capitol building here.

            Washington monument through the reflection pond.

            a plane swirls past the monument

            from the park between monument and captiol
            © SAURABH MITTAL
            If you would like to buy this photograph for commercial use or would like to buy rights to this photography, contact me at for further details.
            Use without permission is illegal

            Trip- Bangalore- Vellore- Kanchipuram- Tirupati- Bangalore

            The trip through the belt Bangalore- Vellore- Kanchipuram- Tirupati was a success. here is a teaser and a photo from the trip. wait for the report to come soon. hope you followed my live blog. time to share some details and more photos soon.

            26 July 2013

            live blog feed from roadtrip- day 1 of bangalore-vellore-kanchipuram-tirupati-bangalore

            Welcome to my live feed blog where I willfantastic ic Welcome baexperielovedirectly from the road and places I go around the leg of the journey from Bangalore - Vellore - Kanchipuram-Tirupati- Kanipakkam-Bangalore.

            26th July:23:47 pm- just finished the preparation. Camera battery n gadgets charging. Packing all done. Not feeling the best since morning due to light cold n fever but hoping to get through it. Target to start from CV Raman nagar at 5 am and beat any traffic. Vehicle fueled up n all set. See you in the morning.

            27th July:10:16 am- Reached and checked into GRT Samera, Vellore. beautiful hotel for the place. Rooms are crisp, though the fittings and few things probably are not upto the mark. Check-in was not quick but good. the staff seems very courteous and the overall feeling of the hotel is very contemporary.
            We started late as usual. from the target of 5 am, we could only push back, or should i start, rev engines by 6 am. the drive was smooth through the way. Especially after the turning from Krishnagiri, towards Chennai, the roads gets much better. the only down side is that they are building lot of flyovers, so there are multiple diversions, but extremely well labelled, and cordoned off. i was very happy with the amount of information display.
            We had taken a brief stop over at A2B for a great cup of tea on the road. More updates soon.

            On the road. tamilnadu roads are beautiful. the weather has been nice to but the mercury is expected to rise to 37 degrees during the day.

            Diversions on the way

            Typical tea cups of A2B, though the amount of tea is a little less for my taste. loved the aromas. had some hot vadas, at A2B as well, which were sumptuous.

            another beautiful stretch

            Weather is so beautiful in bangalore that going out bangalore and expecting better conditions look difficult. clouds looming over the highway.

            Leaving Bangalore

            11:30: Grt sameera. Decent siZed rooms. Well equipped to handle all types of customers.took a short nap and now refreshed. Should start for sightseeing now. First should be the fort.
            Grt rooms and usage of local art work is fantastic and refreshing.
            2:46 pm: visited the fort and the jalakanteshwara temple. the temple was closed and re-opens at 3 pm. The fort was uneventful. Absolutely. On the periphery the walls and water surrounding it is there. Apart from that There Is nothing much really happening. Also it was quite warm for everyone.
            walls of the fort and the path way.
            watch points of the fort.
            view of temple from the fort.
            Lunch at GRT Samera. sumptuous buffet. absolute recommendation.
            4pm: left for the temple again. While the fort was a dissappointment the temple wasnt. A beautiful temple with some interesting sculptours to be seen.we spent around 2 hours exploring and appreciating the temple. 65 various forms of shivas is interesting. below is photo of the parvaty, deity of the temple.

            27th July: 6pm: we drove and reached sripuram golden temple. Its a little far from the main vellore cenrer point approx 8 kms. The mobile phones, bags etc are not allowed at the temple. Even shorts at not allowed. I was wearing those so i 'rented'  a lungi for 30 rs, for the visit.
            28th july. 7 am: Good morning. Breakfast and 7:55:  news paper.
            newspaper delivered.
            buffet at GRT samera.
            28th july: 9:05: checked into grt regency, kanchipuram. Nice hotel. Not that contemporary as grt sameera, vellore but still worth a stay.

            I couldnt continue updates for two reasons. the blogger app really sucks, when it comes to updating or formatting content. i also had a packed schedule with lot of driving around making it difficult to continue updates.
            watch out for the travel tips, and report coming frward with lots of pics.

            Getting ready for the road trip & Live blogging from road

            Well the trip is round the corner and I am excited about my live blogging concept, for two reasons.
            I haven't done it before and secondly it is a great feeling tbloe to write experiences from the 'place'.
            Of-course I will do a proper trip report with photographs etc but on the go will try to give you major updates from the roadtrip perspective and some pics as possible.
            I will be covering around 650 Kms during this loop.
            Gear for this purpose:
            1. Blogger app on my reliable Samsung s2 over my 3g connection and its nice camera. Hopefully during the trip it should work well.
            2. My official photography gear- my canon 400d with 11-16 tokina, 50 mm and 70-200 f4l lenses.
            Keep a watch on the blog. This post is being written over the blogger app which seems to be working ok right now.
            I will be starting a new thread for each of the days so keep reading and checking back.

            PS: i want to make a special mention about the information that i gathered on the road conditions especially towards tirupati and for this trip, i am really thankful to theautomotiveindia forums and folks around there for helping me out.

            Share any Any advice, words of caution-any of your favorite stopover points, any favorite songs for the drive, or any observations which could be useful.
            The live blogging is happening here

            23 July 2013

            Read Live blog updates from the road trip! Bangalore-Vellore-Kanchipuram-Tirupati and back

            Dear readers,
             I have an upcoming trip from Bangalore to Vellore, Kanchipuram and tirupati. It is a tentative plan right now and can change based on dynamics of life and trip. This is supposedly going to be covered in 3 days, and i am planning to do live blog updates and a full report later.
            Keep glued to this post for information on road conditions, trip details and small snippets on the travel. I am doing it for the first time as well, and hence excited and nervous that i can meet this goal of mine.

            The live blog feed is happening here

            5 reasons, you (companies) are scared to adopt to social media! Isnt it!

            (image courtesy: )
            While the large corporate houses and leading companies have made best and worst(read gone wrong) of social media, and companies continue to bring in more an innovation into social media circuits, there are a lot, who are waiting on the sidelines to dig deeper. I am not talking about have a 'Facebook' share/like page on your website pages, but much more imbibed social media and engagement.
            Some of the key reasons where companies, are not really diving in are:
            • Where to go?: We added Facebook, twitter sharing links to our product detail pages, or offers which we have been running. what else needs to happen? which are the other areas to explore? should we use a paid service to push content to social media sites? do we use a digital strategy company? 
            • Full time engagement or do it on the sides? : Another of the dilemmas is that do we need to setup a full department for the social media engagements or can it just be done as a one time gig and we are done. there are multiple models being followed, and answer to this will depend upon the question of what your roadmap is.
            • Who are we targeting?:  Not knowing your target audience can be a big problem. It is like trying to sell bikini in Alaska. Where do your target customers congregate, what do they like to do, etc will help drive initiatives correctly, and this again creates a big nerving point for companies.
            • How to make best use of social media for their business? : The next question for some of the companies who start venturing into the social media frenzy is, what to do with social media. you have few plug-ins installed, trying to connect up with every social media network which is coming up, but is that the best foot forward?
            • Can't see any ROI or benefit in terms of getting into social media side? : Some businesses who have started with reasonable social media marketing, fail or don't know how to really measure the efforts being put in, and the results being brought up. this discourages further investments, apart from the fact that they keep hearing about social media everywhere around.
            With some of the key points highlighted, do tell us, if you know of any other reasons why companies hesitate to make investments in social media?
            Are you as a company executive, going through the same? if so, then drop us a word at and we are happy to help, and talk about it.

            22 July 2013

            Some Agile best practices which you didnt know or didnt appreciate & short articles

            Previous week, i concentrated on agile, and celebrated 'Agile week' where i wrote an article a day on Agile methodology and shared some best practices.
            We started with agile 101, where we explored some of the basics of agile and its formatting and importance. We continued to explore differences between the standard way of looking at the projects, through the vision of iron triangle, and how it is becoming much more customer centric by additional dimensions into agile triangle.
            One of the challenge which i have noticed multiple times, was talked through, when i wrote about some of the issues which one needs to be watched out for, when agile methodology is being chosen.

            I also took the argument further by exploring possibilities of doing agile methodology implementations when dealing with fixed bid pricing, and finally we looked at the components and best practices around daily standup meeting, and some of the 'dont's' to make you run better and leaner.

            Hope you found these articles useful. drop me a word if you want to explore more, in terms of setting up agile practice for the new team which you might be planning to form, or some type of coaching for your team.

            20 July 2013

            schön! German beauty viewed from the aeroplane!

            One of the photos taken during my trip to germany. my first pitstop was stuttgart, and what a beautiful landscape it presented. by the time i pulled my camera, after resisting to it, we were almost landing into the city.
            this shot was taken from the plane and shows the beautiful and rustic housing view from stutgart.

            19 July 2013

            incredible india: Somanathapura- an enchanting temple, and an intricate story: Part 1

            One of the weekends, we drove down to somnathapura temple, which is quite close to mysore. we were visiting mysore, and while on the return, we returned via somnathapura temple. the intricate details of carving, and over all the condition in which the temple was, left us impressed. we spent close to 4 hours, observing every close bit. The guide took us around and made us aware of such works, and such specifics, that as visitors, we wont have any clues about it. I am going to publish photos from somnathpur temple in series of 5 posts. keep a watch, and enjoy the photos.
            wall from the inside of the temple, with beautiful light making for lovely patterns

            One among the many lotus flowers on the ceiling of the temple. the various stages of this flower's blooming is shown by the artist.

            © SAURABH MITTAL
            If you would like to buy this photograph for commercial use or would like to buy rights to this photography, contact me at for further details.
            Use without permission is illegal

            16 July 2013

            The Capitol building in Black & White: Visiting Washington DC- Part 1

            Washington was an amazing experience. I Travelled there from new jersey during month of March and stayed there for a day. This trip was mainly motivated by the historical richness carried by washington and its museums, and all the landmarks. The Capitol building, First of the spots which i visited on this beautiful morning, which was much lesser chilly then the week, and much more sunnier. The historical details and the official working, of the capitol is easily available here. I for one, was especially intrigued by the detailed artwork, the marvel and majesty of the architecture, and over and above the upkeep of the complete city monuments. stupendous job of keeping them spik n span.
             The weather and the contrasting skies, motivated me to keep the photos in monochrome format, and i loved the output. Do tell me how did you like them? how has been your experience visiting DC and Capitol. Will be uploading more photos from my DC trip soon.

            © SAURABH MITTAL
            If you would like to buy this photograph for commercial use or would like to buy rights to this photography, contact me at for further details.
            Use without permission is illegal

            Weekend trip from bangalore to Yercaud

            I am back to blogging and writing report trip after quite sometime.
            We made a quick and no preparation trip to Yercaud, from Bangalore.

            1. Direction: From  bangalore, the directions are very straightforward. I took the Elevated highway Electronic city-> hosur-> krishnaGiri->Salem. Once you enter salem, the directions are quite clearly marked, and its approx 25-30 kms from salem City. The busy city and passing through that, definitely slows you doing.
            2. Road Conditions: NH7 is one the nicest roads and you are blessed to be driving on this throughout upto salem. though some road widening is going on between bangalore to krishnagiri stretch  with bangalore to hosur a little patchy, than what i have seen before, but still with due diligence, you can cruise through this quickly. At certain points, the roads are so beautiful and scenic, and you have view of 4-5 kms in front of you.
            3. Avg speeds: Most of the times, enroute salem, we were doing 110-120. Maximum i reached was 145 and some of the stretches you have to slow down.
            4. Driving time: We started from home at 2 pm and reached Yercaud, shevroys at 7. We stopped for lunch at Kamat for 45 mins-1 hour.
            5. Driving caution:
            • Watch out for slow moving trucks especially in hosur and krishnagiri. 
            • Very curvy roads in between.
            • Lot of people drive on the wrong side, near villages. be very careful about those.
            • While ascending from salem to yercaud, give way and be careful about blind turns and oncoming bikers.
            1. Paying Tolls:- if i count right, there are 5 tolls from bangalore to yercaud. For car, this is what we payed, one way:
            • Electronic city:-40
            • Bidadi:- 25
            • Hosur:- 55
            • Krishnagiri:- 79
            • Near salem:-63
            Stay: Our plan suddenly happened on saturday afternoon, so there was no time to make bookings. I was contemplating a trip to Yercaud, and was eying GRT for bookings since it has a beautiful property. But this sudden plan and only an overnight stay made me not consider it, since the expensive price tag does not justify an overnight stay only. Another option in my mind was 'Shevroys'.
            Visiting and checking out hotels: I went to shevroys and checked out the property. they have a nice property, but not well maintained, as i have seen at lot of other places(read orange country-coorg, taj-yelagiri, etc). they have a huge property and plenty of variety and numerous rooms. only 'Rose' and 'dahlia' rooms were available. we checked and found 'rose' to be suiting our needs. I checked their villas too, but they weren't in good shape, so rejected those. I told the receptionist that we will let them know.  We then drove to 'Grand Palace hotel & spa'. the property location is nicer, and the outside aura is superb, but the room was a disappointment. The person on the reception tried to give some discounts and offers, but the room wasn't really something which impressed me. we left, and checked into Shevroys.
            For attractions, you can refer to tripadvisor site or the blog in my acknowledgements below.
            We didnt do everything there. We only went to select few places, and frankly i wasn't overly impressed. The places were of average quality. the view points were nice, but that is about it for me.
            we only saw Pagoda point, Raja Rajeswari Temple, Grange resort's ATV rides, Lady's seat. The Temple was a major dissappointment for me, since we drove for so long to reach there, but on the hill top it was not something which impressed. except us, there was none visiting it. the view around was beautiful and made for some relaxation.
            The ATV rides was a nice experience and refreshing.
            Pagoda point, again, a vantage point which offers great view, but nothing more to see there. 

            I was surely still interested to go for atleast couple more spots, but then we planned for returning back. moreover, the spots didnt encourage too much which could unfold, hence we took the approach of heading for good lunch and back to bangalore. 
            Travel back: We started from Yercaud at 3:30 and with a fuel stop at salem, lunch at(45 mins), and a small stop near hosur(10 mins), we were home at 8:30.
            Somewhere near krishnagiri

            Getting closer to Salem

            Plantation walk at shevroys

            view from pagoda point

            temple at pagoda point

            A small temple on the route to the temple

            Ana malar temple on the hill top

            valley and clouds around

            Overall Experience and my recommendation rating: 
            I would give yercaud 3/5 stars.
            I would give shevroys 3.5/5 after looking at grand palace and competition, although what all these hotels offer is not value for money.
            Positives: Serene place. Book a nice cottage and have no agenda here, and you would will be very happy. the climate was nice, and there is lesser traffic making it a good break destination.
            Negatives: Generally the spots for views aren't the most clean ones. Not too much to do and lacks good places to dine. the ones which are good, are very expensive.

            One of the blog, which i found very useful in finding some details is this. great read.

            © SAURABH MITTAL
            If you would like to buy this photograph for commercial use or would like to buy rights to this photography, contact me at for further details.
            Use without permission is illegal