Mexico City, From Up & Above

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Even though I am not a big fan of high-rise buildings, I wanted to scale to the top of the 188 meters tall ‘Torre Latinoamericana’ (Latin-American Tower) at the heart of Mexico’s capital.  Apart from the aerial view it would have to offer, there was something that kept urging me to try the 70 MXN ride to the top.  Being one of the oldest buildings in Mexico City, the crowd was not heavy on a Sunday evening.  The 44 storied tower had a museum displaying its own history and that of Mexico on the 37th floor and an observation tower seven floors above.

It was cold and windy at the observation tower and the view was panoramic.  The top views of Palacio de Belles Artes, the City Square (Centro) and the distant hills that wall Mexico City’s boundaries were clearly visible.  There were people who were consumed by the view glued to a spot gazing at infinity, kids running around to try the 90 second view through the telescopes, families posing for photographs with the vast City beneath them and the odd photographers searching for their best shots.

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It would have been a mere 60 minute ordeal had the crowd not moved to the west suddenly to marvel the sun setting over the horizon silhouetting the city’s skyline against an orange-blue canvas.  It was a matter of minutes, before the city was bejeweled lighting up the night sky.  The scene changed entirely and the crowd surged.   Watching this transformation, I could only admire the beauty of the city and the purpose of the tower.  Though, it no longer hold the record for the tallest building in the country, it would still be loved by Mexicans and tourists alike and would continue to mesmerize the crowd from the top.

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Mountain Passes & High Spirits

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  At an altitude of 15,000 feet, the Kunzum mountain pass is a gateway to Spiti Valley in the eastern Himalayas.  Offering breathtaking views of the snow-clad mountain and glaciers, the Kunzum pass also has a temple of Durga atop. It’s a local practice that all who pass by pay a visit to the temple to guard them from dangers of the journey.  Even vehicles circumnavigate the temple.  

The postcards pictures the temple enveloped in gobs of prayer flags and the distant view of glaciers.  An interesting aspect of the temple is it helps lift the spirits of weary drivers and petrified passengers.  Also it provides a much needed break on a treacherous path.  We were more shaken than a petrified passenger when we reached the pass [The Complete Story].  The place offered respite and helped lift our dampened spirits.  Each colorful flag indeed whispers a silent prayer.

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Past Sands of Time

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Often places that are not on the list offer the greatest memories.  One such place is The Kaup Beach in Udupi on the west coast of India.  The beach not like many others is rocky and the sea is rough.  You don’t get to see a lot of crowd in this beach, but it holds a treasure lost in time.  The 27 m tall lighthouse on a rocky cliff is more than a century old.  Built in 1901, the lighthouse is still operational guiding sailors and vessels.  The perks of visiting this shoreline do not stop with catching a glimpse of the lighthouse etched in history, but also to get to the top of it.  It is open for visitors between 4 – 6 pm before it commences the daily routine.  And you would never regret snaking through the spiral fleet of stairs to the top.

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At the end of the climb, one can get a close look at the jumbo lamp and the lens housed in the glass room.   And once you exit to the periphery of the tower, the view is breathtaking.  You can catch the boundless vistas of the Arabian Sea and if the clouds stay clear, a perfect sunset as well.

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You can circumnavigate to get a panoramic view of the shore and inland.  If you are engrossed by the endless view of the water then turn around to get a sight of the unbroken coconut and palm grooves with the backwaters dwindling between them.  From the top everything looks microscopic and beautiful.

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The next time you drive past Udupi remember to take a diversion to this little known local secret hangout.   When clubbed with Manipal, Udupi and Mangalore, it can offer a perfect weekend getaway.

Emerald Lake & Pristine Beaches

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This is a postcard from a road trip to Mahe, Pondicherry.  The ride starting from Bangalore, past Mysore, Virajpet and through the Western Ghats to Iritty in Kerala and to Kannur and Mahe.  Mahe, a union territory that belongs to Pondicherry is nestled in Kerala on the west coast kissing the Arabian Sea.

The ride lasted for more than 16 hours if not more.  The stunning beauty of the hills and the delicate flora held us captive more than once.  We could not just whiz past these adorable scenes.  The winding roads on the Ghats with thick forest cover and the persistent bird songs all the way make it a pleasant ride.

The ghat section begins a few miles past Virajpet on the way to Iritty.  The green canopy thickens and the road start snaking through the woods.   The picture perfect frames keep rolling one after the other.  Once past few villages, we caught sight of the Lake View Restaurant perched on a high land overlooking the lake by the side of the road.  The lake wore an emerald tint and was banked on one end by the road.  The sight simply bewitched us that we spent the next couple of hours framing it to pictures.  The tree cover bordering the lake added to the tint.

PC_Mahe_RoadTrip_1The emerald lake by the side of the road in Western Ghats.

Before we could detach ourselves from the stunning beauty of the landscapes, the seas took over.  The coast started looming  ahead and the geography changed completely.  The lush green tint was replaced by a blend of turquoise and blue.  The forests gave way to the vast expanse of the seas and the roads were narrow and lined with coconut and palm trees.  By sunset we had reached Thalassery, a pretty town set on a Kerala backdrop.

The town has a long shore line and the sea bridge heading few meters into the Arabian Sea is a perfect spot to catch the sun set.  From there one could spot the sand dunes on a rocky island popping out from the sea. The sun turned down sending a tinge of orange light into the skies that stroked the blue canvas with a blazing signature.

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The view from Thalassery beach and the distant view of rock structures in the sea.

With an exorbitant intake of visual treats offered on the way, we hit Mahe late night, only to be absorbed and teleported to a different world by the tranquility and serenity of the place.

Sunset and Moonrise

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This postcard is composed of photographs from the trek to Kodachadri in Karnataka, India.  It was a moderate trek and we had managed to reach the peak before sunset.  We had planned to settle near Sarvajna Peetha (the place where Adi Shankara is believed to have meditated).

IMG_9243The pathway leading to the peak.  Sarvajna Peetha is visible at the far end.

At fist sight, the peak appeared to offer an excellent view of the valley below and a perfect spot to view the sunset.  On reaching there we were tempted to move down to a small hillock, nested beyond the peak.  The place was already getting crowded with photographers and tourists.   The landscape beveled to give a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and one could even get a glimpse of the famous Kollur temple from the spot.  On a clear day, the spot offers a view of the distant shoreline on the Arabian Sea.

We were all set to capture the Sun retiring for the day.  The crowd at the edge of Sarvajna Peetha had grown and were eagerly waiting.  The Sun started its descent rapidly and there was loud round of applause.

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The Sun had set and we thought the show was over.  But in a few minutes, there was another round of applause and the crowd turned their heads in the opposite direction.  We were in for a surprise.  The full Moon was beginning to rise.  The whole scene had changed dramatically.

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The moon climbed up slowly and posed beautifully on top of the Peetha.   The view was mesmerizing.   Its hard to forget such a moment as it sticks to your memory lane.

The crowd stayed on until dark and then the campings began.  By nightfall the whole area was cramped with tents and open camps.  We pitched our tents on the hillock.  We descended early next morning catching a glimpse of the Sunrise as well.

It had been a memorable trek where we witnessed some of nature’s real beauty and strength.  I am not sure if it would all fall in place again at the same place to make memories ring a sweet chime again.