September 2019 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!
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Friday, September 27, 2019

Pullode: Rural Paradise in God’s Own Country!

Lotus pond surrounded by coconut trees and spice plantations - Pullode, Kerala

Kerala or ‘God’s own country’ as we all know it used to be a fabulous state all over a couple of decades back. Now, due to rampant urbanization, deforestation and mass development, the locations in Kerala that fit the ‘Gods Own Country’ tagline are shrinking. Wider highways, concrete buildings, increasing traffic, un-scientific farming and road building and increasing pollution are to be blamed. Take Munnar, Kochi, Alappuzha, Wayanad, Sabarimala, Kumarakom or any of the popular tourist destinations of this state as examples. Each one of them are a shadow of their beautiful past. I am not saying that they are not beautiful any more. They are, but only in small pockets and hence I would not call them ‘Gods Own Country’.

At a family friend home in Pullode, Kerala

However, not all of Kerala is changing like that. There are parts of India that are still as green, calm and beautiful as ‘Gods Own Country’ once was. One such place is a village called Pullode in the Palakkad district of Kerala. Located near the Nelliyampathy forest, I chanced upon this place when I visited my family friend’s home here. These family friends know me from the time I was born, but this was the first time that I visited their ancestral village and boy did I fall in love with the place!

My family friends at their Pullode home

Pullode is simple and authentic Kerala. It is lush green and it is absolutely laidback like most of rural Kerala. Each home has their own spice garden and plantation. Greenery is omnipresent and tranquillity is the norm. And the people are simple, happy and know how to enjoy life. While I was extremely happy to be meeting my family friends after so many years, I was over the moon to have discovered the beauty of their village. Just walking in their backyard amongst spices, herbs, palms and lotuses and listening to the chirping of birds made me feel alive. There is no noise pollution here whatsoever and such villages are a perfect way to get rid of all our urban clutter. I wish I could have stayed here a bit longer and I hope I can return to this rural paradise soon and this time for a bit longer!

A holiday to rural Kerala - Pullode

How to reach here:

Pullode is about 5 kms from Alathur on the Thrissur – Palakkad highway. You can either drive from Kerala or Coimbatore depending on the direction. If you are traveling by bus, you can alight at Alathur and then take an auto rickshaw to Pullode.

The nearest railway station is Palakkad (15 kms away), while the nearest airport is Coimbatore (about 88 kms away).

Spices galore behind a traditional Kerala Home at Pullode

Nearby Tourist Attractions:

1) Nelliyampathy forest reserve – for a hill station, view points and tea estates within the forest reserve

2) Peechi Vazhani wildlife sanctuary for elephants, gaurs and a wholesome wildlife experience

3) The temples of Thrissur

4) The cloud rainforest route between Chalakudy and Valparai

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Kuang Si Waterfalls: Of Secret Turquoise Pools and Magical Nature near Luang Prabang

Gorgeous Kuang Xi waterfall near Luang Prabang, Laos

During our travels, we come across many places that are truly magical in nature and that we would return to in a heart beat. Kuang Si waterfalls near Laos’s heritage city of Luang Prabang is one such place. It’s shallow turquoise blue pools, a 3 tiered waterfall, a lush green environment and a rural setting creates magic and offers the perfect avenue to unwind, relax and have some fun.

Kuang Xi waterfall waters - ideal for swimming

It’s proximity to heritage city Luang Prabang is just icing on the cake. All you have to do is rent a motorbike, pack your swim wear, sunglasses and camera, have an early breakfast at your Luang Prabang hotel or hostel and then head towards Kuang Si waterfall while exploring and experiencing the simple beauty of rural Laos. Pretty little villages, lush paddy fields and forests greet you during your ride to the waterfalls.

A small waterfall at Kuang Si Waterfall, Laos

And once you reach the waterfall, you will become trigger happy as every part of the waterfall arena will look photogenic to you with its turquoise pools. Once your trigger mania fades, you can head to the waterfall for a natural waterfall shower and then slowly walk around the place to look for your own secret pool for a delightfully relaxing soak. The warm weather, the pristine environment and the mild water will ensure that you drift off to sleep while wallowing in the shallow pools. Such is the natural aura of this place. A magical waterfall holiday in the fabulous country of Laos.

Enjoying a swim at the Kuang Si Waterfall near Luang Prabang in Laos

How to reach here:

Kuang Si waterfalls is about 31 kms from Luang Prabang. It is best to hire your own motorcycle or car to go on a relaxed drive through rural Laos. That way, you not only get to enjoy a relaxed day at the waterfall, you can also get to spend a day driving through rural Laos.

The nearest airport is Luang Prabang.

The lovely Kuang Si Waterfall near Luang Prabang, Laos

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) The UNESCO world heritage city of Luang Prabang

2) Kuang Si Bear Conservation Center

3) Rural sights of Laos

4) Mekong river cruise

5) Ting cave

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Some of the best things you should consider doing in Langkawi

A holiday in Langkawi

It is a perfect destination for tourists who want to enjoy some island-living experience. It is located on a Malaysian island called Penang. The laid back atmosphere, breath taking scenery, and beaches on the island makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia. Langkawi is a small island, but there are a lot of things you can do there when you visit. There is a wide range of accommodation facilities in the island. Low budget guest rooms are mainly located in the Pentai Cenang Beach while luxurious facilities are found in different parts of the island.

Most tourists prefer visiting the island between December and March as the temperatures are around 30 degrees. As December is almost approaching, be sure to check out cheap flights from Singapore to Langkawi. One of the main challenges for tourists on the island is the lack of an established public transport system. Therefore, some of the transport options for you include hiring a motorbike, a taxi, or your private car. Langkawi is one of the few tourist destinations in the world that have a duty-free status, and this allows tourists to have an amazing shopping experience while on the island. Here is a list of things you should consider doing as you tour around Langkawi:

1. Ride the Langkawi Cable Car

Langkawi cable car spectacular view

It should be a top priority when you visit this Malaysian island of Langkawi. People travel from different parts of the world to enjoy the cable car ride. You are likely to find long queues of people waiting to ride the car. It involves a steep ride up Mount Mat Cincang, and there are two stops during the ride. You will have an opportunity to view some of the best scenery in the island and to enjoy some local dishes in different cafes.

2. Visit the Eagle Square

The locals refer to the square as Dataran Lang. It is one of the most iconic destinations you can visit while on the island. It is located in the island’s main town called Kuah. The statue measures 12 meters high. It is located near other popular attractions such as the Taman Lagenda Langkawi. You can also enjoy a wide variety of dishes in cafes and restaurants near the square.

3. Enjoy the Street Food at the Night Markets

If you would want to sample local cuisines on the island, you need to visit the night markets. You will find a wide variety of relatively cheap dishes. Some of the most delicious meals that you can buy include grilled chicken, seafood, salads, and pancakes.

4. Explore the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park

The park occupies over 100 square kilometres of land, and some of the most attractive spots in the island include beaches, mangrove forests, and caves. Some online platforms rank the park as the best tourist site on the island.

5. Visit the Underwater World Langkawi

Coastline seen from island top, Langkawi, Malaysia

The island of Langkawi is best known for marine life. The tourist destination has about 500 different species of fish. When you visit the island, you will be taken through an underwater tunnel where you will be able to view the different species from every angle.

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Monday, September 16, 2019

How to enjoy Barcelona - when you can't enjoy the weather!

View over the Passeig de Gracia avenue, Barcelona

Barcelona is famous for its revered soccer club, but sports is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why the city is a favourite among locals, tourists and vacationers alike. From breath taking aesthetics, to impressive architecture, culturally diverse galleries and delectable food and music that delights and tantalizes the senses.

But what if the weather isn’t as cooperative as your ambition for the day? Although Barcelona is well-known for its pleasant and mild climate, the weather can, at times, become unstable mid-season. If your sun-filled morning soon transforms into a wet and rainy afternoon, or if the weather heats up like an unbearable oven, fear not.

This guide will help you explore how to enjoy Barcelona even when you can’t enjoy the weather outdoors. Unsure of what to expect outdoors and need to plan ahead? World Weather Online provides real-time up to date forecasts to help you plan ahead.

Without further ado, below are our top picks for enjoying Barcelona when the weather is less than agreeable…

Explore Barcelona’s many museums


The national museum of art of Catalonia

Barcelona is acclaimed for its beautiful streets and immaculate beaches, leaving many to forget entirely all that the city has to offer indoors. Museums house some of the world’s most cherished and stunning art, culture and more. Best of all, there is something for everyone! From romantic tours of artistic expression to kid-friendly explorations of science.

Prefer classical or modern art?


Palau de la musica Catalana, Barcelona

Picasso Museum:
Discover Pablo Picasso in a way like no other with a visit to this museum dedicated to the life and works of one of the greats.

Miró Foundation: The world’s largest collection of the artists’ works can be found under the museum’s roofs. Enjoy its architectural décor and a selection you won’t want to miss.

National Museum of Catalan Art
: Centuries of Catalan art are the hallmark of this unique art collection.

CaixaForum:
A cultural centre with impressive exhibitions that will sweep you off your feet with their elegance and charm.

Contemporary art more your style?

Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art:
Transport yourself to a new world brimming with creativity and expression at MACBA Barcelona Centre for Contemporary Culture: Celebrate the contemporary culture of Barcelona and the creative expression of this unique region.

Need something kid-friendly?


CosmoCaixa:
Science is fun and educational at this museum that the whole family will enjoy.

Barcelona Maritime Museum:
Explore the high seas and all things nautical from the comfort of land at this maritime museum.

Are you a history buff?


City’s History Museum:
Turn back time and explore the rich cultural history of Barcelona on this unique tour.

Into nature?


Natural Science Museum and Aquarium:
Educational and exciting, learn about local natural environments and their inhabitants.

On a budget? – how about free!


Palau Robert:
Although lesser known by most tourists, the free exhibitions and gardens are a perfect place to explore and discover on a budget.

Palau de la Virrenia:
Always free, take a cultural break while exploring the Ramblas.

Enjoy a flamenco show!


Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona

Seeing a show indoors is a sure-fire way to forget all about rainy, storming or oppressively hot weather outside. Although this particular style of music is traditionally known as Andalusian, the area boasts a number of places where you can catch a great show.

Options include but are not limited to:

· Tablao de Carmen in the Poble Espanyol
· Flamenco in the sublime art nouveau surroundings of Palau de la Música
· The Dalmases Palace
· The Palacio del Flamenco
· The intimate hall of Los Tarantos
· The hall of Los Tarantos
· The Feria de Abril in the spring

Shopping at La Maquinista


La Maquinista is the largest shopping centre in all of Catalonia, boasting over 242 shops all within a short walking distance and easy to manoeuvre without getting wet from the rain. The centre also features a large food court including a number of restaurants to wet your palate, take a break or enjoy a nice meal. If you’d like to make a day out of it, there is even a cinema where you can sit back and relax with a movie.

Treat yourself to a relaxing spa day

Salo de Cent in City Hall, Barcelona

Relax, you deserve it. Get pampered by the best that Barcelona has to offer. From the luxurious Hotel Omm’s elegant and modern spa amenities to the Aire de Barcelona Ancient Baths with complimentary mint tea, you’ll feel relaxed and rejuvenated in no time.

Options Include:
· Relaxation pools
· Hot tubs
· Massages
· Oils
· Aromatherapy
· Skin treatments
· Facials
· And more

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day


Wake up to rainy weather? Take this opportunity to have a lazy morning breakfast or brunch in a cozy atmosphere.

WePudding is a local favourite, with impressive décor and child-friendly corner play area. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, Alsur Café is revered for its decadent and delectable pastries and cakes, and if you’re ready for a heavier meal, Barcelo Raval is known for its expansive buffet.

Warm-up with a Barcelona classic


The Liceu Opera House, Barcelona

With rain often comes cool brisk weather. And when things cool down there is often nothing that hits the spot like a Barcelona favourite; traditionally brewed hot chocolate.

Known locally as xocolata desfeta, or beaten chocolate in English, this drink more closely resembles melted chocolate than the hot cocoa you may be used to back home. For the more culturally adventurous you can even try a suís, which comes covered in delightfully fresh cream.

If you don’t mind a little running around – try bar or cafe hopping in El Born

El Born represents one of the most trendy neighbourhoods in all of Barcelona. As an added bonus, it’s also one of the oldest and most charming. Get captivated by old historical buildings, narrow streets and lively scene. The area is brimming with unique local bars where you can enjoy lively entertainment and company, or relax by exploring cafes in the area.

The Passeig del Born always makes for a good lift-off point, followed by the Carrer del Rec and Carrer de Montacada. From there you’re off to the races!

Let someone else do the driving - hop on a bus for a tour!


Port Vell, Barcelona

If your spirits aren’t too dampened by the weather, consider enjoying a relaxing sightseeing day from the comfort of a dry and cosy bus. Drop on and drop off buses are readily available for sightseeing, allowing you to get a taste of all the area has to offer without the stress of navigating strange streets on your own.

Let loose your culinary spirit

Ready to learn how to prepare your very own authentic Spanish paella dish or Spanish tapas? The area boasts a number of professional and amateur cookery schools and one-day cooking classes, as well as guided tours of the local food markets.

Explore all that Barcelona has to offer!


Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

We hope that you found this guide helpful and that you have an amazing trip. Don’t forget to tell us all about it when you get back!

Photo Courtesy: All the photographs in this article are courtesy of wikipedia.org and have been borrowed under the creative commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on wikipedia.org.

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Sunday, September 08, 2019

Monsoons in Bhagamandala and Talacauvery: Paradise of greens and floating clouds

Lush green Bhagamandala temple town

One of the monsoon giants of Karnataka, Talacauvery and Bhagamandala get copious amounts of rains during the monsoon season. These copious rains ensure that this belt of the Western Ghats is a beautiful paradise of greens and floating clouds. So not only do you get to visit a religious and spiritual destination, you also get to make utmost use of its pristine nature and ecosystem.



Talacauvery is the place inside the Greater Talacauvery National Park where the holy Cauvery river originates and Bhagamandala is the place where the three holy rivers – Cauvery, Kanike and mythical Sujyoti meet right in front of the Bhagandeshwara temple. Built in Karavali style with copper roofs, the Bhagamandala temple and Talacauvery are important pilgrimage destinations, especially for those who pray for their ancestors. Pilgrims first take a bath at Triveni Sangam, offer their prayers to the unique West facing Ganapati, Subramanya, Maha Vishnu and Ishwara in the Bhagamandala temple before making their way to the temple at Talacauvery.

The pristine route from Bhagamandala to Talacauvery wildlife sanctuary

This spiritual temple journey, which connects the 8 kms between Bhagamandala and Talacauvery is full of panoramic vistas, a sea of greenery, mighty mountains of the Western Ghats and consistent mist, petrichor and floating clouds during the monsoon season. When you are near Bhagamadala, you can see the vistas, paddy fields, spice plantations and mountains, but as you climb steadily towards Talacauvery, these views are replaced with that of floating clouds and when you reach Talacauvery, you feel as if you have stepped into a white world, a world where clouds, mist and fog usurp the entire region during the monsoons.



It doesn’t matter whether you are on a religious trip, on a monsoon holiday, on a trekking expedition through the Western Ghats or a simple weekend trip to Coorg, Bhagamandala and Talacauvery are bound to blow you over with their paradise like setting, quaint atmosphere and pristine ecosystem.

Monsoon scenes near Talacauvery

I would definitely visit them at least once during the monsoons, though they are beautiful during other seasons too. And if you are planning to offer respects to your ancestors, do visit these places during the upcoming Pitru Paksha month (Sep 15 to Sep 29). Not only would such an auspicious location for apt for remembering the dead, but the monsoon scenes will certainly relax your mind and rejuvenate your body and soul.

Bhagamandala temple as seen from the road to Talacauvery on a monsoon day

How to reach here:

The nearest well connected airport would have to be Bangalore international airport, though Mangalore and Mysore would be the closest airports.

The nearest railway station would either be Mysore (Karnataka) or Kanhagad (Kerala). The remaining distance has to be covered by road.

If you are driving from Bangalore, you can either opt for the Bangalore –> Srirangapatna –> Hunsur –> Kushalnagar –> Madikeri –> Bhagamandala route or Bangalore –> Srirangapatna –> Hunsur –> Gonigoppal –> Virajpet –> Kakkabe –> Bhagamandala route. Both routes should take you about 6 hours.

If you wish to travel by bus, you can either take the KSRTC bus to Madikeri or Virajpet and then take local buses from there to Bhagamandala.

You can auto auto rickshaws to reach Talacauvery temple from Bhagamandala town.

Confluence of Cauvery, Kanike and Sujyoti rivers at Bhagamandala, Coorg

Where to stay:

If you prefer to stay close to the temples, you can stay in and around Bhagamandala town.

If you prefer to stay in coffee estates, homestays and nature retreats, opt for one of the many properties on either the Bhagamandala – Kakkabe – Virajpet road or on the Bhagamandala – Madikeri route.

If you prefer a heavy dose of luxury, opt for properties such as Tamara Coorg, Taj Madikeri Resort and Spa or Evolve Back Resorts.

Monsoons are the season of sowing paddy

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Sri Igguthappa temple, one of the most famous Kodava temples

2) Karike ghat, a beautiful route that runs contiguous with the Greater Talacauvery national park

3) Madikeri and abbey falls

4) Nalknad palace, Chelavara falls and trek to Thadiyendamol peak

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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Kayakoy: The Ghost Town of Turkey

Ghost Town of Kayakoy, Turkey

Once upon a time, there was a bustling Lycian era town in South-Western Turkey that enjoyed great maritime trade and a beautiful location. Known as ‘Karmilassos’ (Lebessos) in ancient Greek and pronounced as Livissi in modern Greek, this town of craftsmen enjoyed prosperity and happiness from the ancient Greek era, Byzantine period to the late Ottoman empire. Made up of Greek orthodox Christians and Turkish Ottoman Muslims, they lived in peace till the early 20th century when religion based cleansing took place. Around that time, either the Greeks were killed or they were forcibly converted to Islam. Those who converted to Islam and came to be known as Greek Muslims refused to stay in this village due to fear of ghosts of those who were killed. Thus, began the abandonment of this village. All that is left today is a ghost town called Kayakoy.

Exploring the ghost town of Kayakoy near Fethiye, Turkey

Much of its current streets and buildings were built in the 18th century, but they lie in a dilapidated state today. The roofs are missing, the buildings look weather-beaten and the paths worn out. Two Greek orthodox churches, fountains, cisterns and about 350 homes now sit empty in this famous ghost town of Turkey. In spite of all this, the ghost town of Kayakoy has a unique charm to it. This could be due to the eerie quietness, its grey stone buildings, its hilly surroundings or its horrendous past. But, there is something about it that begs attention and evinces interest.

The abandoned city of Kayakoy on the southern coast of Turkey

I didn’t know much about this ghost town before I landed there as part of my Lycian way trek, but after seeing it up close and live, I think it deserves a visit if you happen to be exploring Fethiye, Oludeniz or trekking the ancient Lycian way route. It is not often that you come across such abandoned towns that are surrounded by stunning land and seascapes. Do not miss the trek to Oludeniz when visiting Kayakoy for those legendary aerial views of the coast.

On the hiking trail from Kayakoy to Oludeniz, Turkey

How to get here:

The nearest airport is Dalaman and it is about 45 minutes away from Fethiye. The nearest large city would be Fethiye and it has good road connectivity with the rest of Turkey.

If you are driving from Fethiye, Kayakoy is about 15 kms or 25 minutes away.

If you wish to trek from Oludeniz, you can follow a 2.5 km trekking trail over the mountains while enjoying some stunning mountain and sea vistas.

Scenic views on the hike from Kayakoy to Oludeniz

Where to stay:

If you prefer to stay in a city, opt for any of the many accommodation options in Fethiye. If you like luxury and prefer a beach side resort, opt for Oludeniz. If you like staying with locals, opt for remote homestays on the ancient Lycian way for a truly authentic experience.

Beautiful southern coastline of Turkey

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) Oludeniz beach town

2) Lycian way trek

3) Fethiye rock tombs

4) Island hopping from Fethiye, Marmaris or Bodrum

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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Monsoons in Coorg: A Photo Story

A monsoon moment on the Bhagamandala - Talacauvery road

Coorg or Kodagu is more than the ‘Scotland of India’. It is more than just coffee estates and spice plantations. It is a pristine ecosystem of mountains, forests and water bodies that are teeming with life. It is this very ecosystem that gives birth to the holy Cauvery river, the life line of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This bio diverse region is at its very best during the monsoons when dark clouds, multiple shades of green and persistent rains usurp our senses, but at that same time allowing nature to flourish. It is a season of aplenty and is an absolutely magnificent place to rejuvenate oneself. A hot cuppa coffee or herbal teas along with the delicious local cuisine are just added benefits. Monsoons in Coorg in itself is an experience and I hope you can get a flavor of it through the photographs in this article.

About the above photo: The scenes just after a heavy downpour are a treat to the senses. The freshly washed earth and roads, the fresh water droplets on leaves and flowers, the different shades of green that glow when the sun shines briefly after a downpour and the grey dark clouds in the background all make for a heady monsoon concoction.

Sowing paddy near Bhagamandala, Coorg

About the above photo: For a farmer, monsoons mean happiness. Sowing season begins with the onset of the rains. And for a thirsty crop like paddy, good rains are essential. Such paddy sowing scenes are common in the fertile villages of Kodagu.

A moment from rural Coorg

About the above photo: This is the highway that connects Virajpet to Madikeri. During the monsoons, foliage takes over every nook and cranny except for the black tar road. Just driving on these roads has such a calming influence. People wear big gum boots to protect them from leeches and wear head gear with plastic covers to keep their head dry.

Riding in the monsoons is pure joy

About the above photo: The route to Igguthappa temple, the holy temples for Kodavas, is an absolute joy to ride through during the rains. The recently laid concrete roads, the descending clouds, the umpteen streams and the innumerable view points make for a fantastic experience.

Monsoon clouds, dense forests and Mallalli Falls

About the above photo: Located in North Coorg and starting in the Pushpagiri mountains of the Western Ghats, the holy Kumaradhara river winds its way through lush forests of the Western Ghats before tumbling down about 25 kms from Somwarpet and this tumbling spectacle is known as Mallalli Falls, the prettiest waterfall in all of Coorg.

A monsoon view - Bhagamandala to Talacauvery

About the above photo: Such drama in the skies and surrounding nature is a common occurrence during the monsoons in Coorg. Just watching this drama is a great past time. All you need is a hot drink and a book for company.

Chingara waterfall surrounded by greenery

About the above photo: Starting in the Thadiyendamol mountain range of Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary, Chingara waterfall plunges in the midst of coffee, spices, flowers and forests. It roars during the monsoons and offers a great offbeat waterfall holiday as it falls in the private premises of Chingara and Honey Valley estate.

A pitstop during a monsoon motorcycle ride to South Coorg

About the above photo: My first love in India has to be the Western Ghats. May be, it is because I hail from there or may be because I absolutely adore its bio diversity. Every year during the rains, you can see me trekking, riding, chilling, working, eating and sleeping in the Western Ghats.

The pristine environment at Honey valley estate in Coorg

About the above photo: This is where 100 acres of coffee estate, fruit orchards and spice plantations meet the forests of Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary. This location is Honey valley, one of the oldest homestays in Karnataka and a pristine location where nature is literally at your doorstep.

Beautiful moss covered carvings inside Nalknad palace, Coorg

About the above photo: Consistently wet environment with floating clouds, mist and intermittent sunlight ensures that moss grows almost everywhere. It could be on estate roads, on trees, in your portico or in this case on the walls of the structure inside Nalknad palace, one of the most scenic palaces of Kodagu.

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Copyright © 2009-2019 Sankara Subramanian C (www.beontheroad.com)
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