In Your Own Backyard

In Your Own Backyard
Hire a jetty at Kochi to head to Vypin Island , Photo Credit: Shutterstock

We’re all up for experiencing new cultures. But you’d be surprised how much there is to see and how little you probably know about your own city. Here’s Team OT unlocking your hidden treasures

Team OT
September 14 , 2020
05 Min Read

Tryst with Divinity: Varanasi is connected by road via NH-19
A cacophony of sights and sounds, Varanasi is flanked by endless chains of ghats 
Ascetics clad in hues of saffron are a frequent sight here. While talking to the right one can be a conversation of a lifetime, steer clear of the fake ones
Saffron-clad priests in the temple, pilgrims flooding the complex and clueless travellers staggering around. The best way to catch a glimpse of this life unravelling in Varanasi is an early morning boat ride. While a majority of the ghats serve as the centre of religious ceremonies, two are used as cremation sites. Start your day at the Assi Ghat, where locals bathe before praying to Lord Shiva. Harishchandra Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat are known as the burning ghats. As the ashes and smoke engulf you, it’s a challenging sight to witness, yet a true spectacle.
Pro Tip: Visit the Dasashwamedh Ghat to witness the Ganga Aarti

Dash of Colour: Join organised tours for as little as Rs500 per person
A heritage colonial quarter in the heart of Panaji, Fontainhas is a window into the Portuguese legacy that is still alive
While Goa can be visited throughout the year, you might want to skip the monsoon season to avoid the humid and sultry weather
Replete with colourful lanes and colonial architecture, Fontainhas in Panaji is a treasure hidden in plain sight. Also called the Latin Quarters, it is dotted with pops of colour. A heritage walk through these narrow cobbled streets will transport you back in time. One of the most interesting aspects of the houses and cottages in Fontainhas is that they are painted every year after the monsoons. Visit the St. Sebastian Chapel that contains relics from the the Goan Inquisition. Fontainhas is peppered with small eateries and bakeries that serve traditional Goan fish curry and bebinca.
Pro Tip: Do try the baked goods at Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro 

On the Trail: The ideal time to visit is November-February
Biking through this coastal road means pedalling by the backwaters of Kochi, its rural fishing villages, and surreal beaches
Flanked by prawn hatcheries on the right and violent waves of the sea on the left, the 25-kilometre stretch from Vypin to Munambam is a biker’s paradise. It is connected to Kochi through a series of bridges called the Goshree Bridges. Take the Njarakkal route and you will find yourself amid lush green fields of paddy. The road to Munambam takes you to the northern end of the city, which is the largest fishing harbour in Kochi. Although most of the beaches en route are relatively secluded, it’s always advisable to consult the locals before hitting the waters.
Pro Tip: The western coast of Vypin has the longest beaches including Cherai and Puthuvype 

Best from Waste: The garden is open from Monday to Saturday, 9am-7pm
The Rock Garden is an open-air exhibition, displaying sculptures made from household and industrial waste
The garden stays open on all days, however the timings may differ according to the season
The first planned city of post-independent India, Chandigarh owes its urban cityscape to the French architect Le Corbusier. From labyrinth formations to sculptures made out of scrap, the Rock Garden here is the brainchild of Nek Chand Saini. It sprawls over an area of nearly 40 acres and is marked by colourful mosaics of art pieces. The exhibition is divided into three phases, each boasting of unique installations and embellishments. A fantasy land of art and landscape, the Rock Garden is a must on the itinerary of every visitor.
Pro Tip: The entry fee to the garden is Rs30 for adults and Rs10 for kids

Under the Stars: From Rs1,199 per car
The movie experience in Bengaluru post lockdown has been literally ‘starry’ with the introduction of a drive-in theatre
Also Check out Chennai's Prarthana Beach Drive-in Theatre, Ahmedabad’s Sunset Drive-in Cinema, and Gurgaon Talkies
Bengaluru’s first socially-distanced drive-in theatre is here and it is the perfect post-lockdown getaway. SteppinOut, known for setting up open-air movie nights are the organisers of the show. Participants can enjoy the night with zero contact and following all safety protocols. The number of cars will be restricted to 17. The movies are screened at Timbre, just two minutes away from Kempegowda International Airport from 6pm–9pm. However, traffic snarl ups have happened quite a few times in the midst of the lockdown. You might have to plan your route well in advance.
Pro Tip: Not more than four people are permitted in a single car

Back on Track: The trail is ideal for experienced trekkers
The David Scott trail in Meghalaya is a charming hike through India’s colonial past
Visit the nearby Khasi villages to try out some authentic dishes like jadoh and dohkhileh
This one is for those with an adventurous streak. The four-hour trek from Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang covers a distance of 16 kilometres. Though the trek is accessible all year round, it is advisable to avoid the monsoon season as the path can be quite slippery and infested with leeches. The trek also offers a mammoth view of cascading waterfalls, and the gregarious Umiam River. Stop at Ka Kor Ka Shonmai or drop by the quaint little Khasi villages to listen to their alluring folk tales.
Pro Tip: The ideal time to hike this trail is during winters


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