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Category — Travel

5 Reasons Why the Tata Hexa is Great for Traveling With Your Dog

5 Reasons Why the Tata Hexa is Great for Traveling With Your Dog: My Tata Hexa Review

 
Dogs and Cars - Tata Hexa

Cars and dogs are a hit combination but not every car is comfortable to travel in with your dog. We are a family of seven, 5 of whom are dogs, so I have very specific requirements of a car. And the Tata Hexa pleasantly surprised me by meeting almost all of them!

Over the last 7 years we’ve travelled with the dogs in a variety of cars and each trip was a learning experience on dogs and cars; what works for them and what doesn’t. The most important lesson I learned when travelling with dogs – make sure your dogs are comfortable, it’s more important than you think.

Almost all dogs love cars but that doesn’t mean they are comfortable. The amount of cabin space, the roll of the car, the smoothness of the drive, the temperature control inside the car, these are some of the things that can make journeys fun for your dog and you.

It was some of these things I was looking at when I checked out and drove the Tata Hexa over the weekend. I wanted to evaluate how well it would work for me and my dogs, and with this in mind I build a checklist. Here’s 5 reasons why I think the Tata Hexa is great for traveling with my dogs.

 

Tata Hexa Cabin Space

A Spacious Cabin that Allows Movement

 
Just like we cramp after sitting in one position for a long time, dogs cramp too. In small or restricted spaces dogs get fidgety and restless. Dogs need space to move and stretch.

With my pack I’ve noticed they like to rotate between windows, taking turns at each one. The Hexa which is a six seater has a lot of space and windows which makes it a car I think my dogs will enjoying riding in and looking out of.

Of course it won’t fit all 5 of my dogs, very few cars can, but it can definitely accommodate 4 of my dogs – 1 big dog, 1 medium dog and 2 small dogs – with ease.

 

Tata Hexa Soft Edges

Soft Edges and Smooth Contours for Safety

 
Many people use seat belts for their dogs in cars, I prefer to let them move about and make themselves comfortable. It’s an arguable point but it’s what seems to work for my dogs.

However allowing free movement requires that the cabin be a safe space in which the dog does not get hurt. There should be no sharp edges and protrusions that can cause injury.

The Hexa has soft touch interiors, all the surfaces feel soft to the touch. They aren’t cushioned or squishy but neither are they plasticky. All edges are well rounded and there are no sharp edges.

 

Tata Hexa Drive

Smooth Both in Acceleration and Braking

 
I don’t like jerky drives, I hate being thrown forward and back. The dogs don’t like it either. Sudden acceleration and braking throws them off balance and disorients them.

It’s this jerky movement that is one of the main reasons dogs have motion sickness and may dislike cars. But jerky driving isn’t just about driver skill, it’s also about the car and its built.

Over the weekend I got to experience both the manual and the automatic variants of the Hexa. In both versions I found the drive to be smooth. The car accelerated and braked with minimum jerk, and there was barely any body roll too. Even in the off road test, the car controlled sudden braking well with its EBP (electronic brake prefill) technology.

 

Tata Hexa Cooling

Uniform Cooling Across the Car with Climate Control

 
Cars can easily become ovens for dogs. Without the constant movement of cool air dogs can over heat quickly inside a car and even suffer a heat stroke.

Keeping windows open when driving is one solution, but this is a dangerous thing to do. Dogs have been known to impulsively jump out of cars, get their heads stuck in windows and even get hit by high-speed insects and debris when they stick their heads out.

The safest and best option is to keep your windows closed and the air-conditioning running. However in most cars, it’s only the front row or first two rows that have air vents, and this makes for bad air flow.

In the Tata Hexa though, each row and seat has its own air vent and the fans for the passengers in the front and the back can be controlled independently, so there are no extreme temperature pockets and there is uniform cooling across the car. The air-conditioning also has climate control for cooling relative to the outside temperature.

 

Tata Hexa Music System

A Silent Cabin and Surround Sound Music System

 
Dogs startle and get agitated at sudden loud sounds, so a noisy truck coming too close or a loud honk next to the car makes dogs jump out of their skin.

White noise or music reduces the effect of the loud noises outside but in most cars the music across the car isn’t balanced and its louder at the back than in front. Now take into consideration that a dog hears 10 times what we do, can you imagine how loud the music would be to them.

The Tata Hexa however wins on both counts. The cabin is super silent, so silent in fact that, the person sitting right at the back can hear clearly the driver speak in a normal voice in the front. And the music system is top-notch with JBL speakers spread all around the car to give surround sound so you can keep the volume low and yet hear each note clearly. Together they make for a comforting atmosphere inside the car.

 

Tata Hexa Features

All the Little Bells and Whistles

 
Apart from these features of the Hexa, the Tata Motors team has paid attention to a lot of other little things that make traveling in the Tata Hexa an enjoyable experience.

There’s a chiller above the glove box where you can keep food and water cool with the help of the ac. So, you can have chilled water even on a hot day! And the windows have built-in sunscreens you can deploy easily to keep the harsh sun out.

Another add-on that wow’ed me was the carrier that can be added to the roof to make for more storage space. With the dogs taking up all the cabin room, the roof storage is critical.

Tata Hexa Carrier

 

Tata Hexa Air Bags

6 Airbags!

 
This is an excellent safety feature but just like with little children, airbags are not safe for dogs and can hurt them badly when they deploy. This feature was and is one of my biggest concerns but it seems like they will not be a danger to the dogs based on the image above, actually they might be great for the safety of the dogs.

 

Tata Hexa Logo

Summary and Parting Words

 
This was my first ever automatic SUV experience and what an experience it was. I enjoyed driving the car and was surprised by the control and ease of driving. It felt like a big car and yet didn’t feel like it.

The steering wheel gives lots of feedback and is very responsive. Not having to worry about gears on bad roads and traffic was such a blessing. I’m completely convinced about the automatic version except that it does not have all the driving modes and 4×4 option of a manual drive.

If you are a family with dogs, this is a car you should definitely consider. :)
 

Shoutout and thanks to Tata motors and Indiblogger for inviting me to test the all new Tata Hexa in Hyderabad. The Hexa will launch in January 2017 but bookings open in November 2016. Please check the Tata Motors website for more details.

October 27, 2016   4 Comments

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

 
This last week I’ve been doing a lot of crochet and that means lots of TV time. 😀 That also means, I’ve been on the look out for shows to watch and… long story short, it’s how I found out about ‘Yaaron Ki Baraat’ the new TV show about celebrity besties that starts tomorrow, Saturday 8th Oct at 8pm on Zee TV.

Now this post isn’t about ‘Yaaron Ki Baraat’ (though there is some info on it, scroll to bottom if that’s what you came for). This post is about me and my bestie and the one thing we love to do the most, together – travel. Here’s 5 moments from our travels too and reasons why I love travelling with my bestie. 😉
 

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

 

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

1. You can say anything, absolutely anything

 
Best friends don’t judge, that means you can say anything without having to worry about being embarrassed. And when you are travelling it’s wonderful to have someone along who you can say anything to.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

2. You can say nothing, and that’s fine too

 
With best friends silences are always comfortable. Some silences are uncomfortable but with a bestie you don’t need words, silence is golden and can say so much.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

3. Because they always get your jokes

 
Best friends always get your jokes, even if they don’t laugh at it sometimes. But isn’t it great to travel with someone who understands your mind and it’s workings.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

4. Sometimes you just need a cuddle

 
It’s true, besties are the best huggers, ever! And, it’s also true that, when you look back at all those lovey-dovey poses, it’ll bring a 100 watt smile to your face.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

5. You’ll have an adventure, guaranteed

 
I’ve done some of the craziest things ever with my bestie, some of them impromptu and oh the adventures we’ve had together! Best friends share a craziness and that makes for fun travel.

My bestie and I, boy! have we got stories to tell from our travels. The time we impulsively took an auto up a mist covered Talacavery and found not a soul on top. It was just us and the mountain. :) Another time we took a motorcycle trip to test my new bike, and enjoyed our time so much on the road, we had to race the sun to return before dark. 😀 And then there are all those times we’ve danced around a campfire with no care in the world. Journeys with best friends is the best kind of travel, ever!

What say you? :)

Now as promised, some info on the show because my bestie is a huge bollywood trivia queen and I know she’ll love this show.

Yaaron Ki Baarat (Read – Vivo Smartphone presents Yaaron Ki Baraat co-powered by Amazon.in and Brooke Bond Red Label) is a show that will put celebrity friendships to test through a series of fun challenges and tasks. The first one has Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan. And the hosts are Sajid Khan and Riteish Deshmukh. To me the combination sounds like entertainment. The first episode airs on Saturday, 8th October at 8 PM as Zee TV.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

October 7, 2016   No Comments

Review – Places to Stay: The Lazy Frog, Goa (Carmona)

The Lazy Frog, Goa

This was the first time I stayed at The Lazy Frog but I know I’m going to be staying there again and again. :)

I’ve been to Goa many times over the years and each time I seem to go to a different part, this I’m grateful for, for it is not by my choice that it happens. It’s providence that takes me to different parts of that little state so I get a different experience every time.

This time we landed up in Carmona, South Goa, thanks to the Times Women’s Drive that finished there and had their after party at Zuri. In a bid to beat the rush (there were to be 1000+ women in the drive), we went hunting for a place to stay a couple weeks before the drive.

Looking though sites like Booking.com, Agoda, Air BnB and such we found The Lazy Frog on Booking.com. We liked what we saw and liked the price even more. It was completely in our budget and we booked it immediately.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

Accommodation: ★★★★★
Cleanliness: ★★★★★
Hospitality: ★★★★★
Location: ★★★★★
Tariff: ★★★★★
***Disclaimer: I am NOT associated to The Lazy Frog in anyway. This is my unbiased review and opinion of the place, straight and simple. :)

Location:

 
The Lazy Frog is set in Carmona, South Goa, just off the main road, in an area that is filled with old world charm. There are old houses, quaint tea stalls, moving fish markets and wonderful people all around.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

Carmona Beach lies on the other side of the road, about 2km away. The beach is quiet and peaceful with a couple of shacks around, perfect if you want some quiet time away from the hordes of tourists in Goa.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

The Lazy Frog, Goa

Getting there:

 
The hotel isn’t too far from Madgaon, about 9km from the railway station. The airport at Panjim is 29km away and Carmona Bus stand is around the corner. The hotel offers complimentary pickups and drops from all these places.

We used Google Maps to find The Lazy Frog since we have driven down. The map worked perfectly until the last turn, which is a small lane missing on the map. But people are helpful and we got directions easily. :)

Rooms:

 
The Lazy Frog, Goa

The hotel has 9 rooms (across two floors), a couple of which are triple occupancy. We had taken a 3 person room, so our room had one double bed and one single bed.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

The room was spacious and clean, with fresh towels and white sheets. Amenities in the room included an air conditioner which was super helpful in the heat, there was also a fan, TV, fridge, microwave and water kettle.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

There is hot and cold water available through the day. The shower is lovely and inviting, and the hotel provides shower gel along with towels.

Hospitality & Service:

 
We got to The Lazy Frog in the afternoon and the next morning I forgot to put out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, so the room got cleaned. And I’m glad I forgot because I came back to some really cute towel animals.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

But I was also embarrassed, as I’d left a lot of clothes lying around in my rush to the beach and they had all been folded when I returned. The room service was impeccable, Salvadore’s a one-man army!

The Lazy Frog does not offer food, but you could request the night before for breakfast to be picked up for you if you want to eat in bed. Yep, the guys are friendly and accommodating like that. :)

The Lazy Frog, Goa

The Lazy Frog, Goa

They are also into frogs… Really into them! 😀 Apart from frogs galore, the hotel also offers free wi-fi, free parking and a designated smoking area.

Hosts:

 

The Lazy Frog, GoaThe Threesome – Roy, Olivia and The Frog

The Lazy Frog is rather new as things go, this is their first year but it didn’t seem so to me and after talking to Roy and Olivia I knew why. Both Roy and Olivia have lots of experience in the hospitality business and it shows in their hotel.

Kind and sweet, I enjoyed talking to the couple and getting to know them. They had lots of stories to recount and they opened their hearts and home with such love that within minutes I felt like I’d known them for years!

The Lazy Frog, Goa

Roy is a treasure trove of information. Make sure to talk to him and discuss your stay and what you have in mind. He gave us some suggestions of things to do and places to eat for the day and I’m so glad I took his advise. We absolutely enjoyed our day!

Rates:

The rooms are reasonably priced. We paid Rs.1600/- per day for our room with an extra bed.

My Experience at The Lazy Frog

 
This was my first time at The Lazy Frog and in Carmona, Goa but I so enjoyed the quite old Goan charm and the hospitality and peace of The Lazy Frog that I’m sure I’m going to be going back often. Plus it helps, immensely, that they are a pet-friendly hotel. I’d like to take my brat-pack to the beach someday and The Lazy Frog would be a perfect fit to that project with lost of space, spacious rooms and wonderful hosts.

I definitely recommend The Lazy Frog if you are looking for a place to stay in Goa. And if you do go there, give Roy and Olivia a hug for me. 😉

Details

The Lazy Frog, Carmona, Goa
Website: lazyfroggoa.com
Email: lazyfroggoa@gmail.com
Phone: +919545833366, +917066153390
Facebook Page

March 17, 2016   3 Comments

Thursday Travel: Kaziranga National Park and The Rhino

I had been to Kaziranga National Park for the first time about 6 years ago but back then I just past through the park and except for rhino’s didn’t see much at all.

Then in March I landed up there again as a part of the Journeys with Meaning trip. This time though I wasn’t just passing through and I got to know the forest so much better.

There is so much I learned and experienced in a little over one day there. The night before the safari, Dr. Firoz Ahmed, a Wildlife Biologist at Aranyak made time to come and tell us about Kaziranga and answer our questions.

The Rhino

Dr. Firoz has spent many years in Kaziranga studying the Rhino and trying to save it. And they’ve achieved it! In spite of poaching, since the park was formed in 1904 rhino numbers have been steadily going up. There are over 2000 rhinos in Kaziranga today.

Kaziranga National Park is a combination of grassland, marshland, and dense tropical forests criss-crossed by 4 rivers. It supports not just the rhino but also a large number of other animal, bird and fish species that come together to form an excellent eco-system. Here an adult Rhino does not have any predators and lives 8-10 years. It’s horn and very sharp teeth keep it safe from most attacks. Even Tigers would think twice.

Poaching

However in spite of the skin of a rhino looking tough and like armour, it is delicate and very sensitive. One well placed shot from poachers can bring this beautiful beast to its knees and after that it’s just one or two hacks of an axe to get the horn. The entire operation is so quick that it’s almost impossible to catch the poachers.

Most poachers work hand in hand with locals. A local guide is needed for a successful slaughter. Aranyak works in this space, trying to educate the locals and protect the rhino.

The Horn

It is a myth that the rhino horn is used in Chinese medicine as a aphrodisiac. The truth is it is used in fever medicine. The horn can be harvested with out killing the rhino if it is not dug out but the rates for the horn (80 lakhs or so for 250gms) makes poachers want to take all of it, every single bit.

Rhino horns are used not just for medicine, but also as ornaments and status symbols. The extremists use them as a way to fund their activities, buying guns, ammunition and such.

Kaziranga has more rhino poaching than tiger poaching and tiger numbers here are high (over a 100). The tigers are pretty safe here as there is very little human-tiger conflict due to the large supply of water and prey in this extremely fertile land.

Continued Next week…

 
P.S. – Day Seventeen of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 21, 2015   1 Comment

Thursday Travel: Top 3 Travel Companies that Make a Difference

Nothing really beats travelling on your own or travelling on a shoe-string budget but sometimes some tours and packages come a close second.

Some trips, even though organised, can change your world, yep they are that good. These packages tend to be the hatke, they do things differently. An whether they intend to or not, they make a difference.

Disclaimer – the following travel companies / organisations are run by friends but that isn’t why I’m recommending them. Well, partly. 😀 Mostly though it’s because I’ve travelled with them, experienced what they do and just can’t stop talking about them. 😛

Without further ado, here’s my top 3 travel companies in no particular order except that I’m start with wheels and end with stationary. 😀

 

IndiMotard Adventures

Traveling by motorcycle is a thing to do at least once in your life. It’s a different experience, the way you see the world and feel it changes. The sun in your face, the wind in your hair are cliches until you actually experience it. And if you haven’t experienced this yet, IndiMotard Adventures is a good place to begin.

They have three main trips as of now Cambodia, Himalayas and Sri Lanka. But they also do customs tours so you could plan with them to go just about any where you want. I recommend their Cambodia trip. I haven’t done this myself but many friends have, and my do they have stories to tell.

Contact:
Website – http://indimotard.com/
Email – info@indimotard.com
Phone – +91 94484 94080

 

Journeys with Meaning

My most recent journey to Meghalaya was with JwM and I’m glad for it. There were experiences I’d not have had otherwise. JwM opens new doors in your mind as you travel, you start to see things you never saw before and by the time you return the world isn’t the same anymore.

The guys over at JwM aim for an all round experience so you will not only see the sights, but also meet the people and understand their life, culture, challenges and more. It’s a great way to travel for you’ll really know the places you’ve been to. Like their ad copy says, theirs is ‘Travel that Transforms.’ :)

Contact:
Website – http://www.signposts.co.in/
Email – journeyswithmeaning@gmail.com
Phone – +91 98191 54365

 

Spiti Ecosphere

Local and Sustainable are the words that come to mind when I think of Spiti Ecosphere. This organisation aims to create sustainable livelihoods and in the process save history and culture. If you like to experience what it’s like to live in a mud house in the Himalayas, use a dry toilet, ride a yak, trek, mountain bikes, and such, this is the right place for you.

Spiti Ecosphere makes history and culture lucrative in such a way that locals want to hold on to their old ways and people want to experience those ways. It’s an excellent ecosystem that I hope more places and people will implement. This does not mean the arrest of modernisation or amenities but rather a balance and well informed choice of change.

Contact:
Website – http://www.spitiecosphere.com/
Email – info@spitiecosphere.com
Phone – +919418860099, +919418439294

 
These are my picks but there must be more out there. Have you experienced travel with a difference? Are there other travel companies you’ve journeyed with? What did you think of them?

 
P.S. – Day Ten of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 14, 2015   No Comments

Travel Thursday: The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya

Last month as we travelled through Meghalaya on a Journeys with Meaning trip, what struck me the most about the State was the people. They were an amazing people with an equally amazing culture.

Let me explain this with an example. The living root bridges of Meghalaya are famous, mostly in India but slowly it’s becoming famous internationally too. And they should be, for the bridges are unique and astounding.

Made from the aerial roots of trees, these bridges are still living, the roots are alive and growing. Some bridges are young, maybe 50 years old but some are over a 150 years old, some have small narrow paths and some bridges are triple decker.

The bridges are usually made from trees of the rubber tree family, but other trees with aerial roots have also been used.

It all starts off with heads of a village choosing the spot for a bridge. On the spot trees are then planted on both sides of the river or stream. The trees are nurtured and cared for over the years until they grow big and strong and start to give out aerial roots.

The young roots are then guided into bamboo poles or hollowed out arecanut trees. These roots then grow long and straight inside the poles until they become big and strong and split the pole.

The time is now ripe start making the bridge. The strengthen straightened roots are connected across the river and the process of weaving begins as young roots are tied and wove into the initial roots to weave a bridge.

Slowly over the years the roots grow into each other, getting strong and taking strength from each other until they are ready to take the strength of cobble stones. Rocks are then placed into the weave of roots and over time the roots curl up around it and become one with it.

Finally the bridge becomes a smooth cob stoned pathway with a beautiful weave of root railings along it. The whole process from coming to make a bridge to actually crossing it, takes over 100 years.

That means that the people who first thought of the bridge and started working on it, will never get to actually use it. They didn’t build the bridge for themselves but foresaw the use of it two generations later and started to work on providing the need of a future society.

It’s a selfless society that made me sit back and wonder. We live in an instant gratification world but these guys seemed to be taking delayed gratification to an all new level.

They seem a happy people without ego, who believe in the strength of many rather than the power of one. Each generation works with the previous and for the next. Each bridge changes in design and character with each generation that works on it. The bridges are not the dream of one man but a coming together of the dreams and ideas of many.

And it goes on as the current generation continues to weave the roots, strengthen the bridges, make new tiers and plan new bridges.

If you’d like to know more about Meghalaya and the bridges, or would like to go on a trip there, please contact Journeys with Meaning on Facebook or email them at journeyswithmeaning at gmail dot com. I highly recommend these guys.
 

Photo Credit: Chenthil Mohan

 
P.S. – Day Three of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 7, 2015   No Comments

Hamida of Yadgir

***Note: When I wrote this story all those years back in 2000 I promised myself I would visit Yadgir one day. Well the day is yet to come but often I am reminded of Hamida who told me an enchanting story of a quaint little town I glimpsed from the train. Yadgir has stayed with me over the years, silently calling and reminding, like it’s name suggests.***

Out of the mist suddenly emerges a fort atop a hill. The morning sunlight hits the hill and scatters around it an orange aura. The whole setting is so romantic and scenic, like just out of a storybook. This is the first sight I got of a town called Yadgir.

I had to leave for Pune suddenly due to unforeseen circumstances and so for the first time in my life traveled in the unreserved compartment. It was an experience of a lifetime, its so different here, the people are ready to share even the little place they have to sit, and in doing this there is no hesitation. As it is friendship happens so easily on a train but in here it is even more easier. Here I met a girl or should I say lady whose name was simply Hamida, she is a lecturer of philosophy in Bangalore. She was very sweet in talking (literally), and extremely helpful. She went calling after another lady who got down on the wrong station and had realized coz she had overheard her telling someone her destination. All this I had watched but I still had not actually spoken to her.

It was an hour and a half before she had to get down that we got talking when she offered me her window seat. Out of politeness I asked her where she was gonna get down and she replied ‘Yadgir’. Yadgir, what kind of name is that?, now that was my first thought, so I asked her how her town got its name. The history is really interesting.

About 300 years ago the king Adil Shah conquered Yadgir, which was then part of Gulbarga and was called Hassanabad. He built a fort on the hill, which dominates the city and a palace Firdaus Mahal for his queen Firdaus Jahan. One day Adil Shah’s teenage son fell of the hill while flying a kite and in those last moments as he clung on for his life he called out to his friends ‘Yesbir’ (which means hold my hand in urdu), but he could not be saved and his father named the place after his son’s dying words. Years later the Yadavas of Bijapur took over and as the hill looked like the hump of a bull and also that couldn’t pronounce the present name, they named it ‘Yetugiri’, these names later changed to Yadgir.

From the train the sight of the fort on the hill in the early morning mist reminds u of the place u dreamt your prince charming would come from. Through the town runs the Bhima River. In the fort is found the palace, a dome can be seen from far called the ‘Tope ghar’ which houses the canon. There are rooms where the artillery was stored and u can still find the smell of gunpowder there. There is also the ‘Ghadial khana’ (or clock house) which had a bell which would be rung at each hour to tell the time. There are 3 ponds, which are special. The ‘Baheno ka talab’ (or pond of 2 sisters) has a partition wall in the middle and it is said that how much ever water u take out there is always water over the partition wall, joining the 2 parts. The ‘Souten ka talab’s'(pond of 2 wives) specialty is that how much ever water u add the water never flows over the partition wall, the pond is forever divided and the ‘Peta nagri talab’s’ depth has never been measured, it has no bottom.

At about a 30 min. drive from here is the town Naikal. Here the fort’s walls look like stacked upside down pots. Folklore has it that a potter turned down his sister’s request for a pot and she cursed him that his pots would not sell, and so his stacked pots turned to stone and became the walls of the fort.

The scenic beauty and tranquility of this place is something to be absorbed. ‘Yadgir’ sounds like the word ‘Yadgiri’ which in Urdu means ‘something to remember with’ and this town has given me something to remember. As the train pull out of the station I bade Hamida goodbye with a promise to her and myself to come back someday.

March 25, 2015   No Comments

Review: My Gola – A Custom Trip Planning Site

Photo Credit: Tamas on Flickr

Planning for a trip is the most difficult part of a trip for me. There is just so much research and planning to be done to make sure I don’t miss out on something on the trip. Anything that would make this easier would be a god-send.

There are a lot of tools to help with this online today and I have used some of them. But, I’m always on the lookout for new ones. Here’s where MyGola comes in. MyGola claims to help you create a custom trip in 15 minutes. So, I figured I’d give it a spin.

The site offers three types of sign-in – facebook, twitter and id & pw. The twitter login didn’t work for me though and I had to refresh the page to get the twitter login to register.

Straight up you are asked to plan a trip in 15 minutes. I decided to go with Thailand. Che and I had travelled there last year and so I know a little bit about the country.

The ‘Thailand’ place-search results in a lot of package options. I can either select a listed package or filter the travel packages based on themes, dates and places. Filter it is – so I choose History and Outdoor as themes, days as 10-20 and places as N/A (my choices didn’t make any difference). Here’s the short list of 10 that I got –

One of the things Che and I didn’t get to do in Thailand was visit the hill tribes, so that’s the package I choose to explore. A 12 day Trek to hill tribe villages of Northern Thailand.

My first view of this section of the trip plan leaves me wowed. I like the idea of seeing a day map for each day, it gives me a immediate realistic understanding of distances to be travelled through the day.

Each day of the itinerary has a drop down of places to be seen. Each place when selected shows you a photo of the place and gives you details about it along with more photos and videos. All the places can be marked as either definitely or maybe going.

I quickly went through all the places and selected the ones I wanted. Some I definitely wanted to see and a couple were maybe’s. I ended up with 19 places before I clicked on the ‘See Your Plan’ option.

Here’s what the plan looks like –

The planner is quite neat. It shows the day in timeslots and I could add, move and remove places from it. I could also extend and reduce my time spent at each place.
When I tried to add a place, I got options of places near-by to choose from with details. I could also had an option to add a place that was not listed.
Clicking on each place on the planner to took me to more details about it, there was even a description right here in the block.
Like I said before the planner is neat, it gives you control over your entire trip.

Once you’ve saved the basic plan, you can invite people to edit and refine the plan. If you have questions, you can ask the experts at MyGola. And you can also download the current plan as a pdf, that looks quite handy for travel with maps and other details.

Another way to plan a trip is by using the ‘Start Planning’ option in the left column. This method works a bit differently. You enter the countries or places you want to visit, the number of days you have and the site gives you a recommendations of cities and locations to visit. Mark the ones that interest you with definitely or maybe and you’re back to the planner we saw earlier. This option is great if you don’t want to start with a package and want to plan your trip from scratch.
You can also mark places as favourites and save your plans for future use on MyGola.

My Thoughts –

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The planner from MyGola impressed me. It’s the first planner I’ve seen that gives me so much flexibility, info and help, all in one place. I didn’t finish planning my trip in 15 minutes as promised but I did enjoy spending one hour planning it. 😀
MyGola has a good coverage of the world through tour operators. I found packages for most countries and cities I tried searching for, even those in India.
If you’re looking to plan a trip abroad or to one of the tourist destinations of India, this planner will work well for you.

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There are some things though that were missing. I noticed that not all places had enough relevant photo and video content.
Though you can plan what you will do in each day, there are no details for in-between the days. E.g. I could plan what to do in Bangkok on day one and activities for Chiang Mai on day two but I couldn’t find a way to plan how to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. I wasn’t looking for tickets, but I would have liked to know the distance between places. I also would have appreciated space to add my travel details in the planner, so it would show on the pdf.
Like I said above, MyGola currently works well only for countries and touristy cities. A search for locations or lesser known places will not help much.

I’m looking forward to using MyGola to plan my next international trip. Have you used MyGola before? What do you use to help plan your holiday? Do you have any favourite websites or apps?

July 10, 2013   No Comments

TfN: 27 Things I Didn’t Know About Mysore

Mysore has always been next door to Bangalore and like all things next door, I’ve always put it off thinking it was next door after-all. I did visit it often though either as a stop on the way to the Nilgiris or to visit Dad who would be working there for part of the year.

Lately as I’ve been reading to prep for Tour of Nilgiris, Mysore surprised me. There was a wealth of information on the city and I knew so little of it. So here’s some interesting info I came across. Mysore is the first stop on the tour!

  • The name Mysore is an anglicised version of Mahishūru, which means the abode of Mahisha in the Kannada language. Mahisha stands for Mahishasura, a mythological demon that could assume the form of both human and buffalo. According to Hindu mythology, the area was ruled by the demon Mahishasura. The demon was killed by the Goddess Chamundeshwari, whose temple is situated atop the Chamundi Hills.
  • Until 1947, Mysore served as the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore.
  • Mysore Airport is also known as Mandakalli Airport.
  • The city was the location of the first private radio station in India.
  • 1897 an outbreak of bubonic plague killed nearly half of the population of the city.
  • With the establishment of the City Improvement Trust Board (CITB) in 1903, Mysore became one of the first cities in Asia to undertake planned development of the city.
  • A fire at a television studio in 1989 claimed 62 lives.
  • The highest temperature recorded in Mysore was 38.5 °C (101 °F) on 4 May 2006, and the lowest was 7.7 °C (46 °F) on 16 January 2012.
  • Among 63 cities covered under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, Mysore City Corporation was adjudged the second best city municipal corporation and was given the “Nagara Ratna” award in 2011.
  • The city got its first piped water supply when the Belagola project was commissioned in 1896.
  • The city has had an underground drainage system since 1904.
  • Mysore was rated the second cleanest city in India in 2010 and the cleanest in Karnataka.
  • The first college to be set up for higher education was the Maharajas College, founded in 1864.
  • A high school exclusively for girls was established in 1881 and later it was converted into Maharanis Women’s College.
  • The  University of Mysore was the sixth university to be established in India and the first in Karnataka.
  • The Mysore Medical College, founded in 1924, was the first medical college to be started in Karnataka and the seventh in India.
  • The Dasara festivities, which are celebrated over a ten-day period, were first introduced by King Raja Wodeyar I in 1610.
  • The main palace of Mysore, Amba Vilas was burned down in 1897, and the present-day structure was built on the same site.
  • The Mysore Pak  traces its history to the kitchen of the Mysore palace.
  • Mysore is the location of the International Ganjifa Research Centre, which researches the ancient card game Ganjifa and the art associated with it.
  • Kannada writers Kuvempu, Gopalakrishna Adiga and U. R. Ananthamurthy were educated in Mysore and served as professors at the Mysore University.
  • R. K. Narayan, a popular English-language novelist and creator of the fictional town of Malgudi, and his cartoonist brother R. K. Laxman spent much of their life in Mysore.
  • Sudharma, the only Indian daily newspaper in Sanskrit, is published in Mysore.
  • Mysore was the location of the first private radio broadcasting station in India when Akashavani (voice from the sky) was established in the city on 10 September 1935 by M.V. Gopalaswamy, a professor of psychology, at his house in the Vontikoppal area of Mysore, using a 50-watt transmitter.
  • In 1957, Akashvani was chosen as the official name of All India Radio (AIR), the radio broadcaster of the Government of India.
  • Javagal Srinath, who represented India for several years as its frontline fast bowler, comes from Mysore.
  • India’s first youth hostel was formed in the Maharaja’s College Hostel in 1949.

All Facts Credited to Wikipedia.

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December 13, 2012   No Comments