Tag Archives: Travel

Offbeat Kochi with Ramada Resort Cochin

The rains had given us the slip for most of our time in Alleppey, but the day we chose to drive to Cochin, the skies turned grey and a light drizzle cloaked the landscape in mist. We had spent a wonderful two days at Ramada Alleppey and now it was time to enjoy a quintessential resort holiday at Ramada Resort Cochin.

Colourful umbrellas for sale at Fort Kochi
Colourful umbrellas for sale at Fort Kochi

And while we did see the quintessential Chinese fishing nets and Kochi’s backwaters, we also discovered new things to do in and around Kerala’s scenic capital. Read on for more.

Lakeside cottages and pool

Ramada Resort Cochin

It was my second time in Cochin but my first in one of a row of stilt cottages that curved along an impossibly long lagoon overlooking the Vembanad Lake. Inside, the cottages featured everything that five star rooms do and a balcony that offered a wonderful view of the pool and the shimmering lake beyond.

The view from our balcony
The view from our balcony

The only eyesore was an upcoming building on the other side of the lake but that’s the price of development. Swimming at sundown and floating along the canal instilled a deep sense of serenity in our travel-loving souls. Of course, we also created a racket playing with the beach balls (bring a Frisbee too if you own one!).

Wining and dining

A lavish meal of local delicacies at Fennel, Ramada Resort Cochin
A lavish meal of local delicacies at Fennel

The Ramada brand is known to cater extremely well to guests’ culinary demands and this resort was no different. Fennel is their multi-cuisine restaurant and we enjoyed excellent lunches and dinners here, consisting of authentic Kerala cuisine (such as avial and appams) as well as other Indian delicacies. A live band and magician kept us entertained on many of those occasions.

Coconut pannacotta at Pearl Spot
Coconut pannacotta at Pearl Spot

Pearl Spot is known for its seafood but we being vegetarians, posed a challenge to the chef. And he more than rose to the occasion. While the pineapple rasam and numerous paneer and mushroom-based dishes bowled us over, the winner of our meal there was the unimaginably delicious coconut pannacotta with its numerous textures and real coconut water jelly nestled within the layers of creamy pannacotta. We also enjoyed great Mexican cuisine at The Mexicana.

Club 11 Hundred
Club 11 Hundred during the day

Club 11 Hundred is their bar with lots of character and signature cocktails that pack a punch, not to mention great starters.

Spice shopping

Different varieties of cinnamon sticks
Different varieties of cinnamon sticks

On our first day in Cochin, we were too late for the city tour (but you can read more about Cochin here) but there was no way we were going to skip shopping for spices. Fort Kochi’s spice markets are THE best and you’ll find the largest cardamom pods, supremely fragrant cloves, special varieties of black pepper and cinnamon and the most flavourful tea masala, not to mention various flavours of tea itself. While there are many inside Jew town, we found our treasures in a little shop near St. Francis Church, which is the first European church built in India.

Kathakali show at Cochin Cultural Centre

Kathakali performance
Kathakali performance

From evening until night, we sank back in our seats and allowed ourselves to be enraptured by the performers on stage at the Cochin Cultural Centre. An educative session on the various expressions, gestures and sounds used in Kathakali, the signature performance art of Kerala, was followed by the actual thing, accompanied by live music by a vocalist and instrumentalist. Before the performance, we had also been lucky enough to see the artists getting into their fearsome on-stage avatars. The Kathakali performance re-enacted a scene from the Mahabharata where Lakshmana has an altercation with Surpanakha.

An artist gets ready for the Kathakali show
An artist gets ready for the Kathakali show

This was followed by a kuchipudi dance performance by a young danseuse and an electrifying display of kalaripayattu, the artistic martial art form famous in Kerala by several sinewy youngsters. The audience consisted predominantly of foreigners who seemed quite impressed by it all. At the end of the show, we took pictures with the talented performers, as did many others in the audience.

Posing with the performers
Posing with the performers

Kodanad Elephant Training Centre

We were up at 5 AM on our second day in Cochin but sleep was but a small sacrifice for the morning splendours of Kodanad Elephant Training Centre. The centre opens at 8 AM but we were there by 7:30 AM on that rainy morning and spent half an hour looking for a loo and the ticket vendor.

Walking through the Kodanad Elephant Training Centre
Walking through the Kodanad Elephant Training Centre

At 8, we were allowed inside and our walking trail through the forest on the Southern banks of the Periyar River began. Signboards led us to the area where the elephants were being held.

Kodanad Elephant Training Centre

We were early enough to see them being fed in their enclosures and it was most glorious to see two tusked elephants waving their heads while a caretaker filled their buckets. Further ahead, we spotted two deer enclosures holding sambhar and chital deer respectively.

Spotted (sambhar) deer at Kodanad Elephant Training Centre
Spotted (sambhar) deer

We also spotted clusters of red sandalwood and other plants and trees in the orchards. The centre is a 90 minute drive away from Ramada Resort Cochin and a great way to get closer to nature. It is open until 5 PM on weekdays (we aren’t sure of weekends).

Ayurvedic spa

We’d already tried abhyangam, the full body massage that’s the most popular option among Ayurvedic treatments at Ramada Alleppey. So we decided to be more adventurous this time – Ankita went for a Kizhi treatment, which is done using herbal pouches, and Mohit tried shirodhara, the nervous system soother done by dripping oil on the forehead. Both our treatments were uniquely relaxing and rejuvenating. The herbs in the Kizhi treatment had a wonderful odour that almost smelt edible! The pouch contained curative fried fresh herbs, rock salt and Ayurvedic powders.

Ayurvedic spa at Ramada Resort Cochin
Ayurvedic spa

Mohit had a hard time washing off the litres of oil that had been poured on his forehead but the deep sleep he went into after the treatment made him feel like a new person. Whatever the treatment, it always includes a head and face massage as well. Milk is added to the oil used on the head, while Eladi oil is used for the face. For the body, the therapists use Dhanvatantaram or pinda tailam with karpuradi (camphor). But the best touch in our opinion, is the rasnadi powder they rub on the hair after the treatments to prevent cold and fever due to excess oil.

Speed boat ride

Need for speed: View from the speedboat
Need for speed: View from the speedboat

We’ve saved the best of this trip for the very last – if there’s one reason why you should go to Cochin and stay at Ramada Resort Cochin, it’s their speedboats. It’s the most hair-raising experience you can have in the backwaters, whizzing past fishermen, beneath bridges and fishing nets with the water working up a storm in your wake and the wind whipping through your hair.

Mohit pretends to drive the boat
Mohit pretends to drive the boat
A local man fishing in the Cochin backwaters
A local man fishing in the Cochin backwaters

The boats are very stable so you can stand and enjoy a 360 degree view of the Vembanad Lake as your boatman navigates expertly. The rides last for 30-45min and ours was the final one before sunset. Look out for a video of the ride on our Youtube channel soon and subscribe so you don’t miss out!

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Romancing the Punnamada backwaters with Ramada Alleppey

Ramada Alleppey is a hotel with a resort-like ambience, so you get your swimming pool, luxury Ayurvedic spa, stunning backwater views and leisure games at the price of a five star business hotel (upwards of Rs 5000 per night). We spent two nights here last month, where the days were windy and cloudy and yet, the Rain Gods spared us their unfettered wrath. It was the perfect weather to lie back and enjoy the gentle rhythm of the backwaters on a wooden houseboat. Of course, we did a lot more than that but this post is dedicated to the splendours of Alleppey or Alappuzha and the various ways in which Ramada Alleppey helped us soak in the joys of God’s own country better.

View of Ramada Alleppey from our boat, at sundown
View of Ramada Alleppey from our boat, at sundown
After a refreshing pear and guava-based welcome drink,
After a refreshing pear and guava-based welcome drink,
We checked into our spacious Junior Suite
we checked into our spacious Junior Suite
Junior Suite at Ramada Alleppey
that came with an inviting bathtub
and a gorgeous view of the backwaters.
and a gorgeous view of the backwaters.

We divided our time in Alleppey between the hotel, the backwaters and the city itself. The top three highlights of our stay at Ramada Alleppey would be the outstanding food, the wonderful spa and proximity to the Punnamada backwaters. Ankita even shed her shyness to sing in public after a long time during the karaoke night at the poolside shack. There’s also a swimming pool and a few outdoor games at the hotel (again reinforcing the resort-like ambiance) but we remained immersed in the natural pool of paradise beyond the banks. The staff is ever-gracious and makes you feel at home.

The manager of the hotel told us that around 60 rooms at Ramada Alleppey are reserved for Club Mahindra members, which is around half of the total accommodation. With three banquet facilities that can accommodate a floating crowd of 1200, the hotel is a great choice for events and weddings as well.

Experiencing the backwaters

Posing from the kettuvallam
Posing from the kettuvallam

The beauty of the backwaters is best expressed in verse:

We swish by at a serene pace
No wish to win any godforsaken race
The birds, the breeze and the sky are ours
And the water that quivers with banana leaves and fallen flowers
The clouds gather as the day matures
Whispers of an impeding storm reach these windy shores
Now we’ve left the trees behind and we’re in no man’s land
So it’s time to depart from this expanse so grand.

Backwaters cruise in Alleppey
Paddy fields, smaller fishermen’s boats and long canoes full of school children passed us by
Backwaters cruise in Alleppey
as our boatman kept us floating along at a gentle pace.
We'd lie down on the wooden boat and gaze at the coconut treed sky or dangle our legs on the side and let the water tease our toes.
We’d lie down on the wooden boat and gaze at the coconut treed sky or dangle our legs on the side and let the water tease our toes.

From 1 to 4 PM, the hotel also operates a ‘lunch on cruise’ that anyone can sign up for. In the near future, shikaras (long narrow boats that can go into narrow inlets and canals, unlike the larger houseboats) will also be available for use. We didn’t try the jet skis and speed boats but you definitely should!

Food and drinks

World in the Pot, as the name indicates, is a multi-cuisine restaurant attached to their Chinese restaurant China Town. We tried both local Kerala cuisine and Chinese dishes on various occasions and came away highly satiated. Funnily enough, the ground floor bar Pegs n Pints was deemed to be too unsafe for us due to the predominantly male, and on rare occasions, unruly crowd. It’s priced more attractively than the swankier roof-top bar, Venice, which also happens to offer stunning views of the entire coastline. The design and vantage point of the outdoor terrace surrounding the bar makes it the perfect spot to watch the annual boat races (the Nehru Trophy race begins on 12th August, so maybe you should pick up the phone and book your spot right now!).

Heavenly cream of tomato soup to kick off lunch
Heavenly cream of tomato soup to kick off lunch
Puttu with kadala (not seen here) for a traditional Kerala breakfast
Puttu with kadala (not seen here) for a traditional Kerala breakfast
Dinner at China Town, Ramada Alleppey
Vegetarian sizzler for a hefty dinner
Tripping on cocktails and delicious starters at Venice, the roof-top bar
Tripping on cocktails and delicious starters at Venice, the roof-top bar
The luxurious interiors of World in the Pot: Who wouldn't want to dine here?
The luxurious interiors of World in the Pot: Who wouldn’t want to dine here?

Abhyangam treatment at the spa

The four-year old Essence Spa at Ramada Alleppey is probably the best the town has to offer. We both chose the full-body Ayurvedic massage, called Abhyangam, on the advice of Dr. Shiny. Our therapists Diana and Arun used neela bhringadi oil for the head massage, dhanvataram oil for the body and the highly celebrated kumkumadi tailam oil for our faces. No part of our body was left out during the wonderful 90 minute massage (including shower time). The advantage of Ayurvedic massages is that they employ powerful oils and herbs, whose effects often last much beyond the therapy room. Currently, the rooms are separate for men and women but Dr. Shiny told us that they are planning to build a couple spa room. The seasonal karkidaka treatment routine is also an excellent option for those seeking relief from monsoon maladies.

Essence Spa at Ramada Alleppey
Therapy room at Essence Spa

Practical information

We’d definitely recommend Ramada Alleppey for a complete experience of Alleppey and its backwaters. And while we’re working on another post where we tell you about other attractions in the city, why don’t you take a look at this (Alleppey will be celebrating the 65th year of boat races in 2017):

Nehru boat race at Ramada Alleppey

Bookings: reservations@ramadaalleppey.com | ramada-alleppey.com

Ramada Alleppey is a part of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and you could get a free stay there if you join their Rewards Loyalty Programme.

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10 must-dos on your Dubai holiday

Once upon a time, Dubai was one of those places that rarely featured on people’s travel bucket lists. Then, as more and more Indians began to set up base in this glittering Arabian city and the wheels of its publicity began spinning, the world started waking up to its many attractions. We are all well acquainted with the urban paradise that is the commercial centre of the United Arab Emirates. But what really sets a holiday in Dubai apart is its potential for adventure, discovery and inimitable experiences. It also helps that getting a Dubai visa is a breeze for Indian nationals.

1. Swim with the dolphins
It’s not easy on the pocket (13000 rupees onwards) but where else are you going to get a chance to get so up, close and personal with dolphins? Dolphin Bay at Atlantis The Palm is a beautiful lagoon surrounded by palms, where you can swim with adorable dolphins and indulge in various water sports. Getting clicked with the dolphins will put you back by a few more rupees though the memories are worth treasuring. If the water baby in you is still not satisfied, head to Wild Wadi Water Park and try every one of those roller coasters, wave pools and gulp-inducing water slides!

2. Go for a desert safari
Dubai is in the Middle-East after all, which is synonymous with large expanses of strangely hypnotic deserts. And no amount of civilisation can take away the primitive appeal of spending a day in one of nature’s most trying landscapes and ending with a star-studded luxury desert camp. To get your adrenalin pumping, go dune bashing, ride a camel or enjoy a four-wheel-drive safari that ends with belly dancers, desert barbeque and cocktails in the setting sun. And did we mention that you can get an Arabian style mehendi done as well? At around 6000 rupees, this one’s not too expensive either.

3. Ride a hot-air balloon
This one’s for those who simply can’t get enough of the desert. Personally, I think a hot air balloon is just the right amount of adventure. Unlike bungee jumping, you get to stand comfortably and enjoy the sandy panorama around you. And you also have other people with you to make it less forbidding. You’ll have to wake up before the birds do for a truly memorable hot air balloon ride, because then you get to see the sun rise over the horizon of the Sahara desert and capture some truly breath-taking photographs. An hour in the balloon will cost you around 18000 rupees.

4. Get a bird’s eye view of the city at Burj Khalifa
You haven’t really seen a city until you’ve looked down upon its urban jewels from up above. A must-do while in Dubai is a visit to the observatory deck at Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s tallest building at 828 metres. Prices begin at 125 dirham (2300 rupees) and you can choose between the 124th and 148th floors. End your experience with a drink at their restaurant bar on the 122nd floor. Since this is a sought after experience in Dubai, it is advisable to book your tickets well in advance. Both the day-time and night-time views are equally spectacular.

5. Shop till you drop (and a lot more) at Dubai Mall
Dubai seems to excel at building the world’s record-breaking architectural marvels. With 1200 stores, Dubai Mall has the distinction of being the world’s largest mall and it’s safe to say that there isn’t a single luxury brand you won’t find here. The best part is that there’s so much to do apart from shopping! You can go skating at a giant ice rink and peek at fishes in the aquarium. Kids will also be wowed by the dinosaur skeleton on display and indoor theme parks. When you get hungry after all that shopping, there are 150 food outlets to choose from.

6. Stay at Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah
I have just two words to recommend this Burj Al Arab and they should be enough – seven star. Sure, a stay at Burj Al Arab might involve mortgaging your house and everyone in it but imagine scoffing at five star hotels and telling them you’ve seen better. Although seven star hotels are not really verified, the exceptional restaurants at Burj Al Arab make a visit here worthwhile. You can also spend a couple of nights at Madinat Jumeirah for an authentic Arabian experience. It’s a replica of a traditional Arab village with souqs (markets), palm-ringed canals and romantic villas and hotels.
And in case you cannot afford it for your entire duration of travel (it can get really expensive!), make sure you book Dubai hotels in advance since there is always a certain rush. Planning your travel can also help you save on airfare, with multiple providers like flydubai offering economical prices, which means you don’t have to string out your accommodation, food or shopping!

7. Get off your high horse and dig into street food at 2nd of December Street
Enough with all these expensive indulgences, we say. Sink your teeth into some refreshingly cheap street food with the locals at this lane, earlier known as Al Dhiyafah Road. Here you will find tasty treats from Iran, Lebanon and India. The grilled lamb and couscous salads come highly recommended. For a filling meal, try the seafood at Pars Iranian Kitchen and home-style fare at Ravi Restaurant. As per regulations, these restaurants cannot serve alcohol but a meal here will only put you back by around 1500 rupees.

8. Walk down history lane
And get a dose of art and culture too, while you’re at it. Dubai was once a quiet fishing village and remnants of its serene past can be found at Al Fahidi Historic District and the endearing Basta Art Cafe. At the erstwhile Bastakia Quarter, you can walk through a maze of tiny lanes that are dotted with museums and art galleries. Notable among these are XVA Gallery for contemporary art and Majlis Gallery for Middle-Eastern art. Shop for fabric at the textile souk and then treat yourself to a scenic tour in a water taxi. The Dubai Museum is also worth a visit for history lovers.

9. Play a game of golf
In case you didn’t know, the folks of Dubai are quite crazy about golf. At the golf courses designed by Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els, you might bump into a known face or two. The most famous courses are the Emirates Golf Club which hosts the Dubai Desert Classic tournament and the excellently designed Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. Tiger Woods is also set to launch a stunning golf course this year after an earlier failed attempt.

10. Let your hair down at Pacha Ibiza Dubai
What’s a Dubai trip without a night of revelry? Pacha is the name of everyone’s lips when it comes to nightclubs that stand a foot apart from the rest. And the Dubai chapter is as impressive as the rest, with groovy house music and amazing acrobatic displays. Located at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, the club comes with a Main Room, Red Room and Rooftop spread across three floors. Too expensive, you say? Well, you can afford to splurge a little since your flight tickets came so cheap!

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Ramada Bali Sunset Road Kuta: Accessible luxury

Don’t be too quick to believe people when they say there’s nothing to see in so and so place. True, Kuta is more urbanised than Ubud or Sanur but its beaches are no less spectacular, it’s a good access point for the spectacular Tanah Lot Temple and luxurious Nusa Dua area and best of all, it lets you stay in a four start hotel for the price of a three star. Our stay at Ramada Bali Sunset Road Kuta, was made most memorable by a lovely dinner at the gourmet lobby restaurant, a sunset soak at the rooftop infinity pool and a couple spa session to soften the ache of a beautiful trip coming to an end.

Our room

A large bed with a thoughtful pair of towel swans, little balcony lined with green fronds and a bathroom with a beautiful patterned wall were some of the salient features of our honeymoon suite at Ramada Bali Sunset Road Kuta.

Our room
Our room
The balcony
The balcony

The TV even had a couple of Indian/Hindi channels to keep us entertained while we sipped on some coffee. We had some issues with the Wi-Fi and air-conditioning, both of which were quickly and satisfactorily resolved. So you can definitely expect great service at this hotel.

The hotel

The seven-storey Ramada Bali Sunset Road Kuta sports some stunning architectural touches such as a rooftop infinity pool; a ground-level lagoon-style pool with a long walkway that leads up to a bar, along with rooms on either side; couches backed by arresting paintings, exhibits of Indonesian masks and Buddhist percussion mallets outside some elevators and a spectacular view of the pool and the sky from the railing at each level.

View from the railing
View from the railing

The fitness centre adjoins the pool at the rooftop, which is also where Sandekala, the hotel’s sprawling in-house restaurant is located. The spa is also on the roof-top and tends to be very busy so book your treatments in advance. We enjoyed an hour-long full-body Balinese massage in a functional but comfortable therapy room. If you have children along, they can swim in the kids’ pool beside the rooftop infinity pool.

Children's rooftop pool
Children’s rooftop pool

Dining

The breakfast buffet is served in the enormous and cheerful Sandekala restaurant featuring usual favourites like eggs, fruit, cakes and French toast along with an impressively large array of juices and shakes and a ‘surprise’ counter with a different Asian or western specialty everyday.

Breakfast buffet at Sandekala restaurant, Ramada Bali Sunset Road Kuta

There’s always one traditional Indonesian sweet on offer as well, such as sticky rice or pumpkin pudding, as well as one Asian/Chinese dish as stir-fried noodles or rice.

Breakfast buffet at Sandekala restaurant, Ramada Bali Sunset Road Kuta
Salad counter

Dinner at Angsoka, the lobby-level gourmet restaurant was an experience to treasure, as every dish that came to the table awed us with its delicate perfection. The consistency of the pea and leek soup was just right – neither too creamy nor too thin, and it was served with soft and delicious garlic bread soaked in the soup.

Pea and leek soup
Pea and leek soup

This was followed by a platter of vegetarian spring rolls served with lettuce and carrot salad and dips. Finally, we feasted on a classic pizza Margherita.

Pizza margherita
Pizza margherita

The hotel also serves a buffet dinner in a wonderfully luxurious ambience set to soothing lounge music.

Nearby beaches

Kuta, Seminyak and Legian beaches are all close to Ramada Bali Sunset Road Kuta and form a part of the same gorgeous coastline. We went to Seminyak Beach in the bright light of day and were dazzled by the picture-perfect reflection of the clouds on the shore.

We etched Trail-stained Fingers on the shore
We etched Trail-stained Fingers on the shore

A neat array of lounge chairs sheltered by cute pink umbrellas lined most of the beach. We sent the waves flying, carved our names on the yielding sand with our toes and walked the length of the sun-kissed sea until we could walk no more.

Sea-bashing
Sea-bashing

Nusa Dua is half an hour away and perfect for those who wish to try water sports. We undertook the longer ride (21 km) to Tanah Lot temple instead to enjoy one of the most breath-taking sunsets of our lives.

Practical information

Rooms: Rooms at the hotel start at around 2500 rupees per night. Book them here.

Address: Jl. Sunset Road No.9, Seminyak, Kuta (don’t rely on Google Maps – the marking is inaccurate – ask the locals). The hotel is only 7km away from Bali International Airport.

Tip: Ramada Bali Sunset Road Kuta is a part of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and you could get a free stay there if you join their Rewards Loyalty Programme.

Getting around: Rent a two-wheeler for around 60000 IDR per day or book Bluebird taxis. There is also the Kura-Kura public bus shuttle service with fixed routes.

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Chasing the sunrise at Bedugul Lake Temple

We had grand plans for our last day in Ubud, Bali. We were to be up hours before the crack of dawn, and ride through the shadowy darkness to make it 46 km north to one of Bali’s most famous and picturesque temples – Pura Ulun Danu Bratan or the Bedugul Lake Temple.

This plan was an impromptu alternative to our initial aim of witnessing the sunrise unfold over the volcanic Mount Batur at Kintamani. We realised that there was a long trek involved to get up to the summit and we’d have to leave in the middle of the night to make it in time for sunrise. And after a day filled with exploring the Sacred Monkey Forest, Goa Gajah Cave Temple and Tegallalang Rice Terraces, we didn’t really find the time to book ourselves on a group tour to Mount Batur. Besides, riding on our own in the wee hours of the morning sounded like a more exciting prospect.

And that was how we ended up rubbing the sleep out of our eyes at 4:30 AM on day six of our Balinese honeymoon.

Maya Ubud to Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

At 5 AM, the darkness was yet to pierced by the first semblance of light. Our route took us through various little roads, involving so many turns that we lost count. It was also surprisingly cold at that time of the morning, a fact we hadn’t accounted for. It was summer after all, with day temperatures hovering at a sunny 28 degree Celsius. But combined with the gusty wind and the light fabric of our summer overalls, we were left yearning for the fluffy jackets in our winter wardrobe back home!

Advice to travellers: Carry a warm jacket for early morning trips, regardless of what time of the year you travel to Bali.

Eventually, we left all the little roads behind and caroused smoothly for a good 26km on Jalan Baturiti Bedugul, with beautiful vistas passing us on either side of the road. It was nearly 6:30 AM now and Mohit was pressing down on the accelerator hard so as not to miss the first rays of dawn. The sun had begun to announce its presence and I was able to feast my eyes on the misty Bedugul mountains in the distance. Other cars and a few bikes/scooters kept us company as we finally made our way to Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, the water temple dedicated to Shiva and his consort Parvathi.

Note: Google Maps asked us to ride further ahead but we soon asked a local and turned back. Take a small right when you start nearing the temple, as per the map.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan - Bedugul Lake Temple, Bali

After confirming with a guard that the temple was indeed open, we entered. There was no entrance fee or the compulsion of a sarong. A handful of tourists were already there, all seemingly mesmerised by the golden brilliance being cast from the high heavens. In silence, we walked around the banks of Lake Bratan, admiring the 11 storey tall Meru tower of the temple and its wobbly reflection on the water.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan - Bedugul Lake Temple, Bali

The pagoda-like Meru tower is made of wood and always the primary shrine of a Balinese Hindu temple. While Pura Bratan’s Meru tower is dedicated to Shiva and Parvathi, the temple is also used to worship the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu as Lake Bratan is the chief source of irrigation in central Bali.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan - Bedugul Lake Temple, Bali

It is also possible to go boating on the lake for a price and we did see some colourful canoes lined up on the banks but there didn’t seem to be a boatman available. A lone boat carrying a couple of western tourists slid through the water while the rest of us looked on. After having our fill of watching the sunlight glimmer over the temple, we took a walk, circling the lake as far as we could. There was no one on the other side and we had the view of the mountains and the sky streaked with haloed clouds all to ourselves.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan - Bedugul Lake Temple, Bali

While the main shrine is on the water, there are many other temples inside the complex, accessed by well-maintained gardens strewn with large animal statues and tall coniferous trees. We walked through the garden, admiring a dolphin and a tiger, lavender fields, a couple of fighting pigeons and an Indonesian woman wearing the local straw hat.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan - Bedugul Lake Temple, Bali

Presently, we encountered an arresting pair of gates which we presumed to be the main entrance to the temple complex. In all, there are four groups of shrines housed within the complex, dedicated to the Gods Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and Goddess Danu.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan - Bedugul Lake Temple, Bali

A pair of beautiful snarling dragons awaited us on this side of the lake, surrounded by a cluster of short bamboo trees.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan - Bedugul Lake Temple, Bali

Witnessing the sunrise over the mountains on our way to Pura Bratan and then immersing ourselves in the scenic serenity at the lake temple was a deeply spiritual and satisfying experience for us in Bali. After our invigorating walk and exploration of the temple complex, we rode back to Maya Ubud Resort & Spa, thankful for the warmer air and the promise of another destination waiting to be explored before we bid goodbye to Indonesia’s favourite honeymoon destination.

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