Thursday, July 31, 2014

Deserty Rajasthan - Skyscanner

(Desert and dunes - that's Rajasthan. Photo from web)

Well, I would be the last person to submit this post..., I had no inclination and just about an hour before close thought of doing this. Yep, and that's how my travel plans also unfold almost everything at the last minute :)

(Umaid Bhawan Palace. Photo - from web)

Where I want to go - Rajasthan has been off my radar for quite long now and winters are the best months to visit the place. I would love to indulge myself in the palaces and forts and also enjoy the wildlife over there.

So, using Skyscanner, I have planned a week trip spending leisure time at Jodhpur and Mount Abu, I plan to do a leisure, luxurious, laid back trip that would help me best to enjoy the Rajasthani tradition, folklore, palaces and importantly food. My tentative schedule would be from Nov 21 over a period of 6-7 days.

My schedule would be simple and easy:-
At Jodhpur
> Reach Jodhpur flying directly from Bengaluru
> Explore Mehrangarh fort and Mehrangarh fort museum / Local cuisine / Jaswant Thada
> Explore Umaid Bhawan Palace / Osian (Khajuraho of Rajasthan) / Local markets
> Balsamand lake / Kalyana lake / Machiya safari park
> Relax / Shopping / Bazaars

(Mount Abu. Picture from web)

At Mount Abu
> Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary
> In pursuit of the Green Munia (only found here)
> Crocodile Park
> Achalgarh fort
> Temples / Sunset Point
> Shopping

(Green Munia - A strikingly beautiful bird found only here. Photo from net)

Browsing through the Skyscanner website, I found the airfare picker tool quite easy with lot of options and below would be my choices flying from Bengaluru to Jodhpur.

Booking cab was also quite simple with the option popping up on the left display asking 'Do you want to book a cab'. You click and it searches for the best deals on the same set of dates you booked your flight tickets. Easy.

Again, booking hotels was made easy with lot of options thrown in for the user. You can select based on the ratings, price, distance and popularity and you can book from the best website offering the best prices. Interesting and good analytics I should say.

With a budget of 1Lac, I would seriously consider this as a royal vacation and intend to save some to indulge in some wonderful shopping getting souvenirs, Rajasthani handicrafts and clothes.

Air fare = 10,740/- round trip
Cab for whole duration = 13,640/- Hotels = 39,691/- + 20,619/- = 60,310/-
Food & Misc = 10,000/- (obvious that I can't show here)
Total = Rs.94690/- and I still save about Rs.5310/-

Well, dreaming isn't bad and if Skyscanner can fulfill those, I would love to dream all day long.

This post is a part of Skyscanner travel wizard activity at

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#ZestUpYourLife with Zest and Adda in Goa

(at the registration desk at the Goa airport with Aravind)

Was pleasantly surprised when Harish from BlogAdda sent a mail asking if I was free on a certain weekend. Having missed attending the WIN ceremony, I was keen and jumped in not knowing what was it all about. Then came in all the news in bits and pieces that kept me excited of the real chance of driving a new vehicle, the Tata Zest. Thus, finally on 26th July, 50 top bloggers from various streams descended on Zuri resorts and colouring it literally white (Blogadda) and blue (Tata motors).

(it was all blue and white... Pic -self)

The staff from Adda were very warm and hospitable and patient enough to answer all of your questions and guide you through the entire event, a family of bloggers coming together. Special thanks to Ankita (the adda girl), Hari (the adda man), Anand and Preethi (the backbone) from BlogAdda and to the entire team of Tata Motors and for getting in Narain Karthikeyan to grace the occasion.

(Narain was there and the MC Miss Malini, Picture-web)

Zuri Resorts was a perfect place being an high end resort, we had all the space in the resort for the activities but the tiring part was moving around between the lobby and the rooms that was at the far end of the resort. Ok, without going in detail (I’m sure lot of others would be doing that…) let me put it in a photo-story format and keep it crisp & simple :)

(Ankita was honest in expressing here love... errr for us! Picture - self)
(an ice-breaker session)

(Ms Minari from Tata telling us about the vision and mission of this project)

(Mr Anand Kulkarni and the new benchmarks of Tata)

(the Adda family during a break -Anikta, Harish and Preethi, happy to be part of this family)

(Anand, from Adda with Nivedith and Aravind)

(we consumed the Social media too... :))

(the Revotron was impressive)

(the flagging off next day, we drove both the diesel and the petrol cars)

(Zest's were all around...ahead)

(... and behind)

(I enjoyed the cruise... and the AMT too...)

(pit stop posing... we had 2 stops one each drive, with Senthil)

(we were surely zest'ed up with 140Nm of torque gushing through...)

(back at Zuri, time for some live blogging action...)

(and some hogging (this was just a sample though!), desserts occupied most of my plate :))

(and catching up with some wonderful bloggers - Siddhartha, Stephen, Deepak and Keyur)

(and a lot of selfie's... here with Ankita, the adda girl)

(and the group photos...)

(before we were deported back from where we came :))

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Zest is here to stay and win!

The new ‘Tata’ Zest

(the new signature grill... looks good. Pic courtesy - self)

50 top bloggers from various fields landed at the Zuri hotels, Goa for an event organized by BlogAdda sponsored by Tata Motors.

First impression of the car was good with a complete makeover from the current existing Tata motors line-up; except from the front you can’t make out it’s a Tata vehicle from anywhere.

>The new signature grill with the ‘humanity line’ and ‘trust line’ looks neat and impressive.

>Moving over to the doors and the body, the plain door look has been made off with and a new bold ‘slingshot line’ and ‘diamond olo’ design is in place that adds a lot of character and oomph to the vehicle.

>The star attraction would be rear look and design, with the sling shot design encompassing the neat and well-designed wraparound ‘LED’ tail lamps and a puffed up rear bumper.

Stepping in, you are greeted with a good combination of beige and black that looks impressive at first sight. The dashboard looks classy and neatly organized and most importantly the steering wheel is light, lighter and is very responsive.

(the line up for the long drives... Pic courtesy - self)

>Space. Tata, have set a benchmark here over the years and the Zest is no different, it has litres of space everywhere, be it legroom, headroom and the cabin is very airy.

>Noise – I couldn’t believe it was a Tata vehicle I was in, absolutely silent, perfect! The AMT rev noise is a little audible, just though.

>Ride – Smooth as butter, I personally felt the AMT Diesel was far smoother than the petrol as the rev’s are controlled and power displacement is linear. The Sports mode in the Petrol version unleashes the entire 90Ps power and the 140Nm torque and you do feel it. The car cruises and you don’t feel anything when you reach the three digit number on the speedometer.

>Tata has again raised the bar with a brilliant suspension and that translates into no bumps, jerks felt inside the cabin. It literally cruises over bad patches and smaller potholes. Brilliant!

>Cabin & Layout- The layout is cockpit inspired and the dashboard unit console is neatly designed with the top version of the car getting high-end gizmo features, much more than what you can imagine. Getting used to the Voice control may take a little time and its not that flawless, but yes far better than what you see today. It can recognize the Indian accent and that’s a major plus point. The Rugby shoulder seats are brilliant and have good support all around.

(Cockpit inspired dash, neat and organized. Pic courtesy - web)

>Passed the current Indian standards and many more additional International standards.
>Generation 9 ABS.
>Successfully passed the high speed crash tests
>Dual Airbags.


Drove the AMT Diesel and the Manual Petrol vehicles and was well impressed with both of them, my preferred choice being the Petrol just because I’m blessed with more control on what I do and how I do it. The car is based on Horizon next that encompasses Design next (design team), Drive next (engineering) and Connect next (with tie up with Harman audio).

(clay model of the Zest. Pic courtesy - self)

Senthil, an auto crazy fan was my partner on the drives and we both tested the vehicle in our own ways, I was sportier and fast (inspired by meeting Narain Karthikeyan the previous evening) and Senthil was more sedate and steady.

Highs:- Lot of first-in-segment features unleashed by the Tata in the Zest… There are about 29 features that are new for the segment.

>Projector Headlamps, LED daytime running lights.
>Wraparound LED tail lamps.
>15” alloy wheels
>Signature LED tail lamps
>AMT Diesel (brilliant). They say you just cannot abuse the engine, i.e., if you are in Manual mode and revving high, the system automatically changes gears for you and does not allow the vehicle to go over the red line.
>Best in class AC (and can be controlled by the VCT).

>Best in class Audio from Harman (with auto volume adjust according to the speed of the car).

Not sure of the mileage as we didn’t do a real long drive, but as its coming from Tata, you can be rest assured it would be good.


>Storage space looks weak inside, you can’t fit in a 1l bottle. For a traveler like me, this is a big concern.
>Boot looks small and is high loading.
>Petrol version gearbox can be improved much better.
>Little more room for the knees would have been great especially for taller people.
>No CD player… well, moving into the era of digitization this would not matter going forward.

And I termed new ‘Tata’ because Zest is a new beginning, a path breaking trend and Tata is here to stay and win :)

(All set for the ride. Pic courtesy - self)

As someone said, the only way here on for Tata is way up and they are sure going in the right way. I'm hoping for a chance with the 'Bolt' too...

Note: Not all of the images are mine.
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