Not just cooking, Lekshmi Nair has a penchant for travel too

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A popular anchor of TV shows and cookery programmes with a huge fan base Lekshmi Nair loves exploring new places and travels extensively. Many of her journeys are in search of new varieties of cuisines and food habits. Her search has taken her to almost all regions of India.

Though these journeys are essentially food trips, as part of her job, Lekshmi Nair makes it a point to closely observe the different cultures and lifestyles of each place along with their climate and the languages.

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While selecting a destination, Lekshmi Nair has a bias towards places that are close to nature. Lush green hillstations like Munnar, Vagamon, Wayanad thrill her with their cooler climate, waterfalls, mountains, and mist. She recently took a three-day trip to Munnar with her son and his family. She normally prefers staying at Mahindra Resorts. Being close to nature, beaches and backwater excite her as well. She considers every journey as an achievement in life.

Every place has its own peculiarities and distinctiveness, she says. Ladakh, for example, is one such place. For half the year, they have very cold climate. The lifestyle changes during these cold months. The people there preserve dried food like fruits and leaves, for the long winter. Even the fodder for the cattle are stocked in advance.

Among Indian destinations, she loved Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and some regions of the Himalayan valleys including Kashmir. These places have a pleasant climate and are rich in scenic beauty. Tawang at 10000 feet above sea level is an exciting place with its picturesque mountain peaks, valleys, and rivers. Tibet and southwest Bhutan lie on the northern border of Tawang while West Kameng lies to its east. Tawang is one place she wishes to tour again.

Lekshmi Nair has a passion for wilderness, too. She found her trips to Gavi and the journey through the Athirappilly-Valparai route especially noteworthy. She remembers her tour through the thick jungle to Achankovil, a destination famous both as a pilgrimage centre and a tourist attraction. This forest route starts from Punalur.

During this trip, some villagers informed her group about a society which sells honey and other forest produce deep in the jungle. The group decided to go there in a jeep. At three points, the jeep had to go right through overflowing rivers. Two of these were negotiated successfully. However on the third, the group had to wade through knee-deep water. The society was indeed there and getting there through the treacherous paths was quite invigorating.

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Lekshmi Nair recalls another adventure into the Thekkady forests. Though a forest guide who could sense the presence of wild animals by smell, footmark etc accompanied them, it was a scary trip. A noisy lot of monkeys actually gave them the warning that some predator is lurking somewhere nearby. Soon enough, some in the group got a glimpse of a wildcat. There was also a real threat of straying and getting lost in the forest. Altogether, the expedition gave her quite a few jittery moments.

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One of her recent food trips involved a journey to the famous hillstation of Amboli Ghat by the Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats near Sawantwadi in Maharashtra. It gave her a different travel experience. The thickly-wooded Amboli Ghat turns bewitchingly scenic during monsoon and is an ideal destination for a short trip from Kerala.

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During rains, Amboli Ghat turns a veritable treasure chest of major and minor waterfalls. Among them, seven are quite popular. All these and the distinct flora and fauna of the place attract many tourists to Amboli Ghats round the year. Many of the waterfalls have steps to go up to the top from the side of the plunge pool.

Lekshmi Nair prefers touring Indian destinations but as part of a group as she considers it safer that way. She says that it is safer to travel alone abroad than in India. While visiting her daughter who is based in Manchester, she chooses to travel alone.

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