Weekend in Pondy : Day 2 : Mahabalipuram

Today would be the last day in pondy and having covered all the local places, I decided to go to Mahabalipuram  which is 100 kms from the resort.

Mahabalipuram comprises of ancient monuments and is ideal to spend half a day there. Checking out of the resort, we headed to pondicherry bus stand to see if we could get a place where we decided to dump our luggage in the locker stand before heading out. Unfortunately we got to know the locker facility has been closed and I had to look for alternatives. We found a guest house opp to the bus stand and I requested the owner to allow us to use the store room for a day so I can keep my lugagge which the owner agreed to.

Paying a nominal amount I dumped my luggage in the storeroom and went to the hotel for breakfast. Our next target was to figure out the bus to our destination. Upon inquiry we got to know all local buses which go to chennai stop at mahabalipuram. We got into one of those buses and a 2 hour ride took us to mahabalipuram with a break in between.

For local sightseeing we hired an auto for 3-4 hours and took our own sweet time to cover all the important monuments. The carvings in the caves and temples are amazing and one can spend half a day or more by looking at the various monuments.

Sights around Mahabalipuram













Taking photos of all carvings etc we spend 4-5 hours there before heading back to pondicherry. We went to promande bouvelvard again for a final and spend another hour there before heading back to the bus stand.

Picking up our lugage from the guest houe we went to nearby hotel to finish our dinner. There was couple of hours to waste as the bus was scheduled to leave at 10.30. We spent the time in the bus stand itself waiting for the bus to come.

Boarding the bus at 10.30 we headed back to Bangalore thus concluding a long pending visit to the Union territory


Weekend in Pondy : Day 1 : Around pondicherry

It had been quite a few years since i visited pondicherry and my last visit was when I was a kid. After a quite a long gap I decided to head back to pondi again for couple days. Along with pondi I included mahabalipuram as well as it would make a good spot to spend half a day.

My initial plan to travel on the first weekend of this month had to be postponed and I decided to travel on 15-16th july. Travel arrangements were made and resort booking was done in advance.

We boaded the bus on thursday night and reached pondy the next morning at 5.30. I booked the resort in auroville, taking an auto we reached the resort in auroville at 6. After finshing the check in we took rest for couple of hours.

My first order of business was to figure out how to get around the town. Auto’s were ruled out as its quite expensive. I checked in the resort I was told i could hire 2 wheelers for Rs 350 a day. This was quite economical and I contacted the person in charge and after completing the formalities I got a scooter which is ideal to cover all the places. With the transport sorted out , it was time to hit the pool and spending sometime in pool with my daughter after a bath and breakfast we headed to cover pondy’s local sight seeing.

We first headed to mata mandir which is global spiritual place located around 8 kms  from the resort.



The main attraction is the globe structure which is used for meditation. Free passes are issued to visitors and one can view the building from afar. Prior booking is needed for anyone who wants to do meditation. Details of the same can be availed in the center. We clicked few photos and headed back to the parking lot.

With mata mandir done our next destination was pondicherry. Filling up the tank we first visited auro beach which is enroute to auroville. Spending some time there we went to pondy.

It was already 2 by the time we hit pondy. A quick stop for lunch and we went to Bharati govt park. The park is located in a central location very close to Pondicherry museum which also houses the jawahar toy museum as well. Spending close to an hour in the park while allowing my daughter I took a break before heading to the museum. We found the museum was unfortunately closed until further notice.

As we still had enough time , we went to chunnamber boathouse located 10 kms from pondicherry.

Chunnamber Boat House


_MG_2290_resizeParadise Beach


The boat house offers a variety of boat trips with the popular one being a pick up and drop trip to paradise beach. The paradise beach is basically an island with the sea on one side and the backwaters on the other. Boat rides are offered every half hour and we paid Rs 200 as the fee for a return trip. 15-20 min ride took us to the beach where we spent some time there playing and relaxing before heading back .

Statue of Francis Dupleix


Our next stop was promande beach before heading back to auroville. The attraction of the place is one can walk the entire length of the road as vehicles are prohibited after 6 PM. With no vechiles one can easily enjoy and spend quality time there. Spending an hour there and dinner we headed back to auroville thus concluding an eventful visit

Cruise to Coast – Day 2 : Scenic drive to Bekal

Today was D-Day as we were driving on the route I was planning to cover for a long time. The route to Bekal starts from the entrance of bhagmandala arch where once needs to take a left. The road is a single lane and we are greeted with boards indicating we are in talacauvery wildlife reverse.

With lush greenery and no signs of traffic we were ambling very slowly soaking in the scenery. The route is predominantly downhill and with cloudy weather the drive was even more pleasant.

While cruising along we found couple of road side waterfalls whose photos were duly clicked. Proceeding further, we found another waterfall hidden a little distance away from the road. Parking the car nearby we went to click photos of the falls. We could not approach the falls but we could take photos from afar

Road side Falls







We continued on and soon we were at panathur and then continued on tho odiiyanchal. The forest area was over and we could see civilization again.

Winding roads enroute bekal


We continued on the bekal via kanhangad. There is a route to bekal from kanhangad, however we missed the turn and had to go to the highway and continue on to bekal. We reached bekal around 11-11.30 and the sun was already up. Paying the entry fee we went inside.

The place is quite different from what I had visited couple of years back. The authorities have made a garden inside and they have undertaken some renovation work as well. As bekal attracts quite a lot of visitors, the place is well maintained.

Bekal Fort



We spent sometime roaming inside the fort and taking photos of the sea. Spending an half hour to 45 min, we went back to the car and headed towards mangalore which was our final destination for the day.

Bekal inside




An hour of driving took us to mangalore. After a stumptuous lunch we checked into the hotel and called it a day, thus concluding a long pending drive.

Snaps can be found here

Cruise to Coast – Day 1: Drive to bhagmandala

Ever since CAM announced the Cruise to coast weekend cycling ride from bhagmandala to bekal fort via panathur I was itching to go. However various situations conspired and I was unable to cycle. With rising costs I was unable to pursue the cycle ride but this didnt mean I would abandon trying the route altogether.

CAM announces Coast to Coast as one of its popular rides and the route they take is given here


I had decided if i cannot cycle I would atleast drive down the route and enjoy the scenary and the route as the cyclists would. Finally all stars aligned and myself and srikanth set out to explore this wonderful route.

We knew it would be a long drive and 2 days would not be enough to cover the entire distance, hence we planned this as a 3 day drive. We left bangalore on friday morning after a heavy breakfast and snaking through mysore road which was choke a bloc as usual we reached mysore by 12-12.30 with a pitstop in between.

Finishing our work there and after a full course meals we headed to bhagmandala. The weather was cloudy with intermittent spell of light rain. As we reached madikeri the rain also increased.

The scenary was as usual amazing and with rains coming intermitently we were cruising along the downhill stretch. An hour of driving later we reached bhagmandala. We were initially sceptical of getting accomodation hence we had packed our sleeping bags as well just so we can have a nap in the car itself if we dont get any decent accomodation.

We were however suprised to see good no of lodges. We checked into kstdc’s hotel and dumped our luggage in our rooms and took a breather. Evening we went to visit the forest office which was couple of meters from the hotel to inquire about permissions for trekking. A light dinner and we hit the bed, thus concluding the long drive.

Kodikanal – Visit to mannavanur lake

Mannavanur lake a non descrepit lake 25 kms from kodaikanal. The drive through the jungles is fantastic and the one can enjoy boating and short treks around the lake. One can easily spend half a day here to escape the hustle-bustle of the tourists. One the way to the lake step farming can be seen.

Mannavanathur Lake











Recee to Basavana Betta

Basavana Betta is one the major hills in the cauvery widlife range. The hill is an wildlife area and comes under the reserve forest division. I got to know about a trek which starts from mutati. The trek is considered to be a difficult one and as the hill comes under an active wildlife zone, prior permission is required.

One can also go to the top by vecihle as there is a road to the top. As I was interested in trekking, searching on the net for info about permission, few of the websites suggested the permission can be obtained from Range forest office in Kanakapura.

I decided to head to kanakapura and to the forest office to see I can obtain the permission. Upon inquiring about the procedure to obtain the permission I was directed to the wildlife office where I met the ACF. When I asked about the permission for the trek, I was given the address of the DCF kollegala and was asked to write a mail to him requesting for permission. The ACF then said it is very unlikely I would be given the permission as basavana betta is teaming with wildlife and as per the policy trekking is banned in all widlife reserves. I could still go to the top of the hill via road if I desired.

I was a little downbeat after hearing permission would not be given so easily, however I decided to drive to the top of the hill. Upon reaching the base, I met a forest watcher and upon interacting with him, I was told it depends on the mood of the DCF, if I am lucky I will get the permission for the trek. The watcher told me to shoot a mail and hope for the best. There is a temple at the top of the hill and anyone interested can pay a visit.

Views from Bsavana Betta



_MG_1601_resizeWith nothing much to do there I headed back after taking couple of photos of the nearby mountains. A short stop for lunch and a drive back on mysore road saw me reach home by 5.

Snaps can be found here

The cave maze in Belum and Gandikota- Exploring the indian grand canyon

Belum caves the second longest cave system in India was on my must visit list since couple of years. Lack of time / Company and the distance prevented me from visiting this place. When checking for a two day visit which can be clubbed along with belum, I came across gandikota which has a stone gorge fort and view which resembles the grand canyon in US.

These two places were ideal to be clubbed as the distance between both was less and both could be covered in same day. Srikanth was ready to join me for the trip and we headed to belum on Independence Day,

An early morning start after a sumptuous breakfast saw ur cruising on the Hyderabad Highway till we reached gooty. One needs to take deviation at gooty and proceed towards tadipatri to reach belum. Belum is approx 40 kms from tadipatri.

A short break for snaps of the distance hills an we headed to tadipatri

Hills in the distance

_MG_1517_resizeThe temperature and humidity was soaring by the time we reached tadipatri. Inquring the route we continued to proceed towards the caves. Another hour of driving and we could see belum caves written on the hill. We reached the cave by lunch time and we could already find lot of people there. Parking our car, we collected the tickets and proceeded towards the entrance of the caves

Entrance to belum


The caves are made up of limestone and run quite a long distance underground

Belum Caves



The  cave network is like a maze which runs deep underground. The government has maintained the caves well by providing lighting and marking the route for the visitors.With entry and exit points marked, it is easy for people to explore the caves. Some parts of the caves are still off limits. With humidity in the caves being high we were sweating a lot while exploring.

Roaming around the entire caves took us about an hour or so and we finally reached the main entrance. There was an fan kept at the top and we spent some time underneath it to get some relief from the heat.

With the cave exploration complete we had ample amount of time in our hands. Our next place on the list was gandikota which was around 60 kms from belum. Getting the route from google maps, we headed towards gandikota. The roads were pretty decent and asking for directions we soon reached the gorge fort after couple of hours of driving.

Gandikota is also called the grand canyon of india as it contains a steep gorge. Standing near the edge of the gorge one can experience the view similar to that of the grand canyon in US.

About Gandikota


The gorge also contains a fort built in 13th century. The fort contains ruins of temple and a mosque.

Fort Entrance


Scenes Inside the Fort




The gorge



Couple of mandatory selfies at the gorge and spending close to an hour taking photos and enjoying the scenary we bid adeiu to the place and headed to the car.

Selfie @ India’s grand canyon


Our initial target of reaching ananthpur took a serious hit as we left the gorge only by 5.30. Reworking our schedule we decided to halt at kadiri before heading back to bangalore the next day.

It was night by the time we reached kadiri which is famous for lakshmi narasimha swamy temple. After checking into a hotel we had our dinner and called it a day to give our aching muscles some rest.

It was an early start the next day and we were on our way to bangalore. A short stop for breakfast midway and we reached bangalore by noon after spending an hour in the newly opened decathlon sports store on airport road. I was home by lunch thus ending a long pending trip.

Snaps can be found here

Ride to Kaivara, Kailasgiri and an unfinished trek to kaivara fort

It had been more than a month since my trek to Chandrashila peak and the daily routine was getting monotonous. To break the boredom few of us from our office decided to go for a ride to kaivara and kailasgiri. Checking for places to visit apart from these two I chanced upon a fort built by tippu long time ago. One needs to trek to the fort and this would allow me to get some trekking done along with the ride.

With the places confirmed, myself shashank and 2 others met at Indiranagar on sat and started towards hoskote.

Group Snap

_MG_1394_resize_MG_1395_resizeKaivara is around 70 kms from bangalore and with the smooth tarmac on the chintamani- kaivara road we had a good time riding. We reached kaivara town in an hour and half and headed to yoginarayana mutt. The mutt is famous as the saint narayanappa had attained everlasting bliss here. The mutt has several photos depicting the life of the saint.

Yoginarayana mutt

_MG_1396_resize_MG_1398_resizeWe took few photos and after a quick breakfast we headed to kaivara zoo. The zoo was locked when we got there so we proceeded towards kailasagiri which is 5 kms from the zoo. We stopped briefly at tapovana which has the statues of several prominent saints. Inside one can see the statue of narasimha.

From the top of tapovana, we can see kaivara betta. We could also see fort remains on the top. Upon inquiring on the route to the top we were told we will have to obtain forest dept permission for the trek. I was suprised to hear this as a permission is required to climb this unknown hill. We decided to check regarding the permission on our way back from kailasgiri.

Kaivara Betta


Our next stop was kailasgiri, which was reached after zipping through the empty roads. Kailasgiri is famous for its cave temples which was closed when we got there. We were told the place would open in another half hour but we decided to leave the place as dark clouds began to gather and we didnt want to get caught in the rain. Couple of snaps of the rock formation and the scenary surrounding the place we headed back. There is also a board at kailsagiri which prohibits people from trekking and wandering alone at ambajidurga hill.

Scenary near kailsagiri


_MG_1438_resize_MG_1417_resizeWhen returning back we found the zoo open and went in. The zoo is run by the Karnataka forest dept. We inquired about the possibility of trekking to fort and surprisingly we were given the permission. Upon asking for the route we were told to take the left at gangothri marg and proceed. There is a well marked path which takes us all the way to top. The path is hidden in between however its well defined and one can follow the same to reach the top.

As we climbed higher, we encountered more rocks which made the progress little slow. We were about to reach the top when shashank said he would like to turn back as he was finding it difficult to climb. We climbed little further and decided to head back.

An hour later after descending we were back to the zoo. At the entrance we informed the ticketing guy we would come back shortly to complete the climb. When asked about trekking in ambajidurga hills we were asked to take permission in kailasgiri. Bidding goodbye to the forest gaurd we headed back to bangalore thus completing an eventful half a day outing

Malenadu Road Trip Day 2: Dams, Kundadri and Ambutheertha

With the main attractions already covered on the first day, our discussions continued about the places to be covered on the second day. We initally planned on covering Mandgadde bird sanctuary, sakrebyle elephant camp and Gajanur dam as all are in the same line towards shimoga.

While searching for other places to visit, I came across two neglected dams Chakra and Savehaklu which are enroute to hosnagara. These dams however where in the opposite direction to the places we had planned. During breakfast we inquired about the possibility of covering these dams in addition to these. As we had ample time we decided to first head towards hosanagara after getting directions.

The road from thirthhalli to hosanagara consists of some amazing twisty which was pure fun to drive on. The road for most part is excellent expect for couple of stretches which are pothole ridden. We enjoyed driving on those narrow twisty roads and soon we were at an intersection. Asking for directions we headed towards chakra dam.

Chakra and Savehaklu dams were initially constructed before the constructions of linganamakki dam. Both these dams are constructed on the river chakra.

Chakra Dam

IMG_8031_resizeSavehaklu Dam

IMG_8052_resizeThe purpose of the dam’s were not fulfilled and these dams were abandoned. We were the only people present there and we made good use of it , by doing some photography. Chakra and Savehaklu dams are equidistant at 6 kms from each other. One can see the shola forests from savehaklu dam. However the road in chakra dam makes a loop and comes back.

Road in Chakra Dam

IMG_8028_resizeIMG_8029_resizeShola Forest view from Savehaklu Dam

IMG_8058_resizeWe initially went to chakra dam and then headed to savehaklu before heading back. With both the dam’s complete we still had enough time on our hands and we then decided to head to gajanur dam as well. It was given on the net that photography was prohibited however we decided to take a chance. Another hour or so or driving took us to gajanur.

When we asked the parking attendant we were surprised to hear that photography could be done in the dam. Paying the parking fee we went inside. One can only see the dam from outside as entry beyond the gates is not permtted.

Gajanur Dam

IMG_8073_resizeIMG_8077_resizeWith all dam’s that we planned covered, and with still time left to go for sunset, we headed back to thirthhalli while thinking of other places to visit before visiting kundadri for the sunset. We then came across ambutheetha which is supposed to be the birth place of sharavathi river. With nothing else to do, we turned towards sagara and headed to ambutheetha,

The intial part of the journey is via the same route towards chakra and savehaklu dam, however we need to go straight rather than taking a deviation. Following the markers we soon reached the place.

The origin of the sharavathi river is like a big pond and a temple is built in the lines of bhagmandala in coorg from where the river cauvery originates.


IMG_8085_resizeIMG_8087_resizeWe found the place to be uninteresting and with nothing else around to see or do, it was time to head back thirthhalli.

A short stop at the hotel to freshen up and after a cuppa we were of to kundadri which is a famous place for jains.

The drive to kundadri is quite as it took us a while to get to the top. Already we could see a lot of people present there. Kundadri is famous for its Jain temple at the top and for the specatcular views it provides. As we still had time for the sun to set, we did some phtotography of the landscape and the temple.

Jain Temple


Western Ghats

IMG_8093_resizeIMG_8105_resizeIn a short while we could see the sun going down. We spent some time at the top doing sunset photography and decided to head down soon as we knew there would most likely be a jam on the way back with so many people heading back together.


IMG_8106_resize IMG_8115_resizeAfter descending for 30-40 min we were back on level ground and headed back to thirthalli. An early dinner and we retired thus calling it a day after covering more places we had hoped for.

We headed back to Bangalore the next day with a short stopover in Sringeri for some yummy breakfast.

Snaps can be found here

Malenadu Road Trip Day 1: Kuppali and Agumbe

Kuppali the birth place of poet laureate Kuvempu was on the bucket list for almost 5 years ever since I heard about Kavi Shyla the place where kuvempu used to his spend his time thinking of the poems which he used to come up, while soaking in the beauty of malenadu. The stonehenge like structure made me visit it even more, but due various this trip was yet to materialize. Kuppali and Agumbe which is famous for its sunsets was chosen as the must visit coupled with mandgadde bird sanctuary and other nearby surrounding places.

Srikanth and myself headed out on Sat morning for a 3 day long drive to western ghats.

It was a breezy drive to hassan with a short stop for breakfast. As shiradi ghat is closed for repairs, we headed towards belur and then to mudigere. From here a deviation towards sringeri took us via aldur and balenhonnur and driving on the twisty roads made me recollect my solo road trip I had done in 2010 on the same route with a stop in sringeri. We headed towards koppa instead of sringeri and soon reached the outskirts on Kuppali with couple of breaks in between.

Shortly we were at kuppali and headed to the new gallery which is constructed.

Kuvempu and Tesjavi Gallery

IMG_7941_resizeThe gallery houses photos of Kuvempu and his son Tejaswi along with some of the poems from the man himself.

Kuvempu Poems and Portrait of the legend


The 110th birth anniversary of kuvempu was recently celebrated and there was a huge cutout indicating the same and there was decorations inside, indicating the celebrations were recently concluded.

110th birthday of Kuvempu


The place also has a dormitory to stay along with clean bathrooms and toilets which are well maintained. Upon inquiring about stay we were told to do the booking in advance. Spending sometime roaming the place looking at the photos, we headed to the main attraction KaviShyla

Entrance to Kavishyla

IMG_7963_resizeKavishyla was the place where kuvempu and few other poets would come and spend time in nature’s midst to get inspiration to write their poems. The place is famous as it has a mini stonehenge like structure at the entrance and a bigger one inside. The guide who was present there told us this was placed here only recently.

Stonehenge @ Kavishyla

IMG_7965_resizeIMG_7991_resizeThe place is also the burial place of kuvempu and contains a rock which has the signature of kuvempu along with other poets from era. One can also get a bird’s eye view of western ghats from here.

Burial site of Kuvempu and his signature


IMG_7994_resizeWestern Ghats

IMG_7992_resizeCouple of photo ops at the place and we headed to the final place ‘KaviMane’ the house where Kuvempu was born. The house is converted into a museum and objects used by Kuvempu and his family are on display. The place also contains various books he has written and the recognitions he has received along with various photos


IMG_8013_resizePhotography however is prohibited inside. We bid the place goodbye thus ending a long pending desire to visit the place.

With kuppali finally ticked, our next destination was Agumbe which is famous for sunsets. One can stay at dodda mane which is the only place available for staying. However one needs to call up in advance and book the accomodation.

We reached agumbe just in time for the sun to go down. There is a vantage point built where one can view the sunset. We were however not surprised to see a huge crowd there as the place is famous for sunsets.

Sunset @ Agumbe

IMG_8021_resizeIMG_8023_resizeIMG_8027_resizeEnjoying the sunset for few more minutes we headed back to thirthhalli in search of accomodation and finally ended an eventful day after checking into a lodge.

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