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

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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

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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

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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

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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

http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=wlcwyukypumsltrr

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.

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

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_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

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

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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

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_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

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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.

Ambutheetha

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

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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.

Sunset@Kundadri

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

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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

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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

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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

KaviMane

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.

Shettikere Hoysala Temple

After spending a month at home due to work and other factors, it was time for a break from the daily routine. As usual Srikanth decided to join me and upon searching for places to visit, we came across a non descripit temple in Shettikere which was not visited by anyone.

After getting the directions we hit the road and after couple of hours of driving, we reached shettikere. The temple is located in the village itself and the villagers showed us the way.

We were expecting to see a majestic temple in the lines seen in belur, however we were in for a dissapoinment. The temple was completely renovated.

Shettikere Temple

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The temple pillars were painted in various colors and the carvings present on the walls of the temple seemed to have been removed.

We were wondering who would have done this, when we saw the temple priest approaching the temple. We inquired about the renovation and we came to know the temple was in a bad state and the interlocking mechanisms had given way over a period of time and water was seeping in through the cracks.

The villagers had informed ASI and as per the priest, the ASI officer from Shimoga had visited the place for inspection and had ordered renovation of the temple. We could clearly see the numbers marked on the wall.

Renovated Temple

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Interestingly ASI has a board outside monuments indicating destruction or vandalism of the monuments would be punishable by monetary fine and / or a jail term and its ironic that the ASI would look to renovate the entire temple just to plug in few cracks.

ASI Notice

IMG_7936_resizeThe priest also mentioned that the sanctum sanctorum has also been moved back from where the diety was originally present. We could see new doors present rather than the old iron doors present originally. We were disappointed in the place and we soon left after having a look inside the temple.

The return journey was quick and we reached by 4.30.

Snaps can be found here

Manyapura – The lost city of the gangas

The gangas were one of the powerful dynasties in karnataka. They had built their capital in kolar before moving it to Manne or manyapura. I came across this place when looking to visit some offbeat places around bangalore. Manne is home to kapileshwara and someshwara temples. There is not much info present about this place. The nelamangala planning authority site has only few lines mentioned about this place.

I decided to visit this place and took some photos of the ruined structures.

Manyapura

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Mookanamane Abbi Falls

The area around sakleshpur has many off beat locations such as falls,ruins forts etc which can be covered in a single day. One such falls which I came across when searching for places to visit for the long weekend was mookana mane abbi which is present in bisile reserve forest.

My friend srikanth has mentioned about this falls couple of years back but due to various reasons we could not visit this falls. One guy by name of Prashant had visited the falls and had blogged about it, which can be found here.

Now with all stars aligning in our favour we decided to tick this place off which was in our to-do list for a long time. In addition to mookana mane falls we thought of covering even mallali falls which was a short deviation from bisile ghat. Now that the plan was formulated we hit the road on 3rd early morning to cover the 200+ km journey.

The journey to hassan took us 3 hours and another 45 min we were near shiradi ghat. The road condition had deteriorated very badly after hassan onwards to sakleshpur and the journey which was smooth till then had turned painful and slow. Finally we reached the entrance of manjarabad fort and stopped for breakfast at one of the roadside stalls.

To reach mookana mane falls we had to take the road going next to manjarabad fort and continue further. We had hopped for better road conditions but that was not the case. The road conditon remained bad however it improved further as we went along.

Road to mookanamane Abbi

IMG_7710_resizeWe stopped on the way for a short break and the lush greenary around us prompted us to do some photography before proceeding further

Sakleshpur landscapes

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Asking for directions we proceeded further and finally after 2 hours of driving we finally reached the place which was told by the locals where we could park our car. The falls is located further down. Parking our car at a convienent place we started our walk down to the falls.

The walk to the falls

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A short walk down and we reached the top of the falls. To reach the base one needs to walk over some rocks and climb down a steep surface before reaching the base. With the water current being high we had to be careful when getting down and finally we were at the base of the falls.

Fast flowing currents

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Mookanamane Abbi Falls

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After spending some time there taking photos we headed back. Our next target was the bisile ghat view point which was about 30 odd kms from the falls. As we were driving towards the view point, the roads were absolutely horrrible and it had looked like it had not tarred for quite a long time. We tried to negotitate the roads for a while but decided not to go any further. In order to save the car and ourselves from the painful journey we turned towards somwarpet and we were welcomed on some awesome stretch of road till mallali falls. We had initially decided to get down to the falls but looking at the crowd, we decided to pay a visit to it some other day along with a visit to pushpagiri base.

With nothing else on our agenda, we decided to head back to Bangalore. While heading towards chennarayapatna we found a large body of water where we stopped for a while to take some photos as it was getting monotonous driving the whole time.

Water Body and road to chennarayapatna

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Another 4-5 hours of driving took us back to bangalore thus ending an amazing and a long pending trip.

Snaps can be found here

Avani

The area around kolar and mulbagal is steeped in history going back to the Ramayana. One such place is Avani located two kms from mulbagal on the Kolar highway. The place has deep links to Ramyana as the story of Uttara Ramayana (The story of Ravana’s defeat and Rama and Sita movig back to Ayodhya and sita being sent to the forest) starts here. It is said that Sita gave birth to her twin sons lava¬† and Kusha on top of the hill also known as Lava-Kusha Betta and witnessed the war between Rama and his sons ending in huge defeat for Rama’s army.

Hillock

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Each place mentioned in Uttara Ramayana, a comparable place is present in Avani. The place where the horse Ashwamedha was tied to the place where Sita gave birth to her sons and where she sat and witnessed the war between her husband and her sons after the completion of ashwamedha yagna. All the places can be found here. The place has ramayana lore written all over it as Avani means earth and Sita was also called Avanisuta. The place also has historical signficance as the first anglo mysore war between Hyder Ali and the british was fought in Mulbagal and finds reference in Battle of Mulwagal.

Apart from the hillock Avani also has the Ramalinga temple dating back to the days of Ramayana and is thought to be built by the Nolambas. Rama here is worshipped as an aspect of Shiva.

Ramalinga Temple

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Considering the mythological and historical significance of the place I decided to pay a visit to Avani on Friday. A planned early morning ride was not to happen due to the drizzle and it was delayed start for the ride. As usual it was jam packed till hoodi after which the traffic thinned out and the ride became smooth.

Cruising for an hour I stopped at Adigas outside of kolar for breakfast and then headed off to Avani. There are signboards everywhere and it is difficult to miss the place. Soon I was at the place and headed to ramalingeshwara temple which is situated in the middle of the village.

The place was empty and I could spend some quality time taking photos of the temple. The temple has inscriptions written on the walls. There was however no one to explain what it was. Spending some time there taking photos I headed to the hill also called lava kusha hill.

Inscriptions @temple wall

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Sita and Valmiki Caves

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The hill has various caves including the one where sita gave birth to her sons and the rocks where she saw the war. The area around kolar is devoid of any greenary however I could find a lush green surrounding around avani. Couple of photos of the surrounding and I headed back to bangalore.

Scenary around Avani

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Snaps can be found here

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