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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

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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.

Munnar – Day 3

For today’s visit we decided to pay a visit to periyar wildlife sanctuary where we could see the famous nilgiri thar. Ananmudi peak was also on the radar however that had to be dropped after a visit to the tourism office.

Since it was a monday we were hopping for less crowd, however we were in for a suprise when we reached there. The queue for the tickets was stretching as long as the eye could see and it would take us a good 3-4 hrs by the time we got our chance for the tickets. The thar would have to be seen some other time and we headed to top station which is a scenic viewpoint and around 40kms from munnar town.

Couple of snaps of the tea gardens on the way and we were cruising along towards top station.

Tea Estates

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We passed echo point and reached kundala dam. We took a small break there hoping for some boating however it wasnt to be as there was no water in the dam.

There were other things like horse rides, target shooting to keep the people amused. Spending some time there we headed to top station. The brilliant roads which we found till now gave way to pot holed roads and soon we reached top station. As usual we found a huge holiday crowd there as well.

The weather was pleasant by the time we reached top station. The ticket counter was quite a distance from the parking and we could see a big crowd coming and going. The scenery  improved as we went

Scenery near top station

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One needs to go down the stairs that are built to reach the viewpoint. The usual holiday crowd was present in full force even at the viewpoint. Clicking snaps i slowly made my way to the viewpoint. Spending some time at the viewpoint doing some photography.

Top Station

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It was a slow climb back to the top and it started to rain by the time we got to the top. Heading back to munnar we stopped at a tea plantation from where we could get a fantastic view of the whole valley covered in green. Clicking more photos of the valley we spend some time there admiring the beauty of the place.

Lush greenary

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It was time to head back to the hotel as we had a long drive back to bangalore the next day thus ending a wonderful trip to this popular hill station.

Snaps can be found here

Munnar – Day 2

It was a relaxed start the next day after a good night sleep. We had planned to visit idukki and matupetty dams. If thought of looking at the other attractions on the way if time permits.

After a leisure breakfast we headed to idukki dam which is around 50 kms from the resort. The roads were pretty good all the way and we were enjoying the drive. We had to stop at a few places to ask for directions.  Fuel was running dangerously low and luckily we found a bunk where we tanked up again.

An hour of driving and we reached the hill view view point where we could get a amazing view of the dam. There was a big garden where one can spend some time.

View of Idukki Arch Dam

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The sun was pretty harsh by the time we reached the viewpoint. However the fantastic scenary made us to ignore the sun for a while.  Couple of snaps there and I could get a good view point to try some different compositions.

Fantastic Scenery

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The ticket counter also sells tourism maps which we got one. Spending some time at the viewpoint we were discussing the next course of action. Checking the map we found echo point and devikulam hill station on the way to matupetty dam which we could cover. Bidding adeiu to the hillview we headed back to munnar for lunch.

Devikulam is on the other side of munnar town, however the road was blocked. We asked a so called guide and he told us it would be a waste of time going there as we needed to go via two roads and both are blocked. Since it was already evening we didnt want to take a risk hence we headed to matupetty dam which was on our to-cover list.

The road to matupetty dam which passes photo point is one of the finest that I had driven. With a slight drizzle the road with the twisty hairpin bends looks awesome to drive on. A brief stop at photo point for few snaps and we headed to matupetty dam.

Photo Point

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The dam was pretty crowded at the entrance as that was the only route to echo point and top station.  However I managed to find a good location to take some photos  before moving to echo point.

View of matupetty dam

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There was a speed boat ride on matupetty dam which was closed, hence we headed to echo point which was a short distance away. Dark clouds had gathered and it looked it it was about to rain. We reached echo point only to find a whole lot of cars parked there.

Echo point is given name to the place where one can hear their echo, however due to the rampant cutting of trees as per one local getting an echo is becoming increasingly difficult. We were still suprised to see the amount of people there.

View on the way back

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It soon began to drizzle and we rushed to the nearest chai shop for shelter and some hot tea. Once the drizzle stopped we looked around for some souvenirs before heading back to munnar thus concluding another eventful day of sightseeing

Munnar – Day 1

Summer is a difficult time to plan for any trips or outings. The heat makes it difficult to plan not more than a day’s visit. With the summer vacation in full swing, one has to keep in mind about accomodation in popular tourist places.

After my trip to masinagudi I was itching for another long drive. My friend who had recently got married suggested we hit the road for a family trip.

We were debating about the places to visit and the summer heat made it difficult to choose a proper holiday location. Locations within karnataka was ruled out as there was little to be seen in summer. Checking on various forums we zeroed in on valparai in tamil nadu, however recent reports of man eating leopards made us to change our plans at the last minute. We finally decided to head to munnar, the popular hill station in Kerala. Accomodation was booked and we headed off from Bangalore on Sat early morning.

Checking on various forums and on the net, we decided to take the conventional route and while coming back if time permitted, come via satyamangalam navigating the dimbam ghats.

An early morning start and we were crusing along the NH 7 highway towards salem with a break in A2B for breakfast. C0uple of hours of driving with few breaks in between we were at udumalpet where the ghats for munnar would start.

Distance to munnar

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The road to munnar passes through chinar and anamalai tiger reserve. We were hoping to spot some wild animals on the way however the mid day sun made it difficult to spot any. Bad roads inside the sanctuary made the drive bumpy and soon we were at the foot hills of the ghats.

Roads inside Chinar

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As we drove higher tea estates came into picture. Couple of breaks for snaps and we were at munnar by 5.3o.

Munnar Tea Estates

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Lush greenary on the way to munnar

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Our stomachs were rumbling and it was time to find a place to eat. Saravana Bhavan was just round the corner and we polished off some nice dosas to cool our stomachs. With an early dinner done we headed to the resort which was 13 kms from the town. After couple of wrong deviations we reached the hotel and checked in to our rooms thus completing a long day of driving.

100 cyclists to tour across the beautiful ‘Blue Mountains’ range

Bangalore, India, Wednesday, October 13, 2010: Tour of Nilgiris (TFN), a flagship event of RideACycle-Foundation (RAC-F) and India’s original bike tour, closed-in 100 registrations for the year 2010. TFN 2010 (popularly known as TFN Ten) is in its third consecutive year where it has seen a 60% increase in the number of riders from its first tour in 2008. TFN has grown to be India’s premier cycling tour which trails across the beautiful Nilgiris Mountains in South India. It is a mass participative cycling event for professional, amateur and the casual cyclist.  RAC-F intends to promote the cause of cycling and bring awareness about the various benefits of cycling. The ride is stretched across eight days starting from the 16th to the 23rd of December, flag-off of which will happen from Bangalore.

“What started as a casual cycling trip amongst 40 friends in 2008, has now grown be the most recognizable and enduring sporting brand in India with a total of 100 riders, who were selected out of nearly 350 applicants for the year 2010″ said Ravi Ranjan, Co-founder, RAC-F. He further added “TFN has now grown to be an event for the cycling community. It is challenging yet non-competitive. The riders are in to enjoy themselves and not compete”

TFN is doing everything under the sun to keep up the fun factor as well. One such initiative is introducing a fictitious character named ‘Jack Lee’. Jack Lee has grown to be a character that is revered and hated alike for his impartial selection of riders for the tour. Jack Lee makes sure that his identity remains concealed until the start of the tour so that all cyclists stand a fair chance of being in the tour. And because of the growing popularity of the tour, it is a challenging task to choose the riders. Jack Lee also helps the riders plan and prepare for the tour.

When asked how Jack Lee selects the riders, Ravi told us “To make sure that the selections are impartial and fair, and in keeping with the vision of RAC-F, Jack Lee chooses riders based on first- come, first-served basis. In case a rider chooses to opt-out of the tour due to unavoidable circumstances, the slot gets vacant and the next person in line is invited.”

“Each year a person is chosen among the organizers and the identity is kept a closely guarded secret until the start of the tour, when Jack Lee is finally revealed in a fun filled party during the tour”, added Ravi.

As TFN Ten gets bigger and better, it leaves the participants waiting with bated breath for the show to begin!

To know more, visit: http://www.tourofnilgiris.com//

About RAC-F

The RideACycle-Foundation (www.rideacycle.org) encourages cycling as a form of recreation, sport and as a means to commute to work. The foundation actively works for the rights of cyclists and for laws that offer protection to cyclists through dedicated cycling lanes as well as through support for safety regulations. They hope to work with the government administration to bring about change aimed at encouraging cycling in all cities.

Several fun events like cycle treasure hunt, off road rides for children, dirt track races, and bicycle maintenance workshops are the various activities undertaken by RAC-F.

However, one of the first campaigns that RideACycle-Foundation has undertaken is to promote responsible and safe behaviour cycling within the cycling community.

Waynad

Having been in the house last week, with some pending work to be completed, I was itching to get back on the road.

I initially thought of covering Mookamane Abbi Falls, Herrur Hills and kagginahare aka kagineri ruins  in sakleshpur. After checking a few blogs on the route and the road conditions , and discussing with my friend , it was found that we had to park our vehicle and then walk to the falls and we had to travel a few kms on sandy jeep track to reach herrur hills. Since we were planning on going in the car,  it was not possible for the car to go all the way till top. The car had to be parked at the base and we had to climb to the top

When my friend informed , his friend and wife were joining for the trip, I knew , we had to find accommodation also. Our initial plan of camping atop herrur hills would not work.  Hotels and home stays in sakleshpur were costly as there  was no budget hotels available and leaving the car in the open was ruled out as the area around kagineri and herrur hills was elephant territory. After some more discussions we zeroed in on waynad as it was an ideal spot for a weekend visit.

I had been to waynad in may with my parents and we couldn’t cover all the places. This was my second visit and i wanted to cover the places which I had missed out during the first trip.

I had covered Edakal caves, phantom rock, karapuza dam , kuruva island and muthanga wildlife sanctuary during my first trip.

Karapuza Dam Backwaters

View from Edakal Caves

During this visit we covered Banasura sagar dam, Sunrise Valley, Likkidi, Kanthapara waterfall and phantom rock.

With things planned out , we left for waynad at 6 in the morning to escape the morning rush in Mysore road. With very less traffic so early morning we reached Mysore by 8.30.  A quick breakfast and after meeting a common friend who had joined us there, we headed to waynad promising to visit his house before going back to Bangalore.

After negotiating traffic in najangud , we proceeded to gundulpet and then to sultan bathery. With good roads I was enjoying the drive. A quick stop for cuppa and we proceeded to kalpetta. My friend took over the driving and with roads becoming better and better we were moving at a good pace.

Enroute to kalpetta we stopped briefly at phantom’s rock.

Phantom Rock

The place provided some fantastic scenery however, I was sad to see the amount of quarrying going on. We spent some time taking snaps of the rock formation and the scenery before leaving to kalpetta.

Scenery near phantom rock


We finished lunch around 2 and headed to banasura sagar dam.  Driving among lush tea estates and asphalt as smooth as silk was a experience in itself.  As we proceeded higher , more curves began to appear.

Roads & tea estates

But with excellent roads we had no problems in negotiating the turns and we reached banasura sagar dam backwaters. With hills on either side, the place was quite scenic. We spent some time there taking snaps before heading to the dam

Banasura Sagar Dam Backwaters

Hills and water


The scenery was even better atop the dam. Banasura hills in the backdrop and the vast expanse of water provided a picture perfect location. We proceeded along the dam enjoying the scenery and taking snaps.

Banasura Hills

After  paying 300 for the boat ride and we set of for a ride on the water which lasted for 20 min.

Waters of Banasura Dam

We left the dam and returned back to kalpetta. It was already dusk by the time we drove down to Likkidi also called vythri viewpoint. It was dark by the time we reached the viewpoint and we couldn’t see anything. With nothing else to do , we headed back to the hotel.

We went out for a short stroll before retiring for the night. Once we reached the hotel we checked with the manager about the places which we could cover the next day. We also had plans of leaving waynad on sunday and with a brief stopover in mysore , we thought of making it back to Bangalore by 7 in the evening.

Things however didn’t start with a positive note on Sunday :(. By the time we left the hotel it was 7.30,  hour and half behind schedule. We immediately went to phookot late which was 13 kms from the hotel. When we reached there we found the gate wasn’t open. Not wanting to waste any time , we headed to vythri viewpoint.

Vythri

Spending some time at the viewpoint and enjoying the early morning sun we left deciding where to go on the way. As we weren’t sure as to what time phookot late would open , we went to kanthapara falls which was about 20 kms.  I was told not to go to soochipoora falls which was on the way because lots of people would already be present at the falls and it would also be dirty.

We proceeded towards kanthapara falls driving among tea estates. The road to kanthapara is quite steep. Driving slowly and negotiating the steep stretch , we reached the falls. I was thinking we would be the first to be at the falls , however a car was already present 😦

Kanthapara Falls

By the time we left the falls it was 10.  Sunrise valley which was around 6 kms would be the final spot which we would visit. The road would become a mud road after going some distance. We parked the car near a house and we went to the valley.

Sunrise Valley

It was already 11 and we were running quite late. We knew we couldnt reach bangalore by sundown. Reaching kalpetta we checked out. A quick lunch and we headed back to mysore at 1 in the afternoon.

With a few delays due to traffic we reached mysore at 4 and headed to our friend’s house.  Spending an hour in his house we left for Bangalore at 5 and reached home by 9 at night after dropping my friend’s at their houses.

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Snaps can be found here

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