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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

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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

 

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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.

MataMandir

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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

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_MG_2290_resizeParadise Beach

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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

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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

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

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Yelagiri Drive and Trek

It had been more than a month since my visit to Jungle Lodges and the boredom of the daily routine meant it was time to head for another outing.

Bangalore Mirror had published an article on Nayakaneri last year, however after the site revamp the entire section “Quick Getaways” which showcases some of the offbeat locations around bangalore had been removed. The link I had bookmarked was not working and this meant I had to rely on Google Maps and directions from the locals to reach the place. This prompted me to do a recee of the route and joining me in this were Vikyath, Kumar and Karthik.

While checking the route in google I found another reserve forest, called Jawadu Hills. Googling further I found there is a falls nearby (Bheema Falls) which is supposed to have water for 8 months of the year and an Observatory (Vainu Bappu Observatory) which could be covered in a day, hence we decided to go there. Jawadu hills is part of the eastern ghats and has some scenic spots. Yelagiri which is another popular getaway comes in the same range.

A early start was us cruising along kolar highway with a stop at Adigas for breakfast. One needs to take the mulbagal-VKota road and head towards ambur. The smooth highway turned to a backbreaking ride for the next 20 odd kms as we were forced to avoid every size of pothole before we exited to a well laid stretch of road.

Road to VKota

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The road we entered was lined with a huge row of trees and made a nice setting to click some photos. A short break there and we continued and soon we were at VKota. Our next stop was pernambut and soon we were descending on a amazing stretch of road. We could see the eastern ghats at the distance and the descent couldnt help us from taking another break for some more photos.

Eastern Ghats

IMG_7489_resizeThe descent was done fairly quickly and once we entered pernambut we were again greeted with another wonderful stretch of road with trees on either side. With such wonderful roads and scenary it was time for another photo break. Couple of solo shots and it was off to jawadu hills

Tree lined road

IMG_7499_resizeWe reached Ambur by 12 and asked for directions upon which we were told to go to the highway and ask for directions which is what we did. One of the auto drivers we asked told us to go back a little distance and take the service road going to thirupattur. The shop keeper whom we asked for directions told us the falls is dry and the observatory may or may not allow us inside. If we are looking for a relaxed holiday he asked us to visit yelagiri which was around 30 kms. With no other options left we decided to head to yelagiri.

The 30 kms drive was done in a hour and half just in time for lunch. Upon inquiring the places to visit, we were told there is a lake and a trekking place 4 kms down at a village called mangalam. Instead of wasting time at the lake we headed to mangalam village. One of the villagers told us about Swamy malai which seems to be a popular trekking spot whose trail begins just behind the cluster of houses.

The inital trail is through a field and we could also see another hillock at a distance.

Hills in Yelagiri

IMG_7520_resizeThe climb began shortly and it seemed to continue forever. The pace was slow as we had just had our lunch. Climbing for an hour or so we reached the top where we could see the temple.

Climb to Swamy malai

IMG_7523_resizeResting for a while we headed back down and to the car, thus completing a good trek. It was a long drive back to bangalore and to the daily routine thus concluding a day well spent on the hills

 Snaps can be found here

Yercaud

Yercaud a small hill station located in the Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats 30 kms from salem was the location for this weekend’s visit. Though we had planned to go here last month, due to various reasons the plan had to be postponed. Finally with no commitments looming for the next few weeks, we headed to yercaud on sat early morning. It had also been a long time since i had used to cycle rack and as I was planning to cycle from the base to the top, this gave me a good chance to use the rack as well. Loading the car with luggage and my cycle we headed to yercaud.

Accomodation was booked in Hotel Tamilnadu beforehand. The 4 hour drive took us to salem and with a brief halt we proceeded to yercaud. We reached the base shortly and I unloaded my cycle. The car zipped ahead to its destination while my fight against gravity was about to begin. With a steady pace i continued to cycle uphill. The weather which was varying from cloudy to sunny and back, while the monkey’s and the trucks coming from behind along with other vehicles gave me company. There are total of 20 hairpin bends and one by one they were being covered in a steady manner.

With couple of breaks in between I reached yecaud after a gruelling 2 hour ride. Hotel Tamilnadu was just a km from the Yercaud Signboard and I soon reached the hotel thus completing a long awaited ride. Lunch and a small break later, it was time to explore yercaud this time on 4 wheels.

All tourist places in Yercaud are within 10 kms radius and can be covered in a day. We initially headed to Pagoda point which was around 5 kms from the hotel. As yercaud is a hill station there a plenty of view points although the scenary looks pretty much the same everywhere.  Passing the narrow roads we reached Pagoda point and went about exploring the place. With a small roof shelter to act as a view point there was nothing much to do there. Taking few photos, we decided to move on.

Pagoda Point

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The next stop would be the Lady’s and Gent’s Seat and the Rose Garden which are all half km distance from each other. With the roads being narrow, one has to be careful when navigating the bad stretches which were quite a lot on the way to the ladies seat.  Our first visit was the rose garden, which has variety of roses and other flowers on display. With few visitors around I could get good photos of the flowers. We Spent some time walking around the garden and taking photos, before moving to Lady’s seat which was at the end of the road.

Roses @ Rose Garden

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Lady’s seat is another view point from where one can see yercaud town and the lush green eastern ghats. A watch tower is built there which allows one to view the lush greenary. Apart from the view point, one can practise target shooting or pose for their portraits. Few photos of the landscape and headed back to the car after having a cuppa at the local tea stall. The Gent’s  seat was skipped as the scenery would be the same.

Landscape @ Lady’s Seat

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There was still enough time for the sun to go down, and the next place on the list was kilyur falls. Half way through the route we found large no of cars coming from the other side and upon inquiring we were told there’s no water in the falls and goin there would be waste of time. With so many cars coming back, even we decided to head back to the main road.

One of the locals told us all places would be closed by 5.30 and with another hour or so remaining, we headed to the lake which was across the road for some boating. Entrance fee and boating fee was paid and the a 10 min boat commenced.

Yercaud Lake

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With the boating complete the only place left to visit before everything closes was the deer park which was located next to the park. The place however was a disappointment. There were only two deers present in the deer park for namesake.  By the time we came out it was 5.30. As the lake was located next to the hotel, we headed back there to retire for the day.

Deer Park

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Day 2 of the trip was all about temples. 7 kms from the hotel is the famous maha meru temple which was visited first. The roads were amazing when compared to the previous day and so was the drive. Navigating the winding roads we reached the temple after 30-40 min of driving. As per the priest there the temple was built 3 yrs ago. There is s a big board detailing about the mha meru and the temple in general. The quick visit was soon over and it was time to head to the shevoryan temple for which one has to take a deviation on the way to the maha meru temple.

The temple is located atop a hill and the deity is present in small cave. The weather had turned little cold and couple of snaps of the scenery there we headed back to the hotel to vacate the place.

View at Shevroyan Temple

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It was time to get back on the saddle again for the descent which took around 45 min to get to the base. Mounting the cycle back on the rack we headed back to the salem thus ending an eventful trip.

Snaps can be found here

Masingudi

Nestled in the pristine jungles of  mudumalai tiger reserve is masinagudi a off beat weekend getaway. Hectic workload in office made me long for a good break and finally decided to head to masinagudi for a short trip to break the monotony. Accommodation was booked at Casa deep woods masinagudi and i left on Fri morning.

A uneventful journey through mysore with couple of breaks took me to bandipur tiger reserve and I was hoping for some sightings of animals or birds. A leisure drive through bandipur and madhumalai took me to Theppakadu where the road bifurcates. Left goes to masingudi and to ooty via kalhatty ghat and the right takes us to gudalur and to ooty which is a longer distance. We soon reached the resort and were shown our roooms. A well deserved break and it was time to head for the safari.

There are number of organizers at theppakadu asking people if they would like to go for safari’s. We managed to strike a deal with one guy and informed him we were interested in going for evening and morning safari. The forest department also runs safari’s within the reserve, however one would have to go in a bus with lots of other people for an hour. The chances of sighting wildlife would depend on one’s luck whether you would go  in a bus or in a jeep.

As per our agreement we went to masinagudi village and called up the operator who arrived promptly. We set out for the first safari for the day. The route would be via the river bed which according to the operator is a popular place for tiger and other wildlife sightings

Langurs at the start of safari

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The ride continued slowly and we could see plenty of peacocks and deers along the route but no tigers !!. Clicking photos of the wildlife available we continued towards the drive towards the dam. As the ride continued we spotted an eagle sitting on a tree. An hour of driving and we reached a hillock where we could see elephants and bisons at a distance.

Deers and Peacocks

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Jungle @karnataka side

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We spent some time at the hillock before heading to the dam which was very close. Even though the temperatures were soaring there was enough water. Spending sometime there we headed back.

The sun was setting and I could get some good photos of the sunset.

Sunset @ mudumalai forest

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Evening was spent playing games in the resort followed by dinner.

It was an early start to the next day as we had a morning safari to get to. We were hoping for some good wildlife sightings, however as luck would have had it, we could again see only deers, peacocks.

Sunrise

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The two hour ride gave us nothing except the same we say yesterday. The misty morning allowed to me take some nice photos of the roads inside the sanctuary .

Roads within Mudumalai

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With nothing much to do, we came back and headed back to the resort for some rest as the sun was climbing up and the temperature was increasing. Spending couple of hours in the resort we headed to  pykara lake on the way to ooty. The less water level made the place uninteresting. Spending sometime there we headed to botanical garden in ooty. Again the dry temperature made the place not uninteresting. Spending some more time in ooty roaming around, we headed back to the resort.

The resort had organized games in the evening along with bon fire and the evening was spent mingling with the guests and playing tambola.

Bon Fire

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A late dinner and it was time to hit the sack as we had a long drive back to bangalore.

Snaps can be found here

Bettamugilalam

Bettamugilalam is a small village just of hosur near krishnagiri. Bangalore mirror had published an article regarding it and this made me to plan a drive to this place.

Even though the article was published in 2010, attempts to go to this place failed due to various reasons. This time I however decided to go this around as I had ample free time on sunday.  As usual it was a solo ride, and I zoomed off towards hosur.

Name of the place: Bettamugilalam

Distance : 100 kms

Route: Bangalore-> Hosur->Denkankottai->Ayyur->Bettamugilalam OR Bangalore->Harohalli->Maralwadi->Thally->Denkankottai->Ayyur->Bettamugilalam

The main reason for going to this place was to enjoy the ride in the reserve forests of denkankottai and banergatta. I decided to take the route via hosur when going and come via thally and maralwadi thus enabling me to cover both the reserve forests.

How to reach: Reach denkankottai and continue further towards anchetty. Drive for couple of kms from the bus stand and you’ll get a godown to your left and holy mary high school to the right. Take the road going left of the godown and continue till you reach bettamugilalam.

With roads being empty, i could enjoy the amazing scenary while clicking snaps. Driving on the twisty roads was fun, even though the road surface deteriorates as we move towards the destination. Suprisingly there is nothing to be seen once u reach the end. The place contains a hospital and couple of houses. One can go further towards rayakottai and to hosur via this place. I however couldnt enquire about the route and road conditions as there was very few people present. One person mentioned its a grassland and there is no forest cover.

There was one deviation on the way and i was told the path leads to a small area which is frequented by elephants. Due to lack of time and proper mode of transport, I couldnt explore the place. A short break at the deviation and i headed back to denkankottai where i stopped for some snacks.

Bettamugilalam

With the snack break over, it was time to head towards thally also calle Little England.  The road which was initally good, turned bad after driving for some distance. Repair work done on the road has caused the deviations to be put up and the with heavy vehicles passing, there is lot of dust and debries.

Stopped for another short break and asked for directions for kanakapura road.  I was asked to go the bus stop and take a right there and keep following the road going right till you reach maralwadi.

The road is littered with pot holes, however the empty roads and twists compensate for this. The road snakes through the BNP firnge and it was a pleasure to ride on the empty roads.

Empty roads@BNP

The journey continued through the fringe roads before exiting at harohalli busstop. A short stop for lunch and it was a non stop ride back home thus completing a long pending drive.

Snaps can be found here

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