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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.

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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.

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

NE-GQ Tour: Sikkim – Day1 : Traffic Jams and the drive to Gangtok

Sikkim was a place which was long overdue for a visit. With my marriage getting over in Nov, I was thinking of a nice place to visit for my honeymoon. Various places within India and abroad were considered. As my wife didnt have a passport, going out of the country was ruled out. I zeroed in on sikkim, as this was in the pipeline for a long time. With the place finialized, I booked a tour through ‘FLY AIR Travels’. Since I had enough time with me, I also decided to cover darjeeling along with the golden quadrilateral.

With the trip finalized, the tickets were booked, and with last minute shopping complete, it was time to head to Bagdogra. The flight from Bangalore to Bagdogra took around 4 hrs with a stopover in kolkata. We were greeted at the airport by the travel representative and we headed off to gangtok. After negotiating the traffic in siliguri we headed towards the hills of gangtok. It was a pleasant drive till we met with our first block, a small traffic jam, which took some time to clear. The drive continued until a we saw a huge convoy of vehicles standing. Upon inquiry I came to know the BRO (Border Roads Organization) which is responsible for maintenance of roads were doing some road widening work, due to which there was a huge jam.

Traffic Jam in the mountains

The driver told us this was quite common here as road widening work was going on in various places in sikkim and delays are to be expected. He also told it would take another couple of hours for the traffic to move. With nothing much to do for the next couple of hours, I clicked a few snaps of the distant mountains just to while away the time and got chatting with a few drivers.The recent earthquake in sikkim and surrounding places had caused some serious landslides and many places especially in north sikkim are still under repair. I was told things are slowly getting back to normal, which is a good thing for the people.

The traffic jams reminded me of the jams we have back home, and nothing could be done except wait. Slowly after an hour or so we could see some movement and vechiles from one side were being allowed to pass.

Vehicles being let from other side

Soon it was our turn to go and it was slow crawl through the heavy machinery as we inched our way through the oncoming traffic.

Heavy Machinery used for road widening

With no more interruptions we proceeded towards gangtok with a stopover for lunch and a cuppa. It was evening by the time we reached the resort. Checking into the resort, we bid adeiu to the driver. Soon it was time to hit the sack as we had a early morning start to Tongso lake the next day.

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

Hogenakal Falls – Niagara of India

Hogenakkal falls also called Niagara of India was the destination for this weekend’s outing. This was a place which I wanted to visit, but couldnt due to lack of company or my parents unwillingness to send me there.

After discussing a few options,me and my friend headed out to hogenakkal in my car as I wanted to go this place no matter the cost. After picking up my friend from basavanagudi at 6.45,  we zipped past the empty bylanes to reach BTM layout where we had encountered a little traffic. Soon we reached hosur road which was amazing empty since it was only 7.15 in the morning. I was enjoying the drive as there was no traffic.  We reached attibele and the road widened up as this stretch was relatively empty except for a few trucks which were blocking our path 🙂 , I had to drive carefully as people run across the road and I didnt want to hit anyone 🙂

With a pedal to metal kind of driving we reached A2B restaurant around 8. A quick stop of breakfast and we were off.  My friend took over the driving and we proceeded further. Since we had the whole day i told my friend to reduce the speed and we were cruising at speeds of 80-90 kms/hr.

Crossing krishnagiri we reached dharampuri. After negotiating the traffic we entered the state highway , which was maintained neatly. We were proceeding at a constant pace when we the signboards welcoming us to hogenakal. The winding provided some good scenery, which my lens duly captured

Winding Roads to Hogenakal

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As we moved further , we reached the ghats. The road going down to the falls provided with some excellent views. A small photo-session was conducted there to capture the amazing scenery

scenery near hognekkal falls

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We reached hogenkkal falls and since this was my first visit to this place, I wasnt quite sure what to expect. I had read in numerous blogs that the moment u reach the parking lot people swarm the car/bike and ask if we want to see the falls or get a massage. The blogs do not lie 🙂 n this was the case here.

We initially thought the falls would be located close by which can be seen from afar, which is not the case. Coracle or commonly called theppa in local language is the only way to reach the falls

Coracle /theppa is a round bamboo boat which is lined with animal hide/canvas and tar at the bottom used in South India mostly

The price for a full 2 hour ride is 600 Rs, which as per the coracle ppl is fixed by the govt. However the price can be bought down after some hard negotiating.

People come from Karnataka / TN and also from kerala to see the falls all through out the year.

Me and my friend decided to take the full 2 hour ride as we had come all the way to see the falls. The coracle guy said we can pay after seeing the falls and if we are convinced. We started the downhill ride for the first series of falls.

TN Falls

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Falls from another angle

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After spending some time taking photos we proceeded further. The rocky view provided a good spot for taking some nice photos. With the water and the rocks the place looked like a mini grand canyon

Mini GC ????

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The ride continues until we have to break and walk a further 1 km to reach the main falls.

The main falls is present in the Karnataka side and per the locals the entire was once abode of veerappan. The falls is part of MM Hills forest range. After spending some time there we headed back.

Hogenkkal  Main Falls

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After paying the guy 500 for 2 hrs we left hogenkkal at 1.30 in the afternoon. While coming we took an alternate route (Hogenakkal->Rayakottai->Palakkodu->Hosur->Bangalore)  which helped us avoid the highway.

The roads were very good and the drive was pleasurable. We reached Bangalore at 5 and I reached home by 6.30

Some facts about hognekkal

Hogenakkal is a series of 20 odd water falls present at the Karnataka-TN border. Since it is present at the border the falls are called TN falls and Karnataka Falls

Distance from Bangalore – 180 Kms

Mode of transport to see the falls – Only way to see the falls is by using the coracle

Fare – 30 at the entrance , 20 for coracle. 500-600 for 2 hrs coracle ride(price can be bargained)

Best time to visit the falls – Though the falls can be visited all year-round , best time to visit is post monsoon when the falls will be full

Note: There is no hotels in hogenkkal apart from hotel tamilnadu. The only hotel enroute is A2B

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Snaps can be found here

A drive without destination

After completing my solo trip to mysore I was hoping to continue to do some more of these trips the following week. Thus I began to discuss with my friend the possibilities of a 2 day outing. With karnataka gripped in floods choosing a destination was becoming increasingly difficult. Initially we had thought of doing agumbe-sringeri route however that had to be abandoned due to heavy rains. I was keeping an eye on the weather reports as i taking the car out in rain would be impossible. The deliberations continued as we touched upon waynad, ooty masinagudi etc. With all my friends dropping out, me and my friend were in a fix as to what has to be done. As covering waynad would be a costly affair for 2 ppl.Luckly one of my other friend said he would join at the last moment. With 3 ppl , we had tentatively decided to go to chitradurga to see the fort. This was not meant to happen as the place was flooded. With dad not allowing me to take the car for an overnight trip , i was left to plan for a 1 day drive.

Both my friends hadnt seen bluff so we decided to go there finally. We left bangalore at 7 in the morning and we halted in kengeri for a small cuppa where the other guy joined us. With less trafiic on mysore road and with speeds of 70-80kms we reached maddur by 9 and we took a deviation to mallavalli. Another 45 min later we reached gaganchucki falls. A small photosession was conducted there, after spending some time there we headed to bharchucki falls. Since there were less ppl there as we reached there at 11 we managed to get a good view of the falls.

With both the fallls completed by 11.30 we were wondering what to do next. I wasnt in a mood to go home so early. Since mysore was nearby we decided to go there for lunch and then decide what has to be done next. With a newly laid bannur road, we were crusing and we reached mysore at 1 in the afternoon. Lunch was a dasprakash hotel. With out tummies full and with enough time to spare, we were debating on whether to drive up to chamundi hill or spend some time in gosai ghat in srirangapatna.

The next 2 hrs as spent at srirangapatna seeing tippu’s summer palace and lazing at gosai ghat.

Leaving srirangpatna at 4 we reached kengeri at 6.30. After battling the traffic reached home by 8.30

We managed to cover 400kms in 1 day

There was no snaps taken as i wanted to this trip without my cam 🙂

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