Fujiyama, Japan

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Murudeshwara

Google Maps: Murudeshwara, Karnataka, India

We checked out of our Gokarna Hotel at 10 and started for Murudeshwara. We had to change at Kumta but given the frequency of buses, we were able to get them back to back and were staring at the massive complex before 1.

Murudeshwara temple complex

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Om Beach, Gokarna

Google Maps: Gokarna, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > Jog Falls > Gokarna > Murudeshwara > Bangalore

  • The landlocked Om beach is the place to stay in Gokarna. Two more beaches are adjacent although less fun - Kudle beach & Gokarna main beach.
  • Namaste Cafe is famous for seafood and fresh juices although everything else is equally tasty. The place even has few rooms for stay although you need to book in advaance.
  • Murudeshwara and Jog Falls are a day trip from here. Both can be covered if one starts early. Mudureshwara holds the largest Mahadev statue while Jog is the tallest waterfall in India.

The bright morning sun was blazing in front of us when we reached Namaste Cafe Hotel in Gokarna. Earlier we had booked SRS Travels Sleeper bus from Bangalore and the journey was not disappointing. Namaste Cafe is located right on the Om beach but to reach here either you have to trek 3 miles or pay 150 bucks to the autowala.

Gokarna Main Beach

Monday, 14 October 2013

Srirangapatna

Google Maps: Srirangapatna, Karnataka, India
Trip: BangaloreRamnagaram > Srirangapatna >  Mysore >  Bandipur >  Mudumalai >  Ooty >  Coonoor >  Bangalore

Srirangapatna is a small diversion on Bangalore-Mysore highway and so we took it on our way out from Mysore. The geography of this fort city hints why Tipu Sultan moved his capital here. It is a natural island created by forking of river Kauveri.

3 Points @ Srirangapatna Tourist Map

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Ooty

Google Maps: Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > Ramnagaram > Srirangapatna >  Mysore >  Bandipur >  Mudumalai >  Ooty >  Coonoor >  Bangalore

At 8 we started afresh for Ooty. Road till Mysore was heavy on traffic possibly due to long weekend and the famous Dasara celebrations in this royal city. We hit Bandipur at 2. First 10 miles were the scenic National Park territory through which NH67 passes. At Masinagudi we took left for Ooty. Although it' a steep ghat road, it is still shorter than the alternate Gudalur route.

View from Dodda Betta peak

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Chikmagalur

Google Maps: Chikmagalur, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > Shravanbelgola > Chikmagalur > Belur > Halebidu > Bangalore

This time we were more planned than last time. An advance booking at hotel and a bottle of scotch in the car was there before we started.

5 points @ Chikmagalur Tourist Map

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Jog Falls

Google Maps: Jog Falls, Karnataka
  • Best time to visit Jog Falls is during monsoon but on a weekday. Weekends are generally crowded and security around the fall is enhanced.
  • There are very few options of accommodation around. Best way is to cover Jog Falls during a circuit of Gokarna and make a day trip to this place, Shimoga is nearest city with few hotels.
  • Visiting the Jog Falls from other direction is unofficially possible, We didn't explore it. Going down the fall is strictly prohibited.


We started our trip to Jog Falls without much planning.  It was a mistake. Although we had a blast in the eventful way this trip turned up, not to forget the super lush greenery of Konkan region, we did  learn few hard lessons on the way. To begin with the only good stopover on way is a CCD some hundred miles from Bangalore.

Behind a veil of clouds@Jog Falls

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Sri Arunachaleshwerar Temple, Tiruvannamalai

Google Maps: Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > Tiruvannamalai > Pondicherry > Mahabalipuram > Kanchipuram > Bangalore

Tiruvannamalai was a stopover on way to Pondicherry from Bangalore. We would not have stopped had we not been surprised by colossal high temples appearing out of nowhere. Nobody had told us it was there and looking at the crowd, we were sure not many know about Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple.

South Gate@ Sri Arunachaleshwarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai

Pondicherry

Google Maps: Pondicherry, India

  • Pondicherry can be covered as part of circuit that starts from Bangalore and goes through Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram.
  • Stay near the beach and enjoy the French architecture that is reminiscent of the alien occupation of this beautiful beach town.
  • Beach near the main area is stony. Go for nearby Paradise beach or sit near Gandhi statue with a pint of beer. Pondicherry University area also has a beautiful sandy beach.
The decision was so whimsical that I was typing my leave application in the middle of journey sitting at a McD some 40 miles before Krishnagiri. Road between Krishnagiri and Tindivanam is in tatters. Hence we reached Pondicherry by 2 only.

Sand Coast near Senghazunir Temple, Pondicherry

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Halebidu

Google Maps: Halebeedu, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > Shravanbelgola > Chikmagalur > Belur > Halebidu > Bangalore

Halebidu is in the middle of Belur and Hassan although through an alternate route. The Shiva temple at Halebidu is inspired by the Vishnu temple at Belur. What adds to the charm is a flowing river by the side - and seclusion.



Chennakesava Temple, Belur

Google Maps: Belur, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > Shravanbelgola > Chikmagalur > Belur > Halebidu > Bangalore

The Chennakesava Temple, in Belur on our way to Chikmagalur, was ancient and marvellous. We stayed in the premises of this extensive work of art for almost three hours but were still not able to fathom the intricacies that were sculpted all over.

Backside of Chennakesava Temple

Belur was capital to art-loving Hoysalas. Approximately thousand years ago they started the construction for this temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. A similar construction started some hundred years later nearly 10 miles away at Halebidu but this one was for Lord Shiva. This twin set-up has been put up for UNESCO World Heritage Site waiting list and by the look of it, deserves it.

Mandapam, Belur

The most striking feature of the temple complex is the ceiling of central chamber. One can spend hours. We moved to one of carved pillars and took extensive photographs. Each pillar was different and beautiful.

Sanctum Sanctorum, Chennakesava Temple

We moved out and were dumbfounded to see that the entire outer wall was an extension of artwork that we had admired inside the temple. Elephants and horses were abundant. There were stories of war and important events carved on stone.

Intricate rock carvings, Belur

We had to reach Bangalore by evening and so we left. Halebidu was next and if it was anything closed to this one, we had another couple hours to look after.

Trip details

Friday, 8 March 2013

Shravanbelgola

Google Maps: Shravanabelagula, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > ShravanbelgolaChikmagalur > Belur > Halebidu > Bangalore

Having just missed a visit to the giant Bahubali statue on my last trip to Chikmagalur, it was imperative we take digress to see this place of holy importance to Jains. We took the turn and reached the small and peaceful town of Shravanbelgola. Almost unexpectedly, the statue is at the top of a monolith that takes some climbing.



Friday, 1 February 2013

Sariska Tiger Reserve

Google Maps: Sirska, Rajasthan, India
Trip: Sariska > Jaipur

Sariska fell in the first leg of our team outing. We started at 8 AM ans settled at Haldiram@Manesar at 9 for a quick breakfast. At 10 we had crossed Dharuhera and were racing towards Alwar on SH25. It is a newly constructed toll road hence we were able to hit Alwar at 12 Noon. The Sariska Tiger Reserve Booking Office is another 20 miles from here.


Two safaris were booked and we entered the realms of Sariska. There was a placid lake with crocs right in the beginning. We were told that seeing a tiger was rarity but I was surprised by the abundance of wildlife in the form of Nilgai, Peacocks, Deers, Barahsingas, Wild Boers and Sambhars.


We settled at the end of the road at Pandupole Temple. Legends says here Bhim was tested by Lord Hanuman for strength and humility. The place draws hundreds of worshipers on Tuesday hence the reserve is open for personal vehicles twice a week (Tue, Sat).


While returning on the same track we saw a freshly wounded deer. The tiger that did this must have been around. We waited but to our disappointment, nothing came. It was getting dark and we had to figure out where we will stay for the night.


There is an RTDC Resort (Tiger's Den) right at the gate of Sariska but it was looking dull. We wanted to sit around bonfire and sing and booze. Thankfully we got that in Jaipur which is hardly a 3 hour drive from here.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Mudumalai

Google Maps: Mudumalai National Park, Tamil Nadu, India

Mudumalai is the Tamil portion of a large forest reserve that spreads in hundreds of sq kilometers at the foothills of the Nilgiris. The part falling in Karnataka is more famous - known as the Bandipur National Park. There is Kerala too in the frame with Wayanad being at the centre.

Elephants on the Highway, Mudumalai

We started from Bangalore at 8 AM and were comfortably seated at the lunch table of Jungle Hut Resort. Food was great and gave the right kick to start for a jungle safari. We moved back to Theppakadu for the hour long minibus ride into the forests. I had already done it with Vivek and Sumeet when I was last here at Bandipur. Still it was fun with a 33 people strong office crowd.

Nilgiris in the morning, Mudumalai

We reached back at resort at 7. Our rooms were good. There were deers grazing at the backyard which merged with the reserve. The room itself was large, clean and utilitarian. All possible luxuries were made available here. The Nilgiris loomed large from our window and made the whole ambiance marvelous.

More elephants, Mudumalai

The six of us planned for a treasure hunt for the rest while others enjoyed the various recreational activities available at the resort. Treasure Hunt proved to be entertaining and was the fitting start to a long merry night. Bonfire was alive. People seated themselves around. Someone started playing a guitar.

Bonfire @ Jungle Retreat Resort, Mudumalai

Then started Antakshari and we all submerged to the tunes of half memorized hindi songs. Booze was flowing wide and soon we were all dazed. There were snacks of different variety pouring in. It must be around 2 that we dispersed to our respective rooms.

Coimbatore sky, nearest airport to Mudumalai

I had to wake up early at 6 as with a colleague of mine, I had booked a cab to Coimbatore. We were not sure but it all ended well as the driver took exactly 3 hours to take us through scenic Ooty to the airport. We were well in time for the 11.45 direct flight to Delhi. At 4 I was home and was still dazed with what happened in the last 24 hours.