A short trip to Western Ghats

Planning

It was summer and we as a family had not gone for any trip since my last visit to Muzhappilangad drive-in beach and Bekal fort with cousins. Off late the travel bug started hitting me hard. Chikmaglur, the last time we planned, we could not get any accommodation. My wife’s usual wish is to go to a place and be sure to cover maximum number of tourist attractions there. This time though with the advent of our daughter we were looking for a more leisurely vacation. We were looking mainly for home stays and we zeroed in on Forest Home-stay – Gowdahalli lured by the splendid reviews on tripadvisor.

5th May, 2017 – Friday

We left home 20 minutes past 6 AM. We took Hebbal, Yeshwantpur and Nelamangala exit to reach NH75. Traffic was sparse, but we missed the service road at Nelamangala to take the exit. Hence had to go around and take a ‘U’ turn. Going with my brother, its not new. At least I am glad the ‘U’ happened early . NH75 was smooth but with lots of toll booths. We did a scheduled stop at Swathi Delicacy for breakfast. Butter Dosa, Vada and coffee were too yummy. The restaurant was jam packed. Not a surprise though given the delicious food served. The place also has good parking space and clean washroom.

Swathi Delicacy

Kid Friendly

Nicely laid NH75

After having sumptuous breakfast, we left for Belur – Chennakeshava temple. It was a two hour journey. After Hassan, there is a road on your right that takes you to Belur. A scenic route but with lots of unmarked speed humps. We hit one of them really bad – worst to the point of all three who were sitting in the backseat going and hitting the roof –  and we slowed down thereafter.

We reached Belur Hoysala Chennakeshava Temple fifteen minutes past 11. Sun was at its scorching best. Parking is just opposite the temple. Its a Vishnu temple. This temple was built in the 11th century. It took 103 years to complete this marvel. I decided to dedicate a separate thread to Belur temple just because I didn’t want to miss out on any of the micro details. For more details and photos on Belur temple, look at the thread Belur – A hoysala Jewel.

Architecture, skill and perfection at its very best

We spent close to 1.5 hours at the temple. From there we left to our home stay at Gowdahalli. Turn on your GPS early otherwise it’s very difficult to get the network connection after a point. We reached our rooms little past two and lunch was awaiting us. The care taker Dileep looked after our stay and food. A thumbs up to this guy.

Our home-stay in the middle of forest. It reminded me of my days in Mettur.

From the top

The entrance

A simple and a neat cottage.

A cooler and a TV (which we never switched on)

And a very basic roof

Parking is just in front of the stay

Car’s ramp, a bit risky but nevertheless drivable

They have badminton rackets, shuttle, cricket bats etc. One basically comes here to unwind and laze around. The network connectivity is poor with only airtel and BSNL working at a few places but its a blessing in disguise given that people come here only to switch themselves off from the outside world. We had an amazing time. They had couple of kids’ ride-ons as well. In addition, they have rifle shooting, carom, chess and cards.

The toy horse

Post lunch, we slept for a while. We were served our evening snacks consisting of bhajji, pakoda and hot coffee. Again food was delicious. Post that , we spent the evening playing badminton and my brother did a bit of rifle shooting. After our dinner we retired for the day, but because of terrible power cuts and a lack of in-house UPS, we had a disturbed sleep.

6th May, 2017 – Saturday

My brother and dad went for a trek to a nearby bull shaped mountain called Ethirbujha. It took them close to an hour to climb up. First three fourths of the trek didn’t require much efforts but the rest was literally an uphill task with close to 90 degrees inclination. But if rain gods decide to shower, the first half can become equally treacherous with leeches and the entire place can become slushy and soft. At some places, you had pebbles and the trek was slippery.

Parking at the trek spot

Even with very little rain on the previous day, the path has become slushy

Go though the vegetation

And here is the first glimpse of the summit. The near 90 degree trek !!

From the top

Wow !! Worth the effort

Imagine this place post monsoon

The climb down took around 40 minutes. We spent the entire afternoon in the home stay with the sun beating down hard. At around 4 PM, climate suddenly changed and it became very cloudy. We went to nearby Devarmane hills. The backdrop of sun setting, heavy winds and a light drizzle made our stay at the top very pleasant.

Devarmane Hills

View from the top

Sun setting. How many shades of orange and pink?

And not a lot to climb from the parking,

Western Ghats – You beauty !!

After spending close to fifteen minutes at the top, we descended and visited the Kalabhairava temple. This temple was built by Hoysalas prior to Belur and Halabeedu. It was built in 900 AD.

Tank opposite to the temple

Gatekeepers

It was a nice short trip and we returned back to our stay for dinner. We had neer dosa, a malnad special.

7th May, 2017

We woke up to the tunes of birds chirping on the last day of our trip. We went for a short cycling around the estate. We saw peacocks at a distance. But before we could reach them, they disappeared.

We had idly and kesari for breakfast. We also packed water melon juice for our onward journey and bid good bye to our stay and proceeded towards Halabeedu via Belur. It took close to an hour and a half to reach Halabeedu, a Shiva temple. This is a twin city of Belur and warrants a separate thread and can be reached at Dwarasamudra – Architecture at its very best.

We spent close to ninety minutes in the temple. With not so good vegetarian restaurants in Halabeedu, we proceeded towards Hassan and after an hour journey on the highways just opposite to the famous Kamat, there was an A2B. We had a very good Tamil Nadu style dosa and sambhar. Rains lashed us on our entry to Bangalore and we reached home little after 7 PM.

It was a nice short relaxing trip to get ourselves rejuvenated. The trek and visits to Belur and Halabeedu were the highlights . Both these temples stand the test of time amidst all the invasion and local vandalism showing the greatness of yesteryear artistic skills, perfection and dedication to work.

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Random shots from my flat

Ganesh Chathurthi

Swimming pool at night

Ganapathi on the visarjan day

A Jet approaching Bangalore

Much closer look

Bangalore still has lots of green

Concrete Jungle on the other side: Marathahalli

A slum 😦

A spoiled lake

A school’s tennis court awaiting the next Paes or a Mirza

A playground

Finally our terrace garden

Bangalore: Pillion Helmet Rule

The pillion helmet rule had come into effect from 20th January, 2016 in Bangalore. At traffic signals, I noticed my co-riders discussing about the ill effects of the rule.

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Some of the difficulties are,

  1. People who drop/pickup their spouse/kids at bus stop/school, have to carry an extra helmet. Who is going to carry that extra helmet before/after pickup/drop?
  2. Most of us have to buy an extra helmet lock to secure the helmets at malls and other public places.
  3. It is common to see more than two people (a kid) travel in a two wheeler in Bangalore. Do we then  need three helmets?

The current Government came into power in Karnataka in early 2013 with the chief minister promising to fix all the roads in Bangalore. Since then it is little more than two and half a years and no visible change has happened to any of the roads. After every death because of a pothole, the Government will announce a fresh deadline to fix all the roads by an X date. So many X dates have passed, nobody cares or fixes the roads. Is the government accountable? Neither the contractor who executed the work, nor the engineer who designed it, nor the BBMP who finances the project, nor the Ministers of the Government who monitor the work have gone to jail because of their carelessness. The only positive is that some of the traffic cops will have an extra income. I hope you understand what I mean !! The only loss is to the family of the victim.

Most of you must have enjoyed watching the films Bangalore Days (Malayalam) and Chennaiyil oru Naal (Tamil). The common plot in both the movies is the death of pillion riders. Even though they are just movies, maybe there is something to learn. Think about the kid who sits on the tank in the bike. The kid is more vulnerable to accidents more than the rider.

Finally, Is the pillion helmet rule worth all the trouble?  There are downsides of pillion helmet rule, but considering the safety, I will put my money on the pillion wearing the helmet. It could be anybody’s mistake but the loss is ours. Better Safe than Sorry!!

A short trip to Belum Caves and Anantapur

1st August, 2015 (Saturday)

We started from home (Horamavu, Bangalore) at 615 AM. Since we had planned to see only Belum caves and Tadipatri temple, we started leisurely from home and in no time we reached the Hyderabad highways. We took a break for breakfast just after crossing the Devanahalli toll. This place had good toilets, ample car parking space and was clean.

Since the place was very close to airport, got to see, many airplanes taking off.

More inviting roads to follow..

Road devoid of potholes 🙂 Most welcome thing for any Bangalorean.

We passed many cement industries and finally after 330 odd kms from home got to see the first sign board of Belum Caves.

Buddha sitting in a more serene calm place.

Entry to the caves. It costs Rs 50 per person. That includes a free guide. I would say AP tourism has maintained this place in an impeccable manner. Since no natural lights are there, they have added artificial lights. Better to take your own torch also.

From outside, it looked like a fortress wall.

Entry to the caves by stairs. From now on, until exit we will not get to see natural light at all.

Looks like our ancestors and local villagers are more knowledgeable than us.

The cave houses a meditation hall !!

Well laid out paths. The guide was walking ahead of us.

An honey beehive kind of structure.

Meditation hall at a depth of 50 ft. You have to literally crawl to get to this place. Devoid of oxygen, we started sweating a lot. Surprised to see people meditating here.

This is one of the shortcuts to reach 100 ft depth by crawling just 20 metres. Else you will have to walk.

This is the alternative 200 metres route. You will have to just squeeze yourself between rocks.

Lord Ganesha like structure. From distance the structure looked like Shirdi Sai in his usual sitting posture.

Kotilinga kind of structure.

With flash, it looked better.

An eye like structure.

Serial Bulb lightings to emphasize water flows.

From Belum caves, we left to Tadipatri, 30 kms away to have lunch and see couple of temples built by brothers. Since the timing was wrong, both the temples were closed and hence had to return back.

Entrance was open but we were told it was closed. Maybe the main deity. But we didn’t bother, took a couple of snaps and left for Ananthapur, about 60 odd kms.

We went to Ananthapur Iskcon temple. A different architecture depicting four horses pulling a chariot which is the main temple/gopuram.

Main Gopuram/Chariot

This view captures the horse and the chariot together.

Front View of the temple. We entered the temple by a side gate.

Close up view of the mighty horse !!

Chariot Wheel. Amazingly planned. Who would be the designer?

Black clouds looming large behind the horse. In no time, clouds opened up to a heavy thunderstorm.

Temple keeps getting better with every different angle.

The outside view from within the temple/chariot.

With the rain gone, the artificial lights added to the existing architecture. Golden Horse. Photos do not do full justice.

The temple glowed in the dark. Looked like one of those Jaipur palaces.

Views kept getting better.

The front view was the best of the lot. Glad we were able to make it and the clouds and rain added to the beauty of the temple.

With that, we completed our trip and returned home next day after finishing our personal engagements at Anantapur.