Gangai Konda Cholapuram Temple
60 days to go…
On a Friday morning, I got a call from my cousin. The voice was down as we both realized that after our successful 2015 Valparai and 2016 Muzhappilangad trips there were no trips and the fear of losing out of this year trip was visible. It looked more and more unlikely with the year starting to close out. Just to cheer ourselves up, we spoke about possible places for our next trip. Over the conversation,
V (Myself) : I’m fully occupied in December with a trip to Tirupati and Mumbai.
R (My Cousin): Wow !! That’s great. Flight tickets to Mumbai?
V: Onward is booked.
R: That’s even better. Do not book your return tickets.
V: (Casually) From where you guys can pick me up?
And that’s it, we both knew, what we were up to. Between brothers, a 5 minute call is a very long time and a lot can happen – from looking impossible to having a viable plan after 5 minutes.
The five enthusiasts !!!
59 days to go…
Hemant, a team-bhp guy decided our 2016 trip. This time, he chose where to start our 2017 trip. Isn’t this photo enough?
Where is this place? Most of the Maharashtrians have not heard even about this place. Masai Plateau !! Combining Masai and Recce-into-maharashtra travelogues, we finalized our plan.
Day 1 – Tuesday (19/12/2017) – Bangalore to Kohlapur (I will travel to Kohlapur from Mumbai by an overnight bus)
Day 2 – Wednesday (20/12/2017) – Masai – Ratnagiri – Ganapati Pule
Day 3 – Thursday (21/12/2017) – Ganapati Pule – Mahabaleshwar
Day 4 – Friday (22/12/2017) – Mahabaleshwar
Day 5 – Saturday (23/12/2017) – Mahabaleshwar to Bangalore
From the plains of Bangalore
To the forts of Kohlapur
To Masai Plateau
To the hills of Ratnagiri
To the seas of Ganapati Pule
Finally to the hills of Mahabaleshwar. We had an unforgettable trip.
D-Day: Day 1 – Tuesday (19/12/2017)
The D-Day of our trip. Alarm rings !! There you go, for an otherwise monotonous Tuesday office day, we were going to start a very ambitious trip. We left home at 510 AM. After a slow start with Bangalore traffic, we picked up pace. After a solid 3 hour drive, we stopped at a highway restaurant for breakfast. Coincidentally the name of our dining place was Super Highway.
After a brief halt for 30 minutes, we hit the highways again towards Kohlapur. At one stage, we maintained an average speed of 120 KMPH. After driving for about 500 kms, we filled the beast’s tank. Near Dharwad, for about 25 odd kms you encounter a two way and the work on express way is in progress. After an 8 hour journey, we reached the outskirts of Kohlapur and soon after reaching we checked in to our room at Hotel Madhuri Executive. It was a nice comfy room with two double beds enough to accommodate four people. The washrooms were clean. The rooms had parking at the front. But I don’t think it would be enough when the hotel runs houseful. We hunted for places for our lunch and decided to have it at Silver Oak. We consumed great food, indeed a great start to our trip. Post that, we reached the room and slept close to four hours. We had mild dinner from a nearby place. Food was not great but after a hearty lunch we weren’t hungry either. We retired for the day.
PS: “We” (I was not there for the first day. I joined them on the second day at Kohlapur)
Day 2 – Wednesday (20/12/2017)
I arrived in Kohlapur at around 615 AM by an overnight bus. My cousins picked me up from a nearby place and we went to Hotel Madhuri Executive where they were put up. I freshened up and left for our first visit of our trip, The Mahalakshmi Temple, a 10 minute walk from the hotel. En route to temple, we energized ourselves with a cup of hot tea. I should say one thing that in Maharashtra, tea always tastes better than coffee. You have to deposit your SLRs (INR 5) outside. Queues are not big and we finished our dharshan in about 10 minutes.
View of the temple from outside
Walls are pretty much like the South Indian temples
Interesting structures just outside the temple
With the temple visit done, we decided to have our breakfast at Vithal Kamat. We had Misal Pav (instead of pav, we were given bread) and South Indian Vada. Food was decent and nothing to boast about. We checked out of our room and headed for our next destination, The Masai Plateau – A 27 km jouney towards Panhala. Narrow winding roads once you near the plateau. The views kept bettering as you move. The final pinnacle, I should say is worth a drive of 700 kms from Bangalore.
Narrow winding roads
Beautiful view with golden grass all around. We realized how green this place would be in monsoon.
Cheetah enjoying the view
A lone tree at the top
View from the top
A panaromic view of the plateau
After spending an hour at Masai, we started towards Ganapati Pule at 1045 AM. We decided to take the coastal road of Ratnagiri instead. We refreshed ourselves with a native grown corn. Corn was very tender and tasted much better than an imported one. I must say, that this is one of the beautiful winding roads of 100 odd kms I have ever driven. You keep going up and then there is a sudden drop and each time on your left, you will see a beautiful valley. We reached the outskirts of Ratnagiri at 145 PM and decided to have our lunch at Dawaat, a road side dhabha. We had thaali and the food again was very decent. After a quick 30 minute break, we were back on the wheels towards Ganapati Pule via coastal road.
En route to Ratnagiri. What a background !!
And the valley views were equally good if not better
Lunch break at Ratnagiri. Food was decent enough.
From Ratnagiri to Ganapati Pule, the most scenic drive of our trip. We stopped umpteen times to enjoy the nature. Cheetah emerging out of the forest.
On one side the back waters and the mangrove forest.
Another side, boats and settlement
The same bridge from a distance !! Next up is the most anticipated curve, Indian equivalent of “The Great Ocean Road”
With the beautiful sea breeze, the sight was even more spectacular
A sight to behold
Beautiful !! Isn’t it?
After the scenic drives, we reached our stay, Atithis Kaulr at Ganapati Pule. I must say that this was our best stay in our trip. We specifically chose it away from sea and I should say that it was worth every penny. We rested for a while and had a refreshing tea and headed to the beach for sunset. Beach was a five minute drive from our place. It was a pristine beach. The tides were low and hence we had a huge amount of space to walk. We had to be careful because it was loose sand all around. We spent close to two hours enjoying the sunset.
Aaswad Restaurant – Attached to our stay
A place to sit, chit-chat and relax
Ganapati Pule Beach
Golden waters under the setting sun
Washed away corals
Cattles retiring for the day with the sun setting
I must say that this place has one of the most beautiful sunsets
The time lapse
After that we returned to room and ordered room service. Even though the menu card had many items, we were placed with only few options. But the food was indeed great.
Day 3 – Thursday (21/12/2017) – Ganapati Pule – Mahabaleshwar
It was a leisure start to the day as we knew our destination would be Mahabaleshwar. We got up and ordered bed coffees/teas. Then we chit chatted for close to an hour without doing anything. We practiced our catching skills and played with our cameras. We went to the in-house restaurant and they had only poha and upma. The quantity was less but tasty. We had one more round of teas and left for Mahabaleshwar. At the start of our trip in Bangalore, we knew our front left tyre had some issue. It was a nail and we fixed the puncture at Ganapati Pule and checked our remaining tyre pressures too. The entire journey was through hills and the 200 km journey took us close to five hours with a lunch break and numerous photo breaks. We stopped in a dhaba for lunch and food was too good. The highlight was the Lassi. Looking at the quantity, we ordered half but each one of us ended up taking one and a half. As we went uphill, we felt the chillness in the air. At every turn uphill, the views were amazing. We had to cross the Mahabaleshwar town for our stay, Mahadev Baug Cottage. When we reached the cottage, we realized that it was nowhere near our expectations. Definitely the photos in booking.com where photo-shopped. But nevertheless, we decided to stay at the same place but we did a good bargain for the next couple of nights stay. The only x-factor with this stay was, it had a small grass bank wherein we could play cricket. The stay also had their own strawberry garden. After relaxing ourselves, we decided to play cricket. After an hour’s play, we were completely exhausted. For dinner, we went to the hotel, attached to our cottage. Surprisingly we were the only visitors for the night.
En route to Mahabaleshwar – Winding roads – Decent enough
Red tin amidst green and golden grass
Our lunch. Tooo tasty!!
En route to Mahabaleshwar – Simply Wowww!!
Lake en route to cottage
Stay at Mahabaleshwar – Room
A lonely stay nearby
Private Garden in our stay
Hotel attached to the cottage
Day 4 – Friday (22/12/2017) – Mahabaleshwar
The night sleep I must admit was a bit scary. As part of our negotiation, we took a lonely room at the back side of the cottage. There was an eerie silence throughout the night. We got up early and again had a round of cricket followed by breakfast at the same place as night. Again we were the only visitors at the hotel. After bath, we left for table mountains. This is again a plateau but a commercialized one unlike Masai. We saw horses with interesting names as whatsapp, facebook etc., After wandering for about 15-20 minutes, we left for Mapro garden. Mahabaleshwar is known for its strawberries. Mapro Garden is a strawberry garden with a shop that sells Mapro products. I must say that we men surprised ourselves with our shopping skills and each one of us ended up spending close to 1500 bucks in a flat 15 minute shopping. After that we bought strawberries from a local shop and moved to Kate’s view point.
Table Mountain – Decent one – But cannot be compared to Masai
Good old horse ride
A small pond
Mapro strawberry festival
A serene view of Kate’s view point compensates for the bad stretch en route to it
A power plant?
Zoomed in a temple from the top
A wow house !!! Isn’t it?
Once the site visits were over, we decided to have lunch at a different place. We chose little Italy right in the middle of town. The wood crust pizzas were mouth watering. We filled our tummies and returned to room. We played another round of cricket till 530 PM. As I said, in the beginning, a 5 minute call is enough for cousins to plan a trip. If the same cousins talk face to face, they can even better that. Our actual plan was to stay overnight and start early morning to Bangalore. We spoke for little over 15 minutes and we were ready in our car by 6 PM for our overnight journey to Bangalore. The plan looked ambitious and even GPS showed us that we would reach Bangalore by 1045 AM on Saturday, a whooping 17 hour drive. Plan was to take step by step. The first 100 odd kms were difficult since we had to descend down the hill amidst traffic and had to travel by two way road. We made cautious and patient progress over the next two hours and reached our dinner location at Yelur, Sai Pangat. Food was delicious, the final Maharashtrian food of our trip. We filled ours as well as the beast’s tummy as we were not sure whether pumps would be open throughout the night. All set, we started from there at 945 PM. We drove in round robin fashion and reached the outskirts of Bangalore by 5 AM. We had tea at a local shop. The long weekend traffic had already started. Beating all the traffic and defying all odds we reached our respective houses by 7 AM, a cool 4 hours early as was initially predicted by google maps.
Didn’t we live up to our wordings? “Our trip Our world Our way”
During our recent trip to Western Ghats, we visited Belur Hoysala Chennakeshava Temple. This is a Vishnu temple. This temple was built in 11th century. It took 103 years to complete this marvel. We hired a guide (an official from ASI) to explain us about the temple architecture and history. Parking and washrooms are present just opposite the temple complex.
Date: 5th May, 2017 (Friday)
Main Gopuram – Top is made of ceramic and the bottom is made of granite
The temple is made of soap stones (local name), which is soft beneath the earth but when exposed to atmosphere, becomes hard and looks like a metal from a distance.
Look at the intricate details of the sculpture – this is not metal. This is stone.
Hoysala – Young boy who conquered a lion
Such intricate details on the dancing sculptures. A lady looking at the mirror.
A monkey pulling the saree
Look how the left hand is placed on the drums. Isn’t it amazing?
A sculpture that says love is blind
Arjuna during his swayamvar
Ugra(Angry) Narasimha Avatar – Final stages
Ravana lifting Kailash Mountain
Surrounding the temple, first tier is occupied by elephants (Strength), second by lion (Courage) and third by horses (Speed). There are about 600+ elephants and each one of them is unique.
Star shaped perimeter
When art meets the right people, you get this. Look at the details.
Balconies were there those days itself
Inside the temple complex – Artistic excellence
Lady with the parrot
Pillars look like metals, but actually they are not! Also this pillar was placed on top of a ball bearing kind of structure, and is supposed to rotate. But due to poor maintenance over the years, it has lost its function.
Art work on the roof
Soumyanayaki (Goddess Lakshmi) temple
Another main attraction is the floating pillar. There is another one at Lepakshi
At the entrance before the main deity. Work and perfection speak for themselves
And finally Mr and Mrs. Vishnu
Even though many sculptures were broken because of invasion and local vandalism, this temple stands tall amidst the test of time showcasing the mettle and skill of our ancestors. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) owns it and preserves it as well.
Have you been to Dwarasamudra? Have you tried searching for this place in google maps? Aren’t you able to locate it? What is its new name?
A tank was built opposite the temple to serve the water needs and due to huge inflow of water, tank always had waves and looked like an ocean and hence the name Dwarasamudra, entry by ocean. The new name which everyone can relate to translates to “ruined city” in Kannada, Halabeedu. We visited this temple during our return journey from Western Ghats to Bangalore. Halabeedu was the capital city of Hoysala empire. This Hoysala temple construction was not completed when Muslims invaded the city and hence inside the temple you can find many unfinished structures.
This is a Shiva temple. When it was designed, it was decided to construct it twice the size of Belur Hoysala temple. Belur has 650+ elephants and this temple has 1300+ elephants.
The name board
Huge open space and lots of greenery outside the temple
Royal Entrance: King would enter the temple from this entrance after worshiping Lord Ganapathi
Which is the largest built Nandi? Many would say the Tanjore one, but that is a close second. The first biggest Nandi is in Lepakshi and the one in Halabeedu is the seventh largest one.
In all the temples, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva will be in order. Creator, Protector and the destroyer. But since Halabeedu is a Shiva temple, the order is Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.
Look at the intricate details on the roof – These are soap stones just like the Belur temple which is as soft as a soap but hardens on getting exposed to atmosphere.
Below sculpture looks like a British man with a stick on his right hand, a hairdo and a long over coat. Isn’t it? But British came to India after 1600s and this temple was built in the 13th Century. A mere coincidence? But as per temple books, these are Saints and this was their attire. So did British copy the dress code of our Saints? Hard to believe, but definitely creates enough doubts.
Who invented or used telescope first? Galileo? Year? 1600s? But look at the below sculpture. This is again from 1300s.
Astronauts of that age?
Chakravyuh in Mahabaratha.
Bhima killing elephants during the war. Anyone remember “Ashwathama is killed”? The famous strategy to kill the Guru Drona?
Rama killing Vali in Ramayana
Rama giving his ring to Hanuman to be delivered to Sita
Dresses of that age? Three fourths and a skirt
Krishna lifting Govarthana Giri
Look at the upper right corner of the above picture – An interesting thing to note is that on top of the mountain, there is a banana tree and a monkey is trying to pluck bananas. Who would have thought of all these minute details ? A magnified view of that.
Spellbound by their architecture. Granular level details at its very best.
Look at the hind leg of the cow – its slightly bent, signifying Shiva’s weight. He weighs more than Parvati. Simply wow !!
And another one: Look at the bench they are sitting. It is tilted towards Shiva
Because of his weight, Parvati is getting tossed around when elephant moves !!
Some commonalities with Belur. Ravana lifting the Kailash mountain and Arjuna during his swayamvar.
On the outer walls
Guides are available in English, Hindi and Kannada. They are part of ASI. They take a paltry amount of Rs 300 for 45 minute tour. The guide said that there are 24 guides in Halabeedu and they share their earnings for the day. They are not monetized by the Government of India.
Halabeedu as the name suggests, a city of ruins, but the architects have left enough sculptures like these which stand tall amidst the test of time and all the invasion and local vandalism.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
It was a trip of many firsts. First time to US, first time in a sub zero temperature and first time in snow. I had my flight booked with Lufthansa via Frankfurt and Denver and stay with Homewood Suites.
I reached Frankfurt at 830 AM local time (21st January, 2017 – Saturday) and had my first glimpse of Airbus 380
Airbus 380 – Wow !! Its huge
Boeing 747 – Most Intimidating look
Germany – Local train to shuttle passengers between terminals
Sunset at Greenland
Greenland – The land of no greens but Ice. Frozen Ocean
It was the longest Saturday of my life, started from India on a Saturday and arrived in Germany, Denver and Bozeman all on Saturday.
Denver – Just before landing
Golf Ball like weird Structures
Bozeman – Early morning before Sunrise
Sunrise on the hills
Post Sunrise – Clear blue skies
Homewood Suites by Hilton, Bozeman
Outside seating area amidst Snow
Enroute to Bridger Ski Area
One for the wallpaper
It was freezing cold and people called it “A pleasant weather”
We saw kids as young as 3 years ski !!!
My Office. What a backdrop !!
And it became heavier
Fresh snow next morning
Bozeman Airport (Complete wood)
What a backdrop the airport runway has !!!
Up and Over !! From the top. Bye bye Bozeman. See you next time !!!
We planned for a day’s trip around Bangalore. Plan was to start after 10 AM and reach home before sunset. Most of our previous trips were towards Mysore and Hyderabad. So this time we decided to head towards Kolar. Thats when we came across Avani, a place with so much historical significance and closely associated with Ramayana.
Excerpts from Wikipedia
Avani is known for the Sita temple situated on a hill. This temple is one of the few temples dedicated to Sitadevi in India. There is a belief that the sage Valmiki, the author of the epic Ramayana, was residing here during the period of Ramayana. Sitadevi lived here in his ashram while in exile. Sitadevi gave birth to her twin children Lava-Kusha here. Even today the room where Sita gave birth to her children exists. The war between Sri Rama and his sons Lava & Kusha happened in this village.
31 st October, 2016
As planned, we left home little after 10 AM and took the Varthur road to reach the Bangalore-Tirupati highway. But for tolls, drive was a breeze and without much trouble we reached the Avani town, Ramalingeshwara temple.
There are three temples in Avani town.
There is ample parking space right next to Sharadha temple. A cautionary note for travelers to carry your own food, otherwise we have to get onto highways for restaurants.
Broken Roads for the last 7 kms
Sitabetta (Hill) seen from the road
The belief says the main shiv ling was installed by Lord Rama himself. Later Chola Kings built this temple to spread their dynasty.
There are so many small shrines inside the main temple complex.
Temple with Sita betta background
Temple complex is maintained cleanly
Carvings in Tamil
A small temple between Ramalingeshwara Temple and Sita Mata temple.
Sita Mata Temple
We had our lunch at 1245 PM and started climbing up to see the Sita Mata temple. It is said that Sita took refuge in Valmiki Ashram when she got separated from Rama. And this is the birth place of her twin sons, Luv and Kusha in the cave on the hill. There is a cave inside the ashram called Valmiki-Gavi, where the great sage Valmiki, the author of the epic Ramayana, sat in meditation.
There are multiple ways to reach the top. This one is little tougher.
Else walk till Sharadha temple and take the steps.
Then you will reach the midway, stairs give way to something like this with rails to support.
A closer look. Definitely safe and easy to climb.
Our first destination was this setup. The belief was that Sita saw her twin sons fighting Hanuman by sitting here. The black strips on the rock were her tears and the white ones were her milk.
Bee hive – Little did we know that we will be chased by them later in the day
After 20 minutes of leisurely walk, you will reach the Valmiki Ashram. And the view from here is simply amazing.
Cave inside the Ashram. The belief is that, any child who has stomach problem will become alright after taking the water mixed with the sand here.
A closer look
Luva Kusha house. Behind this you have a shrine that has two shiv lings back to back emphasizing twin sons of Rama.
Supposed to be Sita Devi’s foot steps
Still a lot to climb to reach the temple
And the view kept getting better
Smaller steps gave way to much larger ones, pretty exhausting.
Finally after an hour’s climb we reached the summit. The place where Sita Devi by praying to Parvati Devi went back to earth.
The mountain opposite to Sitabetta Hill is the Mulbagal. The belief says “Hanuman picked up two sets of stones to make a temporary living for Rama and Lakshamna enroute to Lanka. Since he thought one set is enough, he made Avani, and the other set he threw it to opposite end and that beacame Mulbagal”
A panoramic view of the surroundings
A place to just sit and gaze forever.
This was when destiny stuck. We were enjoying the views and suddenly saw a group of honey bees. It stung my brother and around fifteen to twenty started circling him. We were asked to go down without disturbing them. He was bitten at seven places. It took 20 minutes to get down to a safer place. The learning from that is that even if bees come and sit on you, just keep calm without disturbing it. If one bites, then the rest will encircle you. We rushed to the Government hospital at Avani and he had a tetanus and pain killer injection. Also heard from the natives that bees are a common sighting at the top.So I strongly discourage people to take their kids to the top.
We left Avani around 415 PM and reached our home at 6 PM. It was such a nice and pleasant trip made adventurous by the honey bees.
Munnar is a picturesque place with abundance of beauty , tea estates and lush greenery all around. Head to Munnar if your idea of vacation is to relax and enjoy nature.
A much delayed travelogue. This trip was done in december 2014 – By Preethi
Day 1 – 6th December, 2014
This was a trip planned around my birthday and one more specialty was my parents were also joining in as a surprise. It was supposed to be a sweet surprise but they could no longer keep it away from me as a feeling of guilt!! The confession happened three days before the trip.
We started from Bangalore home around 7 AM and had breakfast at A2B Sulagiri. The quality of A2B is always top notch not to mention the appetizing flavor of food. We reached Salem railway station around 11 and picked up my parents. I was overwhelmed with merriment as this was the first trip with them post marriage. Gossiping occured with my mom and also the driver swap. We reached Hotel Duke in Madurai around 3:45 PM. After a brief recess we got going to Meenakshi amman temple. It is the prime tourist attraction in Madurai which draws huge crowds. One can only marvel and be in awe of the splendid architecture. After seeing the main deity we saw the remaining Gods. Since we had visited thousand pillars before we didn’t see it then. There are lots of guides available there and I feel you must hire them to unravel the history and meaning of various sculptures and pillars. Since the encyclopedia of temples (my dad!!) was travelling with us, he suggested we go to Ramana Maharishi house in an adjacent street. It was a special day that day because it was Karthigai deepam and Ramanar is fond of Thiruvanamalai. What a blessing to have visited it that day which we realised it later only. It was a small house and also lodged a meditation hall upstairs. It was supposed to be the place where Maharishi experienced his soul moving away from body. Then Immaiyul Marumai Tharuvar Shiva temple was our next stop. After praying we set forth for our dinner to the famous Murugan Idli shop and also devoured the popular jigirthnda there. We were back to the hotel by 8:45 PM.
Day 2 – 7th December, 2014
There was a complement breakfast at the hotel and we finished our breakfast at Duke’s itself. We were ready for the journey to Munnar by 8:15 AM. Enroute we saw Kilakuyilkudi Karupana swamy temple with Jain bed. Karupana swamy which incidentally was my native God was at the ground level and the Jain bed was at a distant height. One has to climb many steps to reach there. Since it was a laborious task we returned after climbing only a few steps. The backdrop was scenic with lush greenery all around along with banyan trees and temple tank not to mention the rural setting with chirping of birds. Many Tamil movies were shot there.
Temple with a beautiful mountain backdrop
Much closer look at the temple
Steps leading to heaven? We climbed them.
And the view was breathtaking
Big banyan tree and the temple tank
Then we traversed through Usulampetti, Theni and Kundal Ghat (diversion to Kurangini). Kurangini hills was the shooting spot of the famous Tamil movie Myna. Then via Bodimettu we reached Lakezone resort around 12:45 PM. When we planned for this trip we first booked in Club Mahindra and later only my husband decided to surprise me by calling my parents. But by the time they checked for the availability it housed full and so they were staying in Lakezone resort which was just three kms away and it was to become our breakfast/lunch/dinner spot. Misfortune struck with the car tyre getting punctured because of the rough terrain and we got it repaired at Suryanelli where many departmental stores and petrol pumps are present. We had lunch at a small hotel called Mahavir and reached Club Mahindra around 2:30. We rested for some time taking pictures and started off to Periyacanal around 3:40. It was a small falls near Club Mahindra. The weather was pleasant with little mistiness. Next, we headed to Aaniyarangal dam – as the name suggests,herds of elephants visit the lake to quench their thirst. Idyllic picnic spot it was. Then we retired for the day in our respective rooms.
First view of the mountains
Periyacanal falls enroute to Aaniyarangal dam
And finally the dam. What a place if you want to relax
A boat waiting for a ride
Dam was overflowing. Icing on the cake
Much comfortable room
Superb view to complement
Day 3 : 8th December, 2014
We had breakfast at Lakezone resort which was too yummy for words. If anybody is planning to visit Munnar, I highly recommend this place for satisfying your hunger pangs. The rooms are also pretty decent. We set forth for sightseeing with many view points and tea gardens everywhere. Tata has their presence there also with their extensive tea gardens. We reached Matupatty dam around 11:15 AM. I have visited Munnar thrice before during my school,college and family trip and yet it never ceases to amaze me. Boating takes place and there is an echo point also there.Our next spot was Kundala dam. Then we reached Top station around 1:15 PM. It was cold with very low visibilty beyond a point. Mist was engulfing us and we had a stroll.We had lunch there itself at Manasarovar Periyar Residency.We were returning back and shopped for coffee, spices in the local market.
Photopoint: Live to drive
Photopoint: What a view
Photopoint: Clouds playing hide & seek
Full of tea gardens
Our car hiding in one such estate
Views are just mesmerizing
Trees are aligned so neatly with the mountain backdrop
With so much green, even the water from an angle looks green
Echo Point: Offers a panoramic view
And finally the dam
And finally the top slip. What a welcome we had. Full of mist and fog.
With this kind of mist, not many pics.
Day 4: 9th December, 2014
It was the day of checkout from Club Mahindra and my birthday too :). We did so after having breakfast at our usual place. We decided to go around the resort.
What a place to stay – Club Mahindra, Munnar
A closer look with the misty mountain backdrop
A look at the club house and restaurant
We started our journey back home around 11:00 AM. We had a brief stopover at Theerthathotti Arumuga Nayanar temple . The shrine is dedicated to Lord Muruga and it has water oozing out of the earth intermittently.
Its a beautiful place indeed
And maintained much cleaner
We had lunch at Saravana bhavan, Theni (not HSB) and reached the same hotel Duke in Madurai by 3:30. After resting for a while we did some shopping and my parents left to Chennai by night train.
Day 5: 10th December, 2014
We had my husband’s friend’s marriage in Virudhunagar to attend and reached mandapam by 6:40 AM. After gracing the occasion with our presence we started back home. Enroute we saw Thiruparankundram temple. We then had lunch at Thoppur A2B and reached home safely.
The above picture says a lot about Munnar. Its misty, ever green, full of mountains, falls and dams. I can never get enough of Munnar and hope to visit it again soon 🙂
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
Finally our terrace garden
What do you do, when you have leaves at your disposal? Go on a trip? Which place would be the best to go with cousins? Sometimes it could take ages to come to a consensus on the place to visit. Let alone, consensus, even to suggest a place, needs a lot of planning. But sometimes, a picture would be enough to go to a place, and that’s how Muzhappilangad trip happened. Here is our picture,
Cheetah splashing the Arabian Sea all around.
Here is the picture that inspired us and full credits to Team-BHP and the writer Hemanth to inspire us for the trip.
We started looking out for hotels in and around Muzhappilangad and we zeroed in on our location to stay, Kannur. With previous good experience of booking via Oyo, we booked hotel Rainbow Suites. In addition to Muzhappilangad beach, we decided to visit Bekal Fort as well.
Day 1: 1st July 2016 – Friday
We started from my cousins’ place at Bommanahalli a little past 5 AM. By starting early, we avoided the nightmarish traffic at Mandya and reached our breakfast location, Right-O mall at 715 AM. Right-O mall has food options of UpSouth, Subway, Polar bear etc., ample parking space and clean washrooms. We took an hour break and started again towards Kannur at 815 AM.
After crossing Hunsur, we entered the Brahmagiri forest area. The lush greenery just hits you on your face if you are coming from a concrete jungle. It was literally pouring and the surroundings became really dark.Incredible weather, beautiful roads and an amazing bunch of guys to be with, what else one needs? Now let the pictures do some talking.
Nice road with reflectors
Come on Bangalore !! When will I get this kind of a road?
We left Karnataka and entered Kerala. Scenery got even more beautiful. Greenery even on top of a shop roof 🙂
Raging river enroute
And another river !! I can sit there whole day doing nothing.
We reached our hotel half past 1 PM (eight and a half hour drive with multiple breaks for snaps). Hotel had a basement parking and check-in process was smooth.
Neat rooms with Boutique toiletries complementary from Oyo. Nice touch !!
The hotel had a big restaurant but the food is not up to the mark. The complementary buffet breakfast was surprisingly great.
Buffet setup for breakfast
We had our lunch and we immediately left for Muzhappilangad beach, a 15 KM drive. Direction boards were at plenty to reach the beach but surprisingly we found only couple of other cars. May be thats why its beauty is preserved. We wasted no time in getting out in water, the prime motive of our trip.
Each one of us, took her inside and splashed sea all around.
We waited for sun to set, but it became really cloudy and we returned to our hotel by 7 PM and ordered room service. The starters especially masala peanut was great. After food we retired for the day.
Day 2: 2nd July 2016 – Saturday
The only scheduled stop for the day was Bekal fort and time permitting, we planned to visit Mahe in the evening to fill up lesser priced diesel. We had a heavy breakfast of Carrot uthappam, Idly, French toast, Omelet, fruits, fruit juices and coffee/tea. Beware !! Do not drink coffee. We started moving towards Bekal fort at 930 AM. Half way through, we spotted a car spa and did a complete wash as we had taken her inside salt water. A good ninety minute wash ensured it was almost noon by when we again started to Bekal fort and we had almost 70 odd kms to cover. By 100 PM we reached Kanhangad and decided to have lunch at Malnad family restaurant. Food was strictly average for vegetarians. We got moving and reached the fort at 230 PM. Because of the road maintenance work, had to encounter really bad patches. Fort had very good parking space. A nice, brisk and heavy shower welcomed us. Entry fee including two SLRs and five people was Rs 125. Couple of observations, one, strictly no tripod stand. Number two, take umbrellas, for sun and rain. Fort closes by 550 PM. As we entered, we realized how neat it was maintained. The fort also houses a temple inside.
Make sure you climb on the top and take a bird’s eye view of the fort. Worth the climb !!
View from the top
With the blowing sea breeze, monsoon winds, too good a place to be!!
Swach Bharat !! But indeed it was well maintained.
The place where Uyire song from Bombay was shot. Time to get down !!
Look at those threatening clouds. It indeed rained. But we stayed put and saw through the rains. It was an amazing experience.
Lots and lots of birds
Beautiful Garden, Kudos to the management for maintaining it.
We left the place at 5 PM and had to face a lot of traffic and eventually decided to drop Mahe from our plan and reached our hotel by 800 PM, again ordered room service and retired for the day.
Day 3: 3rd July 2016 – Sunday
We got up to the sound of thunderous rain. After sumptuous breakfast, checked out the room at 900 AM and started our return journey. We had our lunch at Cafe County, Hunsur. Food is again strictly average and reached Bommanahalli at 615 PM.
In short, the below picture says it all,