The trip to Bangalore on the cold winter evening of Dec as the winter vacations start for schools, was planned 2 months prior. We booked the tickets for 2A Rajdhani to Bangalore with a wait status, hoping it would get finalized. But the hope till the last minute was shattered as only 2 seats were confirmed and we four had a crammed trip along with many other RACs. I would like to extend my Thanks to our co passesngers who helped and adjusted us in. We reach Bangalore a hour late as a goods train had caught fire and had delayed many trains in row. We alighten in Bangalore City center station and head straight to the Zoom office in Malleshwaram, Brigade gateway to pick up out Ford figo - our road companion for the next 10 days. We had done the online pre booking and payment for the car.
We drive down home to Whitefield where the eveing we engage in talking to and meeting our family friends and relatives. Bangalore was cool, but we had a great relief in shedding our heavy woolens. Kids gorged into cones and tubs of ice cream as we strolled around Phoenix mall. The next morning we were ready for our onward trip to Mangalore, my brother in law puts up here who is a foodie and travel freak, and he had been researching carefully planning our itinerary keeping in mind our individual tastes and preferences.
Our route to Mangalore was -
Start at 5.10am
Tumkur toll plaza at 6:00am
Neelamangala at 6:24am Toll of rs 38/-
Belur cross at 7:10am toll of Rs 38
After 1 km there is a CCD which was open so had breakfast and coffee here
Devihalli-Hassan tollway 7:25 for Rs 35. The toll is roughly 5 mins after the CCD break
Devenghalli Hassan tollway 8:25 another toll of Rs 20 (13 kms to Hassan from here)
MG Melanta toll at 12:25 of Rs 20/-
20 kms to mangalore from here.
Reach home at 1:00pm
Total kms - 400 kms
Time - Approx 7 hrs
We are early risers so we have the advantage of gorging up miles before the hitting road traffic. As usual at 5 we start our trip enjoying the slight morning chill and the darkness slowly changing colours in the distanct horizon to violet, purple, red, orange, yellow hues. We stop now and then to take a few pics, the highways are relatively empty, not much village traffic. Roads are good.
Evening we visit the Tannirbhavi Beach after visiting the Mangala devi and Kadri Manjunath temples. There we have some good soups and chinese food and ofcourse the local soft drink Joy, in the shacks to return home late. The beaches are relatively safe and clean here. There are hardly a few shacks and I guess weekdays are the best to visit. Probably this is what we Delhiwallas miss a lot. The next day we had preplanned to see the Sringeri math around 100 kms away. Have a night stay there, visit Agumbe and be back home. So as planned we start for Sringeri, enroute stopping at Moodabidri and Bahubali. The climb to Bahubali was through rock slabs and the afternoon heat was unbearable. When on top we had to remove our footwear, we had to look out for shady spots to protect our feet. The 42 ft high huge stone figure of Bahubali stands to be installed in 1432.
We reach the temple town of Sringeri by afternoon and check into the rooms run by the trust at around Rs 400. The rooms are basic with beds and a table and chair but really neat and tidy. We have to pay for hot water and coffee the morning. After checking in we head to a nearby restaurant for lunch, the south indian thali. In the eve after rest we visit the math, which is said to be one of the 4 centres of Advaita philosophy founded by Adi Shankaracharya. The deity installed is Sharadamma or Saraswati the goddess of wisdom. The other main temple in the complex is Vidyashankara temple. The legend says that when Adi Shankaracharya was looking for a place to establish his institution, when he saw a rare sight of a frog delivering its spawn under the shelter of the hood of a cobra. The love between the enemies inspired him to set up the peetha here.
The temple complex has a seminary, a school of preists, a sanskrit school, a libraray of rare sanskrit texts and bookshops. We were privleged to have the darshan of the 36th Acharya Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji. The atmosphere is pious, divine and we spent the whole evening there, had annadanam from the dining hall of rice, sambar and buttermilk with payasam and returned back. The next morning after breakfast had a quick darshan and moved forward to our next destination.
We decided to visit the Agumbe Rainforest Research station, Anoop (Brother in law) wanted to show kids king cobras. The way leads interior into the jungles intp a secluded spot which is difficult to locate for new comers. Known to be the home of King cobras, the monsoon is the best time to visit here. The research station was founded in 2005 by Romulus Whitekar. Here we found that there are no enclosures for cobras or none in captivity, one can have a small walk around to located them. A motivated young gentleman from Maharashtra (Oh! forgot his name) guided us about their working and studies in the rainforest ecology. The King cobras are rescued and re-located within 5 miles as they are territorial and could die otherwise. There are rooms here, which can be had for a nominal cost to spend time to know how the ARRS work. Evening by 6:00 we were back home.
The next morning we visit Panambur beach, have a wonderful bath in the sea. Afternoon we visit the Pilicula Biological park and spend time there, evening we visit yet another beach ie Someshwara beach and enjoy the sunset. This brought an end to our Mangalore trip and after a day of rest we move out to Coorg.
Our route to Coorg was:-
Start at 10:00
Toll rs 20/- at 11:30am after 21 kms
Sullia big town at 12:55 pm after 66 kms
After 23 kms we enter Kodugu and the roads till here were really bad.
Reach Coorg at 3:30 (including lunch break)
Total distance - 143 kms
Time taken - 5.5 hrs
In Coorg we check in to Club Mahindra Kodagu valley and have a pleasant day for 3 days. Their location is unique and food is awesome, you just need to built in appetite to taste their wide range of delicacies. Truly Coorg can be called the "Scotland of India", and also the land of coffee, spices cardamon and the Cavery river. In Jan the temp here was cool, the air clean and inspiring with plantations of coffee and estates all around. Walk into any small shop and you can have a sip of the local coffee mostly Robusta brewed at home, or strongly filtered according to your tatse. Excellent organic food can be picked from the market like spices, honey, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, pickles etc. They are either set up by the plantation owners or you can also visit the self help women organisation like Rajarajeshwary enroute to Talacavery.
The next morning at 8:00 we were ready for Dubare elephant camp. The bathing, feeding and riding activities here occur only in the morning so one has to set out early to give the elephants bath. Its a hour drive and we reach Dubare at 9am. Hire a boat across the river to see the elephants chained, and the mahouts ready to give them a bath. The gleeming crowd wait patiently by the river waiting for the elephants to come down for their daily routine bath. There are tickets for the same. Very carefully the big animal descends and lies down in the shallow water, two mahouts start to scrub and clean them and the after the initial hesitation the onlookers join them. In between we may too receive a spray, as a token of thanks from the animal. Well its fun and the kids throughly enjoyed it. After one the next one comes in for his bath, this one is a bit restless as he is not comfortable with his bath and occasionally sits up sending aaaaas and eeees from the terrified crowd around. After the bath, they are fed and then we can have a ride on them. After spending 2 hrs there , we move to our next destination - The Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe.
Bylakuppe has 2 Tibetan settlements established by Lugsum Samdupling (in 1961) and Dickyi Larsoe (in 1969). Bylakuppe has a twin town called Kushalnagar around 6 kms from here. Its just like the lanes and bylanes of McLeodganj, we drive down to see the Golden temple (popularly known) or the Namdroling Monastery. Its a huge complex with the Padmasambhava Buddhist vihara, nunnery and more. There are 60ft lofty and majestic gold plated statues of Lord Buddha with Guru Padmasambhava and Buddha Amitayus. The local markets have mainly chinese artifacts, curios and food. Roamed around a bit and returned back.
The next day morning we leave for Talacavery, around 50 kms away. The climb and winding roads and the misty cloud drive takes you to the Brahmagiri hill at over 4000ft. Talacauvery is the origin of the cavuery river but there is no visibility of its origin except a spring feeding its water into a tank and the temple of Caveriamma and Lord Agastheeswara. From here we can see a flight of steps leading to a mountain top and on enquiring the locals said that we can have a view of the surrounding mountains. So we made the 400 step climb to the top to have the fascinating view around. On our way back we stopped at the plantation shops to pick up some spices especially cardamom and honey. On return we stop at Raja's seat which is again a hill top and from where the king used to admire the sunrise and sunset, there is a toy train service just adjoining and kids took a ride. By 3pm we were back in our room and relaxing, but kids were busy checking out the club activities going around in the fun center and we had to have them picked forcibly for dinner.
The next morning we check out and our plan is to see the Mysore palace if late stop in a hotel here and make it to Bangalore the next day. The drive is nearly 120 kms to the palace and the heat of the sun is getting stronger. Before noon we reach Mysore palace, hire a guide from the premises itself who gives us a tour of the palace describing every detail in bookish English. Anyways he didnt take us to a store for shopping, except suggested elephant rides for kids which we pleasingly declined and hopped onward our journey. The journey back was tiring, as the distance was long and probably we were not used to traveling in small cars. A SUV anytime is comfortable for long drives. By 10:30 we were back at home truly exhausted. The next day took total rest and returned back to Delhi by Rajdhani. The handing over of the car was smooth and they had a quick inspection and set us free after 10 mins, though we expected it to take half an hour. They took our petrol bills and refunded it in a weeks time. Good service Zoom keep it up!