The Delhi Bengaluru Rajdhani to to Garden city of Bengaluru....was much respite from the freezing Delhi temperature. Thanks to the fog and delay, we reach our destination 7 hours late. Our cabbie was quick to console us saying, sir you are early for atleast dinner, yesterday's train touched down at 3 early morning. He left us with a big smile at Brigade road. It is from here we had to pick up our prebooked Honda city car which was going to be our vehicle for our holidays....Vinod prefers self driven vehicles, so he was quick to book one from Zoom, along with the travel tickets. Our red honda city was a bit abused by the earlier driver, after a through examination and apology from the zoom guy, as to not having time for a garage job, we pick it up to reach our flat.
The next day we rest, rather clean and maintain the flat which is done once every year. The next day we start early morning to Mangalore to my brother's home for New year. Have a good time with family enjoying the beach and barbeque.
Jan 1 2015
On 1st as per our booking we set out for Waynad, stay at Mint flower hotel in Sultan Battery. After 10 kms we stop at the Kerala checkpost, for verification. The guy seated there, was too 'strict', as far as verification of our papers were concerned. He had to be convinced with the vehicle number hired, and our confirmation email from zoom along with the other papers. It took us 45 mins, to clear it all up. Our travel log for the rest of the journey :-
Start Mangalore at 9 am @39233
Filled diesel after 5 kms
Roads are bad as widening process going on
RTO checkpost @39241 Pail Rs 150/-
Uppala town at 10.10am @ 39256
Boards showing the tourist interest places of Kumbala fort, Posadi gumpe etc
Kumbala 10.25am @ 39265
Kappil beach is here
kasargode 10.40 @ 39275
Here we see the Bekal fort. Spend an hour. Start at 12.15pm
Kanhangad 12.30 @39302
Heavy traffic on this road. Toll of Rs 5/- and Rs8/-
Neeleshwaram palace is here.
Bamboo fresh in Taliparamba is our lunch break at 1.35am.The restaurant was full, waiting, good food.
Iritty at 3.25 @ 39399kms
Kotiyoor temple is here
5 hairpins to mananthavadi 4.40 @ 39452
beenachi at 5.25
Mint flower hotel at 5.30 at 500 kms
On the way we decided to see the Bekal fort around 65 kms away in Kasarkode. The approach road was bad as road work was going on. Finally we reach the parking space, where comfortably we park our vehicle. Clean paid washroom facilities are available. The fort is spectacular, well maintained with landscapes and lawns. The Arabian sea is visible at a distance. Small shops selling caps, lime water soda, salt water pickled amla, pineapple etc greet you to the entry of the fort. The entry takes us by the Hanuman temple and a Muslim mosque just side by side. As we walk the zig-zag entrance we come to the gates, which gives a beautiful view of the fort.
The history beyond Tipu Sultan, says that Shivappa Nayka constructed the fort in the 17th century. Later Bekal fort was known to be the miltary station of Tipu Sultan, in his pursuit to capture the Malabar. Later it fell into the hands of the East India Company, and over the time it lost its political and economic importance to Madras presidency.
The fort complex houses a water tank with a flight of steps, the magazine keeping the ammunition and the broad steps leading to the observation tower. Huge waves from the Arabian sea hit the fort exteriors during high tide, which was well picturised in the movie song of Roja.
Further we reach Hotel Mint flower in Sultan Battery at 5pm. Located in the central town the hotel is a good one for covering Wayand and the places around. The huge Mathai bakery on the left was a treat for the kids, who never missed to try and taste out the bakery snacks on display. The tea served has a generous mix of milk, so better prefer them seperate. The staff and service is otherwise good. Traditional Kerala breakfast is served in the morning. The day we roamed around Sultan battery town. There are handicrafts, spices, etc to pick. One can also try the ground kerala garam masala, which has a different taste.
The next day morning after breakfast we start our journey, to Eddakkal cave. Just 15 kms from our hotel on the Ambukuthi Hill are these caves. It has nearly 2-3 km trek so plan good walking shoes, water and carry min luggage as its a climb uphill. The route is quite scenic, uphill climb, turns, rocky steps, route inbetween narrow rocks, etc was a bit adventurous too. The pedometer records 6000 plus steps. There are small shops offering lime soda, pickled amla and pineapples, bamboo rice payasam, unniyappam, tea coffee. Flavoured tea in many varieties are found here along with wooden artifacts, toys etc. After much climb one gets to reach the ticket office, water and food are not allowed in. Again a few more steps, and you reach the caves. It is actually a big boulder wedged in between two bigger ones creating the effect of a cave.
The crowd here were mostly school and college kids on excursion and a few tourists from other states of India. A guide there shows us the pictorial carvings of the stone walls. He points out to some human and animal figures, some swastic form and a tamil brahmi script which are around 7000 years old. It is with great difficulty, we were able to spot the shapes he pointed to. The carvings belong to the Neolithic and Mesolithic age and was found in 1895 by Fred Fawcett who was the Superintendent of Police then of Malabar.
It is a truly inspiring place, depicting what we were in the past to the modern civilization we have evolved to. The descent is by a flight of steps, and further trekk down. Before the descent do not forget to have a view of the sorrounding peaks especially the Phantom rock which is visible at a distance.
From here we move to Waynad Wildlife Sanctuary (Muthanga range). The tickets are available from 3pm, we were quite early so had to wait for an hour for the tickets. The jeeps takes you in for a round for hardly 40 mins. The jungle track ends in the main road, and some really lucky can spot elephants or leopards. We could hardly spot a bird in sight other than a few spotted deers. A bit dissapointed we were dropped back at the same location and told to visit a museum. There are rest rooms here. The museum had some pics and some stuffed animals, Visiting Tholpetty for a 40 minute jeep safari can be avoided.
Back at Mint flower, kids feast on cakes and cutlets.
We visit the Banasura sagar dam built on the tributary of Kabini river. It is a beautiful place which is also the largest earth dam in India and the second largest in Asia. The sorrounding lush green mountains, enveloping the dam extend to the beauty of the dam. There is a good walk for around 2 kms to reach the boating area. Speed & pedal boats are available here. The speed boats are not to be missed Rs 750/- for 15 mins. Try to make the visit in the early morning or before 5 (9-5 boating time) as the sun is too strong. Carry caps and sunglasses for the walk.
The dam has a play area for childern with swings and ice cream stalls. Spent some time here and then further we drive through tea plantations, have a kerala style lunch in Coffee groove Restaurant in Vythiri and reach Lakkidi view point.
Lakkidi is the entry point to Waynad, gets the 2nd highest rainfall in the world, and is at the highest location of Wayanad. From the top ie the ghat road we see the deep valley with the winding roads in between. Take a few clicks and then see the chain tree, and proceed to Pookot lake.
Pookote lake is again a small lake with boating (hardly water enough for boating), a childrens park with swings and slides, a small aquarium, fish spa, magic mirror, handicraft and coffee shops and ice cream centre. It surely can be missed, not much to see or do here.
We then see the Chembra peak the highest in Wayanad, from the foot hill. The approach road is bad. You need permission for trekking to the top.
Soochipara waterfall entry was closed, so we decided to visit Kanthampara waterfall. The approach road was bad, the roads are very narrow, difficult to take u turns especially when the traffic is much. Better park it at a comfortable place and walk down. At first we will reach a small area with a tiny waterfall, this is not the actual one as most feel dissapointed seeing this. Walk a bit down the flow of water to reach the original one. One has to be really careful here, as the water is deep and stones are slippery.
Done for the day. Back in hotel.
Our morning trip to Kuruva dweep, a river delta on the Kabini river, around 16 kms away. The place is nestled in the silence of nature, evergreen uninhabited island. After parking the car, tickets are taken and then a walk to the boat point. Rafts and Fiber boats took us across. There we are guided through a walk path through the dense trees to walk around the island, to a opening where the river flows gaintely in between rounded rocks and small islands are accessible. Just along the banks of the Kabini and spend a hour lazing in the water or just sit around on the bamboo chairs along the river. This is a perfect locations for a lazy afternoon. Carry spare clothes if you want to enjoy splashing in the water. The bamboo canopies seen around the rivulets are also very beautiful . Rare birds can be spotted here, along with herbs and orchids. After a entire walk of the island we returned back to the boats. Back in the hotel, we took rest. In the eveing picked up some clove, and green grass oil from the nearby shop.
We drive to Club Mahindra Ooty Derby Greens. The drive through Mudhumalai was eventful, spotted deers, elephants on the way. Stop at Cafe coffee day. The 36 hair pin bends to Ooty was exiciting. Some were really steep to turn, but our Honda city just cruised through. The hotel in Ooty is perched on a hill with a beautiful view around. The toy train and market are just visible from here and one can just walk around. Ooty was cool...we didint expect the temperature be so chilly. Good light jackets are a must especially after sundown.
Vinod books tickets for the toy train online for the next day....we get scattered seats. The best way of booking is doing it online, as there is no queue for them in the station.
By 3pm we move out of the hotel and hire an auto to the Ooty lake. Rates for tourists are flat in 100s or 200s for whatever be the destination in the vicinity. The Boat house offers boating, and we hired a pedal boat. Rest there are shops around selling tea, oils, homemade chocolates, coffee, eating stalls, magic show, horrow show etc. A 10 minute walk further brings you to the Ooty Wax Museum, which has near life statue wax idols of Gandhi, Veerappan, Manmohan Singh, Abdul Kalam, Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa and more.
The next morning we catch the Toy train to Coonoor at 8.30am. The train was teeming with young college students who were playing antakshari and so the 1 hour ride just went by with Bollywood songs and the beautiful landscape on either side. The drive has wonderful landscapes, and views and its a must ride. The toy train covers a distance of 26 kms and travels through 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and across 250 bridges to reach Mettupalayam. The uphill journey takes around 4.8 hours, and the downhill journey takes 3.6 hours. It has the steepest track in Asia. There were hardly 2-3 tunnels in between ooty and Conoor.
In Conoor we take a Qualis for Rs 800/- and he promises to show us around Conoor and leave us back by 4pm to catch our train back. First we have breakfast in a small restaurant Sri Ramachandra lunch home, near the station - Hot masala dosa and coffee. Then we click pictures in the tea garden, see the Lambs rock, Suicide point, Karanci waterfalls, Dolphins nose, stop at Mayur wholesale store to pick up flavoured tea and spices and then he leaves us at Sims park. The shops will serve, in fact taste you with their flavored tea like chocolate, ginger, cardamom, masala etc, in the hope that you may pick one. Droog's fort was once used by Tipu Sultan is around 15 kms away so we skipped this one. You have to walk 4 kms further, however John (our guide) told us that only a wall of the fort survives now.
Lamb's rock has a good view of Coimbatore but we missed it as it was a misty rainy day. Dolphins nose is a huge rock which is in the shape of the Dolphins nose. Just 10 kms away from Conoor, the view of Catherine falls from here is breathtaking. This too we missed due to the thick cloud cover. Law's falls is around 7 kms and is said to have a good view.
Lastly Sim's park, which is quite old built in 1854 has a beautiful walk around, in between huge old trees. A small pond with boating and lots of birds, roses, and a small play area for kids. There are over thousands of trees here Burma teak, rudraksh, mahogany, birch tree etc. Lots of birds around for bird lovers.
Around 3 we walk our way back to the station, in between we stop for a cup of coffee and snacks at Mud pie. Its a nice place where they have pastries, burgers, cutlets, puffs and more and good coffee. The journey back was too good. It was pretty cool. We missed our jackets, as we had light woolens. So prefer jackets and caps, as once the sun is down its really cool.
Morning we drive to Dodabetta or the big mountain which is the highest mountain in Nilgiris at 8,600ft. Its just 10 kms away and is said to be located in the junction of the Western and Eastern ghats. On a clear day one gets a awesome view of the hills around. This is a major attraction as the tourists can walk up to the summit and have a 360
degree view on the various valleys that surround Doddabetta. One can also see the Ooty town, Conoor, Ketty valley, Avalanche dam, Mukurthi and Wellington cantonment. Well we could not see all these, except a decent view of the mountains around. We then visit the Government Botanical garden which is a very well maintained park. Vinod as usual was in the lookout of birds, me and kids enjoyed the various flowers, orchids, plants and the landscapes. Basking the sun with such colourful people around itself is a great past time. We then proceed to see the Ooty Golf course and the Wenlock downs, which is a vast expanse of undulating landscape. Many movies have been shot here.
Back in Ooty we shop for chocolates in King Star Confectionary, which is the oldest and best as a few friends suggested. Try their fudge, rum and raisin, coconut crunch or plain ones. By evening most of their chocolates are sold out. There are many shops in the commercial street for shopping. I pick up a few handwoven sarees from Co-optex as gifts. Done for the day, time for rest.
Evening in club mahindra was quite enjoyable. They had games, bonfire and interactions. It was good, we were tired to make it but kids didnt miss it. Their buffet dinner was also good, to many options to choose from.
We check out next morning and drive back to Bangalore, to reach Delhi a day after.