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Archive for August, 2008

Not sure how many of you got to travel out of town during the Independence Day weekend but we did get lucky and had an opportunity to visit Wayanad forest range and it was one hell of an experience.

After having checked with over 14 resorts and homestays, we finally managed to find a very decent resort just of the main highway NH 212 nr Sultan Bathery but completely covered with coffee and palm plantation. So the view from our Bamboo cottage was like right in the middle of the forest.

We started from Bangalore at 6.30am and NICE road took us straight to Mysore rd within no time and by 8am we had reached MTR Shivalli beyond Chanapatna town for our breakfast. After a couple of Lotta Iddlis (this guy is really famous for these iddlis) n vadas we were on our way to Mysore. Stopped for fuel at 9.15 outside Mysore town and back on the road towards Nanjangud & Gundlepet. You have to be careful to turn right at Gundlepet town else u’ll head towards Bandipur. The moment you hit kerala border, the entire landscape changes and becomes compeltely green. Trust me, the greenery and fresh air hits you and you slowly start getting used to it.

Day 1: After a simple lunch at our resort (with fried fish ofcouse) we decided to explore the popular Edakkal Caves. We had an option to take a 1km jeep ride which would take us almost upto the caves and save on time. The last stretch up was quite an experience with heavy downward traffic and the continous drizzle. Soon we made it to the caves on top and was worth the climb. On our way back as typical tourists, we shopped for Tea powder, Masala Coffee & palm jaggery (good for diabetics) at the local shops.

Our evening at the resort was quiet and relaxed with a sumptuous dinner and a stroll within the resort property.

Day 2: After a heavy breakfast we pushed ourselves out of the resort to checkout the largest waterfall in this area called Soochipara Falls. After driving thru narrow roads and across tea estates we reached the end of the motorable road from were our trek to the base of the falls began. Took us a good 30 mins to get there and about 45mins to get back up but it was totally worth it. The only sad part was to see people washing their clothes and undergarments here.. Dont’ know wat gets into people when they see a river or stream.. its not like they don’t get to wash their clothes for days together. Why come so far and spoil the environment completely..

After a quick lunch we were back on the road again to visit the famous Pookot Lake and Likkidi View point. This lake is just like any other – a bit cleaner though but the view point at Likkidi was just awesome. Spent a lot of time just gazing into the valley below before we started to head back to our resort. Day 3: After another simple but good breakfast with hot tea we spent time at the small stream which runs thru the resort. Did manage to get a quick kerala style massage and started our journey back to bangalore aroun 11.45am. With stopovers for more pictures we said good bye to this wonderful place known as God’s Own Country.

We stopped over at Royal Orchid Metropole in Mysore for buffet lunch in the ancient palace hall and continued on our journey back. Reached bangalore at around 6pm loaded with memories of our short but releaxing trip.

Quick facts:
Total distance covered: 680 kms
Travel time (one-way): 5.5 – 6 hrs
Total cost of fuel used: Rs 2800
Accommodation: Rs 6000 per couple for 2N/3Days
ur escapist
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Chikmagalur is a fantastic weekend getaway from Bangalore – far from the madding crowd and a perfect refuge from the hustle bustle of the city. A couple of old friends and I wanted to experience a ‘good drive’ and spend the night at a place with ‘no mobile range’, a little bit of monsoon showers and nature.

We left Bangalore by 7AM. Taking the “NICE road’ – Kanakpura road – Mysore road route and finally connecting to Tumkur road, we beat the traffic and saved a good 45 min. By 7:45, we were really hungry and ready for breakfast. 20 minutes after taking a left turn at the Nelamangala junction we stopped at a ‘open air dosa restaurant’. The food was fantastic and well rested, we took off again….

I’ve driven around most of South India and I can say that the road we took was arguably one of the nicest stretches to drive on. As you near Hassan and then Chikamagalur, what will strike you is the number of water bodies – lake after lake on both sides made this drive doubly pleasant.

We finally reached our destination – a coffee estate -cum- home stay tucked away in the mountain ranges on the slopes of Mullayanagiri hill (highest peak in Karnataka). Reaching this estate (15 km from Chikamagalur town) was a challenge as we needed to pass through three other estates on slippery monsoon-hit roads. However, the Maruti Swift we were in stood up to the challenge…
The estate is basically an ancestral bungalow that belongs to a family staying in Chikamagalur town. Having travelled extensively, I am accustomed to the ‘star-hotel-service’ – but the experience here was a class apart! There was this ‘caretaker-cum-cook-cum-guide-cum-everything’ who welcomed us with a glass of fresh lemonade and got a heavenly 7-course South-Indian meal ready in no time. A heavy nap followed and evening saw us enjoy estate walks, fresh coffee from the estate, more snacks and a quiet drink. The dinner we had (again a 7 course!) was definitely the best I’ve had till date and the pepper chicken was to die for!

We were off to sleep after a couple of games of carrom. The ever smiling caretaker made masala dosas in the morning and we took leave after thanking him for his wonderful hospitality. I dare say that no 7 star hotel can match up to the warm and honest hospitality displayed by these unassuming mountain folk.
On the way back we stopped near a lake where we saw a couple of water snakes. We also stopped at Belur and Halebidu – another fascinating experience (more about that in another post!). Lunch at Hassan and back to Bangalore by 7:30 PM. This was a perfect 1 night – 2 day getaway. The stay at the estate cost us Rs. 1500 per head, which included 3 meals, coffee and snacks fit for a king and a smiling host, on the house!

ur escapist

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I have old memories with this place having broken half a tooth as a child while trying to race ahead of my cousins downhill from the Kempe Gowda Tower which resulted in a nasty fall. Have attended many flower shows over the years and come here for early morning walks & jogs. This place still amuses me as much as it used to, when I was a kid.
A little background on Lalbagh Botanical Garden – this garden probably has the most diversified collection of trees and plants compared to any other botanical garden in the world. It is spread over 240 acres, in the heart of the city has over 1800 species of flora. A lake inside the garden attracts a variety of birds like kingfishers, barbets, cormorants, bee-eaters, and robins. Squirrels, mynas and other insects amongst bees are a common sight. Biannual flower show is organized every year for a fortnight, once during Republic Day and another during Independence Day. Flower show at Lalbagh is one of the most splendid and sought after events in Bangalore during this season. Read more about Lalbagh at http://www.lalbagh.org/history.htm

The 4th national flower show at Lalbagh botanical garden in Bangalore started on 9th August, and will go on till 17th August. I visited Lalbagh after a gap of about 3 years this time around I choose to go on a weekday to avoid the overwhelming crowds that gather during the weekends. I was surprised to see a decent number of people on a working Monday, nevertheless like always the flower show in August is a riot of vibrant colours and a delight to watch. The ‘Glass-house’ looked spectacular, with all hues of colors and the added attraction this year was the ‘Hampi Chariot’ made entirely of roses and the Bonsai’s. Apart from these the usual potted plants, cut flowers, ikebana, floral art, bonsai, vegetable carvings, Dutch flower art, junior arrangement, dry flower arrangement are part of the show.
My ability with words limit me to express all that I saw.. would rather leave you with some images from there and strongly urge you to make a visit (caution: do try and avoid the holidays)

ur’s

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