Archive for the ‘Travel in South India’ Category

Here is a quick attempt to share our experiences with the various resorts, homestays that we encounter during our many travels. If you have recently visited a resort and would like to share your experience, feel free to write to us at brian@greatescapes.co.in

Traditional map of Coorg district also known as Kodagu

Traditional map of Coorg district also known as Kodagu which is 250kms from Bangalore

A few weeks back, we managed to get the old gang together and booked a few rooms at the newly opened Club Mahindra Resort at Virajpet in Coorg. Coorg is one of the most visited tourist destinations in South India for its thick vegetation, natural beauty and rich coffee estates. Club Mahindra members get preference but non-members can book this resort too.

This swank new property is located about 15 kms outside the town of Virajpet surrounded by coffee estates and perched on hill at an incline. The lobby is located right at the top to give you a 180 degree view of the valley.

Lobby at Club Mahindra, Virajpet

With constant rains and two infants traveling with us, we managed to reach the property at around 5pm which is about 275kms from Bangalore. That was a good 9 hour drive from Bangalore which would ideally take 6 hours. Patches of the road are in bad shape once you take the detour from the Mysore – Madikeri highway but manageable. The property however was a sight for sore eyes and is very well laid out with cottages and studio apartments tucked away on one side.

Cottages at Club Mahindra, Virajpet

Cottages at Club Mahindra, Virajpet

We got lucky to be housed in the first cottage complex which meant minimum walking distance to the restaurant and entertainment centre. Yes, they have a fully furnished entertainment centre to engage both the young and the old with games like carom, table tennis, chess, air hockey along with special shows for kids during weekends.

The most important part of our holiday is food and clean accommodation and this place lives up to its reputation. All meals are buffet styled with the entire food package (breakfast, lunch and dinner) working out to about Rs 1200 – 1300 which is decent considering the huge spread they offer. We also loved their dedicated kids section where special food is offered to children in colorful cutlery. A la carte options are also available if you do not believe in buffets.

Outside seating at the restaurant

Outside seating at the restaurant in Club Mahindra, Virajpet

The cottages are spacious with a living cum kitchenette stocked with utensils, refrigerator, coffeemaker and a flat screen TV. The living room comes with a dining table and a sofa cum bed and the bedroom is also well appointed with a common balcony. This is where we spent most of our time socializing with friends or just lazing around admiring the greenery outside. (Do note that their club house is under construction and hence there is a barricade put up which kinda obstructs the view. But this should be sorted in a few months.)

Sofa cum bed in the living room

Sofa cum bed in the living room

Overall we had a relaxing time at the Club Mahindra resort with courteous staff who are always smiling. This is one property worth visiting if you are looking for some peaceful time surrounded by green cover. Non-members are charged between Rs 6800 – Rs 9000 per night depending on the time of the year and the type of accommodation. Use this link to know more about the property – http://www.clubmahindra.com/our-resorts/club-mahindra-virajpet-coorg/

You can book online via Makemytrip or booking.com but do plan in advance as there is heavy demand during weekends.

Main lobby with restaurant and entertainment area

Main lobby with restaurant and entertainment area

Greatescapes score for Club Mahindra Resort, Virajpet: 8.5/10

your escapist,



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Bangalore has a traffic flow of under 19km per hr which is the slowest across metros in India… and to add to this problem are numerous speed breakers blindly put up at each and every junction. According to the latest report, Bangalore has over 1,000 illegal or unplanned speed breakers. Who do you blame for this? The BBMP (city corporation) or the police department?

New type of speed breaker in Bangalore, pic courtesy DNA

You will find a speed bump rite after you cross a junction (residency rd) and sometimes before it also, you will find one just before you get on to a flyover (yeshwantpur) and you will find one on almost any road where an accident has taken place. Guess, the authorities have found a quick fix solution by installing a bump for any and every reason.

Most of the cars both sedans and hatchbacks which have slightly lower ground clearence cannot avoid but scratch their floors while negotiating these bumps and almost 90% of these speed breakers do not have any kind of marking or sign. So, on a dark night you may be taken by complete surprise to find one right in front of you and you have no option but to hope that your vehicle doesn’t get completely damaged. These unplanned bump also result in additional breaking, additional acceleration which results in increased consumption of fuel and emissions.

It took the death of police inspector (who died due to a speed breaker) to finally get the authorities to remove some unscientific road humps but that was almost 2 years back. But its back to where we started off.

New rubber speed breakers which do not damage your car. Pic courtesy TradeIndia

The only solution i see is if we get the government to set-up a special unit to study and then install and maintain these speed breakers.. till then, don’t let your sight out of our roads no matter if you are on a highway or on a city road.

Here is a recent story in Deccan Herald which talk of unauthorized speed breakers in the city.

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One of our popular blog post on the Volvo service to Bangalore International Airport has been carried by Bangalore Mirror under their Blog Talk section. Attached below is a scan for your viewing.

GE's Blog post in Bangalore Mirror, 22Jan'10

All this happened suddenly last week when this good journo friend of mine from BM called and asked if i have any Bangalore specific blog post. Couldn’t think of anything else but this post which is our most popular and informative blog and receives good hit rate on a daily basis.

Thanks to BM, we are seeing more and more hits now. Hope people post similar blogs for their respective cities as well which will help budget travelers like us save on travel expenses.

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Early May of 2008 had a long weekend and an ideal time to drive down to someplace not too far away. The obvious choice was to head towards Mysore as that’s the only place where we could find accommodation on short notice as every other tourist spot around Bangalore was packed.

So we headed out at 7am on Saturday morning with a stopover at MTR Shivalli restaurant for some Iddlis and Masala Dosas. Even though this restaurant was packed to the core, we managed to share a table with some others who were kind enough to oblige. Soon we were on our way and by 9.30 had reached the famous town of Srirangapatna. Have gone past this small town on numerous occasions but never bothered to enter inside. But this time we did enter to visit the tomb and summer palace of the great Tippu Sultan.

Only during this trip did we realise that Srirangapatna is an island town as river Cauvery cuts this piece of land from both sides and joins again further down (ref map above).

After having visited all the important tourist spots here, we headed towards Mysore. First stop was the famous Mylari Restaurant in Nazarabad which is know for its dosa’s n iddlis. I know, we were overdoing the dosa n iddly bit 🙂

Checked into our hotel and after a quick nap headed towards Mysore Palace which took quite sometime to explore with all its grandeur. As the sun began to set we headed towards Karanji Lake to chill and watch the sun go down the horizon.

Day2: Started the day with a lovely breakfast at the hotel and headed out towards the famous National Park know to be one of the best in the country. Took us about 2 hrs to completely scout this park and we were exhausted by the end of it. From here went straight to lunch at the famous old Ritz hotel which has been here for ages. Post lunch, we checked out of our hotel room and traveled towards Balmuri Falls but had a quick stopover at KRS Dam to see the musical fountain.
Well, it was now time for us to leave this beautiful and peaceful city and head back to Bangalore to all the chaos and traffic jams. No wonder Mysore is still called Pensioner’s Paradise but with the NICE road coming up, god knows if this will become a concrete jungle too..

Quick Facts:
Total Distance traveled – 340kms
Total fuel consumed – 24.5 lts
Total cost incurred – 3600 (for two people including travel, stay (2 star), food and all entries)

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Day break and the alarm went off failing to get me out of bed, it was only when my fellow escapist called that I realized I was running late. Jumped out of the bed & got ready – all in 15mins and rushed out on hearing the patar – patar of my friends Jawa (it’s a 1970 model bike in excellent condition) handed down to my friend by his dad. Had to rush else would miss the group (IFMR India Chapter- International Federation for Motorcycling Rotarians). This Sunday there was only one other group member riding along unfortunately even he opted out, but we were greeted by Rtn. Zarryl on his Honda Steed. He wished us a pleasant ride and the both of us took off on a lone ride (not the way it usually works at IFMR). We headed towards the newly constructed Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli. We reached our destination of about 35km only to be disappointed that we would not be let in without prior permissions. We had to move on and continued our journey as planned to the Nandeeshwara Temple at the foothills of Nandi hills which is about 55kms from Bangalore. It’s a master piece of Dravidian architecture built in the 9th century, but unfortunately could not take pictures as photography is prohibited inside the temple premises. After savoring the architecture and feeling sad about the way this historic monument has been kept we got out to have a cuppa tea in one of the many stalls erected for the weekly fair. Wondering what to do with the additional time we had (considering we didn’t visit BIA) we decided to ride up to the top of Nandi hills which is about 14kms from the temple. Spent some time at the top savoring the morning breeze & fresh watermelons before checking out the Tippu Drop. Also discussed what could possibly done to avoid the use of plastic on top of the hill. A quick solution that stuck was something that my friend had earlier initiated as a part of a campaign at the Bannerghatta National Park (unpack the contents of the plastic packaging into paper bags before dispensing it to the customer, thus avoiding the litter of plastic bag). Some photographs here and there and we started our journey back to Bangalore. Overall, it was a crisp trip starting at 6.30am from home and back by 11.30am with a total distance of 160kms and an average mileage of 28kms/ltr. Until later


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Karnataka’s or South India’s first luxury train the ‘Golden Chariot’ was flagged off by President Pratibha Patil here in Bangalore on Saturday 2nd Feb. However, the train will start ferrying passengers only from the 3rd of March after a few final touches.

The train, a long-awaited dream of Karnataka tourism is going to open up many parts of the state to tourists especially the NRI’s and international travelers who were earlier exposed to select states like Rajasthan and Kerala. The train, which has 19 thematically designed coaches, during its week-long journey would cover Mysore, Kabini, Hassan, Hampi, Hospet and Goa before return back to the city.

All coaches are designed based on ancient Karnataka history and this is the only luxury train in the country that is also equipped with modern facilities like plasma TV, satellite television and wi-fi facility.

The cabins of the trains are inspired by the Mysore and Belur Halebid schools of art and architecture. The bedspreads are hand-woven by artisans who have carried down the tradition through ages. The coaches have been named after the dynasties that ruled Karnataka namely Kadamba, Hoysala, Rastrakuta, Ganga, Chalukya, Bhahamani, Adhilshahi, Sangama, Shathavahna, Yudukula and Vijayanagara.

The only catch is the pricing and as expected this 7 day journey will set you back by $ 350/- (Rs 14,000) per nite. This will include all your expenses on board the train and the site seeing at various locations with specialized tour guides.

Guess for someone who’s been wanting to gift their parents a dream holiday.. well this is your chance.

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