Posts Tagged With: Road trip

Dharmasthala – Malpe Chronicle

I decided to document our road trip to Dharmasthala and Malpe instead of continuing with our trip to Coorg from the first part here because it was an adventurous road trip and just right to write for the BlogAdda travel blogging activity. I am chronicling this road trip adventure for CEAT Tyres in association with BlogAdda.

Back in September 2014, when my research paper got accepted for presentation in a conference at an engineering college in Dharmasthala, I and D decided to make a trip out of it and included the nearby Malpe beach into our itinerary. We love beaches and a visit to any of the Karnataka beaches was pending in our list. So we started out after breakfast hoping to reach Dharmasthala by late afternoon. We decided to go by this route.

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It was to be our second trip through Western Ghats area, the first one being the trip to Ooty. The drive on NH75 was so smooth and awesome. It was a clear blue sky day and a bit hot. It was hard trying to stay within 100 kmph on the great quality of road with less traffic.

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NH75

Soon the highway changed from four lane to two lane which was also good. As we neared Sakleshpur, the road condition began to deteriorate and it was hard to believe that it was a national highway!! We stopped for lunch at Kamath Upachar on

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Two lane national highway

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Road condition getting bad

After sometime from Hassan, we could make out from the vegetation that the Shiradi Ghat area had started.

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The Ghat road was quite wide and the traffic consisted of trucks and cars. But soon the smooth drive ended and the stretch of the National Highway passing through the Shiradi Ghat got very bad. We were going slow anyway due to Ghat region but now we had to drive slower to avoid getting back ache and to prevent damage to car suspension!! Concrete and asphalt were missing altogether!! It was one of the worst roads we have driven on till date. Thank god for CEAT Tyres that we made it through without any mishap.

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We had to stop to take a picture of the road!!

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Horrible road!!

Nevertheless the drive through the Ghat region was mesmerizing with the different varieties of trees surrounding the road, the blue hills in the horizon and a bubbling stream hidden somewhere in the forest cover, sometimes getting louder, sometimes farther. I was not looking forward to meeting any elephants in the area. We had hoped to reach by late afternoon but due to slow speed, evening had started to set in. I was praying that we make it out of the forest before dark. There was no mobile signal also for a major portion of the road. Apart from that, it was one of its kind of drive. The late afternoon sun looked so beautiful through the canopy of trees.

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Sun playing hide and seek

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Heading into the unknown!

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Hills in the horizon

At last we could catch sight of the elusive stream..rather a river!! Google informed me later that it was the Kempuhole river which originates from the Sahyadris.

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Kempuhole River

The road condition became better and soon we turned right onto SH37 which leads straight to Dharmasthala.

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Out of Ghat area at last!

Sun had already set by the time we reached the guesthouse where the college authorities had made accommodation arrangements for our stay. We were exhausted by the unplanned long drive. We checked in, had dinner at the canteen of the guesthouse and went to bed.

The next day D went exploring the town while I was away attending the conference. The town, located in the Dakshina Kannada district, is famous for its Dharmasthala Temple which houses the shrine of Shiva, Manjunatha, Ammanavaru, Chandranath and the Dharma Daivas (guardian spirits of Dharma) namely Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari. (Source:Wikipedia) Apparently, on an average the flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people a day!! But since neither D nor I were interested in visiting the temple, I won’t be able to provide any information on that in this blog. D loved the natural surroundings of the place though.

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The Gateway to Dharmasthala

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Sri Manjunatha Temple

I spent the next day also in conference while D watched movies on laptop in the guesthouse as there is nothing much to do in the small secluded town..infact not even a good place to eat. The guesthouse canteen was pathetic in variety of dishes. Then on the 3rd day, after breakfast we moved on to our next destination – Malpe. The road condition was good. We decided to go to Malpe through Mangalore though it is the longest route.

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We stopped at the NIT Surathkal beach on our way. The weather was bit hot but it was so refreshing to see the Arabian Sea. The beach was clean and deserted at that time of day except for a couple or two of lovebirds 🙂 There was a lighthouse at the beach giving a mystical look to the beach. As the tide was low there were some moss-covered stones exposed which were accessible but not to be climbed barefooted!! We spent some time playing in the water and photographing the views. Then the tide started to increase which forced us and reminded us that we have still not reached our destination.

We had planned to stay only one night at Malpe and we had booked our room at Paradise Isle Beach Resort which located right on the Malpe Beach. When we reached the hotel, we were thrilled to see the location. The room/cottage was also good. The surroundings and the garden were well-kept.

After we freshened up, we went for lunch. Even after two years I still remember what we had ordered because it was so delicious!! Being on seashore means seafood for me and so I ordered Crab Masala while D ordered Chicken Hariyali along with rice and roti. Both the dishes were awesome in taste!! The only other time I have eaten such tasty crab dish was when we had visited Puri.

After such a splendid lunch an afternoon siesta was a must. Then we went off to the beach in evening. Malpe is a natural port located about 6 km from Udupi, Karnataka. It is an important fishing harbor too. The beach had golden brown and whitish colored sand which gave it a different look. Beach gazebos, palm trees, less crowd and cleanliness made the beach even more attractive, especially the gazebos which gave the beach a unique look. The water was also quite clean and blue. A melee of activities was going on at the beach. Young boys were flying kites which are made & sold by locals at the beach. Some guys were going on jet ski rides, some were driving ATVs on the beach, some kids were enjoying camel rides, some enjoying the water and some people like me were lazing about on the beach. There is something enchanting in watching the waves come and go..I could spend hours doing that..just chatting with a companion and looking at the ocean/sea.

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Gazebos at the beach

 

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Kai Po Che!

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Sand Sculpture

The different stages of sunset at Malpe beach

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We came back to our hotel after darkness fell. We decided to have vegetarian dinner and that turned out to be horribly tasteless!! Sadly the place doesn’t have much eating options outside. Then at night we sat at the porch chatting while listening to the night sounds of the sea until mosquitoes made it impossible to do so!!

Next day before checking out, we again went to the beach. Malpe beach has many islands off the coast, among which St.Mary’s Islands – a set of four small islands – is the most famous tourist destination. They are known for their unique geological formation of basalt rocks but sadly, due to lack of time, we couldn’t visit that place.

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The golden brown colored sand

Then our drive back home began. We left after breakfast. As we were going to drive from Malpe to Bengaluru, it was going to be a long drive. In the entire Ghat stretch of road, there are just small eateries. We stopped at one to have tea and to stretch our legs. Then in Sakleshpur, we stopped at a restaurant called Surabhi’s Nx for a late lunch. The food was okay. The view behind the restaurant was very good. By that time dark clouds had begun to gather making the weather awesome.

Soon it started raining and that slowed down the drive speed to avoid any skidding. But again thanks to our car’s CEAT tyres, we didn’t face any problem.

Thus one of our work + fun road trips ended with lovely memories and a promise to go back again to visit St. Mary’s Islands next time.

Categories: Beaches, Karnataka, Religious, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Krishnagiri Chronicle

When we bought our car Ford Figo, we knew we will definitely go on road trips because both of us like traveling and D loves driving [only to such places not to market or malls :D] So our first road trip was to Krishnagiri. After that we visited the place once more recently with my in-laws. Here is an account of the place and our experiences.

Krishnagiri is a small town and district headquarters in Tamilnadu, the 30th district to be precise. It is around 90 km from Bangalore. So it is not a long drive especially from south Bangalore where we live. Apparently Krishnagiri is famous for its mango production and it owes its name to the many black granite hillocks that are a part of the landscape. It is also the birthplace of Dr. C. Rajagopalachari, the first Governor General of India. The National Highway 7 makes the drive to Krishnagiri a pleasant one but only after one crosses Hosur. The condition of highway in Hosur is bad. Also the traffic can be a problem sometimes mainly due to trucks in Hosur. There are two tollways till Krishnagiri. After Hosur, there are many fuel stations and restaurants (even a McDonald’s) at Shoolagiri. The hills in the Hosur – Krishnagiri region give an impressive view with the famous 2000 year old Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple located atop the Shoolagiri hill. We did not visit the temple so I have no information about that place.

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National Highway 7

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Hills along the highway

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Approaching Shoolagiri

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McDonald’s!!

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Tollway before Krishnagiri

Further along the road, there is a lake called “Avathanapatti Lake” which has a boathouse and a children park. Though we intended to visit that, we could not due to shortage of time.

The first time when we visited Krishnagiri it was during the monsoon season of 2012. The lush green paddy fields, the countryside, the highway, the weather – all were mesmerizing. We could actually see the drizzle happening at a distance!! When we visited next time in August 2013, it was not raining that much and that beautiful look was missing.

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Dark Monsoon Clouds

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Green Paddy Fields

Krishnagiri doesn’t have too many tourist attractions. The most popular tourist attraction is the Krishnagiri reservoir project (KRP) Dam. Then there is a fortress built on the top of Syed Basha hills (also known as Krishnadevarayar Mountain) which belonged to the famous ruler, Tipu Sultan.

# Krishnagiri Fort – The Krishnagiri district website lists “Rayakottah” as a fort in its tourist places but I am confused whether it is the same fort as the one we visited. Though the fort was a protected monument according to a blue notice by ASI, there was no monument name anywhere to be seen. The fort is clearly visible from the main road but finding the entrance is a tricky thing. The entrance or rather the starting steps to the fort are visible after passing through some gullies and crossing someone’s front yard!! The area around the fort has become a human settlement and reeks of negligence of a so-called protected monument. On the positive side, the steps leading to the top of the hill and thereby the fortress are good. But it is a long hike and not for aged or unfit persons. My in-laws decided to wait at the village. D and I started climbing. There were many goats at the starting of the steps and it was amazing to see them standing on the sloping faces of the hills defying gravity!! We humans wont be able to do that!!

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Krishnagiri Fort on the top of Syed Basha Hill

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Area around the Entrance Steps

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The Starting Steps of A Long Climb

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Goats standing on the hills

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D leading the hike to the fort

As we climbed, the aerial view of the town became visible. There were so many different types of shrubs, even cactus in the hills. We also came upon monkeys, ant hills, salamanders, odd rock formations etc.

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View of Krishnagiri from top

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Slopes of the hill

We climbed 220 steps (I counted on our way down!!) after which I gave up.  From the point where I gave up, the fort was still not in sight. God knows how many more steps were there to the fort! I did not want to take sick leave the next day at work 😀 So even if D wanted to complete the hike, I was adamant and we came back. Apparently there is a museum inside the fort. Maybe next time!!

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The Point where I gave up

    # KRP Dam – The fort is on the left side of the highway and the road leading to the KRP dam is on the right side when one is coming from the direction of Hosur. So you have to take a U-turn on the highway and go on the service road till you reach an arch now on your left. There is an entrance fee which one has to pay before entering the dam area. The dam is built across the Thenpennai river. The dam is working since 1958 and was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu K. Kamaraj.

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Entrance Fees to KRP Dam

First time when we went the road leading upto the dam was open but the second time it was closed. At the front of the dam some sculptures are there. A sculpture depicts a king sort of person giving alms to some ascetic looking person. But there was no sign board explaining the significance of the sculpture or the tale behind it. Then there was a huge sculpture of a demon looking king type of person. Again no story!! 😦 Would love to know the tales if any of my blog readers knows it.

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Front of the KRP Dam

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A fisherman fishing with monsoon clouds looming

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The sculpture at the dam

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Another sculpture at the dam

The narrow road leading to the forebay area of the dam is always open.There is not much place there to sit and relax but if one wants to take a dip in the water, then it is good. We parked the car and relaxed for sometime taking in the view of the water and trying to bounce pebbles off the surface of water 😀 The first time when we had gone we could not stay for long as it was drizzling but the second time it was sunny so we enjoyed the view a lot. Inside the village there is a small outlet which we had seen on our first visit, which sells fried fish fresh from the river. Would have loved to try some!

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The forebay of the dam

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My in-laws and D taking in the view

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Fried fish outlet

Again we returned back to the dam and parked in front of a park near the dam. There is a beautiful well maintained garden which was closed when we had gone for the first time but was open the second time around.  The garden spread over 50 acres serves as a picnic spot for tourists. There are steps leading from the garden to the top of the dam. The view of the embankment is mesmerizing from the top. There are swings and other play stuff for children. There is a round fountain area which was not that well maintained, with a Lord Krishna statue in the middle surrounded by “gopiyas” among which one was wearing a salwar kameez!! 😀

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KRP Park

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Garden

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Krishna surrounded by Gopiyas

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Steps leading upto the dam

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View of the garden from the dam top

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View of water from top of dam

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View of the water

After spending time in the park, we started on our way back to Bangalore. Reached home by 6 pm with enough time to relax, have dinner and sleep for the next day was Monday. Krishnagiri is a good place to go for a short one day outing with family, just to get out of the city and to take a break.

Categories: Cities, Road Trips, Tamil Nadu | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
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