Travel Blog by Prashanth M

Along the river Tunga

November 13, 2014 by Prashanth | 8 Comments

Along the river Tunga

Country road – a green road taking us to Koodli

Monsoon was around the corner and clouds were gathering to cool down the summer heat. I set out on a drive towards the western ghats with the hope of catching some rain. There was a wedding to attend and then another two & half days to chase the monsoon. The day started very early while it was still dark as first hour was spent in dodging pot holes filled with rainwater and slow-moving trucks. And there after, it was just the empty wide road. Wet roads and small patches of water along the road indicated that it had rained overnight. There was a good hope of soaking in the monsoon. First stop of the day was Shivamogga – half day reserved for the marriage. As the number on the milestone started coming down, rain pickup up slowly. What started as a light drizzle near Bhadravathi turned to heavy downpour in Shivamogga. Hour hand on the clock moved slowly towards 4 in the evening, but it looked as if rain was not going to stop. With already few hours lost, I decided to head out to soak in the monsoon. But instead of chasing the monsoon the next two and half days, it turned out to be traversing along the river Tunga from its confluence with river Bhadra back to its origin.

Along the river Tunga

A shy baby elephant running away from all the attention it was getting

Along the river Tunga

A walk on Gajanur dam

Bad roads and rain don’t make a good combination. After suffering few kilometers of chaotic traffic and pot holes, there was an empty road in front of us. With green paddy fields on either side of the road, it looked as it was from a movie scene. The milestone said 5KMs to Koodli, the place where rivers Tunga and Bhadra become one and flow as Tungabhadra. It was still pouring when we reached the end of the road, with two rivers coming from either side of us and few steps leading us to the confluence. Thanks to the rain, the place was deserted and temples were closed. Rivers were in full flow, the relentless rain didn’t allow much time to spend there. With Sun going down in the west, it was time to return to Shivamogga and call it a day. Hopefully I get to spend more time when I am there next.

Along the river Tunga

River Tunga in full flow at Hariharapura

The way it rained on day one, I was looking forward to a fun-filled drive. But it was a false hope. Nest two days turned out to be completely dry and summer Sun started catching up slowly. Journey there after from Shivamogga was south bound, almost along the river Tunga. First stop of the day was Gajanur dam across the river Tunga (officially called Tunga dam). With a vast expanse of water in front of us, the cool breeze negated the heat and made slightly pleasant time. The dam is partly open to visitors and can walk on the check dam to some distance. From the dam we hopped on to next stop, Sakrebailu. Situated a kilometer upstream from the dam, Sakkarebyle elephant camp is a training camp and houses a number of elephants. While there were couple of naughty baby elephants, it was fun to watch them as they were trying to run away from the water and mahouts to avoid getting bathed. Our journey further took us to Mandagadde, a tiny island in the middle of the river is home for migratory birds. Most common birds in Mandagadde bird sanctuary are egrets, darters and cormorants. An hour journey from the bird paradise, we were sitting on the steps of the river at Hariharapura. A drastic change in river which was in full flow compared to my previous visit (where we had crossed the river by foot). A dip in Tunga and we called it a day at Agumbe (slightly away from the banks of Tunga) after witnessing the magical sunset.

Day three drew us back to the river, to Sringeri. While it was flowing fiercely at Hariharapura, the same river looked so calm and soothing next to the temple. After spending couple of hours and lunch at Sringeri, Gangamoola was calling us. Gangamoola is the place where three rivers, Bhadra and Netravathi along with Tunga originate from. A drive away from the river for sometime in the forest range of Kuduremukha range was a welcome change. But owing to shortage of time we drove along towards Horanadu & then homeward bound, without visiting the place. As it began at Koodli, Gangamoola will have to wait for another time. Thus, what was planned as chasing the monsoon turned out to be a wonderful experience of travelling along the river Tunga.

Monsoon Magic: A Monologue

August 6, 2014 by Prashanth | 5 Comments

PAYANIGA - Monsoon Magic: A MonologueIt was still dark when I woke up early in the morning. It took me a while to realize it wasn’t the alarm that woke me up, but the constant pitter-patter of the rain outside. I got up, finished the morning chores, went out the main door into the portico, pulled a chair and settled in. The vast canvas of greenery along with clouds and rain was in front of me, a cool breeze and few rain drops falling on my face as I looked on. Everything looked like a dream. Especially for someone who is not a morning person & who needs multiple alarms to wake up it certainly appeared to be a beautiful dream. I was woken up from the dreamy state when a friend came out the door and joined me in the portico. It was certainly not a dream, but the monsoon weaving its magic all around us. Few minutes passed, some more friends joined us on the portico. After few minutes of talking, one by one became silent soaking in the magic around us yearning for a hot cup of coffee/tea.

PAYANIGA - Monsoon Magic: A MonologueWhile we waited for a hot cup of coffee, my mind wandered back in time to previous day’s journey. Our first day’s ride started from the outskirts of Mandya after gulping down idlies with some super spicy chutney. A perfect weather to be on the saddle – overcast sky, wonderful breeze and not so crowded roads. While the speed demons sped ahead in full speed, I settled into my usual slow pace along with few more slow riders like me. It wasn’t long and the regular questions started from the people on the road – ‘Where are you going?’, ‘Where are you coming from?’, ‘Is it a race?’, ‘You are number 18. Why are you slow?’ and so on. While the questions never seemed to slow down, the constant cheering & waving from the kids got added too. Couple of school going kids on their cycles saw me and started to race along. I did a mock chase and let them win till they stopped at their school. They had the widest grin on their faces with a sense of achievement. As I moved on, it was time for the bullock carts loaded with sugarcane to share the road with us – a common sight in Mandya region. After a bit of hesitation and passing few bullock carts, I slowed down near one of them and asked for a small piece of sugarcane. The guy was happy that I asked, he dug in and handed me a full sugarcane – I settled for half a length. After the usual talks I bid him good-bye and continued with the sugarcane in one hand. The next half an hour was much slower thanks to one-handed riding & chomping on the sugarcane.

PAYANIGA - Monsoon Magic: A MonologueThough there were short breaks the first longer break was at Jakkanahalli cross, few kilometers short of Melukote. While at 30KMs mark (and another 50 to call it day 1), we started getting information that the leading pack was already at Shravanabelugola (almost 80% of distance covered by them). After gulping down few bananas, dry fruits and another long break at Melukote cross, the journey resumed. Post Melkote, the terrain changed drastically. Roads got narrower, traffic became almost nil, temperature reduced and soon it was plenty of trees & greenery all around. To top it off, the much awaited rain welcomed us. The light drizzle though intermittent was more than enough to refuel the energy levels. It was rolling terrain all along – after multiple short breaks, I was finally caught up by the support vehicle on the outskirts of Shravanabelugola as we were running short of time. A short drive to the lunch point – Kamath on NH48 and after heavy lunch I settled cozily in the bus and drifted off to a dreamland. When I came out of the stupor, heavy rain welcomed us & there we were at our place of stay for the night. With a sumptuous dinner and a bit of rain watching, it was time to call it a day.

PAYANIGA - Monsoon Magic: A MonologueThe rain that we missed the first day decided to keep us company for the rest of our stay at the home stay. As it dawned, the magic began to unwind around us. Sipping hot cups of coffee one after the other, we waited for the rain to slow down so that we could start our ride for day 2. Two more hours of waiting and gulping down local cuisine breakfast, the rain slowed down a bit. The day’s journey was a bumpy ride on the jeeps back to the main road for us to start on our steeds. While we were about to start the ride on the bridge across the fully flowing Hemavathi river, it started to rain as if to  wish us safe journey. From the outskirts of Hanabalu near Sakaleshpur we zoomed towards Belur via Jannapura. Compared to previous day, the road condition was better and were relatively empty. Last night’s rain plus the greenery of western ghats made the ride very enjoyable. Except for one long climb, the route was pretty easy. Just after Belur, I had to stop thanks to slight pain in the left knee. I got into the bus while most of the riders rode all the way to the end point – outskirts of Hassan. Two days of fun riding in monsoon was aptly ended with a joyful journey comprising playing antakshari all the way to Bangalore.

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Palace Estate Homestay, Coorg

April 16, 2014 by Prashanth | 4 Comments

With most of my errands being unplanned and with friends, there was no much importance given to booking hotel rooms. Treks were spent looking up the sky, counting the stars and other biking or backpacking trips, it was crashing into a decent enough available hotel room. Last April when I planned to take my family to Coorg, I was lost in deciding on accommodation. Many web pages were viewed, reviews read; but of no help. Finally a good friend and an avid traveller Arun recommended Palace Estate Home stay near Kakkabbe in Coorg.

Though we started morning from Bangalore, it was close to four in the evening by the time we reached the homestay. Cool breeze welcomed us as we drove up the small hill to the portico. The beautiful view of the mountains and forests made us forget our tiredness. Palace Estate, a 50 acre farm, is run by Aparanda family where they grow coffee, orange, banana, cardamom, pepper and many other crops. The next two and half days were spent in the home stay with some lazy walks in the huge farm and short visits around Coorg.

Palace Estate Homestay, Coorg

An early morning view form the balcony of our room

Palace Estate homestay is located in such a way that it’s so near but seems so far from the noises of civilization. A quiet, remote place which is perfect for a quiet holiday. Situated on top of a hill, standing in the balcony gives almost 270 degree view of the rolling hills & the forests. And you get to listen to only chirping of the birds all around. The place is about 25 KMs from Virajpet and 35 KMs from Madikeri (Coorg).

If you are someone who want to leave the blaring city life behind for a day or two and enjoy the peaceful moments, this is the place for you. If you wish to explore the vicinity, you can trek to Thadiyandamol which is just 6 KMs from the homestay. Or go on walk within the farm, visit Nalnad Palace, Padi Igguthappa temple. Or browse through the books available in the small library.

Rooms & Food:
Rooms are spacious with attached toilets. Most of the rooms are on the first floor which are wooden constructions. Open verandah on the first floor gives a beautiful view of the forest range. The kitchen offers home cooked vegetarian & non vegetarian food, clean spring water & coffee.

How to get there:
Located a bit far off from the Virajapete and Madikeri main road, it is advised to go on your own vehicle or taxi to reach this place. Here is the route –

Bangalore – Srirangapattana – Mysore – Hunsur – Thithimathi – Gonikoppa – Virajpet – Kadnoor – Cheyandane – Palace Estate

Near by places of interests:
Dubare Elephant camp, Bailukuppe, Nisargadhama, Abbi falls, Irpu falls, Nagarahole national park, Rajah seat in Madikeri.

Cross posted from my other blog ‘Avalokana‘. I stayed at this home stay in April 2010.

Memories of Mahabalipuram

March 27, 2014 by Prashanth | 9 Comments

First of my many visits to Mahabalipuram was ten years ago. Those were the days when I was not yet bitten by the travel bug. It was a hot sunny day in the month of May 2004 when I got down from the bus – definitely not an ideal time to visit the coastal heritage town. With no fixed agenda, the day was spent roaming around the town visiting the heritage sites – the shore temple, stone chariots, cave temple. I stumbled on these photos after a long time and had me going back in time reliving those days and my visits to Mahabs.
Memories of MahabalipuramMemories of Mahabalipuram

The first visit was followed by quite a bit of short visits – main goal of the visits being to break the monotony. Get ready to office a bit early in the morning, then drive down to Mahabalipuram – either to catch sun rise at the beach or enjoy the it while on the way. Spend an hour or so at the beach looking at the waves & sun and then head back directly to office with a coffee break in between.
Memories of MahabalipuramMemories of MahabalipuramMemories of MahabalipuramMemories of Mahabalipuram