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Nandi Hills & Kalavara Betta: A Sunrise Expectation

October 19, 2008 1 comment

Memories of the delightful Coorg trip had not yet sunk in. Last weekend, we didn’t have our regular MS classes, so I was musing what to do to enjoy the break. While browsing through Orkut, I came across Dhina’s album. He had made a recent trip to Nandi Hills with his friends. The pictures he had uploaded gave me some insight into how wonderful that place was through a photographer’s lens. Also, I remembered that I had once been there when I was staying with Navas some 2 years ago. Santosh was keen on visiting this place. Many of my friends had not made it to Coorg due to official and personal issues.  Hence, I proposed a bike trip to Nandi Hills. Rajeev declined at the last moment as usual. Venus had expressed his unavailability earlier. But over all, the crowd was big this time.

Riders: Ajo, Anoop, Anto, Grettu, Govind, Jerry, Manoj, Manu, Mithun, Rahul, Santosh,  Sitti, Sumesh and Yadav

Vehicles: Apache, Pulsar, Fiero, Unicorn, CBZ Xtreme, Maruti Swift

Total Distance Covered: 140 km

 

The wait:

Most of us reached diary circle by 3.15 am on the 12th of October. Grettu and his roomies were yet to come. The occasional reminder calls to him from all of us always brought the same reply – he will be there within 5 minutes. After a while, we got tired of the reply and started without him. The idea was that as he was traveling by car and could catch up with us on the highway. We rode to Devanahalli Airport. The chilly morning air posed difficulty for all us. Everyone agreed that it was bit cooler than Mysore road in the wee hours of the morning. Most of the group sped off, but I moved with a decent speed. The interesting fact was that I had not slept at all the previous night – I was wary of whether I would be able to go for the trip. But at last, excitement got the better of my decision. We sped along away into the morning and with the usual confusion about the route. We reached Kalavara Betta at around 6.00 am.

Kalavara Betta:

I have to say that I am disappointed totally in myself for some of my blunders. This was the first time I went for a trip without any knowledge about the place. Only when we reached the place did we know that we had to trek some 5 km to reach the top. This, no one knew before hand or rather, those who knew had kept quite. So this particular part will be about what we actually missed.

Kalavara Betta Hills are a part of the Skandagiri Hills. They are some 58 km from Bangalore. The speciality of the place is that once you reach the top you will be amidst clouds and get a blissfully scintillating view of the sunrise. On the way to the top you will cross a fort which was part built by Haider Ali and later completed by his son Tipu Sultan. The fort is a monumental structure and hence undoubtedly a beautiful building. At the top, you will also find an old temple of my favourite God – Lord Ganesha. An interesting fact here is that you will find a ‘Nandi’ opposite the Lord, which, normally, one would see only in a Shiva Temple.

I was not at all interested in trekking as I was not mentally prepared for it. But then Anto Bhaiyya said we will go till where we can and then return. Hence we trekked up about 2 km, took some pretty good pictures and descended. Yeah! I know what you must be thinking. But honestly there was no energy or mood. If you want to savour the beauty or the true meaning of the place, please reach there the previous night and start trekking at 12.00 am. Then you will reach the top before sunrise. I really rue missing that chance!

After descending, we all had hot idlis and tea and then started off to Nandi Hills. Meanwhile, Grettu had reached there with his friends.

Nandi Hills:

Nandi Hills are around 27 km from Kalavara Betta. The last 15 km are the hike towards the top, which can be covered on vehicle. We reached the hill top by 9 am. The mist and the fog were slowly subsiding and the Sun was spreading its radiance.

These hills got their name because they resemble the ‘Shiva Vahanam’ – ‘Nandi’.  The most attractive spot here is the Tipu Drop. It is said that prisoners sentenced to death were pushed down the cliff at this very point. It gives a picturesque view of lush greenery and dense mist. The air is cool. I would call it a romantic spot for people who have an economical budget.  We spent time there – clicked some cool pictures, had a little fun and then started descending. We reached home at about noon. The return was a bit slow with occasional traffic signals that blocked our speedy progress.

Moral:

 

I will never go for a trip without gathering ample information from friends with prior experience or from the internet. People who are planning to go, please do trek up the Kalavara Betta hills at the right time and enjoy the experience. Hoping that my wish to view the sunrise in its most exotic form will be realised some day, let me stop here.

 

Edited by: Rekha Narayanaswamy

Photographs: Rahul Soman

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Coorg – A journey to the Scotland of India

October 5, 2008 29 comments

About Coorg:

Coorg or Kodagu (originally called Kodaimalenadu) means ‘dense forest on steep hill’. Madikeri, the headquarters of this district lies at a distance of 252 kms from Bangalore and 1525 m above sea level. Popularly known as “The Scotland of India” amongst tourists, this city is known for its misty hills, lush forest, acres and acres of tea and coffee plantations, orange groves and scintillating views. Altogether, it has every ingredient to make it the most coveted romantic spot.

The Kickoff:

The entire trip was initially planned for two of our friends Ranjith and Rajeev who chose not to come due to personal reasons. We were hesitant to go after their withdrawal. But Prabeesh’s arrival on his bike with a 16 litre fuel tank full of petrol waiting to be burned and a tempting Nikon D40 got us moving. And thus the journey began at 3 am from BTM Layout signal near A2B.

Riders: Anoop, Ajo, Prabeesh, Manoj, Rahul, Santosh, Yadav
Bikes: Apache RTR, Apache 150cc, Bajaj Pulsar and Honda Unicorn
Estimated duration onward: 6 hours

The early start gave us an advantage – of avoiding the irritating traffic menace of Bangalore city. We were on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway in no time. The initial bout was at normal speed, until we stopped at a tea shop and got rid of the morning blues with some horrendous biscuit eating and tea drinking. The fun began when all of us touched around 110 km/hr during most of the 135 kms to Ranganthittu. I know that our parents and dear friends will have a frown on their otherwise beautiful faces while reading this. But come on guys, the thrill was taking us on. At around 6.30 am, we reached the bypass to Hunsur. We actually reached Mysore, and then a dear autowala suggested that we come back and take the bypass so that the city traffic could be avoided, and also, the route was not as confusing. If we had taken the bypass initially, it’d’ve saved us a precious 10kms.We reached Hunsur, which was around 40 kms from the Mysore bypass, and had breakfast at Hotel Balaji. Then we took off from there to Kushal Nagar, which was another 40 kms. Our first stop was to be at the Golden Temple.

Golden Temple:

A feel of Tibet in Coorg – that is the best way to describe the Golden Temple. After the Chinese took over Tibet, the refugees settled at Bylakuppe near Kushalnagar and this Buddhist Monastery was re-established here in 1972. The monastery has become one of the most popular tourist spots because of the ambience it provides and the sheer beauty of the architecture, idols and paintings inside it. We reached here at around 9 am. All of us were very surprised to see Monks driving huge bikes and luxurious cars. Even more captivating was the architecture that lay in front of us. We were all enchanted by the atmosphere and the beauty of the place. The temple consisted of great paintings and huge idols of Lord Buddha and his disciples or descendants. We roamed about there for nearly an hour, and then departed to our next destination – Nisargadhama, a mere 2 kms from the monastery.

Nisargadhama:

Cauvery Nisargadhama is situated at about 36 kms from Madikeri. This place can very well attract people who want a quite stroll amidst nature. An island in the middle of the river connected by a rope bridge, it provides tourists with services like boating and elephant rides. Speaking about elephants, there is also an elephant training camp at Dubare just 8 kms further. If you are lucky you might also get to see a deer or two in Nisargdhama. But what we loved most was the swim we took in the river. It was really nice. The water was not so deep and hence very safe. All of us made merry for an hour. Then we recouped ourselves to move to the headquarters of Coorg – Madikeri.

The road to Madikeri is a bit bumpy and I am sure it’ll make anyone grumpy.

Madikeri:

Madikeri – I would call this place “The abode of romance”. Coffee and tea plantations present in surplus gives the air an aroma of coffee, tea, fresh cardamom, black pepper and Coorg honey. It also boasts of being the origin of the holy river Cauvery (Talacauvery). The cool climate and hilly terrain is what inspired the British to name this place “The Scotland of India”.

Coming from a city like Bangalore, where I used to breathe pure un-adulterated smoke for the past 2 years, it was like rejuvenation when I started inhaling the fresh air here. This place is radiant with a charismatic beauty and an aura of peace. Calm and quite prevails in most of the areas except for the town. But even the town is calm and quite compared to other towns and cities. You will never for once feel left out as each nook and cranny invites you with a story to tell and a memory to cherish.

We reached here by around noon marking the finish of the bike ride for day one. All of us eagerly went into a Hotel Zeenat and filled our tummies with plenty. Then we checked into a 7-bed room in Saman Residency which cost us around Rs.1000. All of us agreed to an hour’s short break. Then at around 6 pm we moved to our next location – Raja Seat.

Raja Seat:

According to legend, the kings of Kodagu spent their evenings here. But what’s unforgettable about Raja’s Seat is the spectacular sunset that one can enjoy from here. I was simply dumbfounded by the view that was ahead of me. God must surely have been in a great mood while creating this because it’s simply awesome! Raja’s Seat is a garden where one can spend time in serene atmosphere. Then there is the excellent opportunity to savour the beauty of the sunset. We were a bit unlucky to miss that. Our next visit would be to Omkareshwara Temple.

Omkareshwara Temple:

Omkareshwara temple was built by King Lingarajendra in 1820. The architecture exhibits Islamic and Gothic styles. There is a pond in front of the temple that is considered to be sacred. It is said to be always clean because a certain species of fish, Catla Catla, belonging to the carp family resides there. People from southern India, where temples are built pompously will get to see a simple one in this structure. The tale behind the origin of the temple is that Lingarajendra killed an honest and pious Brahmin to fulfill his political ambitions (also a hearsay that he wanted the Brahmin’s daughter for wife, which the Brahmin refused). According to Hindu mythology killing of a Brahmin is considered to be a hideous crime and the curse is quite deadly of which even Lord Indra couldn’t escape. The Brahmin is said to have become a “Bramarakshas” and haunted the king during his sleep. When the king consulted his astrologers for a solution they advised him to bring a “Shivalinga” and install it after building a temple. The Shivalinga was named as “Omkareshwara” and regular rituals were performed. The bars of the windows of the temple were made of “Panchaloha” and an alphabet “lim” (I am not aware of the origin of this alphabet) has been placed in between the bars. Panchaloha (also called Panchaloham – literally, “five metals”) is a term for traditional five-metal alloys of sacred significance used for making Hindu temple idols (Murti). Making Panchaloha images were a well kept secret for a long time and their color changing properties added to their mysticism. Four minars have been built on four corners of the temple and the central minar is like a globe, which anybody can see. The Shivalinga now worshipped in the temple has its origins in Kashi. Among the many Shivalingas in Kashi five are considered the most sacred, and Omkareshwara is one of them. Praying to Omkareshwara is thus believed to rid the sinner of the tormenting ‘ Bramarakshas ‘. Lingarajendra (also known as Linga Raja) installed the Shivalinga from Kashi in the temple where we now stood, seeking redemption for his sin (facts taken from various sites). We all prayed until our hearts were content. Then all of us sat for a while in that holy atmosphere. After a while we all left for our hotel to call it a day and hit the sack.

Abbey Falls:

Located at a distance of 9 kms from the town of Madikeri, the Abbey Falls produces a spectacular sight of waterfalls. Situated amidst private coffee plantations, the Abbey Falls provides a fascinating ambience. A narrow road winding through the green and dense flora of surrounding coffee plantations leads to Abbey Falls.

The water gushing down and hitting the rocky surface produces a deafening sound that can be heard even from a great distance. The abundant scenic beauty makes it one of the most preferable picnic spots. We spent an hour here before moving to our final destination – Mallalli falls.

Mallalli Falls:

This picturesque waterfall is just 50 kms away from Madikeri on Somwarpet road. The Water, in its immaculate form, drops from a nifty height, which is a sight to behold. Mallalli Falls lies on the footsteps of Pushpagiri Hill Ranges, where river Kumaradhara falls over from 200 ft. We had to park our bikes 2 kms farther from the falls. Only a small road was available, which we had to trek. Most of the walk was pleasurable because we got to see a lot of beautiful damsels. The water fall was breathtaking. We couldn’t get very close to it, but could take ample pictures of it. It is much bigger and more splendid than Abbey falls. I have not seen many visit this place. Hence it was a treat.

The Departure:

When the moment came to depart, we all were thinking in unison that the trip should have lasted for 2 more days. We had not visited Talacauvery, Bhagmandala, Nagarholey, Irpu falls… Pledging to come back in a much better organized trip, we started the descent from Madikeri with the memories of Coorg haunting us. It’s better to clear the 130 kms from Madikeri to Mysore Road before nightfall. We reached Mysore Road at an excellent pace. We touched Bangalore at 12.30 am bringing the curtains down on a wonderful trip. This will surely be one of the most memorable trips for me.

Experience:

Total distance covered: 700kms
Most economical bike: – Bajaj Pulsar. An average of Rs.1000 was spent on petrol.
Accidents: Minor skidding en-route to Malahalli due to the steep curves. Be a bit careful while cruising there. Minimum speed advisable on that terrain
Food: Couple of hotels really spoiled the mood of the trip and our appetite. They took almost an hour to serve us. We were all crying in anguish – precious time was lost because of this. But then, some hotels were pretty good
Climate: Mornings are similar to Bangalore. Nights are a tinge cooler. If you have any ailments, do carry medications
About the place: A must visit tourist spot. It will simply probe your soul

The Final Whistle:

Coorg, with all its charisma has indeed captivated my heart and I sincerely hope that it surely does the same for you. This is my first attempt to describe a trip and all about the places and their importance. Hope it has come out well. Expecting valuable comments from the readers and hoping that it’s useful for at least some. Until the next trip – Adios Amigos!

Edited by: Rekha Narayanaswamy

Photography: Prabeesh & Rahul

Categories: Uncategorized