Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Bangalore to Wayanad – Part 1

Date – May 2011

Destination – Wayanad, Kerala

Route from Bangalore – Bangalore > Mysore > Hunsur > Nagarhole > Kutta > Mananthavadi (Wayanad) > Kalpetta > Vythri > Lakkidi

Route from Wayanad – Lakkidi > Vythri > Sulthan Battery > Munthanga > Gundulpet > Mysore > Sriranga pattana > Bangalore

Vehicle – Mahindra Scorpio

This was a surprise trip to treat ourselves for the hard work done during the second quarter of 2011. And thanks to our travel agent who sends us updates about travel offers throughout the year! So, hubby had taken a printout of the routes from http://indica.co.in/bangalore-to-wayanad-by-road, and on a lovely Friday morning, we drove from Bangalore to Wayanad. We left Bangalore by 6:00 AM; didn’t take the NICE road because morning traffic is anyway less on the Mysore road. Pitied the state of the incomplete Metro work on the Mysore road; the iron structures are rusting!

Just after the NICE road joining the main road, a chain of vehicles slowed down to cross a speed-breaker. While we slowed down our vehicle, a taxi banged into us from back. Ah, what a start! My hubby jumped down from the vehicle, and gave a piece of his mind to the driver. It’s so sad that the driver hadn’t slept for hours, and was driving at a stretch. Cannot the passengers ask him to take a nap?

We continued our journey, munching the congress bun from V B Bakery and chitchatting. But, hey, what about coffee? Hubby needed his shot of caffeine. I don’t know why but he continued driving; probably, he sensed that there would be a lovely new café somewhere on the road. And I took a nap. When I woke up, I clicked a few photos, and that’s about it.

Paddy fields
On the State Highway (SH) 88, as we reached Hunsur, the highway forked, and that’s where a new café welcomed us. The café is called Café Coorg, and is almost a perfect imitation of Coffee Day; but the Café Coorg also serves South Indian breakfast. Something that caught our attention was the Ferrari that glided into the parking lot. Oh, what a beauty! Can you imagine this car glide on the spotless roads of Kerala?
Cafe Coorg
From this junction, we took a left turn to go through the Nagarhole forest. Would be our first visit to this forest, and we prayed that we could spot a few wild animals. While driving towards the forest check-post, the hub caps of one of the tires ran loose. Funny! Hubby picked it, and fixed it. Meanwhile, I clicked more photos of the clouds. Amazing sky!

Mystic Sky
When we reached the check-post, there were two cars in front of us – filled with kids and family. It’s interesting and amusing to listen to parents answer queries from kids. Kids, these days, smarter than we think! Anyway, we wrote the required details in the ledger, and since the cars refused to enter the forest, we drove past them. Officially, we had entered Nagarhole. The road was narrow but neat. Please remember that this road is open only from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM (IST).

Sign Board
Welcome Arch
Some ground rules when you drive through a forest:
1) Never get down from your vehicle; not even to pee.
2) Never tease animals or feed them.
3) Never play loud music or litter.
4) Never speed.
5) Never hit any animal either with your vehicle or something else.
6) Never use flash while clicking photos of animals.
7) Never panic. Only when you stay calm, can you think better.
8) Be alert.
9) Enjoy Nature.
10) Never stop your vehicle anywhere in the forest, or deviate from the normal route.

Green was the predominant color that masked our eyes. The trees and grass were clean due to recent rains. At some places, the sunlight never touched the ground. We heard melodies of birds, and spotted a few. Unfortunately, our camera isn’t equipped to capture the birds. We continued our journey; drove slowly, stopped at all the speed-breaker, and literally read all the sign boards. One board indicated that animals cross at that point, and that we must drive slowly.

We failed to spot any wild animals. I told the forest that we were its guest, and that they should greet us like good hosts do. That’s when we saw a beautiful deer. We were sure that the herd was behind the bushes; but were happy to spot one deer. Isn't it beautiful!

As we continued, we were totally surprised to see a tusker blocking the road. We were thrilled, but also wondering how to respond to such a situation. We reversed the car, shut down the engine, and sat watching the magnificent animal. The elephant seemed happy to see the lush grass, uprooted it, stuffed it in its mouth, and repeated all these steps several times. We waited for more than 30 minutes for the animal to clear the way. As we waited, from the opposite direction came a goods jeep (with three people inside). The driver, who didn’t expect the animal, hit the break and halted.

What happened next? I'll narrate that in the next sequel.

Happy traveling!

Part 2...


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Bangalore to Chennai & Mahabalipuram

From fridge to frying pan – March 2011

Before summer heat waves hit the land, we decided that we visit Chennai and Mahabalipuram. In the wee hours of the morning, driving out of Bangalore is beautiful. Actually, the destination doesn't matter; it's the excitement of going on a holiday that lifts our spirit. A little before Hosur, the traffic was crazy, but eased later. We stopped at Adyar Anand Bhavan before Krishnagiri. I had packed upma for breakfast; we ate, drank coffee, and continued our journey. Have you see the Kamat hotels that are opened on the highway? We are yet to try.

At each toll gate, the police stopped the vehicles, checked the luggage and the car, and then let us go. We were wondering what's happening. Ah, only after we reached Chennai did we know that a vehicle from Banglore was smuggling money into Chennai (for elections)!

As we approached Vellore, we could feel the temperature difference; it could only get hotter. Parents had suggested we see the Golden Temple at Vellore; instead, we saw Ratnagiri, which is a temple dedicated to Lord Balamurugan. You can either drive to the top of the hill or climb the stairs. The temple is beautiful! I liked the gigantic pillars and decorations (or paintings) on the ceiling. Please note that the Maha Mangalaarathi is at noon; till then, the sacred curtains are drawn restricting you from seeing the Lord. 
Pillars - Ratnagiri
Ratnagiri Temple
Our final stop was Chennai. By the time we reached the hotel, we were tired due to heat and disorganized traffic. The drivers are unpredictable - left indicator, but moves right or traffic moves even though the signal is Red. And we were thinking Bangalore's traffic is the worst! At Bangalore, the traffic volume is high but a little discipline is maintained.

Anyway, we reached the hotel, and saw the place to be either filled with marriage parties or politicians. The election was fast approaching, and the most famous fashion statement was White-White-and-White - White dhoti, White shirt, and White Scorpios (with Amma's party flag). We dumped our bags at our room, went straight to the restaurant, and ate a good lunch. 

One of the evenings, we took an auto to the Kapaleeswara temple, Mylapore. The Panguni Masam 2011 celebrations were on, and what a celebration that was! Inside the temple, the Lord's procession was happening, and outside the temple, the fair was attracting almost everyone with a grand variety of merchandise! This celebration was a special gift to us because we weren't aware of the Panguni Masam. Of course, we enjoyed. We also bought temple jewelry from Sukra. I like that shop. If you haven't been there, you must. 
Lord Kapaleeshwara
How can we not visit T Nagar? I had to buy a few sarees, and we went to Kumaran Silks. I loved their collection, and Bangaloreans are treated special! The shop assistant showed lovely and modern sarees (appropriate for Bangaloreans, that's what he said). After that, we marched to GRT, and darn, I picked up something there also. Did I tell you that we tasted idlis at the Murugan Idli Shop? Excellent ones! On another day, we visited Ashtalakshmi temple; I loved that area. We met our dear friend for dinner at China Pearl; good service, food, and ambience. That's the place where we saw some posh cars and hi-tech crowd. ;-)    

Our drive to Mahabalipuram was smooth. Could see apartments being developed on the East Coast road; another concrete jungle was emerging. Just imagine how beautiful that place will be if lots of trees are planted. We went to the Shore temple and the Five Chariots. We were pleased to see how well these temples are maintained. And, oh, wherever we went, we were followed by school children. Have you see locus attacking fields? Hmm... That's exactly how it seemed when the children flooded all the temples. But their energy was contagious, and their smiles and laughter was pure! :-)

There are several people that sell stone scriptures. Beware of people that cheat; they quote a higher price than the shops, and emotionally blackmail you to buy from them. Hey, you must visit the awesome Radisson Resort. They had Holi celebrations, and bright-colored decorations hung all over the resort. The lunch buffet spread was tempting. The magician was a delight; he came to each table to perform some magic. Was fun talking to him!

This time around we didn't want to go to the beaches. The sun burns and salt water are never a good combination, for me. But we visited Spencer Mall; I have nothing much to talk about Malls. We had enough of Chennai and Mahabalipuram, and were ready to drive back home. Home is where the heart is, and our hearts are at Bangalore! :-)


Monday, 16 May 2011


They say, "When you're in love, you travel places, and realize that the time just flies!" It definitely does. And I quote that as a reason for not being able to update this blog. ;-)

Over the past years, we've visited different places, admired the cultures, enjoyed several experiences, and ate a lot of food, and oh, clicked a few hundred photos! Our journey is incomplete without our camera; it's like a ‘pati-patni-aur-woh’ kind of story.

We can't hold hands because I hold the camera or he holds the steering wheel. We can't look into each others' eyes because I may see something that must be captured in the camera, and run off to shoot. When he whispers sweet something, I say, "Ssshhh;" we don't want to scare some bird or animal away. 

Seriously, how much can a little camera capture? So, we traveled to a few places of which we don't have any photos, but we have a lot of stories to narrate; stories of rivers, clouds, plants and flowers, wildlife, terrains, people, love, and the journey itself.

We’re ready to narrate a few such stories and also share a few photos again!

New beginning
Asha Ram