Come Sunday and I had to hit the road. We were looking for the closest getaway from Bangalore and so zeroed in on Manchinbele Dam and Dodda Alada Mara. The Big Banyan Tree is a mere 30 kms from Bangalore and Manchinbele Dam another 10 kms further.
We started right by starting early. 6 AM sounded good on the blueprint. While execution though, we found it could have been a little more earlier. There was already a fair bit of traffic by then. The four of us in two different bikes converged at Corporation Circle around 6:15 and then hit the Mysore Road. Good roads - except for a 2 kms stretch (which will be mentioned later) - need a special mention for this trip. The route is pretty straight-forward. Some 15 odd kms on Mysore Road, you would arrive at Sri Rajarajeshwari Dental College Signal. You cannot miss this unless you are flying over!!! Take a right at this signal and follow the road. Taking no diversions, we reached Dodda Alada Mara in pretty good time. But we did not stop here. We wanted to get to the Manchinbele Dam, before the Sun hastens a forced retreat, back to the comfort of our homes. This also turned out to be a wise decision. We are getting good at this travelling stuff ;-)
The route to the Dam from here does not involve rocket science. Talking about rocket science, you could consider the ISRO station here as landmark on the way to the dam. This is where the road takes a low-down. The well-laid roads finally give way to typical village roads. This red-sand-and-concrete-stones road thankfully extend to only about 2-3 kms. From then on till Ground Zero its back to good roads. We were just limbering around driving at a sinfully slow pace soaking the beautiful village atmosphere when the breathtaking sight of the Akravathi river hit us like a bolt from the blue. The Akravathi looked comfortably cuddled between the mountains. Once you reach this place you'll find a forked road. The one on the left leads to the Dam while the other to the right follows a long winding road to the banks of the river. The right looked more exciting and we took it. The road downhill is bad, which makes it a little more adventurous. Driving slowly here, serves two purpose - keeping your head in place from falling off and enjoying the sights and sounds(or the lack of it) of the place. The serenity of the place is in stark contrast to the noisy nuisance of Bangalore. To our surprise we even found a BMTC bus (227A or something like that) drive past us, leaving a storm of dust behind it.
After spending close to an hour at the banks of the Akravathi, we decided to hike the mountain. But rough terrain, slippery rocks and cribbing co-hikers brought the hike to an abrupt end. We decided to drive a little more, but not having found anything more interesting we decided to drive back. On the way back we sighted the Dam a good 5-6 kms away. Thats when we actually remembered that the actualy purpose of the visit was to see the dam and now we were leaving without seeing it. The Manchinbele Dam is a miniature one by any standards. It has only three gates to it and basically it serves as a drinking water reservoir for the neighbouring villages. Having seen enough, we decided to leave the place.
The next stop obviously was the Dodda Alada Mara.
Some quick facts about the Big Banyan Tree:
1. Its very old. About 400-500 years old.
2. Its Big. It covers about 4-5 acres.
3. Its infested with monkeys.
4. It has a temple in its premises. There's always a temple right!!!
Burnt corn, disgusting bhel puri and refreshing tender coconut water marked the end of yet another perfect bangalore getaway weekend.
Getting-there: Take the Mysore Road -> 3 Kms after Kangeri, take right at Sri Rajarajeshwari Dental College -> Dodda Alada Mara in Ramohalli Village -> Left at Chikkapa(or was it Chandrappa) Circle -> ISRO -> Manchinbelle Dam. Best to keep asking for directions though.
Must-Do: Spend lazy hours at the banks of the river. There's boating too for those interested. Take pictures of Dodda Alada Mara for been-there done-that sort of thing.
Must-Don't: Litter of course. The biggest contributor to the litter being alcoholic beverages.
Must-Carry: Ear plugs to protect your eardrums from the blaring noise of the temple loudspeaker.
Caution: Stray dogs getting under your wheels on the Mysore Highway. Monkeys snatching food.
My Rating: 5/10 (Collective Score)