Friday, July 22, 2011

Images of 2010

I know it's a "bit too" late to post this. But, better late than never :)
Shangumugham Beach, Thiruvananthapuram
Hebbe Falls, Chikmagalur
Mullayangiri, Chikmagalur



Shree Padmanabha Kshetram, Thiruvananthapuram

Badami, Bagalkot.

Kaidala, Tumkur

Aaranmula Boat Race, Chenganoor
Shivagange, Tumkur

Amruteshwara Temple, Chikmagalur

Kalahasti Falls, Chikmagalur

Benaulim Beach, Goa

Palolem Beach, Goa

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Belavadi, Chikmagalur.

After a choc-a-bloc itinerary at Chikmagalore, I suggested Belavadi to the group. Surprisingly, none objected despite the tiring walks, blood loss treks, bumpy jeep rides and sinful dosa-indulgence . I guess we were all more energetic at the fag end of the trip than we were at the start! That’s what an exhilarating mountain ranges can do.

The fact that we did not have to take a detour (rather just a deviation) on our way back to Bangalore made the idea more appealing. Belavadi for some reason does not figure in the itinerary of tourist visiting Belur-Halebidu even though its just 10 kms from Halebidu. Belavadi is comparatively less popular than its more illustrious cousins. I guess that’s because Belavadi is not as richly adorned as the other two. But that still shouldn't take anything away from the skill of the Hoysala sculptors. Let’s just say, that Halebidu and Belur has been more "attention" than the rest.

The Belavadi Veera Narayana Temple lies in the Chikmagalur-Javagal route, some 30 kms from Chikmagalore and 10 kms from Halebidu. One of the unique features of this temple is that it has three shrines, out of which two of them are facing each other. This Vaishav temple has three forms of Lord Vishnu. The central shrine has Lord Narayana, the southern has Lord Krishna and northern has Lord Narasimha.

The Archeological Survey of India has voted the idol of Lord Krishna here as the most beautiful of all Krishna sculptures in the world.

Another feature that is uncharacteristic of Hoysalas is that this temple is not star-shaped. In fact the shrines of Lord Krishna and Lord Narasimha were added later on. A trip to this idyllic village is a truly rewarding experience. For all those people who plan on visiting Belur-Halebidu, let me suggest an addition to that list – Belavadi.

PS: While you are here, you can walk some 300 meters to the adjoining Ganesha Temple. Visit the temple and ask the priest about its significance. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.

Getting-there: On the Chikmagalore-Javagal Route, by-passing Hassan.

Must-Do: Visit it in the late evening, to get a good silhouette image - if you are a photographic buff.
Must-Don't: Vandalize or deface the rich heritage of this country.

My Rating: 7/10

Credits: Wikipedia
A Good Read: Temples of Karnataka

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mullayangiri, Chikmagalur.

On the way to Mullayangiri via Muthodi
Day 2 in Chikmagalur had a sedate start. Though we had planned to leave early in the morning to Muthodi Wildlife Sanctuary, couldn't execute it to the dot. Breakfast was at the renowned New Town Canteen. If you google New Town Canteen, you would see umpteen recomendations to have the Butter Masala Dosas here. The recommendations stand in good stead with the Dosas made here. New Town Canteen is the MTR of Chikmagalur. In fact, there were some in the group that vouched for the fact that New Town Canteen served better Dosas than MTR. But don't take our word for it and check out for yourself.

After having two Masala Dosas dripping with butter, we faced a difficult task of bundling into our SUV and stay put till we reached Muthodi Wildlife Sanctuary. Our excitement to see some wildlife was nipped in the bud when we heard from the Forest Officer that the Safaris were suspended owing to heavy rains and bad terrain. But our dissapointment was partially wiped out by the amiable Officer who gave us an insight into the whole Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, the Tiger Conservation Project, notable species native to the Muthodi/Bhadra Sactuaries among others.
From inside the cave.

He also suggested us to take a different route through the forest to reach Mullayangiri, for its breathtaking beauty. And breathtaking indeed it was. For the seond time in as many days, we were left gasping for breath looking at the lush green cover and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see. Luckily, we did not encounter a single tourist vehicle along this route, allowing us to stop and stare wherever we wished.

Mullayangiri Temple.

Mullayangiri has been well covered in this Nov 2010 blog. An addition to that is an underground cave below the temple. Not an extensive cave, but well worth the visit. Get ready to soil your clothes if you decide to enter this cave.

Hebbe Falls, Chikmagalur

To read up on Hebbe Falls please visit my blog post entered in Nov 2010. There was hardly any change in the whole Hebbe Falls experience, except this time there were six different people joining the ride. We learnt that the Falls lies in the property of a Coffee Estate owner who has refused to hand it over to the State Tourism Department. This has proved to be a blessing in disguise for nature lovers, as the place still retains most of its pristine beauty. This also means there were no petty shops selling chips and water bottles which will contribute to polluting the place. It continues to be one of the best maintained waterfalls I've seen till date. Even though we did spot some trash thrown by a family who thought it to be a great idea to have their lunch enjoying the view of the falls and then trash the place when they leave!!!
I wonder what kind of parents they are to teach their kids to disregard and destroy nature, which they have come to visit and enjoy? What can be more shameful than that? And then of course there are the hooligans who come to such places to get "high". The worst part is that they throw these (broken) alchohol bottles right there bringing grave danger to the revellers. Well enough of irresponsible-traveller-bashing. Here are a few new pics from Hebbe Falls to treat your eyes.

Kemmangundi, Chikmagalur

Garden near Raj Bhavan
Eight months ago, I had undertaken a trip to Chikmagalur which on retrospect was the third best trip of my life. So when the opportunity beckoned to partake in another Chikmagalur trip, this time with near strangers, I did not think twice. The fact that the "team" were all like-minded people with interests in Travel, Photography and Nature appreciation, made the decision a no-brainer.

Shanti Falls
It was half past 11 PM when we left Bangalore behind and on to Tumkur Road. Sometime during my sleep I entered a dream. The misty environs, the cool crisp air, the lush green cover, the smell of earth and everything good made me not want to wake up from the dream. But it was not to be, since I realised it was not a dream and I had indeed woken up into the cradle of mother earth. I could indeed see the mist, feel the cool air, smell the damp earth, taste the dew drops and hear the crickets chirping. Where else can you find a place close to Bangalore that can stimulate all your senses but Chikmagalur?

Kemmangundi was in our sights as the first stop. But with locales that can make you stop every minute of the way that was not to be. We stopped at the sound of waterfalls. Yes, we heard it first before we saw it. Dawn hadn't broken into Chikmagalur yet and the 3 metre visibilty meant we heard the falls rather than see it. The visibility was so poor, two of the entry-level DSLRs failed to capture the spectacle. Anticipating better things ahead, we moved on. In the drive up the hill, we witnessed many water streams criss-crossing our way.

At the break of dawn we alighted at Kemmangundi. During all the photoshooting of the environment, the gang got split up, thanks to incorrect infomation from the people there. Z Point was our proposed destination, but my gang ended up at Raj Bhavan. Raj Bhavan in itself offers good views not withstanding the mist.
With some help and lot more asking-around, we headed towards Z Point. Kemmangundi literally translates to "A Place With Red Soil". Now I couldn't vouch for that fact because all I see is green. It was as if a mammoth green carpet was spread across all "creation". The approximately 4 km walk to the vantage Z Point is sprinkled with magnificient views of the Baba Budangiri Ranges. To complete the visual splendour is Shanti Falls. This fresh water source on the way to the top quenches your thirst like nothing can. The closer you get to Z Point, the harder it gets to breathe - not out of exhaustion, rather for the breathtaking beauty of the place. It is so overwhelming that you wish you had never come here, for saying goodbye to this place is a difficult task. I had missed Z Point the last time I had been to Chikmagalur, but I guess I could not have seen it at a better time than this.
Z Point
Getting-there: 53 kms from Chikmagalur. Hiring a car will be a better (only?) option, unless you have your own transport.
Must-Do: Get there as early in the morning as possible. Watching sunrise is not an option, because of the fog. But the fog adds to the beauty of the place, early in the morning. Carry sufficient water for at least a one hour trek. Check out both Raj Bhavan viewpoint and Z Point. Also check out Rock Garden on the way to Z Point.
Must-Don't: If you are carrying water bottles with you, make sure you bring it back with you to base camp. Please don't litter this paradise.

My Rating: 9/10.