Category Archives: Karnataka

Kayaking And Camping In Mulki (Konkan Coast)-Part-3

This road trip features a trip to India’s beautiful western coast to Mulki (Near Mangalore) in the Konkan belt, including a camping and Kayaking trip across the Shambhavi river. Read Part-1 and Part-2 here if you landed on this post directly.

Siesta, Not Quite

As I tried sleeping harder, my father called me to generally check, where we were. I told him about the mishap with the car and the spectacles and asked him, if he could get on a bus and come here to Mulki to drive us down back home. So I had to book tickets on the limited 4G signal, and I ended up booking the tickets twice, since I entered my age for my dad’s ticket. Sleepy, but not quite in slumber, I re booked the ticket on KSRTC and then just when I thought I could sleep, the other folks got up, to be in time for the next evening paddle trip to the nearby Palimar Dam.  I looked at Nandu, who was fast asleep. Waking Nandu up requires a few minutes of cajoling, unless there is a Spiderman movie coming right now. I took 10 minutes to wake him up, and took him to the washroom to wash his face and pick up our dry bag to take the minimum items on our paddle. Nandu was paired with Movin from KayakBoy, while I paired myself with Rakesh on the kayak.

Getting Ready for Palimar Dam

Given that not everyone was coming, I decided to find a new coloured kayak and a new paddle. I was waiting for my arms to ache, as i warned by friends that Kayaking can be heavy on the arms, but surprisingly, I was perfectly fine, without any sore arm. I was just sore in my mind, about being partially blind, without my spectacles.

Movin from KayakBoy getting ready
Movin from KayakBoy getting ready

 

Kayaking with Rakesh to Palimar Dam
Kayaking with Rakesh to Palimar Dam

A few minutes of Kayaking with Rakesh, and I started to be mentally be a little more relaxed, and connected back with nature. The milder evening sun and an enthusiastic bunch of people to travel with, also made the mood lighter. We reached the dam in about 15 minutes of Kayaking at about 5 pm. The check-dam had water spurting through it, and apart from the layers of moss near it and the few rocks below, one had nothing to fear. So, I had to make sure Nandu, just followed a bunch of steps and precautions to make sure, we find a safe spot to enjoy the evening sun.

Nandu wanted to swim over the dam with his life jacket on, so it took some convincing to say that its not a good idea, and he had to stay near all of us. I guess I made it up, by allowing some extended time at the check dam point, where he enjoyed it.

Nandu waiting with glee to jump into water at Palimar Dam (Near Mulki in Konkan Karnataka)
Nandu waiting with glee to jump into water at Palimar Dam (Near Mulki in Konkan Karnataka)
Sitting on the Check Dam in Pallimar (Mulki on the Konkan Karnataka part)
Sitting on the Check Dam in Pallimar (Mulki on the Konkan Karnataka part)
Bathing in the check-dam at Palimar (Near Mulki in Konkan Karnataka)
Bathing in the check-dam at Palimar (Near Mulki in Konkan Karnataka)

The sun sets on the beach, but we were not able to make it since it took a while for most of us to leave the charm of the Palimar Dam. But before we left most of us made the most of a beautiful evening by jumping and bathing in the waters.  It was easier paddling during the sunset to get back to the camp.

Paddling back to the camp at Mulki
Paddling back to the camp at Mulki
Nearing the Camp after sunset
Nearing the Camp after sunset

Campfire and Dinner

 

Feeling Warm on a winter evening in Mulki
Feeling Warm on a winter evening in Mulki (PC: Rakesh Rajan)

The evening session was very relaxed and started with the fire being lit. Close to it was a barbecue being done by Sushant from Kayakboy. We all started playing a game, by introducing ourselves and saying 2 truths and a lie about us. Most of us failed miserably at the lying part, but it was good fun trying to know people.

The fear of mosquitoes was there, but I don’t remember being mobbed by them, as I was comfortably seated on the trekkinng chairs (the ones you get at Decathlon), and listening to everyone talk. The campsite is basically the open garden (and a very large one) of a local’s house, so I went in every now and then to charge my devices.

It was beautiful looking at the fire below and the night sky above with stars, out of a little patch of land surrounded by tall trees all over.  Dinner was served in a while, with Rice/Rotis and a vegetable curry. The best part however was the remnants of the butter milk they gave in the afternoon. I retired to bed at about 1030 pm, to sleep well, and wake up at 5 am, so as to manage time at the toilet. 2 toilets and 40 bums to compete with is a challenge I would not put my stomach to, early in the morning, so I’d rather sleep early.

I went inside the tent, and curled into my sleeping bag, with my phone by my side, content that I had managed to show Nandu, an interesting side to travel : Camping!

Barbecue Evening : Paneer begins its journey into our stomachs
Barbecue Evening : Paneer begins its journey into our stomachs (PC: Rakesh Rajan)

Morning: Rise and Shine

The next morning, I woke up early as planned, and loved the early morning misty-chill vibe of the place, and as light dawned on the camp, most of us had woken up to pack up, and get started to paddle along the tide. I stayed back, coming with the last batch along with Nandu, to take in the surroundings a bit. I had a quick idly breakfast with morning tea, and fed Nandu much earlier than his usual eating time. Luckily it was done easily.

I double checked if any items were left behind either in the house or the tents, and everything was fine. I had an extended catch up session with a few of the group members, and started this time with Arjun (From Wandermile) behind me on the Kayak.

The early risers packing up
The early risers packing up
Beautiful Views to sip morning chai!
Beautiful Views to sip morning chai!
Pack Up Time
Pack Up Time
Camp Site-Kayak Parking on Shambhavi River (Mulki-Karnataka)
Camp Site-Kayak Parking on Shambhavi River (Mulki-Karnataka)

To The Private Beach!

Our next and final destination, before finishing the trip was to paddle our way across the 10 km stretch of the Shambhavi river to reach a private island stretch, keep our kayaks, walk a bit to the beach side of the island and enjoy the waves, before we get back to the KayakBoy Delta point (starting point)

While we got there this time, a little faster than the onward journey, this time it was more fun, since the weather was better and we knew what to expect.  Just like the previous day, Movin and Sushant would throw cut fruits and buttermilk/lassis midway to each of our kayaks, which would be our hydration break. I ended up loving the Mango lassi and had a couple of them.

Great weather and calmer waters (PC: Rakesh Rajan)
Great weather and calmer waters (PC: Rakesh Rajan)

It was while, I was in the water, that it occured to me seeing a fisherman on the land side, that they use a stick while we use a paddle. We sit and they stand on a boat. Someday, I’d like to understand this and know more about the forces that propel you in water on a boat. Maybe on the next trip! We parked our kayaks on the other side of the island and did a small hillock trek across the island to the beach side.

The peaceful coastal life in Mulki
The peaceful coastal life in Mulki

 

The group slowly walking to the beach side in Mulki
The group slowly walking to the beach side in Mulki

Here are some shots of the the beach, from the sky that I shot on my drone.

View of the Kayakboy Delta Point in Mulki. Opposite to this is the beach
View of the Kayakboy Delta Point in Mulki. Opposite to this is the beach
That's where we parked our kayaks on the island
That’s where we parked our kayaks on the island
And then, we made our way to the other side
And then, we made our way to the other side
View of the Delta with Shambavi River and the Arabian Sea in Mulki
View of the Delta with Shambavi River and the Arabian Sea in Mulki
The Group that went with Wandermile and Kayakboy
The Group that went with Wandermile and Kayakboy

Planning a Mulki Kayak Trip?

To do a similar trip like this, do check with Wandermile (Chennai Based) or with KayakBoy (based in Mulki). These guys are great to do a trip with. Like the saying goes, all good things have to come to an end, and this trip ends here!

Post Script

  • My dad came to Mulki in the morning. Our car was in bad shape. We drove it to Mangalore and gave it for repair. It maybe another 10 days, before I get to drive it back home. The oil sump needs replacement
  • I got home with family on a KSRTC bus that evening from Mangalore. Last minute KSRTC Sarige buses are bad for the back, what else could one expect on a long weekend, when most tickets are booked out 🙂

Kayaking and Camping in Mulki (Konkan Coast)-Part-1

This road trip features a trip to India’s beautiful western coast to Mulki (Near Mangalore) in the Konkan belt, including a camping and Kayaking trip across the Shambhavi river.

Of Pinkish Sunsets

When I started the road-trip on a Thursday evening, I was cognisant of the fact that I had a lot of time, before I reported for kayaking on Saturday morning.  Some of my friends who were to join me for Kayaking, were starting from Chennai on Friday evening to arrive in time for Saturday morning, while I chose to start on Thursday evening. I planned it roughly, to be able to stop at Hassan by Thursday night.

As I neared the Nelamangala bypass on the Bangalore-Mangalore road, a beautiful sunset greeted me which turned into a pinkish-blue-violet sunset in minutes. I chose to pause and admire the colours of the sunset, and then drive on.  I still had 160 kilometres to cover in about 3 hours to stop for the day, as I did not see the point of driving late night. I had also done some research, and learnt that the Hassan-Sakleshpura stretch has heavy mist in the night, and its avoidable to be driving under such conditions in the November winter.

Beautiful sunset in Nelamangala-Karnataka
Beautiful sunset in Nelamangala-Karnataka

Of Broken Frames

We stopped at Hassan, by turning right into the city, from the bypass, which goes near the railway station. I found a good deal for an AC+TV single room. My son has this habit of stretching and going all over the bed, and it meant I had a lesser area to sleep against the wall, and I ended up cramping my head on my spectacle frame, and as soon as I heard a crack, I knew my trip was in jeopardy. I saw my spectacle frame crack on one side, while the other side was proper. The broken side, still would fit on my face, but if I moved or swerved, it would come off.  With a power in excess of -3, I could not drive without the spectacles, so the fact that the frame just still sat on my nose meant, I could drive.

I woke up pretty late at 730 am, and started the car, after cleaning the windshield from last evening’s dew. After an unsuccesful hunt with finding cash in an ATM, we proceeded to hit the highway

For The Love of Pakoda

As we drove about 10 kilometres out of Hassan, I came across a small tea shop by the highway. I just quickly wanted to have tea, but Nandu and my mother saw freshly made Pakodas. They ate a couple of plates, loving the taste of the Pakodas. I had a bite, but wanted to have proper breakfast somewhere in the hills of Sakleshpur.

Pakodas for Breakfastning tea!
Pakodas for Breakfast
Nandu gleefully having morning tea!

Sunflower Spotting at Sakleshpur

As we made our way from Hassan to Sakleshpur, we came across some very verdant drone worthy landscapes. Maybe for next time, I thought, and proceeded to drive slowly, as the road was passing through villages and had potholes on the drive. We stopped a kilometre before Ossoor Estates in Sakleshpur to go spot some sunflowers (or so, we thought). Nandu loved the garden, and wanted to linger there a little longer, so I thought I would also wait for him to run around. I mentally made a note to self to stop at a shop to buy the following things

a) Quick Fix adhesive for my spectacle frame

b) Spike buster for my multiple devices to charge (Since I forgot mine back at home, due to charging till the last minute)

c) ATM for cash withdrawal, as PayTM/Cards and Google Pay doesnt work mostly on road trips into semi-rural landscapes. Cash is still king!

Stop over at Sakleshpur
Stop over at Sakleshpur
Sunflower Spotting at Sakleshpur
Sunflower Spotting at Sakleshpur

Perfect Scenic Road Trip In The Wrong Direction

Post Sakleshpur, there was a police manned outpost, and I saw a road laying lorry, so I assumed that road was not active, and thats why it was guarded. I was wrong, and I realised after I went 20 kilometres in the wrong direction. It’s easy to make this mistake, and I show it here so that you dont make this mistake. I went off on the Kyanahalli road, admiring the myriad homestays, the little plateus and fields side by side, and when the lady voice in Google Maps was revolting too much, I realised I had missed a turn somewhere, after an energetic breakfast by the hillside of Surabhi NX.

The route marked in Blue is the right road, and I ended up on the other road. I brushed off the 2 hour detour, as research for a future trip sheepishly.

Wrong Roads-Take Me Home
Wrong Roads-Take Me Home

Ambling till Yermal Bada

After Sakleshpur, I had multiple stops to purchase the 2-3 items, I had on my list.  Nandu too started feeling unwell due to the Ghat section, so I pulled over and stopped over at Gundya. The road trip went really slow, and I reached Mulki at 3:30 pm, and wanted to take up a hotel, close to the camp.  The easiest place to find one was at Kalyani International, which is in a crowded and cramped street, but due to some marriage happening in Mulki that weekend, all of the hotels were booked (sans Swagat hotel, which had no hot water, TV and no lift).

Finding the Road to Palmgrove resort in Yermal Bada (Konkan Coast)
Finding the Road to Palmgrove resort in Yermal Bada (Konkan Coast)

After I found out that I had no hotels to check-in to, I drove further past the Udupi road toll at Hejamady, and relied on Google Maps to check if there was any beach resort, and it pointed me to a small resort at the beach facing road at Yermal Bada Village.

At INR 2500 a night, a beach facing hotel with big rooms, TV, comfortable beds and Air Con, I thought it was a steal. I wanted a room with TV, to catch the Women’s T20 World Cup that was starting in West Indies. The hotel had ample space within the resort for Nandu to take out his skateboard and play with it.

I had not managed to find a ATM, so had to figure out a way to pay the hotel manager the money for the stay, and he asked me to try Google Pay, since he did not have a card swiping machine, nor PayTM. I was surpised that an old school resort like this knew about Google Pay, and I went on to add the hotel on IMPS through Google Pay and with the little internet that was available on my phone, I managed to pay the money (Jio worked better at this spot than Airtel 4G)

With that out of the way, we freshened up, and hit the beach till the evening chill forced us out of the sea and it was time for an early dinner, after a long road trip. I must also admit, that I was quaking with fear on how tired Kayaking would be for me, as I have heard its really meant for fitter bodies.

Read more in Part 2 and Part 3 of this series!

Farming and Village Experience for Kids-Near Bangalore

Here is an experience near Bangalore that helps kids connect with nature and farming, so that they are able to appreciate the process of putting food on the table

 

As India enters its 72 year of Independence, I wish that I am able to connect more with the country. There’s a way of life that India has had since the last 3000 years, that has kept India in good stead.

Some of it has been lost through urbanisation, as we humans start to move rapidly towards an existence that creates a mismatch between our evolutionary past and co-evolved relationship with micro-organisms and environment. Maybe connecting with the concept of India is the best way to put context to Independence Day of our wonderful civilisation. Keep the flags on your chest, circulate GIF’s of flags and quotes but do connect with the concept called India

Join me on my trip to discover our lost connect with our roots! A small weekend trip with my son to connect with traditions around village games, relaxed farm life and the concept called India

If you want the same experience, contact Sathish from Grameen Sogadu

Farming Experience for kids near Bangalore
Farming Experience for kids near Bangalore
The Farmhouse
The Farmhouse
Nandu's friends, Our Host Sathish's family
Nandu’s friends, Our Host Sathish’s family
Nandu trying his hand at tilling the soil
Nandu trying his hand at tilling the soil
Toys! Plenty!
Toys! Plenty!

 

Blast From The Past- Exploring Anjanadri Hill (Hampi)-Part 2

 

If you ever hop on to Hampi, one of the places for a morning jaunt should be Anjanadri Hill. It’s a 570 steps from the base to the top of the hill and was about 3.5 kilometres from Anegundi. I had a local who gave me a lift at about 5:15 in the morning. The weather was good, with Cyclone Neelam just having visited earlier in the week, so it was largely overcast even an hour after sunrise.

[This post continues from Part-1]

Here’s a little photo blog on my experience climbing the hill, that overlooks plantain and paddy fields, with a top view of the boulders and the river that cuts across all of these fields. There is also the view of the Vithala and Virupaksha temple if you strain your eye or your zoom lens.

This place is best visited during the golden hours. I visited it for Sunrise. Since Hampi has a lot of hills, each of these places are great to travel and see them from the top during the golden hour.

The base of Anjanadri hill. A small shop display their 'Kolam' to start the day
The base of Anjanadri hill. A small shop display their ‘Kolam’ to start the day
View of Hampi from the crevices of Anjanadri Hill (Karnataka-India)
View of Hampi from the crevices of Anjanadri Hill (Karnataka-India)
The long winding 570 step stairway to Anjanadri Hill
The long winding 570 step stairway to Anjanadri Hill
Monkeys guarding Hanuman's hometown-Anjanadri Hill (Hampi-Karnataka-India)
Monkeys guarding Hanuman’s hometown-Anjanadri Hill (Hampi-Karnataka-India)
Beautiful view of the hill against the backdrop of dawn at Anjanadri Hill (Karnataka-India)
Beautiful view of the hill against the backdrop of dawn at Anjanadri Hill (Karnataka-India)
Beautiful Views of Hampi from Anjanadri Hill
Beautiful Views of Hampi from Anjanadri Hill
View of the Bhadravati River from the top of Anjanadri Hill (Karnataka-India)
View of the Bhadravati River from the top of Anjanadri Hill (Karnataka-India)

Other Blogs Talking about Anjanadri Hill

Sagar Sakre talks about how the Bhadravati river  cuts across 2 districts- Koppal and Bellary, and also about some attractions at the top of the hill like a floating rock.

Vasant.P talks about how Anjanadri Hill is one of the seven hillocks in this area and the significance of each of the hillocks.The seven hillocks are Kishkinda, Anjanadri, Matanga, Malyavanta, Rushyamukha, Hemakuta, Rathnakuta. He also mentions that Hanuman is revered by Barack Obama and Prime Minister Modi’s wife had come here in 2014.

If you have written about the place, please do mention your link in the comments. I will be happy to feature it.

Getting Here

It’s a straight road from Anegundi. If you are coming from Bangalore, you need to drive towards the Chitradurga-Hospete direction and come to Anegundi.

 

Blast From The Past- Anegondi’s(Hampi) Rural Charms-Part 1

This post explores Anegondi, a small rural town on the banks of the Tunghabadra river in Hampi. This was from a trip in 2012, hence the series ‘Blast from the Past’ I thought it makes for showing the beautiful rural charms of India.

How did I decide to go? -I happened to read about Anegondi in an Outlook Traveller article [October 2012 edition] and immediately decided that this place would be a great weekend destination to go from Bangalore.  The train (Train # 16592) starts at 10 pm on Fridays from the city railway station and reaches Hospet/Munirabad the next morning by about 8 in the morning.

Robbery Central– The train passes through Hindupur/Dharmavaram, which is apparently a spot for frequent train robberies. I experienced a robbery in front of me, and could not catch the robber. My only advice is to pull down your train window (I travel Non AC Sleeper most of the times) and don’t encourage any stranger-without a reservation to sit in your vicinity (Those 6+2 seats). If you can travel in the AC compartments, it does create one extra layer against these train thefts.

Things of Interest- If you have time, try going to the following places during your stay at Anegundi

a) Anjanadri Hill– Birthplace of Hanuman (Coming up in Part-2)

b) Gangavathi- Another village 12 km from Anegondi. A circus operates there. Should be fun seeing these art forms from the yester years, given that we don’t see them enough in cities.

c) Long walk to the river. Just a beautiful walk through the country side.

d) Coracle Ride to the Temple side– To get to the beautiful Vithala and Virupaksha Temple

e) Chai-Chillum-Chappathi Trail– If you head to Virpappur Gaddi, say hello to the hippies. If they don’t wave back, they are probably on hash/Marijuana and on their own trip!

f) Odomos Trail– Mosquitoes have the best nightlife post sunset, so don’t plan too many activities in the evening that involves you being outside. Check with your host on the situation/season for mosquito menace.

Here’s a brief glimpse into my journey to Anegondi from Munirabad railway station in photos.

 

On an auto through the hills. From Munirabad to Anegundi
On an auto through the hills. From Munirabad to Anegundi

 

Home is not far away! Anegundi approaching!
Home is not far away! Anegundi approaching!
We slayed the hills on an auto! Cant imagine any other place where autos operate on a hill
We slayed the hills on an auto! Cant imagine any other place where autos operate on a hill
The beautiful fields and boulders enroute Anegundi
The beautiful fields and boulders enroute Anegundi

 

The scenic countryside enroute Anegundi
The scenic countryside enroute Anegundi
Hanuman's home town! There's only one boss here!
Hanuman’s home town! There’s only one boss here!
The beautiful portico of the Uramma Heritage Home in Anegondi (Hampi-Karnataka-India)
The beautiful portico of the Uramma Heritage Home in Anegondi (Hampi-Karnataka-India)

If you are on a budget and want to stay in a similar artistic property, you could try out Peshagar House, which is part of the same group.

The comfortable beds of Uramma Heritage Homes-Anegondi-Hampi
The comfortable beds of Uramma Heritage Homes-Anegondi-Hampi 
Beautiful and spacious rooms at Uramma Heritage Cottages
Beautiful and spacious rooms at Uramma Heritage Cottages

To book into the spacious cottages of Uramma, head here

If you want a guide and a detailed trip to some of the points, you could use my friend Basava (Call him at 9482328777), who is a tour guide roaming around in a Himalayan Enfield.

Read the next post which talks about the morning trip to Anjanadri Hill here

On a Road Trip to Coorg with Family-Part 4

This series features a road trip in Karnataka to Coorg with my family.  Read on to know how a trip to the nearby Nagarhole National Reserve went during our stay at Jagale Home Stay. in Part 4 of this series. Read the earlier parts here (Part-3Part-2 and Part-1)

After dinner, I sat at the newly created porch to read a couple of my magazines on my Jio Phone. I was full after having more desserts than my actual dinner. My stomach was still smarting from an invasion of Apple Walnut dessert cake and Papaya Halwa. I was listening to stories on how each of we inmates spent our day. My son was still running around like an energiser bunny all around the house, with his new friends (kids from our adjacent room). He had not quite gone out of the estate, so I made some plans on where to go the next morning. My neighbour Vaibhav and I decided to take our families to Nagarhole in the morning, and then we would leave. It was our last day in Coorg, so I thought I’d go out and have something nearby and easier to go. Nagarhole and Balele were not more than 20 minutes of drive from our estate, so they were easier to plan. We agreed to wake up at 5:15 am and drive to the national park so as to be there at the entrance by 6 am.

We were there by 5:45 am. The skies were still undecided on turning orange. The twilight skies were paused on blue for a while with a silhouhette view of the under-exposed trees.

The entrance to the Nagarhole National Park in Coorg
The entrance to the Nagarhole National Park in Coorg

With still some time to go, I get inside the national park, and sign the register and enter the car name and registration number, and I go and sit back in the car. I spot some tall trees in the distance and wonder how beautiful it would be to have a house in the foothills, adjacent to a national park. The morning twilight was now starting to fold up.

A home near Nagarhole National Reserve. Quite a place to have a house
A home near Nagarhole National Reserve. Quite a place to have a house

We drove through the national park, and it was damp and chill, as we drove through the forest with trees on both sides. It was in a way surreal since there was an organised road bisecting the wilderness that was present on both sides. We saw some spotted deers inside the forest as we drove on. By the time, we reached the ticket counter, there was quite a crowd early in the morning lining up to buy tickets for the morning safari. We were priveleged to watch the morning sun, light up the damp greens, through the vertical trees that boxed with the sun’s rays to prevent its entry.

Sunrise in Nagarhole National Park
Sunrise in Nagarhole National Park

Once we bought the tickets, there was some clamour for tickets and window seats. Having an SLR on your neck dangling ensured that I had some respect and when people had to chose between sitting at the window seat and offering me one, they gave me the benefit of the doubt. I was happy and chose a good seat on the left.

On the Nagarhole National Park Safari
On the Nagarhole National Park Safari

The bus would veer off the road path and get into the mud path. They seemed to have a trail which they would follow and would stop when an animal came by. There was something in the way the driver drove or the vibes I got from the forest that morning, that told me, I was not going to see any tiger today. And, boy was I right or what!

On the Nagarhole Safari Trail
On the Nagarhole Safari Trail

I just some buffalos and some more spotted deers. Oh yes a Peacock also. Not quite what I really wanted to see on a forest Safari after waking up at 5 am.

Bulffalo in NagarHole
Buffalo in NagarHole

 

Peacock with Spotted Deer
Peacock with Spotted Deer

It got to a point where we saw so many spotted deer in the forest, that it stopped being funny anymore. Tigers probably needed more patience, and would not probably show up so easily. I noticed that there were smaller vehicles that took a different route, and were charged more. Had I known that there’s a surge pricing for spotting tigers, I might have signed up.

 

Spotted Deers in Nagarhole
Spotted Deers in Nagarhole

After a disappointing morning, I came back to the homestay, and decided to rest a bit. A sumptuous breakfast happened, where I developed a special love for the idlis that were cooked that morning. Goodbyes were a bit tough to say to Pavita and Ramesh, and too the special set of inmates who were extended family for the last 3 days. Each of us proceeded one after another away from Jagale, and we were the last to leave. We soaked in a bit more of the place, and slowly drove out of our ‘home’ to find our home back in the urban jungle. Maybe this trip was what I needed to plan for a house in the jungle or by the beach. Paying EMI’s for similar looking ugly houses in the city, wasn’t my idea of a great life, but sometimes you need to get into the gutter to clean up stuff. I had a life to sort out back in the city, and as you guessed it the return journey always doesnt carry the same air of expectation as your onward journey. You wish you could be home in just a jiffy, but you need to brave a long journey. That’s life! When we passed by the gates of Pavita’s estate and briefly paused, it looked like the gates were open, and we would soon be back. I proceed on my return trip with a smile. The mood wasn’t that bad afterall!

And We were Back!
And We were Back!

Contacting Jagale Home Stay

You can reach Pavita, who runs this along with her husband Ramesh. She is reachable on email at pavita (dot) ramesh (at) gmail (dot) com. She usually charges around INR 2000 per adult per day. Kids usually come in free. Go here for the great food, the family like atmosphere and the amazing greenery around the place.

Reaching Jagale Home Stay

Jagale Home Stay (Geo Coordinates)about 90-100 kilometres from Mysore, 250 kms from Bangalore, and around 600 kms from Chennai. This is just behind Wayanad, so Wayanad is about 30 minutes split across by the Nagarhole National Reserve, which starts just behind the home stay.

On a Road Trip to Coorg with Family-Part 3

This series features a road trip in Karnataka to Coorg with my family.  Read on to know how to get “Relaxomorphins” at Jagale Home Stay. in Part 3 of this series. Read the earlier parts here (Part-2 and Part-1)

I woke up at 5:15 am, but I kept postponing getting up, and finally when the clock was closer to 6, I woke up with a start, with the real fear of missing the sunrise. There was little time to take my camera, measure the light, check the frame and tripod. I took out my S7 edge and quickly captured the rising sun, which was lighting up the mist in the air around the estate. It was surreal for that fleeting instant, where a silhouette of the plantations was starting to look beautiful on the phone than in front of me. I walked on the chill mud barefoot, recovering from the moist mist attack, from the light of the morning sun. The sun’s rays just had enough warmth that made you enjoy the warmth amidst the winter chill. Coming from Chennai, I had never professed a love for the sun, beating down on my face, but Coorg made me see reason in the sun. No Sun cream, No Slippers, No sweaters. Primal heat amidst the tropical greens was how I spent my morning.

Wake up to a Coorgi Morning
Wake up to a Coorgi Morning

I walked around with music in my ears, pockets in my hand, wanting to explore what lay on either sides of the house entrance gate. I decided to veer right and found myself amidst tall trees. The orangish mud and the dark green coffee leaves seemed to present enough contrast to not notice the mist that still lingered in the distance. There was something imposing about these tall trees, that made you wonder what a tiny speck you are. I saw some birds flying in the distance, and wondered what a view they would have of the estate, and maybe thought its worthwhile to think about buying a drone to capture better views and shots.

 

Pathways adjacent to Jagale Homestay
Pathways adjacent to Jagale Homestay

I walked a little more and saw webs spun by spiders along the route. If I had my son on this walk, I am sure, he would have added that Spiderman must be just around the corner and he would have asked me to help him search for Spiderman.

Spiders Web at Coorg
Spiders Web at Coorg

The morning was fresh and tender and the growing sun was slowly warming up the place, and the spider’s web were around plants and flowers. It was like the spiders were making a statement, that they own this place. They had earmarked their territories through their concentric patterns, and were carefully looking at human intruders who were coming in to their territory.

I just followed the trail and walked where the forest took me. Ramesh had told me that a couple of times, there were animal attacks, so that played like a repeating track slowing me down with every step I took. The workers on the farm were yet to start work, so I did not want to get too lost in the woods, but I loved the feeling of being alone in the woods early in the morning. There is an affinity that early mornings and I have developed over the years. A sleeping and dark world gets illuminated into a fresh new start, and its never too late to make a fresh start. The sun and nature do this every 24 hours. Maybe these are the cues we need to take from nature.

Just as I was walking and thinking that I was alone, I saw a bunch of workers walk past me. They seemed from India’s eastern corners by dialect, and were walking with a need to get somewhere. I could not imagine walking fast with targets to reach in these woods. The green and red contrast already had so many ‘relaxomorphins’ in the estate, that I was busy collecting ‘Pokemon Go type Relaxomorphins’ with every step that I took.

Workers walking through Coorg's Jagale HomeStay
Workers walking through Coorg’s Jagale HomeStay

I went back and went towards the gates, to go and explore the other side of the coffee estate. I found a cute little school, which was probably the school for the village, though I hear from Pavita that there are residential schools in Gonikoppal, the nearest town to Jagale village. The school had a rusted and discolored iron gate in predictable state of dis repair, while the school had a beautiful old world simple charm that I had not seen in a while.

School in Jagale Estate-Coorg
School in Jagale Estate-Coorg

I had not seen tiled roofs in a while, and seeing it in a school made me wonder about the modern day schools housed in spaces that are claustrophobic. I liked the space that the school had for children to play. Walls with an India flag, paintings on walls, and very different non-corporate feel to a school certainly did all it could to rewind back a few years when simplicity was more a part of our DNA. It was a bit like Jagale’s school never really aged after the 80’s. With more facilities like a Reliance Jio SIM card that provides fast internet access and information to everyone living in rural areas, I am really interested in how schools in smaller towns disseminate information from a mobile phone connected to fast internet. Jio’s signals had not made it yet to this village at the time of travelling, but it probably should change a bunch of things in how people get information about their world. Right now, the revolution is probably limited to having a DTH dish in each house to stay connected to what the world is doing.

School in Jagale Estate-Coorg
School in Jagale Estate-Coorg

 

A little further down the school is a narrow road with more mud and less traces of tar, that just about fits a 4 wheeler. That road leads to a little lake and paddy fields, and on that path stay the local helps who are employed by Pavita.

View of the Paddy Fields
View of the Paddy Fields

 

One of the local help ladies is about 70, but she doesn’t quite look her age, as she seemed younger with black hair and a few shades of grey, and seemed physically a little stronger than most women I decide not to take her portrait, but observe her. Her face looks a lot different from the local Kodavas community here. Pavita, informed me that she was from Assam, and had moved here some 50 years back.The previous night, she came inside the compound and was washing dishes, while she was blabbering and wavering about, and then she was helped to her house by Pavita in her car. Pavita tells me that locals who stay in these houses take their wages weekly, and the day they get their money, they go out to the wine shop about 5 kilometres away in Nittur and drink till they roll over. They live a care free life and don’t worry on savings and planning. I also hear that these locals are so connected to their surroundings that they trust nature more than doctors. Once this old lady had a cut in the head and came to work bleeding and even did work. On asking what happened, the lady replied that she had a small fight in her neighborhood and some other lady attacked her. Aggression and brawn rule, and if some injury happens, they let it stay like that. Interesting titbits from the local lives of people in this village, that I got to hear thanks to Pavita.

 

I came back to the house and sat by the other side of the house, which opens into a sitting area that has glass sheets above and some magazines on the table are laid out, which are mostly Readers Digest and Good Housekeeping. It’s a beautiful place to sit by the cushioned chairs and sip your tea/coffee as you let the morning transition into afternoon, with little signs accompanying because of the salubrious weather in Coorg. The only alarm you get for lunch is when your stomach suddenly feels it needs more nourishment. But your lunch here is mostly delayed because of all that lovely food that goes into your stomach during breakfast. Akki Rotis, Idlis, Dosas, Uthappam with the sambhar and chutneys to boot. Lunch was still a light year away, since my stomach was still processing the morning eating riot. This holiday was about relaxing, eating and taking walks at your own pace.

Jagale Home Stay in Coorg
Jagale Home Stay in Coorg

After another round of a heavy lunch, Its time for decisions. Should I go to Pavita’s mezzanine floor to read magazines with the backdrop of a Buddha on a yellow colorful wall, or should I go to sleep in my room? I chose the former, because it has a variety of rare magazines and books from the 70’s and 80’s. I settle against the wall and ask my son to pick a book to read, but he gives up after a while and makes me close my reading session.

The Library of Sorts-Mezzanine Floor-Jagale Home Stay, Coorg
The Library of Sorts-Mezzanine Floor

He takes me down to the foosball table below to engage in some games attempting to score goals, and post that spots a trampoline lying in the corner. He jumps on that in joy and also decides that he will play badminton that way jumping on the trampoline.

Trampoline Fun
Trampoline Fun

Jumping badminton is a new variant that I learn today. My son does this till its tea time, and all his energy levels are expended and promptly goes off to sleep.

Jumping Badminton or Readying for a Smash
Jumping Badminton or Readying for a Smash

 

The house in-mates chose to spend their time going to nearby places. The Indigo flight captain’s family chose to travel on both the days to the Golden Temple Monastery and to Thala Kaveri. The other set of people have gone to Nagarhole for the afternoon safari. I along with another family chose to spend our holiday doing nothing except for a few walks around the estate. We save Nagarhole for our last day, by going on a morning safari and then we’d leave back to our homes by 11 am. But that’s for tomorrow.

 

Pavita comes around and asks us if we are ready for some snacks and tea, and I say yes. So I went over to the chairs near the foosball table and sat with Pavita and Ramesh. I feel that it must be tough to have guests at your place, but Pavita and Ramesh both manage their time well by having time to themselves and at the same time, managing to spend time with people who stay at their place. It almost felt like we were staying at a relatives place away from the city, who were allowing us our space and at the same time cared about us. Pavita’s rooms are tastefully done up with her choice of wood, bedspreads, curtains and bathroom accessories, without giving a feel of a luxury place that’s disconnected from nature. I spend a couple of hours with Ramesh talking about cricket, parenting and ask him about Kodava festivals, of which they seem to have 3 main festivals in the year, the most important one being where they chase wild boars, re-emphasising their identity as the warrior clan. Its dinner time already and I am expecting a lavish feast to belch burps into the clear night sky as all the folks gather for another long discussion. I could get used to this pace of life!

 

To be continued in Part-4

Contacting Jagale Home Stay

You can reach Pavita, who runs this along with her husband Ramesh. She is reachable on email at pavita (dot) ramesh (at) gmail (dot) com.

Reaching Jagale Home Stay

Jagale Home Stay (Geo Coordinates)about 90-100 kilometres from Mysore, 250 kms from Bangalore, and around 600 kms from Chennai. This is just behind Wayanad, so Wayanad is about 30 minutes split across by the Nagarhole National Reserve, which starts just behind the home stay. Go here for great food and relaxation in the plantations.

On a Road Trip to Coorg with Family-Part 2

This series features a road trip in Karnataka to Coorg with my family. This is the second in the series, continued from Part-1

The Greens of Jagale Estate
The Greens of Jagale Estate

We reached Jagale at 5 in the evening, driving through Hunsur and Nittur. The presence of the greens of the crops, has such a soothing effect on your holiday. No Horns, No vehicles in the distance, and I was already loving the quietness of the place. This little estate was called Jagale, and the only problem was that all houses had the name of Jagale by their gates, and this time I trusted Google maps to help me find the place. I saw Pavita’s husband, Ramesh walking in the distance with his dogs and I waved out to him, as we slowly ambled along the lane going in to their house to see the familiar place.

Entrance of Jagale HomeStay
Entrance of Jagale HomeStay

As soon as I saw the view of her house, I knew I was in familiar territory. My son loved the open space, and my family loved the idea of taking a break. There are about 3 rooms in the main house, and a couple of other rooms in the adjacent block. I had last time stayed in the terrace of the main block, but this time, I was given the rooms in the adjacent block. The food however was served in the main block, and that was our window to get to know all the guests who had come over, and that is the secret sauce of a place like this, which we would get to know over the course of the next 3 days.

Main Block of Jagale Homestay
Main Block of Jagale Homestay

The main block house has outer borders on two sides, filled with chairs, hammock, books, a foosball table and an area with chairs covered by glass sheets. Both these sides are accompanied by flowers and a mini garden of sorts, though there is a bigger garden around the house. The first border is where you go to relax and do nothing. I loved the hammock while my son loved the foosball table, which was just enough for his smaller frame. In no time, the sun set and it was already 8 pm, which was time for dinner at the main table.

At the dinner table at Jagale Homestay
At the dinner table at Jagale Homestay

I had a couple from Bangalore with their kids, an Indigo pilot, a lawyer from Bangalore over the table, and that’s when we started exchanging stories on our lives. This is the best part of the homestay experience, where you meet new people and they become a part of your lives over a weekend, apart from the hosting couple. Pavita’s speciality at her house is the pork she makes, which gets her loyal repeat guests. Given we are vegetarian, we  are satiated every time we come to the table to eat, with delectable fare spread consisting of the usual Sambhar, rasam, stew and spinach curry for the first evening. She used the vegetables available in her own garden and every meal was a 3 course meal at her place, which left us feeling full and relaxed. Pavita has a couple of full time cooks, who help her with the round-the-clock cooking, and keeping the guests fall in love with the primal instincts of nature and food. Your body discovers “RelaxoMorphins” out of nowhere, thanks to bland city life that you lead!

The Homestay Family at Jagale
The Homestay Family at Jagale

The kids curled up on the sofa while we were having dinner to watch television, and it was so nice watching them at ease, while we went about our dinner. Pavita’s place has a Tata Sky connection, but no wired internet connection at the time of the writer going there, partly because BSNL provides very patchy service. Reliance Jio signals don’t come anywhere within a 10 kilometre range, and Airtel has a meek 2G signal which is just enough to send Whatsapp messages slightly delayed. So, if you have any plans of working from Jagale Estate, please focus only on offline work that may not require an internet connection. I was looking forward to connecting with nature and not so much with the world-wide-web, and in a while I went to sleep with the evening chill and the warmth inside the room, having a plan to wake up before sunrise for the next day.

 

 

To Be continued in Part-3

Contacting Jagale Home Stay

You can reach Pavita, who runs this along with her husband. She is reachable on email at pavita (dot) ramesh (at) gmail (dot) com.

Reaching Jagale Home Stay

Jagale Home Stay (Geo Coordinates)about 90-100 kilometres from Mysore, 250 kms from Bangalore, and around 600 kms from Chennai. This is just behind Wayanad, so Wayanad is about 30 minutes split across by the Nagarhole National Reserve, which starts just behind the home stay. Go here for great food and relaxation in the plantations.

On a Road Trip to Coorg with Family-Part 1

This series features a road trip in Karnataka to Coorg with my family. A year back, I had made the drive to Pavita’s place, after getting fried in the Tamil Nadu sun, as my car’s AC unit collapsed 3 hours into the trip from Chennai. 16 hours after we started from Chennai, I reached Pavita’s place at midnight and I had Bing Maps for directions, and it required Pavita to drive down to where we were to finally go and reach her estate. This time it was far more relaxed. Read on to know how to get “Relaxomorphins” at Jagale Home Stay.

The purpose of a road trip is to amble and see sights on both sides of the road, and to reach the destination feeling relaxed, so that you could unwind even more. This time, I decided to break my journey and stop the night over in Sravanabelagola (around 200kms from Bangalore and about 90 kms from Coorg), and then proceed at my own pace to reach Pavita’s place [Jagale Home Stay] The good thing about a drive is one gets to see beautiful views of the real rustic India. I  end up stop over at places that don’t probably make it to a map, unless you zoom in on the map. I was even more ecstatic stopping every now and then, since my son soaked all the sights and said “Appa, I love tripping”!

Driving to Coorg (Karnataka)
Driving to Coorg (Karnataka)

The road was alluring as the left and right seemed to converged upon a patch of tar that was not visible as the trees came in the way. Cars on either side meant, that we were competing with the long weekend crowd that was there. I still did not succumb to the thought of rushing through the roads, before I have more cars sharing space on the road. That’s the half the stress on a road trip reduced.

I decided to test Google Map’s skills, by not selecting the path that it suggested. I took a long winding route, and was amply rewarded with pot holes, mud roads and extremely slow speeds. That trio you need to endure before you find picture postcard worthy places staring out of the car window. Yes, one more stop, but this was worth it. A beautiful little railway station, behind a canopy of palm trees and paddy fields. The sun was out and the greens and the blues had a brilliant contrast which made the scene even more beautiful.

The scenic village of Hampapura
The scenic village of Hampapura

Any Road trip requires some change of weather, for you to be suddenly take notice of the smell of the monsoon or the fact that the sun has taken a break. This time the weather cooled a bit, and it became overcast. I thought the monsoons were done in Karnataka for this time of the year, but it showed up. I thought it was a good time for a break to wake up my son, who had fallen asleep to the swings of the air conditioner. This was closer to some settlement and there was a tea shop around. Cooler monsoon weather and Indian Chai have a bond that lightens up any driver on the road to take a break.

Srirangapatna’s cloudy hues of grey and green!
Srirangapatna’s cloudy hues of grey and green!

My son spotted some marigold’s on the other side, and I said, lets go and explore. The yellow marigold flowers were planted in a disciplined manner which had patterns of planting, and between them were wet patches which my son duly went and jumped on. I know the detergent ads say “Daag Ache Hain” but as a parent on a road trip with family, my heart skips a beat after seeing my son playing around in the wet mud, dirtying his shoes and clothes.

Marigolds in Srirangapatna
Marigolds in Srirangapatna
Getting Naughty in Mud
Getting Naughty in Mud

 

The long winding roads, and a confused sun, means we have a very different light staring down at us, as we try and find our way to the little town of Nittur which is like the mathematical concept of limits. The more you drive, you still think its nearby and a couple of turns away, but it still has not been reached. The view of the road from the top of the curve makes it exciting to look at. I go and stop my car, and wait for another car to drive into my frame. A few more cares fit in, while I go back and chew some gum. They say it makes you stay awake on such drives. But with a lens dangling around my neck, and such beautiful sights en route, I am always alert and ready to capture a slice of nature to take back as memoirs that will lighten up Facebook’s servers and the ‘J’ meters of those who decided to stay back home for the long weekend.

The Long Sloping Road to Coorg
The Long Sloping Road to Coorg

To be continued in Part-2

Contacting Jagale Home Stay

You can reach Pavita, who runs this along with her husband. She is reachable on email at pavita (dot) ramesh (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Reaching Jagale Home Stay

Jagale Home Stay (Geo Coordinates)about 90-100 kilometres from Mysore, 250 kms from Bangalore, and around 600 kms from Chennai. This is just behind Wayanad, so Wayanad is about 30 minutes split across by the Nagarhole National Reserve, which starts just behind the home stay. Go here for great food and relaxation in the plantations. 

 

Travel Postcards-02

Today’s Photo series features the iconic Vithala Temple and the Anjanadri Hill Temple, from Hampi( Karnataka) in India. Now go get your tea, and read on!

“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”

Panoramic View of the Vitthala Temple
Panoramic View of the Vitthala Temple
View from Anjanadri Hill-Hampi
View from Anjanadri Hill-Hampi

The first photo was taken in Hampi, over the side of the Tunghabadra river, that houses the Vithala temple. The whole place has a ‘What If’ feel. What if, this whole empire was not razed down to ruins? What if, this place was teeming with people? I would love for it to be captured or shown via Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality when you wear a headset and strut through the town. Hampi is basically yesterday’s empire frozen to today’s times. Its interesting to see how the temple was the centre of most activities. There was a place for trade, outside the temple with a stable for horses, and a rest place for travellers to bathe. Today all that stands are ruins of a kingdom that once was the envy of many. The boulders and rocks, add the extra charm to the modern day rustic Hampi, especially during the golden hour sun-light.

I took the help of a local guide called Basava, who took me to the top of a hill, that gave me this near panoramic view of the Vithala temple. I call it near panoramic, since this was shot on an 18 mm focal length, on a cropped sensor SLR. I wish I had my Tokina 11-16 lens on this trip. It would have made for a little more surreal imagery of the Vithala Temple

The second photo was taken on the top of Anjanadri Hill, which is the birthplace of the Indian deity-Hanuman. These places at the top of a hill during sunrise or sunset. Hampi seen from above, is probably the way it was ordained to be. The soft greenery that adorns the rough landscape, shows you how contrast can make a great scene.

Have you been here to Hampi? Which is your favourite place? Do mention in the comments below! Do watch this space for a longer post on these places!

 

 

Quick Bangalore Getaways- Conquering Makalidurga- Part II

Makalidurga is a great rail and hill trek, and can be classified as a quick 2 hour getaway from Bangalore for light trekkers, with an option to camp out at the top of the hill.

This article continues from Part-1 We walked along the track till the sign-board of 54/400. This is the point when you turn left and start climbing the mountain to start the actual ascent part of the trek. There is no best time as such to trek. We did this early i the morning at 6 am, after sleeping the night at a pyol of a house, next to the railway station. You could do this trek in a day.

Rail Trek to Makalidurga
Railway Tracks near Makalidurga

As we started the ascent, we were not quite able to find the exact route to the top of the hill. We were content with a little trek, and wanted to soak in the views of the this little hill just doing trainspottting. Waiting for the train seemed fun from the time, the twilight gave way to the morning sun.

Makalidurga Fort Trek
Trainspotting from a Hill!

Usually trains from Sathya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam, and Hyderabad, find their way through this route before stopping at Yelahanka railway station.

Rail Trek from Makalidurga
Trainspotting!

The train seemed to be the only real attraction to look at from this height apart from the peace and calm one expects to find at this height and isolation. I was told that there would be views of Gudamagere lake nearby, but that is something we did not find during our trek. A blogger however recalls the views of the lake from the top. That’s something for our next trip, where we spend more time trying to find the right directions to go to the top.

 

Or maybe, it was summer, there were very little of green growth of leaves, or water bodies around.

View from Makalidurga Rail Trek
Dry Summer!

 

We found a dilapitated structure on a plateau, which was amok with monkeys. It almost felt like we were unwelcome visitors to their part of the kingdom. A monkey was nibbling around the remnants of a Nandini Curd packet

Monkeys of Makalidurga
Monkey’s breakfast!

 

And then the monkey discovered it has company but by that time, it has devoured the contents of the packet dry.

Monkeys of Makalidurga
Sorry Mate, No Breakfast for you!

There was even a nice pool we discovered. Maybe if we came in the monsoons, this place could be fun, if we camp for a couple of days here.

Makalidurga Hill Trek to a Pool
Private Pool, but where are the humans?

The pool over looked a little house, and a small shrine. I did not see any humans at that spot though. The place looked very serene and simple, and I thought, I should now trek back down and maybe savour the morning breeze for a little snooze.

Makalidurga Hill Trek
Peace by the Pool

 

On the way back, I found a good rock to peacefully take a 10 minute nap, and then we proceeded back to the place where we had parked the car.

Makalidurga Hill Trek by the Railway Trek
Extra Peace by the hill

 

After earmarking the place, and a resolve to come back better prepared, we decided to leave back to the city and the trip with some tea and coffee, at the nearest sign of civilization.

Rail Trek to Makalidurga
Morning Chai!