Spice Jet welcomed us on board flat 4 hours late, reason the first significant fog delay of the year in Kolkata. My plans for the day were gone for a toss that moment itself. While reaching Bangalore 4.5 hours late, adding more spice to Spice Jet’s journey we found we had lost one luggage, not an ideal start for a 3 weeks trip but found a luggage with similar color in the luggage belt that was the only one left out. Took it to Spice counters and a quick call there after, things luckily got sorted out. The funny guy even boarded in a local bus with my luggage, came back apologetically, I too suddenly became apologetic, as if it was my mistake too to bring a bag with same color but anyway felt extremely relieved when I got it.
Next moment discovered the driver who only can speak couple of words like “Adjust(o)” (used when there is any problem, be it taking an overtake in a blind turn of a narrow State Highway at a speed of 80 kmph and saved by a whisker from a big truck or asking him to stay at car when we are off for a quick temple darshan and then realized he gone in a queue for Prasad and came back an hour later) and “Parwa Nehin” (used when there is no issue, like in morning if I ask whether he had a good sleep last night or when I see him sleeping with steering in his hands on a NH and requesting him to take a quick tea break) those match with my known stock of words. I specifically asked Sathish, the guy who offered me a very new Xylo in an attractive rate, to provide a driver who at least can understand some Hindi/English. But it was not the case and I felt this language issue was not at all any less challenging than venturing the roads of Ladakh or Arunachal during the whole trip.
I was supposed to start from BIAL (Bangalore Int’l Airport) by 9.30 am and I finally started at sharp 2.30pm for Mysore after fog and lost bag episode. Fortunately the driver had the long list of places I intended to travel (that I sent in an email to Sathish) translated in Kannada but as usual I was not in a position to validate what actually was translated. With all courage, I finally started and decided that I would straight head to Mysore without any detour on that day as I was already late. The roads are fabulous in many parts of Karnataka and especially B’lore -Mysore was a breeze, we cruised on an average of 100 and straight head to KRS dam for a light and sound show. In between took a quick lunch at MacD in Maddur, the only thing in the whole day that worked as planned. KRS dam was good but nothing extra ordinary and a big put off was the huge crowd. That’s a problem we faced almost everywhere where there was a temple/ruin/park anything. We have seen lots of students coming in for some educational trip and huge crowds in all these places which sometimes make it difficult to enjoy the place itself. Not sure if it was because of festive month like December or it’s common in this part of India. My daughter even got angry on her school when she realized that’s all other schools in earth go for so many wonderful trips with their students 🙂 We somehow escaped the place with lots of efforts and realized the day was not for us and straight away moved towards Hotel. At Mysore we were booked in KSTDC Hoysala and our driver (Venkatesh) was proved to be a person with almost no road/direction sense and we finally found the hotel after crossing it for 4 times. Rooms were just ok but the biggest problem of KSTDC was you won’t find any kind of service once you check in. If your geyser/AC/fan all are ok, you are fine but if for some reason you need any manual intervention and call for service you would certainly feel the heat. So if booked in KSTDC, examine the room well before checking and that would help you a lot.
Car Odo Reading:
Airport – 44010
End at Mysore Hotel – 44229
Talkad – the figure carved out of a single stone in overhang:
Somnathapura – Hoysala Architecture:
Next day Venkatesh understood (at least that was my understanding) that we would start early by 6.00 and would try to cover some lost time of first day. We got ready at 6.00 sharp and came to car to find him sleeping in the car. He woke up soon and with his usual smile and “Parwa Nehin” took another 30 mins to get ready and finally we started around 6.45 for Shivasamudram. Except 15 km of bad road near Mallavalli, the rest of the road was superb and we reached Gaganachukki around by 9.00am. The falls were still very impressive even though it’s not at its best which usually be in Monsoon. We went to Barachukki side too but by that time school kids started coming and crowds were too much. This side one can go very close to the falls by walking down and taking the coracle. We didn’t have time neither were very willing with so many people around.
We started our journey to Talakad which is definitely an interesting place where you would find 16th century temples Buried in sand dunes, discovered,excavated and rebuilt by ASI. The only thing beyond my understanding was why these temples are not preserved as Archeological ruins only, I have seen religious activities are going on inside them and not sure if that would be good to preserve this invaluable heritage properties for future.
Next we moved towards Somnathpura an excellent and must visit Hoysala architecture especially if you don’t like heavy crowds. It’s still not that crowded as Belur or Halebidu but wonderfully decorated and worth all effort to visit that. Thanks to few experienced travellers who strongly suggested me to visit this place. We spent almost 2 hours here and then finally proceeded to Ranganatithu which is again a very nice place but you should be there in morning 8.30 when it just opens or may be in last trip of 5.30 to watch more birds. We have seen a few birds and crocodiles and were informed that Feb is best time to see the birds here. The palace lighting was amazing and shouldn’t be missed out at any cost. The timing is for 45 mins between 7 to 7.45 on Sunday only. My wife picked up a few Mysore silk too in the middle of such a busy day 🙂
Car Odo Reading:
Mysore – 44229
Mallavalli – 44290
Gaganchukki (Shivasamudram)- 44313
Barachukki – 44330
Talakad – 44365
Somnathpura – 44398
Ranganatithu – 44445
Mysore – 44474
Somnathapura Temple – Hoysala Architecture:
Ranganatithu Bird Sanctuary:
I wasn’t taking any chances and from this day onwards I called Venkatesh an hour before our scheduled departure time and also follow up in every 15 minutes:-) So we somehow got ready and started our day by 6.30 in the morning. Today’s objective was to enjoy the forest drive of Bandipur/Mudumalai. Till Gundalpet the road was superb and it was cruising at 100kmph. Had breakfast at Gundalpet and entered Bandipur NP limit soon after. The drive is really amazing, you would easily spot deer and elephants on your way. The road gradually becomes more scenic as we enter Tamilnadu towards Mudumalai. If you are in a Karnataka registered commercial vehicle, at Gudalur you need to pay TN State Tax that costs Rs. 400/- and valid for 7 days.
Those who are proceeding to Waynad, usually don’t take this route, the direct route is from Gundalpet towards Muthunga, Sulthan Bathery and Kalapetta. We tried to make our journey little longer and actually trying to take Gudalur – Meppadi – Kalapetta route but finally landed up to Gudalur – Sultan Bathery – Kalapetta route. Venkatesh created one more mess here and drove straight to Kalapetta without paying Kerala State Tax. I repeatedly warned him and he with his “Parwa Nehin” smile, keep driving. Once at Kalapetta we headed to RTO Office to pay the tax but were told that the tax can be collected only at entry point and we were advised to go back to pay the toll. We really had no option left and I finally decided to move towards Gundalpet border so that I can at least include Muthunga WLS evening safari.
Traveling back 50 odd km we reached Muthunga check post and this time I spoke to the tax collection booth fellow and to make it simple I mentioned I am coming from Mysore. Things sorted out quickly, paid Rs.140 for a 7 day one round trip permit in Kerala and we quickly headed for the Muthunga Safari. Seen wild boars, sambars, deer and lots of wild elephants in the safari. While coming back to Kalapetta, we witnessed a brilliant sunset on the way and finally reached Hotel Woodlands in Kalapetta. Hotel was nice and food was excellent.
Car Odo Reading:
Mysore – 44474
Mudumalai – 44574
Gudalur – 44589
Devarshola – 44601
Bitherkad – 44613
Sultan Bathery – 44634
Muthunga WLS – 44700
Kalapetta – 44742
Mysore Palace at Morning:
Bandipur National Park and road towards Mudumalai:
Enroute Mudumalai – Sultan Bathery:
Tea Estates in the border of TN and Kerala on the way to Sulthan Bathery:
Wild Elephants at Muthunga WLS:
Beautiful Sunset on the way from Muthunga to Kalapetta (Waynad):
Hotel Woodlands, where we stayed at Kalapetta in evening:
Next: Karnataka – Waynad