Monday 17 September 2018

Jog Falls and the scenic routes on the way

When some plans get cancelled at 4.30am others are made at 5.30am. That is how our trip to Jog falls happened last weekend. Our friend couldn't come with us on a planned drive to Jog falls because his daughter was not keeping well. Poor girl, she was the most excited about this trip to a waterfall. Once we cancelled the trip at 4.30am the immediate was to cancel the accommodation and get back to sleep. But the wanderer partner of mine, wouldn't sleep and started thinking about plan-Bs. Thus Revv automatic Celerio was booked at 5.30am and was delivered at 7.30 -an hour earlier than promised. From the previous experience, it was too much to assume Revv will not do on-time delivery.

Pedalling really hard back home from weekend ride, we were cruising through NICE road to Tumkur road (NH48) by 8am. The route was Ecity – NICE Road – Dabasbet – Tumkur – Tiptur – Arasikere - Kadur – Birur - Tarikere – Bhadravati – Shivamogga – Ripponpet - Hosanagara – Nagara deviate right towards Nittur– Nittur – Siganduru road – (right at Sasigolli to proceed to Huruli ) 443 km. Click here for Gmaps

After Shimoga the traffic was smooth and tarmac was really nice. Ganesha troops made us stop at every 10km and delayed our ETA at least by an hour. It was sure that we will be missing the last launch at 5.30pm to cross Linganamakki dam. So we detoured via Hosanagar-Nagara-Nittur towards Byakodu. Many more Ganesha troops to come! Finally we reached Huruli by 8pm.

The early morning walk around Huruli was breathtaking. The green paddy fields bordered by the mountains, I was spellbound watching the overflowing river and the fog above that. The lush green grassy lands after the heavy monsoons was mesmerizing. Later we visited the cattle shed to see the newest member of the group - a tiny calf born a few days ago. Then it was time for a delicious finger licking breakfast of dosa and freshly made butter with liquid jaggery. Sunay fished out a chess board and pieces, almost 40yrs old, somewhere from the attic of this century old house.

There are two ways to get to Jog Falls from here. One going to Sagara then through Talaguppa to Jog Falls (click here for Gmaps). Other is more scenic with good views and winding roads, which goes through Kogar, Muppane and then to Jog (click here for Gmaps). We chose the second option.

Though there was not much water in the falls, it was a gratifying experience hiking all the way to the bottom of the falls. It is not the same as it used to be, with all the fencing around for safety. It used to be a good hike - no staircase with handrails - but now it is a walk through 1000 odd steps. A visit to Jog Falls is not complete without hiking down and watching the mighty Falls from down below. This makes it look more gigantic. Megha had stories to tell about the time when she stayed at Jog with one of her cousin. Also, how it used to be a mandatory visit (and hike) to the Jog Falls and Kodachadri every time she would go from Bangalore to Huruli.

When we reached Jog Falls parking lot, maybe due to the excitement of seeing the falls, I had forgotten to switch off the parking lights of Celerio. Mea Culpa!Being really exhausted from the hike , I tried to start the car in a hurry and the it won't crank. The rental car Celerio with an automatic gearbox, we can't push and start in 2nd gear. So we called up Revv customer care. They arranged a call back from Bangalore. Later, I got another number to call to reach the Road Side Assistance. Help was offered and frequent updates were given by SMS and calls.

We had our lunch and were watching the rainbow overcast waterfalls, whilst waiting for help from RSA to jump-start the car. At around 4pm, I told Megha to try her golden hands to switch on the engine. Maybe because of her golden hands or the warmth of the Sun, engine started!! Our way back was through Talaguppa – Sagara and then to Shimoga. Stopping at Tarikere for dinner we deviated from here to come through Hosadurga and join the NH at Hiriyur (click here for Gmaps). The tarmac on this route is fantastic except for a few bad stretches, way better than the other Arsikere-Birur route. Occasional spells of rain and heavy traffic on NH48 made it more difficult to drive. We were home by 2.30AM.

Saturday 8 September 2018

BR Hills - Confluence of Western and Eastern Ghats

BR Hills has been on our bucket list from the time we watched the Kannada movie by famous director Puttana Kanagal “Sharapanjara”. Looking at the mesmerizing views of the BR Hills in the song which talks not only about the place but many other aspects of life, we had to visit this fascinating hill station. 

Evening ride on Mysore road was surprisingly smooth, with less traffic, covering the distance in 3hrs. We made it in time and finding the Good Touch Serviced Apartments on Google Maps was effortless. This newly started serviced apartment is centrally located but tucked away from hustle and bustle of the city. The rooms are well maintained with comfortable beds, air-conditioner and sparkling clean bathroom. There is a common kitchen with basic utensils required for cooking and a dining hall to peacefully relish self cooked food.

We chose to taste the local cuisine and headed to Nalpak after high recommendation from the locals. It was close to a kilometer away from the apratment and was refreshing to walk on the road minus traffic. Another option nearby is the Trattorias which dishes up cuisines from Italian to Continental to Chinese as well as Indian along with a German Bakery. They have another restaurant at Varkala, Kerala. 

Starting early next day, we followed the route suggested by Google Maps to B.R Hills. The route after T.Narasipura gets pretty as a picture with paddy fields and sugarcane plantation on either side of the road. The tarmac of the road is excellent until you reach a junction where the road forks with one going towards Kollegala, and M.M Hills. From here, until Santhamarahalli the road is rough with many potholes. From Santhamarahalli the ride is smooth with good roads but be prepared for the traffic. Many buses ply on this route to B.R Hills. With the narrow and winding roads especially at the climbs, buses tend to go at snail’s pace. Nonetheless, the ride through the forest is enticing.
There is an entry/parking fee near the famous Biligiri Ranganatha Swamy Temple on top of the hill. Temple is at the dead end on this route, beyond which is only wilderness. Take sometime out and relax at this temple atop the cliff and enjoy the breathtaking views it offers. Parking is available close to the temple. Buses stop a few meters downhill, which means you will have to hike up a couple of meters – on the road – to reach the temple. 

If you would like to stay at B.R Hills- Rajathadri seems to be the only option. Rs 1350 per person including food, on twin sharing basis. Tel: +91 90368 09218 / 9740820508

The alternate route to Mysore is more enchanting and gives a chance to experience more of forest, though it is longer. Traffic on this route is lesser and fewer buses ply on this stretch. Right in front of the K.Gudi (Kyatadevara Gudi) Government school the Soligas - indigenous people - were selling the appetizing produce from the forest. It was impossible not to gobble up a good amount of delicious jack fruit. Government runs the school for children between Grade 1 and 5 after which they will have to go to the school run by VGKK under the inspiring leadership of Dr.H. Sudarshan.

On Sunday, we visited the Zoo, a well maintained zoo with a variety of flora and fauna. E-tickets can be bought online in advance Rs 80/adult Rs 40/child. Zoo is closed on Tuesday and open from 8.30am to 5.30pm on all other days. Most of the animals seem to be happy but they must be missing the vast expanses of the forest.

It was definitely a bad idea to start riding in the hot sun from Mysore to Bangalore with occassional traffic snarls at the towns on this route. Better to start riding after 4pm or early next morning. With the Bharat Bandh declared for next day, we didn’t want to extend our trip further. Reached Bangalore in 5hrs, with a few pit stops for food and fuel.