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.

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