Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ha Ha.... She turns 29…a year older & elder!!!

Last week, on 21st March, my wife turned 29, a year older & elder than me. I am really happy for her & she hates me for the same…… :)

Realizing that this would be her last year in her twenties, she had developed cold feet since a month before her birthday. Thereafter, she had completed a maniacal assessment of she should have, must have, done this, bought that, had this, reached here, gone there etc & prepared a to-do list for the coming year. One of the first things on the list was to visit the Bhadra Wild Life Sanctuary, situated midst of the Western Ghats of Chickmaglur district.

21st March being a Monday, we decided to travel on the weekend. We had booked are stay with Jungle Lodges. We started early, by 5.15AM & took the Tumkur- Gubbi-Tiptur-Arsikere- Tarakeri- Lakavalli route to reach the River Tern Lodge. Located at the edge of Bhadra River; adjoining the northern boundaries of the Bhadra Tiger Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary, the property offered a perfect blend of nature & wildlife.

We checked in at 11 AM & caught up with some lost sleep. By 1.30 PM, we freshened up & headed straight for lunch at the Golghar.

At 4.30 PM we had our first wildlife safari. Bhadra Wild life Sanctuary offers safe haven to a variety of wildlife including spotted deer, tigers, leopards, sambar, wild boar, etc & also houses a rich avian life with birds like the Grey junglefowl, Fish Eagle, Painted bush quail, Emerald dove, Great black woodpecker, Malabar parakeet ,Hill myna, etc. It is also a breeding ground for migrating birds River Tern. The resort gets its name from this. On our two hour drive inside the jungle, we got to see sambar deer, herds of wild boar & spotted deer, barking deer & couple of peacocks. On our way back the b’day gul was lucky to get a glimpse of a leopard. Known for its agility, the leopard swiftly escaped into the thick bushes even before I had turned my face. Our bad luck of not spotting a tiger continued on this jungle jaunt as well.

After the wonderful safari ride the evening was followed by beer, chicken & bonfire. The night ended with a sumptuous dinner.

The next morning started with a boat safari into the back waters of Bhadra reservoir to yield some great wildlife viewing opportunities. We could spot variety of migratory birds like river tern, fish eagle, grey jungle fowl, white ibis & Egret just to name a few. With growling tummies, after the safari, we headed straight for breakfast.

With tummies fully satiated, we went to try our hands at some water based adventures viz. water trampoline & kayaking. Swimming was never our forte, but the joy was jumping off the huge floating donut was super fun!!!!

By the time we finished with the water sports activities, it was 11:30 am & it was time to go back to Bangalore. With fond memories of Priya’s birthday we headed back to Bangalore.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kit Kat Break!!!

It was a regular lousy Saturday morning. The sun rose a little later this morning for us; approx at 10 AM. The morning started with the regular dose of grumping, screaming & thrashing from Priya. The reasons were numerous & all well known to me; news paper lying in toilet, clothes not put for a wash, wallet & laptop left in the drawing room, etc. Within an hour’s time, we put everything in its place & assembled at the breakfast table with a big question in mind, “What to do next?” Nothing much to do, we decided to drive down for the umpteenth time to Mysore.

We packed & left the house by noon. With Namma metro construction in progress, traffic sucked & it was about 2’o clock by the time we hit the state highway SH17. We halted at around 2.30 PM @ KADU MANE to grab a quick lunch. It was 4.30 PM by the time we reached the hotel. Sehwag & Kohli had already completed their centuries & India was nicely positioned to smell its first victory of the 10th ICC world cup. Damn, I had missed it all!!

With 375 runs on board, I decided to give a miss to the second innings & drive down to the Mysore palace, illuminated with more than 96,000 lights. Nothing can ever supersede the magnificent images of the illuminated palace. We spent the night at the Hotel Park Lane enjoying cold beer and listening to soothing Indian classical music.

Next morning, I rose early to catch up with the highlights of yesterday’s game. The highlights & Priya’s sleep concluded at the same time. Having caught up with a good sleep, Priya was all excited to go for a morning walk at 10AM to get some breakfast & also to shop. Luckily, the weather was pleasant & we enjoyed our walk till the DevRaj market. We checked out at 12.00 & started our journey back to Bangalore.

Mysore continues to charm us each time we visit it. The old architecture; the deserted streets; disciplined traffic; the green cover; the majestic palace; the famous Mysore market; the not so famous clock tower, etc, keeps beckoning us for yet another visit. We hope the city never changes & continues to amuse us each time we decide to sneak in a Kit Kat break…… :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eco... Nature… Adventure……

The last outing with my brother was a complete disaster. Last March, when he was here; we had taken him to Yelagiri hills with an aim to do Paragliding and also to escape from the Bangalore’s heat…. However, to everyone’s disappointment, the so called “poor man’s Ooty” turned out to be a scorching hot place & the Paragliding there, was shut down long back. To further add to his frustration, we also made him pedal a boat in the hot sun……

Since then, he never believed in our “Eco… Nature… Adventure” Holiday theme which we were so proud of. He always mocked us, saying that, “For Prasad & Priya, Eco & Nature were synonymous to visiting a nearby hill & Adventure was synonymous to a mere boat ride.” We were so geared up to prove him wrong, on his recent visit.

We decided for a day visit to Jungle Lodges @ Bheemeshwari, to try their new adventure package which included Zip-Line, Parallel-Walk, Burma-loops, Kayaking & Coracle Ride. In spite of my strong persuasion to start early, we ended up leaving Bangalore at 9.00am & reached Bheemeshwari around noon.

The first group of tasks was to complete the Burma Loop & Parallel walk followed by Zip line before we could grab some lunch. I decided to lead the brigade of 3 for the first task of Parallel walk. However, the initial few steps of the upward climb on the shaky ladder brought tears to my eyes and I returned back to the ground. The man of the house, “Ms Priya” attempted next. Even with a shaky start, she managed to cross the two rope bridge. My next attempt was at the Burma Loops or the “Inca Walks”. Traversing across the swaying rope bridge really needed a gutsy effort. I almost had my heart in my mouth as soon as I reached the center & looked down!! I gave a miss to the Parallel Walk.

The next activity was the Commando Drop or Zip Line. The slide down on the wildly swaying rope, 40 feet above the ground, really evoked fear and brought out the lord’s name!!! For Ninad, all the three activities were a cakewalk.

With our growling tummies, we headed straight to the “Ghol Ghar” for lunch. Chilled beer served with homemade like chicken curry & egg curry really helped us to rejuvenate for the next set of adventure activities.

Kayaking through the rocks & boulders of the majestic Cauvery River was another mind blowing experience!! The Coracle ride again through the Cauvery was like an icing on the cake. After a final round of coffee and “garam pakodas” we left for Bangalore.

The getaway, I believe is an ideal one for those who would love to enjoy the calm environs with a dash of adventure. Finally we managed to convince Ninad that our weekend getaways are based on the theme of “Eco... Nature… Adventure……” and by Adventure, we mean the real feel of adrenaline rush!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Adventurous Weekend!!

Drove through the thick tropical forests of Nagarhole National Park…. Experienced the thrills of White water rafting …trekked through myriad streams and waterfalls to the Irpu fall…… Stayed amidst lush coffee bushes on the valley of Bramhagiri hill range….. Relished the authentic cuisine of Kodagu….. All this and a breath of air! @ Our last weekend getaway to South Coorg……..

Last weekend was a long weekend, off for Ed and Ganesha Chaturthi. We decided to visit South Coorg for some adventure with white water rafting and trekking. We started from Bangalore at 6.00AM and took the Bangalore- Mysore- Hansur- Nagahole-Kutta route to reach Irpu falls. It was a 7 hr drive, with last 1 hr drive through the woody landscape of Nagarhole forest where we were greeted by wild elephants, peacock and herds of spotted dears.

We had booked our stay with Hillside View Homestay. On reaching, we were welcomed with warm smile by Jimmi & Indu, the owner of the Homestay. The location of the Homestay was very picturesque. Nestled amidst the coffee bushes, the front side of the house opened to the beautiful Irpu falls. We quickly freshened up and headed straight for lunch. Indu had prepared delicious chicken curry in Coorgi style which was served with white rice & ghee rice. Over the lunch, we introduced each other and chit chatted in general for an hour. Post lunch we headed for the most awaited part of the trip… White water rafting!!!

We were asked to assemble at the base camp of Ace Paddlers at 3.30PM. Ace Paddlers are Adventure Tourism consultants for the Karnataka Tourism Industry offering nature-packed thrilling outdoor activities. With just two of us, we were clubbed with another Enthu group from Hyderabad. Firstly, we were asked to put on all the safety gears and carry the raft to the bank of the river…… A tough task!!! The instructor then briefed us on the finer aspects of white water rafting including the rescue & paddling instructions… “Left forward… Right backward…. All forward…. Left backward. ..Right forward….all back….huuuh.” Confusing enough for a toddler. By the time we grabbed our paddle and stepped into the raft all the briefing was lost…:). We were just tooooo Xcited to Xperience the thrill…. With plenty of rains witnessed in last few days, rafting through the 4 rapids of the fast flowing white water was a mind blowing experience!! Especially the last two rapids named “Ram jane” & “Do or Die” were the most exhilarating.

After rafting, we drove back through the beautiful Tea plantation to our Homestay. In the evening after a cup of tea/coffee, we just relaxed by taking a stroll in the coffer estate. Night was followed with an early dinner & a well deserved 12 hrs long sleep. …. :)

The next morning after a scrumptious breakfast we left for the short trek to Irpu falls. With monsoons just over, the view of the falls were simply breath taking and the experience of getting hit while under it was just more than normal thrill!!! Time being a constraint, there was another 9km trek into the Bramhagiri forest which we decided to give a miss this time………. Wonder if it was really time or just the age…. :)

After freshening up we finally bid adieus to our wonderful host Jimmi & Indu and left for Bangalore at 11.30AM.

This trip indeed was one of our most adventurous weekend getaways!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hampi- City of Ruins!!!

With a very little taste for ruins, archeology, temples and history, I was not very excited about our last weekend escape to Hampi. However, Hampi was a love at its first sight. Everything- the temples, the ruins, the palaces, the rocks in unimaginable carvings and shapes, the free flowing Tungabhadra River, the expats, the locals, their precise pronunciation of European dishes, etc immediately developed my interest in the mysterious town.

We took the KSTRC bus from Bangalore to Hospet, a small town around 15km from Hampi. We reached Hospet at 6.00AM in the morning and headed straight to Hampi in an auto. We had booked our stay with Padma guest house, just opposite the Hampi bus stand. After a quick nap and an English breakfast, we started our journey to explore the city.

Our first visit was to the Virupaksha temple, located just outside the Hampi Bazaar. We hired a local guide to show us around the temple. He briefed us about the glorious past of Hampi, of the diamond and the pearl markets and also about the temple. Historically speaking, this temple has an uninterrupted history from about the 7th century. The temple contains the shrines of Lord Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneswari. We were also bestowed with the blessing of Lakshmi, the sacred elephant in the temple!

We then took a guided Auto tour to explore the sprawling ruins site spread over an area of 24km. We first visited the Kadlekaalu Ganesha and the Saasive Kaalu Ganesha situated on the top of the Hemkuta hills. The locals are not allowed to worship these idols because the Moguls had destroyed these idols.

We then visited the Krishna temple, Pushkarani and the temple of lord Narasimha. Also adjacent to the Narasimha temple, is temple of lord Shiva which is believed to be always submerged in the water. The source of this water still remains to be a mystery. With sun pouring his heat on our head, we braked for a round of coconut water.

The next place for exploration on our agenda was the Elephant stable, Lotus Mahal and Ranga temple. The Hindu-Islamic architecture of this place was a sight to watch. Before visiting this place, the auto driver showed us two identical rocks named after two sisters “Sita and Gita” who were cursed for disturbing a sage. Quite hilarious!!!

After a round of photographs around this Hindu-Islamic architecture, we visited the Mahanavami Dibba (place from where the Maharaja/king used to see the dance performances during the Navaratra time) and Hazara RamaTemple. This temple has pictorial carvings of Ramayana.

Our final destination was the Vithala temple which also houses the famous 7 main musical pillars & 7 smaller pillars surrounding each of these main pillars. These 7 pillars represent a musical instrument and when struck, emanate the 7 notes from the representative instrument, varying in sound quality based on whether it represents a wind, string or percussion instrument. Unfortunately, these pillars are no more for public use.

After an exhausting yet enjoyable exploration jaunt, we headed for a late lunch to the famous Mango Tree restaurant, based on the banks of Tungabhadra River. Evening we decided to chill out in the guest house itself.

Sunday morning, we wanted to cross the river and visit the other side called Anegundi. To our disappointment, the river was overfull and we were not allowed to cross it. We then decided to re- explore Hampi on our own on a bicycle.

We first cycled to the south of Hampi bazaar, to take a small coracle ride to explore the “hidden” things in the small islet just across the river.

We then cycled to 2km west of Hampi bazaar through the banana plantation to view small waterfalls. With just 4km of pedaling, our adventure with cycle came to an end and we headed for lunch followed by an afternoon nap for couple of hours.

By the time we freshened up, it was time to bid adieu to this mysterious town. We rented an auto and left at 6.30PM, to visit the Tungabhadra dam in Hospet. We finally boarded our bus back to Bangalore in the midnight.

In the hindsight, even though considered as city of ruins, Hampi vividly speaks about its past glory and regal majesty. That’s the charm of Hampi………. I would definitely want to visit it again.