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.