Friday, July 27, 2012

Mysore weekend Tourism

Mysore weekend Tourism (A tourist hotspot):
One of the most visited places in Karnataka, and the most popular weekend getaways for Bangaloreans, with over 20 recognized destinations around Mysore. Some of these were visited on my visit to Mysore.
Mysore Dasara Exhibition

About Mysore:
Mysore the City of Palaces is a world famous destination having the most visited palace in India and 2nd most visited in the world, one of the largest Tiger reserve in the world - Bandipur also the vicinity. Not to mention it has the most popular Birds Sanctuary in Karnataka – Ranganathittu. The Mysore Zoo is one more place to look out for as the best in Karnataka. The most popular being the Dasherra/Dasara Festival carnival held In between Oct-Nov. With over 2.7 million annual visitors for Mysore Palace it is the most visited tourist destination in India after Taj Mahal.

Tourist places:
Ranganathittu, KRS Dam-Brindavan Gardens, Srirangapatna-Tippu’s summer palace-sangama-Nimishamba Temple, Nanjangud, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Mysore Palace, Chamundeshwari Betta/Hills, Mysore Zoo,.

You need at least 3 days to cover some of these routes. The best route suggested from Bangalore is on day1 Srirangapatna- Ranganathittu -KRS and night halt at Mysore, on day2 Mysore palace-Zoo and Chamundeshwari hills and night halt near to Himad gopalswamy hills and day3 early morning visit to the HG hills to see the sunrise and later in the afternoon Bandipur for safari and then in the evening to Nanjangud and back to Bangalore.
Route 1: (2 days) Bandipur National Park, Nanjangud, and Himad Gopalswamy Betta/Hills
Route 2: (1/2 days) Nagarhole National Park
Route 3: (1 day) Srirangapatna, Ranganthittu, KRS
Route 4: (1/2 days) Mysore city-Palace-Zoo, Chamundeshwari Hills

We had planned for a 2 day trip so we couldn’t cover Mysore Zoo and HG hills.
Day1: Bangalore-Srirangapatna Tippu’s Summer Palace-Sangama-Nimishamba-Ranganathittu-Brindavan Gardens-KRS Aquarium-Mysore Palace(Night Illuminated)-Chamundeshwari Hills-Night halt at Mysore.
Day2: Mysore-Nanjangud-Bandipur- Mysore Palace (Day visit inside the palace)-Bangalore

River Kaveri, Nimishamba
We started our journey from Bangalore early morning thinking the traffic would be less, but for our surprise the traffic at 5-6am was hectic as it was a long weekend during dasara festival.
By the time we came out of Bangalore it was already 6am. And we halted at Maddhur for Breakfast at Maddhur Tiffin’s.
Maddhur is famous for breakfast in south India style with Maddhur vada/vade being the most popular in that region.
Just after you pass by the river Kaveri over the bridge you need to take a left at Srirangapatna which is at a distance of 125km from Bangalore,
We started our first destination at Nimishamba Temple, which is on the banks of the river Kaveri at a distance of 3km from the highway.
The Place as should have been a very picturesque for being on the river banks but disappointingly it was not well maintained.

The Mausoleum Of Tipu Sultan 
Just a little further around 1.5km is Gumbaz/ The Mausoleum Of Tipu Sultan which has some nice views around.

We then moved to what is called as Sangama around 1km from Gumbaz, which is not the one near Mekedatu. This Sangama is not so scenic but worth a visit since it is just a 5min drive from Srirangapatna.
It is the place of union of 3 holy rivers Kaveri River, Kabini River and Hemavati River.

Daria Daulat
We then moved to Tippu’s Summer palace/ Daria Daulat (Best part of Srirangapatna) and had a decent time spent on the well maintained lawn’s. The palace has some old paintings of Tippu’s era.
The palace comes on the way back towards the Highway around 3.5km from Sangama.
Tippu’s Summer palace
All these places come on the left side of the Blore-Mysore State Highway, all these places fall at less than 5km in distance with each other so can be covered in 2-3hrs.
One can visit Ranganatha temple which is on the right side of the Highway and is the most popular destination of Srirangapatna.

Ranganthittu Park
Way back to the highway took left towards Mysore and we then we could see a boarding written as Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary which falls on the right side of the Highway. You should take the KRS road on the right and further moving on the KRS road there is one more diversion on the right towards Ranganthittu; it is just around 5 km from the Srirangapatna junction. Ranganthittu is a decent place to spend some good relaxed time with the family.

Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary
There is a well maintained park area in the entrance where u can relax or even have your homemade food on the places provided for having food. Also there is a large car parking area.
We had our lunch here which we got from home, and then started to walk towards the river where you get some spot different species of birds, most popular over there being River tern, Black headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Open bill Stork and also this place is famous for Crocodile, so playing in water is banned here but one can go in a boat ride provided from the Karnataka Tourism.

River Tern
Boating at Ranganthittu
Though the boats are big in size they are not motor boats reason being to maintain silence for the birds around and to have a smooth ride around the birds. The major drawback of this being no life jacket provided, even though it is maintained by the Government. 
Apart from the views from the boating you can also explore the river and the birds by going along the riverside with plenty of watch towers built along the river banks. 

Bridge towards KRS
You've to come back around 600m to reach the KRS road and then take right towards KRS on the KRS road. KRS is around 25km and takes 1hour drive from Ranganthittu and spent some good time watching the lawn and the fountains. 

Once you park the vehicle you can take the right side through the Ferry for Musical Fountain or can walk on the bridge, and KRS dam and Brindavan Gardens on the left side. There is also an Aquarium near the parking place which is worth a visit. 

Chamundeshwari hills
We then moved towards Chamundeshwari hills which is around 35kms from KRS and there are 3 routes to reach the hill from KRS, we took the Hunsur Road. On top of the hill is Sri Chamundeswari Temple and once you take the route down you come across a Huge Nandi statue carved out of single stone. 

We then came down the hill and visited Mysore Palace to have a night view with lights illuminated. Later in the night we halted at Mysore.

On the day 2 we started our day with Bandipur in the morning which is around 80km from Mysore, though not so great for safari but a decent one. On safari you can spot Wild boar, Elephant, deer, Gaur, Peacock and Langur in large numbers. The place is one of the largest Tiger reserve in the whole world, it stretches 874sq km. Might be it is quite conserved for limiting the safari only to the nearby places and not in the deep jungle, so quite a lot of big cats and wild animals were not visible.  As per the Forest department The numbers are among the big cats there are over 75 Tigers and 88 Leopards in Bandipur reserve Forest, and the numbers are healthy when it comes to Elephants at over 3,500 and Gaur around 2,500. Though the major part of the forest is covered from Chital and Sambar.
Karnataka houses the highest number of Tiger Reserves in India, which includes Bandipur, Dandeli, Bannerghatta, Kudremukh, BR hills, Bhadra, and Nagarhole.

We then moved towards Nanjangud which was very attractive and well maintained temple at the banks of the river Kabini/Kapila. It is around 55km from Bandipur towards Mysore. Major attraction over there is Srikanteshwara Temple, there is also a big Shiva statue newly built at the place. 

We then moved towards Mysore and had lunch at kamat in the outskirts and the last place to be visited was kept preserved to be seen in the end of the trip. As it was said Mysore Palace is the 2nd most visited Palace in the whole world it was surprisingly the best place to visit and a place not to miss in one’s life. Mysore Palace, rated as one of the 31 must-see places on Earth by New York Times. In 2010, Mysore Palace had a domestic visitor footfall of 3.1 million and another 70,000 from abroad. Well the place was so awesomely beautiful that it can be described only by seeing it from your eyes. As it was heavily crowded but still didn’t disappoint with its mesmerizing wall paintings and the royal doors and windows. Bottom-line is you must have seen it from outside but see it from inside to get to know why it is so popular. Camera’s and footwear are not allowed inside the Palace so one have to get a locker at the entrance to keep them inside the locker and visit the palace bare foot with hands free from your camera. Photography is strictly prohibited inside with CCTV’s watching you from every corner, don’t make a mistake by taking a pic from your mobile as you’ll be easily caught and taken into custody from the security personnel’s.
With the most delightful views for the eyes which last for a long time, we ended our journey back to Bangalore.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Explore the Unexplored - Uttara Kannada

Uttara Kannada Eco-tourism (Land of waterfalls):
Very little known is it has the largest forest cover in Karnataka and we decided to visit places around Sirsi instead of Karwar as it was March summer.
About Uttara Kannada: It is one of the least explored and has the largest forest cover in Karnataka. Probably the most beautiful place in Karnataka, with high density of tourist places/forest and less of human settlements. It is said that over 3/4th is covered with forest.
It is home for a number of waterfalls including Magod Falls, Sathodi Falls, Unchalli Falls, Vibhuthi Falls, Benne Hole Falls, Shivaganga Falls and many more unexplored/unnamed.

Tourist places:
Murudeshwar, Dandeli, Gokarna, Yana, Banavasi, Netrani Island, karwar, Devbag, Gerusoppa Valley, Magod Falls, Sathodi Falls, Unchalli Falls, Kodasalli Dam backwaters, Vibhuthi Falls, Benne Hole Falls, Kavala Caves, Sintheri Rocks, Sahasralinga, Shivaganga Falls, Jenukallu/Jenukal Gudda
Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, Yana

There are four routes to choose for a 1/2 day trips, you may need at least 1 week to completely explore Uttara Kannada.
Route1: Karwar, Devbag, Gokarna, Yana, Vibhuthi falls, Gerusoppa Valley, Murudeshwar, Netrani Island are on the Karwar side
Route2: Dandeli, Kavala Caves, Sintheri Rocks are on the Dandeli side
Route3: Sahasralinga, Shivaganga Falls, Banavasi, Kodasalli Dam backwaters, Sathodi Falls, Jenukallu/Jenukal Gudda, Magod Falls are on the Yellapur side
Route4: Unchalli Falls, Burude Jog comes under Siddapur
Route and distance from sirsi put up in hotel!

Travelogue: (March-2011)
Camera Used: KODAK EASYSHARE Z1012 IS Digital Camera, Nokia 5800 Xpres, Sony DSC-W180
Places covered: 
Day1-Fri(train): Bangalore(night) - Shimoga(morning)
Day2-Sat(SUV): Shimoga – Sirsi(Shimoga-sagara-siddapur-Sirsi 145km) - Sahasralinga - Sathodi Falls - Backwaters of Kodasalli Dam - Magod Falls - Jenukallu/Jenukal Gudda -  Sirsi
Day3-Sun(SUV): Sirsi - Yana - VibhutiFalls - Shimoga
Day4-Mon(Bus): Shimoga(night) - Bangalore(morning)
Day1: We started our journey night from Bangalore in train and reached Shimogain the early morning around 5am.

Day2: Met our friend at Shimogaand started our drive in his SUV from Shimogatowards Sirsi where we got ready after booking hotel room. We quickly got the route plans with the locals and hotel staff and decided to cover route 3(Yellapurside) on day 1 and route 1(Karwarside) on day 2.

We started towards sahasralingaand reached at around 11.30am. The place was said to have thousands of Shiva linga's carved on the stones around the river Shalmala, but we could spot only hundred's though few more must have vanished through the ages due to lack of maintenance. We had a good relaxed time at sahasralingaby playing in the waters in the hot summer sun.
River Shalmala

Then later we started towards Sathodi falls near Kallaramarane Ghat 32 km from Yellapur and reached the parking at 1.30pm and started to trek through the forest cover. The trek is around 2km (20mins) which might be very difficult in rains as it is very slippery. There is a water stream all through the trek route. Not advised for old age people. 
We reached the falls around 2pm and were quite amazed by its beauty. The falls is around 15 meters (49.2 feet) tall. You can actually play under the falls in summer when the water is low. The entire place around is roofed with thick forest. 
Sathodi falls
Rock formations around  Sathodi falls
Rock formations around  Sathodi falls
Playing in water for over an hour started to trek back to the restaurant near the parking place. Reached the restaurant at around 3.30pm. Remember you need to book the lunch before u start your trek towards the falls. 
Restaurant at Sathodi Falls
The stream then flows into the backwaters of the Kodasalli Dam, into the Kali River.Had a quite good lunch there and then came down the hill to see the impressively beautiful Kodasalli Backwaters also called as Shivapur valley.
Kodasalli Backwaters
Kodasalli Backwaters
Kodasalli Backwaters

And at 4.30pm we started our journey towards Magod falls(where the river Bedti falls from a height of nearly 200m in two steps) and reached the falls at 6pm. Since it was summer there was no much water visible from the view point. The falls is actually very far from the view point. But the valley down the falls is gorgeous. Best time to visit Magod falls is after heavy monsoons where you can witness the power of the Mother Nature with the water flow.
Magod falls
Magod falls - Upper part

The last place for the day as we decided was Jenukallu Gudda (situated 17Km from Yellapur. The Bedti River from Magod falls cuts across the green hills), which is one of the least popular place but I would say it should be more beautiful than Agumbe for sunset point. We reached the view point at 6.15pm and were sitting up the hill to have a mesmerizing view of the valley down and the sun set behind the hills. After relaxing quite a time till the sun completely went behind the hills we started towards our hotel at Sirsi at 7pm and had dinner at the hotel.
Sunset at  Jenukallu Gudda
Sunset at  Jenukallu Gudda
Sunset at  Jenukallu Gudda
Sunset at  Jenukallu Gudda
Stairs to reach the  Jenukallu Gudda view point

Day3: The next morning there was quite confusion about choosing the places for day2 as there are lot of places to cover around, but we finally managed to decide upon Yana and surrounding places, as Yana was our prime choice for the whole trip plan. We started the day at 10am after having breakfast at the hotel and vacated the hotel rooms.

We reached Yanaat 11.45am. The road was newly built and in excellent condition and to our surprise it stretched almost till Yanarocks. One has to trek only around 500mts to reach the rocks. For those who didn't catch what rock's I am citing here, a brief information about Yana, it is unusual rock formations, two massive rock outcrops known as the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara composed of solid black, crystalline limestone, located in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Western Ghats, about 60km from Karwar, 40 km from Sirsi and 20 km from Kumta. Bhairaveshwara Shikhara is 120 metres (390 ft.) in height, while Mohini Shikhara is 90 m (300 ft.). The place is sacred for many as a pilgrimage Centre for the cave temple below the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara where a Swayambhu ("self-manifested") linga (Shiva linga) has been formed. One can explore the place around the rocks, which is very famous for trekking from Kumta.
Trek Route to Yana
Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, Yana
Mohini Shikhara, Yana

We left Yanaat 1.30 and drove towards Vibhuthi falls our next destination around 8km from Yana. As it is said that the falls is just down the hills, but we were losing our route since there are no road signs and no humans around to inquire about the route. Nevertheless the road was very bad but manageable with an SUV. Even though we had a local person from Sirsito guide us, we still lost in the roads and finally managed to get a house in the mid of the forest and got the route back and finally found the place at around 2.30pm. We have to park our vehicle and trek through the forest for around 2km (around 20mins trek). The trek route is good till almost the falls and once you reach the falls you’ve to cross the river under the falls and reach the other side of the falls and then can play under the falls in water. The place is remote and is not advised to go in small groups. Vibhuthi falls is a cascading type of falls with over 6-8 falls one below the other. You can get a view of only 3-4 falls from the place. The remaining are lying below where you've to go down the rocks to get a view of the entire falls, though the main falls is on the top which is the biggest among them. We then reached the parking place at 4.45pm and had our lunch which we had brought parcel from the Sirsi hotel.
Trek route to  Vibhuthi falls
Vibhuthi falls 

We then left the place towards Shimoga. On the way near Shimoga halted to have coffee at Panchavati around 6.30pm and continued to towards and finally caught our bus from Shimoga to Bangalore back and reached Bangalorein the morning the 4th day. And have to go to office which was so disturbing though, with all the memories of life which lasts forever.