Kerala’s Green Treasures-Idukki Trip Oct 2011

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As we moved on towards Idukki, the rain got heavier and the drive became difficult. Our driver Rajesh, informed us that though he was a resident of Kottayam, this was the first time he was driving from Kottayam to Thekkady via Idukki. Hearing this made me more anxious, and I began to worry whether I had chosen the right time to visit the wettest district in Kerala.

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Summer sojourn to Kodaikanal

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After a good night’s sleep, we got up early and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Although, the quality of the food was good the service was very poor because of lack of staff at the restaurant. Then we waited at the lobby for the van(arranged by the hotel) to take us to the trip to Berijam lake,21 kms from Kodaikanal town and the tourist spots on the way.

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COORG DELIGHTS-DUBARE, MADIKERI AND MYSORE

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We reached Dubare Forest Camp at 4.30 PM. All our tiredness from the ride vanished at the sight of the serenely flowing Cauvery and the joyous screams of the people frolicking in it. Even before our car halted at the parking area, my first impulse was to rush out and throw myself into the river. But my wife calmed me down and reminded that we had a lot of time in our hands. As soon as we got out of our car, we were swarmed by the locals advertising their boating and rafting rides.

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Coorgi Delights – Talacauvery and Bhagamandala

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Every visitors’ must-see destination in Coorg is Talacauvery and that is where we were first heading to. It is the birthplace of River Cauvery and is 48 kms from Madikeri Town. I had hoped to start around 7.30 Am to reach the place early and enjoy the surroundings before the rush started. But since Madam had overslept(!)our start got delayed by an hour. We stacked up on some snacks and cool drinks before we left Madikeri.

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COORGI DELIGHTS-GOLDEN TEMPLE AND NISARGADHAMA

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The place has a guest house and treetop cottages run by the Forest Dept. I heard from the regular visitors to the place that tourists were allowed to enter into the river at certain safe and shallow points to enjoy themselves under the watch of the guards. But I found all those entry points locked and out-of-bounds for tourists. The guards at the place said that this was a precautionary step to avoid any mishaps because of flash floods which were possible sometimes in January. He also added that in March and April, there was no restrictions for tourists to enter the river. I wondered how much water will be there in the river then !

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COORGI DELIGHTS-SRIRANGAPATNA

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Pet puja done, we moved on past Channapatna(famous for its toys), Mandya and at 10.30 AM reached SriRangapatna, a place of great religious, cultural and historical importance. Located 20 kms from Mysore City, the entire town is an Island enclosed by the River Cauvery. The town gets its name from the famous Sri Ranganathasamy Temple. The temple, one of the important Vaishnavite pilgrimage centres was built in the 9th Century and is a mix of Hoysala and Vijayanagar styles of Architecture(Thanks:Wikipedia).

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Coorgi Delights – Reaching Coorg

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The shortest route from my hometown in Tamil Nadu, Tiruppur to Madikeri (Coorg’s largest town) passes through Mysore and is around 315 kms. But going by this route meant a difficult climb on the Dhimbam Hills from Bannari Checkpost in Tamilnadu right upto the TN-Karnataka border just past Hasanur (An almost vertical climb with 27 continuous hairpin bends in just 16 kms). This was a strict no-no because my wife has a chronic allergy to hill travel and vomits incessantly during hill rides, of which I have had many unpleasant experiences, especially during one trip to Munnar on a packed Innova and during another ride on the Palani-Kodaikanal route last summer. Inexplicably she never has any problems when riding up hills on a bike and that is the reason for my many bike trips to nearby Ooty (Thanks for small mercies). So, I had to choose a relatively less adventurous route and picked the Bangalore-Mysore-Madikeri route as my best option. Although this doubled my travel distance (Tirupur to Bangalore to Madikeri is 575 kms by road) there was no other choice.

Travelling to Coorg from Bangalore, though has its own attractions. The stretch between Bangalore and Mysore is dotted with many tourist hotspots. The ride is almost a tracing back of river Cauvery from the plains to its birthplace in Coorg district. Srirangapatna an island situated in the midst of Cauvery river, is renowned for its famous Ranganathasamy Temple and the historical sites connected with the reign of the brave Tipu Sultan and his encounters with the British. Further on the route, a mere 6 kms after Srirangapatna is the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, the largest of its kind in Karnataka. Here guided Boat tours are available throughout the day to watch the birds. Along with the birds, the riders on the boat can also enjoy the thrilling sight of huge crocodiles, sun-bathing on the rocks, precariously close to the boat’s edge.

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AN ANNUAL DATE WITH OOTY

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We stuck to our usual route of  Tiruppur-Mettupalayam-Kotagiri route for the onward journey to Ooty  and the Ooty-Coonoor-Mettupalayam-Tiruppur route for the return journey. The Kotagiri route has very little traffic, even in peak season and hence a much more enjoyable drive.

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Temple trails of Karnataka-Part 5-KUDREMUKH NATIONAL PARK

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On our way to Kudremukh, we happened to spot this beautiful little Ganapathi temple amidst lush green tea gardens at a village named Samse, 6 kms from Kalasa.
We drove further and a km later, reached Kudremukh National Park Checkpost. On giving the details of our vehicle and its passengers to the officer at the checkpost, we were issued a receipt indicating both our entry time and the time by which we had to exit the park at the western side of the reserve.

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Temple Trails of Karnataka: Part-3 – Belur and Halebeedu

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After our exertions at Mullayanagari Peak, we returned back to Chikmagalur town by mid-day, had our lunch and reached our hotel. I had hoped to catch some of the action from the Perth Test(hoping to watch Sachin’s 100th hundred live), but the Indian team dashed any such hopes by losing the Test in two and a half days. Disappointed by the result, I took the opportunity to slip into a much needed nap.

Our next destination was Belur temple, 25 kms from Chikmagalur. Belur is a small town located on the banks of Yagachi River in Hassan district. The main attraction of the town is the Chennakesava (literally translates to Handsome Vishnu) temple. It was built by King Vishnuvardana of Hoysala dynasty. The temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture alongside Halebeedu and Somnathpura. Coupled with Halebeedu, this is one of the major tourist destinations of Karnataka.

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Temple Trails of Karnataka-Part 2-MULLAYANNAGIRI PEAK

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We were now off to Mullayanagiri, the highest peak in Karnataka with a height of 1,930 metres(6,330 feet). It is said to be the highest peak between the Himalayas and the Nilgiris. The route from Chikmagalur town to the peak is a thrilling drive with fantastic views all along the way.

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