Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Trip to Sundarban

Sundarban is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world and is the place for Royal Bengal Tiger.

Its 10-Dec-2014 and we started our day at 6:00 Am to catch local train to reach Sealdah. From there we got in a taxi and reach West Bengal Tourism build at 7:30 AM. We waited inside the build where others were also waiting. At 8:15 AM we were asked to board the bus which was waiting outside and given our seat number in bus and cabin number in Launch boat. As the bus was about to start at 8:30 AM, we were handed with  breakfast in box and headed straight to Sonakhali at 11:30 AM. From there we went in rickshaw van to reach the jetty. We waited there for half an hour and then we were asked to get in a big boat which will drop us to launch MV Chitrerekha. We went in and made ourself comfortable inside our cabin and then we were asked to come on top of the deck for food and lounge area. At 1:00 PM we were given lunch and visited Sudhanyakhali and later in the evening went to Sajnekhali. This place has a museum and resort too. We spent a good amount of time here and back to our launch. We halted in mid river for whole night and it was scary for me to see the door open and what if a tiger is waiting to pounce on me.

Next morning 11-Dec-2014, we got up early morning at 6:00 AM and went to deck to get some pictures. Next we went to Dobanki watch tower where we saw tigress claw mark which are size of my face. They have made a high platform for us to walk for a km inside the place which are surrounded by nets to avoid any danger. After spending time there we started returning back to where we started and reached back home at 7:00 PM.

We didn't see tiger except its claw mark, but saw deer, crocodile, red single claw crab and bengal monitor (or known as crocodile snake or monitor lizard) and tons of varieties of birds. Food, travel guide and overall experience was superb.

MV Chitrerekha

Tigress Claw Mark

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trip to Hogenakkal

As usual, while I was returning back home evening, I was thinking tomorrow is Diwali and we need to go somewhere. That's when I thought lets try for Hogenakkal. A good candidate for day trip. Told Runai about it and she was ok.

It's 23-Oct-2014 4:30 AM, we got up and got ready. At 5:30 AM, we started our journey. We reached HP Petrol Bunk after Hosur and filled petrol and also air pressure. Next we had our breakfast inside car. We had hot Maggi which Runai made early morning. We started our journey and reached Hogenakkal base at 9:00 AM. Driving up and down the short hills, we got some pictures and reached destination at 9:30 AM. They had made proper parking bay and it was good. Road from Bangalore to Hogenakkal was fabulous. We got ready with Camera and Sun Glasses. Normally it is very hot here but today it is Diwali and its cloudy. Climate was superb.

We started walking toward the fall. First we saw boat stand where you can get Coracle ride. But we thought we will try it later and go further to see what is in store. We went further and saw a hanging bridge. Btw, people here usually go for oil massage and followed by bathing in the falls. There is a dedicated bathing place for his and her separately. Anyway we crossed hanging bridge and followed the mark on stones toward Cine Fall. In midway, we found camera man. As usual got our photo with the fall as background. Asked him to keep the photo until we return back and he was fine. We walked further untill we find the fall a little far away. The place is usually rocky and water falling from every place. But this fall is amazing.

After getting some photos, we started returning back and our way we got the photo from that person. While returning back we went to the boat stand. Saw a boat ticket counter but was closed. A person came up to us and asked whether we want to for Coracle ride and we promptly asked for rate. He asked how many of us and we told 2 and he was like its going to be Rs. 620. It was beyond our budget. So thought to cancel it and in anycase it was our second trip here. So we started returning back to car. It was 11:30 AM and was thinking to return back. As we were about to leave, we a sign board pointing to crocodile rehabilitation centre. We went toward that and just after few meters we saw an aquarium. Parked our car there and went it. They have a good collection of fishes and after that went to crocodile rehabilitation centre which is again few meters away. I think you can find every age crocodile there and may be they have over 200+ of them. Its the first time I saw it from so close. Anyway after that we asked the ticket collector if there are anything else to see and he said nothing more except if we want to eat fresh fishes from river and fried. We left from there and decided to have lunch once we hit NH 7 at Dharmapuri. We reached Dharmapuri and parked beside the road and had chow mein which we cooked last night. As we were about to finish it started raining. We started from there at 1:30 PM and reached home at 3:30 PM.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Trip to Kasargod

It was 03-Oct-2014, we got up at 3:00 AM and with our quick travel bags and bags full of food, we started at 4:20 AM. This would be the first time we would go through Mangalore Highway. So Runai kept maps ready for navigation but we were stuck for 30 min at Yeshwantpur railway crossing. Anyway after we hit Managlore Highway it is straight road. We drove in good speed and by 7:30 AM we reached Hassan. In between there was heavy fog and one cannot see anything beyond just few meters. We had to turn all lights and go safely. And in between I see Runai snoring happily. We got down after we crossed Hassan for breakfast. Had sandwiches we made at home and started again to drive. Just 10 km before Sakleshpur the road starts to get bad and later worst for total 70 km. Difficult to find any road in hilly terrain.I think it took us nearly 4 hours to complete 70 km and once we off from Mangalore highway and toward Kukke Subramanya we got good road but narrow. Anyway we reached Bekal town by 12 noon and decided to go straight to the Bekal Fort.
Bekal Fort

Bekal Fort

Bekal Fort

Bekal Fort

Bekal Fort
It was quite hot there and we parked under a tree. Walked down to the fort and I ticket was Rs. 50 for 2 person and a camera. It was a lovely fort in the sea beach. The place was well maintained and we spend an hour inside and enjoying the place. After we returned back, we were hungry again. I asked Runai if she wants to have lunch here and she was ok. So we had our lunch inside the car and next in our list was to get a hotel. Though it was a busy day for all travelers but we were sure to get some hotel somewhere. We started driving toward Kasargod and just within few km we found one hotel. Runai sat inside the car and I went in to enquire. They said they have room for us, but rate didn't allow us to stay. It was I think around 7K per night. Next we say another one just after Kapil Beach road. It was 1200 per night and we went in. It was suite room with A/C. I think the price of the hotel  was less because it was managed by old folks. Anyway good for us. We didn't do anything other than freshening up and watching tv and relaxing in living room. Evening we went walking and went to a restaurant and bought dinner. Had dinner at our room and called it a day.

Next day 04-Oct-2014, we started at 8:00 AM and went straight to Kappil Beach.
Kappil Beach
Had to park our car on road and had to walk for few meters and enter small beautiful beach. Spend some time there and we went to Nityanandasramam. The main attraction is going through caves inside the temple premises. From there we drove down to Chandragiri Fort.
Butterfly at Chandragiri Fort
Chandragiri Fort
Chandragiri Fort
Once you climb up, it's a mesmerizing view from top. on one side river flowing and all around it is covered with coconut trees and nothing else. We for some lovely flower pictures. From there we went to Kasargod town. As usual it is a busy place and lots of traffic. It was already noon, so we stopped at nearby restaurant and had Pathiri and egg and chicken gravy. Next we drove quite a bit and reached Maipady Palace. It is a old traditional temple. Don't be confused with a house which says as palace. It is a private property. The temple is very old and camera is not allowed inside. From there we went to Lake Temple, Ananthapuram.
Lake Temple
It was a beautiful temple in middle of a lake. Next we went to Bela Church.

It was a old beautiful church. It was about to be evening and we didn't want to get stuck in hills, so wanted to return back but not through Kasargod town because it was too crowded. So Runai followed some direction in google maps. It was literally going through someone's kitchen and others backyard. Road was again narrow and steep. Finally we reached our hotel at 6 PM and parked ourselves. We say that they were washing the area and watering plants, so asked him if he can let us water our car. He was ok and cleaned it well. Next we were ready for dinner but Runai didn't want to go outside, so I went to same place and got our dinner. Out of greed, I got some extra food and it was too much for us to finish.
Bela Church
Next day 05-Oct-2014, we got ready by 8:00 AM, but uncle was not there, so couldn't check-out. We thought to have breakfast, but it was Bakrid and all shops were closed. Luckly we had jam-buns and we paid remaining money for room to another uncle and came out at 8:45 AM. We followed same route. At 1:30 PM we were hungry and went in to Kamat after crossing Hassan, but was heavily crowded. We went to next dhaba and had roti and chicken chilly and chicken gravy. It was good and fresh. Next we know is that we are at home around 5:00 PM. The total price for the trip was 8K.

Hanging Bridge before entering Kasargod
Hanging Bridge before entering Kasargod
Meadow at Ananthapuram

Friday, August 15, 2014

Trip to Tranquebar

Its 15-Aug-2014, we got up at 3:00 AM and started from house at 4:20 AM. Its still dark and we reached Krishnagiri when sun could be seen and taken a break to get cash. By 9:00 AM we were in Salem. We stopped our car sideway and had breakfast what we packed from home. From there we kept using Google Navigation and went through various cities and then towns and later villages. A 450 KM drive turned out to be 550 KM and by evening 4:00 PM we reached Tranquebar (Tharangambadi). In between we filled petrol and had lunch what we packed from home. Once we reached there, we found out to be extremely small place with hardly few people around. We went in and got in bungalow on the beach resort. They and also Hotel tamil Nadu are full and those are the only place to stay. not even a single private hotel there. The person inside the resort told us to go to Karaikal where we will find plenty of option. Also I never knew that Karaikal is part of Pondicherry, so there is a checkpost for what you take in and what you bring out. It is again 10 KM drive and we found a hotel and the guy came running and told its Rs. 1500 per night and we saw from outside that its not even complete. Main gate in under progress. So we left it and went inside the city and we got a hotel. Runai sat inside the car and I went in to enquire. He told that there is room available. We checked in at 5:00 PM. We drove down from the hotel back to Tranquebar. Spend the evening in the beach and picking up shells. We had some very interesting fried stuff. Looks like vada but salty in taste and also usual ice cream and snacks. Before it is dark we packed off from there and bought dinner from a road side shop. Parked our car and ourself too and went to sleep.
Its 16-Aug-2014, we got up early morning and by 8:00 AM we are back to Tranquebar.
The main gate which was made by the Danish people for their colony back in 1620. Its a straight main road with 2 lane.
Next we went to the church
We spend a good amount of time there and next we went to main church in the junction.
Next we went to the fort and it is closed. So we went to bungalow on the beach for breakfast. Its buffet for Rs. 150 per head. We came out from the place at 10:15 AM and walked toward the Danish Fort which is just opposite to the resort.
bungalow on the beach
The ticket is Rs. 10 per head and Rs. 30 for camera. We went in and there is a museum with old artifacts. The place is very picturesque and can spend good amount of time there.
Danish Fort

Danish Fort

Danish Fort Inside

Danish Fort Inside Museum Door

Beach view form the Danish Fort
After spending some time there till afternoon, we returned back from there and headed toward Karaikal. From there we wanted to go and visit Velankanni which is just few km away. The road is good and usually empty. But once you are in Velankanni for the holy church, you have no where to go but to wait inside the car for hours to move just a inch. Nothing seems moving for hours due to traffic and it was hot outside. After spending an hour to move just a inch, we decided to go back and visit some other time. With some trouble, did a U-turn and back to karaikal. On our way got the pic of tsunami hit area memorial. We got our lunch from a small which is like home food and nothing fancy. Anyway back to hotel and had our lunch. Evening we didn't do much other than go and get dinner and relax inside the hotel.

Next day 17th-Aug-2014, we check-in the hotel at 8:00 AM and started our journey back to Banaglore. This time we came from a different route which looks lengthy but marked with state or national highway. We reached in the evening and called it a day.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Trip to Bandipur, Mudumalai and Masinagudi

It is 01-Aug-2014, I am returning from office at 10:00 PM and was thinking too much of work is not good for health and wanted to go somewhere but don't know where. Suddenly Mudumalai struck my mind. Came back home and asked Runai and she told lets go. I googled a bit about direction and road condition. Everything looked fine. So we planned to start by next day 5 AM, but we could go to sleep only by 1 AM.
It is 02-Aug-2014 and as usual instead of getting up at 4:00 AM as planned earlier night, we got up by 6:30 AM. We made noodles for lunch and just one egg burger for breakfast, cleaned our car and got ourselves ready. We could start by 8:15 AM. Near KR Puram Railway station, we had puri and vada for breakfast and packed few extra vada for lunch. We filled tank in Old Madras Road Shell and head straight to Corporation Circle. Next Mysore Road and by the time we crossed Wonder La, it was already 10:00 AM. We reached Mysore by 12:30 PM. This is where we had to use our google map to navigate inside the city and take Bandipur road. At 1:15 PM, we stood in nearby road and had the egg burger and vada. Again we started and by 2 PM we reached Bandipur. We started driving slowly and our first encounter was deer and monkey eating together. Suddenly the monkey slapped that deer. Looks like it started eating monkey food.
Deer and Monkey

Next we saw bear far away.

 Its very easy to spot any animals because you will see many cars stopping and clicking pictures. Sometimes, those cars are standing for some other reasons and you land up wondering where is the animal.
Next we saw a group of deer running and crossing one side of the road to other. We stopped and taking picture and saw we are in middle of 100s of deer all around crossing road.

Deer Running
Deer Running

Next we saw an elephant far away and the only job it has is eating, which it was doing very happily.


The next thing we know is that we are in Karnataka boarder and entered Tamil Nadu boarder. Tamil police stops every car and searches for 5 min. Anyway after that we entered Mudumalai forest. Basically it is same forest with different names for each state.
Next we saw peacock crossing road.


Driving the hill with our car for first time, we reached the end of Mudumalai. Suddenly it looked crowded, with people all around, jeeps and shops. It was 3:00 PM, so thought to search for hotel for night stay. We say a Hotel Tamil Nadu in the junction. Went in and asked the security guard about the reception, but he told that it is closed. So enquired, if we can get any hotel nearby. He told that we can go to Masinagudi which is around 10 km away. We thought lets try there. But Oh My God! road is so narrow that it is width of 1 and 1/2 car and vehicles are from both direction. The worst is, if you want to come out of the road to side, it will sure hit the bottom of the car. So have to be very careful about moving out of the road. Anyway we reached Masinagudi and saw a big hotel but very crowded. We thought to try our luck in front, but within few minutes, we were out of the town. So took a U turn in a petrol bunk and decided to go back to Bandipur and stay in a nearby hotel and go for a safari ride next day early morning. It was 4:00 PM and wanted to cross the jungle by 5 and before it is dark and also it is raining. We came back the same way and swa an elephant family gazing. There was a board which says, if you are attacked by an elephant, jungle authority are not responsible for it. So we could take a picture while we are still moving and never stopped in front of it.
Next we stopped in the safari ride junction in Bandipur. Runai sat inside the car and I went to enquire about the timing. Saw that they have to timing 6:00 - 9:00 AM and 4:00 - 6:00 PM and Rs. 200 per head for the safari ride. It was already 5:00, so we thought to go and check in some hotel nearby. Once we came out of the Bandipur jungle, we saw a jungle resort. Went and enquired and they told their rate is Rs. 2500 per head per day. We were like its too much for us. So went in another hotel which had a huge front area for parking and garden and kids play area. Looked like a travelers place, where people usually stay for night and leave next day morning. It had a restaurant too. Anyway got a room for Rs. 900. We took a local ride and went to nearby village. We thought to get some snacks and water, etc. While returning back, we found a souvenir shop just opposite to our hotel. We got a magnet tiger sticker and another sticker. Next we spent a good amount of time in the swing till it was dark. Next we went in our room and after dinner, we went to sleep at 8:00 PM.

Next day 03-Aug-2014, Runai got up at 3:00 AM. There were very large group outside the hotel. They also got up and getting ready to start. There were lot of noise, so we also had to get up. We freshened up and came out of our hotel by 5:30 AM. It was still dark and as we came out, we got stuck in traffic jam where cars and lorries are all shut off. Then we realized that jungle is closed from 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM everyday. We started at 6:00 AM and went straight to Safari ride center.
On our way, we saw a bison grazing near the road.

Got 2 tickets for us and the swaraj mazda bus started at 7:00 AM with 15 people. There were many professional photographers with us. The bus went right inside the jungle where there are no roads except few mud patches.
First we saw an elephant family gazing far away. Then few wild boars and monkeys with peacocks.
Next after spending half an hour to one side of the road and particularly near all watering places we crossed the road and went to other side. We saw a bison family gazing. We had to stop our vehicle and wait for them to move from the road, so that we can go forward. After 10 minutes, they started moving inside the jungle and it is so dense, that from the very first tree, you can not see anything beyond. We too started leaving the place and reached the center at 8:00 AM.

From there we came back to hotel and left the place at 9:00 AM. the next we know is that we are in Mysore and went in a South Indian style dhaba at 11:00 AM. Had nice food and started at 12:00 PM. Stopped in Kamat hotel at 3:00 PM for coffee and refreshment. Next we know is that we are home at 4:30 PM.