Sep 7, 2009

Green is the colour

After the fabulous 3 day drive to Belur, Chikmagalur, Mullyangiri and Halebidu, my eyes are still relishing the visual treat. These places were part of my to-visit list for a while now. There are two types of vacations - one that is well planned and the other which is spontaneous. This trip falls under the latter. The key to breaking monotony is to do something spontaneous.

Until Thurs evening, we were not sure whether we want to take this trip. But then we decided "Let's go for it!". I'm glad we took this decision. After searching in the web for reviews, we picked a home stay "Nature Craft". We should have been lucky to get a booking there in the last minute. After quickly packing our bags, we browsed through various maps and narrowed down on the perfect route.

Although we planned to leave by 5:30 AM before Friday's traffic starts to pile up, we eventually left our home only by 6:15 AM. There was a lot of confusion from Kasturba Road to hit NH4 as we were roaming around for nearly 20 minutes with no clear indication of how to get there. Until Neelamangala, there has been a lot of construction work happpening. After we took the deviation towards Kunigal, the drive started to become easy and very pleasant. Long winding roads with greenery on both sides, white and dark clouds fighting to become dominant, a gentle breeze, a light drizzle and occasionally visible sun rays - it couldn't have been more perfect. After a quick breakfast at Kamat (after Channarayapatna), we continued the drive until Belur. It had started to rain and we were thinking if we should head straight to Chikmagalur. But then we decided to visit Channakeshava temple at Belur as we didn't want to miss out on the chance. The ancient temple was so beautiful, with nice stone carved intricate sculptures. We took the help of a guide who showed us around the temple explaining different facts. It was very interesting and informative.

The drive from Belur towards Chikmagalur was even more scenic and beautiful. It was nearly 2 PM when we reached Chikmagalur town and we were very hungry. Thanks to a blog recommendation, we went to Hotel Mayura for lunch. The food was so good that we came to this place for lunch the next day as well. After a little bit of detour, we reached our home stay "Nature Craft" around 4 PM. As we were pretty tired after the long drive, we took a short nap. The homestay was very clean and neat. The hosts were wonderful and very friendly. We chatted with our host Mr.Ansar and his mother over a nice cup of coffee. One could learn a few lessons on good quality of service and hospitality from them. I would highly recommend this place as they made our stay so memorable.

We also met a friendly couple along with their cute pet dog Lana. She was so sweet and intelligent. After this trip, I'm no longer scared of dogs as I used to be.

After breakfast the next day, Mr.Ansar gave us a map to Mullayangiri and Kemmangundi. Because of the revival of the monsoons, it has been continuously raining. Our homestay friends shared their experience visiting Mullayangiri. Although it freaked a bit, we decided to go for it. The roads were getting bad and the mist was engulfing the mountains completely. With 3 more kms to go, we had to decide whether to continue driving or park and walk the remaining 3 kms. We chose to drive and those 3 kms were so thrilling. The winds were blowing so fast. There was almost zero visibility and the muddy road was getting narrower. We were praying that no vehicle returns in the opposite direction. Once one starts to drive these 3 kms, there is no place to take a U turn. You have to go to the top and only then one can turn back. It felt like an adventure. Once we reached the top, the wind was just rocking. I could hardly open the front door of my car as the wind was pushing the door hard. What an experience it was!!

We returned, admiring the mist and wondering how the view would be when it is clear. I would definitely want to visit this place during winter when the sky is clear. After lunch, we headed towards Kemmangundi. Our plan was to just drive half way through the scenic route and come back as it was getting darker. There were coffee plantations on both sides with spectacular views of the mountains. Everything looked gorgeous, until we realized we had a flat tyre. It was in the middle of a deserted road, with a drizzle and wind blowing at a high speed. This was the first time hubby had to fix a flat tyre on his own. We (or rather "He") managed to fix it nicely and decided to turn back from that point as it would be highly risky with no backup tyre. It was a good learning experience.

After replacing the tyre tube, we headed back to our homestay. The Biryani during dinner tasted very good and we had a long chat with our new couple friends talking about dogs, cats and snakes. It's an irony that we get to meet interesting and friendly people at unexpected places and times. The sky seemed to open up the next morning for a brief time. I wonder why it doesn't rain in the last day of our trips. No regrets since the views were so beautiful thanks to the monsoon. After breakfast, we bid goodbye to the friendly homestay hosts. It was a nice gesture when they gave us a bagful of passion fruits and guavas from their plantation. It started off as a bright day and so we decided to visit Halebidu on our way. The Hoysaleswara temple is very similar to the one in Belur.

After a good lunch at Hotel Kadamba in Hassan, we drove back to Bangalore. This is a very memorable trip, with scenic routes, pleasant drive and ofcourse, the nice homestay and the friendly family of Mr.Ansar. I will definitely visit Chikmagalur again during one of the winters to experience the clear sky and views. There are still many places to see from here like Kemmangundi, Hebbe falls and BabubudanGiri hills.

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