Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bheemana Amaavasya Celebrations @ Chiguru

July 30th, 2011, Pooja, Sanjana and Nisha celebrated Bheemana Amaavasya at our home.

Pooja and Sanjana decked up their hair with long flower garlands and looked resplendent in their silk attires.

Here are some photos taken during this festival.

Pictures from Bheemana Amaavasya

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

3 day trip to Wayanad

The past three months was very hectic in office and didn't get enough time to take the family out anywhere. Even though Pooja had her summer holidays, we could not take her out due to my official duties. Our Wedding anniversary celebration also had to wait till the first week of July till the launch of of a highly visible project at office. The successful deployment during the last week of June gave us a window during the first week of July to relax a bit before getting back to the helm.

Soujanya, Pooja and myself decided to make a quick 3 day trip to Wayanad and make up for what we missed during the summer. As usual, called up Netravathi Travels and hired a Tata Indica, the previous day and that's it, we were all set for a long weekend getaway!.

Day 1: July 1st, 2011, Friday: 
(Bangalore - Maddur - Mysore - Bandipur - Gundlupet - Muthanga - Sulthan Bathery - Karapuzha Dam)

We left Bangalore at 6:30 AM and had a quick breakfast at Adigas@Maddur. We made brief halts at Mysore, Bandipur, Gundlupet, Muthanga Chekpost for taking pictures of the sceinic route. Acres of Sunflower farms, Elephants @ Bandipur and Deers at Muthanga were a delight to watch. We reached Wayanad's Sultan Bathery by 1:30 PM and headed straight to 'Orchid Resorts' which was recommended by one of my office colleague. The drive to this resort was kind of off track, lost in the woods and desolate. We checked out the room and found it to be stuffy and very dark. We dropped the idea of staying over there and returned to Sulthan Bathery and checked out a hotel in the middle of the town, but Soujanya did not like getting into a concrete building again while the sole purpose of our trip was to get close to nature! In our quest for finding something in the middle, we came across 'Pepper Grove' a KSTDC approved hotel, not too far from the town and not too deep inside and which probably had the best mix of Openness and Modernity that satisfied all our needs. The time of the year being an off-season, we were the only occupants of the 'resortish-hotel', apart from a security guard, a pantry guy, a person who handled the guests and a helper.

We refreshed ourselves at the hotel and after a super duper pure veggie special meals at a near-by Udupi hotel, we quickly got back on the road by 3:30 PM and head towards the 'Karapuzha' Dam (Karapulla), about 20 KMS from our hotel. Again, with the off-season kicking in, apart from us three, there was absolutely nobody at the Dam, a blessing in disguise to get away from the crowd. The overcast clouds and the mild drizzle gave us the perfect weather that we were looking forward too. The Karapuzha dam overlooks a few hills and has a very sceinic setting. We stayed for about a couple of hours covering every corner of the Dam and surrounding areas. By 5 PM our tired legs could not take it any longer and wanted to get back to the hotel. We got back to hotel by 6 PM and took it easy for the next part of the night.

Day 2: July 2nd, 2011, Saturday:
(Pookod Lake - Vythri Resorts - Lakkdi View Point - Soochipara Falls)

Next day morning, (July 2nd, Saturday), we were up early and after a heavy breakfast of Poori and Saagu, at the hotel, left for Pookod Lake, about 50 KMS from our hotel. On our way, we came across lofty hills, Tea and Coffee plantations, thin air and greenery all around. We were probably the first to get into the Pookod lake at 9 AM (probably even before the staff arrived!) and found it to be rather small in area compared to the other lakes that we have seen in the past. Nevertheless, we did our regular routines of Paddle Boating and shopping around the lake. We then visited the most acclaimed, 'Vythri resorts' which took us through 30 minutes of narrow, single lane, muddy and slimy road. After a long wait at the reception, the Operations Manager finally agreed to allow us (visitors) to take a look at their propery which otherwise is strictly for their guests. Post our whirlwind tour of this resort, we felt happy that we didn't book over there, considering the pricing, distance, and the hype around the resort. The resort is so remote that once you get in, it is very difficult to get out of the place and to see things outside the resort.

We then got ourselves out of the resort and took the sceinic route to 'Lakkidi' view point, one of the ghat-sections that has a great view point similar to Agumbe in the Western Ghats, from where the hills end and over look the city of Kozhikode(Calicut). The view was breathtaking and the elevation put us on a high.

Our next stop was the Soochipara falls, which was about an hour and half drive from Lakkidi. The approach to the bottom of the falls was very tiring. The winding steps of unequal heights made the 2.5 KMS trek through the hills a real pain in the back. Midway, Soujanya sensed something wet and slimy under her feet and when she removed her footwear, started screaming as her heel was filled with blood! On searching what caused the bleeding, we found the dreaded Leech sticking between the toes and happily bloating in size to glory. We managed to pluck the Leech out, but the bleeding continued till half an hour more. This was Soujanya's first experience with a Leech bite!

We reached the bottom of the falls in 30 minutes to open our eyes to one of the most beautiful falls, with water gushing from 20 meters. The place was just perfect for a wonderful dip into the small lake it forms around the waterfalls. The water was pristine and crystal clear. An amazing spot, not to be missed by anybody visiting Wayanad and worth all the pains it took us to reach the bottom. Climbing back was a real pain and demanded a lot of pit stops in between. By the time we reached our car, we are almost immobile. It was about 4 PM and really hungry. We got back to the Udupi hotel by 5 PM only to know that lunch closed at 3 PM and all they had was snacks. So we had to settle with what we had! The restaurant owner assured us that he will have dinner available from 7 PM to 10 PM and we could come back anytime during the period. We got back to 'Pepper Grove' and spent the rest of the evening relaxing. After about a couple of hours of rest, we were back on the streets of Sulthan Bathery shopping for some Banana and Jackfruit Chips, which are the must-buys for any visitors to Kerala. We hurried ourselves to be in time for the dinner at the Udupi restaurant only to be disheartened again as the hotel was 'out-of-stock' for meals as there was a huge surplus of visitors that day and they ran out of stocks by 8 PM itself!. After repeating the same snacks that we had 3 hours earlier, we saddled back to our hotel and nursed our worn out souls.

Day 3: July 3rd, 2011, Sunday:
(Kuruva Island - Kalpetta - Banasura Sagar Dam- Sulthan Bathery - Muthanga - Gundlupet - Bandipur - Nanjangud - Mysore - Bangalore)

The morning on Sunday (July 3rd) after a heavy breakfast of Dosas at Pepper Grove, we left for 'Kuruva' Island, about 50 KMS from Sulthan Bathery. Our KSTDC guy at the hotel gave us all the route information, what to do over there and all the details. As always, we asked everybody whoever we came across for the directions to this place and everybody cheerfully gave us the directions to the island. We went through amazing Areca nut plantations, Rubber plantations and Coffee Plantations as well. We did a quick pit stop at one of the Rubber plantations and gained good first hand insights into how making of the rubber for various commercial uses. After 2 hours of drive we reached the Kuruva Island check post kind of an office and an elderly person popped out with tickets in his hand and collected Rs. 5 for entry and let us in. We drove for another 10 minutes looking at the sign boards, which are quite rare and if they exist, very confusing. So ensured that we always asked another 100 people on the road for directions. We were probably 5 KMS from the Island, traveling for the past 2 hours that we met one of the 'well dressed' college student and on enquiry, got to know that the Island is closed for visitors since the months of May, June and July!. Well, we had driven 50 KMS and enquired with 50% of the population of Wayanad and none of them ever gave this important information and allowed us to reach the summit only to know that it was closed since 3 months! We any ways, drove till to the entrance of the Island, which was completely empty, the muddy river in full spate and floods. Not a pretty sight and a good experience either.

On our way back, we stopped over at a house which had a huge Jackfruit tree which was 'fully loaded'. So we asked the owner of if he was okay to gift us a Jackfruit. The owner gladly welcomed us, plucked the best jackfruit, cleaned and packed it for us, loaded it into our car, showed his house, introduced to his family and offered us home made chips! Wow! Such humble people! We spent some time with their family and gave a few pleasantries that we had brought from home and got back onto our car, with a faint smile on our face, which completely masked the disappointment of the Kuruva Island expedition.

Our next stop was the Banasura Sagar Dam which is supposed to be Asia's largest 'Earthen Dam'. On the way, we came across an open field with a huge gathering of youth in sporting uniforms. Getting closer to the crowd, got to know it was the Mega final of the 'Monsoon Mud-Football Championships' sponsored by Wayanad Tourism. Man! This was fun!. Watching two professional teams battle it out on muddy slush was absolutely awesome. Checkout the photographs and that should tell you all about this as the pictures speak a thousand words! By now, our faint smiles had turned into a full blown giggle.

We reached Banasura Sagar Dam by noon and walked up to the ridge to come across the most beautiful sights of the catchments lake formed by the dam. The cool breeze, the lofty peaks, the mild drizzle and the setting was too good to be true. A wonderful place to visit and a must see for anyone visiting Wayanad. We spent a lot of time, taking photographs. We found a makeshift swing tied to two jackfruit trees and Pooja had a great time enjoying the lengthy strides. After spending an hour and half, we hit the roads again to get back to the hotel.

We checked out of the hotel by 2 PM, finally managed to the super duper lunch at the Udupi hotel and started on our return journey to Bangalore by 3 PM.

We retraced the same roads of the Muthanga wild life sanctuary, Gundlupet, Bandipur and Managua. We got off at Nanjangud and made a quick visit at the temple of Lord Sreekanteshwara. To our luck, the darshan completed in less than 30 minutes and also got ample time at the sanctum-sanctorum right in front of the residing deity. Post that we quickly crossed the road to get a glimpse of the majestic Kabini river. A few minutes later, we continued again on our return Journey. By 6:40 PM we were at the Mysore Palace. We watched the 'Mysore Palace - Lighting of the lamps' event which commenced exactly at 7 PM and continued our journey again. After a quick stop over at Maddur for a light refreshment and 'Sulaimani Tea' at one of the hotels after Ramnagar, we reached Bangalore at 10 PM, after a wonderful 3 day tour of Wayanad.

The timing of our visit was just perfect as we did not encounter any torrential rains which were prevalent during this season. The overcast sky with the Sun playing hide and seek, the diffused sunlight right through the trip was a perfect opportunity for taking some good photographs.

Here are some photographs that we took during our trip to the Wayanad!

Trip to Wayanad

Supporting information for other travelers:
Dates of travel: July 1st ~ July 3rd (Off-season)
Total no of days: 3 Days, 2 Nights.
Total distance: 918 KMS (Bangalore to Bangalore)
Overall Approximate expense for the trip: Rs. 12,000 (approx)
  • Taxi charges - Rs. 6K (Tata India - Rs. 5.75 per KM + Driver Bata + Kerala Check post charges)
  • Accommodation at Sultan Bathery: Rs. 4100
  • Sundries - Rs. 2K (approx)
  • Sweet sense of rejuvenation - PRICELESS!

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