Saturday, July 31, 2010

Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 3

Today, we had Kanya Kumari on our list.So, in the Cape, at last the feeling was very different . We have been craving to see this place since long. The only thing remaining in our mind was to get up early and catch the lovely sunrise . With all efforts, we woke up at 5:30 am and headed towards the beach to see the sunrise. Trust us , it was worth all the efforts we had taken to wake up early that morning!.
Wake up India

The early morning  view was worth more than the 700 kms drive that brought us here. It was a beautiful one and thousands of people had gathered to watch the sunrise, one of the things KanyaKumari is very famous for. After watching the sunrise, we went back for some rest and breakfast. Later, we wanted to visit the Vivekananda memorial which is situated amidst the beach .Since the queue for the ferry was very long,  we did not waste any time waiting and headed towards an old Dutch Port named Vattakottai, about 7 kms from KanyaKumari .

Entrance to the Fort 

Inside the Fort
From here, we drove towards Nagercoil . On our way ,we came to know about a very famous temple in Suchindrum . The main attractions here, are the renowned shrine dedicated to Lord Sthanu-Mal-Ayan (Shiva Vishnu Brahma) and a huge statue of Lord Hanuman depicting his Viswarupa Dharsan, given to Sita at the Asoka forest .This statue is 18 feet high. Lord Hanuman was as mighty as he always is! No photography is allowed inside the temple .
Imposing Gopuras

After visiting one more beautiful Kovil (Temple), we moved ahead, appreciating the skill  possessed by people of olden times and wondering how much  pain and effort was undergone in constructing such marvelous and mighty  structures those days, with little or no technology  and know how's . I doubt the possibility of re-creating structures like these or even closer to it, in a fast moving technological world with  new inventions happening every second and anything and everything being made available to man. What we lack majorly is probably the skill , patience and time, the people of olden times possessed. It was a pleasure seeing and feeling these places.

After reaching Nagercoil ,we decided not visit the temple and moved towards the Thirparappu falls . Its about 15 kms from Nagercoil and is located at the end of  the Western Ghats .The river Kodayar falls as Thirparappu.
The falls
As usual, the falls has a provision of bathing under it . There are facilities for boating in the backwaters.
From here, we headed to see the hanging bridge known as Mathur Aqueduct .
The Bridge and the walk way

There are many places nearby like Udayagiri Forts ,Padmanabhapuram Palace, and so on. These places were closed as it was 1st of May. We just got a glimpse of these places from outside.
Udayagiri Fort entrance
We went back to the lodge and the feeling of sadness sunk in ,as tomorrow, we had to head back to Bengaluru. We decided that we would  see the Kanyakumari Temple and head to Madurai , then to Bengaluru (720 kms drive).

Final part .To follow soon.

Overall drive : 170 kms 
To be capped ................

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 2

Direction to Tenkasi from Dindigul: Proceed on NH 7 till you reach Thirumangala ,continue on the bypass of Thirumangala on NH 7 till you get a crossing for NH 208, take  a right turn.Continue on NH208 till you reach Tenkasi . On the way, one will get Srivilliputtur .The primary landmark of Srivilliputtur is a11-tiered tower structure dedicated to the Lord of Srivilliputtur, known as Vatapatrasayee. The tower of this temple rises 192 feet high (64 meters) and is the official symbol of the Government of  Tamil Nadu.

About Tenkasi : It is located at the foothills of  the Western Ghats.Tenkasi is also know as 'Varanasi of she South'. It is home to the very famous Courtallam Falls  and Shiva temple dedicated to Kasi Viswanathar. The temple tower was built by king Parakirama Pandian in 1456  and the temple tower ,originally was172 feet tall . It was damaged in 1924  and rebuilt to a height of 163 feet . It has beautiful sculptures and also houses musical stone pillars, that emit notes of different pitch when tapped with fingers. The entrance is really grand, with heavy steps and unique pillars . Photography is prohibited . 
The Sahyadris
Tenkasi travel guide
The Grand Entrance and heavy steps

Then we  headed  towards to the Courtallam falls . This was the second important place to visit  in our itinerary after the cape. This place is also known as 'The Spa of  the South '. It has many falls.
7 falls
On the way to falls, there is a ticket counter .The ticket collector advised is to go to another place, the Papanasam falls since Courtallam and its neighbors actually did not have any water falling!! But ,we insisted on going and checking it out anyway.
Mud puddling (common emigrants butterfly)
And so, there it was! Or may be wasn't!!  The best season  to visit most of the falls is during monsoon or just after it. In South India, it is any time between July and December. Since we had nothing much to see here,we followed the route to Papanasam. 

About Papanasam : It is a holy place situated on the western ghats of Pothigai hills, about 42 kms from Tirunelveli. The natural beauty of this place is enhanced by the Water falls due to the river Tamparani (Thamiraparani).This place is located inside the Mundanthurai  Sanctuary. River Tamparani cascades into two waterfalls namely, the Panatheertham and Agasthiyar falls. Agasthiyar Hill Karaiyar Dam (Thamiraparani Dam) is the dam built across the river Tamparani .
Not to miss: The Falls, dam with boating facilities  and  the wildlife sanctuary with great chances of sighting  a Nilgiri Langur.
Agasthiyar Falls

Stone inscriptions near the temple
Soothing and healthy drink (nice and natural way to beat the heat)
Nilgiri Langurs
View of Western Ghats
The Road
Back Waters, the Route to Pannatheertham
Initial view of the Panatheertham Falls 
The Boat Ride

Panatheertham falls
Magical Rains
Pirates of the Panatheertham
In and Around
Invariably, to our notice or may be it is so, all falls in Tamil Nadu have a provision for bathing under the falls. This place took away all the disappointment of Courtallam falls . We had the reward for our patience. Panatheertham was indeed magical to us. The boat ride across the river was the most beautiful experience. It started to drizzle mid way during the boat ride and the picture looked perfect. There was nothing more we could ask for. Here on, we decided to head towards the Cape to catch the sunset. But we were late and so missed it. Back to the lodge, we rested, had our dinner and slept early to catch the sunrise.

Day 2 : Total kms : 204 . 
To be capped ..........................................

Friday, July 16, 2010

Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 1

       This trip is the first trip of Team G Square in Tamil Nadu. Since  most of our journeys were around Bengaluru and in karnataka , we decided to go on a long journey this time given the number of days available for vacation.This made way for another  exciting chapter in the travel diary of our Team G Square, very rightfully named as " Enchanting Tamil Nadu " . The greatest attraction of Tamil Nadu lies in its magnificent temples, fine beaches , several hill stations, unspoilt forests , resorts and wildlife.  But for us, it felt like it was the land of Idlies and Dosas, Pongal and Sambar!
Mission : Drive to The Cape.

On a  Thursday morning , we had a very strange feeling of holidaying instead of  following the normal work  routine. Cruising along the NH7, watching the lovely countryside of Tamil Nadu, we crossed Hosur  and reached Krishnagiri Toll,  from where we could see the Krishnagiri Fort .

Suraj Chacha Jaage!
View of Bala Raya Konda Durgam
Krishnagiri Fort
From Krishnagiri, we took  the road towards Salem . We stopped for some delicious and colorful breakfast at A2B .

Very inviting Ghee Roast (Trust me it was yummy)
Continuing the journey ,we crossed Salem and further. proceeded towards Namakal. As we crossed the town of Salem, we found an eye catching place called Oothumalai.  We needed a break very badly  since we'd been driving all along  and hence thought of spending our little break quite wisely., of course by exploring this place. Believe us, it was worth the call made.
View of the Oothumalai Hill
About the place (Sthalapuranam)
Bird's eye view of Salem town
God or Demon?
Cave temple
     This place had lots of temples ,caves and statues of gods.The neighboring  hill had very strange look . It had a very mysterious looking cave temple. We tried to gather information of what was really there, but in vain.  Since language posed a problem  for us, we could do nothing much except to move on. The only piece of information we got  was from the  Sthalapuranam in the temple, luckily it was  put up in English. As the temperature  was soaring (around 40 degree C), and we were already walked a lot around Oothumalai Hill, we had little strength left to explore this cave. After resting for sometime, we moved  further towards our destiny,  'The CAPE '. We crossed Namakal and drove towards Madurai . About 60kms before  reaching Madurai , we found a place called  'Dindigul '. From the highway ,we were able to see a nice imposing fort on the small hill and wanted to check out this place for sure.

About Dindigul, Hill Fort : It is believed to be built by the Madurai Nayaks in 1605. Later, it was occupied by the Wodeyars ,then by Tippu Sultan and ended with  the  reign of British. Currently,  it is being maintained by the ASI . An entrance fee of Rs.5/- is charged for all Indian tourists. The Fort has a great history , according to our guide, Mr Karthe. The Fort has been maintained well, but its surroundings  looked like a dump yard, which was very disappointing .

Dindigul Fort in the background is Sirimalai Hills
The Outer wall
Yesteryear's Bazooka
View of Dindigul Town
Inside the Fort
Temple atop 
The Temple
View of Kodai Hills
After exploring Dindigul, we raced towards Madurai. Somehow, we decided to skip Madurai  for time being and headed towards Tenkashi . We checked in to a lodge and had  a nice nap.
Total Kilometers traveled 611.3 kms.
Total Driving time: 9 hours .

To be capped       .......................

Monday, July 5, 2010

Places to visit around Bangalore/ Bengaluru/ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು part-5

27. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary 
           Type :Wildlife, Boating
           Nearest Town:Srirangapatna
           Distance from Bangalore:120kms
           Direction: Take Mysore road up to Srirangapatna. On reaching a big circle ahead, take a right turn . Ranganathittu is about 4 km hereon .
           About: A very popular place among picnickers and birdwatchers. It is a nice place to sight migratory birds from other parts of the world. Avoid going during peak monsoons as boating facilities will be suspended due to the rise in water level. Crocodiles are common  inhabitants of the river. Water birds during breeding season include the Stork (Painted, Open Bill), Spoonbill, Ibis( Black headed, White) the Pied Kingfisher. Other common birds include the Kingfisher, Egret, Heron, Cormorant, and Darter. Places to visit around: Srirangapatna (historical place) , Krishna Raja Sagar Dam , Kokkare Belluru and Mysore.
Anchor and a good Guide
Black Headed Ibis

28  Kurudumale
           Type :Hill, Temples
           Nearest Town:Mulbagal
           Distance from Bangalore: 110kms
          Direction: Take Old madras road up to Mulbagal , enter the town and take the first left turn , travel for about 6 kms, then take a right turn to reach Kurudumale.
           About: This place is famous for the Ganesha temple built by  Vijayanagar kings. The idol is 14 ft tall. There is another temple dedicated to Lord Someshwara (Lord Shiva), also situated in Kurudumale. These temples are very sacred .Lot of pilgrims visit these places. An other interesting feature of this place is the cave on a near by hillock. The cave is called GIBITA GAVI in telugu and Situated at the center/rear side of the Kootadri Parvatha hill. It is believed that Sage Koundinya still visits the cave and has made it his head quarters by offering pooja to the deities Someswara and Ganesha.It would just take a few steps (about 25 min) to reach the cave. Other places to visit nearby would be Mulbagal Hanuman temple ,Virupaksha temple, Avani, Bangaru Tirupathi, Devara Tirupathi and Kotilingaeshwara.
View of the Temple from Kootadri Parvatha
Gibita  Gavi
Mulbagal Hanuman Temple
29  Hadinakal 
            Type :Hill, Temples
            Nearest Town:Yediyur
            Distance from Bangalore: 110kms
            Trek Distance: 2kms
            Trek level:Easy
           Direction : Take Magadi Road , continue on the state highway to reach NH 48. Take left turn, cross yediyur, here on  in about 4kms you find a village called Thirumalpura .Immediately after crossing the village, take a right turn to reach the village of Byrasandra.  From here, there is no possibility of missing the route to the hill.
          About: This is a very famous local pilgrim center but still unknown to most of the outside world .This place has much to offer . I would call this a complete entertainer . First of all, it is a great place for bird watching. We spotted Egyptian vultures , varieties of Kites and Eagles, Bee eaters, Lapwings,and Silver Bills. There are high chances of spotting peacocks and pea hens too,  since it is a home to many of them .There are many old and new temples at the foothill , mostly dedicated to Lord Rama and his disciple Lord Hanuman . The trek is very easy as steps are laid up to the top , though one can deviate. On the top, there is a pillar with an image of Lord Hanuman inscribed on it. 
View of the Hill
Board at the Entrance
Temple on the Top

30  Vani Vilasa Sagar Dam (Mari Kanve) 
             Type :Dam
             Nearest Town:Hiriyur
             Distance from Bangalore: 140kms
             Direction : Take NH4 to reach a crossing to Hosadurga, a  little further take a left turn to reach the Dam.
            About: The Dam was built in the year 1891 and was engineered by Sir M.Visvesvaraya. It is located near Hiriyur Taluk, Chitradurga District. It is the oldest dam in the state. The dam was built by the Mysore Maharaja pre-independence across the river Vedavathi. The dam is an exquisite piece of architecture, an engineering marvel of that time. Great place, Accommodation is available here on permission .
Details of the Dam
A Great Piece of Engineering
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Related posts
1. Chandravalli Garden, Chitradurga
2. Mulbagal fort, Kolar
3. Places to visit around Bengaluru