Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts

The Tamarind Trees of Koongal Betta

Tamarind fruits
Tangy and Tasty Tamarind Fruits

Koongal hill
Koongal Hill 
One night while having my dinner, I experienced an unusually refreshing flavor and taste of sambhar  and with much compliments being generated, my wife revealed the secret of the tasty tongue-tickling sambar saying, the tamarind used for cooking/preparing the sambhar was that brought from Koongal Hills. They were the best of tamarinds used by us till now and the taste of its tanginess remained with me ever since. Though we generally use the tamarind grown locally, the tamarind this time tasted different. Whatever efforts we put in collecting the fallen tamarinds, carrying them back home, drying, dehusking and deseeding them to get the prefect fruit, ready to cook, were definitely worthwhile. Though majority of the tamarinds we get is naturally grown, the process of drying, cleaning and selection of the fruits itself makes all the difference. We thouroughly enjoyed the refreshing sourness of the tamarind courtesy of Koongal hill and savoured every drop of sambhar that day!! It was surely a tasty tangy treat for my taste buds!
Tamarind Tree of Koongal Betta
Traditional way of dehusking tamarind fruits
Traditional Way of dehusking Tamarind Fruits
That Sunday, we wanted to trek the small hill of 'Achalu Betta' located somewhere between the towns of Kanakapura and Ramanagara. However, on our way from Kanakapura to Ramanagara, a big hill with a small temple atop attracted us. We immediately decided to trek this hill and inquired the route to the hill. We parked our car under a tree near the Koongal hill. As we walked, we realized that the road has been laid up to half way to the hill. We were greeted by a beautiful murti of Lord Ganesha  installed in the recent years. Walking further we reached an open terrain full of Tamarind trees.
Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha
Road Way Up
Life! Finds Its Way
A Lovely Walkway
Tamarind Tree Groove
Entering The Tamarind Tree Groove
The real climb starts from here as the route turns a bit steep and narrow. In a short while we reached  a place where there was a big murti of Lord Nandi/Basavanna. We rested under its shade for sometime after offering prayers. Continuing our trek hereon, we entered a cave at the exit of which were rock cut steps leading to a small temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya Swamy (Maruti). The murti seemed to belong to around 18th century. The forest department has built a small view point where we spent some time. During our descent we sighted some ruins of the fort remains, though not much. We reached the area dedicated to the tamarinds trees and were tempted to collect the fallen tamarind. We collected the the fallen tamarind fruits as much as possible and carried it safely till we reached our vehicle.
The Hike
Nandi Murti
Inside the Cave
Maruti Temple, Koongal Betta
Lord Maruti
Panoramic View
Maruti Temple, Koongal Betta
Nandi Murti, Rock cut steps and Maruti Temple
How to reach Koongal Betta: From Bangalore travel till Ramanagara on Mysuru highway, enter Ramanagara town and take the Muduwadi road till Koongal. Koongal is about 60 km from Bangalore and 8 Km from Ramanagara.
Related Posts: 


Moonbow at Unchalli Waterfalls, Sirsi

Unchalli waterfalls, Siddapura Uttara Kannada
Unchalli Waterfalls
Sometime back,  having read about the phenomenon of a Moonbow or Lunar Rainbow occurring at a few waterfalls around the world, we wondered if we would ever get an opportunity to witness this rare phenomenon. The chances seemed were very minimal or nil, owing to the locations of its occurrence previously. The formation of Moonbow has been documented in 5 locations of waterfalls throughout the world so far, though there could be many such places where the Moonbow would form. One and only such place documented in Asia is our favorite waterfalls of Unchalli. We have the privilege of visiting Unchalli quite often, as Sirsi is always on our annual pilgrimage tour. This year however, we were unable to visit Sirsi earlier due to various reasons. Somehow, we got a chance for a quick visit to this place during the last weekend. As we wanted to visit Unchalli falls in the evening, we had to meet a few locals whom we knew from our previous visits and seek help to get the required permission.
Moonbow Unchalli Waterfalls
Note the Faint Moon Bow
Moonbow Unchalli Waterfalls
Chandra Dhanasu, Unchalli Falls
A Moonbow or Lunar Rainbow is a celestial phenomenon similar to the  usual rainbow, but formed only during moonlight. They are very rare in occurrence and invisible to the naked eye. Moonbows are very faint and believed to occur during a full-moon or bright-moon night. Though capturing them in the right angle is very difficult, there are a few who have been chasing Moonbows at Unchalli since a few years and have succeeded in documenting them only last year. As Unchalli waterfalls comes under the area of reserved forest, there are restrictions of movement during the night times and a strict ban is imposed on camping here. The locals were quite helpful in getting us the necessary permissions from the forest department for a late evening visit.
Moon Over unchalli Falls
Moon Over Unchalli Falls
I, along with my friends reached the house of the local friend around 6.45 pm that evening. Taking a moment to refresh, we quickly started our walk towards the view point of the waterfalls. Though that night was a half-moon night or Ashtami Chandra, the falls was clearly visible and we were enjoying our moonlit descent towards the view point. We made sure to be well equipped with torches to help us descend. The view from the watch tower was just splendid! The scene is indescribable in words or sentences! It  would easily convert any normal man into a poet. But I instead chose to photograph this spectacular scene, which was quite difficult due to the dim light. After a lot of trials, I  managed to get a couple of decent shots of the waterfall. While I zoomed in to take a look at the picture, I was shell shocked to see that we had additionally captured a Moonbow! A quite faint rainbow it is, but is yet so exciting to realize that very few people in Asia have ever been able to witness and capture it. Thoroughly and unbelievably excited I was! Holding the same excitement on reaching home and transferring the pictures to my system, I had a closer look just to reassure it was a Moonbow. I was happy that we were able to capture it on camera. Thus making Unchalli closer and dearer to us. Don't miss to stop by a short video tour on Unchalli waterfalls.
Trek at Unchalli Waterfalls ,Sirsi, Uttara Kannada
Descent to the Falls
Waterfalls of Karnataka
Unchalli Waterfalls

Our humble request to all is 'Please take prior permission from the concerned authorities before heading into the forest area during nights as it comes under reserve forest area'. Also, entry to the falls is prohibited after 6 pm. Remember not to litter the place and leave it as it is for others and future generations to enjoy. 
You can also read one of our experiences at this waterfalls here.

References:
1. Times of India
2. Landscape Wizards 
3. Time and Date 
4. Wikipedia

Related Posts:
1. Neelakurinji - A rare bloom
2. Dandeli - Resting in the lap of Nature
3. Biking in heaven, Kodagu

A Winter Trek in the Western Ghats, Ballalarayana Durga Fort, Chikmagaluru

Kudremukha Hills, Chikmagalur
Kudremukha Hill Range in Monochrome
 A long pending trek to Ballalarayana Durga fort finally materialized last winter during our trip to Horanadu. 'Ballalarayana Durga' hill is located about 40 km from Mudigere and the fort can be reached via two trek routes - the longer 2 day trek route via Bandajje Arabi Waterfalls from Mundaje and the shorter day trek from Durgadahalli. We decided to a take shorter route since our partner Adhi was a year and a half year old. Road is laid up to Durgadahalli, where we parked our vehicle and started our trek. The initial path of the trek took us  along a few local estates and a bit of steep climb welcomed us to this hill. The climb progresses amidst lush green grasslands which opens up into a beautiful natural landscaped vista.
Trekking in Chikmagalur
The Initial Trek Path
Ballalarayana Durga Fort
First Look of Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Shola Forest, Western Ghats
Shola Forest of Ballalarayana Durga
Trekking in Western Ghats
Break for the Little Trekker on Demand

The walk through the grasslands was quite easy and very pleasing to the eye. Undoubtedly, we spent more time on photography then trekking! As the trek continued through the grasslands, we reached a junction with two diversions and after much deliberation, we decided to take the route on the left and bang on! We were on the right track. We had to cross a few smaller hills in order to reach the base of the hill that housed the fort. We had a clear view of the fort hereon. The early winter weather was perfect for this trek and as usual, this time of the year is always pleasant. We entered the fort wondering about the reason of its being built here in the first place, later only to be abandoned and why no further attempts were made by other kings to occupy/modify/rebuild this fort. Much of the fortification still remains intact  giving us an idea of how magnificent it was, back then.
Trek route along the Grass land
Trek Route Snaking Along the Grass Land
Vigna vexillata Flower WesternGhats
Vigna vexillata Flower
Neelakurinji Flower Western ghats
Neelakurinji Flower
Flower of Western ghats
Forest Malenadu
Another Stretch of Shola Forests
Ballalarayana Durga hill range falls under the Bankal range of Mudigere forest division. This hill is said to have been fortified by the Hoysala Kings in 12th century, which also played a significant role in defence activities due to its strategic location. We did not get any further information regarding the history of this fort. It probably seems like the fort was abandoned with the downfall of the Hoysala dynasty. One can get a view of the entire Kudremukha hill range, Charmadi ghats and other hill ranges. While we were just about to start our descent, we spotted a few trekkers coming towards the fort taking the Bandajje Arabi route. We waited to speak to them and find out their experience uphill and assured them that the descent down the hill from here was not as difficult. They inquired from us about the possibility of hiring a vehicle at Durgadahalli and as we knew, we informed them that the chances of availability of vehicles were quite bleak. We offered them to join us so we can give  drop them all to the nearest place from where they can get a  bus back to Bangalore. Without a second  thought, they readily accepted our offer. After they rested for sometime, we all started our descent. All along, they were quite excited to see our little partner Adhi doing the trek! We reached our vehicle and as promised, we dropped the boys at Kottigehara. Overall, it was a wonderful experience of trekking amidst so much greenery!
Gaali gudda
Gaali Gudda Hills
Bandajje Arabi waterfalls
Towards Bandajje Arabi Waterfalls
Cheering Up the Young Trekker
Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Fort Walls Snaking Across The Hills

Other places to Visit nearby: Kalasa, Horanadu, Chikmagalur, Sooramane Abbi Waterfalls, Khandya, Mullayanagiri, Bababudanagiri, Kudremukha and many such.
How to reach Ballalarayana Durga:  Cross Mudigere, proceed towards Kottigehara, take a right turn towards Kalasa and reach Sunkasale. Take a left turn here and proceed till you reach a dead end and take a  left turn to reach the starting point of the trek. This village is located about 34 km from Mudigere and 312 km from Bangalore.
Accommodation: There are no accommodation facilities inside the village, although one can pitch their own tents inside the fort or village premises with prior permission of the villagers. However, there are many home stays in the area which also offer guided treks to this hill.
Where to eat: There are no eateries here; Kottigehara and Kalasa are the closest and better options.
Permission: Not required for this route.  However, the trek through Bandajje Arabi waterfalls route requires prior permission, which can be obtained at Bandajje only. Also, guides are provided by the forest department.

Related Posts 
1. A Monsoon Trek to Kavaledurga 
2. Dandeli Resting in the Lap of Nature
3. Waterfalls of Agumbe
 
Always Remember to Respect Nature and Wildlife. And Do not  litter.
                                                                                                                                                Older Post 

Mysore Dasara and Top 15 Attractions in and around Mysore

Lit Mysore Palace
View of Lit Mysore Palace From Chamundi Hills
Mysore/Mysuru/Maisooru is world renowned for its 407 year old tradition of Dasara celebration, popularly known as 'Nadahabba' of Karnataka. Mysore is regarded as the cultural capital of Karnataka. The 'Aane Ambari' or 'Jumbo Savari' is a major attraction of the Mysore Dasara wherein the decorated elephants carry the golden howdah weighing about 750 kg, housing a beautiful murti of mother Chamundeshwari. The Royal couple of the Wodeyar family begin the festival celebrations by offering special puja to mother Chamundeshwari at the Chamundeshwari temple, atop the Chamundi hills. The celebration lasts for 10 days beginning with the first day of Navaratri and ending on the 10th day or Vijayadashami, the day that mother Chamundeshwari slayed the demon king Mahishasura. The celebration this year started on the 21st of September 2017 and will end on the 30th of September 2017, details of which can be found at the government website dedicated for the same. This year is more exciting with a few added attractions to this celebration, like the helicopter ride and many such. Apart from the Aane Ambari, the second most popular attraction is the beautiful  illumination of Mysore Palace. The LED bulb lit Mysore Palace dazzles during night and is a feast for the eyes. The lighting timings during festive occasion is between 7 pm and 9 pm on all the ten days. Apart from Dasara, the palace is lit on all Sundays and government holidays between 7 pm and 7:45 pm. There are many other attractions around Mysore in addition to the events during the famous Mysore Dasara.
Mysore Palace, Chamundi Hills
Mysore Palace as Seen From Chamundi Hill with out Lights
1. Chamundi Hills: This is the most important landmark of Mysore which houses temples dedicated to goddess Chamundeshwari and Lord Mahabaleshwara, considered to be the one of the earliest temples of Mysore, dating back to the 9th century. Chamundi hills is very well connected to Mysore with many city buses plying regularly between the central bus stand and Chamundi hills. The temple remains open for most times during Dasara festival, except for an hour in the afternoons and evenings. The best time to visit the hill will be early in the morning to get a glimpse of this mist clad hillock and also during evenings, when the Mysore palace is lit. The view of the lit Mysore palace from Chamundi hills is gorgeous and will make the trip to Mysore most memorable.
Chamundeshwari Temple, Chamundi Hills, Mysore
Chamundeshwari Temple, Chamundi Hills
2. Mysore Zoo: This zoo is regarded as the most beautiful and best maintained zoo in the country. It is also considered to be the oldest of zoos to have been established in India, during the year 1892 by the Mysore King - Sri Chamarajendra Wodeyar Bahadur. The zoo is home to a few of the many exotic animals not found elsewhere in India. This is a must visit place in Mysore. The Zoo is generally closed on Tuesdays, although during Dasara it remains open on all days.
Mysore Zoo
Walkway Inside Mysore Zoo
3. Mysore Palace and Temples in the Palace complex: The Mysore palace or Amba Vilas Palace as it is called was first built in the 14th century by Yaduraya, and has been subsequently undergone various renovations and reconstructions. The current structure was built by the Mysore Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and was completed in 1912, after the old palace was burnt down to ashes. The palace has various exhibits of the Wodeyar kings and queens, including the famous golden howdah/ambari on display. Photography is strictly prohibited here and entry to the palace is ticketed. There are 8 temples inside the palace complex of which, the Swetha Varahaswamy temple is the earliest and belongs to the Hoysala period built around 12th century AD. Mysore is also home to many other palaces such as the Jayalakshmi Vilas Palace, Lalithamahal Palace, Jaganmohan Palace and such.
Places to Visit in Mysore
Amba Vilas Palace
Top tourist attractions in Mysore
Large Temple Complex Inside the Palace Premises
Hoysala Temple in Mysore
Swetha Varahaswamy Temple
4. Karanji and Kukkarahalli Lakes: A visit to Mysore is incomplete without visiting these famous lakes. Both the lakes were constructed by the Wodeyar Kings during different periods, with Kukkarahalli lake being the earliest. Karanji Lake falls under the Forest department and is ticketed.
Karanji Lake, Mysore
Karanji Lake
5. St. Philomena's Church: St. Philomena's Church is a catholic church built in the year 1936 in  Neo- Gothic style and is considered to be one among the tallest Churches of Asia. This is one of the important landmarks of Mysore.
St Philomena Church, Mysore
St. Philomena's Church
6. Mysore Silk Emporium/Factory: The silk weaving factory owned by the Government is another place worth a visit and is great for buying authentic and high quality silk products. This factory was started in 1912 by the Mysore Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV for meeting the requirements of the Royal family. This later developed into a full fledged business post independence after it was was transferred to the Mysore Sericulture Department.
7. Regional Museum of Natural History (RMNH): This place is a must visit for young kids simply because it is really interesting and educative. The RMNH, Mysore is the southern regional office of the National Museum of Natural History. The entry to the museum and parking is free.The other museums in town are the State Government Museum and the Wax Museum which one can also plan to visit.
Museum of Mysore
A Painting inside RMNH
8. GRS Fantasy Park: This park is an amusement water park located in the outskirts of Mysore (about 10 km). It is a great place for a full day of adventure and fun.
9. Brindavan Gardens: These gardens are located at a distance of about 21 km from Mysore and is developed around the KRS dam built across river Kaveri (lifeline of South Karnataka). Coming under the taluk of Srirangapatna of Mandya district, it is jointly maintained by the Cauvery Niravari Nigam and KSTDC. The musical lit fountains in the evenings are a major attraction of this park.
KRS Dam
Musical Fountain, Brindavan Gardens
10. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary: This beautiful bird sanctuary and scenic spot is home to many avian species and  is located about 15 km from Mysore on the banks of river Kaveri. The Karnataka Forest Department maintains this sanctuary and operates river safaris to take one around the river for sighting birds.
Inside Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
11. Balmuri and Edmuri Falls: These waterfalls are located about 24 km from Mysore near the KRS dam. These are formed by a man-made check dam. This is a good spot to enjoy playing in the water and quite safe to swim, although with caution. Edumuri, situated close by to Balmuri falls is generally less visited.
Balmuri Waterfalls, Mandya
Balmuri Waterfalls
12. Mysore Sandal Factory: This factory started in 1916 by the Mysore Maharaja along with Diwan Sir M Visvesvaraya is a one stop solution for all sandal products. The sandal  products can at also be purchased at registered art and craft stores.
13. Shuka Vana Aviary: This rare aviary in the premises of SGS Ashram is a rehabilitation center for birds and is being maintained by Sri Ganapathy Sachchinanda Swamiji. It is home to a large variety of colorful species of parrots from all over the world. The experience of interacting with these birds, some of which are free to fly around is quite unique . Entry is free and photography inside the parrot park is strictly prohibited, although one can get photographed with a group of birds at a fixed price. This place is surely worth a visit.
Bird Art Inside Shuka Vana
14. Nanjangud: Nanjangud town is located about 25 km from Mysore and is home to one of the largest temple of Karnataka, Sri Srikanteshwara Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga and is believed to have been built in 11th century AD by the Cholas and later improvised by the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagara and Wodeyar kings. This beautiful temple set on the banks of river Kapila is a must visit place around Mysore.
Sri Srikanteshwara Temple, Nanjangud
15. Srirangapatna: Srirangapatna town is located about 14 km from Mysore and is an erstwhile Agrahara since the time of the Ganga dynasty, who also built the temple of Lord Ranganathaswamy. This town was under the rule of the Hoysalas, Vijayanagara kings, Wodeyars, Tippu, and later again fell into the hands of the Wodeyars. There are many temples, tombs, a fort and bridge and a few British bungalows here. This town on the banks of river Kaveri is considered to be one among the holy places in Karnataka. 
River Kaveri
River Kaveri, Srirangapatnam
How to reach Mysore: Mysore is very well connected by road and rail to other parts of the country. It has a functional airport with regular flights to Chennai only as of now, with mega expansion plans in the future.
Where to stay in Mysore: There are umpteen number of options available for accommodation in Mysore, suiting all budget classes. The Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel is converted into a  luxury heritage hotel and is maintained by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation. Hotels Pai Vista, Park Lane, Roopa, Pai Viceroy, and Maurya Residency to name a few are the best hotels situated in close proximity to the the Mysore Palace as well as the bus stand.
Where to eat in Mysore: Although most of the above mentioned hotels provide complimentary break fast, one can surely try and get the real taste of Mysore by heading to Hotel Mylari which serves the best Mysore Masala Dosa or Hotel Siddhartha which reflects the authentic taste of Mysore. For Lunch, head to High Park Restaurant for a unique revolving roof-top buffet with amazing views, with the other good choices being Hotel Nalapak which offers quite a good range of vegetarian meals and Hotel RRR which is undoubtedly the best place in Mysore for non-vegetarian meals. Mysore also offers a rich variety of street food during night.

Related Posts:
1. 101 places to visit around Bangalore within 125km.
2. Top 100 lesser known temples of Karnataka
3. Travel Guide to Madhya Pradesh

Newer Post                                                                                                                               Older Post