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Old 23rd May 2012, 12:57   #1
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Default Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

This is my first travelogue, and is dedicated to my beast, a Tata Safari 2.2 VTT Dicor EX 4X2.

The western ghats have always been an inspiration from childhood,and this journey happened as an unplanned detour while heading out in September 2011, and consequently I changed my plans to explore the area more before getting back home, adding 3 days more to the odyssey. I drove around the Malnad region of Karnataka, specifically the districts
of Shimoga and Chikmagalur.

This was the first time I unleashed my beast after owning it since June 2011, and the performance of the vehicle was above expectations, and the roll I expected while turning on mountain roads was far lesser than expected. Turbo kick-in was good, and thankfully, no rattling observed even after driving over bad roads and bumpy terrain. I sorely missed
disc brakes on the rear wheels though, especially over the mountain roads and sharp curves.

Scenic Drive # 1 : Agumbe - Mani Reservoir - Nagara - Hosanagara - Jog
Total Distance : Approx 140 Km

Now this is the true heart of the state. One gets to see curious onlookers and idyllic villages more often on this stretch. Undisturbed lakes,empty roads,and the occasional showers transform this land into a magical realm. The bird life around here is truly awesome, especially water birds. The road is excellent except for some patches, but they're earnestly working to get them repaired. I've done this route in summer, but it is totally different when the rains abound. I avoided the highways and kept to the rural roads, to feel the essence of the quintissential Malnad, and though it was a long way, the distance did not matter. A stretch of NH 69 ( Formerly NH 206 ) just before Talaguppa was truly magical.

The Route :
Name:  Scenic Drive 1.JPG
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Mani Reservoir
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-4.jpg
Enroute to Nagara near Yadur
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-8.jpg
Raja Cascade of Jog Falls
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-13.jpg
Sharavathi Backwaters
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-14.jpg
Sharavathi River
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-17.jpg
Mani Dam Backwaters
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-20.jpg


Scenic Drive # 2 : Thirthahalli - Koppa - Sringeri - Kudremukha - Kalasa
Total Distance : Approx 130 Km

The section of NH-169 between Sringeri and the junction with SH-66 is truly bad. High traffic density, speeding taxis and trucks, coupled by low shoulders almost a foot lower than the road make this stretch quite distressing, though it occasionally awards you with some scenic vistas. But what lies ahead is paradise, so I dont mind this stretch even
though I used to curse it during my sedan drives. Beyond the intersection with SH-66, traveling eastbound via Kudremukh National park is a dream. The stretch of State Highway 66 through Kudremukha is by far, the most scenic drive I have had in the country. There could be many more I haven't seen, but this is the closest I've been to paradise. The only
glitch is that you dont get enough time to fully appreciate the landscape given that they give you a transit pass with a time restraint. I reckon every person who loves his/her car should take atleast 1 picture in this beautiful stretch. The fond memory of driving my Safari through 40 km of sheer bliss lingers to this day.

The Route
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Kundadri near Agumbe
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-26.jpg
Green Fields near Thirthahalli
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-10.jpg
Kudremukha Ranges
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-11.jpg
Emerald Green
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-25.jpg
Paradise - Kudremukha
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-7.jpg

Scenic Drive # 3 : Kalasa - Kottigehara - Charmadi Ghat - Belthangady - Sringeri - Agumbe
Total Distance : Approx 200 Km


The ride from Kalasa to Kottigehara via Javali ( SH-106 ) can be bumpy courtesy the road, but is a shady drive that may invoke a siesta to the driver. There are occasional windows of vistas out here, but for most of the time, you are driving through wooded areas and plantations. Beyond Kotigehara, on NH 73 ( Formerly NH 234 )Charmadi ghat and its
wonderful vistas beckon the appreciating eye, not to forget the sharp turns and road conditions. This is where I felt the need to have disc-brakes to such a degree that I thought of writing to Tata Motors to have this incorporated in their upcoming version of the Safari. For a vehicle with tonnage as much as Safari, I felt disc-brakes on all four wheels is a necessity. The latter part of the charmadi Ghat drive is more challenging that scenic, but nevertheless, it is a great drive that I will surely re-do sometime later as well.

The Route :
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Near Kalasa
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-15.jpg
Charmadi Ghat Road
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-3.jpg
Charmadi Ghat Road
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-21.jpg
Charmadi Ghat Road
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-22.jpg
Charmadi Ghat Road
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-23.jpg

Scenic Drive # 4 : Agumbe - Thirthahalli - Mandagadde - NR Pura - Balehonnur - Chikmagalur
Total Distance : Approx 190 Km

From Thirthahalli to Mandagadde is northbound on NH-169 ( formerly NH 13 ), which in itself is an enjoyable winding drive. Juggernauts of private buses plying between Shimoga and Udupi can irritate a little, but once you cross over the river at Mandagadde, you enter the pristine hinterland on SH-65.The drive from Mandagadde to N R Pura across the Tunga river is one of the most wonderful ones ever, especially if done when the morning fog is lifting. The road skirts around the backbone of the hills that form the western border of Bhadra tiger reserve, and is in good condition, though it did not matter for my beast. However, for all of you who own elegant sedans,this road is passable.Not to be missed ! The crisp air, fresh greenery and absolute absence of traffic made it a great drive. Lots of bird life in the area, and I spotted atleast two dozen species.

From NR Pura, there are two options, both of which are scenic and can be enjoyed after a fresh burst of rain. The first one skirts around the Muthodi area and joins Balehonnur, whereas the other snakes through Koppa and Jayapura before reaching Balehonnur. Comparing them would be akin to comparing apples and oranges, but the first one is of poorer quality, and is purely for the big boy SUVs to venture into. Sedans can safely take the second route via Koppa and Jayapura and yet enjoy a great scenic drive.There's a scenic viewpoint shortly after Koppa to the left of the road, which is easy to miss, especially when the car is cruising. Parrot green fields studded amongst darker tree patches make this drive enjoyable. Look out for the high hills that tower high over Jayapura, clouded in mist.

The remainder of the distance between Balehonnur and Chikmagalur on SH-27 via Aldur passes through coffee plantations, and though there are no scenic vistas on this stretch,it is a pleasant shady drive indeed !

The Route
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Near Mandagadde
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-1.jpg
Enroute to NR Pura
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-5.jpg
Mandagadde
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-16.jpg
How I wish I lived here...
Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka-photo-27.jpg
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Old 23rd May 2012, 15:21   #2
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

I just can't take my eyes off from those pictures mate!! what a place!! really! blessed are those who live here! Love driving on those roads with just the right sprinkle of rain for fun!!
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Old 23rd May 2012, 15:36   #3
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Excellent pictures raghunandanj! A really nice travelogue and one of the many reasons why I am looking forward to the monsoons Reminds me of the Malshej ghat in here. Do keep updating this thread.
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Old 23rd May 2012, 15:53   #4
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Very nice pics, and the roads seem to do justice to the Safari...it's like you alone with your beast in the whole wide world!!
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Old 23rd May 2012, 15:58   #5
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Note from Mod: There are several spelling & grammatical errors in your posts. This negatively affects the board experience for other readers.

Kindly ensure that you proof-read your posts prior to submission. Also, it would be a good idea to use spell-checkers.

Last edited by GTO : 25th May 2012 at 14:00.
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Old 23rd May 2012, 16:36   #6
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Wow!!!! Amazing pictures of Malnad in full glow!! These places are just heavenly during monsoons or immediately after it. Summer rains have already turned the landscape green and nice. It is like an ice candy and soothing for the soul. It reminded of our monsoon drive last year when we were mesmerised by the beauty. Here was our story

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...d-monsoon.html (Fauji's Drivolgues - Mesmerised in Malnad in Monsoon!!)

Did you drive up Kundadri on the way from Agumbe to Tirthahalli? Why dont you post more pictures of the drive ?

Thanks for sharing Raghunandan.
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Old 23rd May 2012, 16:49   #7
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Wow!!!! Amazing pictures of Malnad in full glow!! These places are just heavenly during monsoons or immediately after it. Summer rains have already turned the landscape green and nice. It is like an ice candy and soothing for the soul. It reminded of our monsoon drive last year when we were mesmerised by the beauty. Here was our story

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...d-monsoon.html (Fauji's Drivolgues - Mesmerised in Malnad in Monsoon!!)

Did you drive up Kundadri on the way from Agumbe to Tirthahalli? Why dont you post more pictures of the drive ?

Thanks for sharing Raghunandan.
Couldnt agree more Captain. Our recent visit to Kolavara, Thirthalli gave us some fantastic views of the green vistas and mountain. I think the greenery of this area is quite unmatched by anyother parts of the W.Ghats.
The summer rains have made it that much greener
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Old 23rd May 2012, 18:17   #8
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

@Raghunandan: thanks for the mesmerising malnad pictures. Am drooling and itching to go there during rain / post rains.

@Diesel Destiny: When did you go to Kolavara? We had been to Kolavara during mid April. Beautiful place, isn't it?
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Old 23rd May 2012, 19:23   #9
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Awesome Pictures!!!
I have been to these places but never when its raining. Simply like the way you drove around the Western Ghats.
You have put the beast to the best use.

If you don't mind my I know the place of accommodations in the trip?

rated 5 Stars.
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Old 23rd May 2012, 21:27   #10
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Quote:
Originally Posted by arvindmanju View Post
Awesome Pictures!!!
I have been to these places but never when its raining. Simply like the way you drove around the Western Ghats.
You have put the beast to the best use.

If you don't mind my I know the place of accommodations in the trip?

rated 5 Stars.
Arvind,

Bananki and Kolavara are two nice home stays from where you can explore Malnad.

Bananki - Bananki Homestay in Shimoga, Bananki Homestay in Thirthahalli, Book Bananki Homestay.

Kolavara - Kolavara Heritage Homestay

Apart from these if you want to know more options in Malnad, take a look at this website

www.travelmalnad.com

Also take a look on recommended itinerary in this thread for exploring Malnad.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ve-malnad.html (Monsoon is here, why not drive to Malnad?)
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Old 23rd May 2012, 22:00   #11
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Thanks all for the response ! Truly encouraging !

arvindmanju, here are the details of some really good accomodations around this area :

Thirthahalli - Mayura Lodge ( Economy ), Vihangaama ( Upscale )
Sagara - Hotel Varadashree
Talaguppa - Matthuga Homestay
Kalasa - Thotadur Yatrinivas
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Old 23rd May 2012, 22:15   #12
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Absolutely fantastic pics man . Someday I have to do this route. The pics drags you to the road
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Old 24th May 2012, 01:16   #13
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Brilliant pictures Raghu. The mighty ghats never cease to inspire.
Most of the places you covered are in my radar.

Here are my 2 cents on Malnad.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-charmadi.html (Scenic Charmadi)

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...pur-train.html (Mangalore -> Bangalore via Sakleshpur (Train))
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Old 24th May 2012, 04:17   #14
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Awesome, had a quesiton : Are these photos raw or did you 'touch' the photos before uploading?

Last edited by GTO : 25th May 2012 at 14:01. Reason: Typo
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Old 24th May 2012, 07:24   #15
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Default Re: Malnad Odyssey - Scenic Drives through the Western Ghats in Karnataka

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soccerfan View Post
Absolutely fantastic pics man . Someday I have to do this route. The pics drags you to the road
Socceru, don't forget to drag me along with you when you go on this route. And I agree with you on the pictures - absolutely beautiful pictures. Rated 5*.
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