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Old 3rd April 2013, 11:51   #1
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Default Bangalore-Sringeri-Horanadu-Dharmasthala-Kukke-Bangalore

The Western Ghats of Karnataka

When I reached home last Thursday evening, I had no idea on what was about to happen next. My brother had holiday on account of Good Friday and I decided to take advantage. I had been planning for a pilgrimage to Kukke Sri Subrahmanya since the last year when I was in Mysore, but the trip never materialized due to one or the other reason. I thought this was the opportunity –quickly made a plan for 3-day roadtrip covering the famous temple towns in the Western Ghats – Sringeri, Horanadu, Dharmasthala and Kukke. Had heard lot of stories about the scenic beauty of the Western Ghats, as well as the demanding Shiradi and Charmadi Ghats which test the man and the machine equally. Tried gleaning as much info from the web, but had too little time and was simply overwhelmed with the amount of info available, on where else, our good old Team-BHP site – The art of travelling on Bangalore-Mangalore/Udupi highway. Downloaded some new tunes, procured a car-charger for my new Sony-J from the neighborhood electrical store, stocked some munchies, filled up gas and air (yes sir, spare tire too) and I was set.

Started on Fri morning around 7:30am and came back on Sun evening around 7pm.

1. Day-1 -- Bangalore – Nelamangala – Kunigal – Belluru Cross – Channarayapattana – Hassan (Bypass) – Sakleshpur – Gundya - Dharmasthala – Ujire – Belthangady - Bajegoli - Passed thru Kudremukh National Park – Sringeri – Got to drive thru the Shiradi Ghats between Sakleshpur and Dharmasthala AND drove thru part of Kudremukh National Park on the way to Sringeri. Had darshan of Maa Sharadamba and Prasad. What more can I ask for Day-1!! As for roads: NH is NH, although there is lot of work happening on the Channarayapattana-Hassan stretch. Look out for those deviations where traffic from both directions gets merged. Averaged around 110 kmph/3100 rpm almost till Channarayapattana and did 80 kmph/2500 rpm on the Hassan-Sakleshpur stretch. From there onwards, speed becomes a non-factor as you enter the Shiradi Ghats. The sheer number of S-bends and hairpin bends keep your attention level extremely high. Sticking to lane driving made it exponentially fun to snake thru this stretch. It was a sight to watch caravan of those huge gas tankers grunting their way thru the Ghats – you feel for them. Happened to meet a local Samaritan when I stopped at a non-descript temple in Kudremukh National Park. The gentleman shared useful local info and gave some handy tips on the most scenic routes etc.

a. Shortest route to Sringeri: Bangalore – Hassan – Belur – Chikmagalur – Aldur – Balehonnur – Sringeri. I didn’t take this route as I want to cover Chikmagalur, Belur and Halebeedu as a separate trip.
b. Stop at Mayura near Belluru Cross (an hour drive from Blore on a good day). Super-tasty food, a tad expensive but you won’t mind. Their mini-idlies are out of this world, but not available for b/f.
c. Stop at Hotel Surabhi at Sakleshpur – Akki Roti/Saagu/Chutney. Heavenly. Don’t confuse it with Surabhi NX – it is a newer hotel further down the road.
d. Accommodation at Sringeri is Temple-managed. Very well maintained. Basic, but clean and hygienic. Charges: Rs. 150. Free parking – it is safe.
e. Visit Vidyapeetham. The main temple is on one side and Vidyapeetham is on the other side. River Tunga flows in between. There are two foot-over bridges which reminded me of the Ram Jhoola and Lakshman Jhoola bridges of Rishikesh, although the water-levels are simply incomparable. Vidyapeetham is a large campus with a huge convention hall, world’s largest Veena, classrooms, temples of three Jagatguru Shankaracharyas. Temple’s two elephants call this campus their home, as well as the temple’s horse & peacock.

2. Day-2, Part-1-- Sringeri – Kachige - Jayapura (Bypass) – Makkikoppe – Halehalli – Horanadu – Roads are fine/motorable, but for an extremely bad stretch of about 10km from Makkikoppe till a large estate, where I couldn’t even do 10 kmph. On the positive side, extremely beautiful valleys and mountains and waterfalls, stopped plenty of times to capture photos – had chosen this route precisely for this reason. Had darshan of Maa Annapurneshwari and Prasad (awesome food!) at Horanadu temple. The temple itself is nestled in the mountains. Everything here is superbly maintained; was amazed by the quality & speed of work at the dining halls, not to forget super-tasty food. Rested for about half-an-hour, did some local shopping (Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios, Tea powder, Pickle), had nice coffee and started towards Dharmasthala. Was even more excited for what lay ahead. The region is rich with plantation estates – Tea, Coffee, Cardamom, Areca/Betel nuts & Coconuts to name a few.

3. Day-2, Part-2 -- Horanadu – Kalasa – Samse - Kottigehara – Kudremukh National Park - Bajegoli – Belthangady - Ujire – Drove thru Charmadi Ghats and Kudremukh National Park. Excellent roads and beautiful scenery. Stopped over at a tea garden which had a front store, was impressed with the fresh tea served, and bought some tea powder. Entered the Kudremukh National Park. Fun part was this stretch was mostly downhill, very tempting to zip at prohibited speeds. I confess I adhered to the 40 kmph speed barrier only sparingly, although never honked once even in the face of some mind-numbingly stupid drivers – these are two instructions among many, on the permit issued at the park entrance. There is no fee to enter the park, just some basic questions on the purpose/where you’re headed/how many folks etc and they give you a permit which needs to be handed over at the exit. They do jot down the time you are entering the park, and allow you 1 hr 30 min to exit the park, else you’ll be fined is what I’m told. No music, no honking – to not attract attention of the wildlife or bother them. I stopped-over at Kudremukh village, KIOCL (Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited), Lakya dam, and some more scenic spots. You gotta see it to believe it. Extremely dense forests where the sunlight struggles to hit the ground. The mountains are so thickly covered with vegetation! There are large stretches which are almost-dark and some portions where you’ll get some sunlight because one side of the road is relatively open. I recall seeing only one stretch of road of about 2 kms which was a straightline, rest all is curves, curves and more curves. Pure driving bliss! Exited the park after a little over 2 hrs 30 min, no questions were asked. Reached Ujire and stayed at ‘Panchami Residency’ for the night. It is on the Ujire-Dharmasthala road. Charged Rs. 1000 for a Non-AC room for Sat night. Room was ok; had a flatscreen. Not saying it was worth, but you see, it is pure supply-demand at play here. You will save if you manage to get the Temple-managed acco at Dharmasthala.

a. If you have time (& could plan ahead), hunker down at a home-stay. Streams of Joy is a well-appreciated home-stay which is little away from Dharmasthala. Mr. Kashinath has been praised for his hospitality and personal attention to his guests. He plans activities as well as takes people to little-known places which are of natural/mythological significance. In fact, I called him up when I couldn’t get acco in Dharmasthala and went to Ujire on his recommendation.

4. Day-3, Part-1 -- Ujire-Dharmasthala – Short stretch of 8 kms. Took quick darshan ticket (Rs. 200) since there was a sizeable queue for the normal one. Turned out to be a good call since the quick darshan itself took an hour. Had darshan of Sri Manjunatheshwara and collected Prasad. It was still a quick get-in and get-out, surprised myself with the efficiency on a productive morning!

5. Day-3, Part-2 -- Dharmasthala – Gundya – Kukke Subrahmanya – Joined back the NH-48 fairly early, after which it was a fun drive till Gundya. Super-smooth road, traffic is relatively heavy as expected on such a popular route. Gundya-Kukke stretch is getting re-done, it is not as bad as some make you believe, although, expect to hit some rough patches. On the outskirts of Kukke, stopped at river Kumaradhara. It is a bathing ghat with facilities; I didn’t take a dip though. Had darshan of Sri Kukke Subrahmanya as well as Adi Subrahmanya. Most people know only of Kukke Sri Subrahmanya, but there is a separate Adi Subrahmanya temple as well. It is a short walk from the main temple, although walking bare-foot in the noon sun was not a pleasant experience. Thereafter, had some snacks/juice for a light lunch at Hotel Kumara Krupa (had read that this is slightly better than Neo Mysore Café, which is located exactly opposite to it). Started towards Sakleshpur, again, via Gundya. You can also come via Kukke – Madikeri – Mysore – Bangalore route, but I’ve done Mysore-Bangalore route enough times, so stuck to the via-Hassan route. Plus, the mini-idlies were still waiting for me 
A special mention of the car: While I cruised at 110 kmph on the NH, I also crawled at snail speeds of under 10 kmph in the ghats. AC was on for more than 50% of the time over the entire trip. Still, the car returned an unbelievable 18 kmpl!!

Total roundtrip distance: 1016 kms
Fuel: Opted for the usual Shell Unleaded to begin with. Refilled about 18 litres in two parts at IOC pumps along the way as there was no Shell to be found. Total fuel consumption: 57.07 litres.
Air: Chose slightly higher air pressure for the fronts (32 psi) to aid maneuverability in the Ghats. Rears were loaded at the usual 30 psi. There was no perceptible degradation in the ride quality due to higher air pressure in the fronts. The car was firmly planted at cruising speeds and precise in cornering. I was suspecting the slightly-higher front tire pressure to lighten the hydraulic steering a bit, but as I discovered later, I was wrong. The Palio still had the same awesome feedback which tells me exactly what my fronts are upto. The car performed admirably, competing with the big brothers on the roads (the Innovas/Scorpios). Respect. May be driving skills? (wink wink).

So, there it is. My most enjoyable roadtrip in India, yet. The routes I chose were so, in keeping with my attempts of exploring as much in the vicinity. Do I want to go back? You bet. Malenad in monsoon has got be awwessomme!!

Last edited by Jaggu : 3rd April 2013 at 12:17.
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Old 3rd April 2013, 14:39   #2
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Default Re: Bangalore-Sringeri-Horanadu-Dharmasthala-Kukke-Bangalore

Nice writeup Prashkul. Thanks for posting and sharing your experience on this holy weekend trip. Could you please post some snaps so that we can have a view of the wonderful Western Ghats of Karnataka that you cruised through?
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Old 3rd April 2013, 14:58   #3
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Default Re: Bangalore-Sringeri-Horanadu-Dharmasthala-Kukke-Bangalore

You should know that your thread will be deleted shortly if there are no pictures. So hurry up and post the pictures.
How was the weather?
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Old 3rd April 2013, 15:21   #4
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Here are the pics...
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Old 3rd April 2013, 15:34   #5
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Default Re: Bangalore-Sringeri-Horanadu-Dharmasthala-Kukke-Bangalore

Some more, including my ride You gotta admit, it stands apart in the crowd
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Old 17th July 2013, 16:52   #6
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Default Re: Bangalore-Sringeri-Horanadu-Dharmasthala-Kukke-Bangalore

Thanks for the detailed update.

Originally Posted by prashkul View Post
2. Day-2, Part-1-- Sringeri – Kachige - Jayapura (Bypass) – Makkikoppe – Halehalli – Horanadu
I have been wanting to do this route for quite some time. What is the distance b/w Makkikoppe (I believe this is on the main road) and Hornadu? How much time did you clock for this stretch? Also, isn't there another route that diverts off the main Sringeri-Jayapura road at Gadikal (see here)?

Originally Posted by prashkul View Post
3. Day-2, Part-2 -- Horanadu – Kalasa – Samse - Kottigehara – Kudremukh National Park - Bajegoli – Belthangady - Ujire – Drove thru Charmadi Ghats and Kudremukh National Park
I guess Kottigehara is a typo here, if I am not mistaken.
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