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Old 5th January 2015, 22:46   #1
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Default Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Pattadakal

Monsoons in India is a magical time especially in the western ghats and IMO it is one of the best times to travel if you take some precautions. For one, its mostly off season and you get great deals on accomodation. Its not too hot anywhere and the rain brings some awesome greenery and waterfalls. So it was friday the week previous to independence day and I and my wife was busy charting out our route map. Wife wanted to go to Belum caves and we all wanted to go to Hampi. I wanted to go to Dandeli and since we always try to cover a circuitous route covering more places rather than the shortest route, we decided on the itenerary which is the title of this thread (Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Badami > Pattadakkal > Aihole > Dandeli and back).

Day 1 - Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hyatt Place Hampi ( Vidyanagar nead Bellary)

We started on Saturday morning at 06:00 A.M from Electronics City headed straight through the city and crossed Devanahalli at around 07:00 A.M. The road from Bangalore to Hyderabad is one of the best in India and we reached Ananthpur by 09:30 including a stop for breakfast at Kamat Upachar a little after Chikballapur. (Google maps will tell you to go via Puttaparthi, but I believe that this route will take less time because of the excellent road). We exited the highway a little before Ananthpur and headed east via Tadipatri. The road has some potholes, but we could keep an average of 40-50 kmph. There is a sort of bypass before Tadipatri if you want to bypass the town, but it is mostly used by trucks and dont take it if you dont have google maps.

We reached Belum around 11 (It opens at 10:00 so you can plan to start a little earlier to be in time for the opening ). We paid the entrance fees of Rs 50 per person which includes to tour guide and entered the caves. I have seen Caves in other parts of the world and realized how much we undersell ourselves in the Tourism department and how much we dont even realize the value of what we have and destroy it unknowingly. The caves are infact an ancient underground river which dried up. The dripping water has created many stalagmites and stalactites over thousands of years. In many places the stalagmites have been destroyed to make way for people to walk. The government has done a decent job of lighting up the place and providing air circulation via ducts and fans. The guide was earnest, but he didn't have much knowledge about the caves (He didnt even know that they were stalactites and stalagmites). I would say that if the tourism department protects and promotes the place it can become a major attraction. The caves run upto 130 feet under the ground and is not a very strenuous walk. My in-laws who are in their 60's were there with us. It took us around 1.5 hours to see around the cave. and started from the place at around 12:30.

We headed to Bellary via Yadiki, crossed NH 7 at Gooty, Guntakal. We had lunch at a nice vegetarian hotel in Guntakal and with a decent two lane road, reached Bellary by around 4 p.m. We were booked in at the Hyatt Place Hampi hotel which is actually in the JSW Steel Vidyanagar township near Bellary and is around 38 kilometers from Hampi. We chose this hotel to utilize points from my business travels, but even for direct booking it is pretty reasonable and I would recommend a stay here. There is a 3D show on Hampi at the Kaladhaam right next to the hotel where you get an excellent overview about Hampi and its history. The cost of the 3D show is Rs 50 per person. It is a nice township where only JSW steel employees stay and there are nice small restaurants apart from the Hyatt if you want to have dinner. The person who facilitated the 3D show gave us the number of a guide and we were all set to explore Hampi the next day.


Highway to Belum Caves.


Belum Caves Entrance


Inside the cave


Entrance to Vidyanagar


Hyatt Place Hampi


Kaladham Museum and 3D show

Day 2 - Exploring Hampi
The road to Hampi is two lane but is pretty good and it took us roughly 1 hour to cover the 38 kilometers to Hampi. We met the Guide at the Vittala temple and which was the first temple we covered. If you are not familiar with the history of Hampi, I recommend that you take a guide because the impact of the place fully hits you when you know the history. At the Vittala temple we saw the famous musical pillars and the chariot. We went on to Achutaraya temple, Hazara Rama Temple where the entire Ramayana is carved in stone. The only functioning temple is the Virupaksha temple. Slightly outside of the temple complex there is a chamber where you can see the pinhole inverted shadow effect. We had lunch at the Mango Tree hotel near Virupaksha temple and the food was super awesome. At the end we trekked up Matanga hill where you can get a Panoramic view of entire Hampi and the Tungabhadra. By that time it was around 6:00 P.M in the evening and we headed back to our hotel reaching around 07:00 P.M . If we weren't booked into the Hyatt, it made much more sense to stay at a good hotel in Hospet which is far closer.


Vittala temple musical pillars


Vittala temple chariot


Elephant Stables


Water Purifier


Hampi Panorama


Day 3 - Exploring Tungabhadra Dam, Badami, Pattadakkal, Aihole

We started out after breakfast at around 08:30 A.M and reached the Tungabhadra dam area at around 10:00 A.M because of some traffic in Hospete. The ride up to the dam view is only allowed via a bus and we waited for 15 minutes for the bus to fill up. The reservoir was full from the monsoons and it felt staggeringly big although the dam itself didn't seem to be very tall unlike other dams high in the western ghats where the gorges are steeper. We took some pics and came down. There are some gardens, play areas, and boating available at the dam site (boating is not in the reservoir, but downstream). We headed out to our next destination - Badami to visit the old cave temples. The first 65 km from Hospet is an extension of the NH 13 from Chitradurga and is an excellent four lane double carriage road till Kushtagi. We took left from Kushtagi and went to Badami caves via Jalihal. The roads are state highways and are just about ok with the occasional pothole. I could keep an actual average of around 40 kmph. We reached Badami around 1:30 P.M and spent around 30 minutes seeing the caves which did really was not enough, but with kids with us we decided we need to have lunch soon. We had lunch at Badami town and headed out at around 02:30 towards Pattadakkal. Pattadakkal is only 22 kilometers away, but the road is pretty bad and we took almost an hour to reach. At Pattadakkal we took a good one hour with the help of a guide. The place is very well kept (As was Badami) and the guide was very good and explained a lot about the history of the place and Chalukya architecture. After that we rushed to our last site for the day - Aihole. Aihole is just 13 kilometers away from Pattadakkal but roads are bad again and we reached just before the site closed at 05:00 P.M. There are around 125 temples in Aihole but we saw only the most famous Durga temple. We decided that it is better to hit NH 13 rather than going back. all the way, so we headed out to Hungund via Amingad. The roads were bad for the first 10 km till Amingad but were much better for the next 13 Km till Hungund. From Hungund it was our good old NH 13 and we headed back to Hyatt Hampi after having dinner at Hospet. Overall at that point I regretted being based in Hyatt Hampi throughout and a better strategy would have been to stay the next two days in Hospet. I would have been able to cover the monuments better and would have saved on 60 km of fuel each day.


Tungabhadra Dam

Road to Kushtagi

Road after Kushtagi

Badami

Badami

Badami Lake

Pattadakkal

Aihole

Tungabhadra in the night

Day 4 - Heading for Dandeli -
After breakfast we explored Vidyanagar a bit. There is a nice park, and a Memorial to OP Jindal, the founder of the Jindal group. There was a childrens park, and the kids wanted to play a little longer, but we were getting late for our next destination - Dandeli. We started at around 09:30 A.M. We took Koppal, Bannikoppa, Annigeri to Hubli. The road was two lane, but it was daytime and there was very less traffic so we made good progress. We reached Hubli around 1:00 P.M and had lunch at one of the North Karnataka restaurants. From there we headed out to Dandeli. Google maps will show a shorter route straight to Haliyal and a longer one that goes via Alnavar. My brother in law used to work in KIMS Hubli and told me to take the longer route as the shorter one is pretty bad. We took the road via Alnavar. The road is two lane without markings, but is in good condition. We had called up the forest department office and had booked two rooms at the Kulgi Nature camp. It is a budget government owned stay in the middle of the forest and the staff are quite friendly and helpful. The Kulgi camp and Anshi Camp were built to facilitate interaction with nature so dont expect any luxury here. We reached Kulgi at around 05:30 P.M and checked in. There is an option of cabins or tents. The tents look better but we chose a cabin because my wife is paranoid about insects getting inside tents. I inspected the tents in the morning and confirmed that safety-wise both tents and cabins are pretty safe. We settled in for a warm and nice dinner prepared by the cook at the camp. We were the only residents as it was off season.


Inside vidyanagar

Artwork in Vidyanagar

OP Jindal memorial

Road from Hospet to Hubli

Road from Hubli to Dandeli


Day 5 Skyes point and back

In the morning we had breakfast of Upma and headed out at around 08:00 A.M. Kulgi is a great place to stay if you want to explore nature and do some wildlife photography, but our intentions were mostly exploratory to figure out the best places to come to during season. We asked the staff about river rafting and they all pointed us to Ganeshgudi but it was off season and closed during monsoons. We continued on the small road from the nature camp through the forest as it had a couple of good viewpoints and was shorter to Ganeshgudi. The small road reached the Karwar-Belgaum road via a small place called Sangave and from there the road was good till Ganeshgudi. We got a view of the Supa reservoir and then had breakfast in a small shop at Ganeshgudi and enquired a bit about river rafting. We then decided to move to our next destination Sykes point. It is a view point of the Kali River overlooking a hydel power plant in Ambikanagar. We thought we will take the main roads back because we had to go through Kulgi again. The road was good initially but became very bad from Bharchi to Dandeli. From Dandeli the roads were fine again and we reached Ambikanagar by around 10:30 A.M. You have to give a written request for permission to visit Sykes point at the KEB office at Ambikanagar. This will also be vetted at the police station which is next door. The Electricity board staff were friendly and chatted a bit with us and the whole process took around 20 minutes. Then we headed through the forest to Sykes point which is an awesome view of the Kali river flowing through the western ghats. After spending around 30 minutes at Sykes point we had to go back. We could either go back to Hubli and take the GQ highway back, but it was monsoon season and I had a hope of getting Jog falls in better flow if not full flow. We went through Ambikanagar and hit SH 93 via Bommanahalli. Then we headed south to Yellapura where we had a good lunch of Biriyani at the Malabar Hotel. Yellapura is unique for having a high population of Siddi's who are descendants of Africans brought by the Portuguese and you can see people who have African features, but in Indian clothes. I have heard that they dont like being photographed at all so I didnt even hazard a polite request. From there we went further south via Sirsi, Siddapur and hit NH 206 at Kodkani. From there Jog falls is close by and we reached at around 04:30 P.M.The flow was better than summer but nowhere near full flow. I read in the newspapers the week after that they had opened the gates and Jog was in full flow. If there is any way to get advance notice of opening of the gates I would like to know. We spent about 30 minutes at Jog and then headed out back to Bangalore at 05:00 P.M. The journey back from Jog is always confusing for me because all options are a give and take. This time I decided to take Arsikere, Tiptur, Gubbi. Tumkur. We had a late dinner at Tumkur and reached back home in Bangalore at around midnight looking forward to the short week.


Kulgi nature camp


Sykes point


Jog falls
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Old 6th January 2015, 08:46   #2
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Default re: Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Pattadakal

Robby nice travelogue accompanied by good pictures. I too like travelling in monsoons for the fresh smell of soil and lush green hills.
It's pleasure to read your travelogue and thanks for sharing. Hampi is my all time favorite historical place and I could recollect my four year old memories after seeing your pictures. I think its time to revisit Hampi & Badami. Can you please mention the distance you covered something like each day or between major destinations? This will help many on this forum like me.
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Old 6th January 2015, 08:53   #3
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Default re: Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Pattadakal

Brilliant set of places chosen. And yes even I agree, that we undersell our tourism in a big way. Belum is a beautiful set. We also have Gandikota next to it. I also see that good resorts around Hampi have grown in number. They may not be in main Hampi/Hospet area but more towards Sandur side.

Also how was the road from Belum to Bellary? (I assume you took the NH63) after cutting through NH7.
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Old 6th January 2015, 12:00   #4
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Default re: Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Pattadakal

Robby, great travelogue. Liked the way you covered most of the areas in the region. I wanted to visit Pattadakal & Aihole along with Hampi during my trip last year, however had to cut short it as only Hampi due to time constraints.

For Belum caves I guess it would have been better to take NH 7 till Gootty and take right on to SH 57. I had taken that road few months back en-route to Belum and Gandikota, road condition is good for most the part.

Completely agree with you how all the tourist locations in north KA are mostly ignored.
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Old 7th January 2015, 17:36   #5
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Default Re: Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Pattadakal

Robby, Nice clear and crisp travelogue. .These destinations gets into my to do list this year for sure. Though quite informative will seek your inputs while planning my trip. Keep more coming.
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Old 9th January 2015, 01:31   #6
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Default Re: Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Pattadakal

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillsnrains View Post
Can you please mention the distance you covered something like each day or between major destinations? This will help many on this forum like me.
Hi hillsnrains, Thank you. Hampi has become my favorite historical place too especially learning how it was one of the major trade destinations in the world at that time. Distances for each day are below

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Old 9th January 2015, 01:37   #7
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Default Re: Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Pattadakal

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Brilliant set of places chosen. And yes even I agree, that we undersell our tourism in a big way. Belum is a beautiful set. We also have Gandikota next to it. I also see that good resorts around Hampi have grown in number. They may not be in main Hampi/Hospet area but more towards Sandur side.

Also how was the road from Belum to Bellary? (I assume you took the NH63) after cutting through NH7.
Hi Ampere. The road from Belum to Gooty via Yadiki has intermittent potholes but after entering NH 63 at Gooty the road was two lane but good. There is quite a bit of vehicle congestion at Guntakal though, on the way to Bellary as there isnt any bypass.
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Old 18th December 2015, 11:01   #8
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Default Hampi to Belum Caves Route Query

We are planning a trip to Hampi and then to Belum Caves in AP during Christmas holidays. Among the following routes, which would be the better route to go to Belum Caves from Hampi/Hospet?

1. Hospet -Toranagallu-Bellary-Guntakal-Gooty-Belum Caves(206kms)
2. Hospet -Kampli-Siruguppa-Adoni-Pattikonda-Gooty-Belum Caves (~260kms)

Looking for decent/faster roads, even if it longer.
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Old 31st December 2015, 09:19   #9
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Default Re: Bangalore > Belum Caves > Hampi > Pattadakal

Here is an update on the road condition as on 30th Dec'2015.

1. Hospet -Toranagallu (~31Kms) - Decent roads with moderate traffic

2. Toranagallu-Bellary(~31kms) - Bad road surface with high traffic, but drivable. Roads inside Bellary is very good and smooth, I would recommend pass through city, rather than bypass as it would avoid heavy vehicles and bad roads

3. Bellary-Guntakal (~54kms) - Lot of path holes and very rough road surface and very thin traffic. Roads inside Guntakal is smooth and manageable without any issues. If breaking for food, this is your last option,. until one is back on NH-7.

4. Guntakal-Gooty (~32kms) : Very smooth roads with numerous unmarked humps. Expect decent traffic. Traffic inside Gooty is a big mess and pain to cross the city. No decent hotels or parking place.

5. Gooty-Rayalcheruvu (~23kms): Very broad roads with patchy surface and almost no traffic and one can maintain avg speed of 60-70kmph. Lookout for humps near villages.

6. Rayalcheruvu-Yadiki-Bugga(~24kms) : Excellent smooth road surface with almost no traffic, humps are very well marked

7. Bugga - Belum caves(~18kms) : Smooth roads with lot of unmarked humps everywhere and tractors carrying kadapa stones.

Last edited by manjubp : 31st December 2015 at 09:28.
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