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Old 29th August 2015, 09:37   #1
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Smile Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Travelling - it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story teller. - Ibn Battuta.

I always loved travelling, regardless of the mode of transport. But, roads trips are my favourite.
A motorcyclist at heart, I bought a car very recently - A Fiat Punto Evo Petrol 1.4.
Also, a few weeks back my sister (studying in Bhubaneswar) got placed at a firm in Bangalore, so I was doubly happy. I invited her to Bangalore ASAP to celebrate.

A small plan was chalked out: Bangalore - Chikmagalur (via Nelamangala - Hassan - Belur) - Mullayanagiri and back.
The plan was for 2 days but there was a big problem. My car driving experience was hardly 1700+ km old, all done on my Punto, absolutely nothing before that!
Ok, maybe 50km in my WagonR back home in Jharkhand but nothing more than that for sure and here I was looking at ghats, that too in monsoons.

I was scared and got in touch with my friend DriveByFire (a TBhp-ian) for the much needed motivation.
Although he agreed on the roads being bad, but suggested that I visit places like Mullayanagiri, Baba Budanagiri, Coffee Estates, Z Point (Kemmanagundi), Ayyana kere, Hebbe falls (closed sadly), Buttermilk falls etc, saying that it would be fun driving down to those places in monsoons.

My sister arrived. Also, a female friend wished to join for the trip. This immediately rang bells. I wasn't even close to being efficient in my driving skills and I was taking 2 female passengers along in ghats. Wow!
Not willing to take any chances, I started with my homework on YouTube! Since, I had a severe time crunch for proper training in the hills, I thought I at least be prepared theoretically. I went through dozens of videos on the use of handbrake, ABC movement, engine braking, throttle management, braking etc specially for the hills.
More importantly, I went a couple of times (again) through the car manual to ensure I knew what's what and where.

The D day arrived and all of us were packed and loaded by 6:10 AM to hit the highway! The first thing that strikes any motorcyclist in a car on the highways is: Toll booths! No more merry making any more!
Our first stop of the trip was at Hotel Mayura (Belur Cross; exactly 100 km from home), till where we were accompanied by a good motorcyclist friend of mine and his lady. It was already 7:45 AM by the time we reached there.

After 1 hour of eating and chatting and them pondering over the thoughts of accompanying us all the way till Chikmagalur only to be turned down by non availability of hotels, we made our move close to 9 AM.

Discouraged by the supremely poor network connectivity of DoCoMo in key areas, I had downloaded Sygic Offline Maps as well as HERE maps for the entire country in advance.
And DoCoMo did not disappoint. It simply went out of connectivity in Hassan. Although I knew the route through Hassan to Belur, there is a particular signal I get confused at, so I switched on HERE maps and to my amazement, it showed a slightly different route.
Yes, that route took me from Hassan to Belur though very bad roads, through fields and most importantly, took me over an hour reaching Belur from Hassan. It started raining once we crossed Belur.





After a short while, ghats near Chikmagalur district started and I was being very safe despite the roads being empty. I mean, I couldn't dare exceed 45 and I wasn't even touching 4th cog!

But then something happened when a Tata Ace started tailing me very close on a long left hand bend. I up-shifted to 4th and pressed the accelerator a bit and held my steering still after initiating the turn.
I know I may sound sheepish but it was a first for me. I was doing about 55-60 in 4th and I managed carving out a beautiful corner without any steering corrections and without asking my sister also praised it saying it was awesome!
I slowly gained some courage and began hitting corners at 55ish rather than 40ish and I loved it. Mind you, this was on (surprisingly, given that it was a weekend) empty roads.



We reached Chikmagalur at about 12 PM and began searching for our pre-booked hotel - The Planters Court. I had contacted StayZilla for the same and I landed up a deal for a 3 bed room for 1750 rupees.

But, the hotel was elusive to find. HERE and Sygic didn't recognise the place and GMaps on my colleague's phone was acting savior. However, 'The Planters Court' is marked wrong in GMaps. It takes you to an empty land. So we began asking people and after a 25 min drama, we landed at the place. Tried marking the same in GMaps and to our amazement, the place was already marked as "Planters Court" without the 'The'. We shrugged and moved to our room. We got fresh and ordered an early lunch. By 2 PM, we were ready to move to our next destination - Ayyana Kere.

Taking the help of GPS and JPS (Janta Positioning System), we reached Ayyana Kere and as soon as we got out, it started pouring. No issues, we had promptly carried umbrellas anticipating the situation back in Bangalore, but then both ladies reported that they left the umbrellas in the hotel itself! Sigh...

After agonizingly waiting inside the car for about 30 min, we got out. Rain had stopped to being a drizzle. Had a small walk around when very cold winds started blowing over the place. We hardly got a 15 min window to enjoy our stay because rains started pouring like crazy. We ran back to the car in a grim state of mind of not being able to enjoy the place to our hearts' content.







Not to be discouraged by the weather any further, we went back to the hotel, changed into dry clothes, took the umbrellas and hit the road again!

Our next destination for the day was Hirekolale lake. Though not as big as Ayyana Kere, this lake is so serene! It is surrounded by hills on all sides with birds chirping non stop! Add to that it rained a while ago.
The lake is about 150 meters or so from the road and those 150 meters took us 15 min to cover. Full of slush, I couldn't bring my heart to terms about driving there, so we walked.

Every 3-4 steps, our shoes would get stuck and our legs would get super heavy with all the sticky slush. The ladies had a gala time washing their shoes in the small stream beside the lake. Then my sister simply sat on the small bridge with her legs dipped in the water and watching the beautiful scenery around. It was getting close to 5:30 PM and we decided to turn back to the hotel.











BTW, by the look of my shoes, I looked like Gutter Man!



This was end of day 1. We reached back by 6:30, watched TV for a while and then crashed by 9:30 Pm after a sumptuous dinner.

Next morning, we freshened up and checked out of the hotel by 6:30 AM and headed to Mullayanagiri.

The idea was to reach the top before bikers start pouring in numbers.

This place is simply so beautiful and majestic that pics simply don't do justice. We had our own share of drama as well, when there were wide vehicles that were coming down the same time we were going up (on the last 2 km to M top) and then I managed getting a wheel stuck in slush which came out after a few chaps helped. Thanks guys!













After spending close to an hour at the M top, we decided to head back. Had hot bhajjis and tea before leaving though! Stopped at a few places midway though (plantations and a children's park).











Thereafter, my sister wanted to buy coffee. We got a few packets from Panduranga Coffee House in Chikmagalur MG Road area and then headed back to the chaotic city!




THE END

Last edited by ajmat : 29th August 2015 at 17:03. Reason: Re-formatting.
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Old 29th August 2015, 11:03   #2
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Hey Divya Sharan,

The photos look amazing! There are so many places around South India which I want to explore and chikmangalur is definitely one of them. Thanks for the reminding me of the same!

Happy driving in the future when you are more comfortable with your ride.
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Old 29th August 2015, 11:49   #3
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

That's a beautiful travelogue Divya, and smashing pictures to match as well. Brings back memories of when I went to chickmagalur sometime last year, we stayed at one of those coffee plantations and it was beautiful.
And to add to the similarities, we also drove down in my Punto and I had the company of 2 beautiful ladies as well - my wife and my sister!
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Old 29th August 2015, 11:51   #4
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Nice travelogue with beautiful photos.
Again, thats the right time (monsoons) to go to the hills.
Wish you all the best in all your future drives.
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Old 29th August 2015, 17:01   #5
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divya Sharan View Post

A motorcyclist at heart, I bought a car very recently - A Fiat Punto Evo Petrol 1.4.
Awesome travelogue Divya Sharan and some great snaps of the red Evo to make it all the more interesting !!

Really a true petrol head to even consider taking your new car on a long run, let alone across some twisties. Considering the fact that you "were" a biker and have arguably one of the best hatches in the ride & dynamics department, I have a feeling you will be looking for an excuse to tackle more ghats !!

Wish you mile munching and drive safe.

Last edited by Vik0728 : 29th August 2015 at 17:03.
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Old 29th August 2015, 17:20   #6
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Beautiful narration and photos. Thanks very much for sharing your wonderful experience. I would also love to read your ownership thread on your Punto. Keep the spirit alive.
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Old 30th August 2015, 03:15   #7
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Excellent bhai !!! Lovely experience and beautiful clicks!! The Red Evo just looks so jaw droppingly gorgeous in the mist.

I really wanted to accompany you in this trip, badly missed some true blue western ghat monsoons. No worries, there's always the next drive!!
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Old 30th August 2015, 07:55   #8
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Quote:
Originally Posted by nivatakavacha View Post
Hey Divya Sharan,

The photos look amazing! There are so many places around South India which I want to explore and chikmangalur is definitely one of them. Thanks for the reminding me of the same!

Happy driving in the future when you are more comfortable with your ride.
Thanks a lot! Yeah, this drive gave me new insights on the fun factor of driving and I do hope it increases even more once I rack up more kilometers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhii176 View Post
That's a beautiful travelogue Divya, and smashing pictures to match as well. Brings back memories of when I went to chickmagalur sometime last year, we stayed at one of those coffee plantations and it was beautiful.
And to add to the similarities, we also drove down in my Punto and I had the company of 2 beautiful ladies as well - my wife and my sister!
Oh, what a coincidence! Lovely.
Next time, I plan to stay in one of them plantations/homestays myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddrive View Post
Nice travelogue with beautiful photos.
Again, thats the right time (monsoons) to go to the hills.
Wish you all the best in all your future drives.
Absolutely! Monsoons do make the ghats beautiful.
And thanks for the kind words sir!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vik0728 View Post
Awesome travelogue Divya Sharan and some great snaps of the red Evo to make it all the more interesting !!

Really a true petrol head to even consider taking your new car on a long run, let alone across some twisties. Considering the fact that you "were" a biker and have arguably one of the best hatches in the ride & dynamics department, I have a feeling you will be looking for an excuse to tackle more ghats !!

Wish you mile munching and drive safe.
Thank you!
The handling department (apart from the looks) was a major draw for me while getting the car. I hope I can steadily improve and increase my travel distances in the future.
P.S - I still 'am' a motorcycle enthusiast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildy View Post
Beautiful narration and photos. Thanks very much for sharing your wonderful experience. I would also love to read your ownership thread on your Punto. Keep the spirit alive.
Thanks a lot!
I would pen down my ownership experience soon, as I'm in the process of completing the write up and the car needs a photoshoot as well. Have done 2600 km now, post this trip. I guess I'd put it up by the time I cross 4k km.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drivebyfire View Post
Excellent bhai !!! Lovely experience and beautiful clicks!! The Red Evo just looks so jaw droppingly gorgeous in the mist.

I really wanted to accompany you in this trip, badly missed some true blue western ghat monsoons. No worries, there's always the next drive!!
Thanks boss! Right now, I'm excited for you getting Leh'd. After you're back, we shall hit the roads soon.

Last edited by Divya Sharan : 30th August 2015 at 07:56.
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Old 31st August 2015, 11:55   #9
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Nice travelogue with beautiful pictures.

Chikmagalur and the surrounding areas are beautiful. The greenery, the mountains, the lakes and those roads are very inviting. The fog just adds to the charm!

Your red Punto Evo looks hot! There is no doubt about the driving dynamics of the car. It is truly one of the best-handling cars out there. However, for its weight, I feel its a tad down on power.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 20:56   #10
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Nice narrative and excellent pictures to accompany. felt like I was there.
Congrats on your car and wish you many more drives ..
Awaiting more from you in furture. Drive safe. Take care

PS. drives to hills are always special and Bangalore is at epicentre of so many hillstations.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 15:17   #11
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Default Re: Punto Diaries - Chikmagalur

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Nice travelogue with beautiful pictures.

Chikmagalur and the surrounding areas are beautiful. The greenery, the mountains, the lakes and those roads are very inviting. The fog just adds to the charm!

Your red Punto Evo looks hot! There is no doubt about the driving dynamics of the car. It is truly one of the best-handling cars out there. However, for its weight, I feel its a tad down on power.
Thanks a lot! Indeed Chikmagalur is beautiful, especially in the rainy season.
Playing in the fog was one of the main reasons of arriving at this destination.

I love the Evo in red! Regarding the car's performance, I don't know, because this is my first car and it feels faster than our Wagon R at home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by srinivaspai View Post
Nice narrative and excellent pictures to accompany. felt like I was there.
Congrats on your car and wish you many more drives ..
Awaiting more from you in furture. Drive safe. Take care

PS. drives to hills are always special and Bangalore is at epicentre of so many hillstations.
Thanks a lot sire! Glad you liked my post.
Yes, with Bangalore being close to many hill stations and the like, one only needs an excuse to hit the highway.
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