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Old 31st December 2015, 00:01   #1
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Default Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

It's almost the end of the year and the itch to go a road trip was almost getting uncontrollable
We considered Hampi, Navagraha temple visits and Parambikulam. Finally decided to drop Hampi and the Navagraha circuit to avoid the touristy holiday season for these places. Instead, we decided to head to Palakkad and Alathur to visit our family temples and get blessings of the Almighty for a good year ahead. I wanted to add a visit to Parambikulam as I'd read a lot about the place but the accommodations there were booked till Jan 15 so decided to try a day trip to just explore the place with a pilot trip. Luckily, accommodation was available at Sakthi Hotel Pollachi so were all set for a quick 4 day trip.

Day 1
Bangalore-Palakkad via regular NH7+47 route (Bangalore-Salem-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Salem-Coimbatore bypass-Walayar-Palakkad)
Started by 4:45am and reached Palakkad at 1pm. Maiden trip after acquiring the FasTag and it helped in a big way to cross the Attibele toll
and saved us about 20 minutes easily. Traffic was understandably heavy with the next day being Christmas and several people heading towards
Kerala. FasTag hasn't been activated yet at the toll booths from Krishnagiri and beyond though dedicated lanes have been set up and signages
are in place. One of the toll attendants mentioned that it may take antoher 2-3 months. Traffic at the toll booths slowed our progress and
we reached the Salem A2B on the NH47 (KPN Travel Plaza) at 8:15am. I tanked up Dizzy here at the attached BP petrol pump. There was a huge
crowd and people were waiting around each table for the occupants to get up! We decided to leave the place and stop at the Saravana Bhavan
another 20 odd Km away. We reached there by 8:45am and there was an even larger crowd but luckily we managed to find a table in the AC section
quickly and were out in about 30 minutes.
After enduring the Coimbatore L&T bypass traffic and the partially completed sections between Madukkarai and Walayar we found good 4 laned
roads again from Walayar and reached Palakkad by 1pm. This was the first time in more than 3 years that we took this route, from 2011 onwards
we have been taking the Avinashi bypass-Mangalam-Palladam-Pollachi-Palakkad route.
After checking in to the hotel, we had lunch and rested for some time. Evening was spent going around the town for some small shopping including
a visit to the famous Kalpaga Metals store and Thankam Pickles headquarters.

*Disclaimer: Managed with the phone camera on this trip, so please excuse picture quality. This wasn't an epic trip like the ones we normally see on TBHP, just a simple, short one with average pictures

To be continued...
Some teaser pictures here:
Amaravathi Dam
Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam-amaravathi-dam.jpg

Crocodile at the Crocodile Rearing Center/Farm near Amaravathi Dam
Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam-crocodile.jpg

Good work of art near the Anappady Checkpost, Parambikulam.
Sincerely, Please Save Wildlife!

Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam-parambikulam.jpg

What every Safari visitor wishes to see in a Tiger Reserve, but doesn't that look like a Leopard ?
Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam-tiger.jpg

Last edited by NPV : 31st December 2015 at 00:03.
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Old 31st December 2015, 19:55   #2
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Day 2
Palakkad-Alathur-Palakkad-Pollachi
A morning visit to the Parakkat Bhagavathy temple in Kavasseri, Alathur - Our first time on this section of Palakkad-Alathur on NH47 after the 4 lane has been completed, it was still work in progress when we visited last year. Due to the 4 lane we reached pretty quickly and were lucky to be present for the first darshan of the day which is accompanied by beating of the traditional drum and bursting of crackers outside the temple.

After a good darshan, we headed back to Palakkad for another temple visit, this time the Manapully Kavu Bhagavathy temple. We had a good darshan at this temple too and then returned to the hotel.

Breakfast done, we headed out by 10am to Pollachi via Chittoor and Nallepilly. En route we visited the Murugan temple at Kodumbu and also some quick shopping for kerala towels and bed sheets at the Kodumbu co-operative society shop that sells textile items. We found this place during our visit last year and were happy with the stuff we bought there so followed with a visit this year as well.

We reached Pollachi by noon and checked in to Sakthi hotel. Rooms are large, neat and very decent, would recommend this place if visiting Pollachi. They also have a new resort called Sakthi River Resort on the Kollengode road about 9-10Km from Pollachi town, but no idea how the place is.

After lunch at the hotel's restaurant followed by an hour's rest, we headed to Udumalaipettai to visit the Amaravathi Dam and Crocodile Rearing Centre.

Bangaloreans will feel at home when visiting Udumalaipettai now, especially if one is familar with Whitefield - pathetic roads inside the town and the first 5-6Km on the Munnar route as there is some pipe laying work in progress. We visited the Amaravathi Dam, walked up the steps for a view of the catchment area, returned to the parking lot and then drove another 2-3 Km to visit the Crocodile Farm/Rearing Center.

After buying tickets we entered the farm - on the left is an open area with a circular wall surrounding 4 ponds built like a park. This houses several crocodiles.

On the other side there are enclosures on either side built like cells but no roof. These enclosures house crocodiles by age and all of them had Yellow colored tags on their tails. We did not get a very good feeling after seeing these lovely creatures restrained to move inside an enclosure, just hope they take good care of them. They are better off when left free in the wild but again we can only wish and hope they will survive there with mankind close on their heels for all the wrong reasons

After coming out of the Crocodile centre, we had some good tender coconut and headed back to Pollachi. Interestingly, the road that continues beyond the crocodile farm is a forest road and I was told it leads to Palani, should be an interesting drive there, may be some other time!

On our way back, we were stuck in a 30 minute traffic jam at Udumalaipettai due to pipe laying work that was in progress near the Railway overbridge.
By 7:30pm we were back at the hotel and got some good sleep after dinner at the restaurant inside the hotel.
I also made some enquiries at the hotel desk for our Parambikulam visit the next morning and did not get a definitive answer on how many Safari buses, what is the frequency, etc. They even said that due to the holiday crowds, it is better to reach the Sethumadai checkpoint by 6:30am! The only thing I determined was that it's good to budget about 1.5 hours for the travel to Anappady check post.

Having driven via Pollachi few times and this time even staying there, I kind of like this town, almost each road leads to some nice destination or larger town

Last edited by NPV : 31st December 2015 at 20:52.
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Old 31st December 2015, 20:05   #3
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Now for some pictures...
Views of the Amaravathi Dam and mini hydro electric plant
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Some nice view vistas around the dam, lovely hills in the background and beautiful surroundings
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A walk up the stairs to reach the top of the dam for views of the Catchment area
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Lovely views of the catchment area, sun was about to set soon
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Gate on top of the main dam area - it was locked and people were not allowed to walk inside. Similar gate at the other end as well.
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Last edited by NPV : 31st December 2015 at 20:59.
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Old 31st December 2015, 20:32   #4
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Pictures of the Crocodile Rearing centre/farm...

Crocodile Facts - a poster at the Amaravathi Dam Crocodile Rearing Centre
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Crocodiles in the circular enclosure with ponds
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Crocodile Anatomy Poster
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Crocodiles by age in the right side enclosures
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Yellow tag on the tail - all crocodiles had these
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Information about crocodiles painted on the insides of the boundary walls
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The water going downstream from the Dam for farming/irrigation
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A Parting shot of Amaravathi Dam
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We decided to leave the hotel by 6.30am the next day, have breakfast on the way and try to reach Anappady check post by 8.30am for the Safari.

Last edited by NPV : 31st December 2015 at 23:16.
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Old 31st December 2015, 20:58   #5
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Day 3
Started out at 6:30am, had breakfast at Amutha Surabi, opposite Sakthi hotel, Pollachi. Excellent place for breakfast/tiffin items and remembered that we'd been here on our way to Munnar in 2011. We reached the Sethumadai check post around 8am and were at the Anappady checkpost of Parambikulam wild life sanctuary by 8:30am.

We were told that we narrowly missed the last safari bus of the first batch in the morning and will have to wait till 11:30am for the next safari.

Though I'd searched on TBHP and other sites on the internet I could not find definitive and detailed information about the safaris, so here it is for
the benefit of others:
  • 1. About 40Km drive from Pollachi, budget for about 1.5-2 hours. You have to pass through Sethumadai checkpost after paying the entry fee for visitors, vehicles and camera
  • 2. Next, sign in the register and pass through the Top Slip check post
  • 3. About 0.5Km ahead is the Top slip visitor center, elephant rides etc. Also the Tamil Nadu forest department managed properties and their offices are here
  • 4. Another 2-3Km ahead is the Anappady check post (Kerala side). Pay entry fee for visitors, vehicles and camera here (again!). The officials will indicate on your entry fee receipt what time and vehicle you need to take for the Safari.
  • 5. Drive another 1Km or so and there is a Vistor information center, a canteen called Vengoli Cafe, Toilets and a parking lot. Park your vehicle here, buy the safari tickets (Rs.170 each) at the information center (this was the "glass house" that many older travelgues referred to and was under construction back then).
  • About 100 metres ahead is the Eco shop and also some accommodation like tented huts and cottages. The Eco shop also runs an Orientation video for visitors that explains the Do's and Dont's at the Sanctuary.
  • 6. There are 6 safari buses in all (named Tiger, Otter, Tahr, etc) with a capacity of 20 seats each. Depending on how many people turn up, these buses will leave for the safari ride between 8 and 9, taking about 3 hours for the trip. It is a good idea to plan to reach Anappady check post by 8am.
  • 7. The second trip for these buses is after they return from the first one, say 11am-12pm and the last batch leaves by 3. However, note that tickets may be sold out earlier, so makes sense to reach Anappady check post at least by 11am to ensure you have a chance of getting tickets for the 3pm Safari.
  • 8. Board your safari bus outside the information center and begin your 3 hour journey, enjoy the wildlife, be caring and don't litter the place, PLEASE!
  • 9. If you've booked accommodation at Parambikulam you are allowed to take your car inside (beyond the visitors/Safari parking lot) right up to your cottage. Such vehicles will be accompanied by a forest department Naturalist/guide.
  • 10. There are cottages just behind the Eco shop and information centre but I liked the Tree house accessible from the road very close to Thunacadavu Dam, that simply had the best location and view and was just in front of the water.

We skipped the elephant ride at Top Slip and decided to just go on the Parambikulam Safari ride. The Safari bus door was missing the glass and the driver insisted it is quite safe, in fact the door was never closed during the safari!

The ride was enjoyable as it passes through good forest section, tribal settlements, dams, pump houses and cottages. Road is decent inside the forest. To reach the Kannimara teak tree, there is a path with mud and stones and the safari bus manages it quite easily.

We stopped at the Thunacadavu Dam, the Kannimara Teak Tree, Dam view point, Valley view point, Parambikulam Dam and then on the return a stop at the Parambikulam Round (circle).

There are a few stalls near the Parambikulam Round selling some snacks, tea, coffee etc and on the opposite side there are couple of restaurants Everest and Lakshmi. These are the only options for food. Since we were here by 1:15pm, most of the folks in the bus had lunch at one of these hotels. After lunch, we headed back and reached the information center at 3pm taking almost 3.5 hours in total. The rafting area at Parmbikulam is only for visitors who have booked accommodation there, not the regular safari visitors, so the bus doesn't even go near the water.
The Bus driver made an interesting comment when he said that inside Parambikulam, the roads belong to Kerala while the Dams belong to Tamil Nadu

Also, the focus on plastic and litter is very high and they do a very commendable job of asking people not to litter the forest.
Sometimes, my eye for detail results in disappointment when I see litter strewn around, especially in such places but I could not spot any plastic/litter in the forest so these guys are definitely doing a great job.
The forest department officer at the Anappady check post was a young person and did his job very meticulously. He told us that about 22 cars had gone in before us so all 6 Safari buses were packed and we will have to take the first one that returns around 11:30am.
He also thoroughly checked a car with couple of guys in it who had booked accommodation at Parambikulam.

Wildlife spottings were very few on this safari - we saw Peacocks, Spotted Deer and Langurs. I think the early morning safari and the evening ones will be the best for animal sightings. Ideally, one should plan to stay at the Parambikulam sanctuary to enjoy this place. Several people have spotted Elepehants, bears and leopards.

Maybe some other time, we will plan a trip to this place now that we're armed with a first hand experience.

We headed back to Pollachi that evening and got some well deserved rest after a long day.

Last edited by NPV : 2nd January 2016 at 00:55.
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Old 1st January 2016, 18:39   #6
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Now for some pictures from the Parambikulam visit...
Breakfast stop - Amutha Surabi, Pollachi
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Beautiful Road with trees, somewhere after Anamalai town
Roads are excellent from Pollachi to Sethumadai checkpost after which it become a little rough but still manageable. It's a forest road after all
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Farms near Sethumadai
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Sethumadai Check post - patchy/rough road from here to Anappady check post
Pay entry fee here on Tamil Nadu side
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Another farm
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Top Slip Check post
Sign in the register here
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Anappady Check post - Kerala side from here
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Information centre at the Anappady check post
Pay entry fees and get your Safari bus details and timing here
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A pond en route
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DizzyŽ - our trusted workhorse!
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Peacock scurrying away
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Vengoli Cafe near the Vistors Centre/Information Centre
Only option for food before boarding the Safari bus, next options are at Parambikulam Round
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Parking lot for Safari visitors
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Information Centre
Referred to as the "Glass House" in some of the earlier travelogues. Buy your Safari tickets here
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Orientation Centre and Green shop
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Orientation video in progress
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Postcards double up as Safari Tickets
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The Safari Route
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Some exploration while waiting for our Safari bus to arrive
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And there's the Safari Bus!
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Thunacadavu Dam
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Wind Vane at Thunacadavu Dam. Been ages since I saw one!
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Last edited by NPV : 1st January 2016 at 23:54.
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Old 1st January 2016, 23:57   #7
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

And more pictures, probably the last set...

Lovely vistas around Thunacadavu Dam
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The imposing Kannimara Teak Tree
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About the Tree
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Awarded Recognition!
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Dam View Point
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Thunacadavu Dam from the view point, limited by the camera!
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Parambikulam Dam and vistas around it
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Sculpture near Parambikulam Round to commemorate 100% literacy rate of tribals
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Parambikulam Round
All food options after Vengoli Cafe near are close by to this place
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(We) Spotted Spotted Deer
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Our Safari Bus - Tiger
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These guys gave us a nice send off from the forest - lovely sight of them on Bamboo trees
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Last edited by NPV : 2nd January 2016 at 00:32.
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Old 2nd January 2016, 00:38   #8
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Day 4
The Home Run - Pollachi-Coimbatore bypass-Salem-Hosur-Bangalore
Started by 8.30am and reached home at 5pm with multiple breaks - breakfast, fuel, lunch and even some shopping

At Hosur there was a huge traffic pile up between Sarovar Portico and Cenneys hotels. I expected the worst and thought the holiday traffic traveling back to Bangalore has piled up at the Attibele toll all the way till where we were. Luckily, took about 20 minutes to clear and root cause was a long truck had broken down on the left lane near the Hosur town (Ring road ?) turn off. When we reached the standstill traffic, everyone was in their lanes and everything was very organized but as usual, the impatient Bangalore drivers arrived on the scene and started squeezing into the gaps between lanes Luckily the jam didn't last too long.

Again, FasTag was our saviour at Attibele and we zoomed past all the waiting vehicles (in other lanes), definitely saved 20-30 minutes here.

Reached home at 5pm to end the trip, the last one of 2015!

Trip Stats:
Distance: 1007 Km
Fuel (Petrol): 62 litres
Fuel Efficiency: 16 Kmpl

Hope you enjoyed reading this.
Happy New Year 2016!

Last edited by NPV : 2nd January 2016 at 00:39.
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Old 2nd January 2016, 08:07   #9
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Default re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd January 2016, 20:15   #10
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Nice to see a Dizzy Drive after a long time.

Glad to see that FastTag was working for you at Attibele toll, this along with Krishnagiri toll is a big bottleneck out of Bangalore.
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Old 4th January 2016, 06:40   #11
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

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Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
Nice to see a Dizzy Drive after a long time.

Glad to see that FastTag was working for you at Attibele toll, this along with Krishnagiri toll is a big bottleneck out of Bangalore.
Thanks Suhas Though there were a few other Dizzy Drives and even a couple of trips without Dizzy as well, did not find enough time to post travelogues. Where's the Wanderlust Traveler heading next ?

Once FasTag is ready with the dedicated lane, it should be a lot better as we will spend lesser time at the toll plazas.
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Old 4th January 2016, 11:08   #12
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

More useful informations and good photographs too sir. Nowadays cellphones are clicking far better images then any digital P&S or even DSLRs., Cellphones have very wide f distance too IMHO
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Old 4th January 2016, 12:01   #13
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

Great travelogue NPV - good write up and nice pictures.

I enjoyed the coverage of the crocodile rearing facility. Just by reading those boards, one gets to know such a lot about these wonderful creatures.

the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve seems to be pretty well kept. The Information Centre at the Anappady check post looks very interesting.

Hope the reserve remains like this in the years to come. Considering it was the Christmas season, there does not appear to be much of a crowd.

Hope the FastTag technology is adopted by everyone. It will reduce congestion and fuel consumption.
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Old 4th January 2016, 13:29   #14
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

nice one. Did you take any pictures of the kavu? Really interested to know how they look these days. Its been ages since I visited Manapulli kavu.
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Old 4th January 2016, 14:01   #15
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Default Re: Dizzy DriveŽ - Dash to Palakkad & back to Bangalore via Pollachi, Udumalaipet and Parambikulam

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Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve seems to be pretty well kept. The Information Centre at the Anappady check post looks very interesting.

Hope the reserve remains like this in the years to come. Considering it was the Christmas season, there does not appear to be much of a crowd.
Thanks!
The place was full actually as all seats for the Safari bus rides were sold out by 11am that day and accommodation at Parambikulam was also full. The maximum numbers for the safari in a day could be 20 seats * 6 buses * 3 trips a day = 360 persons and each bus takes 3 hours to complete a trip. While this number is not big, I think it's more than enough and they're able to keep the place litter free, just hope this continues in the years to come.

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nice one. Did you take any pictures of the kavu? Really interested to know how they look these days. Its been ages since I visited Manapulli kavu.
No pictures - since we go there once or twice each year never felt like taking a picture!
And it would feel odd, especially at Manapully where it's crowded most of the time (no photography inside of course) and only option would be to click one from the road.
What I like about the Kerala temples is that they still manage to maintain them well and they're quite strict when it comes to traditions At Manapully, it's part of the town now so sees more visitors and they've relaxed the dress code, men are now allowed with shirt and pant.
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