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Old 17th March 2016, 18:08   #1
Join Date: Feb 2016
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Default Pun-toured : The Beautiful Western Ghats

A warm Hi! to all TBHPians. It took me three attempts to become a TBHPian. It really feels great that finally I am on board. I have been following TBHP since 2009 and being an avid traveler the travelogue section was the one where I spent a lot of time. I used to have an urge to reply to the posts but being a non-member earlier I could not. Now that I can here is my first travelogue. This was my first trip after I bought my Grande Punto 90 HP.

I have tried my best to put all the experiences I had during my trip so that it can help fellow TBHPians who intend to travel to these places in future. I do hope this thread can be of help to fellow travelers.

Comments and criticism are most welcome. I have been trying to pen my travel experiences since 2014 and any inputs to improve my travelogues will be great.

So here goes my first travelogue in TBHP

I got my Fiat Grande Punto 90 HP in May 2014 and we had been planning my first major tour since then. After going through multiple threads on various automotive sites and suggestions from fellow travelers we finalised a trip to the beautiful Western Ghats. I had a great long weekend along with my family from 2nd - 5th Oct 14. Our base was decided to be Kalasa and we were to cover Kuderemukh, Sringeri and Horanadu. Adding Chikkamagalur to the trip was considered as well but then the trip would have to be extended by a day. I had to take leave for same and with another long trip planned to homeland Cuttack/Bhubaneswar in Odisha in December 2014 we thought additional leaves would be helpful then.

The route we took

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The route which needs to be avoided

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The route from Hyderabad till Hassan is simply awesome. We lost GPS for a few minutes and instead of taking the Belur route went through Sakleshpur. The stretch after that is simply pathetic and needs to be avoided at all costs if travelling after sunset and with family.

The route through Belur is considerably better for most part. While coming back the route was same except instead of Sakleshpur I came through Belur

Statistics for the trip

Day 1
Start Time: 5:10 a.m. 2/10/2014
End Time: 11:30 p.m. 2/10/2014
Distance Covered: 922 kms
Travel Time (In car): 14:48 hours
Average Speed: 62.3 km/h
Total Time: 18:20
Break Time: 3:32 hours
Mileage: 18.3 km/l

Day 2/Day 3 (Covering Kuderemukh, Kalasa, Sringeri and Horanadu)
Distance Covered: 1254 kms (334 kms around the place)
Travel Time (In Car):27:14 hours (12:26 hours)
Average Speed: 26.9 km/l
Mileage: 17.5 km/l (drop of 0.8 km/l)
Break Time: NA

Day 4
Start Time: 8:30 a.m. 5/10/2014
End Time: 12:10 a.m. 6/10/2014
Distance Covered: 2173 kms (919 kms)
Travel Time (In car): 41:41 hours (14:26 hours)
Average Speed: 63.7 km/h
Total Time: 15:40
Break Time: 1:14 hours
Mileage: 17.8 km/l (final mileage)

Whole trip stats
Distance Covered: 2173 kms
Travel Time (In car): 41:41 hours
Average Speed: 52.2 km/h
Mileage: 17.8 km/l (MID)
Mileage: 17.3 km/l (Tankful Method)
Total Diesel Consumed: 125 liters approx.

My observation since I got the car is that the MID shows a mileage which is in the range 0.5-1.0 km/l more than tank full method. This tour strengthened my belief. There is a difference of 0.5 km/l through the whole trip when the tankful method is used. As per my calculation my actual diesel usage might have been more by 2-5 liters more. The last tankful that I did didn't get over and it was between the 2nd and 3rd lines of the fuel indicator. So the mileage may be a little lesser actually.

Teaser Snaps

The winding highways - A driver's dream

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Rain, Mist, Fog and Jungle - A nature lover's paradise

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The Beautiful Western Ghats

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Arrow straight highways

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Oct 2nd 2014 - Day 1

The plan was to start early by 3:00 AM. We had been planning for days and were very excited for the trip. I was supposed to be back from office by 7:00 PM on Oct 1st night and hit bed by 8:00 PM. Got caught up in some work and received home by 8:30 PM only. We had a quick dinner and family went off for sleep. I wanted to check all the car related docs before retiring. Quickly went through all the docs and called FIAT RSA. I wanted to know how things work in case there is a break down on road.

Finally retired at 10:30 PM. It was 3:30 AM when we woke up. I sleep sound usually unless I or someone in the family is sick. But I didn’t wake up fresh that day. 5 hours of sleep had refreshed me physically but somehow mentally I wasn’t feeling fresh.

First lesson learnt: Sleep well and tight the night before if one has to drive long distance.

We were ready by 4:45 AM and. We actually didn’t want her to wake up but she too was pretty excited for the trip and she woke up when we were loading our luggage.

All packed up

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Still sleepy. Let’s start Papa

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Ready Steady Po. The customary start of trip picture

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We were late by more than 2 hours from the planned start time and it was 5:10 a.m. I cranked the engine. There was already light on the horizon even before we crossed Hyderabad.

The flyover towards Airport

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Church on NH7

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A temple up somewhere on a hillock

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Straights on NH7, one can do insane speeds if you have the control

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Windmills – Picturesque. Aren’t they?

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Twisty on NH7, if your car can handle it.

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Isckon Temple near Bangalore

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Wife drove for around 200 odd kms and this being her first highway drive she did pretty well for herself driving at a pretty good pace. After the breakfast we kept driving at good speeds. But we kept taking a lot breaks in between as my daughter would keep asking to stop the car for n number of reasons. We stopped for lunch around 12:30 PM around 100 odd kms from Bangalore.

Lunch Break

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With our stomachs refilled we started again around 1:20 PM. Taurus (that’s what I have named my Punto) had his lunch just before the Bangalore Airport at an Indian Oil Pump. He prefers IOCL diesel only. He had other diesel only twice in his lifetime only because we couldn’t locate an IOCL bunk. It was already beyond 3 PM when we crossed Bangalore and touched Mangalore highway.

NH 48 was pretty good all the way till Hassan. It was much more scenic than NH7 but wasn’t as wide. It being a long weekend both NH7 and NH48 had pretty heavy traffic. But it was easier to maintain good speeds on NH7 as it’s much wider all through till Bangalore. The same is not the case with NH 48. Google shows 6 hours for 320 odd kms. Some places the road is just a two lane road and the traffic was pretty heavy too with lots of folks from Bangalore going to Mangalore because of the long weekend. We saw a lot of them on bikes as well. We still drove at a decent pace and had our snacks at Hassan at around 7 PM.

The traffic was pretty thick on Mangalore highway

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Good roads all the way to Hassan

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Weekend traffic meant lower average speeds

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Our guide throughout. Technology really has made life a lot easier

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NH48 lot more scenic than NH7.Here is the proof

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The setting sun

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Finally the sun retired for the day. Beautiful. Isn’t it?

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NH48 reduced to 2 Lane - Last picture for the day

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This is where the whole trip turned (mis)adventurous. Google maps acted weird, we lost GPS and instead of taking the Belur route we took the Sakleshpur route. As mentioned earlier this route should be avoided at all costs. The roads are horrible for around 40 kms. The Belur route is considerably better but still both routes should be avoided after dark in case one is with family unless one is a localite or loves adventure. Had I done the trip as a bachelor I would have loved it. But with my family by my side it was one of the most stressful 3 hours of life.

The road still Sakleshpur was good and we crossed around 9:00 PM. After that the traffic became increasingly thinner. Stopped by and asked for direction at a tea shop and they also mentioned that I should have taken the Belur route instead. They said I should continue on the same route and roads are pretty bad for next 40 kms and ghat roads all the way till Kalasa where we had to stay put. We had booked in Suprabha Residency in Kalasa. It’s around 90 kms from Sakleshpur to Kalasa. We continued our journey and were into the tea estates and ghat roads. The roads were pretty bad and pot holed. The roads were pretty narrow and after driving for 2-3 kms we didn’t find even a single vehicle.

We decided to go back to the junction where we had asked for directions and check if there is any alternate route. We started driving back and saw a Duster going towards Kalasa. We stopped again at the junction and asked if there is any better alternate route. We were told we were on the right road. We called up our hotel and asked about road conditions. The hotel guys told that the roads are bad for around 40 kms and after that the roads are little better. It may take around 2:30 hours to cover the road. There would not be any issues as such but mobile connectivity will be erratic and in case of breakdown it will be very difficult to find a soul so late in the night.

The confusion just increased and we were in a dilemma whether to go back to Sakleshpur and spend the night there and start early in the morning for Kalasa or just drive to our destination without wasting any time further. I still have no idea why we chose the second option. We did discuss that staying back would mean we are losing a good 3-4 hours in the morning and the trip being a short one time on hand was important to cover as much as we could.

We called up the hotel again and asked them to keep some dinner packed for us. It was 10:00 PM already and my daughter was getting cranky as it was close to her sleeping time. I asked my wife to move to the back seat to keep our kiddo engaged. Asked all to buckle up and over the next 90 minutes I would have had the most maniac drive ever. I maintained an average of 60 km/h on those ghat roads and we reached at 11:30 PM at our destination.

Boy oh! Boy was I impressed by Fiats dynamics? Not many cars can keep up with a Fiat on ghats. I had read on numerous ownership and expert reviews. But this was the first hand experience for me. This has been the best 90 km drive for me in my ownership of 16 K kms till date and will remain so for a long time I guess. As an owner I was experiencing the strengths of my vehicle for the first time. The ride and handling is just supreme. No fatigue what so ever, my daughter didn’t show any signs of car sickness or fatigue after that grueling drive of 90 kms. Hats off to Fiats engineering that they have not compromised on its core strengths yet even with the high GC. The steering is one of the best up to a million bucks and will even beat some of the cars twice its price.

Once we reached the reception and looked for the manager. His reaction made the day for me. He was completely surprised and looked at the watch 2-3 times. He said he was not expecting us before 12:30 AM. He told that either your car is a very good one or you are a brilliant driver. Felt good about the compliment and sad at the same time as Fiat is not doing enough to market its products and strength. I guess Fiat can concentrate on opening dealerships in such places which have hilly and twisty terrains. Stripped off versions of Punto and Linea will sell like hot cakes in such regions with a little bit of marketing and good service. The competition will be less in such places as only Maruti and Hyundai will have presence in such places.

We quickly checked in and had our dinner. Food though vegetarian was very delicious. I am a non-vegetarian and still had vegetarian dinner all the three nights we were there. Other than food everything else was below par. Rooms were just about okay. We had a non A/C room as there was no other alternative when we booked. There are various good options like Thaangali which provide guided tours like hiking and all.

Everything else was booked due to the long weekend and we had no other option. I would advise not to look at this option when one is with family. They had lot of options like A/C suite and all but I am pretty sure they would also be not that good. Travelling as group with friends this is a pretty economical option and the location is good. Otherwise this place can be avoided. We would have slept like logs that night. It was not much physical but the last 3 hours of mental stress had taken its toll.

Second lesson learnt: Start early and drive at the best speeds one can manage.

We lost quite some time early in the morning when I drove very sedately. We could have had saved at least an hour if I had driven at a higher speed.

Third lesson learnt: Do not depend on technology always.

Most of my planning was based on inputs from various forums. But after evening I completely depended on Google Map which was a wrong thing to do and didn’t refer my notes as till that point of time Google Map had guided us correctly. We didn’t even stop anywhere for direction till very late in the night. It’s always better to confirm on you road ahead with local folks as they have the best knowledge about the area

Fourth lesson learnt: It’s better to break the journey after its dark when in unknown territory.

I had the most stressful 3 hours of my life during the last leg of our journey. I should ideally have had taken a break at Sakleshpur as it was pretty late. Besides the roads were too bad which I realized later when we were returning back. Thanks to fantastic suspension system and the general build quality of Fiats that we didn’t feel much. The same roads when I took while returning I drove pretty sedately as I could see the road ahead well due to daylight but drove like a maniac in the night. We would have seen quite a few snakes and foxes/jackals in the night. We thought them to dogs but later on came to know that they were foxes/jackals. We still thank our luck and gods that we made through the drive that night.

Last edited by ampere : 18th March 2016 at 07:19. Reason: To complete the travelogue; Minor Typo fixes; Removed speed mentions
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Old 18th March 2016, 01:18   #2
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Default Re: Pun-toured : The Beautiful Western Ghats

Oct 3rd 2014 - Day 2

We woke up at 7:00 AM the next morning and were feeling pretty fresh. We had tight sleep the night before. The plan was to start as early we can and cover up as much as possible. But I didnít take fog into account. It was foggy all around and one couldnít even see 50 meters ahead. We lazed around and had our morning tea. The view from balcony was pretty good which we came to know only after the sun shone through the fog.

It was around 9:00 AM when the fog subsided. We changed our room as the bathroom was leaking. By 9:30 AM we were ready after having our breakfast. The plan was to cover the Kudremukh National Park, Hanuman Gundi Falls and Lakya Dam before evening and Annapoorneshwari Temple in Horanadu in the evening. October is the best time to travel this place. Just after monsoon and the greenery is at its best. Donít believe me. The proof is here. There are lots of waterfalls small and big. One can see them in their full glory during this time.

It was a pleasure driving through such beautiful roads

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Early morning rays piercing through the flora

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Hanging Bridge Ė There are quite a few. We saw one while going to Sringeri the next day.

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Taurus Posing Ė Isnít he photogenic. Cute derriere.

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Quite a poser. Huh!

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The scene or the car ... Which one is more beautiful?

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Taurus and his master

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Say Cheese...

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The journey through the Kudremukh National Park was nothing short of mesmerizing. It kept raining on and off throughout the day making the drive and the greenery a lot more pleasurable

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All these roads led to heaven. The experience was nothing short of mesmerizing.

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This one is even better

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Irrespective of the time of the day or place where the photos were taken ... Each one was a beauty in its own sense

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There was just so much of greenery around ... that even HULK would have calmed down

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I would have taken more than 1000 pins on the trip. Finding 20 photos of the National park was so difficult. There is not even a single one which is an eye sore

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Fog, mist, rain and greenery

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Few pics of the Kudremukh Mountain range

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One more

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My daughter was the most silent that day awestruck by the beauty all around her

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The beauty and the beast

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Panorama Shots Ė How much I love them and this place is ideal for such shots

Pano @ Kudremukh National Park

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Another one

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Pano @ Lakya Dam

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Another one

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We spent some time near Lakya Dam. It started raining there as can be seen from the pics. The place was pretty serene but we could spend much time there as the rain started getting heavier.

Papa and Beti Bonding

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Next we went to Hanuman Gundi falls. Pretty beautiful location and nice waterfall. But one has to take pretty steep stairs down to be at the location. It would be like 30 meters down from the road. There is an entry fee of Rs. 30 for adults. The climb down is pretty steep, elderly and ones with joint pains should avoid. The water is pretty voluminous after monsoon and one can go still further down and have a nice bath. But the rocks are pretty slippery and once have to be careful as one wrong step can lead to life threatening injuries.

Few click @ Hanuman Gundi Falls

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Waterfall in full flow

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Just before we started to return it started raining heavily and we had a hard time climbing back. It became wet and slippery everywhere. We had to carry our daughter along with umbrellas and I have to admit the climb up was very frightening. Climbing alone itself was difficult and we took turns to carry our daughter along. Then there is the fear of leeches and such climate is perfect for these small blood suckers. Fortunately for us we never had any issue throughout our trip, maybe we were ultra-careful.

Steep steps @ Hanuman Gundi

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Kadambi Falls Ė There were many such small falls all along the way.

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Old 18th March 2016, 01:31   #3
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Default Re: Pun-toured : The Beautiful Western Ghats

There is a beautiful Ganesh temple in the midst of a tea garden. We stopped by for a few clicks and had hot bhajjis and tea there. Few clicks of tea estates and the surrounding environs

Pano @ Ganesha Temple

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Mist, Fog and Visibility goes for a toss

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The Kudremukh mountain range

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Finally some color other than green ... Phew!

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The light was fading slowly and it added to the beauty

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There was still light on the horizon after we came out of Kudremukh. We headed towards Annapoorneshwari Temple in Horanadu as planned. Very beautiful and clean temple and well maintained I must say. Most temples in South India are very clean and well maintained and this one was no exception.

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The above pic is of Annapoorneshwari Temple in Horanadu. It was almost dark when we reached there so could not take any more photos. With camera not allowed inside smart phone cameras were carp in dark. Even the above pic is taken with Samsung S3.

It was an awesome day and the scenic beauty of the place impressed us so much that we decided to drive through Kudremukh once more next day. It kept raining on and off through the day making the drive through the Western Ghats very dreamy. I had seen a lot of pictures on net and the scenery mostly matched.

We were pretty confused before we had decided the place that we would be going to Kudremukh for this particular trip. No regrets what so ever. One of the best trips we could have had. The trip bought forward all the strengths of Fiat and made the drive all more engaging and the virgin beauty of the Western Ghats just after the monsoon was nothing short of mesmerizing.

We had the option of covering Chikmaglur or go to Sringeri next day after the drive through the national park. The distance to Chikmaglur was more and I didnít want to risk driving late in night again on the ghat roads. So it was decided that next day we would cover Sringeri and Agumbe Sunset Point. We were back to our hotel by 7:30 PM. Had our dinner and retired happily for the day unaware of what lay in store for us the next day.
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Old 18th March 2016, 02:18   #4
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Default Re: Pun-toured : The Beautiful Western Ghats

Oct 4th 2014 - Day 3

Weather was pretty similar as the day before and it made us more excited after what we had experienced. We had our breakfast at a small restaurant in Kalasa and started our drive through the Kudremukh again. We had noted down a few places from the previous dayís drive where we could have had a few pictures clicked but could not because of rain. We stopped at those places and took pictures.

We kept on driving up and down through the park till our eyes got tired of seeing the beauty all around. I had never seen so much greenery in my life yet. I have been to 17 states in India and have visited Nepal and Bhutan as well, besides my work has taken me to US twice. But never had I experienced something so beautiful, something so calm and serene. This experience is going to stay with me for a long time to come. Some more eye candies.

Scenic all the way

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The weather was just awesome through out

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Windows Wallpaper

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The fog added to the mystique of the place.

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The roads in national park though narrow were brilliant to drive on

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Drive through clouds

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And Taurus was in a mood to pose as well.

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Am I not photogenic??

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Travel Partners

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Punto looks the meanest from this angle

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All good things come to an end and this feast for our eyes which continued for two days had to come to an end as well. Around 1:00 PM we proceeded towards Sringeri. The roads through the national park though narrow were pretty well laid and smooth. The same could not be said about the road to Sringeri. The problem was not the road itself rather the way the road was laid.

The edges of the road were pretty sharp and the road was higher than the surrounding ground making it more dangerous. The chances of underbody hitting the ground was much more and if not driven carefully the tires would be cut by the edges on the road. At some places the roads were so narrow that one had to get off the road to let a vehicle pass by from the opposite direction. Few pictures on the way to Sringeri

A small river

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And a big one too

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Taurus posing with a hanging bridge in the background. Someplace on the way to Sringeri....

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Lush green fields

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A lake on the way

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We had planned to visit the Sringeri Mutt. We reached there around 1:00 PM and quickly had our lunch in a small restaurant nearby. It being Dusshera time the rush was just too much and it took us a lot of time to park the car. Seeing the rush we decided against going inside as daughter was not feeling particularly well. We could sense that she may fall sick due to all the stress and travelling.

A snap of the Sringeri Mutt.

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At around 2:30 PM we started towards Agumbe sunset point. The roads were great and green all the way till the sunset point. It would be around 4:00 PM when we reached there hoping to get a glimpse of the sunset and take a few good snaps. But the climate changed almost instantly and it got foggy instantly almost in about 15 minutes. There was heavy rush at the spot and finding a parking spot was very difficult. I would have parked my car almost a kilometer from the sunset point. By the time we reached the top point it was completely covered with fog and mist and visibility was almost zero.

Throughout the trip wherever we went it was feast for eyes

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Check this out ... a driver's dream

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Agumbe Sunset Point ... No sun... No setting ... only fogging....

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No visibility at all

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One more

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One could hardly see 50 meters ahead

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All hopes of catching the sunset came down crashing. The temperature dropped as well. There was a small pond near the place. We spent 5-10 minutes there and as it was getting darker pretty quickly. We started back towards our hotel around 5:30 PM.

Even though we didnít get to see the sunset but the place was pretty good and the fog and mist made it more beautiful. Few pictures from the place.
Check out the traffic @ the place even though the visibility was so low. The vehicles moving towards right are going to the sunset point

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It was 5:30 PM and this is what we could see after putting our headlight and fog lights on

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Snacks time. Visibility improved as we moved away from the sunset point. We stopped by a restaurant and had our customary evening tea along with Gobi Manchurian and Chicken Pakoda.

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It was completely dark by the time we reached back Sringeri. Even though there was enough fuel to get us back to our hotel I thought of getting it filled up so that we can start early the next day without worrying about refueling.

I have always stuck to IOCL with all my vehicles. The reason being I have Citibank IOC card and with my usage I get at least 3-4 tank full every year. We tried finding an IOCL and Google Maps suddenly started acting weird. The closest IOCL pump it showed was over 100 kms. We had no option and didnít want to waste time finding one. So for the very first time we refilled our Punto at a HP Pump.

Due to the road conditions between Kudremukh and Sringeri I wasnít too keen on taking that route again. The fear was more of cutting the tires or underbody damage. The road in itself was not bad as I have mentioned before. We asked at the petrol bunk and they suggested the below mentioned route in the map. It was about 7:30 PM when we started back from Sringeri.

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The one marked in grey was the one which we had taken in the morning. We were a little apprehensive as the other route almost took the same amount of time instead of being shorter by about 25 kms. But the petrol bunk guy assured us that the roads are good enough. We took the unknown road going by the petrol bunk attendant words. The road was good enough as he mentioned and traffic was almost nil. Roads were absolutely dark. Few kilometers ahead we saw a local bus which we thought was going to Kalasa going by the address written at back of the bus. We kept following it for about 20-30 minutes but it slowed us down considerably as the bus was moving pretty slowly.

We overtook it and kept going on towards our destination with Google Maps guiding us. We kept driving till we were warned by my mobile that GPs signal has been lost and on checking we found out that there was no network as well.It was 8:30 PM already and we assumed that Kalasa should not be very far. Another 15 minutes of drive and the roads started becoming worse. It didnít take me long to realize that may be we were on the wrong way. No mobile network yet, not a single vehicle to be soon got us worried. Our previous experience just two days back didnít let us risk it again.

We decide to drive back and find the nus if possible or else to get back to Sringeri if we do not get anyone to ask directions. After driving back for about 20 minutes we found the bus and were a bit relieved. GPS and network were back again. We decided to keep following the bus.We were a little surprised as we didnít find any deviation that we had missed. We assumed that may be were on the right way. But still we continued following the bus. The bus stopped after sometime and a family got down. I just stopped to ask them if we were on the right way.

Unfortunately we were not on the right way and they told that a diversion was missed some 10-12 kms back. I did tell them I have been driving pretty sedately and do not really think that we missed any diversion. They told us that itís very difficult to figure that diversion in dark. The diversion looks more of a road to tea estate than a proper road.It was already 9:30 PM and immediately turned back. After travelling back for around 10 kms we finally found the road to Kalasa. As the family had told us sometime before it was extremely difficult to locate the road. It was very narrow and was at slight deviation from the main road. It looked like a road to some oneís house or a tea estate.

It became broader a little while later and we were finally on our way to Kalasa. It was 11:00 PM when we reached our hotel. We werenít as stressed out as the first day but didnít feel good about another misadventure. The roads were again deserted and we couldnít see a soul, but quite a few snakes again. We surely need to plan our trips better in future. We may not be lucky always.We were in for another surprise after dinner. Daughter had slight fever and cold which kept getting worse with time. I got sure of one thing though, that we will not be able to start early the next day. Somehow we managed to put our daughter to sleep and it was well past midnight when I and my wife retired for the day.

Fifth lesson learnt: A known devil is better than an unknown angel
We had already travelled Kalasa to Sringeri through the Kudremukh range and knew that the roads are good for most part. Though some part of it was a little narrow and the road edges were sharp at some places but the best part was we knew the road well having travelled almost twice.We could have driven a little carefully and could have had reached Kalasa quite early. Instead we took the other route and the journey which should have taken not more than 90 minutes took us close to 4 hours. So the unknown angel turned out to a bigger devil than the already known devil.
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Old 18th March 2016, 02:42   #5
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Oct 5th 2014 - Day 4

It was 8:30 AM when we got ready to return back to Hyderabad. Daughter still had fever and we knew the journey back home was not going to be easy one. We were already late and so we needed to drive well and take shorter breaks. We started our journey back after visiting the Kalaseshwara temple. This is a Lord Shiva’s temple and it was pretty similar to temples of north east.

Ready for the drive back home

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Kalaseshwara temple

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While coming back we took the Belur route and it was better than the Sakleshpur route. This road though better was not something I would recommend anyone to travel after sunset. We were a little sad as our trip was getting over. It was decided some other time may be when our daughter grows up we would surely comeback to this place, stay at a better place and go trekking.

Few pictures of the ghat roads.There was still fog around when we started

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Early morning call

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These scenes are still fresh in my mind

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Finally we get to see the sun

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Sun rays peircing through the canopy

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The tea estates ... They were everywhere and looked gorgeous under the early morning sun

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The belur route was scenic as well

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Tauras taking a break when I decided to relieve myself

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One more shot

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I had noted down quite a few good restaurants which serve fish on Mangalore road while coming. I and my daughter are very fond of fish. We stopped at one such restaurant and had yummy fish. My wife is a vegetarian so mostly we have to order different dishes when we eat outside. I kept pestering the person attending to make it fast as we wanted to cross Bangalore as soon as possible. I had let my wife drive as much as possible before we touch Bangalore. I was pretty confident that I can cover Bangalore to Hyderabad in less than 7 hours. We had our lunch by 1:30 PM and the break was only about for 40 minutes. Since we had started late we wanted to keep our break time to minimum.

Fish was yummy

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Getting ready for the last leg of the trip. Outside the restaurant

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My daughter too loves fish and was back to her cheerful self. But her fever still had us worried. She wasn't bothered though.

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The NH48 traffic was pretty thick being the last day of a long weekend. Most of the folks were returning back for work and the average speeds would have been in 50s till we crossed Bangalore.

Beautiful NH48. But busy as well

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Some were busy driving and some busy feasting. CHeck out the cow. Thats the reason its hard to drive fast in India.

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As we reached closer to Bangalore two wheeler traffic increased as well

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As soon as we touched Bangalore our speeds dropped drastically. We crossed Hebbal around 5:30 PM.

Last few pictures

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Any idea what this is??

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Toll gate

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I took over the driver’s seat and we touched Kurnool after covering 350 odd kms in next few hrs. I maintained good speeds most of the times and touched Kurnool at 9:00 PM. We were in two minds whether to continue our journey or stay back at Kurnool for the night. The experiences we had over the last 2-3 days forced us to think this way. But our daughter was not keeping well and we knew that best option was to get back home ASAP as she would feel the most comfortable at home only. We carried on and were home exactly at 12:10 AM. We could have made it earlier as well if not for the heavy downpour just after we crossed Kurnool. For the next 40 minutes we could manage only about 40-50 kms as the visibility was hardly 20-30 meters. So we covered around 600 kms in 6:40 hrs with an average speed of close to 100 km/hr. We thanked god, our starts and luck and promised to plan better for our future trips. We had learnt our lessons well and now understood what all needs to be taken into account when planning road trips.

Last edited by ampere : 18th March 2016 at 07:33. Reason: Removed high speed mentions
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Old 18th March 2016, 06:28   #6
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

For that nice weekend reading. If it does not rain, see those snaps and expect some!
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Old 18th March 2016, 11:48   #7
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Fantastic first post, NibedK. Thanks to the almighty and the dependable Punto for taking to your stay safely. Sakleshpur ghats, even during day time is a nightmare to drive & Sringeri to Kalasa via Agathgandi is a route not frequented even by local Karnataka cabs. Surely, someone up there took care of your family both those nights. Thanks for once again reaffirming the qualities of Fiat vehicles. Hope people keep such articles in their mind when they choose their next car. Though you did not plan the drive timings well, you chose the right time of the year to visit Kudremukh . Boy, the snaps were a feast for the eyes !

Last edited by venkatt1800 : 18th March 2016 at 12:11.
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Old 18th March 2016, 13:06   #8
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Originally Posted by venkatt1800 View Post
Fantastic first post, NibedK. Thanks to the almighty and the dependable Punto for taking to your stay safely. Sakleshpur ghats, even during day time is a nightmare to drive & Sringeri to Kalasa via Agathgandi is a route not frequented even by local Karnataka cabs. Surely, someone up there took care of your family both those nights. Thanks for once again reaffirming the qualities of Fiat vehicles. Hope people keep such articles in their mind when they choose their next car. Though you did not plan the drive timings well, you chose the right time of the year to visit Kudremukh . Boy, the snaps were a feast for the eyes !
Thanks mate for reading through.

Well we still thanks our stars and deities that the trip went well without any untoward incident. As per my interaction with the locals there from the safety point of view itís more to do with no network connectivity which can cause big issues in case of breakdown. With snakes around in plenty during the monsoons and smaller canines like foxes/jackals can be dangerous. We sighted a few along the way.

The petrol bunk attendant who guided me through the Sringeri to Kalasa via Agathgandi route was most probably not a local I guess. Even the hotel manager was of the same opinion that area around Hassan, Chikmaglur were pretty safe unless you have a breakdown or encounter wild animals.

Anyway we have been planning our trips much better now. We try to start as early as possible and make to the destination before its dark. There have been few instances where I had to drive after evening but mostly they were known places connecting major cities on national highways.
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Old 18th March 2016, 15:48   #9
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Default Re: Pun-toured : The Beautiful Western Ghats

Nice Travelogue with plenty of great snaps. With Punto you have shown gusto
Western Ghats is always mesmerizing especially after the monsoon.
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Old 18th March 2016, 16:07   #10
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Originally Posted by nibedk View Post

Isckon Temple near Bangalore

Attachment 1486859
I guess its the Isckon temple near Anantapur, not Bangalore.

Personally feel September is one of the best times to visit Kudremukh and places around. Nice travelogue.

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Old 18th March 2016, 19:04   #11
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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

For that nice weekend reading. If it does not rain, see those snaps and expect some!
@ ampere. With the onset of summers I do not think we will be seeing rain anytime soon. Well this goes to my "VISIT AGAIN" list. There is so much to do in Kudremukh with guided tours being provided for trekking and camping. My daughter is just too young now to do all this. We plan to visit there again when she can be a part of such adventure.

Originally Posted by venkatt1800 View Post
Fantastic first post, NibedK. Thanks to the almighty and the dependable Punto for taking to your stay safely. Sakleshpur ghats, even during day time is a nightmare to drive & Sringeri to Kalasa via Agathgandi is a route not frequented even by local Karnataka cabs. Surely, someone up there took care of your family both those nights. Thanks for once again reaffirming the qualities of Fiat vehicles. Hope people keep such articles in their mind when they choose their next car. Though you did not plan the drive timings well, you chose the right time of the year to visit Kudremukh. Boy, the snaps were a feast for the eyes!
@ venkatt1800. Mate Western Ghats are treat for eyes. Recently did Valparai trip and I long to go back to these places again. My wife loved both these places and we plan to visit at least one place in the Western Ghats every year.

As a Fiat owner I always hope the car sales actually does justice to these wonderful cars. But unfortunately the dwindling sales and dealership closing frequently is a cause of concern. I hope Jeep launch and the new Fiat cars expected to be launched in 2017 will revive Fiat as a brand. Till MJDs continue to be India's national engine not much to worry though if the city where one is staying has a Fiat service center. FASS isn't as bad as it is made out to be. In my ownership of 32 K kms in 20 months I had good service experience.

Yes we have been planning our drives much better now but mostly anything beyond 800 kms will usually result in an after dark arrival @ destination. So itís more of knowing your way well and planning or else taking a break before itís too late. But in that case you end of losing valuable time if one is on a short trip. We have been able to manage it somewhat better for most of the trips after this.

Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
Nice Travelogue with plenty of great snaps. With Punto you have shown gusto
Western Ghats is always mesmerizing especially after the monsoon.
@Prowler. Thanks mate for being patient enough to read through the long post. Well once you have a Fiat @ home the itch to travel is just uncontrollable. We have had multiple trips since getting the Punto and have already piled on 32 K kms on the odo doing just weekend short trips and long road trips

Originally Posted by P21 View Post
I guess itís the Isckon temple near Anantapur, not Bangalore.

Personally feel September is one of the best times to visit Kudremukh and places around. Nice travelogue.

@P21 yes you are correct itís near Anantapur. Itís on the way to Bangalore on the NH7 and hence I wrote so. Yes just after monsoon is the best time to visit Western Ghats. Its lush green everywhere and is so soothing to eyes. It would mostly be raining during September and if one is ready to risk driving on the ghats he/she will be rewarded handsomely. Going in a group would be fine but not worth risking with family on board I guess.
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Old 18th March 2016, 19:15   #12
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Default Re: Pun-toured : The Beautiful Western Ghats

Nice travelogue with lots of beautiful pictures. I did the western ghats in May 2015 and Kudremukh was equally good at that time of the year - mesmerizing.

Agree with you on better planning of trip. We also need to have buffer for the driving time due to ghat road - which the place is full of - otherwise you'll quickly run out of time. Luckily for us we were on more than one car.
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Old 18th March 2016, 21:19   #13
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Default Re: Pun-toured : The Beautiful Western Ghats

Brilliant write-up coupled with amazing snaps, nibedk!

I drove the Sakleshpur Ghats just 4 days back. The roads aren't that bad IMO (despite covering the stretch in my "down-to-earth" Civic). Except for the Oil Tankers coming from Mangalore, the traffic was minimal. I did cover it during the day though. Pretty sure the night drive would've been terrifying.
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Old 19th March 2016, 05:18   #14
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Please cover your number plate for safety reasons . Great travelogue . Thanks for sharing
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Old 19th March 2016, 05:40   #15
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Default Re: Pun-toured : The Beautiful Western Ghats

The travelogue is great and the pictures have got me all interested in that route.
The Punto looks marvellous as usual and has proved itself yet again. The class leading ground clearance and suspension have shone through in your travel.
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