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Old 29th September 2009, 17:45   #1
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Default Bangalore - Sakleshur roadtrip and Devagiri Retreat review/warning!

5AM, Bangalore
1 Machismo 500LB
1 STD 350
1 Fazer
1 Santro

Departure from Marathalli towards Nelamangala. Promptly get stuck in a
truck snare in Peenya at about 6AM. Manage to break free and take a left
at Nelamangala onto NH4 towards Mangalore. Road condition is so-so. Take
a break for breakfast at Shark Food Camp on the highway. Excellent
masala dosas and idlis, polished off with a couple of cups of coffee.
Resume trip after this 45 minute break. Heavy roadworks in progress for
the first 60-70kms. Lots of diversions. Road conditions alternate
between really bad and really good.

At around 10AM we have our first breakdown. Friend's Bullet runs out of
oil. We go and buy 20w40 CRB Plus diesel engine oil and an hour later
are on our way again. Finally enter Sakleshpur and try to find Devagiri
Retreat, our place of stay for 2 nights. Have tons of fun on the
twisties from Sakleshpur town to the Retreat. Only gripe is that road
conditions fluctuate wildly within metres, making smooth riding

Finally find the Retreat. Its 2PM and we're ravenous. Have some
difficulty arranging proper accommodation. The place is expecting six of
us to stay in two bedrooms on triple-occupancy basis. No way was that
ever going to happen. We're offered what's called the "Old House" (as
opposed to the New House, which was really nice and had a kitchen,
modern bathrooms and a TV) which was like a dungeon servant quarters
with single beds. Creepy! We ask them to provide extra mattresses for
the two bedrooms in the New House and they agree. Finally, we end up
with two guys sleeping on extra beds in the loft, without an attached
bathroom or even cupboards! This was upsetting but the sight of
home-cooked food soon made us forget about it.

At night we asked for the campfire and barbecue. Got the fire started
but no BBQ. We broke out the drinks and kicked back. Had a great night.
Were joined by a couple from Bangalore. Poor people were staying in the
Old House. Dinner was good.

Next day, we shake off our collective hangovers and depart on the
rail-line trek. It is the most gruelling walk of our lives. The weather
is hot. However, the adventure of being outdoors and the scenic vistas
allow us to trek 13 kms. Refreshed ourselves at one of the many
waterfalls along the way. Went through a few tunnels - have never been
in a darker place in my life. We kept some coins for the trains to run
over. Excellent souveniers from the trip.

Made our way back to the Retreat in time for a late lunch. Dead tired.
Kick back the rest of the day. Usual campfire in the evening. Ask for
BBQ. No BBQ. They will fry some chicken for us to have with our drinks
instead. Turns out the chicken "fry" was actually the chicken curry we
were meant to have for dinner. We were really pissed-off by this. Mood
was made better by people swapping scary stories. Creepy jungle noises
added to the plot.

Headed back to the house for dinner at about midnight. Turns out that
the quantity of chicken is really less since they served it as a snack
to us three hours before! Really stupid.

Watch some TV. Sleep.

Get up peacefully next day. Get ready to depart by 10AM. Call up the
dude who booked the place for us. He isin't available. Speak to his
daughter. Tell her we want a discount since a bunch of stuff he had
promised us was not delivered. She asks us to make an offer. Original
price - Rs 1500/- per head per night. We quote Rs 800/- instead. She
says she cannot offer a discount more than Rs 250/- without asking her
Dad. We ask her to call us back ASAP since we wanted to hit the road. 30
mins and no word. Call her back and phone is switched off!

We collect Rs 9600/- and tell the people at the house that this is all
we think the place is worth. If they can get the marketing guy to turn
on his phone we can discuss it else we're off. They complain. We are
almost out the door when the agent calls on the landline. Heated
argument begins with him claiming that homestays are "like that only".
Bull. We ask him to justify his lies about the location but he starts
playing the "bhaigiri" card - "I know you city types. You think you can
leave without paying. I know people in Bangalore. I can get the money
recovered. Bla bla." We're super-pissed off now. Ask him to contact us
in Bangalore since he seems to own the town. The owners start playing
the regional card with our one friend who is a Kannamallu
(Kannadiga+Mallu) who speaks Kannada - "Don't come with these north
Indians. They never pay and always run off". We leave. Bad taste in

The list of things he promised us in our package but that did not exist
1. Mini-lake - There wasn't even a puddle there.
2. BBQ - No BBQ on either night.
3. Accommodation - Triple-occupancy? Really? Call me homophobic but I
will not get in bed with two other guys. Even if they are good friends.
4. Unlimited wood-fired hot water in bathrooms - My room's bath had a
shower out of which only 3 freezing needles of water came out.
5. On more than one occasion food was repeated/leftovers were served. We
were fine with this to a certain extent but when we got the same sambar
the third time it was the limit.
6. TV channels were not available even though the dude promised us that
they had a working TATASky connection. Only when we reached we found out
that they hadn't subscribed to any of the sports channels even though we
had told him a week before that we wanted to watch footy, F1 and
cricket. They managed to get the channels working before it was too late
but not before we had to make a bunch of phone calls. United beat Stoke
so atleast that ended well.
7. Guide for the trek - some guy pointed us in the right direction. Meh.

Anyway, on our way back now. Fuel up and leave. Stop for lunch at a
dhaba called Vidhata something or the other. Order a couple of dishes
and rotis. An hour later and still no food except some starters. Go to
the kitchen and its empty! Furious, we pay for the starters and leave.
Another sour experience. Bikers continued while the car stopped at CCD
to get take-away sandwiches. Ride goes well. We take detour onto Magadi
main road to avoid Peenya madness. It is biking heaven! The road is
perfect and the locale is beautiful. Seems like the trip will end on a
really happy note.

Horror. My Bullet dies. Blown fuse. Whew. Easy fix. Or not. Replaced
fuse blows in 2 seconds of connecting it. Short circuit. In the middle
of nowhere. Called my friends back. Freewheel downhill to a garage.
Electrician bypasses the fuse and provides a direct connection. Will
probably set the entire wiring on fire but is the only way the bike
would start. We're cautioned by multiple people including my Bullet mech
and other gurus to keep the load on the electricals as low as possible
to prevent any further mishaps. No horns. Turns out the switchgear for
the headlight assembly is causing the short. Electrician tapes the
dipper flasher to the ON position. I can see that the glare is blinding
my friend who is leading. He asks me to turn off the light as he cannot
see. No horns. No headlights. Brake lights are the only things working.
Ask one friend to lead and another to trail while the car provides
illumination. Drive 70kms in this state. Entered NICE road. Progress is
good. Horror again. Bike coughs and falls into reserve. 30kms range.
Need to do much more to get out at Bannerghatta Road. Talk to NICE
officials who give us a 30 min window to get off NICE, get fuel and get
back on.

Ride on to Mysore highway. Indian Oil pump on left. Ride up. They try a
short-fueling trick I had read about in a thread here. I show them two
hundred rupee notes and ask them to fill for that amount. Dude fills for

fifty and pretends to put the dispenser back into the cradle. I yell at
him. Ask him to look at the notes and fill properly. He says, "Oh ok,
I'll fill Rs 150 more." I'm sitting there going "I know what you're
doing, you turd". Stops the counter at Rs 150. I ask him to go on till
Rs 200. Says he reset it after the first Rs 50. I coolly put the money
back in my wallet and asked him to not think that city people are fools.
Realising that the game was up they fill up for the correct amount. Gave
them a piece of my mind. Suddenly they cannot speak Hindi after speaking
in it for 5 mins. Fools.

Get back on NICE. Friends escort me till my home. Get drenched on ORR,
just 10 kms from home. Hands are trembling as I remove my saddle bags.
Enter my home to a loving wife and a warm dinner.

Was the most fun I've had in a long time. The trip had a little bit of
everything - good and bad, just like life. However, please stay away
from Devagiri Retreat or atleast set up a proper communication channel
before making any bookings. The Suresh chap is not to be trusted.

Pics to follow.
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Old 29th September 2009, 20:02   #2
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Why don't you name this place as well , I have noticed this trend of cheating is increasing basically the laid back work culture and non professionalism is the bane in these parts.

EDIT : Noticed the thread title says it Devgiri retreat
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Old 29th September 2009, 21:08   #3
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Post the Pics and thanks for the warning.
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Old 29th September 2009, 21:14   #4
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Very well described travelogue Bluu, reminded me of my good old 'biking' days ! Would still love to 'ride' but do not see any opportunity forthcoming ! Waiting for the pics as promised !
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Old 1st October 2009, 09:04   #5
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Thanks for the warning!! We have planned to go there this weekend now this makes me think twice about it. Can you let me know if the location and place of the homestay is anything to wow about or is it just a old bungalow?
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Old 1st October 2009, 10:56   #6
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Though you have provided name of the homestay in the title, details like addr, contact etc are missing in the story. Can you please provide more details for all to keep a tab. My overall experience with homestays is very positive, but this sounds very bad. Having no barbique can be excused, but less food and sharing beds is unacceptable
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Old 1st October 2009, 12:05   #7
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Originally Posted by superamerica View Post
Thanks for the warning!! We have planned to go there this weekend now this makes me think twice about it. Can you let me know if the location and place of the homestay is anything to wow about or is it just a old bungalow?
If you are planning not to go there, I can suggest you some other Homestay near Sakleshpura, But PM me if you are interested.
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Old 1st October 2009, 14:14   #8
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This is a true adventure, where things just go out of hand when every thing seems fine!

Well Mr. Murphy! You are always right !

Reminds of my college times, when I had to hop overnight buses and pick-up trucks from Londa to Karwar with hardly 50/- in my pocket. But yes, these things do help in making us stronger for the next big thing, which is round the corner.

Waiting for the pictures.
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