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Old 4th January 2010, 15:13   #1
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Default My Year end drive to yet another Coffee Country

Christmas and New Year's day on Fridays; Office closed for Dec 28th on account of Muharram - that meant a 4 day leave would give me a 11 day break from office. Time for a vacation. A drive to Kudremukh from Chennai with a vacation in that area had been on the cards for a few seasons now. Here is the build up to this trip.

13 Nov: 4 plans made.
Plan 1 – Chennai – Delhi – Rishikesh – Delhi – Agra – Delhi – Chennai. Of this Chennai-Delhi-Chennai was planned by Air / Train.
Plan 2 – Same as above but go to Mussourie from Rishikesh and then return back to Delhi.
Plan 3 – Chennai – Bangy – Chikmagalur – Sringeri – Mangalore – Bangy – Chennai. This would be a road trip like last year.
Plan 4 – Chennai – Karaikudi – Rameswaram – Kanyakumari – Trivandrum – Alappuzha – Coimbatore – Chennai. Again by car.

15 Nov: Plan reviewed. 1 and 2 vetoed citing financials + logistics (stay at Delhi was a challenge as my uncle’s new house would not be ready in time). 4 was also vetoed as wifey felt it would be hectic (she doesn’t enjoy being on the road most of the time during her vacation). So Plan 3 was approved at last. Time to do my research on the net.

20 Nov: A few Resorts and homestays shortlisted – Chikmagalur seems to be full of Homestays. Mails were sent to at least 10 of them querying availability. Posted route query on TBHP and got a few prompt responses. (Refer my thread http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...need-help.html (Year end trip to Kudremukh area - need help))

23 Nov: Few responses received over the weekend – some positive some negative. After some more research narrowed down on Prakruthi Holidays and Getaway Homestays. Packages for 4N/5D were quoted at around 20-24k all inclusive (Accommodation + 3 Meals + unlimited coffee!)

24 Nov: Stumbled upon Koffeewoods Homestay near Mudigere. A call to the owner Mrs. Kavya Sampath indicated that this could be the place – at 1500 per person per night it appeared to be a good bargain. However during the discussions she indicated that their policy always was to book only one customer at a time and since we were just 3 + a kid, she would have to get back to me on the rates. She turned out to be a very resourceful person with a lot of suggestions on places to visit and the drive up to their homestay. Promised to get back to her the next day to confirm.

25 Nov: Confirmed to Mrs.Kavya that I will take it and was surprised when she said she will stick to the same rates and to her policy as well. Now that was a steal – I get the entire 3 BR guest house for just Rs.4500/- day. She will get back to me on the advance and the mode of payment.

26 Nov: When I informed wifey about the deal she was a little skeptical and wanted me to confirm again. So one more call to Mrs. Kavya and booking was confirmed. No need to look for accommodation any more – she assures me. About advance payment she assures me that there is no hurry and I can pay it by Mid Dec. Looks like I will have a pleasant experience!

01 Dec: Car sent for a check – Wheels balanced and aligned. Tires rotated as one of the front tires was worn out more than the other.

08 Dec: Got an opportunity today to drive on an open road. Aaargh…. At 80 kmph and on the 5th gear the car shuddered and vibrated like a dog shivering in rain. That was scary – I was worried that the clutch problem had resurfaced. A quick call to Ignite and fixed up an appointment for 11 Dec 09.

11 Dec: Turns out that the front left tire was bad and the wheel was out of balance. I did not suspect it to be the cause as the wheels had been balanced only recently. Decide to change the tires – at least 2 of them (spare tire already had a patch on the sidewall and I was not comfortable doing a long distance with that tire.

12 Dec: Went to a few tire shops and ended up at Majestic at Egmore. Stuck a deal for 4 Yoko A drives 175/65 R14 @ 13440 which included balancing also. Got a credit of 1000 for the old shoes which included the side wall damaged one as well as the one that caused the problem. Turned out that this one had an out of balance of over 80gms!! Tires changed – all set for my drive now.

14 Dec to 18 Dec: A throat infection worsens into a bad cough – Kids are also down with similar infections. Wifey gets a mild Asthma attack. A trip to the doc reveals that it is a viral infection that will stay for 2-3 weeks!! Will I have to call off my trip?

18 Dec: Boss wants me to travel to Bangy next week to resolve an attrition crisis as well as attend a workshop. Another threat for the trip. But after some quick discussions and bargaining, the trip is scheduled just for a day on 22nd. Am worried – Bangy had some recent cases of Swine Flu and am already not in my best of health because of the infection. To add to it I will have to travel by bus. Hope I will not have to call off my vacation.

21 Dec: My brother who was not sure of making it confirms that he will join us – but a day late. Another quick call to the Homestay – yes they are fine with it.

23 Dec: Back in Chennai in one piece. But the viral infection still stays. Kids are a bit better with their exams also done. Being my last day in office before the long absence there was quite a bit to do and I was able to wrap up by 8.00 PM only. Did some last minute shopping for USB drives (to load music) and Batteries and reached home only to find that wifey had just started packing. After a quick dinner I join her in packing and by the time we are done it is past mid night. By now my cold is bad – I hope it doesn’t worsen further. Have to get up tomorrow morning at 6.00 AM - plan to leave home by 7.00 AM. Good night.

Last edited by cnaganathan : 4th January 2010 at 15:16.
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Old 4th January 2010, 15:35   #2
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Nice start. A teaser photo would have been even better. Waiting for rest of the log.
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Old 4th January 2010, 15:41   #3
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I remember your travel queries. Good that you were able to make it. I hope you all had a good time at Chikmaglur !
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Old 4th January 2010, 16:03   #4
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Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
Nice start. A teaser photo would have been even better. Waiting for rest of the log.
Thanks Arindam. Unfortunately my camera conked after a few pix and all I could manage were taken using my mobile (3.2 mega) and my camcorder (2.3 mega). My son has shot a roll on his SLR film camera which is yet to be processed. Will be borrowing a few from my brother - will upload soon. here are some that I think have come out okay.

1. Bird's Nest
2. Hoemstay's entrance
3. An unexpected Visitor
4. My queen after the rains
5. Stone Chain - Belur
6. The City in Ruins - Halebidu
7. The Gang
8. Aah... Coffeeeee
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Last edited by cnaganathan : 4th January 2010 at 16:07.
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Old 4th January 2010, 17:29   #5
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Hi

We were also in Belur-Halebidu on 26th ?,
Your photographs have come very nice

i hope you will continue with your travelogue and post more details about your experiences at Chikmagalur.

thanks,
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Old 5th January 2010, 12:57   #6
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Even with mobile photos have come out nice. Please continue to treat us.
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Old 5th January 2010, 18:49   #7
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@Arindam - Thanks. In fact 1 and 8 were only shot on my mobile. Rest were shot using the 2.3MP still option in my camcorder!

@StarVegabond - We went to Belur on Return trip only on 30th. With so many TBHPians talking of taking that Route on 25th I was hoping to come across at least a few of them. Probably I had too late a start to meet with any of them.

All, been a busy day today (1/5). Will try and update at least Day 1 before EOD.
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Old 6th January 2010, 00:46   #8
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Looks like you failed to keep the commitment.

Or have I predicted too early?
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Old 6th January 2010, 11:00   #9
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Default Day 1 - Dec 24 2009

Quote:
Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
Looks like you failed to keep the commitment.

Or have I predicted too early?
Sorry. When I reached home elder son was waiting for me to help him with his assignment. By the time that was done, I was too tired to do anything but sleep.

Here is Day 1 for you.

24 Dec: 5:00 AM Alarm rings. Wifey gets up has her bath and settles down to do her yoga. I snuggle back into the pillow promising her that I will sleep just for a few minutes and will get ready before she is done with her practice. Don’t worry, even the children will be ready – I promise her. A little while later, I wake up with a start to see that it is already 6.30 AM and I hear her finishing off her practice with her chanting. I rush into the bath but still get caught. The next 30-45 minutes was full of shouts and screams with the children being woken up and hurried through their baths. Fortunately my cold hasn’t worsened.

7.30 AM – All aboard ready to go and my queen rolls off the porch. Just as we are exiting the complex, we realize that the naariyal and phool mala are at home – Sonny Senior was to ensure that it is onboard. Wifey runs back to apartment to fetch it. 10 minutes later we are on the road to seek the blessings of lord Ganesha at a nearby temple.

8.30 AM: At last we are on Poonamallee Road towards Bangy – full 90 minutes behind schedule. Reached Motel Highway by 9.00 AM for breakfast – a quick affair done in 20 minutes. Not much traffic today and was able to cross the first toll booth at Nemili by 9.50 AM. That was when I noticed that the car had a tendency to drag to the left and I had to drive with the steering turned to the right a bit. Made a mental note to get it corrected as soon as I reach Bangy. With filled tummies there was no need to pull over till we reached Hosur which we did at around 1.30 PM to tank up the queen. She wasn’t very thirsty and needed only 15 litres – hmmm an impressive 20.25 kmpl.

Somewhere after Vellore the sedimenter light started glowing on and off – probably some water in the fuel!!. Will have to wait till Bangy to drain it. And then a little later the remote for my central locking system started misbehaving. It would suddenly unlock all doors. I had recently changed the battery and this was the first time I was using it. Fortunately I had brought the alternate key also along. Pulled over, removed the battery from this one and then continued the journey with the alternate key.

2.45 PM: Reached my younger brother’s house at ITPL Road, Whitefiled driving through Attibelle and Varthur. After a sumptuous lunch he and I drove down to Tyre Empire on Whitefiled Main Road near Varthur Road Junction to get the alignment checked. It turned out that all angles were off the mark. Got them corrected and did a TD - steering felt better now. Got into the mechanic’s pit and drained the sedimenter with his help. And yes there was a little bit of water in there.

Got back home and spent some time with my cuddly 7 month old niece before dinner at Chung Wha near Hope Farm Junction. Got back home at 10.30 and hit the bed straight away. Brother is also driving out to Wayand tomorrow for his vacation. A quick discussion before bed and it was concluded that we will have breakfast and target to leave at 7.30 AM. Good night now. And here are some pix of my Niece.

Oops! Almost forgot to mention the moron in a Swift Dezire somewhere before Ambur who would tag along till much after Krishnagiri. This guy would drive at almost my speed and do maneuvers that were scary at 90-95 kmph. The first time I came across him was near one of the Toll booths when he cut across my path in the last minute to enter my lane ahead of me. The next incident was when he was ambling along in the middle lane and I decided to overtake him as well as a slow moving truck ahead of him on the same lane. Just as I was closing in at around 90 kmph, this guy cuts into my lane without any warning or turn indications forcing me to slam my brakes a bit and curse. But I was quick to calm down and decided to slow down and lose sight of him. But 15 minutes later he was again visible and appeared to be moving slowly waiting for me to catch up. Thereafter he would overtake me and allow me to overtake him after a few minutes. I stuck to my self imposed speed limit of 90-95 kmph and ignored him. Thank god I finally lost him somewhere near Shoolagiri.

In fact it reminded me of how one of our folks had a bad experience sometime back racing with a Skoda and ending up with a big scratch later when they had parked alongside the racer at a wayside restaurant.
Attached Thumbnails
My Year end drive to yet another Coffee Country-1224_185626.jpg  

My Year end drive to yet another Coffee Country-1224_185701.jpg  

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Old 6th January 2010, 13:16   #10
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Default Day 2 - Dec 25, 2009

Got up at 6.30 AM and was ready by 7.15 AM. By the time everyone was ready for Breakfast it was 8.30 AM. Over Breakfast brother and I discussed the route options out of Bangalore for me. After a lot of deliberations I decided to take NICE Road and on through Magadi Road from there. He assured me that that’s the fastest I can get out of city at that hour. But then I was not sure of how to reach NICE road quickly. So I decided to tail him. In hindsight that was a lousy decision. Little did I know then that my day of errors had just begun…
At last we rolled out of his apartment at 9.40 AM – a full 3 hr delayed start. He led the way through Old Airport Road, Richmond Road, Lalbagh, Kanakpura Road to reach NICE Road. And in between he stopped for refueling as well. So by the time we entered NICE Toll plaza it was 11.15 AM. Paid the Toll up to Magadi Road and stepped on the pedal. In less than 15 minutes we exited NICE and got on to Magadi Road which had a bit of traffic. Time to switch on the GPS in my Moto A1600. I had the cords for my destination saved already and therefore set my GPS and moved on.

Drive till Magadi was peaceful. As I entered Magadi, I saw a large double road branching off to my right as I crossed what looked like the ruins of a fort. Now because all signboards were in Kannada, I did not realize that I had reached Magadi. Ignoring my GPS, I pulled over to a Nariyal Paani shop and asked an old man the way to Magadi and he pointed to the double road. I made a U turn and entered the double road. A few 100 mts and two turns later the double road abruptly ended in a narrow road that led to a Bus Terminus. Now the road beyond this was even narrower and the doubting Tom in me woke up. I pulled over next to an Auto and asked the Driver “Bhai Saab Magadhi (that was how I thought it was pronounced) kaise Jaana hai?” Auto driver stared at me for some time then asked “Magadi?” I nodded in the affirmative. His next reply stuck me like a bolt “Sir, Idhe Magadi”. With my little knowledge of Kannada I understood what he said and with a sheepish grin asked “Kunigal kaise jaana hai”. By now a hindi speaking driver joined us and informed me that I had to go back where I entered the double road and continue on the road I had earlier taken. Wifey “well you should have listened to your GPS. After all it seems to be right”. On the way we pulled over at a roadside market to buy some fresh Carrots. Looks like this place is pretty famous as I could see a lot of vehicles pulling over for the veggies. From there on till we reached NH48 the drive was peaceful.

Construction and road widening is still in progress on NH48 and our progress was slowed down with the holiday traffic. By 1.30 PM we managed to reach Jwalamala HP pump before CR Patna that had a Café Coffee Day as well. Tummies filled, Bladders emptied and my Queen’s Tank filled (12.85 Lits – 18.5 kmpl average since Hosur) we were on road again at 2.30 PM. Just before leaving the pump I called up Mrs.Kavya to confirm our location. GPS showed another 168 kms to destination and I estimated that it will take 3 more hours at least. And that was when she asked me if we would like the chicken with curry or Fried or tandoor style. Chicken? No we were vegetarians!! Learnt later that evening that she had bought around 6kilos for our stay and ended up giving it away to her workers.
Entered Hassan @ 3.00 PM and got lost a bit at what looked like the main Chowki – thanks to my GPS buddy and my over enthusiastic son who was now riding in the front. After a few minutes of heated exchanges wifey took over the front seat and we took the help of a policeman who drew the map for the route out of Hassan. Soon we were on Belur Road which was a welcome change from NH48. By 4.00 PM we had crossed Belur and I was driving with the GPS guiding me. At Belur I tried to reach the Homestay but their phones were not reachable. Since we were on track as per my GPS, we moved on towards Chikmagalur and passed the Yagachi dam. With another 12 kms to reach Chikmagalur, Mrs. Kavya calls us and tells me that I had taken the wrong road out of Belur. This would mean an additional 25 kms of driving – that means another 30 minutes of driving. We will still be on time. I assure her that it is alright and continue on towards CKM which we reached by 4.40 PM. Again we were lost as we did not know how to go to Mudigere. Pulled over at a chai pani shop where another Indica driver was asking for directions. When my turn came, the shopwala smiled and said “woh gaadi bhi udhar he jaa rahi hai. Uskey peeche hi jaana”. But then this guy was more confused and took a wrong turn and started enquiring again. Had I been faithful to my GPS, I would have gone the right way. I waited for my GPS buddy to replot the route and then followed his instructions. The next 30 minutes we drove through some winding roads that had dense forests and some amazing plantations and reached Mudigere. Time for another call to my host – she confirms that we are on track and tells me we will take another 20 minutes to reach.

By now Wifey has started complaining about spending the whole day confined to the car and my little one keeps asking “Appa when will we reach Chikmagalur” like a scratched LP record over and over. 10 minutes gone and we reached a small hamlet with the board saying Horatti. Pulled over to call up Ms.Kavya for further directions – and lo no signals. That was when I remembered her warning – Airtel does not work beyond Mudigere. How I wish I had bought a Cell One prepaid before starting from Chennai. Now what?? Looked around the half a dozen shops and found a working coin phone. Luckily I had some one rupee coins too and called her up. The homestay was just 10 kms away. Her hubby Mr.Sampath will wait for us in his Red Maruthi at Banakal which was 7 kms away. 10 mins later we pulled into Banakal town and located the Red Maruti 800 across the road. Mr.Sampath waved to me, took a U turn and signaled me to follow him. All of us let out a big sigh of relief and I followed him like a lamb following the shepherd.

Just outside Banakal town we crossed a bridge and saw a clean steep road climbing off to the right into the hills. “How nice it will be if the road to the estate is something like that” the words had just escaped my mouth when I saw the right turn indicators flashing on Sampath’s car and he turned on to that road. Both my sons are always thrilled about such roads and started shrieking in joy. Up we went and a few 100 meters later and half way up the good road vanished. For the next km, it was a bouncy climb through a potholed track. We passed through a village after which the road was a bit better again. By now it was dark and we were not sure how much more of the road lay ahead. Then all of a sudden, Sampath’s right turn indicators came on again and what we turned into was nothing but a dirt track. The next 500 mts or so would have been cheese cake for an SUV or a 4WD but for my baby it was nothing short of treachery. She scraped her bottom at a few places and one of them resulted in ripping off the sedimenter’s plastic guard partially off.

6.45 PM: at last we reached the Estate Bungalow – Koffeewoods to a warm reception by a smiling hostess. She took us around the bungalow while the servants were unloading our luggage. It had three bedrooms – one for me and wifey, one for my brother and his wife and one for the 4 kids. Great – but wait – what is this – only one attached bath and just one more common bath for the other 2 bedrooms? Wifey was completely put off and started complaining. 30 minutes later she reconciled and said that she will not let this upset the entire vacation. Since both our phones were out of network range, I borrowed their phone and made a quick call home to inform the rest of the family of our safe arrival. By now it was dinner time and we had a sumptuous dinner of Ghee Rice with Khorma, Rice, Rasam and Curds. Food was a little spicy and Kavya agreed to tone it down. Hope tomorrow will be better day…. It better be.

Sorry no pix today – I was so busy driving that I did not even bother to capture any of the wayside vistas!!
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Old 6th January 2010, 15:21   #11
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hey CN, I was driving to CKM on the same route that day and I think I crossed your car between Belur and CKM - you have a t-bhp sticker on the rear bumper left side? I remembered your queries earlier posted and even guessed it might have been you I stayed at Texwoods - a resort inside Muthodi forest reserve, 'll post the adventures soon.
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Old 6th January 2010, 17:12   #12
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Originally Posted by KESriram View Post
hey CN, I was driving to CKM on the same route that day and I think I crossed your car between Belur and CKM - you have a t-bhp sticker on the rear bumper left side? I remembered your queries earlier posted and even guessed it might have been you I stayed at Texwoods - a resort inside Muthodi forest reserve, 'll post the adventures soon.
I have stickers all over - In fact I was the first nut here to stick all the 10. Bad that we did not get an opportunity to meet. I was in fact looking out for cars with TBHP stickers - but unfortunately did not come across even one in the entire trip.
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Old 6th January 2010, 17:47   #13
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Default Day 3: Dec 26 2009

Today was a lazy day. Got up at 8.30 AM and my cold is still bothering me. After a cup of steaming hot coffee we started exploring the estate. The forecourt had a Volleyball court and a small open air Shuttle badminton court. There was a small lawn as well as a hut that served as open air dining space. This hut had a lookout on top of it from where you could view all around the estate. Coffee plants were all around with lot of berries in different stages of ripening. Later we heard from our hosts that this year the crop was good except for unseasonal rains that hampered early rounds of harvesting. While wife was at her yoga, my older son and I went around the plantation along with Mr. Sampath.

After a heavy breakfast of Akki Rotis and chutney, we got down to a few games of shuttle badminton before a trip to the river nearby. My brother called in the meanwhile confirming that they had left Bangy and were on their way towards Magadi. My Nikon digicam in the meantime conked off after I managed a few shots. Darn….I have to now use my mobile and the 2.3MP camera on my Handycam only.

The river was a 1 km trek through the plantations and the river had clear cool water. With Mr.Sampath taking care of the younger one, wifey, I and the older one freaked out in the cool waters. However all that worsened my cold and by the time we got back and finished lunch I ended up with a splitting head ache. Took a pill for the headache and tried to catch some sleep when my Sis-in law woke me up with a call for directions through Hassan – 1.00 PM and they were already in Hassan. That means they will reach before 4.30 PM.

Sleep disturbed, I try to relax sitting on the porch and enjoying the cool breeze. What was that in the lawn darting its tongue??? Well our surprise visitor was a snake. Rushing inside, I grabbed my handycam and called on my older one to come and take a look. I managed a picture of the snake with its head a feet above the grass – one of my teasers. Sensing human presence the snake slithered off the lawn into the safety of a drain pipe below the lawn. I rushed off to share the news with my hostess. The Gardner declared hastily that it was a cobra and should be chased away. I stood on the other end of the lawn wanting to shoot few more pix as the snake exits while the gardener and the maid made attempts to pour pots of water down the drain to flush the reptile out. When the snake stayed put even after 3 pots of water, a hose was used to dump more water into the drain. At last he (or was it she?) came out and darted across the play area into the plantation – but not before I captured a close up of its head as well as a video of it darting across.

More on Day 3 to come but before that here are some pix from the story so far.
1. A view of the bungalow
2. The Hut
3. Lily in full bloom
4. The drive from the main entrance
5. Sampath and my younger one
6. Me trying fishing with wifey's duppatta
7. Older one trying his hand at ship building using paper
8. A close up portrait
9. Wifey and sons enjoying the river.
Attached Thumbnails
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My Year end drive to yet another Coffee Country-imga0098.jpg  

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Last edited by cnaganathan : 6th January 2010 at 17:52.
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Old 6th January 2010, 18:35   #14
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Originally Posted by cnaganathan View Post

.....The Gardner declared hastily that it was a cobra and should be chased away. I stood on the other end of the lawn wanting to shoot few more pix as the snake exits while the gardener and the maid made attempts to pour pots of water down the drain to flush the reptile out. When the snake stayed put even after 3 pots of water, a hose was used to dump more water into the drain. At last he (or was it she?) came out and darted across the play area into the plantation – but not before I captured a close up of its head as well as a video of it darting across.
Looks like your surprise visitor is a harmless Rat snake.
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Old 6th January 2010, 18:43   #15
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Looks like your surprise visitor is a harmless Rat snake.
Yes. Thats what we found later when Mr. Sampath saw the pictures and the video. He was well informed on all these things.
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