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Old 3rd April 2010, 02:35   #1
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Default The South Circuit Run(AP-KA-TN-KER-TN-KA-AP)

Its been a while from the last trip and we were itching to do a long drive.The last long one was in Sep,2009 when we did a Hyd-Bom-Goa-Hyd circuit.After much deliberations,we decided that this time it would be the Hyd-Blr-Guruvayur-Ottapalam-Nelliyampathi-Pollachi-Coimbatore-Ooty-Blr-Hyd circuit.The only difference from the previous drives and now was that we had an additional 2yr old lady travelling with us,which meant diapers,food,water,clothes etc had to be factored in.Gone were the days of carefree driving and impulsive stopovers (But after the drive we realized that nothing much has actually changed in us-just that we had one more person who was equally mad!!)

D-Day was 12th Mar,Friday.We had decided to call it an early night the previous night so that we could catch up on a sufficient amount of sleep,but like it always happens before any long drive,the last minute preparations kept happening till 10 in the night and we were to leave at 3 in the morning the next day.

Bang on schedule,we were out of Sainikpuri at 330 and before we even knew it,we were over the PVNR Expressway and were speeding away on NH7 towards Kurnool.Have to admit it,the GMR guys are serious of whatever project they handle.The GMR Expressway is a delight to drive on.Fully 4 laned with bright reflectors all along and well marked pavements.Not for a second did we feel the strain on the eyes.The two ladies had by then cosied themselves in the back seat with pillows tucked in and blankets covering them.I was able to maintain a steady 90-100kmph on this stretch.Only later did I realize that I would be able to maintain the same speed throughout the 540km stretch thanx to NHAI who have done a wonderful job with the NH7.

By 6am we were whizzing past Kurnool,with the sun breaking through the clouds.Most of the towns are bypassed on NH7,except for Gooty which continues to be a mess.Refuellled at BP Ghar,Kurnool and continued on our way.I couldn’t believe that we actually covered Hyd-Kurnool in 2.5hours as we were so used to taking upto 4 hours for this stretch.The only problem and which has always been a problem on this highway is the lack of facilities for travelers.Not a single decent eating place,washrooms are virtually absent,the Ghars boast of having all facilities,but when you actually want to use them,you would end up saying that you are better off not using them seeing the sad and pathetic state of the washrooms.

Pit stop @ Gooty GHAR

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The green pastures started to give way to the drier and arid lands between Kurnool & Anantpur.4 Laning is still in progress on this 150km stretch,however the existing tarmac is excellent,the problem on this stretch is that there are well marked out pointers at the beginning of diversions,but the pointers at the end of the diversion are virtually absent and so one would end up driving on the wrong side of the road for a considerable amount of time,before one realizes what has happened.We had to navigate closed level crossings before Anantpur. We made good use of the closed gate by quickly feasting ourselves on the puris that we had stocked ourselves with from home.Once the gate was open we whizzed away.Call this optimization of resources in order to save time?

Before we knew it,we were crusing on the outskirts of Bengaluru mear Devanahalli airport.Traffic slowly began to get maddening and we knew Bengaluru was not far enough.We rushed past Yelahanka,Jakkur flying club,Sahakara Nagar before we reached the Hebbal flyover.Gammon has done a good job with the flyover,though they could have done with better directions and signboard before the flyover!

After Hebbal towards Mekhri circle,reality hits you hard on the face.Bumper to bumper traffic,smoke,pollution,heat-you name it and you have it.We decided to have lunch at a Mangalorean joint called Kudla(http://www.goldfinchhotels.com/) @ RT Nagar.By then tiredness began to set in.Food @ Kudla was nothing great to write about,pretty average fair and very highly priced,wouldn’t go back there for sure.

After lunch headed to our hotel which was home for the next two nights.We were booked in at the Iris([COLOR=#008000]www.irishotel.biz)[/COLOR] on Brigade road.Its a fairly new hotel,with all the modern trappings that one would expect in a hotel of this class.The rooms were a tad small.They called their room categories by different colours,but I really didn’t find anything majorly different.We were checked into the room and we crashed,on waking up we see that the room is all damp and wet and got to see the drainage was leaking,we were promptly “upgraded” to a different color.Service at the hotel was iffy,and all the staff gave me a feeling that they were all students scared of their headmaster(The GM!!).IMHO,Confident group would be better off doing their niche work which is construction,leave the hotels to the hoteliers?Place was a tad expensive as well.

Blore was our old haunt and still holds a special place in our hearts,we went around the city reliving our old memories,we were there for donkeys years,I guess those were the golden years of Bangalore.

We were pained to see the destruction in the name of development that the city is being subjected to.MG Road does not even bear a semblance of the old grandeur,it once had.It now looked like a king stripped off his royalty.The Bombay Store is gone,the lovely boulevard on MG road has disappeared.We spent many a evening doing nothing but sitting on the benches and looking at the crowd passing by on the pavements and todays its just a plain dusty construction dumpyard.

We decided to meet a friend at JP Nagar and little did we realize that it would take us two hours to reach JP Nagar from Brigade road.

Enroute,gulped on the everhgreen & everyummy death by chocolate & hot choc fudge sundae regular from Corner House(http://cornerhouse.in/) 9th Block Jayanagar.The CH @ Carlton towers was our favourite haunt but now sadly the place has closed down due to the fire,@ least some things like DBC still haven’t changed?,though we found that the price of DBC has been hiked as well by a full 100% in 4 years,DBC too has become for the elite sigh(I know I am sounding so very pessimistic sigh)
,enroute had a very funny experience.We stoppd by a toy shop at Jayanagar 4th Block and after billing I was shocked to see that I was charged for the batteries in the toy/I was charged for gift wrapping it,thank God I wasnt charged for the bag they gave me,all this when it was boldly written on the box (inclusive of 2 AA Batteries-something that I noticed later!!)

Next day after breakfast at the hotel and a couple more catch-ups with friends,we headed off to Mavalli Tiffin Rooms(MTR) @ Lalbagh,in my stay of more than 10 years at Blore never once did I have the fortune of eating there,simply because I did not have the patience to wait so long,but this time round since we were tourists,we decided to be patient and moreover,we had a friend who went early and took the tokens for us,sweet of him.Lunch was a never ending affair and after a more than hearty meal,we realized why people que up to eat in MTR.It truly was magnificent.

How MTR looks..@ Lalbagh Road

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Some more socializing and headed to the hotel to hit the sack for a couple of hours.After that evening was spent in mall hopping.Was amazed to see the UB City mall.Amazing business acumen,during my days,it was the UB Distellery there with the entire waste of the factory flowing into the city’s drains,and today the same distillery and buildings house one of the poshest malls in the city.Saw an interesting display in one of the shops there,where a parrot is supposedly outside the cage and the product is caged inside,cant remember the product

After a quick tour of the mall,frankly speaking,the atmosphere and people in the mall was pretty nauseating,we were off to Konark on Residency road to have some dosas with “Kempu Chutney beda”,it was a trademark saying during our college days.For the uninitiated,kempu means red,the dosas in K’nataka usually have a red chutney smeared inside them.Dosas were good and off we went back to the hotel,all set for the long drive next day morning.Did take a peek at Purple Haze pub,was happy to see that it still existed and that they still haven’t compromised on the music genre.

Next day morning all were up around 5 and we left the hotel at 7am.Breakfast stop was decided as A2B after Hosur.Since it was early morning,we were out of city limits quickly and before we knew it we were on the elevated road and zooming out of Blore.The elevated road is such a boon.But something really nasty on that road are the people who travel on the right tracks at 30-40,and these are educated office going public,who just continue to hold good their ground inspite of headlight flashes from my side,following which you are forced to overtake from the left.We were out of Elecns city in a jiffy and after which it was a breeze all the way.Instead of A2B,we stopped at Sri Krishna Bhavan at the HP Pump,food wasn’t all that great and some people were sitting and complaining of stale food etc,we didn’t spend too much time,quickly gobbled up and went our way.The road after that is pretty boring as its just plain long wide NH7,again the irritating factor and dangerous factor being local vehicles coming close to the median bang on the middle of the road,it is so darn dangerous and they care a hoot about oncoming vehicles.Pretty demented souls I must say.

Wrongside Driving

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The Road Ahead

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e stuck on to the Salem route and did not deviate from Thoppur,the road is excellent till we reached Avinashi after which it is the regular 2 lane NH47 with plenty of local traffic.One would lose quite a bit of time navigating from Avinashi to Coimbatore.We did not take the L&T bypass,instead went through the town as we had to meet a friend.We reached CBE at 1330(almost one hour extra due to Avinashi-CBE section)After Ukkadam,I was surprised to see that toll is still being collected on the L&T bridge at Kovaipudur,a meagre 8rs or so,but my strong hunch is that the time period for toll collection must be over as I remember it started some 15 years back.

We left Coimbatore at 6pm & after crossing into Kerala,we were greeted by the ever famous truck lines at Walayar.Its amazing the kind of revenue that is made at these CPs and yet they cannot do a thing to regulate traffic there,it took us a good 25minutes to clear Walayar and speed onto Guruvayur.We did a pit stop at Vadakkencherry for some coffee and ripe banana chips.To my surprise,I found the highway patrol guys standing with speed guns even at night around 8pm.They were treating it like a new found toy,but nevertheless if its serving the purpose then it’s a good deed.Atleast on Kerala highways one never feels alone thanx to the high population density and even the highway police were doing a decent enough job with their patrolling.

Jam @ CP(courtesy a local daily)

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Whizzed past Thrissur and we were on the Guruvayur road by 845pm and checked into the hotel at GVR around 915pm,needless to say we were all dead tired.

At Guruvayur,we had checked into a new place called Kanoos Residency.Very impressive place ,with modern rooms.Loved the big chandelier at the lobby.Its on east nada after the level crossing,walking distance to the temple.

The Corridor

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The King Bed Room

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The Twin bed room

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The Hotel facade

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The Reception

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The Imposing elevator & Floors

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After the hectic drive of the previous night,I gave up the idea of going for the early morning Nirmalyam & Vaagha Chaarthu darshan.

Next morning,we went to the temple around 7 and ended up standing in the que for 2.5hours,and once we got in,there was no more que?,God has his own ways I guess.The shirtless and sweaty bodies rubbing against each was not a pleasant experience definitelyGone are the days when we could just walk into the temple,from my childhood days I have been a regular there and I remember days when I used to just walk in through the doors and stay inside as long as I wanted...

Guruvayur Pictures(sourced from various trips)

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Had a good and satisfying darshan and we went back to the hotel for breakfast,after which we did a brief visit to the nearby temples of Venkatachalapathi & Parthasarathi.Lunch was at the hotel itself followed by a long siesta.Evening was again temple time and we went to the Mamiyoor temple and got back to the Guruvayur temple.We decided to give Punnathur Kota a miss this time.

Mamiyoor Temple

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Next day after breakfast,we left for Thiruvallakavu for our daughter’s “Ezhuthinnu iruthal”(commonly known as Vidyarambham)This particular temple at Cherpu,near Thrissur is famous for this ritual,one of the few temples where this ritual is performed throughout the year.Another speciality is that unlike the other temples where this ritual is performed,this temple has Lord Ayyappan as the deity.It was a very serene and beautiful temple and the whole ritual was over in half an hour’s time.Daughter had a wonderful first time experience with letters.

Tiruvallakavu ([COLOR=#008000]www.thiruvullakkavudevaswom.org)[/COLOR]

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Vidyarambam Ritual Pictures

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From here we decided to continue onto Koodalmanikyam Temple at Irinjalakuda,but unfortunately by the time we reached the temple,it was closed.

Koodalmanikyam Temple,Irinjalakuda ([COLOR=#008000]www.koodalmanikyam.com)(File photo)[/COLOR]

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From Irinjalakuda,our next stop was at Mangalamkunnu (near Cherplasserry,in Palakkad district)to visit the family home.Stayed there for a couple of days before moving on.

We paid our obeisance at the Pariyanampetta Kavu @ Mangalamkunnu near Cherplasserry in Palakkad district.A little bit of trivia,incidentally more than half of the elephants that are in Kerala are owned by a person(including the biggest tusker in Kerala-Mangalamkunnu Ganapathi) in Mangalamkunnu,almost close to 30 elephants.

Stayed for two nights at Mangalamkunnu(family visits etc),it also included a visit to Thirumaadhaam Kunnu Bhagavathy Temple(popularly known as the Angadipuram Temple)( Thirumanthamkunnu Temple - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

On the day of departure,we left Mangalamkunnu after breakfast,and it was decided to drive back to Coimbatore via Nelliyampathy(Nelliyampathy)

Random Pictures

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We went via Palakkad-Koduvayur-Nemmara-Pothundy Dam and then the climb upwards to Nelliyampathy.There is a Forest CP at Pothundy where one needs to sign off before proceeding,the dam was full and the climb was pretty picturesque,but with summer setting in,the land was parched but there was a coolness in the breeze,after a while one gets to see the orange orchards,probably the best time to go to Nelliyampathy is during or after the monsoons.The drive from Palakkad to Nelliyampathy took close to 2.5hours.

Signing @ Forest CP Pothundy

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Old 3rd April 2010, 03:22   #2
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Sights & Sounds enroute to Nelliyampathy & The Pothundi Dam

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The climb down is again via Pothundy-Nemmara,@ Nemmara we took a much wanted “Lime Sherbet” break,this is something unique to Kerala and I am yet to find this drink anywhere else in the country,it involves sugar syrup,lemon squeezed and mixed in plain soda,its an amazing concoction,the next time you are in Kerala ask for one.

From Nemmara instead of going back to Palakkad,we took the Nemmara-Kollengode-Govindapuram-Pollachi-Coimbatore route.The road from Pollachi to Coimbatore is a patience tester with dense traffic and no space for overtaking.

On reaching Coimbatore,we have this sudden brainwave that why not go via Ooty,just to beat all the heat that we had been taking in for so many days,we get onto the Coimbatore-Mettupalayam road and go via Coonoor.The road has all been repaired and the tarmac is as smooth as it was before..Coimbatore-Mettupalayam road is quite bumpy and bumper to bumper traffic as well.It took a good3 hours to reach ooty.

By then we had called up a friend and he had booked us in at Sherlock with a guarantee that we we would not be disappointed.This property is managed by the same people who run the Destiny Farmstay @ Avalanchi.Its run by the Little Earth group.Its situated on top of the topmost peak in Ooty called Tiger Hills and quite a spectacular view it had.It was an Englishman’s cottage which has now been renovated and refurbished but the old charm has still been retained.Ooty was cold at 5 degrees.Sherlock would easily qualify as one of the best stays in Ooty today with spectacular views,lovely cosy rooms with in room fire places,and excellent service.

For the next three days did nothing much but soaked in the cold and enjoyed numerous cups of coffee and on our return decided to indulge in some sin and paid a visit to Kings Chocolates on Commercial Road and packed up on chocolates,for the regulars,Kings has now opened up a new branch on the same road.The only Chinese place in town called Shinkos is now closed for renovation(they had a novel way of order taking,you are only required to tell them the index number of the dish which is mentioned in the menu,so no trying to pronounce complex tongue twisters!)

Sights & Sounds @ Sherlock

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We left Ooty around 7am,tanked up at the double storey HP pump on Pykara road and continued onwards.We took the Kalhatty road for our descent and as usual,the descent between the 7th & 9th hairpin is the most deceptive as it’s a steep incline on a seemingly straight plane,we could smell rubber all around with the brakes burning?

On entering we were lucky to spot a few peacocks and deers,the road was isolated except for this huge line of Bulleteers who were on a long drive from Goa to Bandipur,all foreigners and they had a support van which had all their luggage dumped in following them at the rear.We took a washroom break at the tourist reception area of Bandipur and continued on our way to Mysore.Roads are in excellent condition,no potholes whatsoever.At Mysore we decided to go into the town and do the breakfast stop @ the famous Mylari Hotel which is famous for its Benne Dosas.This place is on Nazarabad Main Road.The next time you are in Mysore,do not miss this place for anything,The dosas just melt in your mouth.Story goes that Mylari used to supply dosas to the royal kitchen during the times of royalty.We spent about an hour in Mysore

Sights & Sounds enroute

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Old 3rd April 2010, 03:47   #3
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Mysore Mylari Hotel (interestingly theres another Mylari down the line with a board saying "Original" Mylari which quite obviously it isnt,however the dosas there also are equally good,but the connosieurs would vouch for the original!)

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Some more pictures
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House in Kerala

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After that we were on our way to Bangalore,it was a breeze literally and reached Kengeri Nice junction in exactly 2 hours time,from there took the NICE road towards Hosur Road,the patch between Bannerghatta road and Hosur road is still incomplete and requires one to go through some of the local roads before rejoining NICE Road,due to which the toll is collected only till Bannerghatta Road and the balance 15rs is collected just before the Hosur road exit.From Hosur road took the elevated road and headed off to Koramangala.We were scheduled to stay for a couple of nights at Casa De Bengaluru.The hotel looks to be a brand new one and was very impressive(both in terms of maintenance and service)

Pictures of Casa De Bengaluru

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For the next two days hooked up with an old friend and went about re-discovering the Bangalore of yesteryears-an old chaat bandi that had now graduated to a shop for the amazing masala puri & tomato chaat,followed up with masala dosas @ Ragigudda SLV(this apparently is a spin off by the cooks who were at MTR).All this trivia is courtesy my friend.The next day was concluded with a mandatory visit to Forum,followed by a real lousy Chinese lunch @ Polynation in Oasis food court,and in the evening rounded it off with some yummy lemon rice & triveni at Wilson Garden.Triveni is a sweet exclusive to that place which has ice cream,banana pieces and gulkhand,my mouth’s already watering?

Next day morning did an early morning 3am departure from Koramangala and the roads were a pleasure to drive on.I never ever imagined that I would live to see the day the BLR-HYD roads are fully 4 laned,but looks like that day isn’t far off.It took us exactly 7.5 hours from Hebbal to Shamshabad airport turnoff.Thus ended quite an eventful and religious drive? and we are already thinking of our next drive…

Live to drive afterall.

& Last but not the least these are the three actors in this travelogue,

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& This was the man behind the camera with the camera

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Thanx for reading and hope to see you again soon!!
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Old 3rd April 2010, 07:27   #4
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Oh God!!! All the pics in Sherlock are amazing, looks like paradise to me. Could you provide more details? Are they available only for private guests?
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Old 3rd April 2010, 08:05   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Oh God!!! All the pics in Sherlock are amazing, looks like paradise to me. Could you provide more details? Are they available only for private guests?
Its a hotel managed by little earth group.

:: SHERLOCK ::

Nice drive you guys had.
Where is the temple for Vidyarambam? Can you throw in more details?

Last edited by ampere : 3rd April 2010 at 08:07.
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Old 3rd April 2010, 08:57   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Oh God!!! All the pics in Sherlock are amazing, looks like paradise to me. Could you provide more details? Are they available only for private guests?
Yes,Sherlock i quite mindblowing,it is open to all guests.Ampere has given the url below.They have 5 luxury rooms,2 deluxe & 2 semi deluxe.The deluxe & semi deluxe are part of the house and so not very attractive in terms of privacy as they open to the main dining hall,theres always a din there,the luxury rooms are excellent.
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Old 3rd April 2010, 09:20   #7
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^^^its absolutely superb. If we change our coorg plan trip, we'll go Ooty or Kodai & we'll stay there at Sherlock subject to availability. Oh!!! yes, they're little expensive too. If I'm not asking too much, could you share some facilties that are applicable pls? Why I used the word applicable is, there're some useless facilities that most hotels offer like cricket kit without ball, shuttle cock without court, swimming pool without good water. Hope you got the point.

@Ampere - Thanks for the link man, it didn't strike my mind searching the net early morning

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Old 3rd April 2010, 09:38   #8
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By the way Ranjit, during my december trip to Guruvayur, even I had stayed at Kanoos.

Even I would rate the hotel to be very good. After staying places in who charge a bomb for even an average service, Kanoos was a pleasant suprrise. Under 2K for AC room which seemed heavenly !
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Old 3rd April 2010, 09:54   #9
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Nice travelogue and lovely pics to go with it Ranjit ! How did the lil 800 cope up with such a long drive ? Reminds me of the trips that I used to do in my old SS80 !
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Old 3rd April 2010, 10:31   #10
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Ranjit,

The lime sherbet is something which is a regular for me. I keep Kinnley regularly in the refrigerator and "nimbu".

When ever I feel like, I make a lime sherbet of my own. (Sugar/Salt to taste !)

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Old 3rd April 2010, 10:38   #11
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^^^its absolutely superb. If we change our coorg plan trip, we'll go Ooty or Kodai & we'll stay there at Sherlock subject to availability. Oh!!! yes, they're little expensive too. If I'm not asking too much, could you share some facilties that are applicable pls? Why I used the word applicable is, there're some useless facilities that most hotels offer like cricket kit without ball, shuttle cock without court, swimming pool without good water. Hope you got the point.

@Ampere - Thanks for the link man, it didn't strike my mind searching the net early morning
Well they are not that steep if you compare it with the prices on offer @ some of the so called regular hotels.The deluxe & sd come at a price of 2100 & the luxury arnd 3k,dont go by their website tariffs,they always differ when you speak to them.Dont go there looking for any of the facilities you mentioned as they dont exist there and neither are they advertised i guess,go there just to soothe,enjoy the peaceround and the views and the stay-nothing more.we did just thatroom.fireplace,well manicured lawns,good parking,excellent food,(for city dwellers the food price comparatively is very economical,),fresh air,& cold brrrr....

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By the way Ranjit, during my december trip to Guruvayur, even I had stayed at Kanoos.

Even I would rate the hotel to be very good. After staying places in who charge a bomb for even an average service, Kanoos was a pleasant suprrise. Under 2K for AC room which seemed heavenly !
Thanx for your comments.Yes true,agree with you.The only put off for some people though could be that the place also serves non-vegetarian fare(i do know that some people are picky when it comes to choosing a hotel in GVR that serves non veg-though this place serves it only in room service and they even went to the extent of showing us that it came from different kitchens!!)the only other good option in this range is Krishna Inn,Bhasuri was good but has become run down now.

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Nice travelogue and lovely pics to go with it Ranjit ! How did the lil 800 cope up with such a long drive ? Reminds me of the trips that I used to do in my old SS80 !
Thanx Kannan,oh well this baby has been doing yeoman service for us,its run all over the South,Central & West of India now.The only modification so far has been an upgrade of the tyre size and change to tubeless,have been doing excellent speeds after that.ideal for the 3 of us on long drives,touchwood no problems so far,but yes lure of a bigger car keeps coming back,but then when we think of the drives we have done in this,we put all that in the backburner and again pack up and leave for a drive
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Old 3rd April 2010, 11:39   #12
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Where is the temple for Vidyarambam? Can you throw in more details?
This temple is situated on the Thrissur-Irinjalakuda road at Cherpu.

The website of the place is Welcome to the Abode of Wisdom - The official website of Thiruvullakkavu sreedharmasastha temple

During Vijayadashmi times.quite a few literary figures initiate kids into the world of words at this temple.
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Old 3rd April 2010, 13:52   #13
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Apart from the detailed "Travelling for Dummies" tarvelogue writing, as usual, that was a wealth of information on hotels, especially loved Sherlock. Good to know that Shinkos (Ooty) is still around, they used to call themselves the "best" Chinese restaurant in India!
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Old 3rd April 2010, 14:05   #14
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I used to be a major Taj fan and their off-season rates used to be very promising. Then I started understanding the economics of global and local hotel chains !

You tend to get very good services by good local hotels. The same feature offered by a national chain of hotels will cost one a bomb !
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Old 3rd April 2010, 14:32   #15
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they used to call themselves the "best" Chinese restaurant in India!

On a serious tone Sir, is the food real Chinese or (hopefully) Indianised version of Chinese?
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