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Old 30th June 2010, 17:16   #1
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Default My jeep trip to horsley hills and the jungles of Talakona

The 400th Day. June 25th 2010.

It has been almost 3 months and more since i had a proper 2 day weekend break. Hectic work schedules and a middle eastern client made sure my Sundays are Mondays. Only last friday we had a major delivery and it takes 3 days for them to get back to me with any issues. Which means i now have the luxury to take the weekend off and an extra day too.

Decided to go on a recce to my friends stone quarry but my wife was furious. she said lets go to a hill station instead. 400Days of our wedding and the idea of a hill station didn't seem bad.

After scanning a few options we decided to go to horsley hills. Went thru the forum for directions and decided to take the Bangalore-Hosakote-Chintamani-Madanapalli state highway. The road was excellent all the way. Especially the Chintamani - madanapally stretch makes a wonderful and plesant drive.

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Reached madanapally and called my contact who had booked a place for us at the hilltop APTDC hotel. He picks up the call and tells that he would call me back in 10 Mins. We parked the jeep on the road side under a tree at AnnieBesant circle waiting for his call and this is where it all started.

People started staring at my jeep as if it were a vamp in a Tollywood rain song. They wouldn't budge even after repeated honking. At first we felt a bit embarrassed. Later we got used to it. Decided to stop for lunch and to find a decent restaurant we had to do a few roundabouts in the town's crowded and narrow streets. When ever i stop to enquire, people in turn asked me questions about what make and model my jeep is and where did i get it modified etc etc. After a few such inquiries, found a place called Chaitanya. Parked the vehicle in an open place across the road. Our luggage is in the tub at the back and it had no covering of any sort. Both of us forgot about the luggage when we walked in.

After about an hour or so, when i came back i saw a crowd of some 10-15 people surrounding my jeep and scanning every part of it. They were of all ages from street kids to big uncles. This is when my wife realized that we left the luggage unattended at the back. She was tensed. As we walked towards the jeep, people cleared the way for us and the luggage was there intact. No one touched it. They were all looking at the jeep and not interested in whats inside. Soon, a casual smile at the people around turned out to a full fledged interview enquiring about ourselves and the vehicle. It took us a cool 15 Mins to satisfy each and every one. Most returned with happy faces. Some posed for photographs taken with cellphone cameras.

It took us almost 2 hours from the time we reached and left the town. After a cool 25kms of drive on the madanapally - kadiri National Highway, we reached the horsley hill entrance.
This place reminded me of Nandi hills. The drive up the hill was similar. Just that the vegetation is a bit different. After a few winding curves we went up the hill. By the time we were on top it was almost 3:30 pm. The wind is slightly cold and pleasant.

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Meanwhile my tries to reach my contact had turned futile. This bugger had switched off his cellphone and absconding. After repeated calls i realized that some thing has been goofed up and this fellow had switched off his cellphone to avoid me.

Hoping to find a place to stay, i walked in to the resort's reception to enquire and was told that there were no rooms available till Sunday noon.
Disappointed, i walked towards my wife and told her that we have to return back to bangalore in the evening as we have no place to stay on the hill top. She had a lump in her throat.

She asked me to call up some other friends in Hyderabad and try to get in touch with the forest dept and get an accommodation in one of their guesthouses. There was one forest bungalow vacant at that time, but they were expecting some govt guys the same evening.

we were disappointed. We decided to go for a drive around the place since we had come all the way. While going up the hill, an old man waved to us and enquired whether if we need a guide. I casually said i need a place to stay for the night and that's when he said "sir one place is available".

Suddenly my spirits rose. But there is a problem. There are no seats in the back. Where do i make him sit. I told him that he has to stand holding the B-Pillar as there are no seats and if that is OK with him. He stepped back, looked at the jeep and jumped in before i could blink. He then took me to the other side of the resort where there were a few private houses turned to guesthouses or rather home stays. There was one decent place. It had a comfortable cot. A decent toilet with hot water geyser, DTH connection and hardly a few hundred meters from the APTDC restaurant. We looked at each other and decide to take it rather than going back. All we need is a place to sleep for the night.

Now that we don't have to go back to Bangalore, we threw in all the luggage in the room and decided to take a look around.

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Took the jeep around the hill and realized that there is a place similar to nandi hills where the wind speed is quiet high. This place is called Galibanda. Parked the jeep on the road side and started walking towards the edge of the hill. Have seen big aunties huffing and puffing their way back and this is when i realized i am a jeeper and jeepers do not walk. Went back, locked the hubs and slotted into 4Wheel low and inch by inch we started moving towards the valley. By then, the other curious visitors saw what i was doing and started taking out their cameras. It was dusk by then and i could see quiet some flashlights in my direction.

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Took the jeep to the edge of the valley and stopped. Got down took some snaps and scanned the area for some more offroading fun.

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decided upon a route and told my wife that we shall explore and go down the hill in our jeep the next day. My wife thought i was joking. Went back to our place. Had a shower took a walk and retired for the day.

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The next day was all about exploring the place and a little offroading. Where i took the jeep to another small spot called the lovers den and then down the valley on the rocks.
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View of the valley from Galibanda
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We walked all around the hill and the place is cool and pleasant.
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Way to Forest guesthouse, garden, mini zoo and one of many valley view points
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This tree is about 150 years old.
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Panoramic view of the adventure park and children play area
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Panoramic Valley view from the other side

This whole thing continued till noon and at about lunch time it was getting a little warm on top. Decided to call it a day and packed in all the stuff to leave to Bangalore. Just then the old man told us to visit Talakona as we have come all the way from Bangalore and this place is hardly 60kms from there. (In fact it was 120 odd kms from Horsley hills which we didn't know at that time). As soon as my wife heard the word waterfalls, she jumped at me with that "Please take me to the water falls honey" look. i couldn't deny. Recalculated the plan and decided to take off on Monday too. And off we went. Got onto the Piler highway which is 60odd kms from Madanapally. This road is well laid scenic to drive with very less traffic.


The journey continues...
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Old 30th June 2010, 17:43   #2
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Part 2. Talakona.

As soon as my wife heard the word waterfalls, she jumped at me with that "Please take me to the water falls honey" look. i couldn't deny.
Recalculated the plan and decided to take off on Monday too. Called up my friends in Hyderabad to book a stay at the forest guest house at Talakona and only after getting a confirmation that the accommodation is booked, we started towards Piler town which is 60odd kms from Madanapally. This road is well laid scenic to drive with very less traffic.

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Some where on the way to Pileru. Reminds me of the movie City Of gods.

After 20 odd kms from Piler, we reached a small town called Bakhara Pet. Talakona is a very famous shooting spot for Tollywood as it has dense forests and other jungle related stuff. A lot of film shootings happen there and this town is the only nearest place for all supplies. So, these people are well aware of any film crew presence.

As soon as i entered the road, the town people thought we were some film crew. I just crossed the main center and stopped to enquire the route to Talakona waterfalls and got down to gulp down a cola and a crowd gathered at the shop.

This is how the discussion went.
shopkeeper: so where are you coming from
me : Bangalore
The other guy in the crowd (shouting to his friends on the other side of the road who were busy watching the jeep): kannada movie fellows da
The shopkeeper: So, is this the hero's jeep or villans jeep. who is the hero.
me: we are not film guys and its my personal jeep.
The shopkeeper: stares at the jeep again and says: So why is it like this ?
me: well, whats wrong with me having a jeep like that.
The shopkeeper: why are the tyres so big. are they lorry tyres ?
(i didnt know what to tell, so i told them)
me: i am a wild life photographer and i travel across jungles to take photographs. so i need big tyres so that they don't get punctured in the jungles and in the back i need to keep my stuff. That is why it is like this.
The shopkeeper: Then who is that lady ? is she your wife.
me: yes.
The shopkeeper: She is also a wild life photographer ?
me: no.
The shopkeeper: OK. Go this way. u will find a lot of animals.

This convinces him and the others around. by then it was getting dark and we had to go another 20kms in a single lane (but well laid) village road to reach the place. We reached the AP forest Dept Eco Tourism project Jungle huts. Didn't know whether if it was the same place that was booked for us or not.

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Either the elephant or the artist were on dope when this was done. Reminds me of the Gynecology convention in the movie patchAdams

Went in to enquire and it was indeed the same forest guest house. In the darkness, i couldn't get the details of how the place looked. We just got into one of the huts in the first floor.

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The rooms we pretty basic. Wooden ceiling and bamboo cladding on the walls to give you that earthly feeling. Electricity, ceiling fan, power socket, Clean toilets with hot water, Meshed windows to keep the insects and mosquitoes at bay, creaky but comfortable beds. Flattened pillows and smelly sheets. Fortunately we have our won sheets and blankets. Good to spend the night. After i made my wife spend a night in my tent in the middle of nowhere a few months back, there have been no complaints about rooms and room services since then. The tent has become the bench mark for all comparisons.

The next morning woke up to noise created by some tourist gang running all around the place. View of the Eco tourism complex.
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Ordered for breakfast and it arrived after a cool 1 hour.
Started towards the waterfalls. After a 1/2 kms of walk, we finally reached the water falls. One look at the falls and my wife felt disappointed.

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On our way to the waterfalls.
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First look at the falls
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She was expecting some heavy flowing waterfalls like the one we saw at Coorg an year ago. After scanning the area, i realized that the real action is on the top of the falls. The top is where the water actually falls like a shower from a height of about a 60-70 feet.

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The place has a railing and is very safe. At most of the waterfalls, one cannot stand right at the bottom due to the heavy flow. But here it is different. Once you stand there, the water drops hit you like needles. Gives you a nice massaging effect.

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After waiting for a group of chaddi clad gang to clear the place, we spent almost 2 hours before another chaddi gang started taking positions. This water is also considered holy as it flows from the Tirupati hills. So, apart from regular chaddi wallas, there are a lot of old women who walk all the way to take a holy shower. And since it is holy, you don't see broken bottles and other nonsense.

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Panoramic view of the hill

came back from the waterfalls and had freshly prepared lunch at the local village hotel. The food was hot and delicious.
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Started towards Bangalore and my jeep started throwing tantrums. The horn wouldn't work sometimes when i need it. Stopped at a small town got the local electrician to fix it. Charged me some 20bucks and started back.
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Reached Bangalore at 8:00pm.
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The road from Chintamani to Bangalore is crowded during the night with heavy truck and bus traffic and i suggest not to take this road after dark as it might get dangerous.



Regards.
Krishna
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Old 30th June 2010, 18:06   #3
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Krishnaa nice start to the 400th day from tying the nuptial knot. While you jeep gets all the attention, please don't forget your luggage mate .
Such things are easily stolen and even if the folks have no use for it, they simply would do it for cheap thrills.

BTW I love the shot of the Safari Jeep with your jeep at its side. That one truly needs a make over .
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Old 30th June 2010, 18:55   #4
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Wow! You almost derailed your jeep over the valley! What a shot!
What is that building in the background? (Snap #18)

Last edited by ampere : 30th June 2010 at 18:59.
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Old 30th June 2010, 19:26   #5
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Hey kittigadu, amazing pictures especially the panoramas .

BTW I didn't know about the mod done on the rear side of your Jeep, sorry that I didn't follow your jeep thread. Its now my dream machine, looks very clean and simple but macho.
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Old 30th June 2010, 20:51   #6
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What a satisfying jeep travelogue....liked every bit of it. A reliable jeep gives you the freedom to explore the surroundings in a jeep way after reaching the destination. Not to mention awesome locations & great photography. And let me admit it once more, yours is one of the very few uniquely good looking jeeps on the forum.
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Old 1st July 2010, 21:55   #7
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Quote:
Krishnaa nice start to the 400th day from tying the nuptial knot. While you jeep gets all the attention, please don't forget your luggage mate .
Thankyou. And yes, the luggage was totally forgotten. Shall be careful from now on.
Quote:
Wow! You almost derailed your jeep over the valley! What a shot!
Quote:
What is that building in the background? (Snap #18)
Thats the resort dormitory.

Quote:
Hey kittigadu, amazing pictures especially the panoramas .
All the photos are taken on a Samsung Wave Mobile phone. Discovered the panorama feature in the phone and loved the photos.

Quote:
What a satisfying jeep travelogue....liked every bit of it. A reliable jeep gives you the freedom to explore the surroundings in a jeep way after reaching the destination.

Thankyou and truly said. Its always about the exploration at the destination than the joy of being there that matters. Probably thats the reason why my wife always prefers the jeep insted.
After being overtaken by scores of innovas and taveras, this is one place i beat them hands down. I was on a high when all the tourist cab drivers left their vehicles and watched me do all the rock climbing. I am sure none of them would dare do that except another jeep.(or a 4x4)

This place (horsley hills is just 160Kms from Bnagalore) and another 100Kms from there to the Talakona waterfalls. One can maintain an average speed of 80-90 all the way. I was doing a constant 75-80.

The stay at the hill station ranges from 600Rs - 1200 Rs per day depending upon the suite.
The stay at the forest loghuts is only 500Rs per day.

Total distance covered : 580Kms
Average Mileage : 12 kmpl.
Total Time : 3 Days
Total cost including diesel : 5000 Rs


Regards,
Krishna.
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Old 1st July 2010, 23:25   #8
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Hi Kittigadu,
The photos have come out real well. For a phone camera, the samsung wave packs in too much it seems. The panaromic mode is worth a mention.
I had been to talakona in 2007, and indeed the APTDC resorts there are filled with the Film crews. Inspite of advance booking, our room was occupied by them and we had to literally stand on the resorts to staff to get the room vacant. But then the stay was nice thereafter.The food was awesome too.
and yeah!!, what's a hyd jeep doing in blr. It's got to be here
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Old 2nd July 2010, 00:43   #9
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And you compared both the Jeeps deliberately didn't you? How about getting an accomodation at APTDC? Is it easy/difficult/require advance reservation? I liked your pics very much & the roads are inviting.
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Old 2nd July 2010, 11:31   #10
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Quote:
For a phone camera, the samsung wave packs in too much it seems. The panaromic mode is worth a mention. what's a hyd jeep doing in blr. It's got to be here
Yes, The phone is the best as far as the camera and its features goes. When i discovered the panorama feature, i was literally amazed at the simplicity of taking a panoramic snap and the outcome of it. It has a 5Mpx camera.

I moved to Bangalore long ago. This month, i am paying the road tax here too.

Quote:
And you compared both the Jeeps deliberately didn't you? How about getting an accommodation at APTDC? Is it easy/difficult/require advance reservation? I liked your pics very much & the roads are inviting.
Yeah, kind of Yes and No. It was the other jeep driver who wanted to take my jeep for a spin. So i let him do that and he came and parked it right next to his. I took out the cam and clicked a few pics.

WRT the Forest log huts, The reservation is pretty straight forward. call up the number, find vacancy and inform them of your arrival. Tell them you might need some help in finding directions and Keep calling them for directions at regular intervals. So you are there in their mind and they take you seriously.
The numbers are in the photo.
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The horsley hills resorts can be booked thru your local APTDC offices in all state capitals. I believe there is an online system too, i am not sure but i have seen guests showing printouts at the reception.


Regards,
Krishna.
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