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Old 16th November 2010, 15:08   #1
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Default Malnad In Monsoons

“Where are you going next week?” Praveen asked as we sipped Coffee in office. “Is it a long weekend?” I questioned. “Yeah, 24 Aug is a holiday. I am going to Pondy….Haven’t you planned anything?”

This question set in motion for our next “Long Weekend” trip. The planning part of any trip is exciting as well as tiring. We had done most places around. “Where next” I asked my wife. As we started googling, an idea stuck. Why not “Malnad in monsoons”? she asked. We hit upon going to Tirthahalli in Malnad region of Karnataka. Malenadu or Malnad in Kannada means “Hilly region” of Western Ghats consisting of Shivamogga, Chikkamagalur, Coorg and parts of coastal districts.

A stream flowing gently in the forest.

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02858.jpg

There were some challenges before we could embark on this plan. First was the road condition to Shivamogga and then on to Tirthahalli. We had a harrowing experience driving on this road two years back from Goa. We became adventurous and drove via Karwar, visiting Jog falls on the way.

But the road from Shivamogga to Kadur (a distance of 50 KMs) was sheer misery. My fiesta had a torrid time negotiating craters and it took us two hours to cover this stretch. We wanted to be doubly sure about road. Once confirmed good - thanks to BHPians -heaved a sigh of relief and moved to next challenge. Where do we stay?

Shivamogga district has fabulous flora, fauna, hills, water falls, heritage…….you name it and it has.

But it does not have many good places to stay. Tourism has not picked up in the region and road conditions discouraged visitors. Googling and talking to some friends helped us decide to stay in Tirthahalli to explore Malnad. This led us to BANANKI HOMESTAY ( Homestay in Thirthahalli :: Bananki Home Stay ). Having confirmed acco, we were raring to go.

Bananki Home Stay

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02846.jpg

Staying on Bannerghatta road has some advantages – though going to office located in other corner of city is a pain – as NICE road is close by. When we reached the NICE road start point on Kanakapura road – after packing idlis from a darshini enroute – it was 8 AM.

The road till Tumkur was excellent. After Tumkur we branched out on NH 206. The road was surprisingly good with hardly any traffic. The recent rains had turned the parched lands in Tumkur district green. We spotted a cute little church – looked like built by British – in Gubbi town. Lo and behold! We were in Shivamogga at 12.30 Noon having covered a distance of 280 KMs in 4.30 Hours with a break of fifteen minutes for eating idlis! The drive from Shivamogga to Tirthahalli was fabulous as we entered the“Male nadu”.

Driving through green expanse on the winding road with small ponds with lilies on the sides made it a pleasure. We also saw the backwaters of Gajanur dam built on Tunga River and Mandagadde bird sanctuary on this stretch.

A Green Canopy on Shivamogga - Tirthahalli road

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02892.jpg


Birds @ Mandagadde

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02889.jpg

When we reached Bananki, it was 2 PM. Rachan and Arpita – the young couple whose home it is – were there to receive us. This is a sprawling bungalow amidst a plantation with well-kept garden around. The old bungalow has been renovated by the couple. They provide three rooms inside the bungalow and have built two small cottages as well. The lunch – traditional Malnad vegetarian cuisine as we are veg – was god sent. It was just the beginning of our wonderful gastronomical journey in Bananki. Arpita is very good at preparing the food and we had our fill. After resting for a while we were on the road again.

Our first stop was “Kavi Shyla” – the memorial for Kuvempu, the great poet and littérateur in Kannada. ( Kuvempu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ) The memorial has been built by a team of his disciples and family with lot of love and affection. It shows in the way the ancestral home of Kuvempu has been renovated and converted into a nice museum.

KUVEMPU's house

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The museum has display of rare photographs, items used by the poet, awards and medals won. I have never seen a better memorial to any Indian littérateur (I have not seen Tagore memorial in Shanti Niketan.) The “Kavi Shyla” close to the memorial is a hillock where the poet used to go to draw inspiration from. The setting of the hill is just stunning. It has panoramic views of Sahyadri Mountains with lush green paddy fields in the valley. The team has created “Stonehenge” kind of structure around the place where the poet was cremated. The place has been developed with lot of aesthetic sense.

Sringeri – the famed temple town – was the next stop. (Shringeri - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) After visiting temples of Sharada Devi and Vidya Shankara, we spent some time on the serene environs of the river before heading back.

We were skeptical when we booked in “Bananki”. We had stayed only once in a home stay in Coorg and the experience was very good. Thus, we were not sure what was in store. However we were in for a nice surprise. Rachan and Arpita were not only good hosts but were passionate in making their guest comfortable. The best part of our stay in Bananki was the excellent traditional “Malnad cuisine” – Buns – a Mangalore delicacy, oththu shavige with kayi haalu (rice samiya with coconut milk), Neeru dose with kobri chutney, gantu pongal and akki roti, divya halasu (wild jack fruit) fry, were some of the delicacies. To top it all was the great filter coffee. The secret was revealed when Arpita said she comes from a family of planters in Chikkamagalur! They were disappointed that we are veggies lest they could have provided a feast of chicken etc!!

The day dawned with chirping of birds and cries of peacock! After an excellent cuppa, we stepped outside into the garden to see some beautiful birds. Not being a birder, I could only identify a woodpecker. The binoculars came in handy as we were able to see at least six types of birds.

“Why don’t we go far a small walk” asked Brinda. I was game for it and Rachan recommended us to take a path going down the bungalow leading to a small stream below. Not minding a slight drizzle, we stepped out. The light drizzle, young sun and greenery made the walk a pleasure. On the way, we could see a cute little pond with fringed with bent trees.

The small pond close to Bananki

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02848.jpg

We came back and Brinda (my wife) opened her shoe to see in horror a swollen leach between her toe fingers! Lo behold! She was seeing it for the first time and was naturally scared. I told her not to worry, went to kitchen and removed it after smearing it with lime (Sunna/chuna). The lime is supposed to help in clotting blood quickly.

Breakfast done, we hit the road. We wanted to go off beaten track and just drive in the forests. Our first stop enroute to Nagara was Ambu Thirtha - birth place of Sharavathi River. On the way we passed by Kavale Durga – a small fort atop a hill – with fabulous views of hills. As we entered the Nagara town, we stood bowled over by the fort. The setting – on a small hillock with a lake in the foreground – is romantic and reminded me of Mandu in Madhya Pradesh which I visited 20 years ago as an young officer in Army.

Nagara fort with lake in foreground

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02856.jpg

Entrance to Nagara fort

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02857.jpg

The fort can be covered in 45 minutes. We were keen to see the backwaters of Linganamakki Dam. An hour’s drive from Nagara through woods and streams landed us at the boarding site for ferry. This place was just breathtaking.

It was huge expanse of water. The clouds, clear water, small islands, submerged tree trunks give this place a tranquil and serene feel. I had thought Thekkady to be picturesque, but this place beats it by miles. The shores are ideal spots for camping. We put our car in ferry and crossed over in ten minutes. Enroute to Sagara, we saw the famous temple at Ikkeri.

The mesmerising beauty of Linganamakki Backwaters

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02861.jpg

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02868.jpg

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As we reached Sagara, we were in dilemma. To go to Jog Falls or not. We had seen Jog in full glory couple of years back. It was already 4.30 in the evening and the clouds were giving an early warning. Jog is unpredictable in the evening as envelope of mist blocks the view of falls. We decided against and instead moved towards HEGGODU, the cultural centre with NINASAM repertory (Ninasam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) established by KV Subbanna, Magsaysay Award winner. It is a small village known for many cultural and sustainable livelihood activities. Every October, Heggodu comes alive for a week during “Cultural Festival” where literary, development seminars, cultural shows are held.

The day was well spent. Leisurely drives in the woods are a good kick indeed. The dinner was fabulous as ever, specially the soup.

Packing up next day, we planned to leave after an early breakfast. Rachan suggested visiting Bheemana Katte, a small unspoiled place on the banks of Tunga River. River Tunga creates numerous sandy beaches during its course and Bheemana Katte happens to have one of the longest. There was a plan to mine the sand but local opposition drove away the contractors. Thus the place was saved!

Sandy beach @ Bheemanakatte

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02879.jpg

Malnad In Monsoons-dsc02882.jpg

On the way, we wanted to visit Bhadra reservoir in Lakkavalli near Tarikere. But it started raining and we decided against. As we drove back, we promised ourselves to come back to “Malnad” and savour the other sights we had not explored – Kundadri, Kodachadri, Kavale Durga, Gudavi, Belligave, Gherusoppa, Hidlamane Falls, Koodli, Chandragutti, Kanoor fort, Bhadra reservoir, Sakrebylu elephant camp, Tyavare koppa safari……………and many other places.

We felt that here is an excellent alternate destination to Pondy, Coorg, Ooty, Wayanad, Chikkamagalur and Yercaud for your long week ends. One can comfortably spend three days exploring the places. If you are a trekker add couple of more days.

Last edited by Fauji : 20th October 2011 at 12:42.
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Old 16th November 2010, 22:14   #2
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Wow! Amazing writing and a very good T-Log. I was surprised to see no comments even after nearly 7 hours of penning the log.

The only thing not befitting the T-Log is the pics. If you could get the mods to help you re-post your original post with correctly sized pics at the right intervals in between your writing it will make for an even better read and have better impact to readers as well.

My 0.2$$

PS: Thanks for the details of the stay in Thirthahalli.
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Old 17th November 2010, 11:57   #3
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Nice sweet and short Narration Fauji,
Wish you added some more pics with High resolution


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Western Ghats consisting of Shivamogga, Chikkamagalur, Coorg and parts of coastal districts.
Yes you can consider part of Hassan district -Sakleshpura to the above

Saw the pics of Honestay, Nice place to stay. Neatly done house

Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2011 at 11:06. Reason: STRICTLY no SMS language please
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Old 17th November 2010, 20:39   #4
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Thank you Abhinav and Sushrutha......This is my first attempt on Team -BHP and i will take care of your suggestions in future.
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Old 18th November 2010, 10:28   #5
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Nice write up Fauji. Malnad + monsoons are the best combination I can think of. I always say, if you want to enjoy Malnad, then monsoon is the best time of the year.

Bigger pictures will make your writeup even more enjoyable. Waiting for more pictures.
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Old 18th November 2010, 11:06   #6
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awesome writeup & photos & than you for posting.

OT: just click on the photos they become bigger...LOL..
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Old 21st August 2011, 13:00   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pravdr View Post
wanted more information regarding the freey from nagara how much time does it save?

regards

praveen
There are two ferry points. One at Sigandur which is slightly farther and has better fre
quency. One can also visit famous temple of Chowdeshwari there. We got into ferry at Kasavahalli close to Nittur. The ferry takes 20-30 mins to cross to the other side. The views of backwater is too good.
This will save minimum two hours.

Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2011 at 11:06. Reason: Fixing quote
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Old 23rd August 2011, 13:02   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
There are two ferry points. One at Sigandur which is slightly farther and has better fre
quency. One can also visit famous temple of Chowdeshwari there. We got into ferry at Kasavahalli close to Nittur. The ferry takes 20-30 mins to cross to the other side. The views of backwater is too good.
This will save minimum two hours.
Poorna,
It hardly takes 10-15mins to cross in the ferry ;-)
On a weekend though the ferry frequency is quite high, but the rush is too much for vehicle crossing, sometimes it would take hours to cross if you have vehicle(close to 2 hrs)
Here are some of the pics which I had taken last year.

Malnad In Monsoons-dscn3609.jpg
Malnad In Monsoons-dscn3606.jpg
Malnad In Monsoons-dscn3597.jpg

Sigandhur temple. One of the rare temple(though very famous), where there is not much of a rush.
Malnad In Monsoons-dscn3593.jpg
Malnad In Monsoons-dscn3592.jpg

Inside a Bus, which is being ferried
Malnad In Monsoons-dscn3590.jpg
Malnad In Monsoons-dscn3589.jpg
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Old 1st October 2011, 19:29   #9
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Great travelogue. We are planning to make this next week.

If possible, please share more details on your route (may be on Google map or the name of the places, and direction to the ferry).
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Old 4th October 2011, 17:02   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sumannandy View Post
Great travelogue. We are planning to make this next week.

If possible, please share more details on your route (may be on Google map or the name of the places, and direction to the ferry).
Thanks Suman. The best place to take a ferry is at Sigandur where frequency is high. It is at a distance of 40 KMs from Tirthahalli approx. You can google for "Sigandur Chowdeshwari temple" and will get all details. I am travelling and don't have access to net and replying from Blackberry.
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Old 5th October 2011, 11:35   #11
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Nice log.
It was very pleasing to have a chat with you this morning here at Lucknow. Thanks for calling. Though I am very close to kanpur road and could have met you on a 5-10 mints notice, and that could have been still better. Anyways, there is always a next time.

Here is a link to my TL of our trip to beautiful South last year. Kindly have a look whenever you find time on return to BLR. Still many more beautiful parts of southern India are left to be seen. We'll be coming back in future.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...k-tigress.html (We dreamt it, we did it - Our 20 days family road trip to South in Black Tigress)

Last edited by LongDrive lover : 5th October 2011 at 11:36.
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Old 21st October 2011, 11:06   #12
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Thread moved back to the Travelogues section. Thanks for updating your original post in the Assembly Line.
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Old 21st October 2011, 18:24   #13
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That's a neat travelogue sir. Can you please let us know if the road from Bangalore to Shimoga is good now? One of the pic shows a beautiful stretch. Is it the same throughout?
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Old 21st October 2011, 18:47   #14
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Hi Fauji,

I have 2 questions:

1. The best way to reach Banaki in Teerthahalli, is via shimoga, from bangalore?
2. Is it a good idea to Visit Kollur Mookambika temple keeping Banaki as the base? I have a health issue, and hygenic food is a must. I cant eat/stay in the temple premises. Last time I caught a severe viral infection from there.

thanks,
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Old 11th January 2012, 19:06   #15
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We had a tough time deciding on where to head out on the last week of 2011. It got simplified a bit once I confirmed visiting Mangalore/Manipal to meet relatives. Given this, I thought I should try a place that I have not visited before. After reading this wonderful travelogue by Fauji we settled for Thirthahalli and Bananki homestay there. We headed out on the 27th of December to Thirthahalli in our Optra.

We started at around 8 from Koramangala and stopped for breakfast at Kamat after crossing Nelamangala. Around this time, we ran into some car trouble as my front wheel seemed to have lost its balance {why it happened is another story in itself}. Had to drive a bit sedately (under 80kmph) for a while till I could replace it with my spare and get a move on. Lost nearly an hour as I tried to get this under control.

We went on NH4 and turned onto NH206 near Tumkur. The road was a bit bad near that intersection. But apart from this and a bit of very poor stretch while crossing Tiptur the road was great all the way to Thirthahalli.

And once you cross Shimoga and drive towards Thirthahalli, the roads continue to be good, but start to wind and the route is a lot more scenic.


As we lost time and reached Shimoga at around 130, we could not spend time at Gajanur Dam or Mandagadde sanctuary as originally planned. The kids were getting tired and we stopped on the roadside for a brief break and off we went to Thirthahalli.

Finally we got to Bananki after 330 for a late lunch. A note on Bananki here: The hosts Rachan & Arpita are wonderful folks and so are their staff. The place is well maintained and cosy to stay. We stayed for two nights (in one of the cottages) and there was a lot of variety in every meal including yummy Mangalore buns and they were all tasty and freshly served. The couple are also very good in ensuring that they direct you on a decent daily round trips during the stay there. I have stayed in a few home stays - Coorg(Sandbanks), Wayanad (Pranavam by muddy boots), Ooty (Redhills) and I would rate this right up there.

After relaxing for a while we took the kids to a nearby temple at Chibbalagudde where the kids had some fun feeding puffed rice to the fishes there. It was a quiet place with not many folks around.


From there we thought we would visit the Jatre that was going on in Thirthahalli. It was the last day of the fair. They had closed down the road leading to the river to put shops, eateries and rides. The kids had a good time buying some toys and trying out the rides. After this got back to Bananki and crashed for the night.

The next day morning our elder son wanted to do a bit of climbing. So we headed out to Kavaladurga, a nearby fort. By the time we got there, the sun was out and it got quite hot. We got upto the temple and then to the level above that which had the ruins of a palace.




But a little beyond that we had to turn back as our younger one (3 yr old) was tiring out and the heat was also pretty bad. So we got down

from there, drove badk to Bananki for some good lunch - was 3 by then.

In the evening we went over to Bheemanakatte. On one side there they have a hanging bridge which had a nice view given the evening sun.


A little further there is the confluence of Tunga and Malathi rivers that has a long stretch of clean soft sand. Spent some time chilling out there and by the time we left there it was pitch dark.

Next day morning we checked out and set out towards Sringeri. Arpita@Bananki had again thoughtfully packed us some lunch for the way.
Thirthahalli to Sringeri is about an hour via NH 13. The road was good and we reached there at around 1230. From there we thought of going to Sirimane falls. When we reached there, two bus loads of school kids on picnic landed there and there was hardly place to stand. So we spent a little while there and then headed towards Managalore. Points to note: Arrive at Sirimane well before noon. Else be prepared to face crowds that finish lunch at Sringeri and land up there.

From Sringeri we headed down NH13 towards Mangalore. The first 30 kms or so here is horrible - more potholes than road. Then the roads (mostly NH13) run smooth all the way to Mangalore.

On my return came back from Manipal via Agumbe - this has been mentioned in the other famous thread "Art of travel between BLR and Udupi".
Attached Thumbnails
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Malnad In Monsoons-chibbalagudde.jpg  

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Malnad In Monsoons-kg1_sml.jpg  

Malnad In Monsoons-kg2_sml.jpg  

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