|16th October 2011, 14:53||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2011
Thanked: 3 Times
Monsoon Getaway – Belur, Chikmagalur, Mullayanagiri (Seethalayanagiri) & Halebeedu
T-Day minus 12 days. Bangalore.
Me: “Are you crazy? Coorg is definitely out of the list! Look at the weather forecast… It’s going to rain cats and dogs for another month for sure! I don’t want to drive up to Coorg in this weather…”
Wifey: “Ah, when have you agreed with me! How about Chikmagalur, Belur, and Halebeedu? We can also visit Mullayanagiri – highest peak in South Karnataka… saw some great pictures on the internet! Would be a great escapade…”
Me: “Oh, don’t get misguided by those photographs on the internet. 75% of those photographs only show the photographer’s Photoshop skills!”
Wifey: “Sigh! When are you going to stop complaining!”
This conversation went on for hours on a rainy, lazy Sunday afternoon. My wife and I were trying to decide our monsoon getaway for the long weekend from 2nd to 4th September. The last vacation was 1.5 years ago.
We went through the Team-BHP forum and found some really useful reviews and few great photos without Photoshop gimmicks, and finally narrowed down to this:
2nd September : Bangalore –> Belur –> Chikmagalur
3rd September : Chikmagalur –> Mullayanagiri –> back to Chikmagalur
4th September : Chikmagalur –> Halebeedu –> Bangalore
Avoiding anymore arguments, I let my wife decide on the place of stay. She chose Woodway Homestay after few deliberations. I was fine with it too, as the online reviews about Woodway Homestay – both in Team-BHP and other websites – were quite impressive. I called Shreedev, owner of Woodway Estate, without any delay and booked our stay for the period.
T-Day minus 6 days. Bangalore.
Visiting Belur and Halebeedu with our 8 year old Sony DSC-P30 digital camera (3.2 MP, no zoom, heavier than a rhino) was a sin, we thought. I suggested buying Nikon COOLPIX L120. We finally bought Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V (Note: with background defocus setting!) exchanging our old Sony DSC-P30. As the saying goes, Man proposes but wife disposes! Jokes apart, we read enough reviews before we decided to buy this camera.
The countdown begins…
2nd Sep 2011. 06:00 hrs. Kundalahalli, Bangalore.
We had prepared a detailed travel checklist, as we usually did before every travel. I filled the fuel tank till the brim and got the tyre pressure checked the night before. Camera and camcorder were fully charged, enough snacks was bought and packed for my daughter, and checked once again if everything else was in place and packed as per the checklist.
As a ritual, we forgot to pack few important things in the last minute on the day of travel! Interestingly, and most importantly, my wife left her wallet back home, loaded with cash and Credit / Debit / ATM cards!
We left Kundalahalli at 6.15 am, crossed Ramamurthy Nagar Bridge in 15 minutes and entered Outer Ring Road, went all the way till Yeshwanthpur and turned right at Tumkur Road, crossed the toll gate, and reached Neelamangala at 7.15 am. Just before the NH-4 - NH-48 junction, we stopped beneath the flyover at a small restaurant (don't remember the name) for breakfast.
We left the restaurant at 8.00 am, turned left on NH-48 and headed towards Hassan. The road condition was fantastic up to Yadiyur. From Yadiyur till Channarayapattana, one side of the road was blocked intermittently for maintenance work due to which the traffic was slow moving. From Channarayapattana till Hassan, both road condition and traffic were really bad due to road widening work.
From Hassan we turned right and entered SH-57 towards Belur. Apart from few scary potholes due to rains, the road was far better in condition (and scenic too!) compared to the usual standard of state highways (solely from my personal experience!).
Karnataka Tourism has done a commendable job by placing sign boards in the right locations. Wherever we were not sure how to proceed, there were those yellow sign boards guiding us towards our destination!
2nd Sep 2011. 11:00 hrs. Chennakesava Temple, Belur.
It was drizzling. It was obvious from the overcast sky that a heavy downpour was to follow. We parked our car at the free parking lot in front of the Chennakesava Temple and walked into the temple. Unlike my wife, I am usually not so thrilled about visiting architectural marvels, but I was awestruck the moment I entered the temple!
We took the help of a guide and began our tour of the temple. The guide told us that the architects took more than 100 years to complete the construction of this temple. Looking at the intricate work of sculpting, I thought 100 years was quick considering the fact that the temple was built in 1117!
On the left after entering the temple, the 42 feet tall lamp post “Karthika Deepothsava Sthambha” or the Gravity Pillar is seen. The guide explained to us that the column was added circa 1414 AD by king Devaraya of the Vijayanagara empire, and is an architectural wonder; it is a stand-alone (baseless, not attached to the platform on which it stands) monolithic granite column! Even today, a gap can be found at the bottom of the pillar through which one can slide a cellphone in. In spite of being a stand-alone pillar (with a cavity at the base), it is astonishing how the column withstood heavy rains and strong winds for almost six centuries!
The structure of the main temple is star shaped, with hundreds of shilabalikas or celestial maidens sculpted around it. What attracted me more were the rows of horses, lions, and elephants sculpted around the temple, whose uniformity and precision was impeccable! The background defocus setting came in handy to capture few great shots (according to me, that is) of those timeless architectural marvels!
I’d rather let the pictures do the talking!
It was cold and dark inside the temple. The guide elaborated the uniqueness of the pillars and the complicated work of sculpting on the walls. A huge spot light had been installed in the center of the temple, use of which is restricted to only the guides there. This is probably because the place lacks natural light, and the idea of installing electrical lights was risky due to the age of the temple. With help of the spot light, the guide detailed the work on the ceiling and few of shilabalikas. Remarkably, each shilabalika was made of a single stone, yet the necklace, wristlet, and earrings are movable! Astonishing creativity!
The sanctum sanctorum was well lit, and the main deity – Channakesava – was decorated beautifully.
After spending enough time around the temple and some amateur photography, we left Belur at 1.00 pm. Luck had been in our favour all the while. The moment we got into the car, the drizzle turned into a heavy rain challenging my driving skills. With great difficulty, I drove down to Chikmagalur and followed the directions emailed to me earlier by Shreedev to reach Woodway Estate. The road from Belur to Chikmagalur was ok, but Chikmagalur to Woodway Estate was not so good!
Due to heavy downpour and extremely bad roads, we reached Woodway Estate at 2.30 pm. After a warm welcome by the staff and a late – but scrumptious – Malanad lunch, the tired trio decided to rest a while.
2nd Sep 2011. 18:30 hrs. Woodway Estate.
A gentle “knock, knock” on the door woke me up. Two cups of hot coffee, a glass of hot milk for my daughter, and hot potato Bajjis were served. Coffee was heaven; learnt from Shreedev later that the coffee powder was made from the coffee beans grown in the estate.
We freshened-up quickly and joined the other guests in the living room who had already settled around the fireplace. My daughter befriended few kids there and was having a whale of a time. Few minutes later Shreedev and his wife Sushmitha arrived. After a quick exchange of introductions, the hosts discussed each guest’s plan during their stay there, and suggested few places of interest around Chikmagalur. We stuck to our original plan of visiting Mullayanagiri the next morning.
The casual talk went on for about an hour, when we decided to break for dinner. A delightful dinner was served in the roofed dining area disconnected from the main house. Sushmitha and my wife continued discussing various painting techniques in practice in India, one among their other common interests I guess, and exchanged their views on antique furniture.
3rd Sep 2011. 09:30 hrs. Trip to Mullayanagiri [Seethalayanagiri].
We were praying that it shouldn’t rain in the morning, else our trip to Mullayanagiri might have to be cancelled, but were disappointed to see that the rain continued in the morning. After heaven (read “a refreshing filter coffee on a cold, murky, rainy morning”), we quickly got ready to ensure we were not late for breakfast.
Had a filling breakfast at 9.30 am. Since we were determined that we’d make it to Mullayanagiri at any cost, Shreedev and Sushmitha helped us on the directions and suggested that we decide whether to go to Mullayanagiri or stop at Seethalayanagiri depending on the traffic and visibility.
We left the estate at 10.00 am, crossed Chikmagalur town and reached Kaimara Junction at 11.00 am. The roads in Chikmagalur town and the one till Kaimara Junction were pretty bad. From Kaimara Junction till all the way up to Seethalayanagiri, the road condition was super good and offered breathtaking views!
As we slowly drove up, the road was getting narrower and visibility was shrinking due to thick fog! In few places, we had to back-up the car a good distance to allow the descending vehicle to pass. With great difficulty I was wiping the fog off my windshield with one hand and steering with the other!
After a good 12 km drive from Kaimara Junction, we reached Seethalayanagiri and parked our car opposite the temple. We grabbed our camera and camcorder, opened the door and got out… damn! My wife and I had forgotten to take our jackets / sweaters! Thankfully, my daughter had her jacket on since breakfast and was saved from the harsh cold wind.
Since the fog had set, it was drizzling, and the harsh cold wind cursed us for forgetting our jackets, we quickly clicked a few photographs as the place couldn’t offer enough for our camera.
We skipped the temple visit and walked towards our car, seriously debating whether to go to Mullayanagiri or drive back to Woodway.
Conclusion: Mullayanagiri’s altitude (+) thick fog (+) rain (+) low visibility (–) our jackets = STUPIDITY!
The drive back to Woodway (till Kaimara Junction) was beautiful! We stopped wherever we could on the way, and spent some time clicking few (loads, actually!) pictures.
We reached Woodway at 2.30 pm, had lunch, and settled for the day. Evening was mostly spent in the same fashion as the previous one (including the heavenly coffee and hot potato Bajjis, dinner in the roofed dining area), exchanging stories of each guest’s experience that day.
Last edited by Aparajit : 14th July 2012 at 13:33.
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|14th July 2012, 13:32||#2|
Join Date: Jul 2011
Thanked: 3 Times
Re: Monsoon Getaway – Belur, Chikmagalur, Mullayanagiri (Seethalayanagiri), Halebeedu
4th Sep 2011. 10:00 hrs. Coffee Plantation Tour.
The morning was unexpectedly sunny and bright! We wanted to quickly take a tour of the coffee plantation, and leave Woodway by 11.00 am to ensure our visit to Halebeedu went as planned. A full tour of the coffee plantation, as per the staff there, usually takes anywhere between 2 to 2.5 hours. However, since we were already running late we had requested the concerned estate staff to take us through a shorter route and return in an hour.
After breakfast, we began the coffee plantation tour at 10.00 am. Needless to say, due to non-stop rains the trail was muddy and thus slippery. We stopped here and there and clicked few photographs.
The coffee plants were neatly planted, but we were surprised to see that between two coffee plants there was a silver oak tree planted! The estate staff explained to us the logic behind it; these silver oak trees protect the coffee plants from famine and too much heat during sunny days / summer, which could cause a great damage to the coffee plant.
We walked for about 30 minutes and understood the rest of the coffee tour was going to be the same. Since our daughter was getting bored, we decided to cut the tour short and walk back to the estate building.
Bags were packed and loaded into the car. When we were ready to leave, we realized we were the last to check-out! All the guests had already checked out early that morning, hoping to reach Bangalore for lunch! We thanked Shreedev for the hosts’ hospitality during our stay, and promised to visit the place again sometime in future.
As a departure ritual, my wife misplaced her mobile phone somewhere and spent some time searching for it! We finally found her phone in my car – unnoticed for almost a day, and left Woodway Estate by 11.45 am.
Next stop – Halebeedu.
4th Sep 2011. 13:00 hrs. Halebeedu.
“It was a bright sunny day” would be an understatement… it was probably the hottest day of the season!
The road from Woodway Estate till Chikmagalur was pathetic again! From Chikmagalur to Belur the road was both beautiful and scenic.
We reached Belur, turned left and headed towards Halebeedu. We reached Halebeedu at 1.00 pm. The road widening work was going on near Hoysaleswara temple, which made it difficult to find a place to park our car.
Unlike the Belur Chennakesava temple, the Hoysaleswara temple has a huge lawn and a lake nearby. The sculptures looked much more fascinating to me than the ones I saw in Belur Chennakesava temple!
We began our tour with the help of a guide. The guide started the tour with this statement – “every sculpture in this temple is unique”. Now, either the guide wanted her opening line to be interesting, or she was sure that no tourist will compare each sculpture with the others! I let my wife continue her guided tour + video shoot, and quietly sat on the floor with my daughter to analyze the rows of elephants, horses, and lions –similar to the ones in Belur Chennakesava temple. Truly unbelievable! Each sculpture was indeed unique! They looked similar from a distance, but when I checked closely I could see that the position of the legs, ears, trunk, tail etc. was definitely different!
My daughter was thrilled seeing the giant Nandi statue, on the left of the temple. This monolithic statue was made using soap stone, we learnt, and still shines like a mirror! Another faultless work of sculpting! In spite of the scorching sun, the elevated platform where the Nandi is placed was quite cold… not sure how!
We covered one side of the temple and the sculptures, and continued our tour inside the temple. The pillars and sculptures on the wall were similar to the ones in Belur.
Inside the sanctum sanctorum, the main deity – Hoysaleswara – was decorated with a saffron vasthram and a garland of jasmine flowers. In front of the sanctum sanctorum was a miniature nandi statue, similar to the giant one seen outside.
We came out and toured the rest of the temple from the outside. Behind the temple, a narrow walkway is seen with a Ganesha statue on one side and statue of a hunter hunting a lion on the other. The view of the temple was splendid when seen from the walkway / Ganesha statue!
It was an extremely hot day. The time was around 2.30 pm. All three were hungry and in an irritable mood. We decided to wind-up the tour.
We left Halebeedu at 2.45 pm and reached Belur shortly. The fuel indicator was blinking; only 5 litres of petrol left. Obviously not enough to reach Bangalore. I immediately stopped in the nearby fuel station.
Problem! The fuel station didn’t accept credit or debit cards. Since my wife left her wallet at home, I only had around Rs.500 cash with me. The only ATM I found earlier was in Chikmagalur, which was out of service. We needed this Rs.500 for lunch and other unforeseen expenses, until we found an ATM (functional) in Hassan. I safely assumed that 5 ltr of petrol can at least take us to Hassan, where we can find a Petrol Bunk where they accept credit / debit cards, or an ATM to withdraw money and fill in fuel.
We reached Hassan around 3.45 pm. Found an ICICI ATM near the circle. Unthinkingly, I withdrew only Rs.1000, completely forgetting that I should have more cash in hand in case the next fuel station didn’t accept credit / debit cards!
Murphy’s Law was proven once again; what had to happen happened… The next fuel station didn’t accept cards; hence I filled in the fuel for Rs.1000 knowing it won’t last till we reached home. My wife was surprisingly patient in spite of being hungry, which wasn’t a good sign!
We found a family dhaba (don’t’ remember the name) in Shanthi Grama and decided to stop. There were quite a number of cars parked there, hence I assumed that the place would definitely be decent and good. We went it and checked the place, only to find that there was a large group of people drinking and partying! We were the only family there, who obviously couldn’t join their party!
Irritated and hungrier, we immediately drove out of the place hunting for a decent restaurant. I suddenly remembered seeing Kamat Upachar in Channarayapattana near some fuel station. We decided not to stop anywhere else to experiment further, and directly drive down to Kamat Upachar. On the way we found few huge hoardings of Café Coffee Day announcing South Indian Tiffin varieties starting at Rs.39, with the picture of a nice crispy dosa!
We reached Kamat Upachar at 4.45 pm. Alas; we spent almost 10 minutes only trying to get in to the restaurant! Annoyed enough, we decided to taste the South India Tiffin varieties of Café Coffee Day, which was right beside Kamat Upachar. We quickly checked the menu board (not card) and decided what each one would have, and I asked my wife to order the food. After almost 10 minutes the staff was kind enough to tell us that none of the Tiffin varieties were available, and all they had was Fish or Chicken Burger!
Thankfully, I was too tired to ask them how much they spent on all those hoardings on NH-48!
Diagonally opposite Café Coffee Day, we found another restaurant (name?). My daughter asked, “Appa, will I surely get my poori here?” Now, our 3 year old is always angelic except when she’s hungry! Without anymore delay, we parked our car there and gave a hurried order – “Bring whatever is available, edible, and can reach us in 3 to 5 minutes!” Thankfully, both service and food were excellent! The three of us slowly turned human, left the place at 5.30 pm, continued our drive back home.
At 7.30 pm we reached Neelamangala, turned right on NH-4, waited patiently for 20 minutes and crossed the toll gate, and filled 10 litres of petrol (yes, finally my credit card was of some use!) in the next fuel station to ensure my already blinking fuel indicator was silenced. Not sure which left to turn, I stopped here and there and asked for directions to Outer Ring Road. Different people gave me different directions. After roaming around for about 30 more minutes, I gave up and finally agreed to my wife’s suggestion. She navigated using the GPS service on her Android Smartphone until we reached Kalyan Nagar, from where the route was known to me.
With some (literally) cool experiences and great timeout from our mundane routine, our extremely enjoyable monsoon getaway and first ever holiday in Karnataka ended well at Kundalahalli at 9.30 pm on Sunday, 4th September 2011.
As the saying goes, all’s well that ends well!
1. We took help of Google Map and planned the route, distance, approximate travel time considering weather conditions, and eating options. However, probably due to traffic and tiredness I missed that left turn near Yeshwanthpur towards the end of our trip!
2. Weather Report for Chikmagalur, India helped us include rain gear and warm clothes in our travel checklist.
3. Timely food is definitely essential for a pleasant trip! It is imperative to make inquiries, search online, plan in advance and decide where to stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We had packed enough snacks for all of us, yet our lunch plan for 4th September went haywire due to many reasons.
4. One has to carry enough cash bearing in mind all possible expenses. Out of service ATM and fuel station not accepting cards is definitely not my fate, but poor planning!
5. I did not get a chance to calculate the FE at the end of this trip, as I filled-in fuel in bits while returning to Bangalore.
|14th July 2012, 19:06||#3|
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 163,897 Times
Re: Monsoon Getaway – Belur, Chikmagalur, Mullayanagiri (Seethalayanagiri) & Halebeed
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
|20th November 2013, 13:45||#4|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Apr 2013
Thanked: 2,253 Times
Re: Monsoon Getaway – Belur, Chikmagalur, Mullayanagiri (Seethalayanagiri) & Halebeed
Hey! I just visited Belur & Halebidu this weekend. The beauty & precision carvings left me awestruck.
It got my dad quite nostalgic because he'd been there thrice during his childhood & explained its effect on them especially as there was no internet/cameras/TV back then. Atleast we have so much exposure to modern media, to them, it was all the more breathtaking!
This is a video I shot, we joined the guide halfway as he briefly explained the carvings.
And guides those days would supposedly spend hours explaining it all, persuading people to learn Hindu culture, now its more for entertainment.
I didn't start another thread coz I think theres quite some info already available. Hope you don't mind.
Last edited by GrammarNazi : 20th November 2013 at 13:47.