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chikkars 13th April 2012 13:45

Weekend spent in Bliss
It was afternoon of Monday, 2nd April when I was sitting at work thinking what I was going to do for the long Easter weekend. I knew it was too late to start planning things, but wanted to check nevertheless. My long weekend was from Sat - Mon, unlike Fri - Sun which most of my friends working in other companies had. Which meant, that I probably would not be able to do a trip with friends. So this was going to be a trip with my parents.

Purpose of the trip was to beat the summer heat and also to get away from the maddening city crowd. So started short listing hill stations in the range of less than 400 Kms from B lore (since I was the lone driver). Narrowed down destinations to Sakaleshpur, Chickmanglur & Ooty. Started searching for accommodation, but was not very optimistic. Several hundred websites and 2 days later, there was still no luck! Finally on Wednesday, one of the Homestay persons called me back and provided me a number to call to check if they have any cottages left.

Called the number and spoke with one gentleman Krishna Kumar (aka Krish), who owns home-stay called Bliss at Coonoor. He confirmed he had one cottage available for the weekend!!! He also offered to give us the cottage for "Non season" rate even though the season had started on April 1. Checked the website - looked nice, looked up reviews on Tripadvisor - very good! Asked for the account details and immediately transferred 25% as the booking amount. Et voila!

There were a couple of things to be taken care though - the spare tyre's puncture had to be repaired, and the car needed a wash. Got both done on Friday. Now, the question remaining was of which route to take - Kanakapura or Mysore. Posted a question on the Ooty route thread, and finally decided to take the Kanakapura road.

The journey - Woke at 4.30 am and were on road by 5.45 (KR Puram). Took the ORR via silkboard, JP Nagar to join Kanakapura road ot Sarakki singal. By 7.15 we were at Kanakapura town, it was pretty easy to continue on NH9 here. However, it gets a little irritating in Malavalli and Chamraj nagara, as once you enter the town the NH signs just disappear. And they come back only after you have managed to check with locals and have managed to find the right road!! The road conditions were good on NH 209, with minimal traffic. We stopped for breakfast (9 am) at a hotel opp bus stand in Kollegal. The road from Chamrajnagar towards Gundlupet had hardly any traffic! A few KMs before G'pet noticed a red punto flashing lights, I let the car overtake and then saw the LTD sticker on it! The car stopped a little ahead and so did I. My parents were puzzled as to why I suddenly stopped the car. I showed them the sticker, and they kind of got an idea what this was all about. Met the gentleman who was driving the car, I think his name was Kala (?, am really bad with names :((). We exchanged a few words and then carried on, they were on their way to Wayanad. It was a very pleasant experience indeed, a first for me meeting a fellow BHPían while driving.

Driving on, we reached Bandipur around 10.45 am I think; was really disappointed to see how dry the whole landscape was. Needless to say, I did not expect to spot any animals in that kinda weather, and sure I dint. Well, the plan was to take the Gudalur route as it was more scenic and also because we could visit Pykara on the way. However, as soon as we approached Teppakadu and noticed the deviation on left leading to the Kalhatti ghat road, I changed my mind! I was too tempted by the 36 HP bends!! The road from here until Masinagudi (and also a little further) is not very good. It gets very narrow at places, and with heavy on coming traffic you are forced to get off the road several times. Whats very annoying is that nobody follows any rules here, nobody cares about giving way to the vehicles driving uphill!! By this time, I was kind of feeling tired with slight body pain as well. I reckoned it was probably because of lack of sleep the past 2 nights, and also driving since morning.

Kalhatti - I took the first HP bend in 2nd gear, and that was the last I think! After that all of the bends were taken in 1st gear; at most of the turns there was some oncoming vehicle. Further, there were several cars that were being driving much slower than mine, so had to slow down too. By time I finished the 36th HP, I noticed a couple of things. The temperature, which was almost 34 at the foothills and now probably dropped to 22 - 23; and I was also feeling much much more tired now. Kept driving on, and reached Ooty town which greeted us with crazy traffic. The thought of driving another 25 Kms in the back-to-back traffic to Coonoor was scary, given my health condition. I hour and some crazy ghat traffic later, reached Coonoor town; called our host, who in turn promptly guided us with the route. We were finally at our destination, Bliss Homestay at 1.30 PM.

Krish was there to receive us, and showed us the cottage - it was very very nice! I had no energy to even take out our luggage, I just wanted to hot the bed. Krish asked if we had finished our lunch on the way, and I replied in negative. He suggested some restaurants in Coonoor town, in case we wanted to drive down. But I was in no condition to drive; hence he offered to take us in his Innova. We were back in an hour after having lunch at a very very crowded Veg restaurant called Sri Lakshmi. As soon as we returned to the cottage, I popped some pain killers and paracetamol and crashed into the cozy bed. By this time, it was evident that I was running temperature.

chikkars 15th April 2012 23:53

Re: Weekend spent in Bliss
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OK, now let the pictures do the talking - some pictures of the home stay and its surroundings.

chikkars 16th April 2012 00:15

Re: Weekend spent in Bliss
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Woke up in the evening, feeling a little better. By now Krish's mother in law Dr. Ramani was back from the hospital. The first thing she wanted to do was see me! Apparently Krish had told her on the way home about my health condition, and she wanted to make sure I was OK asap. She came looking for me soon as I woke up, spoke to me like she knew me since ages!! Prescribed some antibiotics and vitamin pills which she hoped would make me feel better next morning. Over a cup of our evening coffee with my parents, I wondered aloud if people really can be so nice, genuine & so helpful. Service was an inborn trait in then perhaps, no wonder the whole family (Krish, his wife, kids & his MIL) is so passionate about taking such good care of their guests.

By this time, their driver Alphonse (an elderly gentleman) was done with his regular work for the day. He asked us if we would like to take a walk around the tea estates, since we dint plan on doing any sight seeing by car that evening. We agreed! He took us on a walk around 2 Kms through the tea estates, the Tan Tea factory, some beautiful cottages, farms et all. By the time we returned to the cottage, the dinner was ready. And oh boy, what a spread it was. Dr. Ramani herself makes the food. The "simple home made dinner" had rice, poriyal, dal, aviyal, kootu, moru kolambu, rasam, sambar, curds, pickle, papad & payasam. Had the sumptuous dinner, followed by the antibiotics and other pills and called it a day! Btw, did I mention that the hosts also gave me sweaters (yep, I carried none) as I was feeling really cold because of the fever.

Here are some pictures from our evening walk.

chikkars 16th April 2012 00:43

Re: Weekend spent in Bliss
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Got up next morning feeling much much better, the medicines had worked really well. The plan for the day was to do some sightseeing like typical tourists. Although we have seen most of the places, we wanted to visit them again as it had been several years since. I had requested Krish the previous day to arrange a taxi for our local sightseeing. This was the original plan; I didn't want to drive for the local sightseeing because of - bad/narrow roads, parking problems, stress etc. Although, it was a very busy weekend, Krish was able to arrange a taxi for us. It was a Logan; and for full day sight seeing which includes all the popular spots in Ooty and 1 in Coonoor, we were charged 1300 INR. A very fair deal indeed!

The driver was a young lad by the name Mani. He was at the cottage exactly at 9 am, by when we had finished our delicious breakfast of Appam and stew! Mani was not only a very good driver, but also a nice guy. He took us via the wellington route so we could see the cantonment area; he also gave us a lot of trivia on various topics ranging from geography, photography (change my camera settings!), current affairs and so on. I was happy for once sitting in the passenger seat with my camera, clicking away to glory!!

We covered all of the tourist attractions this day - Doddabetta, Botanical Garden, Boat House, Lunch @ Nahar, Tea & Chocolate factory & SIM's park.
Mani recommended buying home made chocolates from the chocolate factory where it is made fresh. And a very good suggestion it was! Although I am a huge chocoholic, I am not really that big a fan on these home made chocolates from hill stations. But I have to say these chocolates at the factory taste yum, just like the ones you find in Europe - very rich with good amount of nuts and dry fruits too.

Here are some pictures from the day

chikkars 16th April 2012 17:49

Re: Weekend spent in Bliss
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Day 2, evening: We were done with the sight seeing thing and were back at the cottage by 5 PM. After having tea, I decided to take a walk & my parents decided to join me. We took the road which we had not explored during the previous evening walk. Again, there was not a soul around on these roads, it was just huge cottages (mostly owned by IFS, IAS, Army personnel) and tea estates. We bumped into a few guys who were walking their owners' dogs. There were around 12 dogs, mostly Labradors and Golden Retrievers. My face immediately brightened up looking at the dogs!! My mom wondered, "wherever you go, you end up finding your friends, no?" clap:

I asked the guys if I could get a picture clicked with the dogs, and they were more than happy to oblige! They just handed over the leash to me, and I was not sure if I could handle 3 dogs at once. But the dogs were so friendly and nice, they posed nicely for pics as if they knew they were being clicked :thumbs up

We continued our walk and started returning once it got dark. When back at our cottage, we were pleased to find that the dinner was ready! Given that we had done a lot of walking through the day, we were really hungry; the Veg Biryani and Fruit custard was finished in no time!

Watched Comedy Central stand-up for some time (they have Tata SKY with all paid channels) and retired for the night. Next morning, we were going to check out.

Some pics from the evening:

chikkars 16th April 2012 18:17

Re: Weekend spent in Bliss
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Day 3 - Got up late after a very good night sleep. Just sat in the balcony overlooking the tea estates sipping hot cuppa. The feeling of returning to Bangalore felt bad!!

Alphonse had agreed to drive us to a couple of places (Dolphin's nose & Lambs rock) in Coonoor this morning. By 10 we were ready to check out after having delicious Puttu, Kadala, Pappadam and Banana for break fast. Clicked a few snaps with our host and continued towards Dolphin's nose. I am not a big fan of going these so called view points, because most of the times you cant find the thing which has given the place its name. Alphonse then took us to the Homedale tea factory where we bought fresh tea, packed in front of us. 100 INR for 1 kg of tea, the same which is sold for more than 250 bucks in shops; very good deal I say.

After this, Alphonse got off at the town and I took over the driver's seat! We decided to take the Gudalur route so we could enjoy the scenic views as well as visit Pykara falls/lake. We reached Pykara by around 1 PM, and by this time it was quite sunny. Checked with the local shops about the distance to the falls and they said it was more than half km walk in an uneven path. My mom was very tired, so she was opted out; I and dad also decided not to proceed as locals told us that the water was too less. We decided to go to the lake and take a boat ride there. But when we reached the lake there was a big queue for the boat rides, and we were told that the minimum wait time would be 45 mins. We decided not to take the ride after all.

The route via Pykara was indeed very scenic, it started raining lightly which added to the beauty. We reached Gudalur at 2.30 PM and decided to have lunch here. By then it started pouring heavily, and it remained like this till Bandipur. Bandipur forests looked much better than they did 2 days ago, thanks to the rains! We were also able to spot some deers & peacocks.

On our onward journey, between Malavalli and Kollegal we had noticed this place where the river (Cauvery? Arkavati?) flows just next to the highway. On our way back we stopped at this place for some chai/biscuits. Dint venture too much into the water as it was getting dark, and also we had no idea about the depth of the river. Clicked some snaps and continued with the drive. From here onwards, I drive was nonstop till KR Puram; reached home sweet home at 9.30 pm.

Here's some statistics from the trip:

Total distance on the ODO - 690 Kms
Petrol consumed - Approx 42 Lts
F.E. - Approx 16.6, good considering a lot of ghat driving

Bliss homestay website - BLISS HOMESTAY

Some pics from this day:

GTO 17th April 2012 12:40

Re: Weekend spent in Bliss
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!

abhinav.s 17th April 2012 13:56

Re: Weekend spent in Bliss
Finally the T-Log is up! Good writing and amazing photos. Though i had seen them on your facebook, viewing them here is a pleasure all over again! :)

Drive more and put up similar logs :D

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