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Old 4th January 2009, 20:42   #16
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At exactly 7:30AM we were back at the reception along with another family of six. For a long time nothing happened. The boatman (or cruise director) apologized for the delay saying they are waiting for another family with small kid, you know how kids don’t get up early, etc.

I pointed at the four kids (aged 8, 7, 3 & 2) among us and asked him what he thinks they are and he went silent with a sheepish look.

Anyway, the final family with just one kid aged 6 joined us and eventually and we took off.

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Many people have no idea that life jacket is serious safety device and has to be fitted correctly to be effective. They treat it with the same disdain shown to car seat belts and helmets, they throw it on because it is the law, nothing more. The guy in front of me was wearing the life jacket with only one strap. I guess he figured he can put on the rest if he falls into water. Actually that would be too late. After watching for a while I told the guy he needs to buckle all the 3 straps and then pull the hanging straps on both sides tightly so that the life jacket is very snug. To his credit, he complied without question.

The morning was very cloudy and dull, which means inadequate light for kind of photography I had in mind. Even birds will come out dull since very little light will reflect off them.

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The left side is the island with under-construction cottages, the right side is where we stayed.

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Then I noticed the water behind the boat and figured it was an interesting subject today. So I switched camera to 50-200mm.

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Meanwhile the guy in front of me was turning out to be a very serious birder. He could name every bird we saw from 100 meters away, even the birds I couldn’t begin to see in all those trees and shrubs. But the only person with serious equipment on the boat was me, the bird noob, heh, heh. So they did the spotting and I did the shooting.

This was at least 100m away, it could have been much better with some morning sun, but sun didn’t show for next two hours.

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Then we saw peacock, spotted deer and lots of cormorants, there was no point shooting them from the shaky boat platform.

So, back to water…

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A kingfisher, shot from very far, sorry about the poor quality.

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Meanwhile the birder was gushing out the names of various birds he was seeing through the binocular. And I was wondering, how one gets to learn so many birds while living in Bangalore. Does he study some bird book every day so that he can recognize them at once glance? I can’t do that even with people.

Suddenly everybody is excited. There was River Tern bird sitting on a submerged tree in the middle of the water. I didn’t know that the resort was named after a bird until I came here. Anyway, I go click-click-click just to make sure I capture this bird correctly before it took off. But bad light didn’t help at all, I couldn’t get the shine on the body, or that elusive catchlight in the eye.

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He is about to take off…

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And gone… a rare bird-in-flight (BIF) shot for me.

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The cormorants were too waiting for the sun

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We that our 90 minute boat-ride was over and we were back at the dining area for breakfast. We were hungry and the breakfast was very good with fresh masala dosas and custom ordered omelets.

By this time we were glad we didn’t get a second day of reservation. The day was too cold for any water sports and there was not much to see in Safari or boat ride. But it is a good place to laze around and relax. We checked out at around 10.30PM and wondered what next.

It was too early to tamely return home. So why not take the long way home via Chikmagalur. With that plan in mind, we set off towards Tarikere. From there we can take the road towards Lingadahalli and finally Chikmagalur. When we eventually got on to this road and neared Lingadahalli, we started getting new ideas. We saw the directions to Kemmanugundi and soon turned off in that direction. We had the whole day, and a vehicle that can handle any sorry excuse for a road. We decided to go to Chikmagalur after seeing Kemmanugundi.

I saw a very funny thing on this road, a cowherd on the cycle herding the bullocks in a fast pace. If you think about this, this is a hard shot to compose. If I am standing in front, the bullocks may run over me. To shoot from the side, I have to be moving or running in their pace. From behind the cycle I won’t capture the full action. I ran through all the scenarios quickly in my mind and came up with a solution. I drove ahead and stopped 50ft ahead of the convoy. I would get only one shot at this. I pulled out the camera, quickly dialed in the right settings and composed the frame. Within seconds the bullocks and the boy ran into the frame and I went click! The boy had no idea he was the target.

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Soon we reached the hills and every turn revealed a more beautiful view than the previous. We kept shooting now and then only to discard and repeat in the next turn.

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The state of the road was getting bad but who is noticing…

To be continued
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Old 4th January 2009, 22:27   #17
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Nice pictures. I can see 'Z-Point' of Kemmangundi in the last picture.
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Old 5th January 2009, 01:10   #18
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I must confess here that we have never been to Kemmanugundi before, so we didn't know what to expect. We thought it will be nothing more than a view point or drive through the hills.

On the way there was this water falls, which was hyped well through many sign boards. So we went to check out, turned out to be a sorry looking place, we quickly got back into the GV after seeing from a distance. So our expectation sunk further.

As we took the final diversion towards Kemmanugundi, I was surprised to come across a gate where the guard gave an invoice for 80 bucks. After checking with the tariff board, I disputed his charge, it should have been 50 for the car. Then he says isn’t it Qualis or Tavera. I told him to count the seats and he apologized and changed the invoice to 50 bucks.

After some time we ended up here, a government resort with a long walkway.

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We thought this was it and started looking for a restaurant. Then I noticed couple of rural troop carriers (read Force Cruisers) go further up beyond the resort. So, we followed out of curiosity and reached a huge park. Only then it dawned on us that there was something significant here.

I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Then there were lots of steps to climb to reach the highest point. I had to carry the young one all the way, hoping someday he better return all this favour.

The top had really breath taking views.

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Once we were done here, I went about looking for a place to eat that the government resort ought to have. It turned out to be a sorry looking canteen which had only one item, meals. The young one was hungry, so we had to eat whatever they had, thankfully it was decent.

Look at this, pay & use Ladies toilet at Kemmanugundi. Every travelling woman’s dream on Indian roads.

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Could this be real? No, not really. My wife took a closer look and came running back. Needless to add there was nobody to take the payment, so let’s forget about the maintenance part. This is the most common thing in most tourist places in India. Either there are no toilets or there are unmaintained ones. It is the ugliest part of every travel experience in India. All these tourist places send one common message, “We don’t believe in peeing and that other thing, we are Indians”.

By this time it was already 2PM and from the Eicher map is was very clear that the route via Chikmagalur was very circuitous. The closest path was right through the Bhadra reserve forest, but how?

Then it came to us. During the Muthodi trip, we had tried to visit Kemmanugundi in the evening claiming it was only 22kms. But we had to give up due to approaching night.

See this:

So, there was a way. We just needed to find a way to go from Kemmanugundi to Muthodi. We asked the people at the resort and canteen, nobody had a clue how to go to Muthodi without going to Chikmagalur. However, they suggested we ask the tourist Jeep drivers at Kemmanugundi town.

When we stopped at the town and asked for Muthodi directions, we were told there is no such way. We can’t drive through the forest, going via Chikmagalur & Balehonnur was the only way. After getting totally dejected we had no choice but follow the directions to Chikmagalur & Mullaingiri.

Generally GV can eats bad roads for breakfast, and today it did. But there was more to come, there was more bad roads for lunch and later for dinner too, all for Grand Vitara. The road from Kemmanugundi to Chikmagalur is stuff for legends, see it yourselves.

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To be Continued
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Old 5th January 2009, 08:24   #19
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Super narration and beautiful pictures! Very reminiscent of a trip I made with friends to Masinagudi. Similar jungle resort and horrid roads near Gundulpet. Will post a travelogue soon.
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Old 5th January 2009, 10:10   #20
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Nice pics.
That cycle and two bullocks pic is nice rural pic. Normally, farmers keep pair of same colored bullocks but in this case, it is completely opposite. I think, bullocks were walking in fast pace and not running otherwise their tails should be raised in air.
It will be informative for people like me if you have added the map with locations you have traveled.
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Old 5th January 2009, 12:19   #21
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From lingadahalli to chickmangalur the road is very good....people should use that instead of kemmangundi - chickmangalur.
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Old 5th January 2009, 13:16   #22
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Lovely narration with a captivating BIF shot. More and more inspiration from you to go and splurge on a nice DSLR.

And the road that is stuff of legends can be bettered. May be you can start a thread for contribution by all...

Last edited by sudev : 5th January 2009 at 13:18.
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Old 5th January 2009, 13:58   #23
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Absolutely superb Travelogue Samurai,really loved the photo shoot you did,which camera did you use??
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Old 5th January 2009, 15:56   #24
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Originally Posted by ASHISHPALLOD View Post
It will be informative for people like me if you have added the map with locations you have traveled.
I am not yet GPS savvy, although I am trying to be, but not trying hard yet.

Originally Posted by kdeepakk View Post
From lingadahalli to chickmangalur the road is very good....people should use that instead of kemmangundi - chickmangalur.
But you would miss Kemmanugundi completely, we wanted to fill the day with more places.

Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Lovely narration with a captivating BIF shot. More and more inspiration from you to go and splurge on a nice DSLR.
Thanks. Carrying and caring for a dSLR can be a real pain during trips, so think again. Think dSLR only if you want absolute control over the photography process.

Originally Posted by sudev View Post
And the road that is stuff of legends can be bettered. May be you can start a thread for contribution by all...
I know, we have worser roads in Karnataka itself. But this road hardly has any traffic, it shouldn't have gone this bad. We saw only one swift, one Gypsy and 3 bikes in the entire 16Kms stretch on this road.

Originally Posted by ramie2400 View Post
Absolutely superb Travelogue Samurai,really loved the photo shoot you did,which camera did you use??
Thanks, it is Olympus E3 mated with 12-60mm and 50-200mm.

Originally Posted by theMAG View Post
Now, dont tell me you had to use those road maps I sent you to get to this place !
Nope, you hadn't even bought the maps by then.
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Old 5th January 2009, 16:10   #25
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Awesome travelogue..enjoyed the read. Kudos to the GV and to you for making full use of its capabilities!
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Old 5th January 2009, 16:36   #26
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Well as they say the world is a small place my friends booked a day at a resort and now i gotto know the name was river tern resorts!! From the pics am impressed but would love to see some animals too!!
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Old 5th January 2009, 16:54   #27
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The write-up and pictures makes you feel, as good as being there. Excellent travelogue!!
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Old 6th January 2009, 00:52   #28
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This road while is deserted and narrow, goes through some very beautiful terrain in less than 10-15Kms.

It has stretches like this which are absolutely open.

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As well as long canopy of trees providing fully shaded drive.

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Not to forget sprinkles of dappled sunlight.

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Then we came across a view beautiful viewpoint where I had to spend 15 minutes doing various photo-ops.

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Unfortunately I didn’t think of eliminating that long nose shadow cast by GV. It wasn’t apparent while standing there. I was focusing on exposing the white car correctly under harsh sunlight without underexposing the background. At least that part worked.

Meanwhile we are still hoping to find a route to Muthodi. Exactly at 16Kms from Kemmanugundi (the sign said so), we came across a side road that was going acutely away from our path and to the right. It was a tar road alright, but there was no sign board. At this place where 3 roads meet, they had directions signs for Kemmanugundi (the way we came from), signs for Chikmagalur/Mullaingiri (the way we were going), but there was nothing about that right turn. We stopped, got down and looked around. My wife had a strong feeling that she has seen this place before during that aborted trip from Muthodi to Kemmanugundi in August. Then she was in the lead Jeep unlike me. But we wanted to confirm the directions before we took it. Considering this road has almost no traffic, that won’t be an easy task.

Suddenly I hear a hum of an automobile. After about couple minutes, a Mahindra pickup with 20 plantation workers on the trailer comes chugging along. Now, this is not something one can dare try in the cities or even highways. But it felt alright in this isolated road. I stepped in front of the pickup and waved it to stop. When it stopped, I started my enquiry with the driver.

Me: Where does this road go?

He: Where do you want to go?

Me: I am trying to go to Balehonnur via Muthodi.

He: Oh, then you should continue on this road to Chikmagalur and then to
Balehonnur via Aldur.

Me: But doesn’t this go to balehonnur?

He: No, no, no… you can’t go like this.

Me: (hmm, he didn’t say it doesn’t go) Does this road go to Muthodi?

He: This road is really bad…

Me: Where does this road go?

He: Er… Ok, it goes to Muthodi, but it is in very bad shape, your car will have
major trouble.

Me: Well, my car is actually a 4WD vehicle.

Now he turns and gives a closer look at the GV at the word 4WD.

He: Ok, I guess then you can go, still nobody other than Jeeps take this

Me: And buses…

He: Yeah, that too… hmm.

That’s it, we had cracked it. We finally found the undocumented road that everybody said doesn’t exist. In actuality, this road is shown in the TTK/Eicher maps, but just as thin line in the green forest, no names are associated with that line anywhere.

We turned and ripped through the beautiful terrain, this stretch is just magnificient. Checkout the shots from this stretch we took last time.

Next 2 shots are from the last trip in the same stretch.

The road was a minefield where you can hardly make out the potholes. Since it was dry season, there was no standing water to warn us, the dust had blended the potholes into the road.

Check this pothole, hard to make out until very close. It is camouflaged by the dust & tree shadows.

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But GV chugged along this route with minimal inconvenience to the occupants. Our little one hardly noticed the terrain and slept whenever he felt like. But he demanded a milk break as we neared the Muthodi Forest camp.

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Compare the above with another shot from August at around the same place.

From the turn off, it was 52Kms to the highway, it is an atrocious, broken, narrow, deserted, winding and breath-taking scenic road. Ok, it is no Shiradi ghat bad, for there are no mining trucks on this road.

Still 150Kms from home…

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Despite the rough nature of the road, we could just rip through it. Exactly how bad it really was, that we were to understand just 6 days later when we did the same terrain twice on the CJ340. How does that expression go, Nani Yaad Aagayee? Nani ke Nani be yaad Aagayee.

This really underlines the most essential qualities of a long cruiser, the ride comfort over bad roads and protection from elements. Now imagine that in a hardcore offroading machine. Mahindra, are you listening...

To Be Continued…
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Old 6th January 2009, 02:50   #29
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Amazing pics,Samurai.Hats off to you.
There's so much to see in India,different terrains & wonderful sights. I really appreciate your efforts to cover so much of the country.most people think of flying out of the country (which is good in its own way,no doubt) but very rarely do people realize how much there is to see within India.
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Old 6th January 2009, 04:38   #30
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Samurai. very nice writeup as always. Really loved the travelogue and the pictures.

The 3 road junction you mentioned, when you are coming from Kemmangundi and staright road goes towards Chikmagalur/Mulyangiri and left takes you to Baba Budangiri and Datta Peeta.

I did the Kemmangundi to Chikmagalur trip in Sep 08. My Swift and friends Baleno. The Swift some how managed the bad roads but the Baleno had a terrible time with the underbelly scraping very often. The place with the open earea of grasslands comes as a surprise when you are travelling under dense tree cover similar to travelling in a tunnel and suddenly the road turns left and on the right the space opens up into a beautiful scenery. This place after Monsoons is just brilliant.

The same place in one of your pictures with the GV.
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