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pramod 13th August 2009 00:32

Vihangama -- Theerthalli --Agumbe--Udupi--Charmadi
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A lazy Friday at Office. You look out of the window and see that it is blowing gusts. Decide to drive back home early at 7 pm. You reach Indian Express Junction... Not many people walking on the road, understandable... its raining... You take a look at the sky straining your back through the front glass of the car... Thick low Grey clouds hovering over a city which has this tendency to pour whenever it hits a warm patch for a while. You get an idea..Bing!
Me: Hello!
wife: left office? i can hear traffic around you..So u should be somewhere near mission road already.
Me: listen, lets drive to some place tomorrow. I will take leave on Monday
Wife: !!! ok! where?
Me: hmmmm............ Vihangama...Theerthalli
Wife: Super.Will call them now and try to check the vacancy
Me: done.

Saturday Morning:
I still think i am in my dreams.. i hear some ambulance with its buzzer....
Oh no.. its the alarm.. 4.20 am

I walk down the stairs to my parents room. They are still fast asleep.
Me: Amma, its already 4.20.. Get up.
Amma: Oh is it.. switch on the boiler.. btw.. had u seen 4.20 am anytime in the last 2 years?
I smiled. But i know, i will, if i have to.

We are all ready with 6 bottles of water (Parents very specific about the water they drink when they travel), Father had already gone to Shastry Iyengar bakery previous night to pack "dil kush", "banana chips", "potato bun" and what not.

We leave JP Nagar, Bangalore at 6.30 am. Take the NICE road upto Tumkur Road NH4 junction. NICE road toll from Kanakapura Road to Tumkur Road junction is Rs.50
The drive from NICE junction to Nelamangala is pretty bad it takes 30 min.

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We take the following route to Theerthalli from Bangalore.
Bangalore -- NICE road -- Nelamangala -- Tumkur -- Gubbi -- Tiptur -- Arasikere -- Kadur -- birur -- Tarikere -- Bhadravathi -- Shimoga -- Gajanoor -- Via Shetty Halli Reserve Forest -- Vihangama Holiday Retreat.

Total Distance: 362 Kms

We stop for breakfast at Dabaspet at Pavithra for some Idli-butter.
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We continue driving and take left on NH206 BH road (Bangalore-Honnavar Road) towards Shimogga.
The Road is in decent condition. The ride till Kadur is uneventful. After kadur, the scenery starts to change. On to the left, we see the bababundan hills over chickmagaloor. And lots of sunflower fields...

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A lake near Bhadravathi.. and a Kingfisher is on its duty...

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We pull aside for a few shots. Parents are already worrying about our lunch at Vihangama.
Amma: DO Vihangama serves Veg
Me: Oh yes
Amma : Non-veg
Me: No ;)
Amma: Garlic?
Me: No ;)
Mom looks satisfied already.

After 5.5 hours and 300 Kms, we reach Shimogga. We cross the Tunga Bridge and enter the town of Shimogga. My Mom spent her childhood in Shimogga and she recalls how she used to go the river Tunga with her mom for washing clothes! She is happy.
Wife is happy with the sound quality of the new Kenwood MPX5110 U 2 DIN on my Fiesta.
She hears each beat of the Tabla now... "9k worth alva?".. I nod.

We want to see Gajanoor dam. Recently this overflow dam for Tunga has been upgraded to a proper reservoir as the "Upper Tunga Project". The brown muddy mass of water is a breathtaking experience.

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I catch on a conversation with the Security. He believes the rains have been pretty good in the catchment this month. And the inflow has been steady. If it rains in Agumbe, Shringeri, Tunga flows full.

After a walk around the dam, we have a few slices of pineapple from a road side stall. We are the first customers today. Surprising that people shy away from travelling in Monsoons fearing the rains. They dont realise what they are missing!

Another 45 Kms on this road (NH13), we reach Vihangama Holiday Retreat.
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This is a Simple yet satisfying Resort over the banks of River Tunga in the midst of the Malnad. No mobile connectivity and its heaven.

Enjoy the snaps.
Snaps of Vihangama, Agumbe, Udupi, Charmadi ---> coming in a while.
2 cameras have been used: 1 Nikon s200 with slightly low quality snaps & the others are from a Canon.

pramod 13th August 2009 00:55

Day1 -- On Reaching Vihangama
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Vihangama Holiday retreat is 4 kms before Theerthalli on NH13 which runs from Chitradurga to Karkala via Koppa, Kudremukh.
This is a Arcanut plantation basically. Accomodation is basic but in very good shape. Clean toilets, Clean bed spreads, cute sit outs to your cottages, gyser, shower cubical, good home-like food (1 non-veg item), great hospitality.

We reach the resort at 2 pm and we were just intime for the buffet lunch which served ghee rice, 2 curries, curds, papad, 1 sweet. Basic but satisfying.
We started walking towards out cottage and we meet this person on the way.
ME: Hi.. How r you doing
HIM: Good! Welcome to Vihangama.
(I am wondering who the hell is he to welcome us??)
ME: How many days do you plan to stay here?
HIM: I am the proprietor here
I smiled, shook hands, walked ahead.

Snaps from the retreat....

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pramod 13th August 2009 01:16

Agumbe Drive in the Evening
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We rest for a while after lunch. Walked towards the Tunga River which flows adjacent to the resort.
A walk through the beautiful green Arcanut plantation takes you to the river bed. As you would have seen in other travelogues of Vihangama on this forum, during Summer the river bed is a paradise to play in the mild stream. But in the peak monsoon, the river is swollen and looks dangerous.
Tunga & Bhadra are 2 rivers which take birth in Kudremukh hills at "GangaMoola" and take their own routes to join again to form Tunga-Bhadra river in North/EAST Karnataka. (TB dam is well known, even if you are from outside Karnataka)
We walk back to the cottage and we are all set at 4 pm to drive to Agumbe for Sunset. It was a bit of a joke to expect to see the sun setting during the peak of monsoon at the wettest place in India after Assam!!

We look at the vast stretch of untouched evergreen forests below us from the Sunset point. The clouds are moving towards us from the Arabian sea. The sun is slowly dropping down... But clouds are dense and they completely cover the Agumbe hills.
A family from Maharashtra have come all the way from pune to watch the famous "Agumbe Sunset" and they look disappointed. We now, drive down to the foot of the hills to the Someshwara town. Have a hot cuppa tea and Mangalore Goli Bhajji. Now, we start climbing the Agumbe ghat. And i settle down after the 7th Hairpin. I see the Sun straight infront of me, The clouds are above us. I say to myself. We are lucky. The others at the sunset point are not so.
I get the shots i deserved :)

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pramod 13th August 2009 02:02

Day 2 -- Kuppali -- Sibbal Gudda -- Sringeri -- Udupi
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At the end of Day1, i am outside my cottage with my tripod trying my hand at a moon shot with no glow. I see that its not a cake walk even with a tripod supporting my cam.

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We are awake by 8 am and a flask of tea and a flask of coffee is already ready on the small wooden furniture in our sit-out. Gazing at the River Tunga infront of us, the plantations around, the morning bird calls....hmmm!

Then the breakfast is ready in the common buffet hall and there is another group of 6 who have also arrived from Bangalore in an Innova.
We chat for a while. Usually people are very curious to know which locality in Bangalore they are from, as if they would go and meet them in Bangalore, ha!
Breakfast is Malnad special -- A rice-coconut ball preparation to be eaten with coconut chutney, Carrot payasam served hot, the usual continental stuff and Pongal.
I then speak to Khanina, the owner of the place, for a suggestion or 2 on the near-by places worth visiting. I get some valuable suggestions -- Kuppali and Sibbal Gudda.

Kuppalli --> this is a small town with 4 to 5 houses in it! Yes, its a village.
And a village which is the birth place of the renowned poet and literary of Karnataka "Kuvempu" (Kuppalli Venkatappa Puttappa). He is the "RastraKavi".
The homestead in which he and his 40 relatives stayed during the early 1900s is now owned by Government of Karnataka and has been reconstructed with all the details of the original homestead.
Its a soothing place, a magical experience... I am not surprised that the place triggered him to write such brilliant peoms and works.
There is a Viewpoint over the hill half a Km from his residence called "Kavi Shyla". It is said that he would come to the place and sit down for hours writing his literary. And Also, this place was selected to rest him in peace in 1994.
This is a must see for all who want to get inspired.....

Snaps from Kuppalli:

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Then we leave behind Kuppalli & Kuvempu and drive back to Vihangama.
Have a relaxing Lunch buffet. Packup bags and checkout.
Tariff @Vihangama : Double bedroom Standard -- Rs.1500 for 24 Hrs. (2 rooms)
Total including food and accom for 4 people --> Rs. 5500

Now, we drive to Udupi for Day2 night stay. On the way we visit Sringeri.

akroy 13th August 2009 07:05

Wow, wonderful pics specially enriching for me. I am sitting and remembering those time spent with the group in Vihangama. Monsoon drive through Western ghats in Karnataka is breathtaking isnt it?.

Keep them coming Pramod !!


Ketan 13th August 2009 07:36

Wonderful pics! I have not gone thru the entire trip log but had a quick look at the pictures and started to think about my next ride!

mjothi 13th August 2009 07:39

Great. Man, I am sure it bought back those memorable drives and days in most of us around here :)

Nicely written.

nkrishnap 13th August 2009 08:41

Malnad during Monsoons is just heaven. Fantastic pics there.

Keep them coming! :)

pypkmsrikanth 13th August 2009 09:44

Lovely pictures. Monsoon is possibly the best times to see the western coast. I recently did my own trip through Chalakudy, Athirapally, Valparai to pass through some of the best tropical evergreen forests.

Thanks for sharing

sushrutha 13th August 2009 11:32

Nice pics there Pramod,
Very recently (Just after the horrible rains) I had been to Shimoga + Gajanur, Gajanur dam was almost full during that time.
How is the road condition between Agumbe & Someshwara ?

pramod 13th August 2009 13:04


Originally Posted by sushrutha (Post 1429787)
Nice pics there Pramod,
Very recently (Just after the horrible rains) I had been to Shimoga + Gajanur, Gajanur dam was almost full during that time.
How is the road condition between Agumbe & Someshwara ?

Thanks All.

sushrutha, I preferred the look of Gajanur Dam before the new construction. It looked very natural.
The road condition between Agumbe and Someshwara is not all that great, but at the end of the day it is a combination of 13 hairpins and shouldnt matter too much i guess.
It is still the old concrete that is sitting there.

addyhemmige 13th August 2009 13:10

Pretty good pics there Pramod, especially of Agumbe ghat & Gajanur dam.

Monsoon always brings out the best of Malnad:)

sushrutha 13th August 2009 14:27


Originally Posted by pramod (Post 1430018)
sushrutha, I preferred the look of Gajanur Dam before the new construction. It looked very natural.
It is still the old concrete that is sitting there.

Rightly said, the old Gajanur dam was fantastic to look.
Did you stop at Mandagadde ? Were there any migrated birds ?

StarVegabond 13th August 2009 15:33

Hi Pramod,

great photogprahs
some of the roads appear familiar

Malenadu during the mungaru male is great.
did you encounter any ?

pulsar56 13th August 2009 16:03

Wow. Monsoon drive to western ghats! :thumbs up
Nice pictures. Awaiting the Udupi & Sringeri part eagerly!

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