Thursday 29 January 2015

Kokkare Bellur

Not a bird sanctuary but birds somehow love this place. Not in par with bird sanctuaries like Ranganatittu but a decent one if you are there in a perfect season. (However I was not during perfect season, but not during worst season too.) 

Visited on 26-01-2015 after learning that birds come there during January. The information was right too..! Verified it with the villagers. But unfortunately this years birds have not yet started flying in to the place and villagers are not sure if they would do or not this year..!! (Will probably visit the place again during March or April again and If i do, will update this post.. :) ) 

"A long weekend and I did not go anywhere" This feeling was burning inside and thought I will wake up early in the morning and go to Kokkare Bellur as it was pending from long time and also thought it was perfect season. But could not wake up. But, after waking up could not stop from picking up my keys and go for a long ride. If its for a long ride then why not to some destination? Forget season and just check whats there over there was what I decided and left. It was 1.00 PM when I left my place. 

After a hundred kilometer ride from my place, there I was, where I did not find even a single Bird flying..!! I thought I have come again to some place during a wrong season. Checked with villagers and got to know it was not wrong season but it was wrong season for this year..!! 

But, not to be disappointed completely, got to know that there are birds in 2 trees. So I headed towards those and found a few Pelicans incubating their eggs. Cool... I was little happy that at least I got to see a few birds. But it was wrong time (4.00 pm) for a first of all bad photographer to take any photos.. :D So headed towards the river so that I spend some time in solitude there. Expectation vs reality is always there.. Expected a calm river. But found its only calm but not a river to sit beside and feel the flow. Grasses present around were blocking the view if I sit. Happy that the river was clean and provided food and water for the birds in the village. :) 

Found a few Birds near the river. Tried Clicking and got some really bad photos proving again that I am not fit for the job.. :D :) Found birds like Little Cormorant, Egrets, Pond Heron etc.

Later went back to the village to click a few photos of Pelicans in the tree. Luckily the trees which Pelicans selected were close to an overhead water tank. Even though it was little risky to climb in the Iron ladder present, there is a small thrill that attracts you to do such things. With fear deep in heart, climbed the overhead tank and got a few photos and then back to Bangalore :) 

How to reach : 
Pretty simple - Kokkare belluru is Off Bangalore Mysore road and hence take Bangalore - Mysore road. Just before Maddur Coffee Day, take a left. Go 12 Kms further and you are there..! (One would easily miss the left near Maddur. So keep an eye.. :) )
Kokkare Bellur is 86 Kms from Bangalore. 

Photos :  (Again I remind You.. I am not a Bird photographer and given below are just photos of Birds from Kokkare Bellur.. Hope you get the difference.. :) )

Spot Billed Pelican

Friday 16 January 2015

Top Weekend Getaways near Bangalore

Bangalore - One of the most happening cities in the country with unlimited options for shopping, dining, drinking, dancing and what not. Go to MG road or Brigade Road or Koramangala, you will get hundreds of option to kill your boredom. But if you are someone whose boredom cannot be killed by all these or you are someone who is 'bored of killing boredom' in these places then here are a few options near by Bangalore which might help you.

It has been a few years since I have been visiting places during weekends. Some were good, some average and some bad. Below is the list of the same. However, the opinion about the place is solely from my perspective and its left to the readers to consider it or not. :)

  1.  A few of the below provide a link to my blog (Colored Yellow below) with details of the place. Rest, I have either not written the blog or I have not yet visited but are in my bucket list.
  2. I have added places which are <300 Kms in distance from Bangalore. So I have ommitted places in Shimoga District, Mangalore, Hampi etc. (Will Come up with a detailed list of places in Karnataka Soon.. :) )

Wanna take some sweat out of your body??? 
Then, here are a few places to Trek and Hike
  • Raagalli Betta                         (~50 Kms Kanakapura Route)
  • Sri Ranganatha Swamy Betta (~50 Kms Kanakapura Route )
  • KabbaliDurga                         (~75 Kms Kanakapura Route )
  • Antharagange                         (~70 Kms Kolar)
  • Ramanagara                            (~50 Kms Mysore Route)
  • SaavanDurga                            (~55  Kms Magadi Route or Mysore Route)
  • Shivagange                             (~60  Kms Tumkur Route )
  • SiddaraBetta                           (~100 Kms Tumkur Route)
  • Madhugiri                               (~100 Kms Tumkur Route)
  • SkandaGiri                              (~60  Kms Doddaballapura Route)
  • MakliDurga                             (~60  Kms Doddaballapura Route) 
  • Devarayana Durga (Yet to be visited)
  • Kunti Betta (Yet to be visited)

Nature Lover??? Here you go.. :)
  • Nandi Hills               (60 Kms)
  • Kokkare Bellur         (~80 Kms) (Yet to be visited )
  • Shivana samudra      (~150 Kms)
  • Ranganatittu             (~140 Kms)
  • MekeDaatu               (100 Kms)
  • Muthathi                   (100 Kms)  
      • (I am not a huge fan of the place considering the distance. But can be visited along with Mekedatu or Bheemeshwari)
  • Hogenakkal Falls      (170 Kms)
  • Gopalaswamy Betta (200+ Kms )
  • Chikkamangalore     (250+ Kms)
    • Kemmannugundi Z point 
    • Mullayanagiri 
  • Madikeri                   (270+ Kms) -
    •  Mandalpatti and Abbe Falls
    • Chelavara Falls and surrounding places 
    • Dubare 
Wanna Go back in time and revisit the history??? 
Check out these Historical Places near by.
  • Tippu Summer Palace      ( < 10 Kms)
  • Bangalore Palace              (< 10 Kms)
  • Bangalore Fort                  (< 10 Kms)
  • Freedom Park                   (< 10 Kms)
  • Shri Ranga Pattana           (~130 Kms)
  • Lepakshi                           (~120 Kms   Good Ride Guaranteed)
  • Chitradurga                       (~200 Kms  Good Ride Guaranteed)
  • Belur and Halebidu           (~220 Kms Via Hassan   Good Ride Guaranteed)
  • Shravana Belagola            (~150 Kms Hassan route  Good Ride Guaranteed)
  • Mysore                              (150 Kms)
  • Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain                 ( < 10 Kms)
  • Lalbagh Garden                                          ( < 10 Kms)
  • Cubbon Park                                               ( < 10 Kms)
  • Venkatappa Art Gallery                              ( < 10 Kms)
  • Planetarium                                                 ( < 10 Kms)
  • Iskon Temple                                              ( < 10 Kms)
  • Visveswaraya Technological Museum       ( < 10 Kms)
  • HAL Museum                                             ( < 15 Kms)
  • Hebbal Lake                                                ( < 15 Kms)
  • Ulsoor Lake                                                 ( < 10 Kms)
  • Doddalada Mara(Big Banyan Tree)            ( ~30 Kms)
  • Bannerghatta National Park                        ( ~ 40 Kms)
  • Kushalnagara Bailukuppe Golden Temple ( ~230 Kms Madikeri Route)

And here are a few places which I would add to Black list. I have got fooled by the words in Internet and you dont have to if you are my kind of a traveller. :) Again a reminder that these are purely from My Perspective
  • Pyramid Valley ( Do not visit unless its on the way. Its worth only giving a small visit)
  • Pearl Valley or Muthyala Maduvu (DO NOT VISIT it)
  • Hesaraghatta (Can go for a ride or if you are a passionate Bird Photographer. But not a get away spot. But worth if you pay a visit to near by cattle, emu farms.)

A few photos of the places which I have not provided a link but I have visited and shot photos.!
View in Nandi Hills (The view is not always like this. If you are lucky, you would witness this kinda )

Butterfly Park in Bannerghatta National Park

HAL Museum

Abbe Falls - Madikeri

Big Banyan Tree - 400 Years old banyan tree spread across 3 acres..!
Shravana Belagola

Historical Places in Bangalore

From being just a part of Mysore provenance to Growing as one of the largest city of the country, Bangalore has lost a lot of things while gaining today's stature. It has lost its greenary, its lakes, its Air conditioned weather, its calm nature. However it is, we love Namma Bengalooru. We complain about the traffic but still we do not want to leave the city. When we live here, why not look back in time about the city and its glory. From Kempe Gowda, Tippu Sulthan to today's Big shots in real estate everyone have contributed in building Bangalore. We have been seeing today's Buildings, but how many of us have seen Bangalore's Historical places/Monuments? Hardly a very few. People Born and brought up in Bangalore themselves have hardly seen all the places I list below. All these places are not more than at 10 Kms distance from Heart of the city.

I do not say that these places can compete with the heritage sites of Karnataka like Hampi or Belur. But for Bangalore, these are the best ones. So, if you have been staying in Bangalore for years and a weekend you are anywhere near the Market or Majestic, then do give a visit to these places. Or plan for one full day outing covering all these places.

Tippu Sulthan Summer Palace
Being a place very close to the KR Market and Kalasipalyam, you would not expect it to be maintained so calm, peaceful and clean. But it is! In spite of being at the heart of the city, the summer palace is very calm and clean. Govt of Karnataka is maintaining the place in the best possible way and a nominal fee is collected from tourists. Once again I would not say if its worth visiting all the way travelling in the Bangalore traffic. But definitely visit if you are anywhere near by.
Tippu's Summer Palace

Bangalore Palace. 
A costly affair..!! That is what it comes to my mind when I think about this place. Its little too costly if you wanna take photos!!! If not its reasonable. It consists of a museum in an old palace. Its not as royal as Mysore Palace but not a poor one too.

Bangalore Fort
Started by Kempe Gowda as a Mud Fort and completed by Haidar Ali as a Stone fort, the Bangalore fort is majestic..!!! You cannot believe your eyes that there is a fort in the middle of the Market area..! Its maintained very neatly by archaeology department of Karnataka.
Bangalore Fort

Freedom Park aka Former Bangalore Central Jail
Atal Bihari Vajapayee, Advani everyone have visited this Jail..!! Not as tourists or for any political visit. But were held in the jail during Emergnecy..!!! The former central jail of Bangalore is today a tourist spot and government has put a lot of effort in making it so beautiful. It is converted as a park and if you are anywhere near by Majestic / KR Circle then do give a visit to this place in the evening. You would feel a calm place amid the busy streets. The aesthetics of the central jail have been changed to have a blend of a park and an old jail. Overall I would definitely place this in must visit list if  you are a Bangalorian and not just a visitor.
Freedom Park Bangalore 

Freedom Park Bangalore

Monday 12 January 2015

Lepakshi - A ride to a place speaking about the glorious past.!

I have a habit of creating a list of places to be visited and list of places already visited. Every time I find a place to be interesting and feasible to be visited, I make a note of it. It was when I was in my previous job and I used to see continuous posts on Lepakshi, I came back home and added the place to the list of to be visited and it was more than 2 years since I  did that. Every time I hear about Lepakshi I used to feel I should visit this soon. And, I am now going to remove it from the list as I completed it.. :) 

Lepakshi is a typical Vijayanagara Style temple but with its own unique signatures. The 3D painting of Lord Sri Krishna is one of the master piece in the place. Its a mystery for me that how people had such skills during those days itself when they did not even have any special paints other than vegetable paint.! The richness of the empire can be seen in their temple. The Vijayanagara emperors had a very good taste and they invested on something that has made their empire's name remain in the country till date and will remain for centuries ahead.

Lepakshi is a small place in the Andhra-Karnataka border in Ananthapur district. Its History goes back to the time of  Ramayana where Ravana was attacked by Garuda and Garuda's Wings were cut by Ravana. The name Lepakshi comes from "Ley Pakshi... Ley Pakshi.. " which Lord Sri Rama called Garuda as.

There is a temple built in Vijayanagara Style. Half a Km away there is a huge Nandi statue. These are the 2 attractions of the place. Pooja is performed even today in the temple. However, every part of the temple is not completed. A Royal marriage hall of those days was started but was not completed. But, it looks incomplete only if someone says it to you. If not it looks majestic. The ceiling of the temple consists of paintings done using the vegetable colours. Unfortunately, Only parts of it are still remaining. Search for a Lord Sri Krishna's Painting and you stand from any direction, the eye of the lord looks like its staring at you. Another main attraction is the hanging pillar. A small gap  is present in the bottom of the pillar. (Due to some experiment done during British days, the pillar got tilted and one corner of the Pillar touches the ground now. :( )

There is a small village around 24 Kms from Lepakshi and in 12 Kms deviation from the Lepakshi - Bangalore road. The village hosts migratory birds during their breeding season. Mainly for the painted storks. But, Birds visit the village only during a particular period of the year and unfortunately when we visited there were no birds. (We visited on 10-01-2015) Late January or from February the birds start visiting the place is what we got to know from the villagers. So, if you are visiting Lepakshi, just enquire about the place and visit if its the right time. 

How to Reach?
There are multiple routes to Lepakshi from Bangalore.

1 - Bangalore -> Airport Road -> Doddaballapura -> Gouri Bidanur -> Lepakshi

2 - Bangalore -> Airport Road -> Chikkaballapura -> Lepakshi (This route has major part as Hyderbad Highway and its better to take this route. We rode in both the roads and I would suggest this over the other one.)

The Huge Nandi Statue

The 3D painting of Lord Sri Krishna

The hanging Pillar

A sculpture of Sarpa carved by the sculptor during free time..!! (Seriously.?? I would have taken rest.. :D )

In the incomplete Marriage Hall..!!

Friday 9 January 2015

Chikmangalore - Top destination In Karnataka

Kept in bucket List for too long time, Chikmangalore was troubling me a lot for not visiting. Its like a feeling to pee. Once you feel like doing it, every minute tend to become hours. Finally the day arrived and I was on my way to Chikmangalure From Bangalore. It was kind of 'planned sudden plan'. This time it was with my Co-Intern Friends in Philips - Sachin, Sai Krishna and Srikanth.

May be when you wait too much, the expectations grow too much that, reality cant meet it. Same happened with me in Chikmangalore. A reason to visit the place again anyways (but with lesser expectation..!! :) And, list for next visit is already up..! (Its Ballalrayana Durga trek !!)

Hired a taxi and left Bangalore at 4 am. With Kannada songs played loud, it was a fun to travel in empty road. Reached Sachin's Uncle's place and had our breakfast and left for the days' sightseeing. In plan was Kallathgiri Falls and KemmannuGundi. If it was only these 2 places on Day 1 then I would have been disappointed like anything. Both the places are not even worth visiting once in my opinion. I still wonder why Kemmannu Gundi is portrayed as one of the touristic hot spot in Karnataka. Its just a Dry garden with no flowers or even plants on a hill top.! And Kallathgiri Falls when I visited was a small stream of water around which people were washing cloths.! And while walking uphill along the stream, realized the fate of Indian Touristic places again. Whole lot of garbage around and icing on the cake for those who love dirt are the glass pieces in the water stream. If you are going there, then never ever dare to walk bare footed in the water. If you do, then dont complain like me about people who drink and throw beer bottles in water.! Yes.. I am being sarcastic here to explain the mentality of people who spoil the beautiful nature. But, on a serious note, its really hard to appreciate a place which is not maintained the way it actually should be. 

KemmannuGundi and Z Point 
Second destination was Kemmannu gundi. On the way to Kemmannu gundi, 2 kms before the peak there is a deviation to 'Z-Point'. The place which made me realize the beauty of chikmangalore. Yes, Chikmangalore is beautiful if you visit the right place and maintain it in the right way. Z point provides a decent trek and a good walk in nature. Good view points as well. After a good time, we were again ready to visit a Magnificient Sunset from Kemmannugundi and looking at the place, did not feel like waiting til sunset. If you ask me, you can skip kemmannu gundi in your trip to chikmangalore unless you are interested in a dry garden.!!

If you are on a trip to Chikmangalore, then even if I dont mention, you will not miss to visit this place. One of the most beautiful place in Karnataka. No wonder.. Being the highest peak in Karnataka, it should be! Green carpet all around and cold breeze. To kill your thirst to visit a beautiful place on that weekend.. :) Approach road is narrow and also lot of pot holes in the road. If you are going in a small car, think twice. When we had been there, we have seen cars finding it difficult to clear the ghat.! But, its definitley worth taking some risk and driving to hill top and go to the highest peak in the state. 
Exploring any place you go is always a must. walk around and you will find some nice places. In mullayanagiri, walk a little further from peak towards the other side, and you will find 2 caves. After coming back searched in net but did not find much info except what we saw there. The caves look like man made and is lengthy. We went a little distance and found too many bats from where we returned. Absolute darkness inside and its a nice experience. :) 

Overall Chikmangalore did not meet my expectation. So, I have decided - I am going there again but with little less expectation.. :) After all we need a reason to travel.!

How to reach ?
To be frank, I have not recorded any of the routes and reaching these points are not difficult since they are very touristic :P So this time I escape from giving routes. :|

In Kallathgiri Falls

In Z-Point.. :)

Way to Z Point 

Way to Z Point

View From Z Point

Way to Mullayanagiri Hill top from the car parking area

View from MullayanaGiri Hill top

The cave in Mullayanagiri - Worth going a distance in this.