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Monday, November 27, 2006

Kudremukh

17 - 19th November 2006
After an extremely hectic 3 weeks at Office and onsite, I decided to take off on Friday and visit Kudremukh and the places nearby. As usual I and Chaya started on the Friday morning. We took NH 48 going towards Hassan. Breakfast was at Mayura hotel at Bellur cross.

I missed the Belur road at Hassan and had to navigate through the bad and dusty roads of Hassan to find the correct road. After crossing the Hassan city, road is extremely good and we reached Belur in no time. At Belur, I took the road to Mudigere. The Malenad region starts from this place and we were in the middle of Coffee plantations.

At Mudigere, we took the road going towards Dharmastala and the bad roads started from this point. The Mudigere Kottigehara stretch was horrible with no trace of tar anywhere!! It took us 45 minutes to cover this stretch of 16 kms.

At Kottigehara, the main road goes to Dharmastala and we took the deviation to Kalasa. The road is narrow but very scenic with Coffee plantations and the forests. This is one of the best roads to drive.
We reached Kalasa at 1:15 in the afternoon and checked into hotel Chandan, a decent hotel in this area. Kalasa is a very small town with 2 main roads. Five minutes walk, you will be out of town.

Post lunch, we set off to Lakya dam near Kudremukh. This dam was built to collect the waste tailings from the mining operations. So, it does not have any water but only silt. The dam is at scenic location surrounded by Shola Mountains.

On the way back, we saw the KIOCL (Kudremukh Iron Ore Company), the mining company. Supreme Court has banned the mining activities of KIOCL from 1st Jan of this year saving this ecologically sensitive environment. It does not make any sense in destroying our own environment to earn few crores of dollars. But KIOCL is far better mining Company when compared to the miners of Bellary who are only interested in making quick money with least regards for environment and the employees. At least KIOCL has taken some steps to preserve the environment and has given good facilities to its employees.
We then entered the Kudremukh Township, a neat town built by KIOCL for its employees inside the Kudremukh National forest. The town has a good park against the backdrop of the mountains. We enjoyed some time at this place.
We returned back to Kalasa and then went to Kalasheshwara temple dedicated to Ishwara. The temple is very calm with pleasant surroundings.

Next day started with the visit to Horanadu. It has an ancient temple of Annapurneshwari. The Kalasa to Horanadu is just 10 kms with new roads constructed. The temple itself has been renovated. I had visited this place during my childhood days and the journey from Kalasa to Horanadu had taken nearly 1.5 hours. Lot has changed since then and also the number of devotees visiting this place has also increased.

After Horanadu, we came back to Kalasa and started towards Sringeri. There are two roads from Kalasa to Sringeri. One road is through Magundi and Balehonnur and the other through Kudremukh Township and the National forest. We took the later as it was more scenic.

The forest checkpost after Kalasa gives the free permit to enter the National forest but should cross the forest at the other end by 2 hours. This is to ensure that the people just don’t stroll inside the forests. Also, this area is now infested with blood thirsty Naxals creating lot of problems.
After check post, the route gets more and more scenic. Every curve and turn offers great sight of the shola forests and grasslands of Kudremukh. Not a soul to be found for kilometers and the traffic is also very less. I would say that this is the best drive I had ever had.
On the way was the Bhagavathi nature camp, run by forest department which offers tented accommodation and the treks to the park.

We took many pictures on the road and then we found “Kadambi falls” next to the road. The violent monkeys near the falls ensured that we don’t get out of the vehicle. This photo was clicked from the car.
We passed though Varaha Theertha, one of the Pancha theerthas and Gangamoola. Gangamoola is the place where the rivers Tunga, Bhadra and Netravathi originate. Next stop was at Hanuman Gundi falls (Suthanabbi falls). The forest department has built some nice steps to get down the falls. A fee of Rs 30/- per head is collected. We were the only people at the falls and we fully enjoyed the isolation.
We then proceeded and reached Dakshina Kannada border and then took NH 13 towards Sringeri. This road also passes through the forest and is narrow. We took some snaps at the hanging bridge across Tunga River on the way.
We reached Sringeri at 1:30PM and directly entered the mutt for lunch. Then we went inside the temple and the river.
The next visit was to Agumbe for sunset. My cousin’s family who are staying in Sringeri joined us. There is a view point at the start of the ghat. It was a cloudy day and we could get a nice view of the sunset. But we enjoyed the views of the Agmube ghat. We could also see Arabian Sea from the view point.
Back to Sringeri and that was a special day at the Temple, the Laksha Deepotsava was being celebrated.

We started the return journey on Sunday morning. We took the road to Chikmagalur via Balehonnur. The large part of the road from Balehonnur to Chikmagalur was full of potholes and was painful. After Chikmagalur, it was only dry area with great roads. Lunch was as usual at Kamath Yatri near Hassan and reached Bangalore by 4:30 in the evening. Thus ends one more journey.

Route: Bangalore -> Hassan -> Belur -> Mudigere -> Kottigehara -> Kalasa -> Horanadu -> Kalasa -> Kudremukh -> Sringeri -> Agumbe -> Sringeri -> Balehonnur -> Chikmagalur -> Belur -> Hassan -> Bangalore.

Distance:
Bangalore -> Hassan : 180kms
Hassan -> Belur : 36 kms
Belur -> Mudigere : 35 kms
Mudigere -> Kottigehara : 16 kms
Kottigerhara -> Kalasa : 41 kms
Kalasa -> Horanadu : 10 kms
Kalasa -> Kudremukh : 20kms
Kudremukh – Sringeri : 50 kms
Sringeri – Agumbe : 25 kms
Sringeri – Balehonnur : 38 kms
Balehonnur -> Chikmagalur : 52 kms
Chikmagalur -> Hassan : 56 kms

Stay:
Kalasa: Silent valley resort is a costly option, there are good economy hotels like Chandan lodge and Yatri Nivas.

Horanadu: Horanadu has many decent accommodations run by Temple trust.

Kudremukh: Bhagavathi Nature camp run by forest department, KIOCL guest house.


Sringeri: Many decent lodges run by Sringeri Temple.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Xindian, Taiwan

2 - 11 November 2006

This Taiwan visit, I stayed at Xindian, a city south of Taipei. Here are some of the photos of this beautiful place.

View of Xindian from my Hotel room.

The Hanging bridge across Xindian river for pedestrians.


The Xindian river view.
Another view of Xindian river.

More information about this city can be found here.