Friday, October 29, 2010

NH-13 between Chitradurga and Hospet

23 October 2010

This is a “new kind” of post dedicated to bring out the bad conditions of the road that I travelled during my recent travels. The idea is definitely not to bring this to the notice of the concerned authorities as it is useless to expect those incompetent guys to do anything better. The intension is to inform the readers about the bad roads so as to “prepare” for it whenever they travel on these roads. And please comment if there is any improvement in road conditions in future!!

This particular post is about the condition on National Highway 13 between Chitradurga and Hospet. This is the road that is widely used by people travelling to Hampi and other North Karnataka areas. The total distance is about 120km.

View Larger Map

It is not that the entire stretch of road is bad. The first 50km from Chitradurga is ok with few pot holes to look into. But a National Highway is expected to be a good road with no potholes and speed breakers. The bad part is that this road is extensively used by huge trucks. While National Permit lorry drivers do a decent driving, the mining trucks create havoc. Like their masters, the drivers do not care for general public.

The only major town is Kudligi and good part is that it is by-passed. But then the road turns into completely horrible state. The only people that are not affected by bad roads are KSRTC and mine truck drivers. They just overtake and vanish!!

As you are about to enter Hospet, you get nice views of Tunga Bhadra dam on the left side of the road. But here is the biggest bottleneck. The road climbs a small hill through couple of hairpin bends and then goes down the other side of the hill. On top of the hill is a railway crossing!! This place witness’s massive traffic jam whenever the railway gates are closed with trucks lined up for km on both sides. And railway gate closes 15-20 minutes before the arrival of the train. You can imagine what can happen if traffic is stooped for 20 minutes on a busy highway.

It takes hours to clear the traffic jam. I have travelled on this road four times and struck in the traffic mess for thrice.

A sensible thing was to dig a tunnel through the hill. It is not a rocket science. I think “chopping” the hill would be easier as there are many expects (miners!!) in this district.

There are no good restaurants all along the road between Chitradurga and Hospet. Considering the bad roads and traffic snarls, it is always good to plan for food items.

An alternate way is to go to Bellary and then take a road towards Ananthapur or Hiriyur. But Hospet to Bellary has one of the worst roads filled with mining trucks. All the best!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hoysala Temples at Haranahalli

9 September 2010

Haranahalli, a small village near Arasikere is known for Keshava and Someshwara Temples built during Hoysala period. It is very sad that these Temples are now in a bad shape due to negligence.

Keshava Temple:

As I expected, the Temple was locked!! The priest usually comes to the Temple to conduct pooja and then locks the Temple. Locals directed us to a priest’s house. Since the priest was not available, another person came with the keys.

The person opened the outer gate, I was impressed with the star shaped Temple. The person who accompanied us was very silent. I tried to break to break the ice by asking a normal question like “When this Temple was built?” and the answer I got was “MLA came last week”. Bit surprised, I asked few more questions only to get completely irrelevant answers. He was deaf.

There was no power and it was very dark inside the Temple. The person explained few things about the idols inside the Temple. It looked like the authorities were more concerned on making the Temple religiously more popular rather than conserving historical things.

Someshwara Temple:

It is on the other side of the main road. The condition of this Temple is worse than Keshava Temple. The cows had a free run inside the compound.

When the door was opened, the sound of the bats flapping their wings was irritating. It was an indication about the state of the Temple.

Small plants grew on the rocks of the Temple.

The only positive side was the compound which prevented encroachment of this Temple. I hope ASI takes complete control of these Temple and improves them.

How to reach Haranahalli:

From Bengaluru, go to Arasikere. Take the road towards Hassan. Haranahalli village is eight km from Arasikere. Both the Temples are very near to the main road.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bruges, Belgium

25th July 2010

“If you are going to Belgium, do not miss Bruges”. This is what everyone in Office told me when I mentioned about my plan of visiting Belgium during the weekend.

Bruges is a small city in the northern part of the country. It is a city of canals and often called as the “Venice of the North”. The city centre is declared as world heritage site of UNESCO.

One of our colleagues was staying at Bruges and hence we choose it for our stay in Belgium. It is about 1.5 hours drive from Brussels.

One of the canals in Bruges.

A road in Bruges. It was Sunday and very less people were on streets.

Damme, a small village near Bruges.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Brussels, Belgium

24th July 2010

The nearest country from the place where we stayed (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) was Belgium. Brussels, the capital city of Belgium is just two hour’s drive from Eindhoven.

One of the important landmarks of Brussels is Atomium. The 102mtr tall monument was built in 1958.

Next to Atomium is mini Europe where the important monuments of Europe are represented in miniature form.

The most important place in Brussels is Manneken piss. It is in the center of the city. The statue takes one by surprise. I was expecting a big statue but it is a very small one at the corner of a road.

Look at the photo below. It gives an idea of how small the statue is!!

A few hundred meters from Mannekan piss is Town hall. There is a Grand palace and several building of Gothic style.

More photos of Belgium trip can be seen here.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Nipli falls and dam

10th September 2010

We always exert ourselves in going to farther and new places but are ignorant of the great ones near us. One such place was Nipli falls. It was so near to my native place yet I was completely unaware of its existence.

When came to know about this place, I made it a point to visit this falls during my recent trip to native place.

Lot of small streams from nearby hills converge into a small reservoir and the water overflowing from the dam flows for 200mtr before falling from about 20ft.

The beautiful part is the backwaters. I would say that it is the safest place to play in the water. While swimmers can venture deep into the backwater, non swimmers can also play without any issues. Beautiful place for kids as they can play in water without any safety problems.

A place completely free from crowd. Hope it remains for long time.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Driving in abroad

Driving four wheelers is my passion, preferably on good highways. But driving on Indian roads is nightmare many a times. Sometimes the roads are bad and if they are good, speed brakes are constructed!! The stretches of Golden Quadrilateral are good but one has to be always vigilant about the people suddenly jumping into the roads, cattle carelessly walking and even more careless lorry drivers.

The roads in abroad looks cool and I always wanted to drive once. I first chance that I had been when I went to US several years ago. But unfortunately, I had not learnt driving at that time and had to content with the position of a navigator. The first thing I did after coming back from US was to learn driving and get a license!!

But I never got a chance to visit US again!! My abroad visits were to South East Asian countries. The countries were small, public transport was great and people were discouraged to use cars.

My wish got materialized when I went to Netherlands couple of months ago. I got visa at the last moment and didn’t had time to get an International Driving License. Anyway, I had taken my Indian driving license.

I was pleasantly surprised when I came to know that driving license issued by any country for the period of six months. And like in US, renting a car was a simple affair in Europe.

The major difference in driving is that Europe follows right hand traffic while India follows Left hand traffic. This means that the driver seat and the steering is on the left of the car and we have to drive on the right side of the road. This causes confusion for the person driving for the first time in right hand traffic. The common mistakes people (including me!!) do are:

- While taking left turn, go to the left side of the road. This is quite dangerous as it will surprise the native drivers who always follow rules. I did not do this mistake!!
- While changing gear, left hand first moves up. Only then we realize that right hand has to used for changing gear.
- Turning wiper on instead of direction indicator.

But in general, driving in Europe (or in US) is easy compared to India. Roads are good and people always follow rules. One just needs to stick to his lane and drive!!

Normally, people drive on small roads with less traffic to get confidence before moving to motorways (Expressway). I had very little time to go through that process. I started my driving directly on a motorway!!

One advantage of driving cars on rent is that every time you get a new car!! The downside is that you should get adjusted to drive a new car each time. Some cars come with lot of automatic stuff. From my experience, the more the more the automation, the more difficulty to use them!! Some situation that I(along with my friends) faced is:

• For the first weekend, we went to the car rental at the last moment. There were no cars to spare and so the lady offered to take an expensive diesel car. Since that exceeded our budget, we asked her to look at some alternative options. Finally, she gave us a Citroën car which was due for a service.

When it was time for refueling, we were bit puzzled what to fill. We took the car in a hurry and did not know whether it was a petrol or diesel car!! I opened the car manual only to see that everything was in Dutch!! Puzzled on what to be done, we saw another Citroën coming in. The owner of that car was sympathetic to our problem and told that it is a petrol car. We could have solved it ourselves had we opened the lid of the fuel tank. It was clearly written there.

• The Citroën we got had automatic gear system. Since we were using an auto gear car for the first time, it took some time for us to get adjusted into. There was no clutch and we didn’t know what to be done with our left leg only to realize that only right leg is required to control both acceleration and brake.

• Another car that we rented was Volkswagen Golf. It had six gears and the reverse gear was at the top left position (where the first gear is located in our cars). And the first gear was next to the reverse gear. While starting the car, we use to carefully make sure that we do not put the gear to reverse. In that process many times we ended up starting from 3rd gear!!

At one point where I had to take a reverse turn, I put the gear to reverse and tried to move. It started moving forward!! Thinking that I had not put the gear properly, I tried few more times. It never moved backward. I thought that there was something wrong in the car, but it was a brand new car. As I was trying various things, I saw that the gear can be pushed down. When pushed down, the gear could only move to reverse!! Simple mechanism to avoid accidental changing of gear to reverse gave so much pain!!

• When it was time for refueling our Golf car, I searched for the lever that would open the fuel cap. Even after searching several times, I could not find any!! Again, we had to take the help of a car owner who was at fuel station. The solution was just to press the cap. It would just come out!!

• The Citroën had a car navigation system. It was so advanced that we could never understand how to make use of it!!

Last but not the least was Tomtom car navigation system. Without which it would have been an impossible task finding out the route in big cities and taking the right exit from the motorway!!