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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paris

14th -15th May 2011

I was in Netherlands couple of weeks ago on Official visit. With a weekend to spare, I decided to visit Paris along with my colleague Prashanjith Ghosh. The next action was to plan the travel to Paris. From the town of Eindhoven where we were staying, there were three options:

1. Take a rented car – As a person who loves driving, this was my first choice. But rental is economically viable if there are four persons. Hence this option was dropped.

2. Go on train – High speed train runs between Amsterdam and Paris. These were day trains which meant that we get very little time in Paris.

3. Overnight bus – Most economical option. We could get two complete days to roam around in Paris. This seemed to be the most ideal for our requirements.

The plan was to start on Friday night from Eindhoven on Eurolines buses which would drop us at Paris early in the morning. And start back from Paris on Sunday night. That would leave us two full days to roam in Paris. A surprising factor is that the seat numbers are not allocated on reservation. This is strange when even reservation in the “red buses” of KSRTC provides a seat number. But the buses are very comfortable. The bus drops at a place called Gallieni in Paris.

Stay in Paris:

Paris is big city and hence there are various stay options depending on the budget. A lot of “Bed and breakfast” and dormitory accommodation are available. We stayed at Ibis hotel. It is not a cheap option but they allow for early check-in which was needed for us.

Travel in Paris:

Paris has a very good metro network. About 24 railway lines go the almost all corners of Paris. A two day pass for 15 Euros allows for unlimited travel on Metro and buses in zones 1-3. Since almost all tourist spots are located within this zone, the metro pass is a tourist friendly option. The Charles De Gaulle airport is outside this zone and needs a pass with higher amount.
 Though the train network was extremely good, the stations were not clean (Compared to European standards!!). The trains also looked old compared to the posh ones in HongKong and Singapore.

Food:

Vegetarians always have a tough time outside India and Paris is not an exception. It is even harder for a person like me who does not eat even egg!! But few vegetarian options are available in food chains like Subway. Restaurants line McDonald’s have only “salads” in vegetarian menu.

Most of the Indian restaurants are concentrated near Gare du Nord metro station. It is located away from the tourist areas. The high speed trains start from this Metro station.

Language:

French is the official language but surprisingly many people could understand English. Being a tourist place, language is not an issue.

Safety:

Paris is one of the safest cities as long as you don’t enter into some bad areas. We travelled at 12 in the night but did not face any problem.

Is two days enough?

It depends on the interest of people. A person interested in art and history may even find a week very less to explore Paris. Remember that Paris is filled with Museums. But for normal visitors, two days are good enough. Another day can be added to visit Disney land. But this is for Paris only and France itself a big country with lots of tourist places.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hoysala Temples of Mosale

22nd April 2011


The village has a strange name “Mosale” meaning crocodile in Kannada. I don’t know why such a peculiar name exists for the village but more importantly it houses two great Hoysala Temples. These two twin Temples of Chennakeshava and Somehwara Temples are located in the same complex!!


As expected, there was not a soul present in the Temple complex. It was extremely silent evening there with only chirping of birds being heard. But unfortunately there were no people who could explain the details of these twin Temples. Most of my questions were unanswered. It was built sometime in 14th century was all I could get.


But we did spend a lot of time at the Temple examining its architecture and taking pictures.


How to reach Mosale:

From Hassan, take the road towards Hole Narasipura (Or also called as Mysore road). Travel on that road for 10km where you see a big board about Mosale Temples. Take a right turn here to enter into the village road. The Temple is about 2 km from the main road and you need to cross couple of villages before that. The road in front of the Temple is very narrow amidts houses and requires some skill in driving (if you are on a four wheeler).



This is my 200th post!! Thanks for all who have encouraged me to reach this milestone!!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bababudan Giri to Kemmangundi

23rd April 2011

I had heard that the “shortcut road” connecting the two hill stations of Karnataka was very scenic. My two attempts to drive on this road were unsuccessful. I had tried to start from Kemmangundi but horrible roads made me return back on all both occasions. I even gave a thought of walking on that road but like many other plans it never materialized.


Recently, my friend Arjun showed me a news clip that mentioned about the road being repaired between Bababudan Giri and Kemmangundi. I quickly planned a trip this summer as I was skeptical about the quality of newly laid roads after monsoon. This time I decided to start from Bababudan Giri. As expected, accommodation at Kemmangundi was not available thus forcing me to make it a day trip.

As indicated by the news clip, the road was extremely smooth from Bababudan Giri. The winding roads through the coffee estates were paradise for the people in the vehicle. But all good things must end at some point and suddenly the tar road vanished. The bumpy ride started and the next 16 km to Kemmangundi promised to be torturous. Few vehicles from the opposite side convinced that the roads were “drivable”.


After the roads turned bad, we entered into Bhadra wildlife sanctuary area. That might be the reason for bad roads!! Getting permission to repair or construct roads inside wildlife sanctuary is difficult these days.


The scenery changed dramatically after the entry into the National forest. The road passed through the shoal grasslands with deep valleys and lofty hills on the side of the road. Due to summer, the hills were brown. There was absolutely no human habitation till Kemmangundi. As the roads winds through the grasslands, one can see a vehicle moving on shoulder of some hill from a far distance. Though it was a long weekend the density of vehicles was quite less ensuring peaceful drive.


For me, this was one of the best scenic drives in Karnataka. The closest would be the drive through Kudremukh National forest but that being a National highway does not offer the solitude and freshness of BababudanGiri – Kemmangundi stretch.


The rods become extremely bad as Kemmangundi neared. Kemmangundi was filled with people and vehicles. First time I visited Kemmangundi was 20 years ago with my parents. There was hardly couple of other tourist families at that time. With time, lot of things has changed and so is the crowd. Facilities still remain the same!!


Very soon, we were back on the scenic stretch of Kemmangundi – Babbudan Giri. At a view point, I parked the car to the side and took out my camera while my Wife and daughter started climbing a small hill.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Shettihalli Church

22 April 2011

When people know that their abode will be swallowed by the backwaters rising from a dam, they take everything possible with him. But lot of immovable structures still remains to submerge from the rising waters. As summer commences, the water in the reservoirs starts to recede opening up some of these secrets hidden during monsoon rains.



One such place is Shettihalli Church submerged by the backwaters of Gorur dam constructed across Hemavathy River. Built around 1860 by French missionaries, it was called as Holy Rosary Church. It is said that the Church was built using bricks mixing with jiggery and eggs.


Travel:

Instead of usual way of “ask and go”, I decided to use Google maps. As the map directed me from National highway to State highway followed by district roads and narrow village roads, I grew suspicious and asked a villager. But google was correct!! We could see the backwaters and shortly afterwards, the spire of the Church was visible. We had to cross few fields before entering into the backwaters. The water had completely receded from the Church area creating few ponds in between.


The Church:

The huge Church is in ruins now but most of the structures are still intact. The roof is gone and so are the windows and doors. Its golden days had passed long ago and now silently stood against the vast expanse of water.


I saw a small Temple similarly submerged in the backwater. That was on the other side of the backwaters. Few coracles were available but it I was not willing to bet my life on that. If explored, I am sure that more such small secrets would come out.


Unfortunately, a group of people had come on their bikes from nearby city. Few of them were busy emptying the Kingfisher bottles while the ones who consumed all were equally busy in smashing them against rocks. They did not bother us but were creating a nuisance. Somehow, I am seeing a lot of these kinds of people who just add weight to the earth.


We just moved near to backwaters and away from the gang. It was quite peaceful with only the sound being the waves gently hitting the shores. My daughter was more interested in playing in the waters. While she was busy throwing stones into the water, I just sat silently watching the backwaters. It was a nice afternoon.


How to reach:

Shettihalli Church is about 25km from Hassan. Take the road that leads to Gorur dam. After some 12 km, take a road that goes to right. Proceed on that road till you see the backwaters. The church should be visible just before a bridge constructed across backwaters.