Monday, August 21, 2017

Trek to Handi Gundi betta

It was a long time since Subbu, Krishna and me had gone together on a trek. The last time was in December when we trekked to Shingani Gudda and Udaya Parvatha. We managed to get a Sunday for ourselves. When I looked at the places that could fit into a day plan, Handi Gundi, a small hill near Ramanagara looked promising.

From the top of Handi Gundi
Driving to the base of the hill was simple. Handi Gundi is seen from Bengaluru-Mysuru highway just before Ramanagara.  At the deviation to Basavapura, we exited the highway, crossed the railway line and reached the village. The locals guided us to reach the base. We parked our vehicle near a temple and started walking. 

Handi Gundi betta
The initial path was not clear. The locals asked us to go in a particular direction which we followed. The area was rocky and steep. We walked in the general direction of the peak.

Initial stretch
As we climbed up, the surroundings opened up. The hills nearby and Ramanagara town was now visible. The new layouts announcing that the area was “developed” were seen!! But the view on the other side was hill was greener with some small lakes. The recent rains had made the area green.

On the "greener" side
Unlike many hills near Bengaluru, Handi Gundi had lot of greenery. At midway, we just stopped and relaxed for some time enjoying the scenery. It was pristine and beautiful. It looks like there were no visitors in recent times. 

The last stretch
The path though visible sometimes was not clear. We just had to climb up looking at the direction. It was not difficult as the hill itself was not very large and chances of missing were slim. 

From the top of Handi Gundi
After walking for about 45 minutes, we had reached the top. A lone pole indicated that we had reached the highest point on the hill. The total elevation gain was about 800 feet. A simple but a beautiful trek.

Subbu looking at Ramanagara town
On top of the peak was a flat land and we spent nearly an hour relaxing and chitchatting. The Bengaluru-Mysuru highway and railway line was visible. Few trains passed as we just relaxed on the hill. The Ramanagara town looked big from the hill.

View from the top
While getting down we took a different path. Anyway, there was no defined route in that place. The climbing down was faster and within 30 minutes we were back at the temple. And we were back in Bengaluru for our lunch!!

Cactus flower on the hill

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Halasuru Someshwara temple, Bengaluru

While I travelled to various places to visit architecturally beautiful temples, there was one in Bengaluru that I completely missed. I had once stayed in Halasuru where the temple within few minutes of walking distance but I did not visit this place!!

Someshwara temple, Halasuru
Now that I am staying in other side of Bengaluru, the prospect of facing traffic did not encourage me to visit this place. Thanks to metro connection, the eastern part of Bengaluru is much more “accessible” to me!!

Carvings on the wall
Situated amidst the crowded narrow lanes of Halasuru is the Someshwara Temple. It is said to be dated to Chola period but most of the structures have Vijayanagara Empire influence.

There was some renovation going on during my visit. The gopura was covered which did not look nice.

The pillar stands in front of the entrance.

The carvings in the gopura resembles typical architecture during Hoysala and Vijaynagar days. 

Carvings in gopura
Once you cross the gopura, you will see the large temple area. The open space in front of the hall gives a nice feeling though the new constructions might change that in the coming days.

Temple entrance
The hall consists of several pillars with some nice carvings. The sanctum is surrounded by a narrow passageway.

Main hall os the temple
The pillars are very typical to Vijayanagar architecture.

Pillars in the hall
Overall, a nice place to visit if you are interested in temple architecture. The temple opens from morning 6:30 to 12:30 and evening 5:30 to 8:30. Four wheeler parking is a challenge in this area. You can either park at some of the malls nearby. A better way is to take a metro to Halasuru station.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Vintage cars of Prague

At a high level, all cities look similar but deep inside they have their unique identity and differentiators. One of the interesting thing about Prague was the vintage car tours. As I walked from location to another, I spent some time in looking at these vintage cars and photographing them.

They are mostly suited for families and couples who want to give a different feel to their visit.

There are horse drawn carriages too.

Oops!! This has nothing to do with tours!!!! The battle tank was just placed in front of a museum.

I was curious about the cost of the tour. While I hesitated to ask the driver for the fear that they may pester me to get into the vehicle. But finally, I got the answer!! 

There was also a limo.

Finally, my mode of transport!! The tram that is part of the public transport in Prague!!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

My travel to Prague

During my childhood we use to ask our friends to spell “Czechoslovakia”, one of the difficult words in English. All I knew during that time was that it was a country in Europe. Later the country was split into two and they also divided the name of their country!! The two countries were “Czech” and “Slovakia”!! Prague, the capital city became part of Czech Republic.

Prague castle

Well, this was a post long overdue. I visited Prague in April this year. But the New Zealand trip and monsoon travels took most of my time in writing. Before I forget, I thought that I must put this in writing.

Charles bridge
During my official visit to Netherlands, I had a weekend to spare. Prague was in my backlog for sometime. The cheaper tickets to Prague helped to quickly decide on the destination. It was an early morning flight from Eindhoven on Saturday and late evening flight to Amsterdam on Sunday.   Indeed it was a very short visit and I utilized every possible minute of my stay in Prague.
Church of Our Lady before Týn

Here are some of tips with resect to time utilization and budget.
  • No check-in luggage. Saved time in both Prague and in Amsterdam. Directly head to exit after getting down the plane.
  • Euro is not the currency of Czech Republic. Exchange centers in airports offer very bad rates. It makes sense to just exchange what is required for using public transport to the center of the city. There are many exchange centers in the town that provides competitive rates. Just ensure that the currency you get is legal!! 
  • There is no need to use taxis in Prague. Public transport is very efficient.
  • Prague has 30 and 90 minutes, 1 and 3 day pass that gives access to all forms of public transport. For me two day pass would have been ideal but it was not available. 
  • I purchased 24 hour pass on the first day at airport. I decided to visit Prague castle for the second day and reached the castle before the 24 hour expiry. Prague castle takes a long time to see. So, on the second day, I just used 90 minute pass to travel from the center to the airport.
Ticket counter at airport

  • There is no direct metro from Airport to center. You need to take a bus (No. 119) that drops to a metro station. Works very well.
  • Be prepared to walk. I walked more than 30 km in two days. The city is too beautiful.
  • Food was not a problem in Prague. I am a vegetarian and I could find many Vegan restaurants. Vegan restaurants were expensive when compared to fast food chain.
  • Trdelník is a sweet roll found at many places. One must eat it though it can be very heavy for stomach!! Rolled dough is grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix.
  • For the first time, I stayed in AirBnB apartment. It was near to a metro station and very convenient. It had a kitchen where I cooked noodles in the morning.
Area where I stayed

  • Only place where you need to pass security is Prague castle. The wait can be frustrating. More on that in later posts.
  • Language is not a problem though the official language is Czech as Prague is very touristy place.
  • Summer gives a longer time to see the city. On the flip side, you need to wait for a long time for evening or night photography.

Let me try to put some details on the places I visited in the next posts.