Sunset on Nandi Hills

Nandi Hills is a small hill station near to Bangalore. One fine afternoon we decided to go to this place to enjoy the sunset.
Running a bit late we hurried through the busy Bangalore traffic in my frined's Scorpio.
It was already late by the time we reached the entry gate of the hill station.
The timings are 6 AM to 6 PM and we barely managed to buy the tickets and pay for the parking before the gates closed.

Once inside we realised that the sun had already set. But the dusk light lingered on and I managed to get a few snaps with my phone camera.

There are few nice spots from where one can take a look at the entire valley around. There are barricades made to prevent people from getting too adventurous.

It was pretty dark within a few moments , but the moonlight was wonderful and we could roam around a bit.

Soon we were the only ones around and the place got deserted. So we decided to return.

Back to the starting point there was a restaurant serving drinks and snacks. We decided to avoid it and make for a small tea and coffee shop further down the road towards the plains.
There were a few people selling grapes on the roadside and one can taste and buy. Prices were pretty decent too.
Its was a wonderful place for sunrise and sunset viewing. Full details can be obtained from this link

Lepakshi - Day Trip from Bangalore

Lepakshi is a small town in Andhra Pradesh. Its just about 130 kilometres from Bangalore. It is a heritage spot and a place of historical importance. There are temples dating back to the 16th century AD in Lepakshi.
One has to take the way towards Bangalore International Airport. We decided to make this trip last Sunday with a few friends.
We started around 6 AM in the morning and drove straight towards the airport. Instead of taking the diversion towards the airport we simply drove straight towards Hyderabad.
This is the route map.

 The morning was filled with fog and mist , but it felt wonderful. The drive till the Bangalore International Airport was a bit painful with a lot of diversions. But immediately after that it was a smooth ride with beautiful roads.
We took a slight detour to enter Chikballapur to have breakfast. We found a Shanti Sagar nearby using Google location services. It served nice masala dosas , vadas and good coffee.

From Chikballapur we entered NH7 again.
 This stretch of road is excellent with nice view of mountains all around.  The diversion towards Lepakshi comes almost immediately after the toll booth near BagePalli. The Karnataka side RTO signs are also quite evident.

The directions are given very nicely and Lepakshi and Hindupur are towards the left. Its mentioned that Lepakshi is 16 km from the junction.

Once we left the main highway roads narrowed, but still decent enough for cars. There were quite a few tamarind trees around where we stopped for a while. One will not miss this bus stand.

The entry to Lepakshi is almost sudden after a couple of villages on the 16 km stretch. The first thing to see on the right is the statue of  Nandi, the bull.
This site is maintained by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and its got a nice pond with lotus flowers and some shade on a hot sunny day.

Around 500 metres from the Nandi Bull complex there is the main temple complex. This is the famous Veerabhadra Temple. This is also an ASI protected site.
Unfortunately we did not get a guide who can speak English , so we just wandered around.

There is one pillar inside the temple which is called the Hanging Pillar. It is said that this pillar did not touch the ground when it was built. Its said that some invaders found that too intriguing and tried to break it. That resulted in cracks in many other parts of the temple. This scared away the invaders.

Well , without the guide its difficult to understand the architecture on the temple pillars.

This is near the inner sanctum. I just took a photo without flash, so the idol is not visible, just the lamp. It was really dark inside and I banged and bumped into people or pillars before my eyes adjusted a bit. Its best to carry a torch, mobiles saved the day for most tourists.

Didn't recognize the idols but this was near a window with some light sneaking in.

Outside wall, this looks like a Narasimha picture. The pillars are beautifully carved and lots of stories on the these.

These are fresco paintings on the ceiling. These are quite damaged and I hope ASI does something to restore these.

Checkout the symmetric pillars with carvings and paintings on the top.

This complex seems like it came down completely. Not sure what it was before.Just the pillars standing.

Individual pillars , the top is gone.

Seemed like a gate , part of it quite damaged, but its quite evident its an entry point to some important place.

The full complex and coutyard with nice trees inside.

Another view.
Finally after about a few hours in the temple, enjoying the cool stone pillars under the shade we started our return journey.

We left the temple complex and returned to NH7 junction. The APTDC Harditha is right at the junction. It serves very decent Andhra meals. Some non-vegetarian items also available. Car parking, toilets , small park for kids and Neem trees around this place.

 The rest of the return journey was quite un. eventful. We just stopped to buy some grapes. This area around Bangalore International Airport and Nandi hills is Grape country. There are quite a few acres of grape farms and vines. Pretty decently priced too around Rs 50 per kg.

We reached Bangalore by 7 PM in the evening, a wonderful day trip done with some nice memories to take.


Yercaud is a small hill station nestled in the Eastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu. It is just about 230 km from Bangalore and ideal for a weekend trip. Known as Poorman's Ooty , this is certainly a good place to drive to during a lazy weekend. We were lucky Yercaud was almost devoid of tourists last weekend.


Friday Evening :- Bangalore to Salem ( Overnight stay in Hotel)
Saturday  :- Salem to Yercaud ( Sightseeing and Overnight stay in Resort)
Sunday    :- Sightseeing in Yercaud and return to Bangalore

Hotel in Salem - Hotel Laila Palace ( Note: Somehow tripadvisor has the name Leela Palace) (Rating 3/5)
Resort in Yercaud - Raintree Resort on Manjakuttai Road (Rating 4/5)

DAY 1 >>
We started off from Bangalore around 5 PM and with a couple of breaks on the highway before and after Krishnagiri we reached Salem around 11 PM. There are a couple of decent places to take some rest on this road. 
-  Hotel Dabba
-  Mc Donalds

We were not aware of McDonalds and hence we stopped at the Dhabba Place which turned out to be an empty place and they just managed to provide some basic snacks only. Not even proper tea/coffee. The good thing is that its located just beside an Indian Oil petrol Pump and one can refuel ,check tyre pressure etc.

Reaching Salem after 11 PM we were a bit worried whether we would get any dinner at all anywhere. Salem is a small steel town and most places seem to shut down early. Then we noticed Hotel Park Plaza ,just on the highway and it was open. Although they had only Pizzas and Sandwiches and Burgers, but it was pretty good. 

We did not book any hotel and it was late. We had a few hotel names in our 'Location Services' on Google. We thought we'll try out 'Leela Palace'.


The narrow lane leading to the hotel gave us an idea not to expect anything great. The road was totally dug up. 
Anyways , after some maneuvering we managed to reach the hotel and get some decent accommodation at a decent rate. 

DAY 2>>
Day 2 started off pretty well with a hearty breakfast at a nearby restaurant. There was some time spent in Salem where my friend had to get his car tires changed.
Then we drove off towards Yercaud. The journey from Salem to Yercaud  is about 30 kilometers only , but there are 20 hairpin bends. I was driving for the first time on such mountains and was a bit tense inititally. However the roads were beautifully banked and at each bend the road widened considerably to make things easy.
I was driving slow and maybe a bit too slow , a few vehicles overtook me. But then all of them came to a single file behind a huge bus that was driving at the slowest speed possible. Well, I just eased between second and third gears to climb to Yercaud.

We had booked the SDK Resort by phone and somehow on reaching the spot we realised that the hotel was not very nice for families. So we went out searching and found a new resort called 'Raintree Resort' just on the main road. 

The resort had wonderful beds and baths, however it was not fully functional. The TV did not work, neither did they have a place to eat. No suitable extra beds. However after a decent bargain, we found the place was fine for us. 
We had a sumptuous lunch at Hotel Shevaroys , that is just walking distance from the Yercaud Lake. 

Yercaud Lake
After lunch we just lazed around the Lake a bit. Some of us did some boating. Lake entry fees and boating charges were very reasonable. 

There was also a Deer Park, not sure why it was called a park. A single or maybe two deer were in a enclosed area beside the lake grazing happily. 

DAY 3>>
Two of us woke up early and we walked into an empty coffee estate beside the resort. That was probably the best part of the trip. A wonderful morning chill and the morning sun and a walk inside the estate with not a single soul in sight. 
We walked inside and saw a small rivulet and orange trees and lemon trees and jackfruit trees. Soon we were so lost inside the coffee estate that we were out of this world for some time. Then we jumped, scared and frightful. There was a growl, a deep growl coming from somewhere inside the estate. We could not figure out if it was a dog or some other beast. After the heart skipped a few beats the growl stopped suddenly. We noticed a local woman probably going to her workplace early morning and she didn't pay any attention to the growls. So we relaxed and ventured further. 
Soon the estate opened up to some cottages, unmanned and then to deeper areas of the coffee jungle.
We took a few snaps and then decided its best to return without getting lost.

We returned and then got ready for more sightseeing. 
Kiliyur Waterfalls - This place is just about 4 kilometers from Yercaud Lake. The road is narrow and hence its best to go in the morning hours when traffic is less. Upon reaching the parking spot of the Falls, there is 1 kilometer of walk downhill to reach the waterfalls. 
Nice steps are done and staircases are built at several places. I was surprised that there was no entry fees. Was extremely happy about that. 
The Waterfalls is a big one coming down in steps and the morning sun is just behind the falls making it a nice place to take some photos or even a bath.
Walking back from the falls is a bit tiring and a short hike uphill.

Pagoda Point - This is again 4 kilometers from Yercaud Lake, a narrow lane that passes just beside Hotel Lake Forest. Some hand made directions are provided to reach this view point. Its a pretty decent place if its not too crowded. One can observe the ranges of Eastern Ghats . There is also a small temple inside the complex. Again , no entry fees , good thing.
We skipped the other sightseeing places viz
Botanical Garden, Lady's Seat and Shevaroy's temple

We decided to head back home. The travel downhill  was pretty fast. My friend's driving is a much better than mine. 
We stopped for lunch at Park Plaza in Salem again ,late in the afternoon. Then we drove back straight to Bangalore, with a few tea stops. 
It was a pretty decent weekend trip. 

Traveling with Responsibility

Several years back in 2004 when I visited Kodaikanal for the first time , I was very impressed. It was in the rainy season and a very short weekend travel from Bangalore. I was very happy because Kodaikanal was clean. I did not realise that initially because it was my first time in the hill station.

What I was impressed was the fact that even the corn vendors beside Kodai Lake provided a garbage bin and reminded errant buyers to drop the leftovers in the bin. There was a corn seller on the footpath, probably not even making a good living. But she was aware of godliness in cleanliness.

Thousands of tourists travel all over India every day. Many of these tourist places are filthy and an eyesore to many. Awareness is not a problem. Very few of us would have missed the advertisements by Aamir Khan - 'Athithi Devo Bhava' or Keeping Historical Places Proper or the 'Incredible India Ads'. Yet many of us actually choose to ignore all of these. Many of us have actually travelled abroad and seen wonderful places , taken nice pictures and behaved as all their countrymen do.
Some of these countries like Singapore impose severe fines for offenders and that is a big deterrant.

But India is still in its infancy in terms of infrastructure and implementation of strict on rules. Everything is like 'Chalta hai'.

I was seeing a Bengali movie - roughly the translation of which is '8:08 Bonga Local'.
The hero of the movie is having tea and snacks at a shop when a couple of guys spit on the floor in front of him. When he protests this behavior , the guys choose to ignore his advise. Then he carefully dumps his own leftovers in the garbage bin and says he was just a tourist , but he took good care of their city. This Gandhian policy somehow hits the point.

 I thought that maybe as a traveller we can list out some of the things that we can easily do to keep our tourist places clean and our tourists happy. If most of us start following some basic rules it will be a much better place.

So there are two factors
        - Examples include
  • Non availability of garbage bins
  • Non availability of toilets
  • Getting fleeced by autos/hired cars /touts etc
  • No punishment of offenders
  • No implementation of basic stuff like clean toilets at bus stations, train stations etc

My purpose of this blog is what Tourists can do by themselves to make our tourist places better.

 - Avoid spitting
  •    Avoid spitting from vehicles on the move.(especially if you have Pan or Pan Masala ).
  •    Avoid spitting inside any tourist place like Heritage monuments.
- Avoid dropping Plastics
  •    Carry plastic packets with you till you find a proper place to dispose off the bag
  •    Plastic is banned in Hill Stations,National Parks and many other places - Banned meaning you should not drop anything there. Please carry it back to the nearest town/village - even if it is the wrapper of a biscuit packet.

- Avoid making too much sound
  •         Zoo - Explain to kids and others -  making sounds is not very pleasant for the animals and maybe other tourists too
  •         Wildlife Safari - Try to make as little sound as possible. It scares away wild animals and disturbs other tourists
- Avoid feeding animals
  •     Zoo - Its illegal to feed animals inside a zoo. But still many people cannot resist doing their little bit of charity that is not required
  •     Wildlife Safari - Again , avoid feeding animals, birds and all other living creatures.
- Avoid Teasing Animals
  •          Using sticks to pinch caged cats or making shrill sounds to try to get a reaction from a resting animal is very bad.
  •           During Wildlife Safaris do not get down on foot or chase animals, throw stones at birds etc. It may sound strange but I see people doing it. Respect an animal and its environment.
Well I understand that there are very few toilets in most tourist places in India and its very difficult to control the bladder. But please try to
  •  Avoid Heritage Monuments

Most of the stuff below is common sense but hundreds of tourists ignore these daily.
  •   Respect Local customs and cultures - Avoid abusive language, dress appropriately where ever appplicable.

Suggestions, comments and criticism welcome.


Monsoon Road Trip of Western Ghats

First of all this is not a trip for the faint hearts. This is one slightly dangerous route covering some of the best scenery that the Western Ghats can provide at the peak of its beauty, the Monsoons.

We covered nearly a thousand kilometres in two days through rains and forests and hills and beaches.

Itinerary- Trip Map

Bangalore -> Hassan -> Gorur Dam -> Shanivarashante-> Somwarpet -> Malhalli Waterfalls -> Somwarpet -> Shanivarashante -> Sakleshpur -> Nelpady -> Bantawal -> Mangalore -> Penambur Beach -> Moodabidri -> Charmadi Ghats -> Mudigere -> Belur -> Hassan -> Bangalore.

Vehicle Details
Fiat Palio stile SDX 1.3 with Michelin tyres and features like fog lights, defogger ,AC etc.
Kilometres - 1000 , approx 1/4 th of the distance in AC
Oil required - 60 L diesel

Day 1 : Friday
We started around 7 pm after office for Hassan and reached around 11 pm with dinner on the way.
Road Condition : Excellent toll roads till Channarayapattana, after which the toll road is under construction and there was heavy traffic.
We stayed at a cheap lodge in Hassan - Gokul Lodge (Rs 350 for a small double bedroom).

Day 2: Saturday
We started around 9 am after breakfast at Sri Krishna Hotel for Gorur Dam. We did not get any clear view of Hemavathi Reservoir, but got a decent look at the dam.
Then we started off for Shanivarashante. The road till Somwarpet was good , just a bad patch here and there. We saved a snake somehow with some furious braking in Somwarpet. Then we headed towards Malhalli Waterfalls. The roads get narrower till the falls , but good enough for cars.

Malhalli Waterfalls is a wonderful place. The falls is situated about 4 km from the entry point where one has to pay an entry fee. This road is in terrible shape and jeeps are available on hire from local home stays.

We tried to go through this road for a while but ended up with a damaged bumper and had to return and hire a jeep. The jeep took Rs 400 for a short stretch of around 2 km. After the 2 km stretch its a short trek. during the initial stages there are concrete staircases but the last kilometre is simple mud road. Since it was raining heavily and the mud road was extremely slippery we decided to skip that part and return. The waterfalls , visible from a distance was awesome. One of the best that I have seen so far.

From Malhalli waterfalls enclosed by Pushpagiri mountains we returned to Somwarpet for a late lunch and car repair.

From Somwarpet we travelled towards Sakleshpur through coffee country. I have no words to explain the beauty of the place and one has to really travel by these roads to feel it. There was a place where the panoramic view of the ghats mesmerized us. We were simply too awestruck at the place.

From Sakleshpur we decided to go to Mangalore for the night. That was on the National Highway. It was evening and it we travelled in torrential rain and mist. The visibility was down to a few metres and we drove safely through the ghat section of deep forests and mountains. We were the unfortunate witness of several accidents that happened on the way , a bus fell down probably unable to control the turns.

There were tense moments where we drove through just barely scraping the road with trucks and high beams on opposite sides. Its not possible to drive without high beams and fog lights on this road at night.

We had to stop at a place inside the forests because one of us was feeling giddy. Fortunately the rest of us were okay. After a few hours of tense and amazing driving by my friends we crossed the ghats and entered the rain side.

At Bantawal we crossed the river and joined the Bangalore to Mangalore Highway. From then onwards even though the roads were dark we felt safe and it was a quick entry to Mangalore.

The day ended at a cheap hotel again , hotel Hindustan right at the heart of the city. With room service we managed dinner and slept well for the night.

Road Condition : Hassan to Gorur Dam ( Bad at times) but manageable. Gorur Dam to Shanivara Shante is narrow but decent roads. Shanivarashante to Somwarpet was very scenic and decent roads. Somwarpet onwards roads are bad in stretches till the Pushpagiri range from where one must take a jeep.


Day 3: Sunday
We started sunday a bit late because it was pouring cats and dogs in Mangalore. We had a hearty breakfast at Moti Mahal one of the better hotels in Mangalore.
After breakfast we headed for Pennambur Beach. I must recommend everyone to visit a beach during the monsoon. It was a sight to behold. An empty beach with greenery all around. With our umbrellas turning turtle we took a few snaps and headed towards Moodabidri. This was one heck of a ride. The
road till the beach was excellent. But soon after we left the highway it became narrow and there was a stretch where we walked ahead of the car to ensure that there was a road indeed. It was fully immersed in water.
Soon we caught a state highway and entered Malnad region of the Ghats. It was the most scenic part of the trip. We crossed overflowing rivers and lakes, great greenery and wonderful views.We crossed some meadows and farmlands that were in so many different versions of green that it was a real treat to watch. We stopped every once now and then to take a few snaps. But the areas were simply beyond a picture.

At Moodabidri we decided to refuel and check tyre pressures. I decided to lower the pressure on all the four tyres slightly. Soon we entered the road towards Dharmasthala. Avoiding the rush of Dharmasthala we entered the Charmadi Ghats section of the Bangalore Managalore highway. This was another place where the scenery was breathtaking. Apart from a minor mishap where a bus and a truck scratched each other at a very narrow point on the road resulting a big traffic jam the rest of it was uneventful.

In the afternoon we entered the highest points of the Charmadi ghats. Covered in mist and fog and dense forests this was really a point of fatal beauty. The roads turned and dangerous curves were crossed. Again there were few tense moments , but all of it happened at daytime and we managed unscathed through to Mudigere.

The roads became better with wider turns and tea and coffee estates lined the roads. We drove straight and reached Belur just before evening was setting in. A quick snack in Belur and we left for Hassan. This is another beauty of a road. Its not a 4 lane road , but its excellent and has dividers around many corners reducing risk of accidents.

On entering Hassan we crossed a bad stretch within city limits and was soon in the bad stretch where the Toll road construction is going on.
As soon as we reached the good roads it was a whisker of a travel. We made 120 to 140 kmph to reach Nelamangala and then a rapid entry to Bangalore via NICE road.

The day ended with a late dinner and a trip filled with wonderful memories of the beauty of Western Ghats and the hair raising parts of the trip.

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