1300 kms //48 lts of petrol // 7 districts // 5 days // 4 nights// 2 people // 1 bike
Back from the 5 day trip.
This was the route : Bangalore > Neelamangala >Yadiyur > channarayapatna > Hassan > Halebid > Belur > Chikmagalur > Kemmangundi > Kalahatti falls > Bhadra wildlife sanctuary > Sringeri > Agumbe > Kundapur >Marawante > Baindur > Bhatkal > Murudeshwar > Honnavar > Kumta > Gokarna > Om beach > Yana > Sirsi > Siddhapura > Jog falls > Honnemaradu> Sagar > shimoga > kadur > Arsikare > Tumkur > Bangalore
I should say that it was not that easy, but it was an exciting experience.
I always believed that a trip should expose your minds to new sights, smells and sounds. When you hire an AC coach, zip past National Highways watching your favorite movie in DVD, you miss out a lot. When you travel by bike or even better hitch-hike, you see more, you learn more, and you enjoy more.
Imagine riding through non existent roads, trekking for kilometers in the hot sun and reaching a less explored place, taking to locals and listening to stories from them. Now compare it with being transported from point A to Point B in an AC coach in true business style, fresh as a tomato from the refrigerator, and a guide delivering you a presentation on the place that you are seeing.
Well, I prefer the first.
Let’s go back a few centuries
Leaving Bangalore one hour behind the schedule at 6 AM from Silk board Junction. The route was Neelamangala > Hassan > Halebidu > Belur > Chikmagalore.
The road from Bangalore to Hassan was a drive experience of its own, beautiful landscapes around you and a smooth ride. Or maybe we were just trilled by the less traffic or the lack of signals. Reminded me of that hutch song, "green grass... blue skies", but the dog was missing. We stopped frequently to click pictures. You just cannot afford to miss such beautiful skies.
Through the dusty and hot Hassan town you turn to Halebid. The road is narrower and curvy, but still good. All through the way look out for small yellow boards put up by Karnataka Tourism. They never lie. In Halebid, ignore the pestering hawkers, and there stands majestically the Hoysaleshwara temple, Built in 1121 AD. The walls are covered with stone sculptures depicting the Hindu epics.
Wondering what will happen to the world if I make a sculpture in that same style, with some contemporary theme, like a person using a computer or mobile phone and place it somewhere in between with out anyone noticing. Evil thoughts!
Inside the temple, non-Hindus are allowed, and surprisingly they even don’t bother if you take photographs. You will need halogen lamps though, it’s really dark inside.
Belur is 16 kms from Halebidu, narrow curvy roads, it’s a nice ride. Channakeshava Temple, a little less detailed than that of Halebidu, but worth watching. The interiors are considered to be better than the exterior sculptures, and they have a huge light which they will turn on if you pay 10 bucks. With out that it’s just darkness.
Leaving the old town to sleep in the memories of its once glorious past, we reached Chikmagalore, traveling around 175 kms from Bangalore.
Day Two. Dive 6,317 feet !
After talking to the local folks, we decided to drop Kemmangundi, as they were not much approving of our idea that it is a wonderful place. So we opted for Mullain giri, highest peak in Karnataka (6,317 feet high from Sea Level) around 10 Kms from Chickmagalur. We left at around 7 AM, already two hours behind schedule. There are hardly any direction boards; the ones present are more of abstract patterns than direction boards- good enough to confuse you than to give you any direction. But the locals were eager to help; they waved us to the path even before we asked them. The roads... hmm well you can call that a pathway or a jeeptrack, steep and dangerously curvy. A few kms before Sullaingiri, we parked the bike because in the mist we didn’t have any idea what lied ahead, the road or 6000 feet’s of air. We trekked to the top. That was a most memorable experience. The fresh air, the morning mist, and the plush greenery around you, breath taking views. Never miss an opportunity to visit that place. It’s still a fresh place, mostly unexplored and not at all commercialized. In fact, you will not find any human being there.
11 am, through bad bad bad roads of Aldur, Koteshwar, we left for Sringeri, center of learning, philosophy and sublime spirituality. The Jagadguru Shankaracharya Mahasamsthanam, Dakshinamnaya Sri Sharada Peetham, (Dont bother, no one can read that in a single stretch.) has there base there. The temple and a river with fat and lazy fish living on the feedings by the pilgrims.
Next point was Agumbe, it’s a view point from where you can see the sunset some 50 kms far in the sea under ideal conditions. It’s supposed to be a very rainy place, but luckily we didn’t see any rains or the sunset either.
Some 65 kms from Agumbe is the sleepy town of Kundapura, and a few kms from there is Trasi, and that is the place where we stayed that night. They gave us a nice sea facing cottage, and some great food. The humidity in the atmosphere has increased.
The Odometer reads some 175 kms more. End of day two.
Day three Fake sadhus and instant Moksha
After a morning walk in the seashore and break fast from Turtle Bay, we left via Maravanthe, Bhatkal, Honavar, and Kumta to Gokarna. It takes a lot of carelessness from the authorities to leave such roads so badly maintained.
From Madangeri you have to cut left and go some 11 kms to Om beach. Just like the karmic journey, only the people who deserve find it. Never ending and long winding roads, empty stomach, and hot sun though are not the ideal conditions to search for it, but some how we reached the place. It’s a small and neat beach, in the shape of 3 or in the shape of Om, for the people with the religious bend of mind. Well I, for one, could think of many interesting things that resemble the shape of the beach.
It’s also a place where foreigners attain instant moksha by listening to the karma and cosmic gyan from fake fancy dressed sadhus while drinking beer and smoking, in restaurants.
It was hot as hell and the sun was very cruel. We were absolutely soaked in sweat and dripping. Luckily we had some time left so slept till it was time for sunset.
Having grown up in a sea side town, beaches are not new to me. But still you can never get bored of sea. I can sit by the sea any number of hours doing nothing, but just watching and listening to it. Could there be any thing more magnificent than the sea? I guess not.
We stayed at Namaste cafe, for 300 bucks your get a thatched roof cottage with attached bath. Pretty cheap, and a menu that lists almost all the cuisines of the world.
Here nights are longer with parties and days start by noon. The security guard looked at me with surprise when I sleep walked to the restaurant for tea at 8 AM. "The restaurant will open in a couple of hours from now", He said.
Day four A Date with Yana
After attaining Nirvana from Om Beach, we reached Mirjain and turned left to Yana. No... Not that Yana Gupta girl that you are thinking of, actually quite far from that. Yana is 16 kms from the Sirsi route. From the moment you turn from the main road, the road ends in reality. From there road is a concept, well it’s a graveled pathway, with some stones thrown in for that bumpy ride effect. Don’t worry, the bad roads (for want of a better word) last only for some 6 kms, after that they turn to dangerous roads. Very steep and curvy and no sign boards or a human being to ask for direction. Just your luck and instincts will save you. You reach a plain ground and leave the bike there and trek all the way up to 3-4 kms. There are a few rock formations. If you ask me the whole trouble is not worth taking unless you are a trek freak. It’s not for lazy mouse potatoes like me.
And the bad part is you have to ride the same 16 kms back. It takes at least 1 hour to ride these 16 kms.
Well it’s better to say 16 kms- I hour, than saying 16 kms- half hour- 2 fractures -3 injuries.
From Yana to sirsi, just before sirsi cut left to jog falls, the Asia’s highest waterfall. Roads are okay, but the amount of water is less.
May be we should come when the taps are full open. Jog falls to Sagar, and from sagar to shimoga. Great roads, sad that it was getting dark when we were passing by. Stay in shimoga.
Day five Get me home.
Didn’t do anything much. Just drove from shimoga to Bangalore via, tarikare, kadur, arsikare, tiptur, gubbi and tumkur. Bangalore welcomed us back with its warm and friendly traffic blocks. It’s good to be in a known territory at last. :)
Photographs are here. Not anything great, but okay. Still experimenting with the camera.