Weekend in Pondy : Day 2 : Mahabalipuram

Today would be the last day in pondy and having covered all the local places, I decided to go to Mahabalipuram  which is 100 kms from the resort.

Mahabalipuram comprises of ancient monuments and is ideal to spend half a day there. Checking out of the resort, we headed to pondicherry bus stand to see if we could get a place where we decided to dump our luggage in the locker stand before heading out. Unfortunately we got to know the locker facility has been closed and I had to look for alternatives. We found a guest house opp to the bus stand and I requested the owner to allow us to use the store room for a day so I can keep my lugagge which the owner agreed to.

Paying a nominal amount I dumped my luggage in the storeroom and went to the hotel for breakfast. Our next target was to figure out the bus to our destination. Upon inquiry we got to know all local buses which go to chennai stop at mahabalipuram. We got into one of those buses and a 2 hour ride took us to mahabalipuram with a break in between.

For local sightseeing we hired an auto for 3-4 hours and took our own sweet time to cover all the important monuments. The carvings in the caves and temples are amazing and one can spend half a day or more by looking at the various monuments.

Sights around Mahabalipuram

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Taking photos of all carvings etc we spend 4-5 hours there before heading back to pondicherry. We went to promande bouvelvard again for a final and spend another hour there before heading back to the bus stand.

Picking up our lugage from the guest houe we went to nearby hotel to finish our dinner. There was couple of hours to waste as the bus was scheduled to leave at 10.30. We spent the time in the bus stand itself waiting for the bus to come.

Boarding the bus at 10.30 we headed back to Bangalore thus concluding a long pending visit to the Union territory

 

Weekend in Pondy : Day 1 : Around pondicherry

It had been quite a few years since i visited pondicherry and my last visit was when I was a kid. After a quite a long gap I decided to head back to pondi again for couple days. Along with pondi I included mahabalipuram as well as it would make a good spot to spend half a day.

My initial plan to travel on the first weekend of this month had to be postponed and I decided to travel on 15-16th july. Travel arrangements were made and resort booking was done in advance.

We boaded the bus on thursday night and reached pondy the next morning at 5.30. I booked the resort in auroville, taking an auto we reached the resort in auroville at 6. After finshing the check in we took rest for couple of hours.

My first order of business was to figure out how to get around the town. Auto’s were ruled out as its quite expensive. I checked in the resort I was told i could hire 2 wheelers for Rs 350 a day. This was quite economical and I contacted the person in charge and after completing the formalities I got a scooter which is ideal to cover all the places. With the transport sorted out , it was time to hit the pool and spending sometime in pool with my daughter after a bath and breakfast we headed to cover pondy’s local sight seeing.

We first headed to mata mandir which is global spiritual place located around 8 kms  from the resort.

MataMandir

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The main attraction is the globe structure which is used for meditation. Free passes are issued to visitors and one can view the building from afar. Prior booking is needed for anyone who wants to do meditation. Details of the same can be availed in the center. We clicked few photos and headed back to the parking lot.

With mata mandir done our next destination was pondicherry. Filling up the tank we first visited auro beach which is enroute to auroville. Spending some time there we went to pondy.

It was already 2 by the time we hit pondy. A quick stop for lunch and we went to Bharati govt park. The park is located in a central location very close to Pondicherry museum which also houses the jawahar toy museum as well. Spending close to an hour in the park while allowing my daughter I took a break before heading to the museum. We found the museum was unfortunately closed until further notice.

As we still had enough time , we went to chunnamber boathouse located 10 kms from pondicherry.

Chunnamber Boat House

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_MG_2290_resizeParadise Beach

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The boat house offers a variety of boat trips with the popular one being a pick up and drop trip to paradise beach. The paradise beach is basically an island with the sea on one side and the backwaters on the other. Boat rides are offered every half hour and we paid Rs 200 as the fee for a return trip. 15-20 min ride took us to the beach where we spent some time there playing and relaxing before heading back .

Statue of Francis Dupleix

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Our next stop was promande beach before heading back to auroville. The attraction of the place is one can walk the entire length of the road as vehicles are prohibited after 6 PM. With no vechiles one can easily enjoy and spend quality time there. Spending an hour there and dinner we headed back to auroville thus concluding an eventful visit

Cruise to Coast – Day 2 : Scenic drive to Bekal

Today was D-Day as we were driving on the route I was planning to cover for a long time. The route to Bekal starts from the entrance of bhagmandala arch where once needs to take a left. The road is a single lane and we are greeted with boards indicating we are in talacauvery wildlife reverse.

With lush greenery and no signs of traffic we were ambling very slowly soaking in the scenery. The route is predominantly downhill and with cloudy weather the drive was even more pleasant.

While cruising along we found couple of road side waterfalls whose photos were duly clicked. Proceeding further, we found another waterfall hidden a little distance away from the road. Parking the car nearby we went to click photos of the falls. We could not approach the falls but we could take photos from afar

Road side Falls

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We continued on and soon we were at panathur and then continued on tho odiiyanchal. The forest area was over and we could see civilization again.

Winding roads enroute bekal

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We continued on the bekal via kanhangad. There is a route to bekal from kanhangad, however we missed the turn and had to go to the highway and continue on to bekal. We reached bekal around 11-11.30 and the sun was already up. Paying the entry fee we went inside.

The place is quite different from what I had visited couple of years back. The authorities have made a garden inside and they have undertaken some renovation work as well. As bekal attracts quite a lot of visitors, the place is well maintained.

Bekal Fort

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We spent sometime roaming inside the fort and taking photos of the sea. Spending an half hour to 45 min, we went back to the car and headed towards mangalore which was our final destination for the day.

Bekal inside

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An hour of driving took us to mangalore. After a stumptuous lunch we checked into the hotel and called it a day, thus concluding a long pending drive.

Snaps can be found here

Cruise to Coast – Day 1: Drive to bhagmandala

Ever since CAM announced the Cruise to coast weekend cycling ride from bhagmandala to bekal fort via panathur I was itching to go. However various situations conspired and I was unable to cycle. With rising costs I was unable to pursue the cycle ride but this didnt mean I would abandon trying the route altogether.

CAM announces Coast to Coast as one of its popular rides and the route they take is given here

http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=wlcwyukypumsltrr

I had decided if i cannot cycle I would atleast drive down the route and enjoy the scenary and the route as the cyclists would. Finally all stars aligned and myself and srikanth set out to explore this wonderful route.

We knew it would be a long drive and 2 days would not be enough to cover the entire distance, hence we planned this as a 3 day drive. We left bangalore on friday morning after a heavy breakfast and snaking through mysore road which was choke a bloc as usual we reached mysore by 12-12.30 with a pitstop in between.

Finishing our work there and after a full course meals we headed to bhagmandala. The weather was cloudy with intermittent spell of light rain. As we reached madikeri the rain also increased.

The scenary was as usual amazing and with rains coming intermitently we were cruising along the downhill stretch. An hour of driving later we reached bhagmandala. We were initially sceptical of getting accomodation hence we had packed our sleeping bags as well just so we can have a nap in the car itself if we dont get any decent accomodation.

We were however suprised to see good no of lodges. We checked into kstdc’s hotel and dumped our luggage in our rooms and took a breather. Evening we went to visit the forest office which was couple of meters from the hotel to inquire about permissions for trekking. A light dinner and we hit the bed, thus concluding the long drive.

Kodikanal – Visit to mannavanur lake

Mannavanur lake a non descrepit lake 25 kms from kodaikanal. The drive through the jungles is fantastic and the one can enjoy boating and short treks around the lake. One can easily spend half a day here to escape the hustle-bustle of the tourists. One the way to the lake step farming can be seen.

Mannavanathur Lake

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Makuta Trek – Day 2: Trek to Pattimalai peak

It was an early start as we had a steep climb to pattimalai waiting for us. Ram who got up very early had cooked wonderful pulao which we packed for the trek ahead. After a quick breakfast we started the trek.

The initial part of the trek was the same route we followed yesterday till the water point. The guides told us there is no water from here on and we filled our water bottles and drank as much as possible. The path to pattimalai starts immediately after the water source and it climbs steeply. Ashushosh and hemanth the guide took off and werent to be seen till we reached the top.

Our Destination

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The climb is steep without any respite and the gradiant increases at certain places. With loose gravel, leaves and rocks getting a firm balance was difficult. With short breaks myelf, ram and rahul continued to the peak while amit and harsha were behind us.

View of the valley

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Couple of hours of climbing we reached the peak, where we found ashutosh and hemanth relaxing. They had reached an hour back and were waiting for us to come. It was time to take a breather and I managed to get a small nap while the others were busy with their photo shoots.

Photo Op

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I too went ahead for couple of photos and after few group snaps, we decided to head back as it was already 12 in the afternoon.

Descent was gonna be  tricky and with the steep gradient in few places we had to be careful. After slipping/sliding couple of times we reached the base by 2 PM. Ram and others were already there and were having a nice time at the water source. The pulav that was packed was consumed and after a long break we headed back to the APC thus completing a wonderful trek. The last bus to virajpet was at 8.30 and after packing up our stuff we bid goodbye to the forest dept personnel who had helped us in the last 2 days.

It took an hour to walk back to the main road. The 6.30 bus was already present at the bus stop. Myself and Amit went to virajpet while the rest of the guys took a while to come.  We spent the time sitting at the bus stop while the rest of them took a open jeep to reach. Chit chatting we spent the rest of the time. The bus to bangalore reach at 10.3 0 and we came back to the city thus completing a wonderful trek, the first for the new year

Makuta Trek – Day 1: Trek to APC and visit to Neelampolai

It had been almost 5 months since I had been on a trek and the craving to be back on the mountains was getting intense. While checking my facebook feed I happened to see a post about makuta trek on New Years day and I immediately registered for it. Couple of calls to the organizer and I paid the amount and confirmed my participation. The mail sent by the organizer had a checklist of things to get and the same was double checked and packed.

Harsha had messaged in the morning saying the bus would leave from Shantinagar bus stand instead of shanatala silk board. We met the team (myself, Amit, Harsha, Ram, Asuthosh and Rahul). The bus was on time and after an uneventful journey we reached virajpet at an unearthly hour of 4 Am. The bus to thalaserry was at 6 and we had around 2 hours to spend. I utilised that to the fullest by having another nap till 6. The bus was on time and we soon left to makuta. An hour of driving on the ghats we reached the forest checkpost.

Makuta check post

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We were supposed to get down here, but we went ahead to the next checkpost where we got down. Upon inquring we got to know we had to get down at the previous checkpost instead. We had to walk a km to the police checkpost where we got a bus and we got down at the forest checkpost. While harsha and ram went to the forest office to complete the permission formalities myself and others headed to the hotel opp to the bus for some refreshments.

With the permissions done we headed to makuta forest office and quickly repacked our stuff before heading to the Anti poaching camp in Sollekolli. As the area comes under reserve forest, as per the forest dept, 2 guides accompanied us till the AP Camp. The path we took was a straight forest road for 3 kms. We took it easy by clicking lot of photos and waiting for others to catch up.

Start of the trek

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The path goes along the barpole river and continues on till we reach the camp. After couple of kms we decided to head to the river and take a shortcut  to reach the APC. Jumping across the stones and crossing the river, we reached the APC within a short time and took a break. Due to the detour of going couple of extra kms and coming back, our plans had to be altered. Initially we were planning to climb the pattiamalai peak, however since we arrived at sollelkolli APC late, we decided to trek to the peak the next day.

Sollekolli APC

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For today we went to neelampolai which is 7 kms from the APC. As the terrain was rolling, we made good time by walking fast. Taking a deviation from the main path, we reached the place which was by the river. Everyone jumped into the river to play.

Fun time @ neelampolai

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Couple of hours of playing in the water we had lunch which was packed and headed back. Along the way we stopped by a hanging bridge for a long photoshoot. It was dusk by the time we left the place.

Rest near hanging bridge

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Back at the APC after changing and freshing up, preparations were made for grand dinner to be cooked by Ram and Harsha. After a stumptous dinner, we hit the bed as we had a tough climb to pattimalai the next day.

 

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