>

ANINDA GHOSH

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 2/15/2016 |




MY TOUR
And  I have changed the way  to tour  these days  after  too  hectic journeys all became  more cumbersome n less  enjoyable.  Like, in  2007,  we  went from Chandipur straight to Puri, thru NH5  still  under construction. In 2015, still  the road is  not fully constructed  at stretches. In 2007, New Jagannath Road was  not created  &  after a  brief lunch @ Puri, when  we decided  to  night stay  @ Gopalpur, nobody told us, what  horror  was in store for us.  After  some km  off Khurdah  Road,  the  4 lane stopped  &  in want of any  signboard, we  took  left turn from Berhampur  to  Goaplpur port. At  9pm+  , thru  weed  woods, how we could negotiate  to a horrific  decayed town  .  This  was  our 2nd   innings @ Gopalpur  &  I logically  expected  the  small town to  go up  from  what it was in 1995  that we covered by bus n train. But , no….  this  time we had  no sleeper  class waiting list, nor  any passenger bus  ride, but the  town became a  ghost town… dogs roaming  in hotels,  no  managers  in reception of small hotels &  above all, no good hotels  open at 9pm .&  no restaurant  to eat.  We hired  a  sea side  room  above roaring sea  but AC was  not working.  And when power went off, change of room too  did not work, as  no  generator was provided.  In 2015 Nov, we wanted  Gopalpur only for our lunch & luckily  1 Bengalee  restaurant  we could locate , which offered  a bit decent atmosphere.  The staple  was  Bengali but not anything  commendable.  Gopalpur is  one of the very few tourist spots  decayed over years  for neglect. Oberoi  has sold off property to Mayfair, who  offer lunch for 1200/- pax + tax  & that meal  hardly has  any sea fish item. And Pantha Nivas does  not offer an unobstructed   sea view., nor could offer us any lunch. It is smaller than even one  at Chandipur . I was  laughing… even Saikatabas on sea at old Digha  is much bigger  than such small pantha nivases.

In 2007,  Chilka  could not be  toured at dark, this time  it was dusk.  And boats  were plying,--ordinary boats. Chilka  Pantha Nivas is a  good one & Chilka is  in fact  the most  magnanimous lake opening to sea.  This Nov  we could  enjoy a newly created narrow  New jagannath Road  as shortcut  to Puri &  another such road  as shortcut from Konark to  Bhubaneswar. Many  people living in Bhubaneswar are  unaware  of   the  n no of temples in the  Temple city.  To  my surprise, most  tourists neither  know , nor visit  these  despite their  sculpture &  art crafts. Mukteswar, Brahmeswar, Rajarani, Parasurameswar  are to name a few  ;  hardly any maintenance  has ever been done  to them.  Coming to integrity  at  temples, Puri is  by far the best  disciplined temple as we saw. Next was  Lingaraj  & to us, Chandaneswar was d worst in the lot.  And another  notable inference we drew,---  except for Puri, not a single beach is duly maintained  by Govt  of Odissa.  Just be  to Digha & the last beach  after New Digha  on WB side is Udaypur,  not offering much amenity ; but  come to Chandaneswar , last beach of  Odissa  is Talsari,  more horrific. Totos  have made  lives of tourists at Digha  quite easy n these totos from Digha are your main carriers to  Odissa.  Even , Jaleswar –Digha road needs a lot of improvements.

In 2007 , our  next  destination en route  trf of job was  Vizag.  After  Ichhapuram border’s   horrific jam was over , we   relaxed  to discover the same  NH5  of  2007 in Andhra. Last  time  we stayed  near RushiKonda beach , this time we stayed @ Park, Ramakrishna beach. Beaches  are  almost same except for huge VUDA  parks  &  beautification schemes.  Hardly in any sea side city  could I find  the road infrastructure that Seemandhra has created  in last few years. I was  told, CM Naidu loves Vizag better  than hooligan infested Vijaywada.  What has not changed  in these 8 years was  lack of   any good dhavas  almost  throughout the stretch between  border &  Vizag.  What  excited me about Vizag was  separate Bus corridor  for rapid bus  transit system. Another  interesting feature  for me was  that  while  from Odissa , we took right to  visit Seemachalam  templeon the hills. After  seeing the  abode of peace, we  came down &  straight left  turn we took , which was the Araku  road. This  road opened  up to same NH5, but on the  Vijaywada  side  &  we had  to take left turn  for  Rajamundhry. It  looks odd  to see  the  magnanimous difference between Hyd & Vizag airports, although both were in same state & both are international ones. However, owing to VUDA’s  development,  the seafront @ RK beach  boasts of a too  costly colony. From Vizag airport  to everywhere you can find some trials  in Bengali script  &  this  is because  the highest no of tourists  here are  still Bengalees.

This  Nov I could accomplish my  old desire  to see  Borra caves,  a magnificent   karstic limestone  cave  &  thereafter  proceeded to Araku valley. The caves are located in the Araku Valley of the Ananthagiri hill range and is drained by the Gosthani River. At the entry, the cave measures up to 100 m (328.1 ft) horizontally and 75 m (246.1 ft) vertically. Stalagmite and Stalactite formations are found in the caves.[6]

The average annual temperature of Araku hills, where the caves are situated, is about 25 °C (77.0 °F). The average annual rainfallreported is 950 mm (3.1 ft) (mostly occurring during the northeast monsoon).[7] The Gosthani river provides water supply to theVisakhapatnam city.[4] The only  thing I  liked about Araku  was the exceptionally artisan works of  near-live statues  in Tribal museum. Rest, the  hill range was  average .

On our eastern  banks, it is a pity that  even Andhra hardly developed  other  beaches. Beaches in Andhra Pradesh. How many people know / go to  the following beaches other than Vizag ones???


With a coastline of 970 kilometres, it is but natural that Andhra Pradesh will have some beautiful and exotic beaches that offer a glorious escape for visitors looking to get plenty of sun, sand and sea. The pristine beaches are a haven of tranquility and can captivate visitors with their ethereal natural beauty. Beach tourism in the state is people-centric while ensuring that the biodiversity and socio-economic needs of the community are maintained. With so many beaches dotting the coastline of Andhra Pradesh, it often can be overwhelming to choose the best beaches to spend a memorable and fun-filled holiday and at the same time there is no dearth of choices. All beaches in the state can leave visitors mesmerized with their golden sand, turquoise waters of the Bay of Bengal and caressing warmth of the sun. Exploring each beach is a delight to the senses and can leave visitors yearning for more.

Mypadu Beach
Mypadu Beach is unique because of its long, uninterrupted stretch of greenery. The crystal clear waters and the golden sands of the beach make a heady mix for travelers, who are looking to rest, relax and rejuvenate. A dip in the water can refresh travelers, while watching the color of the sea changing with each ray of the sun can enchant visitors. The golden sands of the beach make a wonderful bed to sunbathe. Located about 25 kilometres from Nellore city, this picturesque beach is a great place for a relaxing weekend. Visitors can even enjoy facial massages and sumptuous fare served at the food stalls close to the beach.
Accommodation
Haritha Hotel in Mypadu Nellore
Discover the gorgeous beaches of Nellore and enjoy a rural holiday when you stay at Mypadu Nellore. The economical tariff and prompt service are more than enough to make guests return to this wonderful hotel.
Vodarevu (Prakasham)
The Vodarevu Beach is about 6 kilometres from Chirala and offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the coconut trees lining one side of the beach and the golden sands merging on the other side with the crystal clear waters of the sea. This spectacular beach offers a relaxing getaway from city life and splashing in the waves can rejuvenate people. The tranquil setting of the beach can make visitors forget time and the beautiful sunsets and sunrises just add to the overall charm and attraction of the beach. The fishing boats dotting the shore offer rides into the sea to make the experience of spending time at Vodarevu Beach even more delightful and unforgettable.

Rama Krishna Beach (Visakhapatnam)
The exquisite natural beauty of Rama Krishna Beach has to be experienced to understand why visitors flock to it. The captivating beauty of the beach can leave visitors spellbound and at the same time offers a relaxing and delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.The beach offers exciting opportunities to surf and when visitors have had their fill of sun, sand and sea, they can explore the poignant Dutch cemeteries located along the beach. The coconut trees bordering the beach just add to the appeal and beauty of the place. The cool ocean breeze, the blue skies, the golden sands and the inviting waves of the sea make a heady mix that is worth experiencing.

Rushi Konda Beach
Located just 8 kilometres from the port city of Visakhapatnam, RushiKonda Beach is known as the Jewel of the East Coast. The unspoiled beauty of the beach is its main attraction and offers a unique opportunity to relax and enjoy the golden sands and gentle ocean currents.The beach is a haven for watersports lovers and is popular among windsurfers and jet skiers. However, it is the scenic beauty of the beach that lures visitors throughout the year, who come to enjoy spending time amidst greenery, golden sands and azure waters. The day the city celebrates the festival of colours, Holi, the beach gets transformed to a hue of vibrant colours, with people splashing color and water on each other.ccommodation
HarithaBeachResort,isakahapatnam
Located on Bhimli Road, Rushikonda, this beautiful beach resort has a presidential suite, 10 luxury rooms, air-conditioned executive and deluxe rooms and standard air-conditioned rooms. Guests can enjoy the beautiful waters of the Bay of Bengal and the pristine sandy beach while staying at this resort.

Uppada (East Godavari)
Uppada Beach is about 5 kilometres from Kakinada and offers a relaxed and rejuvenating ambience to enjoy the sun kissed sand and water. The pristine shoreline of the beach is perfect for sunbathing or swimming in the clean and clear waters of Bay of Bengal. The wide shoreline and the gradual inclination into the water make it a safe beach.This scenic beach is a retreat from the everyday chaos of city life and the relaxing and refreshing ocean breeze, the invigorating waters and warm sunshine can recharge batteries and prepare visitors to face the rigours of daily life. This beach is perfect for families to spend time together and strengthen their bonds.

Suryalanka (Guntur)
Located just 9 kilometres from Bapatla in Guntur District, Suryalanka is the perfect weekend getaway beach for friends and families. The natural beauty of the beach is major draw for people, who are looking to refresh and rejuvenate themselves. The pristine beach is clean and the waters of the Bay of Bengal are crystal clear. Visitors can enjoy swimming and sunbathing without feeling squeezed, as the beach is wide and spacious.The Haritha Beach Resort allows visitors to spend their holidays at the beach, where they can enjoy camp fire facilities. The experience is truly amazing and unique, and offers a wonderful respite from hustle and bustle of city life.

Accommodation
SuryalankaBeachResort

Located in Bapatla Mandal in Guntur District, Suryalanka Beach Resort is the gateway to the gorgeous Suryalanka Beach. It is an idyllic escape from city life and allows visitors to enjoy the pristine beach and crystal clear waters in a tranquil and serene ambience. The resort has air-conditioned rooms for weekdays as well as weekend, and also offers two dormitories.
Yes, I have a plan to explore some of these beaches  at some  point  of time in 2016-17.

Can anybody  narrate  briefly  the  major  differences  between  North & South India tours???  I can give certain examples----a)  In South, Volvos &  AC Sleeper buses  are too common, but  when buses stop / where they  stop, in most cases  there  are dearth  of   proper  toilets & restaurants.  In many routes, ladies  go to fields for relieving;;  otherwise  also, sanitation  is not too good.  In North, Volvos are not that common  especially in East n North East, but   dhavas are  better, even better restaurans are in almost all routes.  Moreover, food that you get differ, too in  south , with Southern staples predominating.  B)  Some days  back , we went to Shirdi from Vijaynagar. This is  the best route from south to north west, joining straight upto Agra. It links Nasik, Jaipur, Indore etc. This  road  starts from Chitradurga, till where  trucks come via NH4. NH7 is the heart of India  & trucks come from  Kanyakumari  to Bangalore via that.  Even Chennai trucks  also reach Bangalore thru this from Krishnagiri. Thereafter  till Hospet the road is narrow but  Hospet—Bijapur it is 4 lane &  we travel @ 120 kmph  average. What lacks therein is any good dhaba.  And once you  enter  Maharashtra, road narrows down again & road quality deteriorates  but  good dhabas start every  km in both  Pandarpur-Ahmednagar &  Sholapur-Beed  routes.  So, while  you can cover 170km in 2.5 hrs from Hospet to Bijapur, you do not get any good hotel / restaurant.  In Maharashtra side, your speed is < 60kmph, but hotels are good in each town/ city. Once I had some illness  after Bangalore & we were coming by NH7, the Kashi-Kanyakumari  road.  From Bangalore  till Ananthpur there  are almost  no towns & doctors . Scenic beauty is excellent—hills, farming, rocks, but only  problem remains the barren stretches  before Ananthpur  &  after Kurnool till  Mehboobnagar . C)  In  Bijapur / Tumkur/ Sira/ Chitradurga/ Hiriyur/ Davangere  in Karnataka you get a decent hotel for a night stay just for 600/---800/- , Bijapur tourist lodge allows you  verandah, big  room , big bathroom  just for 600/-. But in Maharashtra side average cost is  1200/---1400/-.

My mom in law neither saw so many rocks lying one on other for  time immemorial;  nor she ever saw  biodiesel trees, tomato & groundnut & sunflower plantations. She never  saw  windmills  running &  trailers carrying such units from south northwards.  She opined, there are a no of such places, as can be developed  as resorts. 

There  is  Ballan caves  at Tadipatri  , AP  not as good as Borra caves but neither  too bad, too. The beauty  of NH5 is, you can cover  Kol to Vizag in 13—14 hrs, with Bhubaneswar at mid-distance. Vizag to Vijaywada-Guntur takes another 5—6  hrs. There from Chennai is  6hrs .  How many of  WB people  do visit  by road 350 km per week?  It is but common in Karnataka, It takes  4.5  hrs at max to reach Bangalore from Vijaynagar &  NH4  is mostly 3*3. And  our place  boasts Hampi, the ruins  of  Vijaynagar kingdom & stone dunes  fill the horizon. Across  Tungabhadra  , there is  Kishkindhya & Anjuna Parvat , the abode of monkey god  and also  Pampa  Sarovar, where  Shabari tasted   each plum / berh before  offering to Lord Rama.  Nowadays, these  are  the places, centered around Sanapur lake, where  numerous  resorts have  grown to accommodate foreign tourists scantily  clad. All restaurants  her have gaddi sittings  , where couples lie down  & enjoy drinks & hookahs. No Indian cigarette is available  here, all single malts / scotches are  plenty &  it is  said, it is a  drug kingdom.  Small  tents  / non ac  hutments cost Rs 2k  per night &  foreigners prefer triple sharing, 2 males a female/ vice versa.  

Sugarcane is grown everywhere  in  vast areas  of Karnataka to Maharashtra south. Also millets –ragi, jawar, bajra  are  main staple food. Only Gangavati belt is a rice basin this  vicinity.  Nowadays, TB Dam @ Hospet  far exceeds  the beauties of Almatti  on Krishna & Vrindavan gardens @ KRS Dam , Mandya ( nr  Mysuru).  My parents  have  toured whole of India,  but  when we  took them to Karwar, the sea port/ beach adjacent to Western Ghat,  they  were amazed.  Dandeli forest   here  is  a money spinner with  rafting on Kali river , but  Gokarna &  Murudeswar are splendid beaches. RNS  Guest  House  on beach is simply superb @ Murudeswar..  And when the temple lift carries  you to the top, ,the whole of sea  &  golden temples+  Shiva cave around looks fantastic..  Murudeshwar temple  area is beautified n maintained  by Shettys  &  they have hotels separately  in AC & non AC options , as also veg & non veg  options distinctly.  If you want to avoid  their high costs, there  are  lesser priced  meals restaurants.  The  Sun god, Krishnarjuna &  other deities  bloom in rising sun  @ Murudeswar. Starting from  Aihole, Pattadkal & Badami  caves,  the  deity is Shiva. The only Muslim  tourist spot   in North Karnataka  is  Bijapur  with its echoing  Golgombuj , , Jama Masjid, Bara Kaman,& fort.

And  as you traverse thru the coastline, from Karwar , you  cross over  Ankola Western ghats  & small  water bodies  to reach  Gokarna  beach. Shaped like a  cow ear. &  you face  an ancient temple town  of  Gokarna  lorded by Shiva. Murudeswar is also a Shiva abode.  And  there  are smaller beaches like Kudle, Om,  Paradise, Half moon etc, hardly  visited .  As  you proceed to Dakshin Kanada  district from Uttar,  roads  go worse &  sea  plays hide n seek. From Konkan to  Trivandrum, Arabian Sea  has created  a  large no of lagoons & river  tributaries. And after  Bhatkal, you enter  Udupi, the abode of Lord Krishna.

Misguided  by some tour  guides we  made  a Kovalam tour in 2010  via Mangalore  instead  of  via Mysore-Sultan Batheri-Kalapetta.  It  took  us  4 hrs to reach Yellapur  on Western  ghats &  thru  a  flooding moonlight &  overflowing sea on both sides, we  reached  Mangalore @ 1 am. Mangalore beaches are finest, wherein I  am planning a further holiday.  Mangaluru to  Kozhikode is just  200km via Kasargod, Kanhagod , by sea.  But how much time did it take?  Long 6 hrs. We  covered  whole of  Kerala in 1 day that time, reaching Kovalam @ 1am. That  taught us,  never to go to   North Kerala  , the cashew Endosulphun belt  laden  with worst roads.
    
My  parents  have not  visited  almost any part  of   Karnataka .  Kerala  is extensively well  known to Bengalees ; also major  spots of Tamilnadu, but  not  Karnataka, as this state  has not  sold itself to outsiders  like Kerala / Tamilnadu. My parents  were  mesmerized  by  the lavish luxury  of Serai, ,@ Chikmagalur. Bengalees  of Congress lineage know  Chikmagalur as the  rescuer of Indira Gandhi’s  political career.   Chikmagalur’s hosting of  India’s  coffee   kingdom is  not well known to many. North Indians.  After  getting acquainted  with  short cut routes, both from Bangalore n Vijaynagar, we  have travelled  to Mangalore side   via  Shimoga/ Sagar .  Via Simoga, we have  been to Chikmagalur, then proceeded to  Udupi-Manipal, then Mangaluru. Via  Sagar, Jog falls we have gone via both Honnvar & Bhatkal. There  is another route, via Coorg / Kodagu, this we have not explored. The  famous falls on that route shall we  cover next year.

Starting  from Karwar &  hill station of Yellapur, (  there are 3 famous falls  not on road  but inside; we  shall cover  this year),  there  are  several routes  to coastal belt of  North/ South Canara districts,--- all are  thru Western ghats. And from navy defense base of Karwar  to  Kudermukh  to  Agumbe &  Shirdi ghat to  Manipal’s health n  education hub to  edn hub of Mangaluru  , this belt  , one of the main fish belts of Karnataka  is famous  n rich  in many aspects. From Bhatkal biriyani to neeru  dosa n fish items of   Mangaluru , this Shetty belt that sent to Bollywood Aishwarya, Shilpa, Rohit &  Suniel  Shettys   is  a  destination  every India  traveler  should visit once. And then there  are other piligrimages  en-route, Kukke Subramanya for Kartikeya, known for  driving away  your snake vices.. Don’t believe  , but come. Don’t support madesnana, . Don’t  believe Vasuki lived  here.   But come.  In south,  except for Rameshwaram, in most temples you can find discipline.  We have not yet been able  to enter  Guruvayur  n  Padmanavaswamy temple of Kerala  for strict dhoti  rules.

My  book of 2016  is River thy name is Nethravati..& this is the river  that holds this  shrine of Dharma n Shiva n Kanyakumari.  Dharmasthala is too  unique  , being run by  Jains, worshipping  Shiva  &  priested  by Vishnavites. It has a  large statue  of Jain Gomateshwara,  which I  understand quite similar to Sravanabelgola &  Halebidu  of  Hoysala dynasty ( near Mysuru) in Hassan  district. Belur’s  deity is Chennakesava, again Vishnav.

We  have visited  most of  famous  falls  of  Karnataka but there  are not so famous ones too, which are  no less good. My parents  were mesmerized  at the  vibrant beauty of   small  falls on d way to Chikmagalur  vis  Shirdi ghat.  Both  Agumbe & Mullyangiri are known for their heights  n  fogs .  Even Jog falls  & Rani falls  are foggy thru rains at least  6 months a year. I  suggest to all  readers  to plan a trip during monsoon instead of  season of winter , ‘cause a)  it is off season &  b)  it is not hot & c)  beauty of rains  is most  spelling at this juncture.   There  are a  few temples  near  Jog falls ,Mokambika  is  too famous ,as  also Vanavasi.  But  there  is another  falls  off  Mysuru  , not so famous, is Gaganchukki—Shivanasamudram. Like  Jog, they have made  terraces  there n you can reach nearer  to falls  than Jog. But in both cases there are twin falls , which is a great sight, although you are barriered from  reaching them.  Also, there is backwater  boating  within 8km of Jog, which is very  enjoyable.

Karnataka  is  a state of lakes  n dams, whether it is on Kali near Dandeli, or  it is  near Jog, or  TB dam , Hospet, or Alamatti on Krishna nr Bagalkot. , at Sandoor &  at  Kamlapur-Hampi, at  Huliyur &  near Dandeli …and so many more. In fact, smaller fort towns of Raichur & chitradurga also spell so many stories,  ‘cause in Deccan Karnataka has probably highest history lineage incl Tipu’s Sirangapatna &  Wadiyars’  Mysuru , which are well known to d world.

I am not a brand ambassador for Karnataka Tourism. Nor  Karnataka has been able to sell its  places like Kerala / even Tamilnadu. But  as  you reach  out to  Kudermukh/ Agumba/ Shirdi  or reach  Coorg ie Madikeri & Kushalnagar,  you see one of d finest Buddhist  temples viz Golden temple. Nay, you don’t get  any snow-laden Himalayas, but you get much more of  lush green flora n fauna. And  this Coorg & Kabini sides are well  sold off for years.  So many tourists  visit Mysuru from Bangaluru. From there Coorg  is  just 2 hrs. And Tata Coffee’s  head qrtr ( Chikmagalur is HQ of Café Coffee Day ( promoter—SM Krishna’s son in law ).Coffe & spices  reign side by  side, Red  beans taste great.  On Xmas  / New year eve, you won’t get any homestay / hotel/ resort accommodation free in Coorg.  But better go there in Monsoon ,--all  vacant & you get  much more water at Abbey Falls,  more water at Talacauvery, the birth place of Kauvery river.  Here  all resorts  cost too high.  On d way , on left lies Nagarhole forest  &   a no of resorts  on Kavini river incl Jungle resort offering  both forest &  river experience. 

We have  covered  part  of  Maharashtra as  well , by road. Since we bought  our Ertiga diesel, we  started our  long journeys  by road. Earlier too, we had  the same plan but  went slow  only ‘cause we had Manza Petrol.  We  had an excellent carcoal ride  in Heganekkal , the place where Ravan n  Roza  were shot. We  bathed  in the Cauvery, where 7  falls  fall  together. Tamilnadu  is on d left  of Cauvery n Karnataka on the right.  And Karnataka near Dharampuri means, Sandal forest of  Veerappan notoriety. And  we bathed also in a hot n humid  falls near  Kochi, --d  great hill stn of  Athirapally water falls , the Niagra of India, surrounded by rubber plantation.  There is  a small Amboli ghat hill stn  on way to Shiroda  beach  from Belgavi,  Shiroda divides  Goa n Maharashtra. Proceeding for the 8 km long best  beach of  Maharashtra , viz Ganapati Pule, we  enjoyed for 300/- the Pomfret meals that we never dreamt of in life,. Pomfrets  of Chaitanya  were  simply gigantic.,  A lot  no of resorts are  in Malwan Tarkarli  but  it does not have a beach. A primitive house boat is there & a Dolphin point  ½ hour trip  on sea. Like Goa’s Dolphin  trip. Goa –Mumbai old road to  Kochi-Mumbai NH &  this road  goes straight  to Panvel ,via Western ghats. Serpentine  roads  cannot enhance speed. From the pristine , silence n deserted   beach @  resorts in outer of Ganpati Pule Ganesha temple,  we went to Mahabaleswar-Paanchgani.  A  pristine lake, a pristine  horse riding peak amidst cool of  Eastern Mahabaleswar  & Strawberry- Chocolate  factories,  & the lake…Sivvarao’s fort is   too near Tarkarli, just on the sea. From Eco  point to old Mahabaleswar temple, to botanics the boating, on Shikara  &  the village  type resort  of British ethnicity.   We loved d best  mutton n chicken sizzlers  on d earth. On Sahyadri  range, we had left only Kaash  the ultimate flower valley.    And on return we  covered Kohlapur Mahalaxmi temple & had Kolapuri Chappals bought from manufacturer. We also had a sumptuous Mutton  meal in Kohlapuri style.

If  you have  just 2-3  days  in hand ex-Mysuru, ½ day  can be spent at jaychandra palace n Chamunda  Hills, if you visit Charmarajnagar zoo n  KRS Dam ie Vrindavan gardens  another ½ day shall go. Gaganchukki falls is a ½ day long good tour &  backward  you can make an afternoon trip to  Ooty via Bandipur  forest, called Madhumalai in Tamilnadu  &  Malabar in Waynad , Kerala.  Specific  Waynad tour is also a fad  & sometimes you don’t get any  resort / home stay room in this spice country of Kerala & near its dam.  But  if we  wind up to Ooty by evening thru tea gardens, you can have a brief visit to Botanics & lake  boating in the morning &  come  back to Mysuru  next morning, to head to  Coorg.  On way back,  Nagerhole-Kabini-Iruppu falls is a good choice, but beaware, Iruppu is better  be seen from far,  to avoid snakebites.

What  is  special about Karnataka is that even Madikeri  hill station of Kodagu kingdom  &  rice ball  food heritage is famous for  Omkareshwara  Temple. Same thing I have inferred  in Kutralam in  5 falls, 2 falls & main falls. There are temples at all falls &  in same  water  , uncolluded,  gents n  ladies bathe. In Shivanasamudram too, there is a temple, not so  famous.  Elsewhere I have not seen too  much of  religious mingling in  natural spots. There  are a no of falls  in between  Thekkady & Madurai , as also  Kanyakumari & Trivandrum, but  going to each of them costs  a lot of time .  In March  2014, we covered  the  burning forest of  Kodai  & boated by Shikara  in  famous Kodaikanal lake.  Carlton is the main property on lake &  being  not too  far from Trichy / 1 night journey from Chennai / Coimbatore, it offers  a  1 day break n  place for corporate  HR meets  of  brainstorming.  There is no tea but  enough of oils are available & valleys n peaks  offer good views.  We  went straight to Munnar  from Kodai, &  what  we experienced was  mind-boggling.   Am not talking of  car checking  owing to TN election , when, it is alleged that  Rs 5K  per voter  family  got bounties from Amma. I am  not  also talking of Amma’s  win as a  supremecy of Iyers n Iyengars  re-estd  over SCs & OBCs . I am talking of  the barren, rough hills as you cross  Theni –only rocks n no vegetation. But  as  soon as  you enter  Kerala, the heat goes off  & cool slope starts . And  starts  the spice  kingdom.  As you  rise  the Western ghats , spice gives way to Tea. Munnar  is  conncted to Theni on 1 side, Coimbatore  on another  &  Kochi  on another  side.  One can easily come to Munnar  from Ooty & owing to Bandipur closure ( as per SC verdict)  between 9pm & 5am, many people travel  from Bangalore to Ooty &  Munnar via  Coimbatore-Salem.  Near  Munnar there are lakes, dams, falls &  forests, so many that you can be baffled . But yes, sundown view is good  & to me, KTDC  resort amidst lush tea gardens is one of d best . Boating is common in all these  stns .    From  Munnar , we went to Thekkady n Periyar.  There  are n no of hotels n resorts in town  offering evening kathakali.  But if you decide to spend  a night with forest, Lake palace  by KTDC  is the best option for you.  In fact , there  are  3 options for  2500/-, 5500/- & 10000/- . One lodge is non AC  but cool , wherefrom across  the stream I faced  a Bison for  10 minutes  & wrote my favourite poem “I want to be a bison” .  Deeper inside forest is a transit camp to take you to lake  palace if you book that .  And  there is  Aranya Nivas , a fully AC option on d lake , better than  Periyar  House.   If you book a  Kerala Forest  Property , you get a free  ride  in 1 of  their  2 storey  launches  . Probably this is one of d few  options in India to cover a  forest  by water.  And  in a  45 minute tour you see so many Bisons, elephants, birds,  deer, antilopes &  neelgai, hyenas, wolves, boars, peacocks.   More astonishing we found  the only  man-inhabited island  with just this Lake Palace  standing tall n safe amidst  all  these  islands infested by  wild beasts.  There has been no news of any attacks.

Madurai Meenakshipuram temple  has a replica in  Bangaluru, as even Tirumala temple has. Crossing this pakshiteertham , if  you move on NH7,  gradually again you face the n no of windmills and a point comes  , when Eastern Ghat & Western ghat meet  & you understand India is ending. I am  not a student of Geography but  have always wondered , how Estern ghatrange is  so small  compared to Western ghats so spread, so wide.  Even Deccan plateau  hills  are  not so  small . In fact,  Karwar, Yellapur, Jog, Coorg, Chikmagalur, Waynad, Ooty, Kodai,Munnar,  Kutralam ( Kerala –TN border) , Ayappaswamy Temple n  Dharmasthala range of pilgrimages, all  these  are  on western ghats only. As  we reached  end of India, we headed  towards  TNDC  Tourist lodge. This is on  the last road of India on the Indian Ocean , (Kanyakumari temple is on Bay of Bengal ).  Kerala  House is equally good  &  there is only 1  pvt hotel just by the side , quite costlier,  on sea . Rest are  way behind.  From  the cottage  we  booked  there was  the  coastal  road  like Puri in front &  nothing else. So, for 2 days we enjoyed  Vivekananda Rocks, Thiruvallur statue  & Kavalam point’s  sunset .  And we  had no idea  that NH7  goes so narrow  after Kanyakumari.  It  took  3 hrs  to reach Trivandrum &  10 long hours to reach  Kozhikode.  Yaa, that is Kerala , if you don’t know.  Highest  speed allowed  is 25kmph for  cars & 15kmph for buses &  you cannot generally take it to >40kmph.    In this  route, Kovalam  is a dream destination  , but  the Sunset beach  we stayed in  was not explored by us  at sunset as we reached at 2000hrs. I plan a trip  this year  to reach so by  1700 hrs. Poorvar is a  backwater destn close to kavalam n Tiruvanthapuram.  And en route to  Aleppy , there is the great ashtamundi lake , but   what is  world famous  is the backwater of Aleppy n Kumarokam on the vamband lake .  We  had the rare feat of  videographing boat race fishing in the lake.  In these areas, like Puri, you can choose  fish displayed & they shall cook them for you. Big prawns, lobsters , pomphrets , kingfish &  Appam with  Duck fry / duck  curry.  Best  of fish dish in South India we get in Kerala .  South Kerala boasts of Hindu cuisine ( Trivandrum—Kollam), Kochi-Aleppy mid-Kerala Christian cuisine till Thrissur &  North Kerala  till  Kozhikode n beyond serves  excellent  Muslim cuisine.  Via Guruvayur, later we  discovered  shorter route, substitute  of  the regular  Guruvayur / Thrissur –Kozhikode  route & could reach   Mysuru  in 8 hrs/ less . And this  way you can enjoy the Ooty gardens  thru Gundalpet. It is  a unique  combination of 3 states ,--Kerala to TN-to k’taka within a very short span.  Else, it takes  3+5+2.5=10.5 hrs via  Kozhikode. Via  Pattambi-Nilambur-Vazhikadavu, you can cover  up to Sultan Bathery  in 5 hrs  from Guruvayur .  Now, why  Kerala is so unique n popular?  A)  From before Guruvayur  till end of Kerala along all ways , you have  little Mid-east , whether go by dress, by lifestyle, by food , by artefacts , everything. Hardly  any pur village we could notice in whole  of Kerala , which is different  from most of other  states.  And  even in Hindu  belt, beef is  common as  mixed population is very much there. It is  a  way of life. Beef biriyani made in  Waynad  belt  is fabulous. Kozhikode beach offers  exotic sea view. And,  from Kozhikode to Waynad , you can find a  no of  gold dens .  Whole of Kerala  flourishes  with poshest malls ( forget just the Lulla mall  of Ernakulam) &  in Bangalore  , the Gold capital of India, major  gold  joints  are all Malayalis . Dubai-Muscat  & the whole of mid-east has showered  fortunes over the whole of Kerala, where HDI is too high but GDP is  definitely low owing to lack of much of industrial venture.

In my next  article I shall cover  Shirdi, Ajanta & Ellora, the  age old  craft & sculpture across  so many caves , &  the Baby Taaj / Bibi Ka Makbara  n Paani Chakki, one of the best  ETP-RO. We  were  surprised to find that  in the agro research city of Aurangabad, only these 2 monuments were open in evening as we reached there. Why Aurangzeb came to Deccan n died here , didn’t I know. But the grave, d tomb everything is lying in utter neglect, like the hated badshah himself.

I advise, you may kly explore  visiting  places on own / hired wheels instead of air.  You love people, food, life style. And your homes can fill up with artifacts’ from all over India  collected  from origins &  craft fairs.

If  you are in Kolkata &  you have 27 days in hand n you  want to cover  ½ of India, I  advise, you  can  follow the following route--  Kolkata—Digha belt--- Jaleswar-Baleswar—Chandipur ,night halt 1
--- Nandan Kanan--Bhubaneswar Lingaraj/ Mukteswar Temple-Konark—Puri—Chilka—Gopalpur nigh halt2
—, Araku, Borra caves seemachalam Vizag night halt 3
---Tirumala  hills landscape &  beautiful  forest , TTD, Tirupati temple , Night halt 4---
Chennai  Marina beach & others—reptile park—Mahaballipuram—Kanchipuram—Vellore  night halt 5
---Golden Temple—Trichy  Srirangam Gopuram &  Vishnu Temple  of Ranganathaswamy---Puducherry, Auro Ville—Aurobindo Ashram n Library—French colony----Tanjavore Brihadeswar  Temple, the biggest (   largest area) temple  of India on Shiva n Nandi—Maratha Royal palace of  Raja Ravi Varma fame incl Museum ( you should collect  some  framed  paintings &   the original gold plated  Tanjore paintings framed) --  night halt 6
---Rameswaram temple, --Dhanushkondi beach—Pamban Bridge—Tuticorin Salt peters – Kanyakumari—night halt 7
Vivekananda Rock, Thiruvallur  statue – Kovalam point----  Thiruvanthapuram Sri Padmanavaswamy temple—  Poorvar  backwaters –Kovalam lighthouse beach sunset –Night halt 7
Courtallam Falls & backwater--- Madurai Meenakshi Guddi temple –Kodaikanal Night halt 8
Boating @ lake, viewpoints , Golf Course--- Munnar Tea gardens , Kundala & MatupettysDams/, Lake, Highest peak, Sunset,  night halt 9
falls, forests (  Coimbatore side) , falls & peak ( Kochi side) , tea gardens---Thekkady—Periyar forest  boat  tour  330—530pm  Night halt 10
spice garden tour, spice market--Aleppy House boat  Night halt 11
Fort Kochi Backwater/Fishing nett--Athirapally  falls –Guruvayur—Ooty Night halt 12
Botanics, ,Race course  ,Lake  boating , wax museum,  stitch museum –Kalapetta Chembra peak, Thirunelli temple, Banasura Sagar Dam, Pookut lake, falls of Moonmooty/ Sentinell---  KRS Dam ( Vrindavan Gardens) —Night halt 13  @  Vrindavan Gardens/ Cuavery Tourist Lodge, Mandya
Sirangapatna  Tipu  memorials---Jaichandra Palace, Zoo, Chamunda Hills---
Kushalnagar  Golden Buddha Temple -- Night halt 14
Abbey falls—coffee  gardens—Raja seat—Talacauvery—Nagarhole  forest—Kavini   Night halt 15
Sravanbelgola—Halibedu—Belur---Chikmagaluru Ayankere , Muliyangiri, Baba Budhangiri –Night halt 16 @ coffee garden resort ,Chikmagaluru  

Dharmasthala,-- Shirdi ghat –Agumbe ghat--Kudermukh--- Mangaluru Panambur beach-- Night halt 17

Mangladevi & Gokarnatheswara temples, Mangaluru---Udupi SriKrishna Temple—Murudeswar –Idagunji-- Apsarakunda –Jog falls--- Dandeli  forest Kali River Resort-- Night halt 18

Beaches @ Majali—Palolem –Butterfly --Benaulim-Colava-Sunset----Old Goa Church--Miramar ( via Panjim) –Candolim—Colangute-Baga—Anjuna—Arambol—Shiroda ( around 14 hrs) -- Night halt 19

Vengurla—Tarkarli  Shibbarao Fort—Ganapati Pule—Mahabaleswar---- Panchgani--Night halt 20

Sunrise--Eco point--Mahabaleswar temple--Kaash—Satara—Sani Singapur--Aurangabad Panichakki, Bibi Ka Makbara-- Night halt 21

Daulatabad fort—Ellora—Ajanta—Tuljapur—Bijapur  Night halt 22

Golgombuj,Jama masjid,Bada Kaman--  Alamatti dam —Kudala sangama--  Aihole—Pattadkal—Badami---Chitradurga Fort, Vani Vilas Sagar Dam, Ankali Mutt, Adumaleswara Temple Night halt 23 (  Hoysala ruins &  K sangama boasts of  Shivs shrines mainly)

Bangalore  Banerghata National Park--- Yerracund  (  It is  baby Ooty with Rose garden, botanics , lake boating all  ditto as  Ooty &  roads are sharp hairpin bending  sometime after Salem) ---Lepakshi  Night halt 24

Lepakshi veerabhadra n other  temples—salar jang museum—Ramoji film city—night  halt 25
Nagarjunasagar ---Srisailam Mallikarjun Swamy Jyotirlinga---Vijayawada Kanakadurga temple---lunch @ Vijayawada—Rajamundhry-- night  halt 26

Kolkata in 15 hrs on 27th day.   Yaa, you may need  1-2 days’ rest  before coming back to normal life.

This way, you cover  at least 40%  of India.  What shall be left  out, are –Nasik, Lonavala, Ujjayini, Khajuraho, Jabbalpur-Panchmari, Chitrakoot falls, Amarkantak, Kutchh, Dwarka, Gir, Mt Abu, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Aravallis, Pushkar & Samvar lakes, Amritsar, Delhi, Ladakh, Vaishnodevi, Srinagar, Sonmarg., Pahelgaon, Gulmarg, Dharamshala, Dalhosie, Kulu-Manali-Rohtang-Shimla-Kurfi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Nainital, Raniket, Kousani, Pithoragarh, Dehradun Sahasradhara, Haridwar belt & Garhwal region, Rajgir-Nalanda-PavapuriBodhgaya, Agra-Mathura-Vrindavana, Prayag, Shillong lake ,botanics, falls, golf course, Umiyam, Kamakhya, Kajiranga, Tawang , Sohrapunji , Sipahsalar forest, the palaces of Agartala n Cooch behar, Nathula, Tsango, Gangtok, Rabangla, Peiling belt, Lachun-Lachen, Dooars forests  of Gorumara, Chapramarih, Holong, Buxar, North Raidak, Lava, Lolegaon, Charcol, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Mirik & Darjeeling outside of our very own Vishnupur, Maithon, Mukutmonipur-Massanjore-Deoghar—Ghatshila-Jamshedpur  Jubilee park, Beldih n Dimna Lakes-Ranchi  falls n dams, Tarapeeth, Tarakeswar, Mayapur-Nabadwip, Murshidabad-Santiniketan-Bakkhali-Roychak- Gangasagar.

What  I have not mentioned  herein is the n no of forests.

This rest of India, if broken into 2 parts , the part excl North East may be covered in  same  28—30 days.


[ANINDA GHOSH]

Comments
0 Comments

No comments:

Blogger Widgets
Powered by Blogger.