Tuesday, March 10, 2009

28 hours - 670 kms and a Broken Wheel Rim

Impressed with the number of posts I seem to be churning out this March? That my friend is partly because I'm pretty jobless and partly because of my renewed enthusiasm for doing something constructive during the weekends.

The weekend was spent road tripping across Talakad (well almost went there but the horrendous road condition prompted me to cut short the trip), Mysore, Bandipur, Mudmalai, Ooty and Lovedale within a span of 28 hours! I got back from Chennai on 6th morning and was all set to hit the road at 2pm with a childhood friend. My car must have been cursing me (if cars can even do that) for I was about to take it on another arduous journey. Its been 8months since I got the thing and its already clocked up 13000 kms.

Halfway towards Mysore, I decided on taking a diversion near Maddur to Talakad, the scene of an ancient temple complex that was buried in the sands on the Cauvery riverbanks before archeologists managed to dig it out. Talakad is about 53 kms from Maddur and it was about 4:30 and we imagined that we could cover the distance and watch the sunset at Talakad. Wah, I was becoming a romantic. Well plans were plans and we were halted about 25 kms before Talakad due to the pathetic condition of the roads. The front and rear suspensions of the car were literally begging for mercy. We stopped by a lake and decided to explore the bird life around the lake and the surrounding fields. I am not an expert on birds but I can guarantee that an ornithologist would have had a blast at this place. There were storks, eagles, pond herons, kingfishers, hornbills and plenty more. The sunset was beautiful and we managed to take a couple of good photos.

Photograph 1: Buffalo Lazing Around in the Water
Location: Lake near Talakad

Photograph 2: Watch the Birdie!
Location: Lake near Talakad

Photograph 3: Whatay Sunset!
Location: Lake near Talakad

Photograph 4: Reflections
Location: Lake near Talakad

We headed back towards Maddur after sunset only to find ourselves in New York! Hard to believe? Well that's what the milestone said:

We reached Mysore at about 8 and checked-in to the Ginger Hotel (www.gingerhotels.com). I'd highly recommend this place to anyone who wants to stop over at Mysore. The rooms are neat and comfortable and the price tag isn't too high (1700 for 2 persons per night all taxes inclusive). A chilled beer and dinner later, we hit the sack. We left for Bandipur at 4:30 am and the roads were pretty good till Gundlupet (Watch out for those unmarked speed breakers. They are chassis killers I tell you!). The stretch of road from Gundlupet to the entrance of Bandipur is horrendous to say the least (for about 12kms or so). You'd think you've been space lifted to the moon!. Wonder why Karnataka roads are so damn bad! Yeddy's gotta have a look at this road to beleive it. We reached the Bandipur Forest Department office at 6 am and had to wait for an hour or so before we could get on the safari bus. The forest guards warned us that there was very little wildlife to be spotted and that we ought to take the Rs90 safari by bus and not use the Jeep (Rs 400 per head).

The safari true to the guards words, wasn't spectacular. Large stretches of the jungle seemed to have fallen prey to the forest fires and all we saw were a couple of kingfishers, wild boar, chital (plenty of them), a male and female sambhar and a peacock. So much for all the excitement!

Photograph 1: Black Faced Monkey

Photograph 2: Early Morning (Fanghorn forest anyone?)

Next up was a drive through Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (the roads are ofcourse so muhc better once you cross over to Tamil Nadu (Tamilian pride? No sireee, just stating the facts)), to Ooty via the Sigur Ghat. I had traveled by this ghat road just once (when I was in 9th standard) and its an absolute thrill to drive. Forest on both sides, a good road with 36 hair pin bends. Breathing the fresh air of the Nilgiris was thrilling as always and as nostalgic too. We reached Ooty at about 10 and went around town buying those lovely home made chocolates, having fresh bun and butter at National Bakery (I'm glad that I am beginning to enjoy these small yet immensely pleasurable delights that brings be back to my childhood in the Nilgiris) etc. We decided to go to Lovedale and have a look at the school but all we could see was the Lovedale station. We were denied permission to enter the school because the frigging asshole of the Deputy Headmaster thought we would disturb the boys and girls who were preparing for their examinations. What a son of a bitch! I met Mr. Mani, my old Tamil teacher from school after almost 14 years and he hasn't changed one bit! (There a touch of gray hair here and there, the belly is gone but other than than the man hasn't aged a bit!). Disappointed, we left Lovedale cursing the DHM. We stopped by a one of my favorite places in Lovedale, Granduff Road and took some photos of the Ketty Valley. Floriculture seems to have taken off big time in the Nilgiris.

Photograph 1: At Lovedale Station
Location: Lovedale

Photograph 2: At Granduff Road overlooking the Ketti Valley
Location: Lovedale

We headed back towards Mysore at about 11:15 and on the way gave a life to a forest guard (who's number I stored) who apparently works at Vazhaithoppu (Banana Grove). This place was made famous by Kenneth Anderson who shot a man eating tiger here 30 or 40 years ago. I should probably plan on a trip here some day. On the way back we did spot a herd of 5 female elephants trying to salvage some food.

Photograph 1: Elephants
Location: Near Mavanhalla

We reached Mysore at about 1:15 and broke journey for an hour to have our lunch. I asked Shibu to take over the wheels till we reached Bangalore. The journey was uneventful till after Maddur when our man fell asleep on the wheel of the car for a second and luckily we only lost the wheel cap to the divider. There was silence for the rest of the way. We stopped over for a quick cuppa chai and reached Bangalore at about 7. The odo read 650 kms. Whatay weekend!


George AKA Shibu said...

It was an amazing trip & you've taken us thru' the journey really nicely. Also, the finishin is jus awesome!!!

vamsi said...

dai thyr saadam! why don't you plan these trips when i am around?