Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sakleshpur - The Green Route Railway Trek, Waterfalls, Jungle Adventures and Much More

The breathtaking images of picturesque railway route from Sakleshpur to Kukke Subramanya captivated us to go for this trek. We had been planning to do "The Green Route trek" - that's what it is called, from last few months and then finally the day has come and we started for our journey to Sakleshpur - also referred as "Poor Man's Ooty".

We read some news about the ban on trekking in western ghats. But we were not sure if it is really banned. Before the conversion of the railway line from meter gauge to broad gauge along the Sakleshpur railway line in Karnataka’s Hassan district, it was one of the most sought-after trek routes.
Sakleshpur Trip
1, 2, 3 - Smile

Sakleshpur Trip
1, 2, 3 - Smile
We started our journey from Bangalore on Friday evening, had dinner enroute in a dhaba near Hassan and reached Sakleshpur at around the Midnight, Checked into Hotel. Next morning, We talked to some local people and We came to know "The Green Route" Trek is banned for sure. But, still we went to the donigal Railway station, 8 kms from Sakleshpur, and tried asking for permission from the station master. We didn't get the permission but found out a hack to fulfill our quest for this trek.
Sakleshpur Trip
Freshness

Sakleshpur Trip
Road Closed

Sakleshpur Trip
Donigal

Sakleshpur Trip
Jungle Adventures

The Green Route
The Green Route

The Green Route
The Green Route

The Green Route
Tunnel on the Way
We entered on the trek from some village - crossed few tunnels, waterfalls - one side of the railway trek is deep valley and other side is mountains with thick forests. In the middle of the nowhere - enchanted with the beauty of Western ghats we were caught by RPF patrol team. When we saw them coming towards us in their track inspection Vehicle, we were like dumbstruck. There is a saying in Hindi "Marta kya na karta" (When in deep crisis, one resorts to all means---fair and unfair). We gathered our courage and started performing "The Great Indian Drama" Live in front of the RPF personnels, to rescue ourselves. Somehow we managed to save our ourselves from landing up in Jail. They left us with a warning and we returned back from that point. One thing to remember is - trekking is banned in this route and you might land up in jail if you go for trekking here.

Manjarabad Fort
Manjarabad Fort

Manjarabad Fort
Manjarabad Fort
Next point of interest was Manjarabad Fort, built by Tipu Sultan in 1785. It a star-shaped fort, with a hillock in the centre and eight corners. There are stairs to reach to the fort and It offers superb views of the place. This fort is maintained by archeological department.
Enroute Bisle Ghat
Enroute Bisle Ghat

Bisle Ghat View Point
Bisle Ghat View Point

Bisle Ghat View Point
Bisle Ghat View Point
Next day we went to Mallalli Falls and Bisle ghat. Bisle ghat is protected reserved forest, is listed as one of the 18 most diverse spots in the world in terms of flora and fauna. The view point offers amazing view of the Pushpagiri Hills. Kumar Parvatha - the toughest trek of South India, is one of the hills in Pushpagiri.
Mallalli Falls
Mallalli Falls
Bisle ghat has one more interesting place - The Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal Ridge. The ridge is the point in the mountains that determines which way rivers or streams are likely to flow. It is said that this stone was laid by the British. British officers on their topographical survey of the Western Ghats found that it was the point where rain water splits and reaches two different seas. The rainwater from the series of hills and mountains to the left of this point flows towards the west drainage basins that feed into the Arabian Sea while water from the eastern side drains into the Bay of Bengal.
Ridge
Arabian Sea - Bay of Bengal Ridge

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dudhsagar Falls - An exhilarating rail trek in the picturesque Western Ghats

Usually the trips we plan gets finalized at the last moment - making all the bookings a day or two before. But, For this trip we just changed the usual way. This was a well-planned one. We had booked train tickets and stay almost a month in advance.

We boarded the train from Bangalore City station. We had our reservation in Rani Chennamma Express till Londa Junction. We reached Londa Junction at around 8:30 AM. We had breakfast at the station - Vada Pav and Idli Vada - were only things available there. Then, we bought General tickets and boarded Chennai Vasco Express at around 9:00 AM. We reached Castle Rock at around 10:00 AM.

At Bangalore CIty Railway Station
Bon Voyage - @Bangalore City Railway Station
We started our expedition From Castle Rock at around 10:30 AM. Weather was awesome - drizzling with cool breeze. View was awesome all the way - full of Jungles, Mountains, small and big waterfalls. The rail trek was an ultimate experience amidst the beautiful Western Ghats.

Londa Junction
Londa Junction - Interesting Name BTW

Castle Rock Railway Station
Castle Rock - Rail Trek Starts Here
Abandoned Walls - Castle Roack
Abandoned Walls - Castle Rock
Stay Safe From These Moving Creatures
Stay Safe From These Moving Creatures

Tunnels On the Way
Tunnels On the Way - Standing Still Through the Times
The rail trek is full of stones from the start till the end, So my suggestion would be to wear a good trekking shoe if you are going for this trek. We reached Dudhsagar Waterfalls at around 4:00 PM. It's about 14 KM from Castle Rock to Dudhsagar, but you will never feel tired if the weather is good and It was good for us. After reaching to the waterfall you have to trek around a kilometre to reach the view-point.


Dudhsagar Waterfalls - Not at its Best
Dudhsagar Waterfalls - Not at its Best Though
DudhSagar Waterfalls - From ViewPoint
DudhSagar Waterfalls - From ViewPoint
We continued our trek even after the view-point instead of returning to Dudhsagar. We trekked till the Sonaulim Station and then boarded another train and reached Kulem. That's another interesting story how we boarded the train in Sonaulim. We had booking in Dudhsagar Spa Resort which is around 6 KM from Kulem. Then, we booked a cab from Kulem Station and reached there.

Cottage - Dudhsagar Spa Resort, Mollem
Cottage - Dudhsagar Spa Resort, Mollem
It's a nice place to stay. We stayed in tents. Tents were good & well maintained. Food was good, they had a dancing floor as well along with the bar/restaurant. Overall our stay was good at the resort. Resort has Spa and other activities as well but, with extra charges. We didn't had much time to check them out.

Next Day, we went to Tambdi Surla Mahadev Temple, which is around 20 KMs from the Dudhsagar Spa Resort. We returned Bangalore in the same train which we boarded from Londa Junction at 8:00 PM.

Tambdi Surla Mahadev Temple
Tambdi Surla Mahadev Temple
We all enjoyed the trip and the rail trek was an awesome experience. Checkout some more pics on Tripoto.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Christmas Weekend Trip to Pondicherry and It's awesome !

Last year we went to pondicherry for a weekend trip, just after Christmas (26th -28th of December 2014).

It all started with "Yaar ! Is weekend toh kahin ghumne jaana hai ? Kuch plan kar bhai !".(Yaar ! Let's plan for a weekend trip.) We were planning for a trip on 25th December for the coming weekend. Friends put forward few suggestions and ultimately we decided to go to pondicherry and the main reason for this decision was the availability of tatkal tickets in the only train from Bangalore to Pondicherry (16573/Yesvantpur-Puducherry Weekly Express). Thanks to IRCTC and everyone else who didn't book a ticket in this train otherwise tatkal tickets vanish in few seconds.



After we zeroed-in on a destination, we started asking friends and colleagues to join for the trip and finally 4 of us were in for the trip and sadly, the numbers were the same as it was at start.

It was peak season for tourists in Pondicherry and It was very difficult to get a hotel room booking done a day before your trip, after calling so many hotels and guest houses, we were able to get a place for our stay in Pondicherry.

Our train was from Yesvantpur, but instead of going there, we boarded a bus from Silk Board Junction to Hosur and then boarded the train from Hosur Railway Station and I guess it was the same time when Super Star Rajini's movie Lingaa was released and we saw a big multi storey size poster of the Super Star:


Super Star Rajini Poster in Hosur
Super Star Rajini in a Multi-Storey size poster
We boarded the train from Hosur on 26th December at around 10 PM, played cards for 1-2 hours and then slept. We reached Pondicherry next morning at 9 AM, as usual train was a bit late. (Thank god we reached !)

We had our breakfast at Adyar Ananda Bhavana, had good and tasty South Indian cuisines.

Then, we headed to our hotel and it was Golden Sun Inn. It's a nice hotel conveniently located in the city not very far from the popular tourist spots.

Next two days we were going to roam in and around pondicherry and so, we rented out two bikes. It's easily available in normal season, but Pondicherry was buzzed with tourists, all the two wheelers were booked and it took us half an hour to get the bikes. There are so many shops renting out bikes in Mission Street. Two documents are required to rent out a bike - one, ID proof and other, Driving License.

Weather was awesome and so, our trip was. We visited almost all the popular locations - Gandhi beach, Auroville beach, Auroville, Matrimandir, Aurobindo Ashram and Paradise beach.

Matri Mandir, Auroville, Pondicherry
It was good to see the churches and shops decorated and lighted so well in Evening as if they were all set to welcome the new year. While walking in the streets of Pondicherry we saw a group of local artists performing on folk songs from Ramayana.



Food was good as well in Pondicherry. We had pizza at Cafe Xtasi and pizza was good. The big oven where they baked the Pizza was in front of the restaurant. We had dinner at one restaurant at Bussy Street (don't remember the name as I am writing this post after around two months). Streets of Pondicherry have many options, go and try out the food at any restaurant. We had a glass of masala milk and ice-creams at one of shops near Gandhi Statue.



Paradise beach was main attraction for our trip and it much more beautiful than we expected. Tourism Department of Pondicherry run motor boats in the backwaters to ferry the tourists to and fro the Paradise Beach. To and fro charges were Rs. 150 per person.

Chunnambar backwaters Paradise Beach Pondicherry
Chunnambar Backwaters, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry
They offer other water sports activities like kayaking, water sailing, camping at beach side and etc. , but due to the heavy rush all these were not running. On that day they were just ferrying the tourists to and fro from the beach.

We thought of getting tatkal tickets for our return journey, But, we were not able to succeed in that and then we booked tickets in KSRTC. Finally the two day trip was over and we returned the bikes, checked out from hotel and boarded a KSRTC bus from Pondicherry to Bangalore.

P.S. Pondicherry had been renamed to Puducherry 20th September 2006.