RoadTrip-Part 1 : Belur – Halebidu

This is a 20 days road trip from Bengaluru and back covering lots of places. To give a detailed depiction of the places covered, it is divided into parts. . . Stay tuned for the next excerpt coming soon !

Both my husband & I crazily decided to go on a long roadtrip, something unlike anything we’ve done before . . . and crazy awesome it turned out to be ! We went from Bengaluru – Halebeedu – Belur – Chikamagalur – Sringeri – Gokarna – Badami – South Goa – North Goa – Bengaluru in a span of 20 days !

Having watched loads of Hollywood movies where friends went on road trips – neverending roads and sceneries to treasure, I have always had it on my Bucket List and finally I was going on one !!

We planned out the duration and booked most places in advance as the trip started in December End and we didn’t not want to risk not having a place for the night .

Day 1 – Starting Point : Bengaluru

Distance from Bengaluru to Belur – Halebidu is 220km by road and takes around 4-5 hours to cover.

Leaving at 7:30 from home we managed to exit the city in an hour thankfully ! The route till Kunnigal was filled with acres & acres of farmland intervalled by small settlements and tiny water bodies. Swathi Delicacy in Kunnigal has been our all time preferred stopover. Clean washrooms, delicious food & excellent service unfortunately meant cramped parking lot. Being wedding season, people were on their way to their native places. Having our teas we got back on the road.

Off we went listening to my list of Bollywood songs, Mumbai girl that I am 🙂 Although i have lived in Bengaluru for a while i still am a Mumbaikar at heart. Being a Bangalorean himself my hubby does not care for desi music but he had no choice . . hahaha

So enjoying the never-ending stretches of plantations and hilly areas on both sides we headed towards Belur. The greenery a soothing balm to our city weary eyes. . .

 Listening to my husband disrupting the flow of music to educate me with the history of the places we were passing by, we carried on. My husband is a history buff with a vast knowledge of Karnataka’s history. Even though I’ve always found textbook history boring, it’s endearing to watch him talk so passionately about the state he has lived in for most of his life, so i don’t disturb him 🙂 .

Paying toll after toll after toll we proceeded on the extremely well maintained roads. Zigzagging across the road, overtaking the numerous vehicles we went on, looking forward to the adventures awaiting us.

Windmills in the distance. . .

In the distance I spot windmills on the hills, signalling the start of Hassan. Crossing Hassan we head towards Belur, now listening to Grunge music(sigh ! ) thanks to my husband. Wind energy & solar power trying to be utilized as much as possible in many places like Chitradurga in Karnataka and hence the windmills.

Yawning my way though some more grunge music we headed on. . .

Halebeedu

Halebidu

As Halebidu (also known as Halebeedu) comes first enroute we headed there. Had heard alot about the beautiful temple carvings from my husband and was curious to see it.

On entering the gates my first impression was that it looks just like any other ancient temple you get to see at Hampi. Being a stone temple it tends to look dull and dark from a distance.

Unfortunately for us it seemed to be a ‘Trip to Belur-Halebidu’ Day for many of the nearby schools. The place was cramped to the limit which made us want to turn tail and run ! But since we were already there we decided to give it a shot. We were surprised to find out that the temple was active!  An active Shiva Temple. And boy were we happy that we had entered the temple! The carvings on the wall were unlike anything I’ve seen before!

Such exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, just blows your mind away. Levels and levels of carvings running continuously from one wall to the other all around the temple!

A broken piece of the carvings

Each layer told a story, stories of Ramayana, stories of Gods & Goddesses, stories of wars. Each figure carved on the walls with a lot of effort, skill and patience. Every piece as beautiful or more than the previous one. So fascinating are the carvings that you could spend all day staring at them.

Exquisite craftmanship

2 giant Nandi Statues were placed in a covered area with similar carvings. There is also an Archaeological Museum in the vicinity which is closed on Fridays, unfortunately for us, the day we went there.

Nandi Statue

In front of the museum stood a tall statue of Mahavir in all its glory against a green backdrop. Finally we left from there wishing we could have stayed longer, but as were on a tight schedule that day we headed for Belur.

Statue of Mahavir in Halebidu

Belur

We reached Belur in an hour. Belur is a larger temple complex. The temple is called Channakeshwara Temple.

Belur entrance

The entrance to this temple reminded me of the entrance to the Virupaksha Temple of Hampi.

Carvings of Belur
Krishna’s Footprint

Like Halebidu, Belur is also an active temple. An active Krishna temple.

Belur & Halebeedu temples do have a few similarities but mostly they are quite different visually. The carving techniques used for both are not the same. Belur even has ancient Kannada scriptures written on some walls.

Personally i feel the carvings at the Halebeedu Temple were more stunning as compared to Belur Temple, so if you are short of time and can visit only one of them then you know which one to visit 🙂

We then reached Chikmagalur by 4 pm . . To read about Chikmagalur please check the link – RoadTrip-Part 2 : Chikmagalur

Day Trip to Shivanasamudra & Talakadu

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Talakadu

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Shivanasamudra Falls

Shivansamudra in English means’ Lord Shiva’s Sea’ . Shivanasamudra is a small island town of Mandya district , situated on the banks of the Cauvery River. Shivanasamudra Falls is ranked among the top 100 waterfalls in the world ! This is also the site for one of the first Hydro-electric power stations in Asia which was built in 1902 and is still functional. We visited the place after monsoon last year , the best time to visit any waterfall – FYI.

TIP – Vasu restaurant in Kanakpura is well know for its masala dosa , so it would be a good stop enroute  for breakfast. After a 3hr drive from Bangalore via the Kanakapura main road, we reached the falls. Thankfully the parking spot was only half full when we reached around 11am. Grateful that the place would not be too crowded we proceeded towards the falls.

Barachukki and Gaganachukki waterfalls are together known as the Shivanasamudra Falls. The eastern branch of the waterfall is known as Barachukki while the western branch is known as Gaganachukki. These falls are located at a distance of 130 kms from Bangalore and 68kms from Mysore.

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Shivanasamudra Falls

There is a watchtower located near the entrance to the falls from where you can view the entire surrounding area, falls et all. The falls were not very visible from this place .It felt great to view all the greenery around us, the bounty of nature all around. As for the waterfall, all I could see was a few narrow series of waterfalls in the distance. Feeling a little disappointed as i was expecting the falls to be magnificent we moved towards the entrance.  But the more closer we reached to the view point, the more scenic the falls seemed. Feeling my spirits lift and with a little spring in our steps my husband & I reached the stairway leading to the base.

The journey to the bottom consists of around 200 concrete steps fenced with railings on both sides to provide safety . There were even lookout points placed midway for those who preferred not to go all the way down. One could even rest here for sometime on the benches placed here before descending  the staircase further. We witnessed many people struggling to climb their way back up from the base, using the railing for support and breathing heavily.

As we had had a light breakfast and it was almost lunch time , feeling a bit low on sugar I began to feel bit nervous about  the climb back up . But that wasn’t enough to douse my exuberance and curiosity to reach the base ! Nooo it didn’t ! Enjoying the easy descent we soon reached the bottom.

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Coracle Ride

The place was crowded !  Filled with people  enjoying getting wet in the water gushing by. As the flow of the falls was not too strong the coracle rides were in operation. Families were eagerly awaiting their turn for the coracle rides so they could get closer to the falls.

All we could feel was the joyous energy around us and the thundering sound of the falls! The falls looked magnificent from here! This is the place where the water from the Cauvery River drops off from the Deccan Plateau at height of about 69 metres forming the famous ‘Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls’.

After spending sometime enjoying the view, observing all the activity taking place around us and taking few snaps of the gorgeous falls before us we started to ascend the steps. Halfway there i was already lightheaded due to an empty stomach ! TIP – Do not attempt to descend these stairs without   some ’ pet pooja’ (some yummy in your tummy ! 😀 ) and enough water to prevent dehydration & also a cap or umbrella to avoid sun stroke !!!

We unfortunately having not thought of any of the above as we were not aware of the steep decent, had a tough time getting back upstairs ! Never have I been so relieved to have the climb behind me ! Soon we left Shivanasamudra Falls looking for a place to have lunch.

TIP – Finding a descent meal is difficult around these areas so try carrying food from Bangalore itself.

Talakadu

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Temple @ Talakadu

Talakad is a desert-like town located on the banks of river Cauvery, at a distance of about 35 km from the waterfalls. It is a historic town and a famous pilgrimage area of the Hindus as it has several temples. Talakadu once had over 30 temples that today are buried in sand.

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Temple Carvings

Except for the Vaideeswara temple built by Raja Raja I, all the other temples were buried under sand dunes. Out of these, the temples of Pataleeswara, Maraleswara, Anandeswara, Arkeswara, Gauri Shankar, Kirti Narayana and Chowdeswari have been excavated by the Central Archaeological Department.

There is a myth behind this – A story of a curse! Vijaynagar empires viceroy Rangaraya’s wife  Alamelamma is said to have cursed the King and the town before drowning herself in the Cauvery river near Talakadu.

temple1When we visited the place , it was recently opened to the public after the temples were excavated. Talakad is a small town with narrow lanes and small houses. To our surprise there was a looong line of cars waiting to enter the town. Curious visitors and pilgrims looking forward to visit the temple ruins. We could see locals trying to make some income by offering food or acting as guides for the tourists.

After some wait we finally managed to find a parking spot  in an already crowded  lane. No sooner had we parked, a local came upto to us offering to be a guide for a small amount. So off we went with our guide to see the temples some of them which were still active.

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Talakadu

Talakkad is famous for the Panchalinga Darshan – a rare darshan of five Shiva temples. The temples of Pataleeswara (Vasukeeswara), Maraleswara, Arakeswara, Mallikarjuna and Vaideeswara constitute the Panchalingas and are believed to represent the five faces of Siva. The Panchalinga darshana is a popular festival held once in 12 years on New Moon Day in the month of Karthika.

Today this sleepy little town is at the epicenter of some of the latest advances in horticulture and wine making. Often referred to as Bangalore’s Gourmet Valley by name Cauvery Valley, it is still a secret many chefs choose not to share. Fine wines, exotic Zero Pesticide fresh produce, artisan cheese and diverse culinary experiences are changing this once sleepy hamlet.

Day Trip to Hogenakkal

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A year back we decided to visit the Hogenakkal Falls as it is one of the many tourist attractions near Bangalore. . Also called as the ‘Niagara Falls of India’ by many it is located at a distance of 180 km from Bangalore making it a perfect one day getaway. It is located in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. This place is famous for its medicinal baths and coracle boat rides . Carbonatite rocks in this site are considered to be the oldest of its kind in South Asia and one of the oldest in the world.

JpegAs the monsoon had just gotten over at this point we were hoping to get a good show at the falls. . After an early breakfast we left from our place and within 3-4 hours after following the Google Maps we had reach the falls. . Can’t imagine going on a road trip without using Google Maps anymore. . Gone are the days where one reached the destination by using the scarcely placed signboards or  asking people by the road who, are as clueless as you for directions. . The most funny thing about asking people for directions as i remember is that even though they are not aware of the way they still want to help you and you end up having to reroute ahead after getting contrasting directions from the next direction giver, hoping against hope that this time its the right direction ! 😀

Of coz not like Google Map makes your life any easier, sometimes it takes you on a route not meant to be taken on 4wheelers or a route which is not exactly the shortest or the most convenient route . . We have ended up cursing Google Map the  innumerable times we have had to reroute or ended up on a longer than needed route recommended by it. But yes in the end we always end up using Google Maps again anyway ! 🙂

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On entering the Gates to the fall all we could see was water everywhere. . Letting on a sigh of relief to know that we would be able to see the falls in all its glory we proceeded ahead .

Crossing the small bridge where the water was overflowing  causing our shoes and pants to get wet  we walked on. . soon we could see many people getting  ‘Tel Malish’( which i call desi style spa 😛 ), sitting in rows enjoying the pampering session which I was finding a bit humorous.

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Tel Malish happening in the background

You will see lots of local masseuse waiting to get clients. Place was crowded with people getting head massage, body massage. Sitting with eyes closed listening to the sounds made by the gushing waterfall, getting a massage must make it a very energizing experience! probably why you will see many people going for it. After getting a massage people would go bathe at the falls within an enclosure meant for this purpose.

One will also come across lots of snack stalls selling fried fish and other delicacies caught fresh downstream. Freshly caught fish are sold by the gorge and also various vendors selling water and snacks go up and down the gorge rowing their coracles. The fish caught include katla, robu, kendai, keluthi, valai, mirgal, aranjan and jilaby. .

Passing the path leading to the main falls watching the water rushing by , we soon reached the bridge from where one can view the falls.You will see lots of monkeys near the falls as well. The water looked muddy due to the recent showers.

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Misty formation at the falls

Hogenakkal Falls is a series of narrow falls along a long line of rock formations with a drop of around 20 meters. Watching the milky white water pouring continuously down with a thundering noise is an amazing experience. Hogenakkal means ‘smoking rock’ in Kannada – the force with which the water gushes down hitting the rocky structure on the other side creates a smoky, foggy effect giving it it’s name.

The water after falling down the falls gushes through a narrow route passing through rock formations on both sides. The river carries sediment which makes the downriver land fertile due to which it gets it’s unclear muddy look. Soon after the falls the river takes a southerly course and enters the Mettur Stanley Reservoir.

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Bath Enclosure

Unfortunately for us coracle rides were not allowed this day due to heavy water flow. Boating in Hogenakkal is allowed during the dry-season as the water falls are not strong enough to disrupt the passage of the boats. One can even swim downstream in off season.

From the bridge across the main Falls one can even view the bath enclosure.People wearing basic essentials hung on to the cage rods enjoying their baths, seeming very much like monkeys caged in a zoo ironically. The entry to the other side of the bridge was closed as well and soon we left the place happy to have witnessed the mesmerizing falls. While researching we had come across a crocodile sanctuary online and as we had time to kill before leaving back for Bangalore we decided to visit it.

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The croc sanctuary turned out to be a small sanctuary with a very small entry price. Here old as well as injured crocs were taken care of. We even saw lots of cute baby crocs here. . A nice place to spend around an hour before we left back for Bangalore.

Other places one can visit in Hogenakkal are –

  • Krishnagiri , a fav picnic spot ,one can even trek to Yelagiri Hills.
  • Melagiri Hills , for trekking.
  • Theerthamalai , Subramanya Siva &  Parameswari Temples.