Thursday, December 29, 2011

Into the Wilderness - Part 2

So guys, this is the continuation of the first part written in the December of 2010.
This is a fully updated list of places I have been to(worth mentioning) in 2011.


1. Munnar  Everyone has heard of the misty tea estate location of Munnar in Kerala. And almost everyone has been there too. But we went to a less traveled place near Munnar, which is Meesapulimala. It is the second tallest peak in South India, after Anaimudi. The trek route consisted of a total 15km round about path covering few waterfalls, dirt roads, pure jungle tracks and rocks. The view is truely enchanting. Tours are arranged by the forest department at INR 300 per head.

2. Kuntibetta Kuntibetta and Onakke betta are two rocky hills situated near Pandavpura in Mandya district of Karnataka. Both the hills provide challenging rock climbing/trekking options. For the rugged people, Onakke is hardly an hour of trek, whereas Kunti is even lesser. But for normal people the whole place is a one day indulgence. There is also a temple, a pond and a lake in the vicinity. Please avoid climbing in the hot sun without proper protection as the rocks offer almost no shade, and can burn your feet. Also, don't forget to grab some of the juicy sugarcanes from the nearby cane factories( Pandavpura is famous for its sugar industries). I climbed these hills two times over, different routes and all.

3. Kabini Reservoir Situated at about 60km distance from Mysore, is the reservoir of Kabini. Better known for the resorts and tourist lodges in the location, the destination is good for a short bike trip. The roads leading to the place are in excellent condition, and the location is good for playing around river banks with various kinds of flora.

4. Mullayangiri Situated near Chikamagalur,it is the tallest peak in Karnataka. What else do you need to know to visit it, if you are in Karnataka? The place is ultimate in the mornings, with all the clouds and mist floating around everywhere. But even during usual morning hours, you can savour the experience of looking at the  little world below, so it is worth visiting any time of the day. Also, the view along the road up to the peak is quite breathtaking while the road itself can be lifetaking if proper precautions are not taken. Watch out for the strong winds. Keep kids and lean people out of its path, else you might have to search high and low to locate them in the wilderness below.  You can try different things like practicing gliding, flying paper planes etc in the strong winds through which you communicate only by signs or shouting in each others ears.

5. Shivagange It is a popular pilgrimage location, near Tumkur. Involving, nearly 5+ kms of highly steep climbing and walking, this was the most strenuous trek I had undertaken in recent times. Though there are plenty of hawkers selling tonnes of refreshment stuff along the path, the insanely steep climbs and narrow steps make it a very difficult trip indeed.  In places where steps are nothing but shallow cuts made on the smooth rock, the railings erected on the rocks are the only apparatus you can use to help yourself. Unless you are perfectly fit, your limbs would soon give in to the painful and continuous climb. The view from atop is certainly deserving of all the pain taken. Don't forget to click some pictures of the 90 degree rock faces you climbed.

6. Devarayana Durga This place is also located near Tumkur. Broken fort and temples.Has a very short trek also. The USP of the area can be considered as the good view it provides, the pond filled with cold water even in the hot mid-days, and the temples.

7. Baba Budangiri Baba Budangiri is famous religious place for both Hindus and Muslims. It is near Chikmagalur, and is reached after a long drive through beautiful forest areas and picturesque mountains. Though there isn't much at the spot to look out for , it can be a spot for the families to visit.

8. Kalhatgiri This is a water falls in the vicinity of Kemmannugundi. There are three levels of this waterfall. The higher the better. The lowest part is quite dirty due to the people taking bath and also has a temple tucked under a rocky face over which the small stream creates a fall.

9. Kemmannugundi  It is a very popular hill station of Karnataka. It is also the major tourist spot in the Chikamagalur region. There are some parks and view points which make it look like a usual tourist spot. And that is exactly why we didn't find it interesting at all. (We had visited it after Mullayangiri and Baba Budangiri, hence kemmanugundi had nothing new to offer to us).

10. Halebidu Located in Hassan district, this was the crown of the ancient Hoysala empire of the 12th century. You can find buildings with the fine architecture of that period, depicting battles, mythological figures and stories. It is a good place to explore the ancient history and architecture of South India.

11. Belur A few kms drive from Halebidu, Belur was the capital of the Hoysala empire. Major attraction here is the Chennakesava Temple complex. The beautiful temples and sculptures inside this complex are worth a visit.

12. Wayanad - A north-eastern district of Kerala, which shares border with both Karnataka and Tamilnadu. Wayanad is a popular destination for people from all over the world. The major attractions are Kuruva Islands, Soochipara falls, Meenmutty falls, Chembra peak, Banasura dam, Vythiri,Tholpetty Wildlife sanctuary and so on. Gives lots of opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty, and do some adventurous stuff. Also famous for the tribal settlements. There is a deep history buried in there for people interested.

13. Madurai is a major town in Tamilnadu. It is situated near the Kerala border and hence is quite accessible. The drive to Madurai from Kerala side passes through scenic locations especially in the Kambam, Theni areas. Famous for the ancient and majestic Meenakshi Temple , Madurai provides a great location for lots of religious visits and some country tour.

14. Vagamon is one of the least exploited scenic beauties of Kerala. Lying in the Idukki-Kottayam border , the road passing through Vagamon provides lot of breathtaking views of the meadows and valleys. It is ideal for family trips or from schools/colleges. Even nature lovers and shutterbugs find many secluded spots to explore.

View from Nandi Hills
15. Nandi Hills - The only immediate go-to hill for Bangalore people, Nandi hills provides a good location to chill out (in all senses). Ideal time to visit is early mornings, to catch a glimpse of the sun rising from amidst the dense fog and mist. Try going on two-wheelers, especially bicycles for some extra fun :)

16. Sakrebailu - This place near Shimogga is quite similar to the Ana-kottils in Kodanad,Kerala. It is famous for the elephant camps. Good place to go especially if kids are accompanying.

17. Kukke Subrahmanya - Kukke is  a popular religious destination in Karnataka. The deity is Lord Subrahmanya who is worshipped as the lord of the serpents. Worth a visit.

18. Kumaraparvata - Nothing I can type here matches the experience I had climbing this behemoth mountain. Kumaraparvata rises above the clouds and makes its presence felt aside the gopura of Kukke Subrahmanya temple, albeit far away in the background. Totaling nearly 15kms, the trek route provides a very challenging set of steep climbs over a variety of terrain ( forest, plain, rocky, grassy, misty). There are a variety of techniques/routes to climb this hill and each one is interesting in its own sense.
The cold winds and the dense fog covering the dangerous routes near the top gives you an adrenaline rush while trying hard to stay aground. We even camped there overnight on New year's eve,making it a very memorable experience of my life.

Google search the above locations to see beautiful photos of the places, or if you are my friend in Facebook, check out my albums for most of these places. I shall be updating pictures here when I find small sized ones.

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