Drive to Madikeri & Nagarhole
After waiting for the last moment to embark on the KSTDC tour to Nagarhole I decided to drive up to Madikeri (due to lack of tickets). I was able to book one homestay on the last minute (courtesy http://www.tripadvisor.in/).
I did enough planning to cover Nagarhole also, but had to drop it in the interests of time. I decided to cover Kushalnagar (incl. Bylakuppe), Madikeri & Talacauvery.
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Bangalore to Mysore (SH17) route : Bangalore – Bidadi – Ramanagaram – Chennapatna – Maddur – Mandya – Srirangapatna – Mysore. The distance is about 140 km.
Mysore to Madikere (SH88) route : Mysore – Yelwal – Hunsur – Kempalapura – Piriyapatna – Bylakuppe – Kushalnagara – Suntikoppa – Madikeri . This stretch’s distance is approximately 115km.
We started from bangalore around 6:15 AM on a saturday morning. Took the Corporation circle - Nayandahalli - Mysore Road route and reached Kengeri by 7:15 AM. Then, after resisting the temptation to break the fast at Kamat Lokaruchi (Ramanagara), due to the heavy rush, we were forced to drive until Channapatna and break the fast at Kadambam (2 kms after Channapatna at 8:15 AM). Wow, after relishing the hot pongal and khara bath, drove towards Mysore. Deciding against the Srirangapatna - KRS - Yelwal route, I wanted to try the ring road (as my mind pictured it to be more scenic). After reaching Columbia Asia hospital (9:30), I took the right to proceed on the ring road towards Hunsur road. OMG, after braving terrible roads, under construction, finally reached the Hunsur road junction (10:30). There on the roads were just a cruise, though it was only 2-lane (NO Tolls), the roads were perfectly laid (like the Chennai ECR).
After about an hours drive, reached Bylakuppe around 11:30 AM (There is a board showing the entrance to the Golden temple, take this left). The Tibetian settlements / construction are a treat to watch. Watching an area full of Monks nearby our own place was an experience. We spent some time at the Golden temple, and then drove towards Kushal Nagar.
Immediately after Kushal nagar, within 2 - 3 kms, we spotted the Cauvery Nisarga Dhama on the left. There was a food court almost completed, but yet to start. After a few sighs, we parked the car in the parking area and proceeded towards the Rope Bridge. Walking on this bridge was an experience. Then we took some photographs of the River, Elephants, Deers and Bamboo Huts and started from there around 1:45 PM.
Then, we reached Madikeri at 2:30 and had lunch at Hotel Niel Sagar (good byt little expensive),and then settled into the Homestay.
We started towards Abbey falls around 4:30 and the drive was very scenic, but spoilt to an extent by the heavy traffic on the day. We encountered heavy downhill traffic on the narrow lane, and managed to cover the 8 km journey in about 45 mins. THen after parking, we had to take a half km mini trek down the hill towards the falls.
After some few clicks, we panted heavily and climbed up the half km and started the drive downhill. WE reached Madikeri (Raja's park) around 6:15 PM. There was huge parking space for the Raja's Park.
Raja's park was very breezy and misty. The cool breeze was enjoyable as was the mini train and the valley view. We enjoyed the musical fountain (starts around 7:00 PM), and then had dinner at Athithi restaurant (has a car parking too). Adjacent to Athithi was the Coorg Spices shop, and we shopped for some coffee, elachi and other spices.
Next day (Sunday) morning, we started at 7:00 AM, had breakfast and proceeded towards Talacauvery (deviation from Thimmaiah Circle). Note that Madikeri has 2 famous circles, Thimmaiah and Cariappa circles. Talacauvery was 50 kms from Madikeri. After 3 kms on the Madikeri - Mangalore highway (SH), we had to take a sharp left (U) turn (clear sign boards helped us). From there on it was a scenic drive through the hilly villages Appangla, Bettageri, Kargunda and then Cherambane.
After passing through Bhagamandala, we reached Talacauvery by 9:00.
After having darshan of the pond, and the Agasthiaswamy & Ganesha temples, I decided to climb (365 steps) the Brahmagiri hill. The view from the hilltop (valley and the rolling mountain ranges beyond) was fabulous for panorama shots, My Nokia N8 Panorama software failed me that day :-)
Then, we started at 10:00 AM, and then stopped at a Forest spices shop. Then we had darshan of Lord Bhagandeshwara at Bhagamandala temple, and after the scenic drive, reached Madikeri at 11:30 AM.
We the started from Madikeri at 12:45 PM after lunch, and reached Kushal Nagar in 45 mins, Hunsur at 2:15 and Yelwal (2:45). Then we took the KRS - Srirangapatna road and reached Srirangapatna at 3:15. Then, I realised that while going also, we could have taken this road, and would have saved 30 mins easily. The road was ok to drive at 40 - 50 kmph. Then, we stopped at Kadambam@Channapatna (4:15) for tiffin and then braving some procession at Ramanagara, reached Kengeri at 5:30 PM. Then took the nice road to Bannerghatta road, and reached Silk board at 6:30 PM).
Other Points to Note:
1. There are ATMs at Madikeri, so do not worry.
2. There are petrol pumps at Kushal Nagar and Madikeri (3 or 4). But, they dont accept credit cards.
Upon reflecting back, the trip was very good, especially the drive to Abbey Falls and Talacauvery. The roads were very good from Mysore to Madikeri with no speed humps and was enjoyable. Upon writing this blog, I regret that we could have covered Nagarhole too, but then it would have been a stretch really for a 2 day weekend trip.