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Monday, July 9, 2018

Trekking tips during monsoon - Preparation and Packing

Monsoon trek to Tadiandamol
Pic Courtesy  : Satish M - Event organizer, Bangalore Hikers
For Trekking freaks, Monsoon hikes will pump up the adrenaline. Exploring nature with a splash of rain is a paradise. If not planned properly then trekking during the monsoon would be a big mess. Muddy and slippery Trails, wet clothes, those sucking leeches should not hold you from exploring during monsoon. Monsoon hikes are the best and those memories will stay with you for a lifetime, when necessary measures and preparation is done.

Mandatory Things:
  1. Raincoat/Poncho
  2. Jacket/sweater 
  3. Plastic covers
  4. Hiking Slippers with a grip sole and good holding.
  5. For 2 day trekking, carry 3 pair of socks (Prefer thick socks to avoid leech bite). An additional pair of Woolen socks is always mandatory to protect your feet and keep you warm at night. 

Rain-Coat & Jacket:
Most of the rain coats are not sufficient to keep you and your clothes dry. During monsoon, all you can expect is heavy rainfall and heavy wind. So buying a light fabric will not withstand rain and wind. Always remember, you are not buying a raincoat to wear it for a while or to go out to buy something. Hence, while purchasing a raincoat Keep in mind, that you might face unpleasant weather, heavy rainfall and this rain coat is going to be your best friend from the start of the hike and until you reached the summit. There is a difference between Waterproof vs. water-resistant. Hence while purchasing look for a thick layer and durability.

Once you get wet, a thick jacket/sweater will help you from the cold in the night. Hence always carry both Rain coat and Jacket.

One more thing, Dont be over smart and carry an Umbrella’s while hiking. I saw few people carrying Umbrella during our trek. That's the most dangerous thing. While hiking hands should be always free, this will save you from a slip during the slippery trails.

Good bye to Cotton clothes:
Always ensure you pack only Nylon or spandex or Polystor clothes which has good properties of quick drying. Cotton absorbs water quickly and takes time to dry.
Packing: While packing, ensure to pack each clothes separately in a plastic bag or waterproof bag. This will protect clothes from water, even when your bag is soaked in water completely as well as keep the moisture out. Always carry a big plastic cover to carry and store dirty shoes.

Shoes or hiking Sandals ? 
Both has advantages and disadvantages and its more about your personal comfort. In case of shoes, though the shoe company claims waterproof shoes, your feet get wet when it rains and weight little heavy.

On the other side slippers dry quickly and breathe easily. But it lacks protection. Sandals are borne to cause injury when you hit broken branches and rocks. I personally feel comfort with sandals and I take much caution during the trail.

Glasses/Spectacles:
If you are going to be a frequent traveler, then I would suggest you to customize your glasses with anti-fog coating and water-resistant lenses. Myself as well as my co-trekkers struggled a lot as the water droplets were fogging up and the vision was not clear during our hikes. Personally, I dont suggest contact lens because when water get into eyes, the lens stick to the eye and might be uncomfortable.

Water Proof Pouch:
Buy a waterproof bag to carry your money, credit card, key and other small thing. For electronic items, buy a waterproof Mobile pouch that has a Sensitive touch. This will allow you to access touch screen functions without taking out the mobile phone. This way you can still have fun by taking pictures and videos.

Leeches: 
Sorry to say, there is no better way to avoid leeches. People and google might say Leech Socks, salt, Odomos(the cream get washed off easily), tobacco leaves would help to get rid of it. But trust me you can’t escape from leeches sucking the blood.

The best way to safeguard yourself is to wait for the leeches to get its stomach full and to drop off by itself. This will help you to safe yourself from infection in the long run. Pulling off by hand might result in its tooth getting stuck and will result in itching/infection.

When you apply salt onto the leech, it’s going to further spread its infection. Leech socks could be dangerous in some way, since the leeches leave the socks area and climb higher, higher and higher (Usssh… Stop the imagination please)!

On a health note, It is said that the leeches suck out the toxins from Blood. The best part you don’t feel the bite or pain, since it insert an anesthetics into your blood. After sucking out the blood they insert another anti-coagulant to stop your blood from clotting. So sweet of them right? 

You can use Fucibet Cream(Price 15g :55.60) or Wild Ideas- Healing cream (available online) to stop from Leech itching and infections. Fucibet Cream  cab be purchased in all medical stores.

Taking care of above things will make your hiking a pleasant one! You might be cursing yourself, why the hell am I doing this monsoon hike instead of sleeping at home. But trust me at the end of the journey you will definitely have memories to cherish and share with everyone.

What Best practice would you do or any tips that you would like to share, please share in comments session. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

3 Day Trip plan from Bangalore to Chikmagalur and Sakleshpur

3 Day itinerary to Chikmagalur and Sakleshpur


Bored of Forest and Beaches, I decided to explore the lofty peaks of Chikmagalur the ‘Coffee Land’.  Here is the list of attractions in Sakleshpur and Chikmagalur. Hope this article will allow you to Plan an amazing trip to Chikmagalur and Sakleshpur.

Below was my travel plan during June 2018. 

Day 1 : Travel from Bangalore to Sakleshpur and Belur. 

Start from Bangalore around 4 AM. This will help you to reach Sakleshpur early. On the way you can have breakfast.
1. Manjarabad Fort
Distance                  : 225 (From Bangalore)
Duration of visit     : 1 Hour
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee

About the Place:
A Fort built by Tipu Sultan. The climb to Manjarabad Fort can be be done by walking on a muddy road for about 500 meters and then 250 steps to reach the fort. But those off-road trail gives a fascinating spectacular amazing views. This place is good for photography. When we went there, we were lucky to experience the fort with drizzle, mist and a rain. Clouds and fog always fondle this fort :)
Note: The gate close by 5:00 PM Sharp.
Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. On Road. 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No 
  • Restaurants And Hotels : No Shops at the top.
After exploring Manjarabad Fort, Reach Belur and check-in to Hotel. The hotels in Belur are good. Even an amazing 3 start hotels can be booked at the cost of Rs.1000. Hence, I suggest you to book any hotels near Belur. Contact me for the Hotel Name. 

After freshen-up, get ready to explore the beautiful Hoysala architecture.

2. Kalyani Tank, Hulikere 

Distance                  : 20 KMS (From Belur)
Duration of visit     : 15 Minutes.
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee
Kalyani Tank/Hulikere Tank
Kalyani Tank or Hulikere Tank, -  I was fortunate for finding this fascinating place. This pond has twenty-seven super structure miniature shrines dedicated to twenty seven nakshtras. Dont miss this place. This gives a unique Mesmerizing experience.

If you face difficulty in finding this place, the villagers are kind enough to help in finding the place.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : No. Have to park on Road. 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No 
  • Restaurants And Hotels : No Shops near by. 
3. Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu. 

Distance                  : 3 Kms (From Hulikere Tank)
Duration of visit     : 1 Hour (If you love architecture, then 2 hours)
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee.

Like Gangaikonda Cholapuram for Chola's the Hoysaleswara Temple is for the Hoysala kings. This temple is an architectural wealth of Hoysaleswara Temple, their styles are awe-inspiring. This is one of the largest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in South India and was build with Soap stone.

The temple building activity was taken up in competition to Chennakesava temple at Belur, a Vaishnavite temple. The Sculpture here narrates Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana. It has 240 Unique Images. (Like Ganesha dancing).
Star Shaped – Reason “the moon and sun have eclipses but the stars shine continuously”.

Ensure to Visit Halebidu Archaelogical Site which is in Temple. The Halebidu Archaelogical Site closes by 5:00 PM.

You can take a guide, But the youtube videos explain's everything.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : Yes (Paid)
  • Restaurants And Hotels : Yes. 
If you cover all the above 3 places by 5.30, plan to visit Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi.
From there you can visit Chennakeshava Temple, Belur.

4. Chennakeshava Temple, Belur

Distance                  : 18 Kms (From Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu)
Duration of visit     : 1 Hour (If you love architecture, then 2 hours is needed)
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee

There will be a pooja around 7:00 PM. The city does not get dark even at 7:00 PM, so you can spend rest of the day in the temple, since its relaxing. Ensure to book stay in Belur, this will help you to reach hotel early.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No 
  • Restaurants And Hotels : Plenty of Shops. 

Day 2 : Travel to Chikmagalur
1. Yagachi Dam
Distance                  : 3 Kms(From Belur)
Duration of visit     : 10 Minutes.
Timings                   : 7AM–6:30PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee
Yagachi Dam

A reservoir which is located close to Belur. Since its on the way, you can just stop by and have a view of the dam for 10 minutes.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No
  • Restaurants And Hotels : No. 
2. Yagachi Water Adventure Sports Center

Distance                  : 5 Kms (From Yagachi Dam)
Duration of visit     : 2 Hours (If you want to have some water sports)
Timings                   : 7AM–6:30PM
Entry Fee                : Free.


Few rides likes Kayaking, Speed Boat Ride, Banana Boat, Bumper Ride are here and you can choose the rides by paying individually. The Location has a peculiar charm, spend some peaceful time sitting and admiring the nature and river charm. Lawns and sit out benches are available here.
Yagachi River..

You will get wet for sure, hence carry another pair of clothes. You have a decent place to change the dress.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. (Ample)
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : Yes. (Separate room for Shower as well as Changing room)
  • Restaurants And Hotels : None. 
After spending time at Yagachi Water Adventure Sports Center, drive towards Chikmagalur.

Ensure to start towards Siri Cafe by 12:30 PM.

3. Siri cafe/Siri Coffee.

Distance                  : 30 Kms (45 Mins) (From Yagachi Water Adventure Sports Center)
Duration of visit     : 10 Mins (The time you wish to spend)
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : Free.

It is a private coffee shop and its on the way to Chickmaglur to Mullayanagiri/Baba Budan girl.

There is only one attraction here - The mother statue, representing the mother nature. It leaves us in admiration as it is gorgeously decorated with flower pots as ornaments. The elegance of pergola lends a sense of sumptuous feel. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available. Coffee was not great, but you can try. A nice place to spend some time. There is a small pond with ducks. Children play area is also available. A bit crowded.
Mother Statue


Sleeping Duck...

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. 
  • Drinking Water : Yes
  • Restrooms : Yes 
  • Restaurants And Hotels : Siri Coffee itself is a Restaurant. 
Book a Hotel/Homestay in Chikmagalur. Check in to Hotel. Ensure to have lunch and packed snacks,fruits, water bottles as its extremely tough to find shops. Ensure to start by 2.00 Max. 

Second Option, you can check-in at night after exploring the below places.

4. Kavikal Gandi Viewpoint 

Distance                  : 12 Kms(30 Mins) (From Siri Cafe)
Duration of visit     : 20 Minutes.  (View Point) ((The time you wish to spend))
Timings                   : NA
Entry Fee                : No Entry Fee
Painting at the Kavikal View point
View Point from Kavikal..

This is on the way towards Baba Budan Giri. This has breathtaking aesthetic view points and bracing climate. Climb 50 steps to reach the top.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : No. (Bit difficult) 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No 
  • Restaurants And Hotels : No

3. Honnamana halla Water Falls. 

Distance                  : 4 Kms(8 Mins)(From Kavikal Gandi Viewpoint)
Duration of visit     : 10 Mins(Dont spend more time here)
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry Fee

Nothing great about this place, but since its on the road, its a nice stop over place while you ride towards baba budengiri. Not a good place for bathing.

Dont miss to have Bajji and tea from shops nearby. Those small shops has loads of lip-smacking foodie. Hot bajjis on a cold weather...ummmm!!!

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  :No.  There's no a place for parking. You need to park on the road.
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No 
  • Restaurants And Hotels : Bajji, Bread Omelet and Tea Shops.
4. Guru Dattatreya Bababudanswaamy’s Darga

Distance                  : 8 kms (20 Mins) (From Honnamana halla Water Falls)
Duration of visit     : 20 Mins (Depends on the crowd)
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry Fee

Visit Sree Guru Dattatreya Baba Budan Swamy Durgah (temple and a durgah). Yes, I typed it right. Temple and Durgah. This is the place where it had dispute between Hindu and Muslims. Bababudangiri/Dattatreya Peeta - Hindus believe it is the final resting place of Lord Dattatreya where as Muslims believe it the place of Dada Hayat Mir Qualandar. Hence the Conflicts.
Milestone from Sree Guru Dattatreya Baba Budan Swamy Durgah

Its a cave where Baba Budan and his disciples are buried. It is also believed Baba Budan, who brought coffee to India had mediated in this place. The walk in a bent-over position inside the cave gives a different religious experience. Its a holy place for both Muslims and Hindus. The place is amazingly covered with mist.

There are 200 well built steps to reach the bottom of the cave.

Driving:
The drive is quite Challenging.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. Ample parking place.
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : Yes
  • Restaurants And Hotels : No


5. Baba Budan Giri Peak

Distance                  : 3 Kms from Guru Dattatreya Bababudanswaamy’s Darga
Duration of visit     : 1 Hour (View Point) (The time you wish to spend)
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee
Ridge Walk @ Baba Budan Girl


Road access is also available till Budangiri peak. If you are not comfortable with driving, you can take a jeep from Baba Budan Swamy Durgah. They have a to-fro package to Baba Budan Giri, Gallikere Pond and Maniykadhara falls.  If there is no time you can skip Manikyadhara Falls and return to homestay/Hotel. 

6. Manikyadhara Falls

Distance                  : 7 Kms from Baba Budan Giri Peak
Duration of visit     : 1 Hour (The time you wish to spend)
Timings                   : 8AM to 5PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee

Manikyadhara Falls
There are 250 well built steps to reach bottom of the falls from road. If you expect a waterfall similar to Kuttralam or Jog Falls, then you will be disappointed. To be candid, its just a sprinkle of water (form of small pearls)located at a very high altitude, but the falls has a resplendent view of the forest and chain of hills. Good place to take a bath. But if crowded, you might not get place to stand also. There is a room to change the cloths, but its not so good.

Medicinal plants, seeds & roots can be purchased here.

Remeber, the drive is extremely difficult(strenuous than Baba Budan drive) with lot of bad patches, slippery mud and steep dangerous cuts.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No
  • Restaurants And Hotels : Have few stalls. 
Return/Check in to Hotel. Book a Hotel/Homestay in Chikmagalur.

Day 3 : Chikmagalur and Return to Bangalore 

1. Mullayanagiri 

Distance                  : From your Resort
Duration of visit     : 1 Hour(The time you wish to spend)
Timings                   : 6 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee

Mullayanagiri and Seethalayanagiri is very close by.

Driving and Parking:

The drive is quite Challenging. It has steep cuts, drive only if you are comfortable.

2. Seethalayanagiri

Distance                  : 225 (From Bangalore)
Duration of visit     : 1 Hour(The time you wish to spend)
Timings                   : 6 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry fee

Most of the resort for a trekking to Mullayanagiri and Seethalayanagiri in the package. Please check with them.

Driving & Parking:
The drive is quite Challenging.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No
  • Restaurants And Hotels : No

3. Jhari Falls/Dabdabe Falls/Butter Milk Water Falls

Distance                  : 225 (From Bangalore)
Duration of visit     : 1 Hour(The time you wish to spend)
Timings                   : 6 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee                : No Entry Ticket. 

One can take a jeep and drive down to the falls. The jeep cost Rs 600 for one trip. You have an option to trek to the falls as well.

Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. 
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : Yes
  • Restaurants And Hotels : No

4. MG Park/Rathnagiri Bore (If time Permits)

Distance                  : 
Duration of visit     : 20 Mins (The time you wish to spend)
Timings                   : 8AM to 7:00 PM 
Entry Fee                : 10 Rupees. 

Play Area at MG Park


Dont miss to enjoy the scenery from the park Entrance. A beautiful view of 'Mullayanagiri' can be seen from the park entrance.

The experience of Toy Train is good. Even adults can take the toy train. Toy Train is 15 Rupees per person. They take you 2 round in the train and through a tunnel.

The park has a artificial cave and a good place for an evening walk. If you have buffer time, you can visit this place. Kids will have a good time here. It has some musical events. Check the timings while you purchase a ticket.
Amenities:
  • Parking Space  : Yes. (Ample)
  • Drinking Water : No
  • Restrooms : No
  • Restaurants And Hotels : No. Only Ice Creams are available. 
Return to Bangalore. 

Additional Points to Note:
  1. The scenery on both sides of the road has a unique beauty. Dont miss to admire throughout the Journey.
  2. Due to rain, sometimes the road towards Mullayanagiri, Seethalayanagiri and Baba Budan giri might be blocked. So, Prepared for it. 
  3. Drive towards Mullayanagiri, Seethalayanagiri and Baba Budan giri is extremely challenging. 
  4. Food might not be available everywhere. Plan a head before. 
  5. The above plan excluding Mullayanagiri and Seethalayanagiri is very much comfortable for a senior citizen parents as well as People with kids. 
  6. Drive through Hassan-periyapatna Road. Trees, hillocks and the scenery with crystal clear clouds on both sides of the road gives the drive a natural feel.
Recapitulate
Day1:
Start around 5:00 AM from Bangalore
  1. Explore Manjarabad Fort. Check-in to Belur hotel. 
  2. Kalyani Tank, Hulikere 
  3. Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu. 
  4. Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi(Optional)
  5. Chennakeshava Temple, Belur
Day2:
  1. Yagachi Dam
  2. Yagachi Water Adventure Sports Center
  3. Siri cafe/Siri Coffee.
  4. Kavikal Gandi Viewpoint 
  5. Honnamana halla Water Falls. 
  6. Guru Dattatreya Bababudanswaamy’s Darga
  7. Baba Budan Giri Peak
  8. Manikyadhara Falls
Check in to Chikmagalur Hotel.

Day 3:
Early check out
Hirekolale lake, 
Seethalayanagiri
Mullayanagiri (trekking)
Jhari Falls  (jeep drive) 

4:00 PM start back to Bangalore