Monday, July 16, 2012

Cycling the 70km Bangalore Harohalli route

Route : Bangalore - Nisarga Layout - Harohalli - Kanakpura - Bangalore

After digging into many articles for some of the best cycling routes in Bangalore - i preferred doing the Bangalore - Harohalli route with close proximity to my house in Banerghatta road. I had plans to do the Bangalore Mysore route one way and back on the Volvo, but i guess that was too adventurous and tasking - 160 km - by gosh,,,
Me on the Trek 3700
I often cycle early in the morning at my home in Patna - Trek 3700. I knew if i had to do any of the routes in Bangalore -the distances would be long.

Once i selected this route - it was time to get a cycle on rent. I checked on RR Cycles - Madiwala - if they had one. RR Cycles in Madiwala do give cycles on rent. I managed to get a Trek 3700.

The ride
As Soma left early morning for office , i was off solo en route to Nisarga Layout at 8:45 AM. The initial 12 kms from Gottigere via Banerghatta National Park was crazy. Hell lot of morning traffic.
Once i took the right turn to Nisarga Layout which was another 2 kms. - riding was fun now with no traffic. Nisarga Layout is pretty big and planned - i took a stop here for a quick breakfast. As i was solo - had to make sure that i was on the right track. I avoided doing it from Anekal to Nisarga Layout being too lengthy.
Once i crossed Nisarga layout - the road was bad and heading towards a downhill. Past a few junctions to the right - came a pucca road - which was much better. I had never imagined that the outskirts of Bangalore - road and countryside was beautiful. With a perfect weather - i just felt that i had the extra energy to ride ahead. I guess - as i read in one of the articles - this stretch is one of the best to ride. I had to come over a few uphills which was really taxing and tiring but was worth it. I was now soon on the Banerghatta Zoo corridor. I was the only person on this entire stretch riding and i feared of Elephants cross by,,,i did not stop for a break on this entire stretch,,,,
Uphill - Blr-Harohalli route
There is one particular stretch after the Banerghatta Zoo corridor which is a downhill - by gosh,,,had i not applied my breaks, i would be off the mountains in a deep pitch,,yes, it was very steep.Mind ya fellas- if you do Harohalli to Bangalore via Anekal - it's much more challenging as it has mostly uphill on the route.
By 12:30 i was at the Harohalli junction. Took a break and asked locals for the way back to Bangalore.
Harohalli-Kanakpura rd.-J.P.Nagar-Gottigere (Blr)
 This stretch was pretty good to ride but you had to keep in mind of the traffic. I had to keep a constant check to ride to my extreme left - in fact off the road. A few stretches is uphill and it really requires that extra energy to pull. As i was tired cycling more than 3 hours - i could feel the pain in the butt and the muscle pull. The milestone really helped as you could spot at every 2 kms. I took many breaks in between for water and tea. I spotted a few dhabas en route which looked tempting but did not stop,,,after doing this stretch for 25 kms. i almost reached Bangalore. Took a shortcut to JP Nagar - there was a 2 kms uphill which was a killer - i preferred to walk,,,i was near gottigere now.
Before reaching home - i congratulated myself for doing this wonderful route of 75 kms. solo.

Important Info.
Bike - Trek 3700
Rent : 275 per day
RR Cycles - Madiwala - 0091 984479039


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

JNU Mountaineering Club - old members meet in Bangalore

Was it Rajesh Mall's sheer luck that he was on an NGO assignment in Bangalore for the past one month - or do i phrase it - has everyone been "Bangalored",,,

As i was working in my hometown Patna - i did get the news of Rajesh's visit to Bangalore on an NGO assignment. Initially, he met Dhanalakshmi, Nitesh and Lokesh in MG road a few days ago. Rajesh soon left for field work in various parts of Karnataka.

While i was at home in Bangalore - got the news that Rajesh will be visiting Bangalore once again. He stayed at my house for a day (6th July, 2012) and it was really great to meet him after after 6 years. It always a pleasure and delight when you meet your fella mountaineers from a long gap. And yes, i always read his blogs and got the news of his new adventures and new trekking routes.
Rajesh Mall, Saurabh Vikas, Nitesh Uniyal, Rajiv Kumar

Rajesh had made a plan that all JNUites, especially the trekkers should meet once and it has been ages.
We all assembled at Nitesh's house at 9 for breakfast.- Saurabh Vikas (Periyar wala, Major Saab), Lokesh (Spanish, working with IBM.Blr), Nitesh (Spanish, Oracle), Rajiv (Spanish, Entrepreneur-Patna),,,
It was a moment to capture - after so many years - mountaineers and trekkers meeting. Everyone was sharing their bit of experiences of the Trekking days,,,Desert Trek in the Thar, Rajesh and Nitesh's craziest trekking to Roopkund,,,mine to Vasuki Tal and Kedarnath,,,etc.

I still recall the JNUMC days - when we used to go by 615 bus to Munirka to by our foodstocks for trekking. Our rafting at Shivpuri was just a mere Rs.50 for registration. Still people never came for rafting,,our camping gear and tents were just good enough to use, what we see today in high end stores like Wildcraft and Decathlon are luxury,,,
Thanks to JNUMC and JNU,,,

Rajiv,Saurbah, Rajesh, Lokesh and Nitesh-Nitesh's house-Blr.

We had a superb breakfast at Nitesh's house. (Thanks Nitesh) we soon departed after an hour as everyone had work,,,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trip to Valparai

About Valparai (from wikitravel)

Valparai is a hill station located in the Coimbatore district of Tamilnadu. It is 104 km from Coimbatore and 64 km from Pollachi, 110 km from Ernakulam (Cochin) via Athirapally, Vazhachal, and Malakkapara. The pollution free heavenly land Valparai is located above 3500 feet from the sea level on the Anamalai mountain range. Valparai is not just a small town. It stands majestically with green spread mountains and forests all around. Valparai shares it's boundaries with Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, Eravikulam National Park and Vazhachal forest division. People are approachable and very friendly. This is one of the places that you shouldn't miss in your life.

After spending 6 years in Bangalore, i really wonder, how i missed on this place and was not in my itenarary for travel. Ahh - i read in one of the blogs before traveling here, Valparai is situated in the Anna Malai Tiger reserve - and the government had not encouraged Tourists to visit the place - the Tiger and human conflict. With the Eco Tourism boom - government is now liberal and have taken measures to restore Valparai and open up for Tourism. Not many has been written about Valparai - i am making my efforts to blog this for all those who really love nature, wildlife, tea estates, dams etc. 

Our plan
We had booked our train tickets about a month back to Coimbatore - but unfortunately, it was on waiting list.Thanks to Soma, my wife - who is very particular of travel to n fro. She had booked tickets on the Multi axle Volvo from Bangalore to Coimbatore. Note - as it was the long weekend break - Easter Holidays - the entire Bangalore junta is out for travel. Our plan was to take the Volvo from Bangalore to Coimbatore and back and hire a taxi for 3 day travel to Valparai.

We reached the KPN bus stop at Bommanhalli - my gosh,,crowd was massive as everyone wanted to leave for their home and others on to different destinations. I guess everyone needed a break and with the temperatures soaring high in the city. The brand new multi axle Volvo bus is amazing to travel - comfy and spacious. By the time we woke up - we had reached in the early hours (5ish) in Coimbatore bus stand.

Day 1 - 06th April, 2012
We had done prior bookings with one of best travel agents in Coimbatore. Rajesh - our cab driver was waiting for us. We had a brand new Tata Indica. We soon left for Valparai to avoid the mad rush city traffic. Valparai to Coimbatore by road - is a 3 hour travel. We stopped for a chai cum diesel break after about an hour. Had a quick snack and headed for the ghats. As we crossed by Aaliyar Dam - we were soon ascending the ghats. As morning was fresh - we had less traffic and enjoyed the beautiful drive up the hills. We crossed the Monkey Falls - apparently no water - due to summers,,, and to Loam's view point. Ahh - whatta view. Amazing view to see the surrounding Western ghats and Pollachi town. After a 3 hour long drive - we reached Valparai town by 9:30. We had not done any hotel bookings, but had just reserved. our 1st try was Misty Creek - thru one of the riders in Mad Bulls. I guess - this was one of the best places to stay. Amazing view from the balcony, quiet place and a friendly atmosphere. A quick break and we were out again to explore the hills. Plaza restaurant is the best place to have all your meals. Rajesh - our cab driver had good information about Valaparai and had a small itenerary for us. He picked up a local friend from the city to catch on the latest updates of the small town,,,

Murugan Festival: As we left the town, we saw a huge crowd gatthering,,we got the news - Murugan Festival. I guess we were lucky to be there. Unebeleivable to the eyes - small kids and men - had piercing done in their mouth and back - they say - it is our beleif in the Murugan god - and this pain is to show our way of effection. Most surpirsing was - it was vey well organized - their piercing in the mouth or back did not any drop of blood. Soma could not take this sight et all and we left soon,,do check out on the pics.

we visited Nirar Dam, Sholayar Dam, Number Parai - best views of Valparai & Balaji Temple.
You will get information on the net about these places,,,but dont miss on them as it a must to visit.

around Valparai

 After a good 3 hour tourist visit of Valparai - we decided to take a break at Misty Creek. benny - Frank Benjamin - the owner of Misty Creek - helped us to gather more information about the places to see around. Very helpful.
We left at 4pm for a small trek near Misty Creek resort. We did this trek for about 2 hours - unbeleivable experience. Trekking in the Tea gardens, getting an amazing view of the town and spending time at the waterfalls - nothing can beat this for a perfect vacation and enjoy nature. We called it a day with home food cooked at Misty Creek - paranthas and Chicken Curry.

Day 2 - 07th April, 2012
Valparai-Shanti Tea Estate-Sholayar Dam
As we had covered most part of Valparai - Benny had advised us to visit one of the Tea Estates - where there could be a possibility to see Elephants. Shanti Tea Estate - this is a diversion enroute to Comibatore 22 kms. from Valaparai. We left early to avoid the incoming traffic from Coimbatore. The drive early morning was a bliss - fresh breeze. We spotted a wide variety of Birds, lucky to spot the endagered Lion Tailed macaque.
Shanti Tea Estate - one of the biggest tea estates in the vicinity. As it was mid day, it was difficult to spot any elephants. Well, i wasnt keen to see more elephants , as we had watched in large numbers on our bike trip to Lanka. Anyways, the view was excellent.
We took a tour of Sholayar Dam once again. This was my favourite place to vist - a big dam with lots of lush green vegetation. I am sure this place would be much beautiful during the monsoons. As it was noon - we had a quick lunch at the Plaza and headed back to Misty Creek.

At Shanti Tea Estate - Valparai

In the evening once again - we did a small trek to the Tea Gardens once again. We relaxed at the hotel as we had planned for a late night safari with Benny and a biker couple.

Night Safari
we left Misty Creek at 10pm for the night safari. Benny knew the place very well - administrators, wildlife, roads etc. Through his contacts - we were able to do the entire stretch of Sholayar Dam - gosh - it was superb in the night. Pretty scary though at times - elephants coming on the roads. Benny has shared with us some of his encounters with Elephants and the ruckus they create around. We spotted loads of Wildboar, porcupines, wild rabbits, rats ,,,unfortunately - no elephants. Benny was an expert on movements of Elephants in the vicinity,,,
We did the night safari for about 2 hours,,,as we could not get any luck on the Elephants, we left for Misty Creek.

Day 3 - 08th April, 2012
It was time for us to bid adieu to Valparai, we left early to avoid delays on boarding the bus at Coimbatore.
Enroute we stopped at Aliyar Dam for a visit - pretty hot though as we had descended the ghats. Had a light meal - idlis with omlette near Aliyar Dam, took the bus to Bangalore at 3pm,,,back home once again.

More Information about Valaparai

Places To See

Aliyar Dam - Aliyar Dam is a reservoir that is located 27 km away from Pollachi on the foothills of Valparai, in the Anamalai range of the Western Ghats. The dam offers some ideal getaways including a park, an aquarium and a mini Theme-Park maintained by Tamilnadu Fisheries Corporation. It is an ideal picnic spot.
Monkey Falls - Monkey Falls is located 29 km on the Pollachi-Valparai road. An entry fee of INR 15 per head must be paid at the check post located along Aliyar - Monkey Falls’ route.
Loam's View Point – This is a beautiful view point from where you can see Aliyar Dam, the surrounding mountains of Western Ghats and the Pollachi town. This is situated in 9th hairpin bend towards Valparai from Pollachi.
Tiger Valley - From here you can see Upper Aliyar reservoir.
Balaji temple - Balaji temple is owned by the Peria Karamalai Tea Industries. It is situated in Karamalai, and is a very famous beautiful temple and is situated  at a distance of 10 km from Valparai.
Chitti Vinayagar Temple - Chitti Vinayagar Temple is owned by Jayshree Tea Industries, Sholayar. The temple is situated in a beautiful garden environment and is only 5 km from Valparai town.
Karamalai Annai Vellankanni Church – This is a very famous Catholic Church. A festival takes place every year during September 8th. New church was built in the year 2003. This is a place to enjoy spiritual peaceful environment. Many people visit this Church daily. This is situated at a distance of 10 km from Valparai.
Sholayar Dam - It is the second deepest dam of Asia. It is situated at a distance of 20 km from Valparai. An active tourist spot found always busy. It is a very beautiful place to visit.
Nirar dam - This dam is built for multipurpose project such as irrigation, Hydro electricity production. Dam is situated in a wonderful location covered by a dense forest. There is a waterfall near by the dam which resembles the Cascade. It is situated at a distance of 15 km from Valparai.
Chinnakallar - Chinnakalar is a geographically important place. It is the second highest rain fall area in India. Always found wet and misty, and a greenish dense forest with tall majestic trees all along the road to Chinnakalar a pleasure route to enjoy.
There is a falls in Chinnakallar which is very beautiful to watch. Chinnakallar is situated at a distance of 15 km from Valparai.
Nallamudi Poonjolai -A beautiful view point located near the Sangiliroad in Valparai. One must walk for about 1 km inside the tea estate to reach this view point.
Number Parai - This is also a beautiful view point. Near by Sangiliroad near Valparai.
Grass Hills - Its a part of Indra Gandhi wildlife sanctuary & national park. It is surrounded by a green grass environment. It is a beautiful site of high green grasses on a mountain slope, which is a protected area. Visitors have to obtain permission from the wildlife warden to enter the Grass Hills. This is situated at a distance of 15 km from Valparai.  Grass Hills is a picturesque spot located in the Valparai hills range, at a height of approx: 2400m msl, with cool climate getting cooler at night, a part of Indira Gandhi Wild Life Sanctuary. Right now all efforts are being undertaken by the government to preserve the flora and fauna of this location. Nilgiri Thar is native of this place apart from Elephants, Bison, Indian Gaur, Bear, Nilgiri Langurs etc.. and a wide variety of birds including Hornbills.
Kadamparai Dam - This is a beautiful place to visit. Prior permission from the forest department is necessary to visit this place.
Athirapally Falls - It is near to the entrance of the Sholayar range is a place of great scenic beauty. Here, the water plunges from a height of nearly 80 feet before joining the Chalakudi river. This picturesque spot is adjacent to dense green forest, and is a part of Chalakudi River, 50 km from Valparai towards Chalakudi, Kerala.

Photos :

Important Information
Misty Creek
0091 9488876568

MRT Tours & Travels
70/1 B Lenin nagar, 2nd Street, Ganapathy, Coimbatore 6
0091 9442168478
0091 9894268478

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Maner Sharif

About Maner
Maner Sharif (Patna, Maner)

View from the Tourist Bungalow
It is a large village of historical antiquities, situated in the extreme north west of Danapur Sub-division, about 32 kms west of Patna on Patna-Arrah Highway. In the early ages Maner was a centre of learning and it is said that grammarian Panini, and also Bararuchi, lived and studied here. Maner contains two well-known Mohammedan tombs, that of Shah Daulat or Makhdum Daulat, known as Chhoti Dargah, and the other that of Sheikh Yahia Maneri or Makhdum Yahia, called the Bari Dargah. Makhdum Daulat died at Maner in 1608, and Ibrahim Khan, Governor of Bihar and one of the saint's disciples completed the erection of his mausoleum in 1616. The building is exceptionally fine one, with walls containing carvings of great delicacy and high finish. A great dome crowns it, and the ceiling is covered with carved inscriptions from the Quran. Every detail of it is characteristic of the architecture of Jehangir's region, and it is by far the finest monument of the Mughals in Eastern India. Inside the compound there is a mosque also built by Ibrahim Khan in 1619, whiles a fine gateway bearing an older inscription corresponding to 1603-01, and affords access to the north. The tomb of Yahia Maneri lies in a mosque walls and ghats, and pillared porticos jutting out into it, which is connected with the old bed of the River Sone by a tunnel 400-ft long.

Maner - A tourist Paradise
Maner has always served as a tourist spot due to the close proximity to Patna - 32 kms. As now, every Bihari wants to get connected to their roots - it brings back the huge working population scattered all over India and the world to Bihar. Every one now wants to be in their hometown and work towards a better living.
Maner Dargah

People come here on weekends and spend the entire day with friends and families to enjoy the beautiful landscape and the Dargah.
The entire landscape is beautiful as it adds more value to the scenery around with a lake in between.

The Bihar government and Bihar Tourism has taken extra efforts to restore "Maner Shariff" and has built a Tourist Bungalow.
The Tourist Bungalow is ready but is yet to be operational.

What Maner Offers
Thanks to Bihar Government - as the roads now are much better to travel. From Patna - it will take 45 minutes to travel or about an hour - depending on your speed. It is advisable to set out early in the morning to avoid the chaotic traffic in Patna.
You will have to take Bailey road, cross Danapur Cantt. and reach Maner.
The Maner Shariff is about 2 Kms from the Chowk. If you get lost - ask anyone for the Maner Dargah.
Try and spend a good quality time at Maner Shariff. It is always quiet here with splendid scenery around.

You will not get any tourist guide here. At the Maner Dargah - you have information boards to tell you about the history of Maner. Entry Fees is nill.
Those interested in photography - best place to be here.
Maner Dargah is a pilgrimage. If you want your wishes to be fulfilled - tie a knot here and offer a chadar (bedsheet). Once your dreams come true - you will have to come here to untie any knot. It is the same what you have at the Red fort in Agra.

Once you visit the dargah, you can enjoy on some delicious sweets, most popularly known for "Maner Ka Laddoo". One of the best places is Maner Sweets.