Monday, 25 June 2012

Bankapura: Chalukyan marvel in the peacock district

Bankapura: Chalukyan marvel in the peacock district 

This Post is a part of the Chalukya Trail. Please Click here to read the main post
Overview: After lunch at Hangal, we proceeded towards Bankapura towards NH4. Bankapura is a very old town. It is popular for the 11th century Nagareshwara temple. The Chalukya temple was excavated by archaeologists and hence it is below the ground level. The Gopuram of the temple are no longer visible now. This temple again is another example of the Chalukyan art and architecture. The floor plan is similar to other temples built by the Chalukyas. The pillars are carved exquisitely with animals and birds. The ceiling is well carved with lotus design. The temple is popular for its 66 pillars. This temple, though not much damage has been done, has failed to attract tourists. The authorities need to seriously look into this. The temple can be reached through a Peacock reserve which is another attraction in this town. We were fortunate enough to spot a couple of peacocks on the way back. Bankapura fort is another attraction which was built and ruled by the Kadambas of Banavasi.
BankapuraNagareshwara Temple, Bankapura Nagareshwara Temple, Bankapura  Nagareshwara Temple, Bankapura Nagareshwara Temple, Bankapura Nagareshwara Temple, Bankapura Nagareshwara Temple, Bankapura Nagareshwara Temple, BankapuraNagareshwara Temple, Bankapura  Peacock@ Bankapura
How to reach:  Bus: From Bangalore, there are direct buses to Hubli which pass via Bankapura.
Car/Bike: From Davangere, head on NH4 directly to reach Bankapura on the way towards Hubli.
Food/Accommodation: There are very less options for food at Bankapura. The nearest place for some decent food/accommodation is Hubli.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Yelagiri Hills: Extreme biking to a silent hill

Yelagiri Hills: Extreme biking to a silent hill 

Overview: Yelagiri Hills may not exactly fall in the category of a hill station, but its definitely a stress buster if we make it a 2-day trip so that its good for relaxation as well. This small hillock in Tamil Nadu is quite far from Bangalore as we realised when we set off on our bikes on a very early Sunday morning. We started from our house at around 5am considering the distance. We crossed the Karnataka border very quickly and in no time we were cruising on NH7. On the way to Krishnagiri, we had our breakfast at A2B. At Krishnagiri, we turned left towards Bargur. At around 9:30, we found a board indicating directions for Yelagiri Hills. It was fun riding our bikes along hairpin bends. There are a total of around 14 hair pin bends which lead to the top of the hill. We were greeted by a Tamil Nadu tourism board indicating the places of tourist interest in Yelagiri. Being almost equidistant from both Bangalore and Chennai, this place attracts people from both the cities.
First of all we went for a lazy stroll on the Punganoor Lake, then ventured out for a small trek towards Swamimalai. We could see lot of people heading towards the top of the hill and was looking like a village fair. We came back after trekking for a while. There are a couple of waterfalls as well on the hills but unfortunately there was no water as we went there in the wrong season. Then after having lunch, we decided to head back. On the way back we went to the telescope point where a telescope was provided for a view of the hills far at a distance. We could see other bikers as well from Bangalore who had come all the way to Yelagiri.
We enjoyed the view and made our way back. The return trip was even better as the clouds began to show and it had become relatively cooler. At the end of the trip the total distance was around 350kms. So as mentioned, to enjoy the full beauty of this place it is always advisable to spend 2 days.
NH7 towards Krishnagiri near Bargur Jolarpettai Yelagiri Hills Yelagiri Hills Yelagiri Hills Lake@Yelagiri Hills Yelagiri Hills Transportation@Yelagiri Hills Trek begins to Murugan temple Trek to Murugan temple Villagers heading towards Murugan temple Yelagiri Hills Yelagiri Hills Yelagiri Hills Yelagiri Hills Yelagiri Hills NH7
How to reach: Bus: KSRTC buses ply from Bangalore to Jolarpettai. From there, buses are available to reach Yelagiri hills.
Train: Train No 12608 Lalbagh express starts from Bangalore City at 6:30 am and reaches Jolarpettai at 08:44am. The return train 12609 departs from Jolarpettai at 05:08pm and reaches Yesvantpur at 8:05pm. There are a few trains after this as well.
By Bike/Car: Take the NH7 towards Hosur, at Krishnagiri, turn left towards Bargur road, at Bargur, ask for directions to reach Jolarpettai, from there Yelagiri is around 15 kms.
Food/Accommodation: Plenty of options available for food and stay in Yelagiri.
Map:

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Monday, 11 June 2012

Tilavalli: History hidden in parts of Karnataka

Tilavalli: History hidden in parts of Karnataka 

This Post is a part of the Chalukya Trail. Please Click here to read the main post
Overview: From Haveri our next plan was to visit a small village called Tilvalli. We went via the village of Kaginele, the birthplace of the great saint Kanakadasa. We reached Tilvalli at 12:15pm. It was cloudy so didn't feel the strain so much. The Shanteshwara temple in Tilvalli is not a very huge temple like in Haveri, but it is an ancient temple built by the Chalukyas in the 9th century. Keeping up to the name of the deity, the place is very silent and we cannot see many people around the temple. The architecture is very much similar to the temple in Haveri. Due to the increasing population and building roads, the temple is pushed to a side and is not even visible from the main road. We also saw some inscriptions around the temple but there was nobody to explain about it.
Lake@ Tilavalli Tilavalli village Shanteshwara temple, Tilavalli Shanteshwara temple, Tilavalli Shanteshwara temple, Tilavalli Shanteshwara temple, Tilavalli Shanteshwara temple, Tilavalli Shanteshwara temple, Tilavalli
How to reach:  Bus: From Bangalore, there are direct buses to Hangal from Haveri, from there local autos can be hired to reach TIlavalli.
Car/Bike: From Davangere, head on NH4 directly to reach Haveri, from Haveri, head towards Hangal, from there, the village roads lead to Tilavalli.
Food/Accommodation: There are some medium budget hotels to stay in Haveri.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Green Route: Trekking along the Railway Track

Green Route: Trekking along the Railway track

Overview:
Trekking along the "Green Route" was always on my mind and I got a chance to do that with a friend. We decided to keep it a low budget trip as we were fresh from a 3-day trip the previous week. So we decided to go by ordinary KSRTC bus.
We reached Kempegowda Bus terminus and enquired about the last bus to Sakleshpur. Finally boarded a Karnataka Sarige bus at 12am. We reached Sakleshpur at 5am in the morning. We started off for Donigal in sometime which was the starting point of our trek. We hired an auto and it took around 15 mins to reach Donigal railway station. We freshened up at the station. Normal passenger trains don't halt at Donigal apart from technical halts. There was one station master at the station and nobody else when we went there. We started our trek from Donigal knowing that it would not be an easy one with over 15+ kms to cover. The beginning of the trek was not too exciting but we had read in other blogs that it gets interesting as the trek advances.
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The beauty of the place suddenly increased as we saw the first bridge. The only noise we could hear was of the birds chirping and trees swaying with the winds. As we moved on we realised why this place is called the Green Route.
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Further ahead we came across many people working on the railway tracks. They are assigned some daily tasks everyday and the inspection officer from PWD takes daily rounds to make sure everything is in place. We talked with them for sometime. They even warned us that the PWD officer might ask us to go back as he is very strict so advised us to think and proceed. We decided to take the plunge and proceeded further. A few meters from there we saw the first tunnel which was 239m long. It was like entering a huge cave, with droplets of water falling from the ceiling and eerie sound made by bats. It was a curve so light abandoned us from both sides and it was pitch dark. And our normal torches could light up only a small distance. We walked slowly and finally could see light at the end of the tunnel. It started drizzling and suddenly began to pour down heavily. Luckily we came across a small lonely tent where we quickly went inside for shelter. I carried a portable stove so we decided to prepare some tea for ourselves. It has a small stove with a camphor-like thing for flame. We lighted it and put the water to boil. We prepared the tea and it had stopped raining as well. So we decided to march ahead. The scenery kept getting better as we were walking and the cloudy weather and pleasant breeze added to it. We came across lot of waterfalls and words cannot describe the feeling. Then after covering about 12 kms we saw a small railway station called Hangarahalli. We crossed it and then decided to break for lunch with a huge tunnel ahead of us. We saw the Mangalore-Yesvantpur express coming out of the tunnel and was nice to watch. We noticed that all the trains heading towards Donigal from Subramanya road have to be pulled by one engine in the front and pushed by 2 engines from the back. This is because of the elevation which we were told that there is an elevation of 1 feet after every 100 meters. After lunch we took a 10 minute quick nap and continued towards Yedekumari. We crossed 2 small tunnels and 2 big ones before we saw someone guarding the tracks with a red flag. On asking him he said that some maintenance work is in progress on the other side of the tunnel so he was supposed to stop any train from entering it. We entered the tunnel which was around half a kilometre long. As he had told some work was going on the tracks at the exit of the tunnel. And unfortunately for us the PWD officer was monitoring the work. He stopped us from proceeding further and didn't allow us even after pleading. Finally disappointed, we came back to the guard and asked him for a solution. On his advice, we decided to head back towards the Hangarahalli railway station which we had left a couple of kilometres back. We started backtracking and finally reached the station in 30 mins. It was around 4pm and we got a waiting room to rest and spend the rest of our day and night. We immediately crashed to sleep and woke up at 7pm. In the evening after dinner we met a couple of villagers who worked for the railways who were telling about the nature of their work. They were supposed to work in shifts and it involved going 6kms and back on the track to make sure everything is fine. This person Hemanth was having his shift from 1am to 5am in the morning. He suggested that we take the 4am train to Subramanya Road and get a bus to Bangalore from there. We did exactly that. The train came at around 4:20am and reached Subramanya Road at 6:10am. We took a jeep to the bus stand. At the bus stand we decided to go to Gundya checkpost as the number of buses to Bangalore would be more. We reached Gundya at 8:10am and immediately got a bus to Bangalore. The journey back was also very pleasant with lot of waterfalls on the way near Shiradi Ghat though the roads were pathetic. We finally reached Bangalore at around 3pm in the afternoon.
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How to reach: Plenty of KSRTC buses available from Bangalore to Sakleshpur. At Sakleshpur, hire an autorickshaw to Donigal Railway Station. Start trekking from Donigal, to Yedekumari or Hadagarahlli. Halt at either of these places. Take early morning train 16517 Yesvantpur-Kannur express and get down at Subramanya road. From Kukke Subramanya plenty of buses available to Bangalore.
Alternately, travel from Bangalore to Yedekumari by train by 16517 Yesvantpur-Kannur express. The reservation has to be done till Subramanya Road (SBHR) as there is no official stop at Yedekumari. Watch out for Yedekumari station between 4:15 to 5:00am. The train halts there only for 2 mins. Get down and relax till day break. Start trekking by 6am and reach Donigal station at around 4pm. Hire a jeep or auto from the main road outside the station to Sakleshpur bus stand. From Sakleshpur, plenty of buses available to Bangalore.
Things to remember: Carry sleeping bags as it is not convenient to sleep at these places. Carry plenty of eatables and water, Raincoats in case of rainy season, a powerful torch. 
Map:

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