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  1. Thanks @Ranger and @mit1682 for the replies. Agree, camping is best, but it seems quite expensive - 3k for AC pp but non-AC at 1k pp seems reasonable. Need to check out
  2. Very nice log and superb pics! thanks. How far would Haritha be from the view points?
  3. Absolutely - real fun to drive DCT with the minor precautions/ driving style changes.
  4. Thanks @sagar. Hope you meant Somanathpura and not Shravanabelagola - which is definitely good/ important but from pure architecture, excellent carving/ craftmanship perspectives, Somanathpura, Belur are leaps ahead. I highly recommend a visit, in case you haven't yet. Thanks @Ranger. Inspired by your and others' logs here which actually inspired me. Kudos to you/others for this excellent site.👍 Seltos - just fantastic, in one word! I used 'Eco' while cruising and its just fun to put in 'sports' mode for zipping past and many cars were just awestruck behind with the pickup, even with full load. We were extremely happy. On the heating - none and you don't have to worry - just ensure you drive in 'normal' (not 'Eco') mode in city and put in 'neutral' while waiting for long/ traffic junctions. @shiva Great to know another Seltosian' here! Congratulations. Ride quality is extremely good but ensure you maintain type pressure @ 32-33 with nitrogen preferably for a smooth ride Dealers are notorious to leave the type pressure as high as 40-50 at times and the ride would be extremely bumpy. Infact the petrol bunk air/nitrogen inflators are not properly calibrated as I found huge variance but what is in TPMS is accurate. On DCT reliability - I don't think we should worry too much as this is NOT any new tech per se; other vendors including Octavia, Ford, VW etc. have similar and even Hyundai/Kia have been making these for long. Only, we should be aware of the technology and right driving manners which I don't think is an issue for the driving agility/ comfort it provides! No complaints from me.
  5. Day 5: Dubare and Shravanabelagola With a heavy heart, it was time to leave Madikeri/ Coorg and go for another exciting fun event – to experience the wisest of animals – elephants – up close! I heard a lot about Dubare Elephant camp from various inputs but did not find any info booking tickets. During one of my last searches, I landed on Jungle Lodges and Resorts (http://www.junglelodges.com/activities/dubare-elephant-camp/) which is a Govt of Karnataka undertaking. They provided guided interaction in Dubare elephant camp. Called up their BLR office and booked online for family @ Rs. 885 pp including breakfast and guided elephant interaction. Booking is extremely seamless; I got an email confirmation almost immediately and within ½ hour an executive from the camp calls up to confirm and asked us to report @ 830AM at the camp. They have a dedicated boat/ pick-up point so you don’t have to wait in the long queues (which we saw later from the other side when the crowd really swelled) We reached the stated point by 8:15AM itself (did I say we were eager? 😊) … … and soon another family also joined. The pickup boat came in no time and we crossed River Kaveri in just 5mins (just too short for our liking, but nevertheless elephants shouldn’t be kept waiting!) and we reached the camp. After brief entry formalities we were escorted to the breakfast area and good breakfast was ready. Once finished we had a naturalist guide accompanying us to reach the elephant bathing area; on the way he showed us variety of wild trees including teak, rose wood, wild neem etc. One oldest elephant (age 65 years) has just arrived and it was being prepared for the bath. We were encouraged to participate in the bathing process – it was quite a fun to see such a huge animal excellently domesticated – we were extremely happy to pour water, scrub it and bathe it well and take pics all along. We could hold its tusks and the trunk and it happily splashed water on us and blessed us thereafter. Soon one by one other elephants joined and at one time there were 4 elephants in the pond with a younger 3 ½ years cub too joining the fun. The guide introduced each elephant by name(!!), its age and other trivia. It was fun to watch how the ‘mahuts’ instruct the elephants to sit, lie down and turn sides etc. The oldest elephant after the bath … Another one splashing water, after the bath … We later moved to the area where the ‘lateral induction camps/ domestication camps’ where the new elephants brought from the forest (the guide told us how difficult it would be to move them here from forest areas) are domesticated which would take on average 2 years! There were 2 elephants undergoing domestication – of course we were not invited to participate in the training 😊 Later we moved to the area where the elephants were fed their morning breakfast and we could also feed them some gains rolled with dry grass (each packet costs Rs. 20) and you can directly feed in the elephant mouth! Also the youngest (cute 2 year old) … We were told we can book one of those beautiful cottages for the night stay and other activities like safari, nature walking, bird watching etc. would be included in the stay package. More details can be sought from their website. We bid good-bye to the elephants and drove straight to Shravanabelagola. Followed GMaps and went thru some good and not-so-good roads but drive is smooth. You will find n-number of villages and each starts with a speed bump so the average speed is killed and has taken some 2 ½ hrs for approx 120km drive! There are more than 600 short steps of which about 100 are medium steep. Would take about 2-3 hrs for climbing up/down and darshan, depending on how much time you want to spend there. One has to remove footwear while climbing up the hill and there are lots of vendors selling socks daring the steps would be 'terribly hot' - but somehow we were not convinced and could happily walk bare foot, even during mid-day! You should not miss the spectacular views of the town and surroundings while climbing up the hill. Saw one other temple, on a different hillock, but we didn't check due to paucity of time. You will not get any refreshments/ snacks on the hill top so its important to carry water etc. from below if one needs to take short pause while climbing up. There are small hotels/ restaurants/ mess etc. offering Veg/Jain food in the town but nothing too great to write home about! After darshan we left for Bangalore and reached by evening. Day 6: Bangalore Local and Shopping I decided to park my car at the hotel and used Namma Metro/ Uber to go around places like ISKCON temple, Lalbagh. Basavana Gudi, Vishweshwaraya Museum and shopping. Didn’t get stuck in traffic and need not look for parking! Day 7: Lepakshi and return to Hyderabad We started early from hotel @ 7:15 AM and had breakfast at Nandi Upchar and drove straight to Lepakshi, reached by about 9:30 AM. Had darshan of Lord Sri Veerabhadra Swamy … … and saw the hanging pillar, exquisitely sculpted pillars, ceiling paintings, Naga Lingam, unfinished Kalyana Mandapam, Sita’s footprint, Nandi statue (on the way to temple) etc. It is definitely a worth while visit to appreciate the architectural skills of our older generations... Reached home by 5 PM in the evening with lots of memories of the trip 😊 Thanks for reading, the rather long post. Do let me know if you need any further details, will be happy to help! regards Maruthi
  6. Day 4: Coorg Local and Mandalpatti We woke up early in the morning as we didn’t want to miss the sunrise views and reached Raja’s seat by 6AM. It was very pleasant and the views were much better with fog/ cloud cover over the distant mountains – makes you forget the mundane concrete jungle and you would yearn to stay back – for ever 😊 After spending good morning time, returned to Hotel, freshened up, had complimentary buffet breakfast (quite good! 😊) proceeded to Shri Omkareshwara Temple in Madikeri Had a quick darshan and proceeded to the famous Mandalpatti. Parked my car at the V-junction of Abbey falls and Mandalpatti routes and hired a 4x4 jeep (for Rs 1500 to/fro with some 45 mins of stay at the Mandalpatti peak; believe they charge some Rs. 1800 during season). However, I did see few cars going up until the Mandalpatti base and was told that the Jeep ride from that base to the peak (to/fro) would cost Rs 1000 (am not 100% sure though). But my car/ tires thanked me for sparing them from some worse road patches that lead to the base though for an additional cost of 500 😊 Total distance from parking to the peak each way is some 20 Km with the last 8-9 Km the worst part! The ride from the base to the peak has to be experienced – cannot be written/ read enough! You would surely be surprised at the deft skill of these drivers to manoeuvre such treacherous road conditions. You sure hold tight to any support rods in the vehicle and ensure your camera/ other stuff are well packed and stowed tight so they do not accidentally slip! Another tip which we learnt the ‘hard way’ is to cover heads/ hair with some cap/ scarf if possible else you will find your hair covered with Mandapatti soft mud/sand otherwise 😊 From the parking we need to walk some 100m to reach the view point on the peak. You will find the views extremely breath-taking and the ride seems really worthwhile. A visit to Mandalpatti, is definitely highly recommended After spending some good 1 hr, we returned back to the parking lot and drove straight to Abbey Falls. The falls are quite good but unfortunately there is no arrangement to get closer to the falls. One has to be little far away and enjoy/ take pics etc. For us, it wasn’t over whelming ☹ We returned from Abbey falls, had lunch and proceeded to coffee and spice plantation walk. I read good reviews of Mercara Gold Estates elsewhere, called them and drove straight. You can easily find them on google maps. They charge Rs. 200 per person for the almost 45min-1hr guided walk and offer you ‘complimentary coffee’ at the end. In their 15-acre plantation, you get to see plants of varieties of coffee (Arabica, Robusta and Liberica), pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa, cloves, bay leaf, betel nut, orange, mango, pine apple, bird eye chilli etc. We were shown the complete life cycle of coffee plantation – right from the smallest tree they planted some 6 months ago to the fully ripen tree of some years age. Believe each tree takes 5 years to produce crop once a year! We were offered to taste raw peppers, clove leaves and some ‘bird eye chilli’ which is as small as a ‘bird eye’ but extremely hot! It was real fun. We were also shown the various machinery for pulping, roasting, grinding, mixing etc. It was interesting to see the ‘world’s most exotic/ expensive coffee’ – “civet coffee” and its origin and processing 😊 We took a pic but didn’t dare to taste/ purchase it. We however stocked up on chocolates, some good freshly ground Arabica coffee, spices, bird eye chilli etc. It is definitely a very informative and fun plantation walk – highly recommended! We had time to reach Raja’s seat to view proper sun set which we missed yesterday. It was definitely a nostalgic moment seeing sun slowly setting among the distant mountain range/clouds and worth a thousand clicks. But here are few only …. After spending some good time at Raja’s seat, till it got sufficiently dark, we left for dinner and crashed for the day.
  7. Day3: Mysuru to Coorg Started to Kushalnagar after having complimentary breakfast at 8:50 am and reached Namdroling Monastery, Kushalnagar at 10:40 AM. Road is good, albeit with few bad patches spread across but one can maintain decent speeds even with good amount of traffic. The monastery is simply beautiful and calm. Don’t forget to relish the fried momos and soup noodles at the food outlets here. One tip: check the service time for the momos – if you are in a hurry, you might want to order the momos and they would be ready by the time you complete your monastery visit 😊 We ended up waiting for more than ½ hr for the momos, though we used the time to closely observe few monks’ activities and do some shopping. Kushalnagar – Madikeri: Started from monastery @ 12:15pm, passed thru lots of winding roads and beautiful scenic locations.. ..and reached Madikeri, Lee Coorg Hotel @ 1:15pm. Many folks would probably plan to stay at a homestay or plantation stay in Coorg but I preferred a conventional hotel in the mid of Madikeri due to: Non-availability of family rooms in the homestays I searched/ contacted. Many of them have double occupancy rooms/ cater to the newly married couples but not families with older children 😊 ☹ Proximity to proper Udupi restaurants which you will find in plenty nearby Le Coorg hotel which, I was not sure for the homestays If you don’t have any such priorities, I would suggest staying in a plantation stay for the complete Coorg experience. Tala Kaveri and Bhagamandala We had a quick lunch and headed out to Tala Kaveri (the origin of Kaveri river) which is about 44 Kms and takes slightly more than an hour on the ghat sections. Tala Kaveri is situated in the Brahmagiri mountain range. Route is extremely scenic and the road conditions are superb. It is a must visit if you are in Coorg. Note: There is a separate toll collected road from Bhagamandala to Tala Kaveri temple which is open only till 6 PM in the evening, so one has to plan accordingly. There is an additional view point on top of Brahmagiri hill for which one has to climb some 370 steep but manageable steps for breath-taking views all around. Again, access to this view point is allowed only till 4 PM. We were lucky to climb up and saw few folks being turned away by the security lady after 4 PM. Returned to Bhagamandala to have Lord Sri Bhagandeshwara darshan (believe this Shivling prathista was done by Bhrugu Maharshi) … … and returned back to Abbey falls in Madikeri. But as were late by just 10 mins (entry closes by 6PM) we missed the falls, so drove back to Raja’s seat for the evening views of the mountain range. Spent some time in the park, had dinner at Udupi Garden (this has ample parking) … … returned to hotel and called it ‘another good day’ 😊
  8. Day2: Mysuru Local and Somanathapura We had complimentary breakfast at the hotel and started early at 8.05 am and reached Sri Rangapattana at 8.35 am. Had darshan of Sri Ranganatha Swamy (there was not much rush here, being in the morning perhaps) and proceeded towards Chamundi Hills to have darshan of Sri Chamundeshwari Devi. There was an excellent multi-level car parking available here (typical to malls/ corporates), which I have not seen in any other Devasthanam before! Rush was huge being a Sunday. Apart from free darshan there were two special entry tickets available for Rs 30 and Rs 100 each. We picked Rs. 100 ticket to save time, there were long queues for it too but we could complete peaceful darshan in some 1 hr time. We set ‘Somanathpura’ as next destination in my car navigation and proceeded through the excellent roads after having some fresh sugar cane juice enroute to only find we landed in some ‘Narsipura’ some 40 mins later – I just don’t know how Somanathpura got mapped to Narsipura in the navigation wasting us some 2 hrs time back and forth ☹ We later surmised that we probably were ‘meant’ to have the sugarcane juice from that vendor so we ended up taking the wrong route – karma calling 😊 From then we vouched to double check navigation both in the car (which I prefer for its turn-by-turn voice and visual prompts) and Google maps from then on and re-routed to Somanathapura and reached at about 1:30PM Somanathapura: This is a magnificent example of the foregone Hoysala architectural skills dedicated to Lord Sri Vishnu. Sadly, the sadist Mughal rulers have destroyed almost all the sculptures rendering no worship thereafter. I only wished those rulers had some cultural tolerance and appreciation to not destroy such a beautiful master piece for their lowly gains ☹ We engaged one guide (available at the entry gate for Rs 350) which I highly recommend to actually understand the master piece architecture, specialities of the various elements, concepts/themes employed throughout, various patterns (e.g. why they chose star pattern from the base to the top shrine, which I don’t know how they skilfully achieved without access to so called ‘modern equipment’), 16 different stages of blooming lotus crafted on the ceiling of the inner mantapa, similar to lathe precision smooth surfaced pillars, extremely intricate carved pillars and many, many others etc. She also showed us ‘modern attempts’ to restore few parts of the structure with the same stone with new artisans employed by ASI but ended up grossly underwhelming with lack of lustre and depth in the carvings! I highly commend ASI for the excellent upkeep of the premises. Interestingly the entry fee here is Rs 25 if paid by cash and only Rs 20 if paid thru card/wallets – real incentive for demonetisation! Drove back to Mysore city and had a good lunch at Kesari restaurant. Food, prices and ambience - 10/10. As we had less time we drove straight to Mysore Palace and completed the palace visit well before the Sunday lighting show started at 7pm. FYI we can book the entry tickets online ( @ https://www.mysorepalace.gov.in/tickets.html) which I did saving time to purchase tickets at the venue. I would suggest to reach the palace well before dusk to see the various stages of the lighting. Review of Hotel Dasprakash Paradise: I booked a non a/c family suite @ 2700 + taxes. It’s quite spacious with 2 rooms, large comfy beds with 2 large windows. Only issue is you will find ‘lizards’ giving you company in the room, though they were not bothering us, which I have not seen in any other good property so far! I believe it’s Mysore’s first 3-star property but badly needs some pest control – gave feedback to their GM as well. They provide complimentary breakfast and taste is good but I found Kesari to be a better restaurant, though. Was happy to see Sri RK Narayan’s house right opposite the hotel! 😊
  9. Day 0 I had a hectic amount of route planning done for this trip. Bugged many a member in various fora/ FB for the optimal route to reach Mysore without getting stuck in the BLR traffic or the horrific car chases on the BLR-MYS NH275! I had below two options finalized, thanks to @Ranger and other enthusiasts’ inputs: Option1: Hyd-BLR on NH44, take NH75 at Hebbal get onto Tumkur road, take either NH48/NICE road to get to NH275 BLR-MYS with a 722 Km run ideally taking 12h 27m of drive time (per google maps) Option2: Hyd-BLR on NH44, turn right at Devanahalli to Doddaballapura, then to Neelamangala, join NH75 to Nelligere, then take 150A to Pandavapura and Mysore with a 747Km run ideally taking 12h 50m of drive time (per google maps)! I chose to give option2 a try which seems a slight stretch (distance/time) and will be a good experience to share upon return! Finally, with a fair amount of spirited driving, total distance actually covered is 742 Km with 11 ½ hrs of drive time – beats both the above estimates! 😊 Enjoy the drive as much as the destination Day1: Hyderabad to Mysuru Started at 4.15am from KPHB Colony. Found traffic even at that hour to our surprise – could be the airport crowd or others hitting the highway like us ahead of the holidays! ORR and BLR highway were super smooth, as usual. We had a tough time to keep under 100kmph on the ORR which is a real irritant so to say! It was great to watch the sun rise over the horizon signalling a bright day ahead! After a supposedly quick but ended up really long coffee break (thanks to the guy who killed some good 30 mins which seemed eternity to prepare coffee – looks like he needed some real good tea/coffee himself 😊) and few random stops for quick photo shoots, nature appreciation and biting on some home brought/ bakery bought breakfast we continued non-stop till my ‘Badass’ longed for a ‘parents visit’ which I couldn’t help but oblige! Having paid for over speeding (@ ~ 100Kmph) during one of my last drives to BLR (☹), I was super cautious to drive between 80-100 Kmph after Chikballapur. Reached Nandi Upachar @ Devanahalli at 12:07pm for lunch break! After a good ~ 1hr lunch break and another tank-full we started to explore the new route and hit the road to Doddaballapura. This route is extremely good except for very few patches. It is either a 2 lane with divider at few places or without but in excellent condition and you can easily maintain 60-80 Kmph depending on the traffic conditions. We crossed Doddaballapura and then proceeded to Neelamangala on a beautiful and winding road with green fields and few good lakes/ponds in between. This route has hardly any traffic and we can maintain good speeds throughout. After Neelamangala, took NH75 (toll road) towards Nelligare. Was extremely surprised to see really looong queues at this toll plaza for the single ‘cash only’ lane while we, with the FastTag zipped past! I don’t know what else our govt needs to do to make our crowds invest in a simple thing like FastTag to save their and everybody else’s time & money! NH75 is super smooth dotted with many Udupi classy food joints, excellent roads with less traffic and no tension of speed guns and beautiful landscapes with coconut trees on both sides of the road providing great relief to the long drive! At Nelligere, we diverted to Pandavapura which again invited us with super smooth roads (except for very few bad patches – all amounting not more than 5Kms) with very scenic surroundings. I bet the whole long drive stress vanishes if we slowly drive along this stretch savouring the nature around us. Of course we should also keep an eye on few villages we cross along and their usual traffic which was not bothering at all! We were surprised how they could maintain so many lakes/ponds so neat and clean and we found boating facilities too at quite a few of them even in remote/ interior parts of the state when, despite major efforts and publicity, all most all of our lakes - in Hyderabad especially, are littered with garbage and plagued with water hyacinth – sad state of affairs here ☹ We could savour these perfect views enroute Pandavapura. Seeing us, we saw two other cars stopping by to saviour nature and click their favourite pics! We reached Mysore and checked in Hotel Dasprakash Paradise around 5PM ... … with a total drive time of 11 ½ hours and elapsed time of around 12.45 hrs from the start covering some 742 Kms. Returned some 12.6 Kmpl mileage with a fully loaded car carrying 5 members and some spirited driving! Quite happy with my choice of this route and I highly recommend it over the usual NH275 except during night drives as am not sure about the sparse traffic and winding roads and anyways one cannot enjoy the nature beauty at night. We quickly freshened up and visited Brindavan gardens for about 3 hrs. Few pics @ Brindavan gardens: We bid good-night to the moon, which surprisingly looked closer and brighter than we find in Hyderabad, returned to the hotel for dinner and called it a “good day” indeed 😊 (to be cont'd)
  10. 😀😀 @Ranger - I guess you replied to your question already - even I prefer to avoid the horrific car chases on it, if possible! If it was that bad in 2012, I can't even imagine now! I read few of our members recently drove towards Mysuru, so wanted to check if anybody found any better route.
  11. Hi Am planning a drive to Mysore, Coorg and return via Shravanabelagola and Bangalore next week. I wanted to avoid NH275 BLR-Mysore route due to traffic/ delays. Is there any better/ faster option without going thru BLR traffic to reach Mysore? GMaps is showing NH275 option only and the NICE road/route is not shown. One alternate route I found from other threads is to take NH75 (BLR-Mangalore) till Belur cross and 150A to reach Mysore via Nagamangala/Pandavapura. Has anyone tried this route/ road conditions or any alternate route that you may suggest to avoid BLR traffic/ delays. I will update this thread post my journey thanks Maruthi
  12. kvm

    Hyderabad to Srisailam road trip and guide

    @sagar Thanks. Last T2T was some 12.x with a mix of sport/eco drive modes with AC all the while.
  13. kvm

    Hyderabad to Srisailam road trip and guide

    Hello All, We have been to Srisailam last sunday and the road conditions are "still" quite good - except for the above mentioned surprise speed breakers and few patchy stretches over the ghat sections but nothing unmanageable. We were also intrigued by GMaps showing 360/230 kms depending on the time of day we search for route- if evening/night it automatically picks the longer route as the forest drive is closed from 9pm to 6am - quite intelligent in a way! One good restaurant we found was "Sri Sai Balaji Hotel" near kalwakurthy by-pass - quite decent and tasty veg-only food at reasonable prices. Also, the two toll plazas are "FastTag" enabled! Few pics of the trip..