Showing posts with label Travelog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travelog. Show all posts

Friday, 26 April 2013

Travelog: Seven Jyotirlings and other stuff, 14 days Part 3/14

9:30am We started from the hotel after the breakfast. It was not
great but we still stuffed ourselves to make sure that we survive without any additional food intake for the day.
10:45amCrossed Newasa, looks like a pretty nondescript town with a single highway passing through the city.
11:25am We cross Ahmednagar, go towards SH 222. The drives through the towns are always very painful and slow you down completely.
As we drive along SH 222, the landscape changes completely, it is almost a drive to nowhere. The road is narrow, just about one and half lane and overtaking is extremely difficult, fortunately there is very little traffic so one can make quick progress.
11:55AM We cross a small town called Bhalwani. This whole stretch of road is very interesting, the land around it looks absolutely barren, but there are small towns all around. Each town has a school.
A Panorama of SH222
The road is fun to drive, almost like a hill drive but without hair-pins or incline. The road has sufficient twists and turns. The only problem is that buses in this area seem to like to drive almost in the middle of the road. Once you are stuck behind a bus, it is a while before you can over take him.

The road continues for a while leading to join Pune Nashik SH50 highway
12:51pm We join Nahik-Pune highway going towards Pune. Sarja Hotels, the hotel looked brand new and toilets etc were properly maintained.
The road gets significantly between from here onwards. As we are driving towards pune, around 35 Kms from where we join SH50, on the left hand side there is a very nice restaurant called
15 minutes drive away from this hotel is a town called Manchar, this is where one needs to take a right turn to go to Bhimshankar Jyotirling. One needs to keep an eye for this, because it is very easy to miss this.
1:10pm We reach Manchar and take the road towards Bhimshankar Jyotirling temple. The road is called Manchar Bhimshankar Road, it is a  very narrow, village kind of road but atleast it is tarred. When we went there, there was no traffic so life was easy. But on the days when there is lot more traffic, I can see this would be very difficult to navigate.

4:00pm We continue on this road and reach the Bhimshankar temple at around 4pm. At places the road is dangerous with place for only one vehicle and ditches on both sides of road. We also found small settlements around this road.

 There is a nice parking area just before the temple.
One should be careful to not buy prasad etc. too early. This place does not have any good shoe stand. So your prasad vendor also doubles up as your shoe stand.  Particularly in sunny days, buy the prasad from the last vendor so that you don't have to walk barefoot in hot road. The temple itself was very hassle free. Unlike many other places, not too many pujari-types hassling you.
We were in and out of temple in less than half and hour and were on our way back enroute to Nashik.
We had to endure 3 hours of same narrow road before we land up on SH50.
6:25pm Reached Manchar and turned left to go to Nashik.
7:45pm We reach Vithal Kamath on SH50. By this time it was looking very likely that by the time we check-into the hotel there won't be any dinner left. We we decide to catch something to eat here. The food was reasonable and rest rooms were reasonable. Nothing to write home about but not unusable either.
8:45pm Crossed the town of Sangamner
9:26pm Crossed Sinnar
10:30pm Finally we reach Hotel Ibis in Nashik and check-in. The place is ok, has parking in open. Here is my review of the hotel on TripAdvisor.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Travelog: Seven Jyotirlings and other stuff, 14 days Part 2/14

Day #2 of the drive, the plan was to getup early, and leave for Aurangabad after a quick breakfast. We could only leave by 9:45am after breakfast and completing checkout processing at the hotel. We started our drive towards Ahmednagar and Shirur.
10:15am Crossed Koregaon
10:50am Crossed Shirur
11:15am We stop at this complex called The Smile Stone, has a bunch of shops and eateries. The toilets are clean. There is a coffee day as well here. Ample parking space is also there. Seems to be a popular stopping point for people travelling on this route. There are signages for the place almost 15 kms before its location and it is very easy to spot.

12:25pm Crossed Ahmednagar
1:55pm We entered Aurangabad city. 3:00pm.
We had booked Hotel Lemontree but the location of the hotel in Google Maps is marked incorrectly so it took us a while to find it and check in. We were finally in the hotel by
Since we were only in Aurangabad for a day, we had to finish all the site-seeing that day itself. The hotel seemed nice, they have a large pool, rooms are big. But once you travel outside of metros, you realize that the definition of service changes completely. Everything is leisurely.  If you order a bottle of water, you should not be surprised if it takes half an hour to one hour to get.
Pretty much everybody has started arranging buffets for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But after filling your plate with food, you realize that breads (roti/nan) may take half an hour to arrive.
Once bowls are finished, they may take another half an hour to arrive.
Once you are out of metros in India, you should tune yourself to these service standards. I did the mistake of expecting too much to start with and was disappointed. In hindsight, they probably were doing the best that they could and it was considered great service in these places.

4:00pm We left to visit Ghrushneswar Jyotirling and Ellora caves. 
4:15pm Crossed Daulatabad fort. Since we had little time, we did not plan on stopping here. See the video below, Daulatabad fort can be seen on the left side.

We continued our journey towards Ghrushneswar Jyotirling temple. The road is narrow but surface quality is good.
4:35pm We arrive at the temple. There are couple of parking areas near the temple, the access is very narrow to these areas but since this was not a peak day, it was easy getting in and parking. As soon as you get off the car, there is usual set of vendors who approach you but that was not a huge hassle here though.

The temple was pretty much deserted and we could do the darshan pretty quickly. We were in and out in about 45 minutes. The next stop was Ellora Caves. These caves are less than one kilometer from this temple. Ellora Caves, like most ASI monuments, close at sun-set, so we really did not have sufficient time to do justice to this place. Unline Ajanta caves, Ellora caves are spread over a larger area but the good thing is that you can rent autos and they will take you to each of these places.
5:15pm We reached Ellora Caves. One needs to buy ticket to get in. Here are couple of Panorama photographs of Ellora entrance.
Here is another one with slightly different angle.

Ellora has multiple caves which are numbered. We visited only some of them. Here are some assorted photographs from these caves.

6:30pm The monument closed and we were kind of kicked out of the place. We started our drive back. After little shopping on the way, we were back in hotel by 8:00pm.
Since we had planned to leaving early the next day, we had the dinner and called it a day.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Travelog: Bangalore -> Kodaikanal -> Munnar -> Thekkady -> Ooty -> Bangalore, Part 5

1st January 2013
After celebrating the dawn of new year in Hills of Ooty, it was time to be back to reality. The final stretch of out journey was Ooty to Bangalore. Since Destiny parking is around 3 kilometers of un-drivable roads away from the resort.We had to getup early and start back for Bangalore. But as usual, because of the goof-up from the resort folks, it was 8:00AM when we could start back our journey to Bangalore.

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We drove back towards the Ooty town and were back in the town at 9:00AM. We reached Masinagudi at 10:10AM. Reached Gundlupet at 11AM. We took a small break in Cafe Coffee day here. Continued driving towards Mysore. Crossed Nanjangud at 12:20PM. Reached Mysore at 12:55PM.

We made a mistake of going on Kanakpura road which was in a bad condition. After driving for a while, we decided to retrace our steps back and continue on regular Mysore-Bangalore road.We were back on track at 2PM.

We crossed Mandya at 3:00PM, crossed Channapatna at 3:40PM. Around 3:50 we reached Kamat Lokaruchi near Ramanagara. We decided to stop-over for lunch here.

At 4:30 we started our journey towards Bangalore. We reached Kengari at 5:15PM. We got into NICE road and were at Electronic City exit at 5:40PM.

Travelog: Bangalore -> Kodaikanal -> Munnar -> Thekkady -> Ooty -> Bangalore, Part 4

29th December 2012
We started early morning for our journey to Ooty. Since we were staying in Lake Palace, we had to ask them about the earliest boat that we could get. We were in our car around 7AM onwards to Ooty.

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We took some time in Ghat section from Thekkady towards Dindigul on NH45.We turn on Dindigul-Palani Road (NH209) towards Coimbatore road. We took around 2:30 hours to reach this junction. The road from where become almost single lane. On this day there was significant pedestrian traffic (probably towards Sabarimala) which made driving very difficult. Very small portion of the road and the speeds plummeted.

Finally we reach SH83 around 11:30AM. The road become significantly better from here onwards.

We reached Dharmapuram at 12:15PM, continued driving on the same road. Palladam at 12:55. Sulur at 1:55PM. There was a small diversion at Sulur and we had to go around some road, finally with the help of Google Navigation, we are back on Salem-Ernakulam Highway at 2:10PM. The road here was fantastic.
We got on to NH165 at 2:25PM. At 2:40PM we go on to NH209 towards Mettupalyam.

Just after Mettupalyam, the climb start towards Ooty. The roads are very narrow with very heavy traffic. At times there is only place to go in one direction and one has to wait for oncoming traffic to pass before one can continue. Unlike hills in North, I found very little driving etiquette here. Many times, one has to stop, reverse the car because the oncoming traffic would just refuse to budge.

We crossed Coonoor at 4:30PM and reached Ooty town at 5:00PM. Of course since we were going to Destiny, The farmstay, our journey had not finished. We continued towards our destination and reached around 6PM.

It was a mix of great and decent roads. None of the roads were undrivable except the small distance near Destiny which was really bad. But that should not bother anybody who is not going to Destiny.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Travelog: Bangalore -> Kodaikanal -> Munnar -> Thekkady -> Ooty -> Bangalore, Part 3

We left Munnar early morning to Thekkady. Since our resort, Camp Noel, was almost 30 kms away from Munnar town, We cross the town at 11:30AM and we started towards Thekkady.

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12:30pm Crossed the town called Kavumbhakam.
1:15pm Crossed the town called Udumbanchola.

It is a very nice drive towards Thekkady, you go through series of Tea Gardens on both sides as you are driving. The road is good but narrow like typical hill roads. One has to be careful of oncoming traffic. There are quite a few hair-pin turns which makes driving a pleasure.
We stopped in the middle for a tea and bio break and reached Thekkady around 3pm.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Travelog: Bangalore -> Kodaikanal -> Munnar -> Thekkady -> Ooty -> Bangalore, Part 2

We left Kodaikanal on 26th December 2012 to Munnar. We topped the fuel in Kodaikanal and left around 9:00am. Again we set the navigation to Munnar on the Android device and start. Since our resort was situated on Palani Ghat road, we took that road to go downhill.

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The road is a typical ghat road so one has to be careful, there are places where only one vehicle can go across so, watch out for climbing vehicles, technically they have the right of the way.
The road crosses through few Wild Life Sanctuary check posts and every place you have to get down, right your vehicle number, name and then indirectly you are nudged to pay. The going rate seems to between 20 and 30 rupees.
11:45am Reached Palani, continued on Sathyamangalam Road.
12:30pm Reached Udumalaipettai. Continue on NH17. We continue following the road, many small towns, nothing of significance.
3:45pm Reached Munnar town. The city was completely jammed with traffic.

Roads are very narrow in whole section so one needs to be patient  with overtaking. The road surface is good.

Travelog: Bangalore -> Kodaikanal -> Munnar -> Thekkady -> Ooty -> Bangalore, Part 1

This is my travelog for a trip to Kodaikanal, Munnar, Thekkady and Ooty in the month of December of 2012. I was taking my BMW X1 on the drive. As part of preparation the vehicle was topped up with fuel, air pressure was adjusted for the passengers and luggage.
I always carry essential supplies while on long drive so I thought I would just list these here.

  1. A tyre inflator that runs on car battery. 
  2. Tubeless puncture repair kit
  3. Toolkit
  4. Umbrella

In Google we trust, so we load up the Navigation on an android phone and start following it blindly.

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6:44am We left home towards the BETL road towards Hosur. Early morning, roads with comparatively less traffic resulted in smooth progress.
7:42am Saw a Jaguar and Suzuki Hayabusa following us near the toll. As we crossed the toll for BETL and proceeded further, there was huge traffic jam. The traffic consisted of hundreds of trucks. Not sure where these came from but one needs to avoid this traffic. May be start earlier, 5am?
9:11am Finally the traffic jams subsided and crossed Hosur.
9:30am Stopped at McDonalds near Krishnagiri, extremely crowded, got something to eat.
9:50am Back on the road towards Krishnagiri
11:38am Just crossed Salem Toll Booth, Decided to do lunch at GRT Grand Hotel, right on the bye-pass.
1:20pm Back on the road, for some reason major traffic jam in Salem
2:20pm Toll at Rasampalayam. Toll Rs. 38/-
3:05pm Toll at Velanchet Rs. 71/-
3:44pm Reached Dindigul, the turn towards Kodaikanal is tricky, One has to take a right turn but to take that turn, one has to get into left service road and then turn below the flyover. Look for signage. We missed the service road signage so went ahead and then took a U-turn and came back.

We used Google Map for navigation and the default route that it shows for Kodaikanal is not the right one. We ended up taking that route and ended up driving for almost 4 hours on a very bad hilly road before we reached Kodaikanal Ghat Road.

The road till Dindigul is fantastic, after that there is lots of construction on Kodaikanal road. One has to be careful driving on this road. The Ghat road itself is narrow but good surface condition.

We reached our resort around 6:30pm and checked in.