Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Weekend Getaway 41: Activities @ Inn the Wild

Date: 11th ad 12th Feb 2017

Travelers: Arun, Shilpi and Harsh

More info about the place in previous blog. We went for the nature walk with the property naturalist Muthu. At the start he told us that today we will surely not see anything. There was another group of 5 adults and some 6 to 7 kids. He said with these many kids shouting no animal will come out. Later he said Sir come at 6:30 next morning and most only adults will be coming in at that time and we will go bit deeper. So we did not hurry and try to see anything we just went around the property for a casual walk. We saw a langur and few wild boar. At one place Muthu started running saying he saw an wild dog. We could not follow it and i could only see something running faster inside. Then we came back to the reception and played badminton for some time. We went back to the room and waited for the safari to start. At 7 PM sharp the safari jeep came. Again muthu was our guide in that. The safari was also around the same property only but most animals will come out and we expected to spot something. Muthu said us that previous batch saw a herd of bison and took us straight to that place. The timid animals had already moved out. We could not see any bison. I stood back in the open jeep and the terrain was too rough. It was too hard to hold the camera and to balance in the jeep. We saw a bird sitting in the trail. We shooed and put light on it but it refused to move out. Finally muthu got down and went closer to the bird and it flew away. Next we spotted plenty of deer. A wild rabbit ran inside the bushes hearing the jeep noise. Everyone except me spotted a porcupine. We tried to chase it inside the bushes but i could not see it. The safari ended after 30 min. We had a nice dinner and sat across the camp fire for a while. We got dropped to the room around 9 PM. Thus ending the day at Inn the wild.

Some pics from the trip.

Orange color bird. Not sure of the name.

Moon during the safari.

Wild Rabbit.

The bird that refused to move out.

Spotted deer spotted.

Camp fire in front of the reception.

Buffalo killed by a tiger few days back and left near the tree house.

We initially thought the buffalo was dead. Lot of birds were sitting on it and picking something. We informed the person at the resort and he said the owners will come and collect it if something had happened. After some 30 min it got and walked slowly. We still think it was wounded.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weekend Getaway 40: Tree house @ Inn The Wild

Date: 11th and 12th Feb 2017

Tourist: Arun, Shilpi and Harsh.

Costs: 9900 per night for 3. All inclusive.

After the back breaking drive from the check post to the resort we checked in and completed the formalities. Shibu the manager explained us about the stay and activities for 1 day. He explained ours is tree house (harsh came to know only now its tree house stay) and located bit away from all other rooms. The tree house was facing the water body located in the property. We can roam around the property as we wish from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM. He asked us not to wander out or get down from the tree after it gets dark. We could understand that as we went around the property. We saw elephant dung at many places around the resort. There were wild boar and deer grazing around as the sun started setting down. We went to the tree house and we expected harsh to be super exited. He was happy but was not very exited as we expected. He said Appa what's this it looks like a room only. There is bed, table fan, bathroom with gyeaser, wash basin everything looks like room. I explained him we need all these to use and only jaggu can stay without any of these. He slowly started liking the room. We sat in the balcony looking at the small  pond. We saw only buffaloes. We freshened up and went to the dining hall. It was a buffet lunch with soup, rice, fulkha, 2 non veg, 3 veg gravy and 2 sweets. Harsh liked the gulab jammon so much that he had 5. The nature walk was planned at 4:30 and we had plenty of time. We went back to the room, i slept for a while and Harsh and shilpi were sitting in balcony and talking. I woke up and joined them in their some meaningless talk we saw a beautiful black bird with orange chest. We saw a parrot with dark red beak just flying across.  We realized jungle is not only about the big animals but also the other life. Above our balcony came a woodpecker and racket tailed drongo. It was our first sighting of the drongo or may be first time we paid some attention to the birds. We saw an owl and another bird during safari that we dont remember the name. We went for the nature walk in evening and safari in night and came back to the room. We were asked not to come out after dark so a jeep came to pick us for the safari and they droped back in room after dinner. Night we heard some noise like some one was climbing the steps. Harsh has gone into deep sleep. Shilpi and I was bit nervous. We heard the sound couple of times but we decided to ignore it and slept with the lights on. I woke up around 4:30 AM and it was i guess one day before full moon day. I open the window screen and could see the beautiful moon just above my head. It was an amazing sight.

Few pics from the resort.

Jeep drive to the resort.

Tree house that we stayed.

View of sunset from the balcony.

View of the watering hole from room.

Inside the room.

View of the mountain.

Steps to the tree house.

Dining hall.

Tribal home.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Weekend Getaway 39: Masinagudi Trip

Date: 11th and 12th Feb 2017

Visitors: Arun, Shilpi and Harsh

Distance: 265 Kms one way

Fee: Toll at Nice road.

Road Condition: Very Good.

It was Harsh wish to stay in a tree house. After seeing a tree house in Chotta Bheem he was asking he too want to stay on a tree house. We found Innthhwild resort which offers a tree house. Since there was only one tree house it was always booked. We booked it a month in advance though their website. Shilpi and I did not tell him about the stay. We had said him only that we are going to forest and stay in a room. We started at 6 AM in the morning on 11th. As usual there was slight traffic on Mysore road. Once we took the ORR in mysore the traffic magically disappeared. It was a 6 lane ORR (Did not repeat the mistake of narrow Bangalore ORR). It was long since we went to any trip on the nanjangud-gundalpet road. Our past experience was a narrow road with lot of pot holes. Based on that i had informed the resort manager i will be reaching around 12:30. All my plan fell flat but in a good way. The road was widened and made 4 lane with divider little after nanjangud. After that till gundalpet the road was two name but very smooth and the traffic again was very less. After Gundalpet there were couple of sections where the road work was still going on but it was not bad. We reached thepakadu around 10:20. We did not want to go very early to the resort. We went 5kms towards gudalur and came back. This was the first time we did not see an elephant or a bison in Bandipur and Mudumalai. The trees were totally dried up. The trees closer to the road was all burnt. We saw plenty of spotted deer and monkeys. As usual at some point we stopped clicking pics of the deer and monkey. We then took the turn towards masinagudi. The google maps was showing a left turn but the turn did not look like a road. Decided to drive further and we reached masinagudi. We called the resort manager and he guided us to reach Singara check post. He said his man is already waiting at the check post for us. We reached the check post and inquired the security or may be police about the resort. He said park the car on the side and they will come and pick us. There were two cars parked already. I was confused and parked the car and saw a jeep waiting. I went to the driver and asked him about the resort and he said yes sir another jeep will come and pick you and leave the car here. Then came an open jeep and we shifted to it. It was a 3Kms drive from the check post and it was one hell of a ride. Thank god i did not follow google maps. I wouldn't call that a road and we dont blame it as its not a official road. Its just a path that was created by resort and estate owners probably. All our body parts changed place for a while and we did enjoy the ride. Finally we reached the resort. We gave both our ID proofs and filled up the forms.

Few pics from the drive.

Forest road.

Gray Langur.

Spotted deer allover.

Crossing the state border.

Chital with big antlers.

Another shot of the road.

Still Harsh doesn't know we are staying in a tree house.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weekend Getaway 38: Pichavaram Mangrove Forest, Chidambaram

Date: 29th Jan 2017

Visitors: Arun, Shilpi and Harsh

Timing: 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Fee: Forest Entry - Adult 50 Ps (Yes paise),  camera 25 Rs.
        View point: Rs 5 per person.
        Boating tariff keeps changing. See the pic below for the latest tariff.

Info: 2hr row boat is ideal if you are not keen to visit the beach.

All of us were too tired after 400Kms of drive and visit to Silver beach in cuddalore and Nataraja Temple in chidambaram. We fell asleep very soon and woke up next day fresh and was all set to visit the pichavaram mangrove forest which was a main attraction in this trip. We had a nice buffet breakfast in hotel prakash and reached pichavaram around 8:30. We thought there wouldn't be anyone as it was not very famous tourist attraction. To our surprise we could already see 3 cars parked in the parking lot. How ever there was no tourist except the boat men. Then from the conversation between the person at the ticket counter and the boatmen we understood the boatmen took them without entering the details. The tourist had paid the boatmen money (its illegal) as the in-charge did not come in at 8:00 AM. There was also a rule that the boatmen should blow into the alcohol detector and only if the number is less than certain point they will be allowed to work that day. Those boatmen who left early could have taken the tourist just to avoid the test. The incharge was cool and from that we realized its common for the boatmen to do it. We took 4hr row boat. One needs to carry snacks and water if they plan to spend time in beach. Nothing will be available at the beach and the heat dehydrates us very fast. Water is must. We wore the life jacket and carried water bottle and set out to explore a different forest. Our boatmen said to another "na matikiten" meaning i got caught. I asked him what? then he said that sir you have taken 4hr ride. So i need to be with you for 4hr. If its 1hr ride i will get more money as i will get paid per trip and also tips from the visitors. He said now that you will be my our tourist i cant earn much. He was feeling very shy to ask for money. Then he said can you pay 500 i will take u all 4 hrs through different path. We agreed for 300. We also decided to skip beach as we had been to silver beach in cuddalore. In any case we did not want to get wet as we have no cloth to change and we need to get back to Bangalore. Row boat was better as it can navigate through narrow path which is inaccessible by motor boat. The boatmen was telling about the Tsumani and the research work that happens in the forest. Some part of the forest was man made and rest was natural. Its one of the biggest in the world. After an hour we decided to cut short the trip for two hours only. After initial excitement it is the same water and tree all over. If one is interested in watching birds then this place has plenty of them. We saw few different species of birds.

Few pics from the trip.

Fisher men at work.


Harsh posing in the forest.

Another view.

Motor boat going past us.

HDR view.

We stopped for a while for the boatmen to rest.

Tow service on the way back. Both the boatmen kept taking and they forgot to notice the fishing net. The motor boat got stuck as the net tangled the motor fan. After 10 minutes of struggle they cut the net and managed to ride again.

View of the watch tower.

View of the forest from the watch tower.

Boats parked at the dock.

Boating tariff.

A different experience at the end. All three places combined make a memorable weekend.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Weekend Getaway 37: Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram

Date: 28th Jan 2017

Visitors: Arun, Shilpi and Harsh

Fee: Special entrance 100 Rs per person else none.

Timing: 6:00 AM to 12 Noon and 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

We came back from Silver beach, Cuddalore around 7:30. We got ready and went to Thillai Nataraja Temple. Its just few hundred meters from hotel akshaya. We left the sandals in the shop infront of the temple and went inside the temple. There was a dance program going on one side and some other pooja in front. There was aarathi happening when we went inside and there was a huge crowd in front. This temple like other temple doesn't have a straight path to go inside and have darshan and move out. The entrance to main mandapa is from the side and to enter that one needs to get special entrance ticket. This is nothing but a piece of paper in which the priest sitting in front write number of people and give it. We showed that sheet to the person at side entrance and went up. There too again we couldn't get proper darshan. People were pushing and pulling. We waited for some time and finally had darshan. It was more of business in the temple. The priest at front was selling some pooja for which we need to pay 1200 Rs and they will do pooja and send prasadham (viboodhi) every month. Then even prasadha (tamarind rice) needs to be purchased and no free prasadham. It was too late and we too were tired so we did not spend much time in the temple. We sat out for a while and went back to hotel. More info on the temple and the chidambara ragasiyam can be found here. One of the five Shiva temple representing the five natural elements. This temple represent sky.

Few pics from the temple.

One of the Gopurams.

Few paintings on the roof.

Shilpi and Harsh at the entrance.

Lord Nataraja depicted with light.

One of the must visit temple in Tamilnadu. Need to visit it again during day and have more peaceful darshan. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Weekend Getaway 36: Silver Beach, Cuddalore

Date: 28th Jan 2017

Visitors: Arun, Shilpi and Harsh

Timing: NA

Fee: Parking Rs 50

The lesser popular beach is located in Cuddalore, 45 Kms from Chidambaram. We left hotel after 2 PM and reached the beach around 3:15. The road was very good till the town and then 2 or 3Kms gets bad. We expected lesser crowed but not this low. There were just 4 cars parked near the entrance and all the small shops opening one by one. This time i decided to play in water first before clicking few pics. Left the camera in car and three of us went to the beach. The beach was clean and very nice. There were few people playing in water and we too kept the changing cloths and got into water. Harsh was very happy and he had good fun. All of us played in water was more than an hour. I went out first to bring camera and capture few pics. After saying 5 more minutes for 5 times Harsh agreed to come out. Shilpi gave her glasses to the sea goddess. We convinced Harsh to go for horse riding and after pestering he agreed to go. It was Rs 50 for one round. He was scared initially then while getting down he said it was fine but his back hurts because of the hard seat. By the time all the shops were open. Mostly it were all snacks shop. We had fried Gobi which was 30Rs for 100 gms. Sure the oil must be old and unhealthy but the taste was too good. We had two packs. Harsh too was very hungry that he had 3 oily banana bajji. Masala poori was another item that we tried. Everything tasted so good.

Few pics from the place.

Harsh in front of Silver beach.

Beautiful and less crowded beach.

Harsh and Shilpi playing in water.

He just doesn't want to come out.

Harsh on horse.

Next baloon shooting. Its 3 shots for 10Rs. He shot 2 in the first round. He wanted to do it again. The riffle was bit heavy for him and second time shot 1.

Circular stone bench.

The lady selling bajji told this is how it will be always and may be on Sunday few more people will be there. Any trip to this part of Tamilnadu and we will surely add this again to the plan.

Weekend Getaway 35: Chidambaram - Drive, Stay and other things

Date: 28th and 29th Jan 2017

Visitors: Arun, Shilpi and Harsh

Distance: 385 Kms one way.

Toll Charges: 450 both ways.

Route: Bengaluru - Salem - Viruthachalam - Bhuvanagiri - Chidambaram.

Stay: Hotel Akshaya

Places Visited: Chidambaram Nataraja Temple, Cuddalore Silver beach, Pichavaram mangrove forest.

Initially we planned to visit Chidambaram only. Harsh was asking to visit some beach as he wants to play in water. So added Cuddalore to the list and that turned out to be a best decision. We left home at 6 AM and too krishnagiri and salem route. The drive highway 44 and 79 was very good. Then after thalaivasal we took NH 532 which was a two lane highway. This was one of the most beautiful two lane highway i have seen so far. The drive was smooth with very less traffic. While crossing viruthachalam google maps was showing another 1 and half hours for 40+ Kms. I was wondering why would it take so much time for 40Kms. As usual maps was correct, they were laying SH70 and the road was full of holes. Rain added more pain to the stretch. The muddy road turned our grey car to brown. This section how ever gave a very good photo opportunity. I loved one of the pic taken on this road. We reached the hotel around 12:45 and had lunch there. The restaurant was clean. The food was a nice. We checked into the room. The room at hotel akshaya was not great but it was ok. The bathroom and bed was clean so we were content with it. The hotel had complimentary breakfast next morning. It was regular south indian Idly, pongal, dosa and vada but it was all superb. I just loved the food in this restaurant. All the staff from reception to restaurant were very kind and helpful. Not just in the hotel but all the people we met in this two days were very nice to us. We did not rush anywhere and had a slow paced trip just covering three places.

Few pics from the drive.

Somewhere on NH 79.

Rice fields along SH 70. Main crop in this district seems to be rice and all the fields was filled with water. Few places they were harvesting rice and loading them on trucks.

Another shot of SH 70. Loved this pic a lot. The red road, green fields, blue sky and white clouds made the shot colorful.

A peaceful weekend getaway from Bangalore.

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