Writing this report hoping that parts of it would be useful for people making the same trip.
25th Dec Christmas morning 6:30AM: Crisp december Bangalore weather. Roads were pretty much empty – except for the religious Christian crowd going to church. Reached the Bansankari pretty soon. I always hate the stretch between Bansankari and the Mysore road. There are road bumps at all the wrong places – infact my opinion, they dont even need to be there, the road is not that good, that you can pull any decent speed.
8:00AM: Kamat Loka ruchi, Ramanagara for some awesome Mangalorean breakfast of Dosa, Kadubu, Vada, and super coffee.
Right from the Raja rajeshwari arch, the road is just beautiful. 4 lane. Good road quality. I was on a comfortable 0-90kmph on my Zen Estilo.
10:00AM: Dodda mallur – Navaneetha Krishna Temple. Very nice temple with baby krishna crawling with butter in hand. Had a great dharshan here.
The highway is just awesome. You can cruise at a steady 90kmph – except for some very unexpected road bumps. No idea, why these are there in the first place. Each city also has a nice name given to it and an arch indicating the city. Silk city Ramanagara, Sugar city Mandya, Temple city Srirangapatna, Heritage city Mysore etc. Adds a nice touch. Gives a proud feeling to every Indian.
11:30 AM: Srirangapatna. Directions to the temple are very nicely marked. Temple was a bit crowded – an ITDC package tour bus had just landed. But had a great dharshan of Palli Konda Ranganathar (lying down Ranganathar). Left immediately after dharshan. For a more scenic route back to the highway, I recommend backtracing the way you came (dont take the exit route from the temple parking directly). While retracing back the way, the last stretch will be a one-way. Do not curse yourself. Go straight in that circle (ask anyone). This alternate route is not
frequented by anyone but locals. The road goes through the Tipu fort. Its awesome. Gives you a Jaipur feeling. You drive through ramparts, old stone arches etc.
12:30PM: We reach Mysore – good time considering, we had stopped for breakfast, and two temples. We have breakfast at Hotel Siddhartha, which has OK passable food – nothing spectacular.
1:15PM: Leave Mysore for Masinagudi. The route is through Nanjangud, Gundlupet, Bandipur (KA), Mudumalai (TN), Theppakaadu, Masinagudi. Road until Nanjangud is very good. There is no semblance of a road between
Gundlupet and Bandipur. Seriously, no road at all. The worst road I have ever seen. For about 45 mins, you drive on a dirt road ; and then all of a sudden, the beautiful asphalted forest road of Bandipur appears. And from then on, it is a pleasure. Almost gives you a feeling, that you are driving through some world-renowned national park (like Yellowstone, or Great Smoky Mountains). Beautiful. I dont have any more words to describe.
4:00PM: Reach Secret Ivory Resort. I highly recommend this place in Masinagudi. If you are planning to go, leave a comment, and I will give you the owners mobile number. The rooms are brilliantly spartan and clean. The cottage faces the forest. Food is good and homely, and cooked right there. Click on the photos below for a glimpse.
We took a night safari, which started at 7:30PM. A truly exciting experience. My wife and me in an open jeep in the dark dark jungle, with just the owner and an assistant in the front. The sounds of the jungle, the dense forest, makes the journey more like a scene out of the movie Kaal.We spotted a herd of wild elephants with 2 baby elephants. It was amazing to see how the bigger elephants protected their calves as soon as they
saw us. In all a truly memorable experience.
We did an early morning trek (6:30AM) the next day. We spotted a few groups of wild spotted deer – some with huge antlers. Deer are probably one of the most graceful animals. We also some bones – remains of a feast of a cheetah – as per
our guide. I am not surprised, since Mudumali is a tiger sanctuary. The 2.5 hour trek was good exercise, to say none the least.
After the trek, we headed back to the resort, had a sumptous breakfast, and packed our bags to Ooty, our next destination. From Theppakaadu, you have two choices – (1) The long route through Gudalur. Great road. National highway. 60 km to Ooty. Most buses and heavy traffic take this route – and hence a very busy road. (2) The short route through Masinagudi – only 28 km – through desnse jungle. The road is pretty steep, and relatively narrow (one and half lane at most places). The hairpin bends are wide, so no issues there. There is almost no traffic in this road. The highlight of this road is the set of 36 hair pin bends in 18 km – thats right – one in every half km. 🙂 I took this route and decided, I will take only this route from now on. You reach Ooty in about 1 hour flat – slightly lesser in fact. We headed straight for Sterling Elk Hill.
To be continued … [part 2]