Wednesday, September 07, 2016

People go crazy at Avala Betta

Avala Betta would have been one more hillock with a temple on top. There are many such places near Bengaluru and only few are known to general public. Avala betta would been one of those unknowns but few incidents made it famous. People standing on the edge of a rock overlooking the hills went viral.

Avalabetta spot!!

This place was in my wish list long before it became famous. But it was only realised last week. The route to Avala Betta passes through Devanahalli and Chikkaballapur. After deviation from NH-7 and passing through few villages leads to the base of the hill. Forest department has constructed nice concrete road to the top. Point to be noted is that the big vehicles (Tempo traveler, bus) are not allowed to the top. Hence people coming on such vehicles should be prepared to walk for 2 km. I am not sure whether any transport facility is available from the base.

Road to Avala betta
The place seem to be crowded but did not find any difficulty in parking the car. We had reached the end of the road where forest department had constructed guest house for Government guys. The place commanded some good views of the surroundings. It would be a nice place for overnight stay but it requires some contacts!!

View from guest house
We went to the base of the temple and climbed about 50 steps to reach the Lakshmi Narasimha temple. The path split into two. The path on the right side leads to the “google spot”!! There is a board mentioning not to proceed further but neither people nor authorities bother about it. Few minutes of walk and we were at the spot. 

Queue at photo point!!
It was a mad rush of people to get photographed at this spot. Search for “Avala betta” in google and you can see many photos with people standing at the edge of the hill. They simply look stunning and people are crazy about it. It is not dangerous as seen in the photograph as it is just a profusion of the rock and unlike depicted in photos, there is no “thousand feet depth” below. The fall is still fatal but one need to careless for that.

Not so high!!
I spent photographing the mad rush to the place. That looked more appealing to me!!

Back to temple. The path to the left takes to the top of the cliff. The last part is very challenging and dangerous. Not many people try to climb the last stretch. Here is the photo of the cliff with “google spot” at the bottom.

This is how it looks from guest house. Nice, right?

Final words

I see Avala betta as a nice spot. There are opportunities for tourism if done responsibly. But the typical signs of a popular location is already seen in the form of garbage at many locations. Hope it improves.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Thottikallu falls

A waterfalls at the outskirts of Bengaluru!! It is more popularly known as TK falls. It is about 4 km from Kanakapura road. The deviation is at Kaggalipura. The falls is situated in a rocky area surrounded by forests. Monsoon is the time when there is some water. But unfortunately the area is filled with alcohol bottles and broken glass. Not surprising at all considering its proximity to Bengaluru!! Even the area around the temple is not spared. 

It could have been a serene area if not for broken glasses. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My birding trips to Valley school

It is quite surprising to know that there are nature spots within Bengaluru city. One such place is around valley school near Kanakapura road. The school which is spread across 120 acres has densely wooded areas but it is out of bounds for public. But the authorities allow people to walk around the school which is still serene and peaceful. You have to register yourself at the entrance of the school to walk around the area.

Indian Gray hornbill
Early morning is the best time to visit. One can easily spend few hours watching the birds. The crowd is consist of people interesting in birds and plants. It is common to see parents bringing their kids to expose them to the nature.

Black shouldered kite

Some of the birds seen in Valley school.

Copper Smith Barbet

White Cheeked Barbet 

Oriental White Eye

White Browed Bulbul

Great Tit

Ashy Prinia

Where is valley school?

While driving from Bengaluru, take the first right after NICE road junction and drive straight for 1-2 km till you reach the dead end which is the entrance of valley school. Sign boards also give clear directions.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Revisiting green route trail

The railway route between Sakleshpur and Kukke Subramanya was one of the most scenic trekking trail in Karnataka. That was the time when the track was closed for meter to broad gauge conversion. When the trains started running again, the trail was closed for trekkers. Having trekked twice on this route (link here), I wanted to experience this journey on train. My family was also interested and I made a plan combining it with the visit to Kukke Subramanya.

Crossing the "killer" bridge
Our travel
Having reached Kukke Subramanya in morning, we spent some time visiting temples before heading to Subramanya road railway station. The train was supposed to come at 1PM but it was late by 45 minutes.

Since the stretch from Subramanya to Sakleshpur involves climbing up the western ghat, the train is supported by two additional engines by pushing it from the back. They were ready and were waiting for the train to arrive!!

The train has general compartment, 2S and AC chair car coaches. While general compartment is crowded, the AC chair car is not ideal for scenic route as the windows are not transparent. 2S coaches are the best to view the scenery and the seats could be reserved.

When I boarded the train, I realised that the window seat was facing towards the hilly side of the route and not the valley. To get better view, I went towards the door and sat there. I expected Ticket Collector to oppose but he did not bother. 

The train moved out of the station and was soon entered into the forest. As the train made its journey through the first tunnel, people greeted it with “hoo hoo” sounds!! But very soon the tunnels became a norm!! 

There are four stations between Subramanya road and Sakleshpur. They are Siribagilu, Yedakumeri, Kadagaravalli and Donigal but there is no scheduled stops at these stations. The train did stop at couple of station to pick up railway workers. 

For me it was a retrace of my trekking journey in opposite direction (both times I trekked from Sakleshpur). Being monsoon season, the greenery was abundant, the scenery amazing with lot of waterfalls. Only before reaching Sakleshpur, it becomes disturbing as the area is filled with huge pipes and forests being cleared. Looks like some “development” work in progress.

Views near Yedakumeri
Railway workers are seen all along the route to ensure the maintenance of the track. Dilapidated and abandoned buildings are seen in the route. 

Which one was better?
It took two hours to cover the distance through the western ghats. I had taken two days to trek this distance by walking. It was like seeing a movie in fast forward mode!! The excitement of crossing the railway bridge over the gushing water could not be felt from train. No doubt, the trekking experience was much better but given that that option is no more available, I must say that the train journey provides a glimpse of that experience.

A waterfall seen from the train

As mentioned there is only one day train on this route and it runs between Yeswantpur and Karwar and it runs very alternate days. There are no trains on Sunday. The journey between Hassan and Yeswantpur is longer as it goes via Arasikere. To save time, you can also get down at Sakleshpur/Hassan and take a bus. That would save an hour of journey.