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Friday, December 22, 2006

Windows of the World, Shenzhen, China

16th December 2006

Windows of the World is a theme park with miniature size replicas of several building from all over the World from Ankur Wat of Combodia to Niagara falls. Well, there are several Indian building as well, like the Sanchi Stupa and many Indian temples.

At the entrance was our National Emblem.

I liked the Anukur Wat Temple of Combodia.

The Eiffel tower of Paris.

Shenzhen skyline from the middle of the tower.


About Shenzhen:

Shenzhen is the sourthern city of Guangdong province in China. It is just next to Hongkong. Being first time to China, i was amazed at the infrastructure at Shenzhen. On par (or above) with any other city in the west. Wide roads, Expressways, gardens, Metro everything. The countyside is still backward, but looking at the pace of development, i am sure it is just a matter of few years to change.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kudremukh

17 - 19th November 2006
After an extremely hectic 3 weeks at Office and onsite, I decided to take off on Friday and visit Kudremukh and the places nearby. As usual I and Chaya started on the Friday morning. We took NH 48 going towards Hassan. Breakfast was at Mayura hotel at Bellur cross.

I missed the Belur road at Hassan and had to navigate through the bad and dusty roads of Hassan to find the correct road. After crossing the Hassan city, road is extremely good and we reached Belur in no time. At Belur, I took the road to Mudigere. The Malenad region starts from this place and we were in the middle of Coffee plantations.

At Mudigere, we took the road going towards Dharmastala and the bad roads started from this point. The Mudigere Kottigehara stretch was horrible with no trace of tar anywhere!! It took us 45 minutes to cover this stretch of 16 kms.

At Kottigehara, the main road goes to Dharmastala and we took the deviation to Kalasa. The road is narrow but very scenic with Coffee plantations and the forests. This is one of the best roads to drive.
We reached Kalasa at 1:15 in the afternoon and checked into hotel Chandan, a decent hotel in this area. Kalasa is a very small town with 2 main roads. Five minutes walk, you will be out of town.

Post lunch, we set off to Lakya dam near Kudremukh. This dam was built to collect the waste tailings from the mining operations. So, it does not have any water but only silt. The dam is at scenic location surrounded by Shola Mountains.

On the way back, we saw the KIOCL (Kudremukh Iron Ore Company), the mining company. Supreme Court has banned the mining activities of KIOCL from 1st Jan of this year saving this ecologically sensitive environment. It does not make any sense in destroying our own environment to earn few crores of dollars. But KIOCL is far better mining Company when compared to the miners of Bellary who are only interested in making quick money with least regards for environment and the employees. At least KIOCL has taken some steps to preserve the environment and has given good facilities to its employees.
We then entered the Kudremukh Township, a neat town built by KIOCL for its employees inside the Kudremukh National forest. The town has a good park against the backdrop of the mountains. We enjoyed some time at this place.
We returned back to Kalasa and then went to Kalasheshwara temple dedicated to Ishwara. The temple is very calm with pleasant surroundings.

Next day started with the visit to Horanadu. It has an ancient temple of Annapurneshwari. The Kalasa to Horanadu is just 10 kms with new roads constructed. The temple itself has been renovated. I had visited this place during my childhood days and the journey from Kalasa to Horanadu had taken nearly 1.5 hours. Lot has changed since then and also the number of devotees visiting this place has also increased.

After Horanadu, we came back to Kalasa and started towards Sringeri. There are two roads from Kalasa to Sringeri. One road is through Magundi and Balehonnur and the other through Kudremukh Township and the National forest. We took the later as it was more scenic.

The forest checkpost after Kalasa gives the free permit to enter the National forest but should cross the forest at the other end by 2 hours. This is to ensure that the people just don’t stroll inside the forests. Also, this area is now infested with blood thirsty Naxals creating lot of problems.
After check post, the route gets more and more scenic. Every curve and turn offers great sight of the shola forests and grasslands of Kudremukh. Not a soul to be found for kilometers and the traffic is also very less. I would say that this is the best drive I had ever had.
On the way was the Bhagavathi nature camp, run by forest department which offers tented accommodation and the treks to the park.

We took many pictures on the road and then we found “Kadambi falls” next to the road. The violent monkeys near the falls ensured that we don’t get out of the vehicle. This photo was clicked from the car.
We passed though Varaha Theertha, one of the Pancha theerthas and Gangamoola. Gangamoola is the place where the rivers Tunga, Bhadra and Netravathi originate. Next stop was at Hanuman Gundi falls (Suthanabbi falls). The forest department has built some nice steps to get down the falls. A fee of Rs 30/- per head is collected. We were the only people at the falls and we fully enjoyed the isolation.
We then proceeded and reached Dakshina Kannada border and then took NH 13 towards Sringeri. This road also passes through the forest and is narrow. We took some snaps at the hanging bridge across Tunga River on the way.
We reached Sringeri at 1:30PM and directly entered the mutt for lunch. Then we went inside the temple and the river.
The next visit was to Agumbe for sunset. My cousin’s family who are staying in Sringeri joined us. There is a view point at the start of the ghat. It was a cloudy day and we could get a nice view of the sunset. But we enjoyed the views of the Agmube ghat. We could also see Arabian Sea from the view point.
Back to Sringeri and that was a special day at the Temple, the Laksha Deepotsava was being celebrated.

We started the return journey on Sunday morning. We took the road to Chikmagalur via Balehonnur. The large part of the road from Balehonnur to Chikmagalur was full of potholes and was painful. After Chikmagalur, it was only dry area with great roads. Lunch was as usual at Kamath Yatri near Hassan and reached Bangalore by 4:30 in the evening. Thus ends one more journey.

Route: Bangalore -> Hassan -> Belur -> Mudigere -> Kottigehara -> Kalasa -> Horanadu -> Kalasa -> Kudremukh -> Sringeri -> Agumbe -> Sringeri -> Balehonnur -> Chikmagalur -> Belur -> Hassan -> Bangalore.

Distance:
Bangalore -> Hassan : 180kms
Hassan -> Belur : 36 kms
Belur -> Mudigere : 35 kms
Mudigere -> Kottigehara : 16 kms
Kottigerhara -> Kalasa : 41 kms
Kalasa -> Horanadu : 10 kms
Kalasa -> Kudremukh : 20kms
Kudremukh – Sringeri : 50 kms
Sringeri – Agumbe : 25 kms
Sringeri – Balehonnur : 38 kms
Balehonnur -> Chikmagalur : 52 kms
Chikmagalur -> Hassan : 56 kms

Stay:
Kalasa: Silent valley resort is a costly option, there are good economy hotels like Chandan lodge and Yatri Nivas.

Horanadu: Horanadu has many decent accommodations run by Temple trust.

Kudremukh: Bhagavathi Nature camp run by forest department, KIOCL guest house.


Sringeri: Many decent lodges run by Sringeri Temple.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Xindian, Taiwan

2 - 11 November 2006

This Taiwan visit, I stayed at Xindian, a city south of Taipei. Here are some of the photos of this beautiful place.

View of Xindian from my Hotel room.

The Hanging bridge across Xindian river for pedestrians.


The Xindian river view.
Another view of Xindian river.

More information about this city can be found here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Unchalli falls

23 October 2006

The Aganashini river forms this beautiful falls 30 kms from Siddapura. The Deepavali visit to my native place provided an opportunity to visit this falls. Myself, Chaya and five of my younger cousins visited this place.

The team members were
Myself
Chaya
Anusha
Anujith
Abhiram
Abhilash
Adarsha
Needless to say, the car was fully loaded with people. I had been to this falls eight years ago. At that time, I had to trek for 5 kms to reach the falls. Now, there is a nice tar road almost to the falls barring the last 0.5 kms. There is also a view point to watch the falls.

Nice view of a river on the way to falls.

The falls was in full roar thanks to the good rain during this monsoon. This falls is also called as “Keppa Joga” and “lusington falls”. The rainbow added to the beauty.
Abhilash and Anujith - the cool kids.
The matured ones - Adarsha and Abhiram
I wanted to get down to the falls but was strongly advised against going down by local people. The path was slippery due to rains. Also, it was quite risky to take the younger kids to the bottom of the falls.

Well, i have a big list(25 !!) of waterfalls in Uttara Kannda to visit. It will be a long way to cover those falls.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Haigunda

21 October 2006

Haigunda is an island in the middle of Sharavathi River, 20 kms from Honnavar. Myself and my wife Chaya visited this place during Deepavali holidays. This is the place where Chaya's ancestors stayed.
The view of Sharavathi valley from Gersoppa ghat. The Sharavathi tail rise project has submerged the dense evergreen forests in the valley.
A waterfall near Gersoppa. Since my destination was different, I had to restrain my urge to trek to the base of the falls.
The Sharavathi river that we need to cross at Haigunda.
The boat looked scary and we had to do a lot of balancing act so that we would not fall into the river.
One can see a lot of stone statues in Haigunda. Historically, it was ruled by Kakeyas and Pallavas. Prominent statue is “Yakshi”, locally called as Bagari. I was surprised by the absence of any roads in this place. Everything has to be carried on foot.
The Durgamba temple at Haigunda.
View of Haigunda.
There is also a dilapidated British bungalow on a hillock. The bungalow is in ruins but the view from that place is spectacular.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kodagu

30th September - 2nd October, 2006
A long weekend and i became restless. I thought of a place to spend those three days and decided to visit the Madikeri and Kushalanagar belt of Kodagu. Due to my Taiwan visit, I could not plan early, and by the time I decided for Coorg, all the rooms were full. Finally, I could book a room in a hotel in Madikeri.
As usual, we started at 6 on a Saturday morning. The Bangalore-Mysore highway was almost completed and the great road allowed the speedometer of my car to touch 115km/hr. That was the maximum i could achieve, as my car will not go beyond 115km/hr. I had to watch the CRV's and Innova's overtaking my car with ease :-( Breakfast was at Maddur Tiffanis.
After Sriragnapatna, i took a Mysore bypass road to Hunsur, passing through Ranganathittu and KRS. The Mysore - Madikeri road was OK.... except for a stretch of 20-30kms due to road widening.
The first spot in the itenenary was Bylakuppe, a Tibetian colony near Kushalanagar.
The Namdroling monastery at Bylakuppe.

The statues of Padmasambhava, Buddha and Amitayus at Namdroling monstery.

We reached Madikeri by noon and checked into the hotel. The town looked filthy and crowded. The labirynth of narrow and one way roads made the matters worse. There are a very few vegeterain hotels in Madikeri and the service is pathetic and the cleanliness is the last thing to expect here.

Post lunch saw us at Abbe falls, 8 kms from Madikeri. A narrow road continuously goes down and the final 400 mtrs has to be covered by foot. The falls is in a private coffee estate. The skies opened as soon as we reached the falls and people started running for cover. The umbrellas saved the day for us. The falls was in full flow and looked great.

We then went to Raja's seat in Madikeri town. This is where the Kodagu kings would view the sunsets. Due to the misty weather, we could not see much of the views.
The next day started with the drive towards Bhagamandala, a temple town, 40 kms from Madikeri. The best part is the scenic drive through the coffee estates.
Bhagamandala is the confluence of three rivers, Kaveri with Kannike and Sujyothi rivers. The temple is simple, built with Kodagu architecture.
We then started towards Talacauvery, the birth place of Kaveri. It is situated on the slopes of Brahmagiri hills. The drive towards Talacauvery has a couple of beautiful view points.

Birth place of Kaveri river.

Near the temple, the steps lead up to the Brahmagiri hills. But when we reached there, the rain started and we were drenched in a few seconds. The visibility reduced to a few feet.
We were back to Madikeri for lunch and the rains ensured us to stay indoors for the rest of the day. Watched " Galate Aliyandru" on the TV.

Next day, we visited Omkaraeshwara Temple in Madikeri. The temple is built in a mosque style with dome and minarets.

We then started back to Bangalore. We took a detour for Harangi dam. The dam looked great with its gardens and scenery. It was pity that photography was prohibited here. This is what I could capture.
The last spot was Nisargadhama, a nice spot with a deer park, elephant rides and boating. The rope bridge was great. The elephants were missing and the boats were lying on the ground unused. Kids would definitely like that place.

Rope bridge at Nisargadhama.

Kaveri river at Nisargadhama.
The remaining part of the journey to Bangalore was uneventful and continuous rains till Mysore slowed down the speed.

Route:Bangalore -> Srirangapatna -> Hunsur -> Piriyapatna -> Kushalanagar -> Madikeri -> Bhagamandala -> Talacauvery.

Distance:
Bangalore - Srirangapatna : 125kms
Srirangapatna - Hunsur : 50kms
Hunsur - Piriyapatna : 20kms
Piriyapatna - Kushalanagar : 20kms
Kushalanagar - Madikeri : 32kms
Madikeri - Bhagamandala : 40kmsBhagamandala - Talacauvery : 8kms

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Taipei, Taiwan

10th-23rd September 2006
This was my first visit to Taiwan. I had one weekend to visit some of the places in Taipei, its capital city. The photos may not be very clear because of cloudy climate. The rains in Taiwan make be remember the rains in our western ghats.
Taipei 101:
This is the tallest building currently in the world. It has 101 floors and is 508 mts height. Also, it has the fastest elevator which takes just 35 seconds to reach from bottom to top.

Photo taken from the observatory at 89th floor.

Chaing Kai Shek memorial hall:

This is in memory of Chaing Kai Shek, the founder of modern Taiwan. This beautiful monument is at the center of the city.

The theatre at the hall.
Shilin night market:

Taipei is famous for night markets, Shilin is one of the busiest places in night.

Taipei Zoo:

Taipei has a big zoo and it houses a lot of animals/birds/reptiles from different parts of the world. The animals seem to be well maintained compared to our Mysore zoo.