October 2020 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Sweet Journey: From inside a sugarcane factory near Mandya

Inside a sugar factory near Mandya

It is that time of the year when everybody has those sweet cravings. Have you ever wondered how that key ingredient (sugar or jaggery) of your favorite dessert is made and what is the journey it takes before it ends up on your plate/cup? Well, read on if you wish to know about it.

Mandya, located on the fertile plains of the Cauvery river in South-Interior Karnataka is known as the sugar city of Karnataka. It’s countryside is surrounded by sugarcane fields and the sweet smell of molasses wafts in the air. The tropical weather, the fertile plains and the abundant water in its various irrigation canals ensures that they have multiple harvests every year. As a thumb rule, farmers setup traditional sugarcane factories to process the harvest. If the farmer doesn’t have such sugarcane factories, they send their produce to the larger sugar factory, which can also be seen around sugar growing hotspots. This article and the photographs here show the inside workings of one such traditional sugarcane factory.

Sugarcane being processed near Mandya

This sugarcane factory was a flat open area surrounded by sugarcane fields. It consisted of a brick structure, with two floors. On the top floor is a diesel powered engine, a sugarcane crusher, a chimney setup and the sugarcane. And on the ground floor is the filtration, boiling and sieving system. Sugarcane workers from Uttar Pradesh are usually the ones to be seen in such factories. Either, they come cheap or they are extremely skilled.

Tractor loads of sugarcane arrive at these factories upon harvest. This sugar cane is then sent up to the first floor via the lift (operated by the diesel engine or electricity). On the first floor, this sugarcane then goes into the sugarcane crusher to remove all its juice. The juice flows via a pipeline to the ground floor while the mulch is thrown out into a separate enclosure. I am not sure if they convert this mulch into fertilizer or if they give it to sugar factories to make ethanol.

In the ground floor, there are 3 inter connected pits. The sugarcane flows into the first pit where it is cleaned, striired and filtered. In the second one, it is allowed to boil and it is continuously stirred. In the third one, it is further cleaned and allowed to cool. Lying perpendicular to the third pit is a slope followed by a wide enclosure where the molten jaggery is poured and allowed to air dry. At this enclosure, either the jaggery is cut into different sizes when it is cold or it is stored into different containers when it is in molten condition. The dry jaggery is now ready for consumption and distribution.

Freshly made jaggery at a sugar factory near Mandya

In a full blown sugar factory, the whole thing is automated. And in addition to making jaggery, they crystallize it to make sugar and then they make ethanol and other chemicals from the molasses as by products. They also do produce some electricity too.

One can easily walk into such traditional sugarcane factories, talk to the workers, take permission from them and watch them go about their entire work. If you happen to get lucky like how we got, you can also learn about the entire process while sipping on some fresh sugarcane juice. The next time, you smell molasses in the air while crossing sugarcane fields, do keep an eye out for such traditional sugarcane factories. May be, you too will get to experience it first-hand and up close.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Mirjan Fort: The 16th century structure that is taken over by moss during the monsoons

Mirjan Fort taken over by moss

It was an important trading center for pepper, cassia and nutmeg between the 16th and the 19th century. It has stood the test of time in spite of countless battles. While there are many theories regarding its exact history, it is clear that it has seen the rule of Vijayanagara kings, Bijapur sultans, Keladi kings, the Marathas and the British. I am talking about the laterite rock structure called Mirjan Fort that is located by the banks of the Aghanashini river between Kumta and Gokarna in the Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka.

Entering Mirjan Fort near Kumta, Karnataka

While this 16th century monument enjoys a rich past, I like it for its vibrant green colour that it dons during the monsoon season. The high humidity, the bright sunshine and the consistent heavy showers ensures that moss takes over this reddish brown laterite rock structure and turns it into a green paradise that is surrounded by even more greenery. The swaying coconut palms, the tropical forests and the Western Ghats in the background complete this magical green concoction.

The lush green setting of Mirjan Fort, Karnataka

In its hey days, Mirjan fort enjoyed a protective circular moat, high turrets on its bastions, secret passages, darbar halls, markets, water management, prayer halls, watch towers and more. Today, the structure stands tall in all its glory minus the internal structures and allows nature to decorate it the way it pleases. This decoration by mother nature is very pleasing to the eye and is the main reason for you to visit Mirjan fort in the monsoons and may be right after.

History lovers and archaeology students might see way more details in this historical structure, but to the eye of the regular visitor, it is this green world that completely mesmerizes them. I highly recommend visiting this historical gem in the monsoons.

Mirjan Fort in the monsoons

Best season to visit:

The monsoons and the post winter months are best to see the Mirjan fort decked completely in green. They also happen to have the most pleasant weather.

One can also visit in the spring and summer months, but mostly in the cooler times of the morning and late evening. High humidity might be an issue in this season.

The 16th century Mirjan Fort decked in green

How to reach here:

The nearest railway station would be Kumta. The nearest airport would either be Hubli in Karnataka or Panjim in Goa.

Mirajn Fort is about 12 kms north of Kumta and 21 kms south of Gokarna. Buses playing between Kumta and Gokarna or Karwar will drop you on the NH 66 highway point that leads to the Mirjan Fort. From this point, it should be a 5 to 10 minute walk on flat land.

Enjoying the lush green environment at Mirjan Fort during the monsoons

Where to stay:

If beach resorts are on your mind, the beach cottages at Gokarna would be your best bet. South Goa and Maravanthe beach, though a bit far away would also be good choices.

If forest stays are on your mind, you should try the homestays located in the Sirsi – Yellapur region. My favorite is the Tavarumane homestay that is located near Jajjigudde village.

If good quality budget accommodation is on your mind, try the hotels at Kumta, Sirsi or Honavara.

If luxury accommodation is what you crave, try the ones at Kundapura, Goa, Hubli, Udupi or Mangalore.

Paddyfield and Aghanashini river as seen from the top of Mirjan Fort

Where to eat:

The nearest place to eat would be either Kumta or Gokarna. While Gokarna might have more beach facing restaurants, Kumta has slightly larger restaurants.

If you prefer to stick to the highway, there are various highway restaurants catering to different needs of their visitors.

A monsoon day at Mirjan Fort, Karnataka

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Gokarna: The coastal town known for its temples and pristine beaches

2) Karwar: The town on the Karnataka-Goa border known for its offshore islands, black sandy beaches and Kali river estuary

3) Apsarakonda Falls: A gorgeous waterfall located real close to the Arabian Sea

4) Sharavati river valley: The view of Shola forests surrounding the Linganamkki reservoir on the Sagara – Honavara highway

5) Jog Falls: One of the highest waterfalls of India and an iconic landmark of Karnataka

6) Yana rocks and caves: A magical place in the forests of Karnataka

7) Vibhooti Falls: Karnataka’s jungle waterfall with a natural swimming pool

8) Unchalli Falls: Stunning monsoon holiday destination of Karnataka

9) Magod Falls: One of the most magnificent waterfalls of Karnataka

10) Sathodi Falls: Karnataka’s prettiest jungle waterfall

11) Bilihole Falls: Hidden waterfall amidst the untouched forests of the Western Ghats in Karnataka

12) Sirsi Marikamba Temple: A 16th century temple dedicated to goddess Durga and that is an iconic landmark of Uttara Kannada

13) Maravanthe Beach: The highway rider’s favorite pitstop

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Magod Falls: A Colossal Monsoon Spectacle

Magod Falls - a top monsoon holiday destination of Karnataka

It is one of the most magnificent waterfalls of Karnataka that becomes a thundering spectacle of water tumbling down in torrents amidst pristine forests of the Western Ghats. Add to it the persistent drizzle and/or rains, consistent mist cover, fresh green vegetation and you have a dream monsoon holiday destination.

Mist covered trail at Magod Falls, Uttara Kannada, Karanataka

Somewhere between Sirsi and Yellapur and surrounded by the dense forests of the Western Ghats, the Bedti river takes 3 turns and drops close to 660 feet in 2 steps to form the mighty Magod falls. The Magod falls view point is located on the opposite hill and this allows you to see the entire spectacle from different view points across different elevations. The walk between these various view points is an experience in itself as during the rains this entire trail is covered in mist and one must patiently wait for the mist to clear so that they can see the waterfall view that they could hear all along.

Each view point (there are 4 or 5 in total) allows you to enjoy the Magod waterfall from different vantage points. The walk between the view points is short, but steep and hence each view point allows you to catch your breath while you soak in the lush views. In between these view points on the opposite side of hill are some other tiny waterfalls that come alive during the monsoons and make for an interesting view too.

If you don’t mind the rains, this terrain allows you the best experience of the forests, mist, clouds, waterfalls and a monsoon walk. It is also a perfect place for a monsoon lunch, but do keep an eye out for the rowdy monkeys here. If you love monsoon holidays, this colossal monsoon spectacle should certainly feature high on your monsoon travel bucket-list in Karnataka. One of the top gems of Uttara Kannada and one of my favorite waterfalls of Karnataka.

The lush green environment near Magod Falls, Karnataka

Best season to visit:

The monsoons are the best time to see the waterfall in full flow. This is also the time when the surrounding vegetation is lush and the waterfall carries heavy volumes of water. At times, mist can cover the waterfall view during the monsoons. It is best to wait for a few minutes to allow the mist to clear.

The post monsoon season is also a great time to see the waterfall. Views are much clearer during this time and there is no threat of rain or leeches.

Magod Falls - one of the many magnificent waterfalls in the Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka

How to reach there:

Magod Falls lies right in between Sirsi and Yellapur.

There are two routes to reach to this waterfall:

Route 1: This is the main route with larger roads. You reach Yellapur and from Yellapur take the main road towards Kavadikere and Magod Falls.

Route 2: This is a tougher, but prettier route. It takes you through dense forests and the roads are much smaller here. At places, there might nothing more than a mud track here. When coming from Sirsi and once you cross the Bedti river bridge, you keep a look out for a left turn near Upaleshwara. This left turn will take you to Ghante Ganapati temple and from there to Chandaguli village and then onto Magod Falls.

Enjoying the lush green waterfall view near Magod Falls, Karnataka

Where to stay:

If budget accommodation is on your mind, you can try the budget hotels in either Sirsi or at Yellapur.

If you prefer a traditional experience, I would recommend staying at homestays in this region. My favorite homestay in this region is Tavarumane homestay, a simple place near Jajjigudde village that is surrounded by nature and that comes with unbelievably delicious food.

If beach resorts are on your mind, try the ones in and around Kumta, Gokarna or Karwar.

Magod Falls - one of the tallest waterfalls of India

Where to eat:

The nearest place to eat would be Yellapur.

Shanbag hotel is a famous hotel for vegetarians. They also specialize in ayurvedic products of the land.

Indraprastha restaurant is also a great place to eat good food.

There are other restaurants on the main road to cater to the diverse dietary needs of the people.

Magod Falls in the monsoon season, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Sathodi Falls: Karnataka’s prettiest jungle waterfall

2) Shivapura hanging bridge: A motorcyclist’s delight on the Kodisalli reservoir

3) Yana rocks and caves: Magical place in the forests of Karnataka

4) Kavadikere: Lake temple dedicated to goddess Durga between Magod falls and Yellapur

5) Shirley Falls: A pristine forest waterfall near Yellapur

6) Vibhooti Falls: Karnataka’s jungle waterfall with a swimming pool

7) Unchalli Falls: Stunning monsoon holiday destination of Karnataka

8) Devimane Ghat: Monsoon beauty home to medicinal plants and herbs

9) Jog Falls: One of the highest waterfalls of India and an iconic landmark of Karnataka

10) Mirjan Fort: A 16th century fort located between Kumta and Gokarna

11) Dandeli: A pretty little village known for its diverse tribes, hornbills, wildlife and adventure sports

12) Gokarna: A coastal town known for its temples and gorgeous beaches

13) Karwar: Quiet little fishing town on the Karnataka-Goa border known for its black sandy beaches, Kali river estuary and offshore islands

14) Bilihole Falls: A hidden waterfall located amidst the untouched forests of Western Ghats in Karnataka

15) Sirsi Marikamba temple: A 17th century temple dedicated to goddess Durga and an iconic landmark in the Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka

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Friday, October 23, 2020

Devimane Ghat: Monsoon Beauty home to Medicinal Plants and Herbs

The panoramic green view of Devimane Ghat during the monsoons

It gets close to 6000 mm of rain every year. It is home to a pristine ecosystem consisting of tropical rainforests, tropical evergreen forests, medicinal plants, medicinal herbs, reptiles, mammals, birds of paradise and many waterfalls, streams and rivers. It is a hill station and a lesser known monsoon giant. I am talking about the Devimane Ghat in Uttara Kannada that falls on the Sirsi-Kumta highway of Karnataka.

The lush Devimane Ghat in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, India

A elephant hundi with an upswept trunk (donation box) catches your attention along with miles and miles of lush green and rows of mountain ranges. This is the location of the Durga Devi temple and the Devimane ghat view point. From here, the road dips and curves towards Kumta and the rest of the Karavali coast. Hence, people stop here, seek the blessings of the goddess, offer their donations to the elephant, enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee while enjoying the lovely view and continue their way down the ghats towards Kumta or up towards Sirsi. But, there is so much more to Devimane that people miss out on.

In between these 15 hairpin curves of the Devimane Ghat lies the Devimane village, a yawning little town that connecting to a elephant corridor, a wildlife sanctuary and lush forest area where many naturally growing medicinal herbs and plants are found. And if you go further into the forest, you come to the Benne hole waterfalls, a milky white cascade in the middle of pristine nature. This belt is perfect trekking terrain, especially for nature lovers. Lion tailed macaques, langurs, gaurs, elephants, birds of paradise, butterflies, king cobras and many other exotic wild species have been spotted here.

During the monsoons, Devimane receives copious rainfall and is more or less covered in mist throughout. During the summer months, owing to its proximity to the coast and high humidity, it happens to be one of the coolest places in the state of Karnataka.

Devimane Ghat Pit Stop - the temple, the motorcycle and the view

It doesn’t matter whether you are a student of botany, a nature lover, a trekker, a wildlife enthusiast or a student of Ayurveda, you are bound to fall in love with the charms of Devimane. It’s lush jungles, the mighty Sahyadris and the rich bio-diversity of the Western Ghats are a treat to the senses and need to preserved by us for many generations to come. They are the lifeline of the Southern peninsula. A highly recommended place for the experience, but do remember to leave the place exactly as you find it.

A Pit Stop at Devimane Ghat, Karnataka

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Unchalli Falls – stunning monsoon holiday destination of Karnataka

2) Mirjan Fort – 16th century fort that gets enveloped by moss during the monsoons

3) Yana rocks and caves – magical place in the forests of Karnataka

4) Vibhooti Falls – Karnataka’s jungle waterfall with a natural swimming pool

5) Sirsi Maarikamba temple – 17th century temple dedicated to goddess Durga

6) Magod Falls – one of the most magnificent waterfalls of Karnataka

7) Shivagange Falls – a 74 m high waterfall on the Sonda river

8) Bilihole Falls – hidden waterfall amidst the untouched forests of the Western Ghats of Karnataka

9) Jog Falls – one of the tallest waterfalls of India and an iconic landmark of Karnataka

10) Coastal town of Gokarna – it is known for its temples and pristine beaches

11) Karwar – it is known for its black sandy beaches, Kali river estuary and beautiful offshore islands

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Traveling Eastern Europe

Saint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

Eastern Europe and the Baltics are places left undiscovered to many travellers. The lands of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc were, for many years, difficult to access for many tourists. Even if you were permitted entry, you were likely to be watched strictly by government assigned tour guides. Those days, however, are long gone. Today thousands of people visit these fascinating countries every year. Look below for some tips on the major cities of this fascinating part of the world.


Moscow city by night

Perhaps more than any other city in the region, Moscow is a place that inspires awe in the hearts and minds of people around the world. Once the centre of the Muscovite aristocracy, then the centre point of the Russian Empire, and latterly the capital of global communism, Moscow is a truly fascinating place. Like many metropolises, Moscow can cause shock and wonder in equal measure.

A note for when you are travelling to parts of the world that you are unfamiliar with, such as Russia: money transfer services can be a little hard to understand when in Eastern Europe, so it’s best to visit a money transfer site like www.exiap.com/guides/money-transfer-services before you set off. This will ensure you have a back up plan if you do find yourself in a sticky situation with your finances when you travel.


Christmas market at the town hall square, Tallinn, Estonia

This Baltic city is a real gem. The Estonians are proud of their national identity and consider the rule of the USSR an illegal occupation. Therefore, it is not strictly speaking correct to describe the country as a one time member state of the Soviet Union. The fierce independence of the Estonians is clear in the unique architecture of their maritime capital. St Olaf’s Cathedral is believed to have been the tallest building in the world in the 16th century and it still stands imperious over the city today. The historic old town centre is another enjoyable architectural wonder.

St Petersburg

The Naval St. Nicholas Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia

The next city on our list is another Russian marvel. St Petersburg has long been considered the “cultural capital” of the Russian Federation, and it’s clear to see why - the city’s thriving arts scene rivals those around the world. The city is replete with historical splendor as well. A trip to the Hermitage museum (the 2nd largest museum in the world) will leave any traveler truly amazed. The Winter Palace, part of the Hermitage and home of Russian emperors for almost 300 years, is an incredible example of grandiose, aristocratic European design.


View of Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi is a fascinating and unique place where East begins to interact with the West. Sitting on the southern side of the Caucasus mountains, Georgia borders Turkey and comes close to Iran and the Middle East. Georgians are renowned for their hospitality and residents of Tbilisi are no different in this respect. Be sure to try the incredible Georgian cuisine. Dishes like Khachapuri and Khinkali are a well kept secret to those not from Georgia - they are wonderfully full of flavor.


Church of Saints Simon and Helena, Minsk, Belarus

Minsk is a little known gem. It is the capital of Belarus, a country that sits between Poland, Russia, the Baltic countries and Ukraine. The city is renowned for its incredible Soviet architecture. If Soviet Realism is your thing then Minsk is the place to be.

Photo Courtesy: The photographs in this article are courtesy of wikipedia.org and have been borrowed under the creative commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on wikipedia.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

The Green Motorcycle Ride: A Photo Story

A Bisle forest view during a bright monsoon day

Late August and early September, I embarked on a 10 day monsoon motorcycle ride through the Western Ghats of India. I had gone on a couple of day rides to lesser known Hoysala temples after the lockdown, but this was my first long trip since 22nd March. And boy was I happy!

Monsoons happen to be my favorite season of the year. I love the rains, the freshness in the air, the lush green views, the richness of ecosystem and most important of all, I love getting wet. And what better place to enjoy the monsoons than the Western Ghats.

My 2000 kms motorcycle ride took me to the following places in the Western Ghats of Karnataka over 10 days. There was a lot of walking, trekking, getting wet, eating traditional foods and sleeping to petrichor in between all the motorcycle rides.

1) Sirsi – Yellapur region: Unchalli Falls, Magod Falls, Sathodi Falls, Bilihole Falls, Sonda Vadiraj Mutt

2) Kumta region: Devimane Ghat, Mirjan Fort

3) Karavali coast: Maravanthe Beach, Kota, Kallu Ganapati Temple, Mekkekattu Nandikeshwara Temple

4) Hulikal – Mastikatte region: Hulikal Ghat, Hulikal Falls, Talasi Abbi Falls, Kavaledurga Fort

5) Bisle – Sakleshpur region: Bisle Ghat, Bisle forest view point, Kukke Subramanya temple, Athihally

A few close friends gave me company for the first 4 days, but the remaining 6 days, I rode alone.

I had a ball on this trip and visited some gorgeous places with surreal experiences. This article aims to share my 10 day monsoon motorcycle ride with you as a photo story. Hope you enjoy the greens as much as I enjoyed it.

Above photo: The beautiful view point at Bisle state forest, one of the untouched stretches of forests between Coorg, Malnad and Dakshina Kannada.

Spectacular view from the top of Kavaledurga Fort, Karnataka

Above photo: This was the view that greeted me after climbing up the 5 level Kavaledurga Fort, built in the 9th century by the Nayakas of Keladi. The uphill climb was tough, but the view was totally worth it.

Talasi Abhi Falls near Mastikatte

Above photo: Located between Mastikatte and Teerthahalli is Talasi Abbi falls, a hidden tropical beauty in the middle of pristine nature. A short trek makes you sweat just enough to enjoy the water even more.

Gorgeous Hulikal Falls on the Hulikal ghat highway

Above photo: Hulikal falls is a tall waterfall that is located right next to the beautiful Hulikal ghat highway and makes for a fantastic pit stop while riding on this ghat highway.

Hairpin turn on the Bisle ghat road of Karnataka

Above photo: Bisle Ghat is one of the most scenic ghat roads in Karnataka and the best part about it is that there is hardly any heavy vehicular traffic, making for a relaxing monsoon ride where you can be one with mother nature.

Mirjan Fort taken over by moss

Above photo: Mirjan fort is a 16th century fort that is located between Kumta and Gokarna. During the monsoons, moss and other plants take over this fort and change it from a boring brown to a vibrant green colour.

The gorgeous Maravanthe beach of Karnataka

Above photo: Maravanthe beach where the highway, the river and the Arabian Sea all co-exist in one view. It is one of the most famous pit stops for all highway riders.

The panoramic green view of Devimane Ghat during the monsoons

Above photo: This is how the Devimane ghat looks early in the morning. It is a scenic pit stop on the Sirsi-Kumta ghat highway.

The grogeous Hulikal Ghat road

Above photo: One of Karnataka’s wettest places, the Hulikal ghat is a treat to the senses during the rains. It is home to many waterfalls, forests and wildlife.

Magod Falls - one of the many magnificent waterfalls in the Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka

Above photo: One of Karnataka’s most magnificent waterfalls, the Magod Falls on the river Bedti is a sight to behold during the monsoons. The triple bend on the river, the floating mist and the dense green forests make for a captivating sight.

Digambar temple near Sonda, Karnataka

Above photo: Located between Sirsi and Yellapur is the serene Vadiraj mutt near Sonda. Temples, rustic atmosphere, and oodles of scenery greet you here. This is a Digambar temple near the mutt.

Hike to Bilihole Falls view point near Sirsi, Karnataka

Above photo: This waterfall resembling the trunk of Ganesha is located deep inside the untouched forests of the Kali Tiger Reserve. This is how Bilihole falls looks from the Jajjigudde village. A short trek through plantations and forests bring you to this cliff edge view point.

The thundering and mist covered Unchalli Falls during the monsoons

Above photo: Another monsoon gem, the Aghanashini river plummets 361 feet to form the Unchalli falls. A steep downhill trek and the heavy waterfall spray at the view point make this an amazing monsoon holiday destination.

PItstop enroute to Unchalli Falls

Above photo: This was my pit stop location on the way back from Unchalli falls where we stopped for a much needed bite as we were all hungry. Don’t you think it is the perfect place to chomp on local snacks while admiring the beauty around?

The Bisle Forest Highway of Karnataka

Above photo:
This narrow road is the Bisle ghat highway. Every hundred meters or so, there are mini waterfalls, stream crossings, hairpins, C, curves, S curves and more. And all around you are forests. It is like riding inside a blanket of green. It happens to be one of my favorite ghat roads in India.

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Kallu Ganapati Temple: Offbeat Rustic Gem near Udupi

Getting ready for Mangalaarti at Kallu Ganapati temple, Karnataka

Housed inside a cave of boulders, this temple dates over a thousand years. It enjoys a rustic location surrounded by pristine farmland and nature of the Dakshina Kannada region of Karnataka. I am referring to the Kallu (stone) Ganapati temple, a hidden gem located near Saibrakatte, Udupi district.

Lush nature view as seen from the top of Kallu Ganapati temple rock

During my 10 day monsoon motorcycle ride across the Western Ghats of Karnataka, I happened to reach Kota, the hometown of my friend and popular travel blogger Shrinidhi Hande. It was he, who recommended visiting this offbeat temple and that’s how we planned an evening visit to this temple and the nearby Mekkakattu Nandikeshwara temple.

It was drizzling when we started our respective motorcycles from Kota and the 12 kilometer green route via farms, streams, rivers, paddy fields and villages gave us perfect company. State highways turned into winding village roads and we finally reached this place full of boulders in the middle of absolutely nowhere. A narrow passage (I had to duck n crawl at many places) through the boulders led us to a small shrine with 3 stone idols. The one at the center is Lord Ganesha, while the ones at either side are that of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati. It is believed that these stone idols and the boulders above it have been created by nature, while the small temple structure was built under the sponsorship of King of Barkuru. There is a small house adjacent to the temple where the priest lives in. Mangalarti ceremony is performed by the priest every morning and evening and these lights add a lot of vibrancy to the otherwise dark interiors of this temple under boulders.

Lush Dakshina Kannada countryside view as seen from the top of Kallu Ganapati temple rock

While the temple is fairly simple, the view from the top of it is seriously beautiful. Ancient steps carved on to these boulders lead you to a fairly wide and flat top side of the rocks. From here, you can see a small meandering stream, a road bridge, coconut palms, huge swathes of paddy fields and lots and lots of green cover. This is the kind of place fit for a relaxing picnic or a meditative session.  I would definitely recommend visiting this hidden gem of a temple.

To see more photos of this temple, to know more of its history and to know the exact route, read the blog post on this temple by Shrinidhi Hande.

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Travel itinerary if you won the Indian Lottery

Travel itinerary if you happen to win the lottery

Suppose you have just won a giant lottery! The question is how will you spend the money. Traveling can be one of the most exciting things to do. The dream of traveling luxuriously without thinking about money can become real if you happen to win a lottery. There are websites like Sambad Lottery that can give you that opportunity.

You have always dreamt of going to many beautiful places and staying in expensive hotels, but the money problem always stopped you from doing that. The amount of money that you get upon winning a lottery can be enormous. With that much money, you can do anything, and you can go anywhere without worrying about your budget.

Sambad Lottery

There are various online lottery websites to test your luck. By sending very little money, you can get an enormous sum of money in return that you have only dreamed of having. Sambad Lottery is an authentic and very trustworthy website if you are thinking of buying a lottery ticket.

You know what they say that money cannot buy you happiness, but money can buy you things which can make you happy. When you win, the Sambad Lottery is going to make you extremely happy.

After winning a lottery, if you are thinking of spending the money on traveling, then you can plan your dream luxury trip. Here are some of the best ideas for such a trip that that will make you forget reality and that will give you the best experience of your life:

Explore South Africa in the most luxurious way

Luxury holidays in South Africa

After winning a dream lottery, you can have a trip of dreams without any problem. You do not want to be stuck in just one place with that much money in your account. Exploring South Africa can be a fantastic experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.

If you are looking for an experience of the colonial era in the most elegant way, then the most luxurious train in the world, Pride of Africa, is the best option. Pride of Africa is a palace on wheels and takes you back in the time of the golden age of rail.

You will have the best traveling experience of your life with some of the best meals too. You will also get to taste some of the finest South African wines. Experience the most exciting safari while having the experience of a royal life.

Adventure trip in a private jet to Antarctica

Penguins and icebergs seen on a luxury cruise to Antarctica

If you are a true adventurer, then you would not miss the chance of traveling to Antarctica. What can be better than a vastly unexplored place and with the minimum number of tourists. No doubt visiting the south pole of Earth will be an exhilarating experience in itself.

You can have an experience of rock climbing and kite skiing. Watching penguins will be one of a kind experience. The breath taking scenery of Antarctica will indeed make you fall in love with this beautiful continent.

If you are not into the adventure type of thing, you can also have a relaxing experience. Science bases are one of the most popular sites to see in Antarctica. A trip to Antarctica will give an escape from reality.

Getting away from the city life to a private island

Staying at exotic private islands

Traveling to a private island can be a very intimidating experience. A trip to a remote island is like going to paradise. As the name suggests, the secluded island is going to be your private paradise.

If you are looking to get away from crowded places, then a holiday to a private island will be the most serene experience. So what if you can not buy a private island, you certainly can have the thrill of living on a remote island.

Many Hollywood stars and millionaires own private islands. So Sambad Lottery is giving you a chance of living like a millionaire or a Hollywood star. Go and buy a lottery ticket from Sambad Lottery and have the best experience of your life.

Staying in a 7-star hotel in Dubai

Luxury stays at Dubai

When you win a lottery that you have always dreamt of winning; then, you might like to spend the money a lot lavishly. Staying in a 5-star hotel is a great way to spend your money, but when you have just won the lottery of your dreams, then you would want more than a 5-star hotel.

The first-ever 7-star hotel is Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and that is in Dubai. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah indeed lives up to its 7-star standard. You will have your private lift, cinema hall, and a library. The best thing about this hotel is its royal suite.

If you have always dreamt of having a private villa as well; then, this hotel has a private villa for you too. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is more than just a hotel. It is your dreams coming into reality.

If you have just won a lottery, then where would you go and spend your money. There are many other ways to spend the money you just won. But traveling will give you a much richer experience. You will have the opportunity to explore the world and the different cultures of it.

There is no harm in buying a lottery ticket worth some hundred bucks and getting the opportunity to travel the world. So what are you thinking of? Go and try your luck, and you never know where life can take you. If you do not take chances in your life, then you'll regret it.

Note: Please use your own discretion before buying a lottery ticket.

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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Unchalli Falls: Stunning Monsoon Holiday Destination of Karnataka

Unchalli Falls - a sight to behold during the monsoons

2020 has been a tough year for all of us, but it has also been a year when the rain gods have been mighty kind to us. The monsoons in 2020 have been more than normal and this has ensured that all the waterfalls, streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and dams are brimming full with water. And what better place to experience the abundant monsoons up close than the waterfall region of Karnataka that we all know as Uttara Kannada.

A gorgeous monsoon holiday destination here is Unchalli Falls, a loud waterfall that is created by a 381 feet drop in the Aghanashini river.

The waterfall holiday to Unchalli falls begins when you find yourself on the beautiful winding ghat roads of the Sirsi-Kumta highway and the view gets even better when you turn off the highway at Aminahalli to go towards Heggarni. Persistent rains, pretty little villages surrounded by fresh paddy, lush green landscapes and a single lane road give you company. Green mountain peaks show you their face as you climb and descend these countryside roads. A steep climb and descent post Heggarni takes you to the Unchalli falls parking lot from where the downhill trek to the waterfall begins.

The monsoon view of Unchalli Falls

This downhill trek is another cog in the wheel called ‘Unchalli waterfall holiday’. Balmy weather, green foliage and slippery terrain take you closer to a loud thundering sound. You cannot see the waterfall as yet, but you can certainly hear it from far. There are 2 to 3 different view points from where you can see the Aghanashini river flowing through a narrow gorge before plunging down a wide mountain wall making for an amazing spectacle. If you visit during the monsoons or right after it, you might also get drenched in the waterfall mist at the bottom most view point. This is another special attribute of this waterfall experience.

And the best part of the waterfall experience comes when you make your return journey after all the waterfall viewing and mist drenching experience. The steep climb back to the parking lot makes your lungs gasp for air and your leg muscles screaming for rest. A few resting points and view points act as a perfect excuse to take a break and soak in some more views of the lush waterfall landscape, the surrounding forests, the monkeys playing on the nearby trees and the selfie clicking tourists.

Lush countryside - enroute Unchalli Falls, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka

Unchalli is quite a popular destination, but given the current pandemic situation and the heavy rains that have been battering the region for the past four months, there should not be a lot of people. And unlike Jog falls where a short walk takes you to the view point, here you have to do a 15 to 20 minute downhill trek to catch a view of the waterfall. This steep hike may not be preferred by a lot of people and that is why you can further expect lower crowds.

The thundering and mist covered Unchalli Falls during the monsoons

If you crave for a pristine ecosystem during your monsoon holiday, Unchalli Falls certainly has that. The trail might not take you close to the waterfall, but you can certainly feel its mist and soak in its magnificence, A good trek, some gorgeous views and a fantastic waterfall experience is in store here. And it becomes magical during the rains. I totally recommend it if you are headed towards the Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka.

Key things to keep in mind while visiting Unchalli Falls:

1) It is steep decline to the waterfalls from the parking lot. It is a combination of mud trail and steps. The trail can get real slippery during the rains. It is the return ascent that can take the wind out of you. Thankfully, there are enough places where you can rest and enjoy the waterfall view.

2) The trail is full of leeches during the monsoons. Do prepare accordingly.

3) Mist can momentarily block the waterfall view during the rains. It might be prudent to wait 10 to 15 minutes for the view to clear.

4) Do carry some drinking water with you as you will need it on the way back from the waterfall.

5) Please be careful while taking pictures and selfies as the view points are on a cliff’s edge and the terrain is usually slippery due to the waterfall spray and rains.

Unchalli Falls view point hut

Best season to visit:

The monsoons are the best season to see Unchalli falls in all its glory, but even the post monsoon months make for a fantastic time to visit this waterfall.

The steep trail that leads to the Unchalli Falls view point

How to reach there:

The nearest airport would be Hubbali, about 150 kms away.

The nearest railway station would be Kumta, about 84 kms away.

The nearest major bus station would be Sirsi, about 35 kms away.

The route from Sirsi is as follows: Take the Kumta highway from Sirsi –> turn left at Amminahalli –> move forward toward to Heggarni –> And finally head to the parking lot of Unchalli Falls

The steps that lead to the Unchalli Falls view points

Where to stay:

If hotels are your thing, Sirsi or Kumta would be your best bet.

My personal favorites are remote homestays, which give you a traditional local experience while staying amidst nature. Tavarumane homestay is where I stay usually when I visit the Sirsi-Yellapur region, but there are many other homestays between Jog Falls and Yellapur/Dandeli that are great. You can choose the ones that fit your requirements and budget.

If you prefer beach properties, try the ones near Karwar or Gokarna.

Lush greenery enroute Unchalli Falls, Karnataka

Where to eat:

While you can find biscuits and tea at either Heggarni or Ammenahalli, the best place to find quality places to eat would be Sirsi. Located about 35 kms away, one can find vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants in Sirsi and can also find small supermarkets and other stores in case you wish to stock up on some ration.

Trail leading to Unchalli Falls, Karnataka

Other waterfalls in the Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka:

1) Jog Falls: The pride of Karnataka and one of the most iconic waterfalls of India

2) Magod Falls: A magnificent double bend waterfall on the Bedti river

3) Bilihole Falls: A jungle waterfall that is located amidst the untouched forests of Kali tiger reserve

4) Sathodi Falls: One of Karnataka’s prettiest jungle waterfalls

5) Vibhooti Falls: A forest waterfall with a beautiful natural swimming pool

6) Shirale Falls: A pretty little waterfall surrounded by plantations and forests

7) Apsarakonda Falls: A tall waterfall close to the coast

8) Hulikal Falls: A tall waterfall right on the main Hulikal ghat road

9) Kunchikal Falls: One of India’s highest waterfalls, but not open to public access without prior permission

10) Talasi Abbi Falls: A wide waterfall that is quiet and surrounded by lush greenery

A monsoon road way from Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Sirsi Marikamba Temple: One of Sirsi’s iconic temples

2) Yana rocks and caves: Two limestone rocks that tower 300 feet in the middle of dense green jungle

3) Mirjan Fort: A 16th century fort that turns completely green during the rainy season

4) Gokarna: A seaside hamlet known for its pretty beaches and temples

5) Shivapura hanging bridge: A hanging bridge over the Kodisalli reservoir on which motorcycles can ply

6) Kavadikere: A lake and temple between Yellapur and Magod Falls

7) Sahasralinga: A pilgrimage site where more than a thousand shiva lingas are carved on the rocks in the Shalmala river and on its banks

8) Ghante Ganapati Temple: A temple amidst the dense forests of the Western Ghats that is believed to make your wishes come true

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