Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pearl valley (Muthayala maduvu) and Thattekere - Meet my new beast 02/07/2016

Places: Thattekere and Pearl valley (Muthyala Maduvu)

Distance:  140 km round trip
Type: Lake, water falls, forest
Ideal for: Friends and Family
Bikes: Bajaj Avenger and Karizma
Crew: Mahantesh, Vishwanath, Bhimu and myself

Well the time has come, I would like to introduce you to my new beast. Its been nearly 2 months since I bought new Avenger Street, I couldn't go on trips because of two reasons,
1. Bike was in Run-in period, so I am not supposed to cross 50 kmph and no long rides.
2. It was damn hot, not an ideal time for the bikers and trekkers.

As days rolled temperature had come down and my thirst for the ride had reached its peak. Since bike was still in run-in period I wanted to go for short ride so as to not damage the engine but still enjoy the ride. I was talking with my colleague Mahantesh who was doing back to back trips, we decided to go for a short ride to Thattekere. Mahantesh said will start by 12 in the afternoon, I usually prefer morning rides but it was going to be a new experience so I agreed.

Best of the beast:  Feel * Like * God  

Brief about the places:

Thattekere:  Thattekere lake, situated in elephant corridor of Bannerghatta National Park and it is a birdwatching place. It used to be the best spot for bird watchers, photographers and cyclists but lately the place has been banned for visitors to see.

Pearl Valley a.k.a Muthayala Maduvu:  The place is famous for its waterfall and the beautiful mountain ranges it overlooks. this secluded place makes a fascinating picnic spot.

Saturday afternoon: I left my home at 12 in the afternoon, since Mahantesh and Vishwa were coming from Indiranagar we decided to assemble at silk board. I took route via Banashankari through ring road which was a traffic nightmare, its the reason why early morning rides are the best as you can avoid traffic. Took nearly an hour to reach Silk Board from where Bhimu joined me. Other two guys were waiting after Bommasandra.

The ride: Started navigation to Thattekere, electronic city flyover is considered as racing track for Bangaloreans but I was out of race this time as I was not supposed to ride fast :( Took right turn at Bommasandra, after couple of kilometers we pulled over at bakery where Mahantesh and Vishwa were waiting. It was 1.30 in the afternoon, ideal time for lunch but we weren't hungry so we bought some snacks and soft drinks. Thattekere is just 25 km more, route goes through country side roads. Condition of the road was bad until we crossed Ragihalli. The last 5 km stretch goes through Bannerghatta national park limits, this is the best stretch it reminded me of Mutathi. I had read about many cyclists peddling to Thattekere, now I got reason why?. Finally we took left turn to Thattekere which goes through a small village and leads directly to the Mahadeshwara temple near the lake.

This gate is on the main road on your left, since it was closed we proceeded further and took alternate route
Electric fences, elephant warning signs and big gates welcomes you to the Thattekere lake
Mahadeshwara temple near the lake
Thattekere: There were warning signs about elephants, a big barricade and electric fences. The path left to the temple leads straight to the lake. The place was serene and beautiful, there was another group who were busy in taking photos. The water is clean and unpolluted. Its very rare to see lakes undamaged by the civilization. The lake is surrounded by the trees on other side, "Its a perfect place for photography" I said to myself. 

Panorama view of the lake
We were just about to start the photo session, security came and shooed us away
As I took out my camera and started to take photos a security guard came running and started shouting at us. He asked us to leave as its a restricted area and we are not allowed to enter. He told that its part of the Bannerghatta stretch, wild elephants come here to quench their thirst in morning and evening. He said forest officer would be doing regular rounds, if he see us we will be under trouble for trespassing and breaching the forest area. We had no idea about the ban on visitors, unfortunately none of the blogs had mentioned about it, we had to respect the rules and regulations of the forest department so we left the place. Its really disappointing to see beautiful places like this getting banned :(

Spontaneous plan: Now that the entire plan got ruined we asked security guard about any other attractions nearby. He informed that Muthyala maduvu popularly known as Pearl valley is close. Mahantesh had been to there couple of times before, google guru said its 22 km and should take 45 minutes to reach. It was 3.30 in the afternoon and we were felling hungry, Mahantesh told about the restaurant at peal valley which serves good food. Passing through country side road again we finally reached Anekal from where pearl valley is just  5 km. Pearl valley is called as Muthyala maduvu by the locals so make sure you are using right name when asking for the directions. Stretch to Pearl valley from Anekal was nice and beautiful.

Selfie stop ;)
She's gorgeous isn't she?
1 more kilometer to go
Feel * Like * God
Pearl valley: We reached pearl valley at 4.15 pm, we parked our bikes and proceeded towards the hotel. There are monkeys all around, a lot of moneys to be specific. The restaurant offers splendid view of the valley. It serves good food and alcohol but the service was dead slow. We were running out of time as it would get dark and will be difficult to come out of the valley. 

Pearl valley parking space, you can see the restaurant at the end
Mayur Nisarga restaurant, well I had to pose for it ;)
Toughest thing on earth - waiting for food you ordered
That's the view of pearl valley from the restaurant. You are free to roam around all around the forest
Soon after we finished the lunch we headed towards the falls, around 50 plus stairs leads down to the falls. I knew the falls is just a tiny stream of water flowing from the rocks so I wasn't disappointed after seeing it. The water stream hits the black rock and bounces back, the sunlight shines through the water droplets which looks like a pearl. That's the reason behind the place name - pearl valley. There is a small temple dedicated to lord Shiva, it was closed at the time but I got the information that it will be worshiped every day at morning by the locals. 
We need to walk 50 odd steps to reach the water falls
Raise your hands if you found the falls :P
Look at Bhimu's expression after seeing the massive falls ;)
Temple dedicated to lord shiva near the falls
Temple dedicated to lord Shiva
The real fun begins after this point. There is path which runs deep into the valley, you are free to roam around and explore the place. As we went deep inside it was all new experience to us, I couldn't believe to find a forest so close to the city limits, sure Bannergatta is the closest one but that is doesn't offer freedom like this. We spotted couple of water pounds, there are no wild animals as such, you can sit anywhere you like under the shade and spend peaceful time. We walked for nearly a kilometer, we could go still deep but since it was getting darker it would be difficult to return back so we left after taking couple of shots. Though the trail seems easy many people get lost in the valley and finding way back might become difficult, so make sure you remember the cardinal directions.

Walking into the valley
Broken trees and dense forest \../ 
Some water streams here and there
Foot trail is everywhere, make sure you can make a way back to the starting point
Dense forest and pounds at regular interval 
Lets explore the water bodies, hoping to find some animals here :P

Ek selfie to banti hai

 There is small lake just opposite to the parking area. Locals were swimming, our group jumped into the water in no time. I get dozy if I get into water so I stayed away from getting wet. The pound is clean and safe to swim. It was almost the sunset time, while others were busy playing in water I grabbed my camera and sat on a nice spot to capture the Sunset. We captured couple of more shots, Bhimu and I were busy with the photos, Mahantesh and Vishwa started riding back.

small lake near the pearl valley
Here's our group ready to dive in
I've put this photo just on Bhimu's request :D :D
Freshen up 
Blood in tank, fuel in veins

Ride back:
After taking some more photos we left too. It was already dark, after reaching Anekal I started navigation. The route was quite simple and good, we took the Hosur route which joins the national highway. I cruised at 50 kmph for another hour and finally met other two who were waiting for us near A2B. We said good bye, we had hot cup of tea and cruised along the fly over. Bhimu got down at silk board from where he had plan to go to his friends home. I drove back to my room, again I had to pass through heavy traffic.

Conclusion: It was a day well spent, the first part was a sad but soon covered by the awesome pearl valley \../

Thanks to Mahantesh for guiding us through the peal valley else I would have never visited it.

Important notes:
1. Now that you know Thatterkere is banned don't think of visiting it, you will be either wasting time or will be under trouble if forest officer catches you.
2. If navigating to Pearl valley make sure you search it as Muthyala Maduvu on maps, pearl valley doesn't show up.
3. I didn't like restaurant at pearl valley serving alcohol, I heard drunken people passing comments on girls. Its a nice place to drink but just make sure you cause trouble to others.
4. Walking deep into pearl valley might be thrilling but make sure you find your way back, make sure you remember the cardinal directions. You might get lost if it gets dark.
5. Lake near the parking area is safe for swimming but make sure you don't swim deep, also please don't pollute water by using soaps and throwing garbage.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bettadapura Hill and Golden Temple - Summer Ride 16/04/2016

Place: Bettadapura hill and Golden Temple Tibet colony, Bylakuppe, Karnataka

Distance: 450 km round trip
Route: Vijaynagar -> Mysore -> KR Nagar -> Bettadapura -> Golden temple
Bikes: Bajaj Avenger Cruise and Suzuki Zixxer
Crew:  VinayUmesh and Sagar (Myself)
Type: Trekking
Ideal for: Friends
Budget: 1000/Head

It had been two months since my last trip to Hulukaddi betta, as summer is not really a good time for bike rides and trekking. I refrained from any travel plans. Gradually, Bengaluru’s summer had slowly scaled down. Moreover, Vinay's friend Umesh was all set with his Avenger cruise. These reasons were enough for me to push myself for this long ride. I’m know Umesh from my last ride to Hesaraghatta grasslands. 

Sooner, I had this plan to possess my dream bike Avenger, so it was a great opportunity to know and understand the bike better. The plan was quite simple - Will halt at Umesh's home which is in KR Nagar (around 40 km from Mysore). Next day, visit Bettadapura and Golden temple and return to Bengaluru. Being Pillion rider sucks, but since my Discover 125 couldn't withstand long rides, I reluctantly decided to be pillion rider for Umesh.

Best of the beast: Golden temple. bylakuppe
Brief about the places:
Bettadapura Hill: Bettadapura Hill houses Sidlu Mallikarjuna temple, built by Cholas centuries ago. It is believed that during Diwali, lightning would strike the temple atleast once. Hence the name - Sidlu means lightning and Mallikarjuna is another name of lord Shiva.

Golden Temple, Bylakuppe/Tibet colony: Bylakuppe is the largest Tibetan settlement in India located near Kushalanagar, Kodagu district. Golden Temple is a major attraction at Bylakuppe. The richly gold painted Buddhist statues in the monastery are impressive and unique, reflects the cultural heritage of Tibetans.

Friday evening: Vinay and me left home at 8 pm, Umesh was already waiting for us near the Mysore nice road junction. Took another 30 minutes to reach there. 

The ride: After a formal greeting and refueling we were all set for the long ride. I had been on Mysore road several times and I always feel home when I ride this stretch. With minimal traffic we rode at normal pace and finally when our stomach started growling we pulled over for dinner before Mandya. We had light meal as we shouldn't be dozed off with heavy meal. I was sitting behind Umesh, he rides too fast :x riding at 110-120 kmph is not something I am used to, he literally took hell out of me. As we moved on, the cold was unbearable, we paused couple of times for tea. We finally reached Mysore ring road where we took the diversion to K R Nagar, another 35 km to our destination. 

Finally, we reached Umesh's home at 12:30 in the night. Three and half hour of ride made us tired, but we were equally excited for the next day. We decided to getup early in the morning and visit places around. It took no time for us to fall in deep sleep.

Saturday Morning: Before the Sun rose, the early morning was greeted by hot cup of tea and biscuits. We freshen up and left home as early as 6 in the morning. We planned to cover Bettadapura, Golden temple and Dubare (if time permits) in single day.

I started navigation to Bettadapura Hills, Google guru said its 35 kms and would take an hour to reach. yI love riding in the early morning, this time I had a reason to rejoice as I was riding Avenger. The bike offered superb comfort and quality riding experience throughout the stretch, totally enjoyed it. In about an hour around 8 am, we reached a small village where we had breakfast to boost our spirits. Umesh informed about the trekking at the hills, so we carried a bottle of water and some snacks.

Somewhere on the way to bettadapura
Lush green paddy fields almost throughout the stretch

Bettadapura Hill: We parked our bike at the arch near the entrance. We observed a car being parked there, which gave a hint about other tourists at this place. The guard at the entrance asked us to write our names in a register book before proceeding and also warned us about the leopard spotted recently near the hills. It was 9 in the morning when we started, sun was already up but it wasn't much hot as we expected.

Gopuram at the entrance
3600 steps to be climbed

Gopuram at regular intervals for quick power break

The Trek: The entire stretch is laid by 3600 odd steps which should make ascending the hill easy for the trekkers. Having steps for the entire trail makes the trek less adventurous but makes it safer and guides the route. Even though we didn't sense any signs of leopard being around, it was in our mind throughout the trek. The climbing seemed easy at the beginning but in no time we were tired as hell, it made me realize how unfit I am now a days. Unless you put yourself through tough times you never realize your strength and weakness. It's time for me to hit the gym and keep up my stamina. We crossed the group which was descending, they were the ones whose car was parked at the base. After talking to them we got to know that they were also from Bangalore and had come especially to visit this place.

Trail isn't much steep but its quite long

Surrounding hills and the view as you go higher and higher
Ruins of one of the temple almost near the summit

They are on a B.R.E.A.K (Only friends fan can understand this ;)
Nandi facing the main temple.
There are no food or water available for the entire stretch so make sure to carry all the supplies, there are mantapas at regular interval to take rest and relax. After a lot of small breaks we finally reached the summit, it took roughly one hour to climb at normal pace.

Kudos we made it to the top within an hour, last few steps

The temple:
As we approached the peak we were greeted by ruins of the temple and lot of monkeys. Throughout the trek I observed around 6-10 Nandi statues at different levels, all were facing the main temple. Spectacular landscape view, cold breeze kissing our face drained away the tiredness. Peak summer afternoon didn't offer a soothing climate, but I think during early morning climate must be good. The temple has a compound built on the foundation of stone slabs.

The temple compound built on the foundation of stone slabs

I wonder how the place is still preserved for so long,
if maintained well it could attract a log of tourists every year

There are only some remains of the temple in some parts.
Some part of the temple is closed, but you can always explore the surroundings

The linga inside the sanctum sanctorum is two-and-a-half-feet high and is called by various names such as Sidlu Mallikarjuna, Annadani Mallikarjuna, Bhutanatha, Vijayadrinatha etc. Each name has a myth surrounding it. The temple got its name of Sidlu Mallikarjuna, because it has been hit by lightning so many times. 

Inside the temple.
Another pillar of Nandi on the other side, gaurding the Shiva linga.

Beautiful design on one of the doors of the temple

There we go, hot or cold - always ready to pose

We visited the temple and explored the surrounds. After spending good two hours we decided to leave the place at 12 pm. It was a peak summer time and the sun was high upon us. Took around half an hour for the descend.

Bettadapura Hills to Golden Temple: Our next destination was Golden temple, Bylakuppe. Again GPS guru said its just 21 km away and should take around an hour to reach. The road condition was pathetic which made the ride one hell of experience. Riding off road on Avenger is even more tougher as it has got shorter suspension and wider handle bar :( We should have realized when the maps said it would take an hour to cover just 20 km. We took a break for chilled butter milk as the sun was intense and we were getting dehydrated. Finally we reached Golden temple at 2.30, after light lunch at nearby restaurant we proceeded towards the golden temple.

Golden Temple: A typical Buddhist monastery welcomed us. The place was quiet and calm, resembling the spirituality of Buddhism. The first view of the Golden temple was huge colorful structure in the center surrounded by well maintained lawns.

Iconic building you see as soon as you enter the premises

Side view of the above building

Don't miss taking photo in front of this bell opposite to main temple

Main temple which houses 40 ft tall golden statue of Buddha and prayer hall

We were greeted by smiling tibetan kids, they looked like the cute tiny monks. We entered the prayer hall which is the main temple where 40 ft tall golden statues of Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Amitayus are installed. The surrounding walls of the hall are decorated with rich paintings depicting gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology. Believe me, they are a feast to eyes. One can relate to a lot of mythology stories here. Take time to have a small walk around the hall and explore.

Paintings near the entrance of the prayer hall
Prayer hall, 40 ft tall golden statues of Buddha, Padmasambhava, and Amitayus

40 ft tall golden statues of Buddha
Beautiful paintings on the walls depicting gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology

Painting of Buddha

Side view of the prayer hall

The silence here relaxes you. It’s a really peaceful place to meditate. The clean atmosphere maintained here is worth appreciating.
It was prayer time so we were asked to move out and wait for 20-30 minutes till the prayer is finished.

It was already 5 pm, we didn't had any energy to visit Dubare. We had to ride back 60 odd km to reach Umesh's home. We left the place after buying couple of beautiful crafts sold near the temple. We rode at a normal pace, the route was much smoother. We reached home at 7 pm. We had our dinner and slept peacefully.

Sunday morning: We decided to leave early to Bengaluru. Thanks to aunt who prepared nice breakfast for us. We packed our bags and departed by 10 am. We drove for 4 straight hours at a high pace and finally we reached home back by 2 pm.

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