We had a 3 day holiday on account of Ramzan, Ganesh Chaturti and a Sunday, so didn’t wanted to spend the time in Bangalore. Initially we had planned to head on to our native place Mangalore, but surprisingly 3 weeks before itself all the buses and trains were full. We thought of taking our car, but the road conditions after Hassan is terrible so we dropped the plan and thought of heading to some tourist places.
First we thought of visiting some tourist places like Mysore, Ooty, Thripathi, etc but visiting these places when there is a 3 day holiday would be another nightmare. So I thought of heading towards Kemmangundi, a hill station in Karnataka in Chickmaglur District. I had been to this in my childhood but still had some memories of the place, so thought of showing it to my better half also. Bus tickets and package tours were all full. So atlast we decided to take our car. It would be our first long drive after we got our car in May. Our Initial plan was to visit Kemmangundi and then see the Bhadra wild life sanctuary and go to Kalgreen Valley, spend a day there and on the third day to cover Sringeri, Kudremuka and Hornadu.
A day before leaving to Kemmangundi read some reviews on the road condition to Kemmangundi, the shocking reviews of the road made us to drop the plan to Kemmangundi. Now it was a unplanned trip. We had 3 days plus a place to stay. But which places to visit was still not confirmed. Reading the reviews of roads in Chickmaglur district, we though of hiring a experienced driver, since I also knew how bad the roads can be in these places during monsoon.
On Friday we started from our house at 6.15AM, and headed to the Tumkur road, getting out of Bangalore is a pain as usual. Jalahalli cross to 8th Mile was blocked, expecting some more blocks near Nelmangala and the ongoing road work between Nelmangala and Kunigal, we took a diversion to NICE road via Magadi. The road was far better and traffic was minimum. A few speeding buses coming from Mangalore were there till Magadi, after that it was a clear road to Indo Spanish farm in Kunigal road. The road was good and the scenes were also good. We reached Kunigal at *****. No hotels good hotels on the way, atlast we got a Coffee day in one of the Petrol pumps. Had some coffee and headed to Kamth hotel Near Chenrayapatna. Some of the road work was complete and in some stretches we even reached 14KMS, our driver was chasing some cars. The highway was full of cars going out of Bangalore. I think Bangalore would have been half empty during the 3 days.
Route: Bangalore – Peenya – NICE road – Magadi – Kunigal – Chennarayapatna – Hassan.
We reached Hassan by ***. The roads inside Hassan was very bad. I think after Deve Gowda lost his power the roads also lost its power. Earlier the roads used to look like international standards but was now looking like village roads. From there we headed to Belur from Belur there is a straight road to Chickmaglur and then to Hornadu via Aldur. But I thought of showing my wife the beauty of western ghats. So we took a left towards Mudigere from Belur, just after a few Kilometers the tea gardens start, the beauty of Nature was amazing, we went through coffee estates though the Zig zag roads, the roads were bad but the views and climate was just amazing. We had got a excellent driver. So he managed the potholes and mini lakes on the way and I was busy clicking snaps and enjoying nature.
We passed Mudiger and Reached Kottighehara, the fuel levels was going down soon due to bad roads, so we thought of filling the tank. Petrol pumps in this stretch don’t have Credit card facilities and there are no ATM’s. So do ensure to carry sufficient cash. People are very friendly and will guide you on the directions and road conditions. There are Sign boards of Karnataka Tourism all the way so nothing to worry.
The Kottighehara – Kalasa stretch was just spectacular , there were both Coffee Estates and Tea Gardens. The light drizzles and cold air made this experience memorable. We reached Kalasa a small town near Hornadu, this place has the Famous Kalasheshwara Temple. But the temple was closed after pooja. So we headed towards Hornadu, the Bhadra river welcomed us. The temple was as beautiful as earlier. The roads and facilities have improved a lot.
Route: Hassan – Belur – Mudigere – Kottighehara – Javalli – Kasala – Hornadu.
We found a new road from Hornadu to Sringeri, this road is nowhere in any map. We found many new routes which are not seen in Google maps or any book maps. So it’s best to explore on your own than relying on maps. There are many shortcuts which locals will guide you well.
· If you don’t have fog lamps in your car , try to finish your travel by 6PM at least. The rains and fogs can damper your visibility.
· This area is best explored on a SUV or a MUV. If you are going by own car, take a experienced driver along. The terrain is far different from many of the hilly areas.
· Slow driving and Horning is a must, since there are many sharp curves and blind spots.
· If you hear the horn of a bus and the roads are narrow look for a space and stand. Some places two vehicles cannot pass. Again you will need to reverse.
· Be careful about the local pick up jeeps, they come in high speeds and vanish before you realize. Most of them are 4wheel drives.
· Fill your tank: Petrol pumps are few after Hassan, there are petrol pumps in Belur, Kottighehara, Kalasa, Jayapura, Koppa, Sringeri, almost a distance of 30KMS.
· Be careful of buffalos, they are known as ‘Brake Masters’ your loud horn will not work on them. Cattle will go to side but not buffalos