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Travel Point…. Experience Corner….. down the lane of Memories


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Chikmagalur : A Perfect Weekend Getaway

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“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”  -Robert Louis Stevenson

Chikmagalur is one of the top weekend destinations from Bangalore, though it is still away from the lime light. The hill station is famous for coffee plantation, greenery and a number of waterfalls. On one weekend we, a group of five friends: Abinash, Ritesh, Britto, Prabina and I decided to explore this beautiful place. Abinash has a Grand i10 and Britto is a self-proclaimed F1 racer :p So ‘how to reach’ wasn’t a hassle at all this time 😀

How to Reach Chikmagalur:

It is around 250 km away from Bangalore and is a 4-hour journey. The road is pretty good for most of the part. A number of state-run and private buses ply to the place. The nearest railway station is Kadur which is 40 km away. The best option is to hire a cab. Now a lot of options are there: Ola Outstation, Goibibo Cab, MMT Cab service etc. If you have  a car, you can even hire only a driver and go. DriveU, Hire4Drive, ezidrive, Zuber are a few driver hiring sites. We decided to make it a self-drive road trip to reap the most out of it. We started from Bangalore around 4:30 AM.

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A dam we came across on the way

Where to Stay:

A lot of options are available depending of budget, luxury and experience. Zostel Chikmagalur is one of the top choices in terms of budget and experience. But we decided to  go beyond that and to choose the best in terms of experience. We had booked our stay at Forest Homestay – Maradi(Aldur). It is 27km away from the main city Chikmagalur, and exists among dense forest and coffee plantation. A few of my friends had been here last year and had shared their experience with me. If you want a serene and out of the world experience, then this is the place. Apart from Airtel, you hardly will get any network here. So like literally out of the hustle bustle of busy life.

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For booking, you can check online on Goibibo or you can contact directly at below mentioned no. (Nuthan: 9449175960, Omar Homestay Advisor : 9538280008. This is just for reference purpose only.) They charge by person basis which includes Stay(Cottage or Tent), Food(Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks & Dinner : Both Veg and Non-Veg), welcome drink, one morning trek, night campfire and a few other engaging activities. Additionally, you can inform them for additional snacks: Chicken(400 per KG), Fish(500 per KG), Mutton (600 per KG). This includes making and service charge. Even home made wine is available on chargeable basis(Figwine: INR 500 per bottle, rest: INR 250 per bottle). They have made provisions to play badminton, cricket, carom, rifle-shooting and Bow & Arrow. Visit their official site for details.

Mulyangiri:

It is around 23 km away from Chikmagalur. We reached Chikmagalur around 9:30 AM and our check-in time at hotel was 12 noon. So though we had planned to go here the next day, we went the same day after having some breakfast at Chikmagalur.

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On the way to Mulyangiri

The last stretch of the road was bit bumpy and narrow; but we had Captain Britto at our side. We never hesitated to stop n click on the way. We reached around 11 AM at Mulyangiri peak. The weather was pleasing, neither cloudy nor sunny. There is a temple on the Mulyangiri peak which is a 15-20 mins climb. The route is smooth and there are stairs till the top. The view from up there was magnificent. There was greenery everywhere, till the eyes could see. We enjoyed the beauty for sometime and started our journey to the home-stay around 12 noon.

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We had to again comeback to Chikmagalur and to take a different route for the Homestay. The last 4km of the road to the homestay was really in bad shape. But they were repairing that. Hopefully, in a few months, that will be fine. The Homestay was at the remotest corner of the forest and the road ends there only. We reached the homestay around 1:15 PM. We were taken to our cottage which was 100m away from the parking area. We were greeted with welcome drinks: Mango and Lemon drinks. After a long travel, it was the best one could get in that dense forest. The location of the homestay was just perfect like a single cottage in the middle of the forest and coffee garden. As it was Friday, there was no one apart from us. So the entire place was ours to enjoy.

Though everyone was damn tired, two had directly come from Chennai and almost everyone had 1 to 2 hrs of sleep last night; still everyone could have been found at the badminton ground.

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And the irony was I had fever the previous day, but it all vanished once we reached Chikmagalur 🙂 We played for around half an hour and then asked for the lunch. After getting refreshed, we came to dining table. Thank god, they had  a geyser there. The lunch was delicious, as we were all non-vegetarians; they had made two chicken dishes. All the dish was cooked in local malada style with a flavour of their speciality. After a sumptuous lunch, we were supposed to go to Shankar falls which was  nearby only. But due to some reasons, it was closed those days. So we decided to pay a visit to a nearby pond(they call it lake :p) after a short break.

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Coffee

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Spiders were ruling the spot!

Around 3:30 PM, we started for the pond. They provided life jackets to everyone for the safety. It was just a 5 min walk from the cottage. But when we reached the pond, we were disappointed. The water wasn’t that clean and it was a small one. Noone was ready to take a plunge in that. Then the staff members jumped in and cleaned the water a bit. Prabina and Britto finally took a plunge. I didn’t risk it as I was out of fever just a few hrs back 😀 And it wasn’t that tempting also.

Then we came back to the cottage and played some games. Some were busy with badminton and a few other with the rifle and bow n arrow.

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Around 5PM ,we started for the sunset point. It was a 15 mins walk from the cottage. The place was awesome. Peace and calmness was in the air. The forest was surround us and a huge mountain at our back. And the sun in its golden glory descending below the horizon. We sat there for quite sometime and enjoyed the golden touch of nature to the fullest. We clicked some awesome sunset pics and made our way to the homestay. It was pitch dark by the time we were returning.

We took a short break and then had snacks: pakoda and fresh filter coffee. After  a while, we lighted up the campfire and started the forest party. We had ordered for pepper-chicken, chicken kabab, chilly chicken and fish fries. They kept bringing one by one and under that almost full-moon night, beside the campfire ; we continued our party. It wasn’t that cold that evening, but it was pleasant weather. The babbling sound of the nearby waterstream was overpowering the powerful of bass of our Bluetooth speaker. It was dense forest around us, but there were two dogs with us all the time. They were just lying beside us and were enjoying the chicken bones. The party went on till late night, then we had our dinner and went back to bed.

Next morning, we had to wake up at 6 am to go on a nearby trek. Britto literally dragged me down out of the bed to wake me up. By 6:30 AM, everyone was all set for the trek. It was 7 km up and down. Though I had done a couple of treks earlier, this was different. Though this was short, but was full of surprises. The route went through the dense forest and to the top of a mountain. There was a butterball there and one could see the surrounding area clearly from up above. The place was a bliss.

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After a tiring, but refreshing trek

We clicked some pics and came back.

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Breakfast was ready by the time we reached the cottage. We packed our bags and did some more shooting before we checked out. The staff member Uday was very courteous. The stay was extremely pleasant.

Jhari Falls:

We then drove to Jhari Falls.which is 48 km away from the homestay and in the same Mulyangiri route. But what we didn’t know that there was a walking distance of around 3km before you reach the waterfall. As it was a Saturday, the waterfall was heavily crowded. This is also called the milky waterfall as the splash of water almost looks white as milk.

Baba Budangiri:

It was just 8 km from Jhari Falls. The weather was cloudy and chilly that day. There is a temple of Baba Budangiri there. There is also a waterfall 3km away and a lake around 4km away from the temple. But as we had less time, we stopped at a nice location, enjoyed the weather a bit and started our return journey.

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A few other points of interest are : Kudremukh, Hebbe Falls etc

It was  a perfect road trip and  a must try with friends if you are nearby Bangalore.

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The Ride, The Riders and the Clicker (Behind the Lense)

Tips:

  • Make sure you don’t have any booze with you when you are going to Mulyangiri. There is a check post before that.
  • On the way to homestay, you’ll find one booze shop at Aldur market and one at Chikmagalur.
  • Take a Bluetooth woofer with you.
  • Take a pair of shoes if you are going for trekking.

 

Reference: Forest Homestay

 


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Jazz , Us and a thrilling ride to Kasauli

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“It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it’s who you have beside you”

This one I’ll try to keep short. First of all, let me clarify that ‘Kasauli’, ‘Kasol’ & ‘Kasauni’ are all different and excellent locations. Kasol  is at a higher altitude than Kasauli, whereas Kasauni is in Uttarakhand. After the end of SIP and before the trip to Roopkund trek, I had a spare time of 3 days. So another short trip had been added to the list:  a self-drive car, four friends and an awesome ride to Kasauli.

“You can always make money, you can’t always make memories”

The plan was all set to roll. Tushar, Ankit and I were at Delhi only, the other friend – Chandan flew from Chennai to New Delhi just to make this trip happen. Most of the planning was done by him only. The plan was to take a self-driving car and enjoy the journey ‘Dil Chahta hai’ style :p After a brief cost analysis, we settled with ‘Myles’. Myles takes INR 5000 caution money(Refundable) + Rent of Car (Excluding Petrol). It had no per day KM limit. We went for a Honda Jazz at INR 4400 for 2 days.

We started from Delhi on 2nd June. The early risers – Chandan & Ankit  went early and picked up the car and then  picked rest of us. The GPS was set on the mobile, the car-speakers were given a bassing start with the latest Punjabi hits and the wheel was all set on its most adventurous journey. Chandan and Ankit were the buoyz behind the wheels. Their first ride in hill area.

On the way, we stopped at Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba, Murthal, Sonipat and served ourselves with mouthwatering buttered paneer paranthes and Alu paranthes and ofcourse the famous Lassi. I went for the Mango Lassi J It was a Dhaba just for namesake, but looking like a 4 star hotel. It had the capacity to serve 500+ persons at a time. It is difficult to even get a seat there most of the time.

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Then the real journey started. We were meeting after a year, there were lot to talk about. To go from Delhi to Kasauli, one need to pass through Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh and HP. The only problem with self-driving car in interstate travel is the roadtax. We had been instructed to pay the roadtax for Chandigarh and HP. Roadtax for Haryana was already paid. It was difficult to figure out in which state we were in. After asking a few locals, we found out that there was no need to go Chandigarh. We could take a right turn at Zirakpur. A short stint of the route(around 15km) was passing through Punjab before entering HP. We searched online to pay roadtax, but Punjab roadtax site is one of the most complicated site I have ever seen. One need to enter all the districts he is going to pass by to generate the receipt. Then we looked for RTA office to pay offline. But we found none. Just before 500m to Zirakpur, we came across a traffic post. When the traffic police saw the color code of our car no plate, he got that he had got a scapegoat. Leaving the traffic-post, he came running to our vehicle and asked for pollution receipt and roadtax receipt. Obviously, he found none and we had to settle the thing. The funny part was when we asked what to do in rest traffic posts ahead, he asked, “Who is driving?” Then he draw a ‘X’ on his wrist and told that whoever would ask, just to show that :p

Then after a few mins, we hit HP. There we found the RTA office, just near the border. The path got narrower and riskier. We stopped at Dharampur and had a sumptuous lunch. Then moved ahead to Kasauli via Garkhal. The road was getting steep and extremely narrower. For a first timer, it was really tough to ride in those road, still Sir Saraf managed till we reached Ankit point. At one point, we came across a sudden turn where the road was also very steep. We couldn’t detect that turn beforehand and shoot a little ahead. Now in that steep road, breaking and turning was a real tough job. Sir Saraf cleared that with flying colors anyhow.

We had pre-booked at Nature’s Stay Cottage, Kasauli which was a little down from Kasauli. We reached there and got freshened up. The rooms were really nice and the view was amazing.

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The Cottage

We asked the hotel manager to  find a driver as we wanted our time to fully utilized rather than finding route. In the evening, we went on a visit to Sun set point, Kasauli Market(Upper mall and Lower Mall) and Christ Church.

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The Sunset Point

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Christ Church

We tried Tibetian momo and returned with a few booze. Under the starry sky, the party started. We could clearly see the light going off one by one at the town below. The weather was perfect, neither too chilled nor hot.

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View from the balcony

Next morning we woke up and had Cholle-Bhatore as breakfast. Then we had a photoshoot session at its open space.

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From a tree house

The driver was supposed to arrive at 10AM, but arrived at around 12 noon. We then went for Monkey point- the highest point at Kasauli. On the way, someone told that it was closed due to maintenance that day, but we still decided to pay a visit. After reaching there, we saw this notice of “Close due to maintenance”, but after a little inquiry we got to know it would open in 30 mins. So we waited. No electronic gadgets or equipment were allowed inside that. The area  was all covered by army personnel.

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After climbing around 230+ staircases, we reached the top of Monkey point. The view was amazing from the top, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera 😦  There was a temple of Lord Hanuman there and a helipad. One could clearly see the nearby area from that top.

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Sunset at Kasauli

Then we returned directly to Dharampur, there we relieved the driver and Sir Saraf took the charge of the wheel. The return journey was smooth and we arrived at New Delhi around 11 PM. It was hell of a trip: company of friends, heart-throbbing ride, awesome weather and mesmerizing site- everything was perfect.

Tada till the next one…

A few useful Info: (Collected by Chandan)

Travel itinerary

  • Breakfast Stop (7:30 )

Gulshan Dhaba/Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba, Murthal, Sonipat, Haryana 67 kms from Lajpat Nagar

  • Next Stop Lunch (13:30)

NH-22 Dhaba on national Highway 22 , Dharampur, Himachal Pradesh. It’s 232 kms from Gulshan Dhaba

  • Next Stop Kasauli (15:00)

Freshen up in the resort and go out to explore Kasauli

  • Check out of Resort by 16:30

Cover some sightseeing places

  • Get back to resort and start the party

Next Day

  • Have a brunch and check out from Kasauli by 12:00 or 13:00.
  • Drive back to Delhi
  • Reach Delhi by 20:00 or 21:00

Route Map

  • Catch NH-1
  • On the way cross Panipat , Karnal and then Kurukshetra
  • From Ambala take right and change over to NH-22, the Himalayan express way (we took alternative route through Zirakpur.)
  • On the way  cross Chandigarh
  • At Dharampur change over to Kasauli road
  • Go till Garkhal and then turn to Dochi road
  • Destination reached

Places to visit in Kasauli

1) Monkey Point – highest point in Kasauli , has a Lord Hanuman Temple

2) Upper mall – 3.5 km walk with different scenic views and old heritage buildings . Goes up to The flag staff house

3) Lower mall- A 3 km walk which goes up to Monkey point Kasauli

4) Anglican Church – A 160 yr church

5) Sunset point

6) Scandal Point & Lovers lane :  A few metres ahead of the Sunset point. Place for honeymooners

7) Gilbert Trail – long walk in perfect nature bestowed small katcha path . Not recommended if it is raining

Food Checklist

1) Band – Samosa : Comes in Rs 15 and available in Samosa shops

2) Wines (Plum, Apple , Peach, Sherry, Black grape) available in Gupta Provisional Store or Daily Needs store the Kasauli Bus stand

3) For Non Vegetarians Ham, Bacon, Salami, Sausages are made by The Daily Needs Store , adjoining State Bank of Patiala, Kasauli .

4) Dumplings (Momo’s) in the Tibetian market . It’s something different than the normal Momo’s we get in regular cities