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Chikmagalur: Soaking up the Sahyadris-beautiful ranges of the Western Ghats.



Karnataka boasts of some of the most beautiful ranges of the Western Ghats one can ever hope to visit. It shelters so many must-visit places that it is hard to cover all of them in one go. Inspired solely by a book I’d read about the Sahyadris, I set off on a three-day trip with my family to explore these hills.

We chose to stay in Chikmagalur at the highly recommended Thippanahalli Homestay, a heritage mansion straight out of a picture book. The mansion sits in the middle of an enormous coffee estate and belongs to one of the oldest coffee-growing families in the area.  We were received warmly and simply into the rather overwhelming bungalow. Our room overlooked the dense plantation, into which we wandered off early the next morning. Trekking routes wind through the estate and are fringed by unusual flowers and gurgling waterfalls. The homestay surely lived up to its rave reviews!

The route to Mullayangiri peak

After a lovely breakfast in the company of a giant lizard peacefully sunbathing on the window sill, we drove to Mullayanagiri, the highest peak of the Western Ghats of Karnataka. The 200 steps are not as daunting as they look — the cows have already got there and pleasantly make way for climbers. The peak offers a gorgeous view of the Baba Budangiri Hills. A Shiva temple is built atop the mountain and a Nandi sits beside it prettily in an open hut.

River inside Kudremukh National Park

We had planned to go to Kemmangundi the next day. However, upon my mention of Kudremukh, our driver jumped with enthusiasm. And so, with a couple of calls to the Forest Officer for permission, we visited this gorgeous National Park the following morning. A guide escorted us inside the park, which even offers a few basic huts for those who want to stay overnight.

The Lakya Dam is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is placed against a backdrop of velveteen green slopes of shola that look curiously tangible and frustratingly inaccessible. Photography isn’t allowed here and I doubt words can do justice to this place.

chikmagalur shades of velvet green

Kudremukh was much larger than I expected. We stopped briefly at the Kadambi Falls and moved on to the Hanumangundi Falls, which is tucked away inside the forest. The walk to the waterfall was interesting as an assortment of insects and birds made themselves heard and, the more curious ones, seen.

Our guide then told us that he would take us to Gangamoola to see the origin of the Tunga River, which joins the Bhadra River to form the mighty Tungabhadra. He led us through an offbeat narrow path. We walked through the light green grass towards a dense dark clump of trees. Dodging fallen trees and enormous roots, and stepping on slippery moss-covered rocks, we reached a small cave. The guide pointed to a piece of rock and announced our arrival. Peeping beneath it, we could see dark water bubbling out, icy-cold to touch. It is true that some great things have small beginnings.

We drove out of the park towards Sringeri, the famous temple built by Adi Sankaracharya. I sat on the steps on the banks of the Tunga River and impulsively dipped my feet into it. To my alarm, I felt something rub against them, and looked down to find that the entire river was full of enormous fish (the popular sport fish mahseer) which the devotees at the temple regularly feed. We drove back to Chikmagalur through evening rain that is characteristic of the Ghats, digesting the experiences of the day in silence.

When we told our host we were going to see the Jog Falls the next day, she was sceptical about it being the right time to visit. However, we stuck to the itinerary. On the way, we stopped under a large tree to have breakfast. Hearing some strange noises, we looked up to find (much to my mother’s horror) a large number of fruit bats partying out in the morning sun.

Jog Falls, Shimoga

The five-hour drive to Shimoga was tiring. Since it was just after monsoon season, we expected to see the roaring waterfalls of screensaver fame, but we were greeted with something less spectacular. Apparently we were too late (October) to catch the falls in their full form. But an enormous and gorgeous rainbow on our way back made up for our disappointment.

View of the Sharavathi River Valley

The following day, just before we left the estate, I caught a glimpse of a Malabar giant squirrel disappearing swiftly into the trees. That was the icing on the cake. It reminded me of the glorious diversity of life that these mountains protect and nurture — its people, the many animals, trees and exotic species — the well-explored, the familiar, the unseen and the unknown.

How to reach Chikmanglur

Chikmagalur is 250km away from Bangalore, India.

On the National Highway NH 48 between Bangalore and Mangalore, take a deviation at Hassan. From Hassan, Chikmagalur is only 55km away. Chikmagalur is connected to other towns like Koppa, Sringeri, Kadur & Birur by road.

Two National Highways pass through this district:

  • National Highway NH-13 (Sholapur to Mangalore) touches the towns of Koppa and Sringeri.
  • National Highway NH-206 (Bangalore to Honnavar) touches the towns of Kadur, Birur and Tarikere.

Detailed Direction:

  • Take the Tumkur Road from Bangalore.
  • At the junction before Nelmangala take a left turn into the road which goes to Hassan & Mangalore. This is NH 48.
  • You will cross Kunigal, Chanrayapatna etc. (The way to Chikmagalur is also the way to Belur and Halebid.).
  • On the highway towards Hassan take a right turn to get into the town of Hassan. Keep following the main road.
  • Take a left and then come to Thannirhalla junction. At Thannirhalla take a right turn to Chikmagalur and go forward for another 50 km to reach the destination

 By Rail

Chikmagalur city does not have a railway station. The closest railheads are at Birur, Kadur and Tarikere.

By Air

Chikmagalur district does not have an airport. Airports at Mangalore, Bangalore and Hubli can be used as alternatives. There are plans to develop an airport near Marle village about 10 km from the town.

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Many trains will be terminated




Many trains will be terminated

Many trains will be terminated due to fog. Please read this news paper report:-

dhund hind

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India Railway will help you visit Taj Mahal




“All arrangements have been made and our systems are in place. The trial will begin December 25. It has taken us a long time to work on this project which will change the image of the ASI,” Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), N K Pathak said.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will be the service provider of the e-ticketing facility, in collaboration with the National Institute of Smart Governance, he said.

After one month trial of the e-ticketing facility at the Taj Mahal, the ASI would extend the similar facility to other monuments, managed by it.

ASI officials said the e-tickets will have security features including bar code, and bar code scanners would be installed at the entry gates.

The ASI is training its staffs for effective and efficient use of the facility, which is likely to put an end to the long queues at the ticket counters.

Tourists had to stand for long hours in queues to buy entry tickets.

Tourism circles in Agra have welcomed ASI’s initiative saying the facility would help check resale of entry tickets and fake tickets by unscrupulous elements.

It is said that the ensuing online facility would also help the ASI in managing the number of visitors.

(This article was published on December 13, 2014)
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Take a break: top 7 places for bird watching in India




Summer is setting in, sure. But, what about taking a break from Delhi and head to Maharashtra, for there are places there that are still playing host to winged visitors. Plus, the Flamingo Festival, starting on March 29, will be an added bonus. “The peak birding season started around October and is coming to a close by May,” says Rahul Jauhari, who runs the website Atul Sathe of the BNHS adds, “Mangroves in Vikhroli, wetlands in Nhava-Sheva region are good spots.” Here are some other places that the duo highly recommend.

Ulwe and Uran
What: Both places are renowned when it comes to bird watching. However, the numbers are rapidly dropping, thanks to rampant construction in the region.

Often spotted: The list of birds seen here is endless — from Marsh Harriers, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Green Bee-eaters to Black-shouldered Kites and Red Wattled Lapwings. Uran is the older haunt for bird watchers, but, according to the experts, is now a shadow of its original self. However, Red-vented Bulbuls, Ashy Prinias, Asian Pied Starlings, Moorhens, Scaly Breasted Munias, Red Avadavats and Spot Billed Ducks, among others, can still be seen in these parts.

Nagla Forest
What: One of the lesser-known spots inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), in Borivali East, Mumbai.

Often spotted: Situated to the north of Bassein Creek, this is thought to be one of the most highly rewarding walks at the SGNP. Nature lovers are in for a treat as well. Birds like the Grey Junglefowl, Indian Grey Hornbill and Rufous Woodpecker can be spotted while on the trail.

Tungareshwar sanctuary
What: Home to three types of forest — dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi evergreen — it forms a corridor between  SGNP and Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Often spotted: Species like the Rufous Treepie, Shikra, Black-hooded Oriole, Brown-headed Barbet, Red-whiskered and Red-vented Bulbul can be seen in the area.

Thane Creek and Padale Gaon
: These spots are frequented by birders in the area.
Often spotted: While Thane Creek is known to attract Flamingos and Waders this time of the year, Black Kites seem to favour Padale Gaon. Apart from the Raptors, Munias, Woolly-necked Storks, Drongos, Egrets, Marsh Harriers and Sandpipers are also seen the region.

Kanheri Upper Trail
What: The route involves a gradual climb through the wooded forest of the SGNP.
Often spotted: One of the few places to offer the perfect mix of nature and adventure, catch a glimpse of the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Shikra, Grey Jungle Fowl, and Indian Peafowl. Or head to the plateau near Kanheri Caves, which is excellent for viewing raptors, like the Crested Serpent Eagle. You could also visit the ancient Kanheri Caves.

What: The mudflats here turn into a bird watcher’s paradise as they play host to millions to pink visitors.

Often spotted: One of the best places in the city to spot Flamingos, this is a good time to head there. It is also a good place to see migratory birds such as the Broad-billed Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, and Eurasian Curlew. On a good day, one will also catch a glimpse of the Common Redshank, Little Herons, Little Egret, Brown-headed Gull, Grey Plover, Sand Plovers and Avocet, among others. The annual Flamingo Festival is also scheduled to take place on March 29. Nature Park
What: Once a treeless garbage dump, this park located in the heart of the Mumbai (Dharavi) now acts as its green lung.

Often spotted: It is home to several migratory and resident species like the Black Kite, Shikra, Eurasian Wryneck, Little Green Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, Bluethroat, Purple Sunbird, Great Egret, Greater Coucal and Laughing Dove.

Bhandup Pumping Station
What: A well-kept secret, the lake near the pumping station attracts water birds. Signs put up also say that one can spot mongoose and snakes here. spotted: The area is known to host water and land birds, and often, Flamingos can be seen here as well. That apart, the Clamorous Reed Warbler, Common Kingfisher, Red Avadavat,  Pond Heron, Woolly-necked Stork, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Asian Pied Starling, Painted Stork, Little Cormorant, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Laughing Dove, Red-wattled Lapwing, Green Bee-eaters and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, among others, are common visitors.

Also Head to Airoli Creek and vashi bridge: These spots are frequented by birders looking for Flamingos and Waders.
talawe: This area on Palm Beach Road is yet another hotspot. The water body behind the NRI Complex, Seawood Estates, is a great place to observe birds.

Dombivli: Well-known birding sites here include Nilje Lake, the Bhopar area, Dombivli Creek and Khoni.

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