Trip to Lepakshi

29 12 2008

Yesterday, after a long time, went on a trip to Lepakshi. It is exactly 117 KM from Hebbal, Bangalore. The road until the Bangalore International Airport is fantastic, however after that, they are still constructing the road and there are many de-tours. We took around 2 and half hours to reach and while going, we missed the turning to the place. Unfortunately, there are no sign-boards which give any directions. We overshot around 20 KM to realize that we missed the turning.

When going from Bangalore, you would need to check out for KR Check-post, which is the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border. This is around 95-98 KM from Hebbal. After the check post, go past 3 KM and you will find a junction where you need to take a left turn. Keep an eye on your odometer and ensure you ask someone if you want about the check-post and the turning. After you take the left turn, it is around 17 KM drive through few villages before you reach Lepakshi.

This small village is really very small and there are hardly any decent hotels to eat. If you are like me who does not mind eating even on the roadside, then don’t worry, you can definitely survive πŸ™‚ Else, please load sufficient food.

The temple architecture isΒ marvelousΒ and it is definitely worth a visit. You can take pictures inside and spend some good peaceful time. If you are very much interested in the history, hire a guide, else you can take a tour of the temple yourself.

You may check out few pictures here.

Drive to Vizag

17 09 2007

I have been to Vizag earlier on my Scorpio. This is the second time, but still wanted to write a few lines of my memoirs of this drive (I am still in Vizag and will go back during the weekend).
I left Bangalore on 14 September morning at around 5:25 AM. It was raining heavily throughout the night and was also raining when I left home. I thought that the rain might stop after I cover some distance, but unfortunately it continued for a long time 😦

The Drive
Left home at 5:25 AM and as it was raining heavily, I was driving at around 60-70KMPH speed on the outer ring road. I was just hoping to leave the city limits (Haskote) before it is daylight so that I can avoid some traffic. I drove till 6:30 AM, crossing Haskote and was nearing Kolar. There were no signs of the rain stopping. The rain continued until I reached A1, Reliance Counter 20 KM before Chittore. Took around 3 hours to reach instead of my regular 2.5 Hours for a distance of 175 KM at that time of the day. Had breakfast, re-fueled and started driving by around 8:45 AM. Luckily, there was no signs of rain, but the road was damp which clearly indicates that there was rain during the previous night.

Continued my drive with a small break near Naidupeta for Tea. Stopped near Ongol for a quick lunch. Had biscutes and some juice to get my energy going and continue with the drive.

I reached Guntur around 2:30 PM and was on-time to cross Vijayawada at around 3:30 PM. While I was crossing Guntur, there was a heavy downpour and my speed came down with traffic adding to the rain. Took a lot of time and crossed Vijayawada at around 5 PM. There was drizzling throughout from there and by the time I reached Rajamundry, it was 8:30 PM. I then decided to stay back and leave in the morning. Stayed back and started driving at 7 AM next morning and reached Vizag at 9:30 AM πŸ™‚

I have pictures while I drove and also of Vizag at my Flickr account. Have a look….

Tirupati / Kanipakam / Aragonda

28 08 2007

Although I have been to Tirupati and Kanipakam quite a few times, Aragonda is my first visit. I wanted to write about this trip as a reference post for people who are wanting to visit these places for the first time.

Tirupati is around 260 KM from Bangalore located in Chittor district. You need to take the Old Madras Road from Bangalore. After you leave Bangalore, there is Reliance A1 food outlet after ~140 KM from Haskote. You can take a break here to refresh yourself. From A1, after 20 KM, you will need to take a deviation towards your left for Tirupati (there is a direction board there). On this deviation, after around 5 KM, you will have a toll gate who would charge you Rs. 10 for the maintenance of that deviation road which will further continue for another 4 KM before it lands you to connect Kurnool road. You can argue and don’t pay for it (I have been going on this road for last 4 years and every time he says that they would improve it and no one bothers, so this is my online protest for the owner, whom I am sure would not be reading this). After the toll gate, proceed for another 4 KM and you would connect to Kurnool road. Take left and continue. You can safely drive for another 20 KM and then you need to watch our for a right turn towards Tirupati. There are two railway crossings on this road, after you cross both, keep an eye for the right. From here, it is another 50 KM to Tirupati. I will not speak anything more here, as Tirupati is a famous place and if you search for accommodations in Google, you can find many..

In return, you can come back till the toll gate road and you would need to take right and proceed for around 8-9KM where you would see a right turn (sign board is available on the left of the road) towards Kanipakam. After you take left, it is another 2 KM before you reach the temple. Kanipakam is famous for the Vinayaka Temple. It is believed that the idol came out from a well and over a period of time, the idol came out of the well. You can still see half of the idol is still in water.

Come to the junction where you have taken left to Kanipakam. At this junction take right and proceed 11 KM to reach Aragonda. Aragonda is a bit bigger than a village, but not a town. What impressed me here is a unit of Apollo Hospitals. You can ask anyone after reaching the village limits for the Hanuman temple. It is believed that a piece of Sanjeevani Parvatam (Hill) has fallen here while Hanuman was carrying the same to Lanka to cure Lakshmana. They say that if you drink the water in the pond, all your diseases would be cured. I have few pictures of Aragonda on my Flickr account.

My timelines – left Bangalore on Sunday afternoon, reached Tirupati in the evening. The next day early morning had Darshan of the lord and started at 10:30 AM. After stopping at Kanipakam and Aragonda, reached Bangalore by 6 PM in the evening.

Trip to Ooty

19 08 2007

This is my second trip to Ooty. The first time I went was last year, just after I brought my car and also made it in a hurry to check my vehicle out πŸ™‚

This time, wanted to take my parents there to show how an hill station feels. But, due to bad luck, Ooty has been hotter than Bangalore in the two days we were there. The nights were a bit chill with temperatures closing to around 10 Degrees Centigrade.

Now, getting into the journey…We left Bangalore at around 6:30 AM on 11 August (Saturday), filled in diesel and started getting out of the city by around 7 AM. Our first stop was at Kamat hotel on Bangalore-Mysore Highway at around 8:30 or so for breakfast. After breakfast, we started driving again at around 9. We could cover only close to 90 KM in the first two hours of leaving home (traffic and signals played a role in slowing us down). After Kamat, we did not stop anywhere until we reached Bandipur forest Cafe at the beginning of the forest reserves.

Tip: When you get to Mysore at the first signal, you wold see the direction board taking you to right towards Ooty. Try not taking this road. This is the outer ring road and it is time consuming and also a bit long to get to Ooty road. Instead, just drive straight into the city, follow directions towards Palace and at the junction where you would see Palace, you can see sign-boards directing you towards Ooty. If you have any confusion, don’t hesitate to ask anyone πŸ™‚

We stopped for coffee at the Government Cafe which is just 5 Km before the official gate into the forest. We are now around 90 KM away from Ooty and it was 12 PM. We left after a short 30 minute break and drove through the forest. This is a fantastic and amazing drive. Last time when we went, it was drizzling and very cloudy. The breeze was cool and there were many animals on the road. This time, it was hot and sunny and probably all animals were sleeping πŸ™‚ I could capture few snaps and you can see them on my Flickr Photos.

Request: When you drive through the forest, please do not stop your vehicle on the middle of the road and Please do not HONK. I have seen many white board drivers doing this…unfortuate and I pity these educated drivers.

Reached Ooty by 1:45 and went to the hotel I booked earlier – Sinclair. The hotel is a bit secluded from the heart of the city, but I was really disappointed. The hotel is under renovation and the sales office in Bangalore has not informed me when I was booking. When we saw the rooms and the work going on, we were really disappointed. The hotel staff understood our situation and promiced to refund our money if we chose to cancel our booking. After I came back to Bangalore, the sales office promptly sent me a SMS informing that my check is ready to be picked up. I appreciate their Customer Service πŸ™‚

We immediately came back and went to Taj Savoy, a very nice place to stay. We stayed here last time and also came back this time too. It is a Taj Group hotel and I could only afford it because it is off-season…If you are going there, do check this place out, a very nice place to stay while in Ooty.

Relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and took parents out for a drive in the city and for small road site shopping. After dinner came back and watched a movie for sometime in the room with the fire place lit-up and a beer mug in my hand πŸ™‚

The next day, we left after breakfast and went around the roads in Ooty and then drove down to Coonoor which is around 15 KM away from Ooty. On the way, we stooped at the Wax Museum recently set-up in Ooty-Coonor road. This is very good for the place. I have been to Madam Tussauds in London and there is no comparison to it, but for the works they have, I am really impressed. You can see picturess in my Flickr page.

Came back to Hotel in the evening around 6:30 PM and parents relaxed. Went to the bar to have a nice drink which could make me feel a bit warm πŸ™‚

Next day, left Ooty around 11:30 AM and reached Bangalore back at 5:45 PM with only one stop in Mysore for lunch.

Total Distance from Bangalore – Ooty : 290 KM
Drive Time : 6 Hours.
Toll Gate : 1 (At Karnataka – TN border)
Ghat Distance : ~ 25 KM
No. of Hair Pin Bends : 36

In September, probably I might be going to Vizag for a holiday at home πŸ™‚

Trip to Chunchi Falls

30 06 2007

Recently, have been for a one-day trip to Chunchi Falls near Bangalore.

Chunchi falls are best by your own vehicle. The total drive is close to 95 KM from Bangalore. ‘Chunchi Falls’ are located in Kanakapura Taluk on banks of river Arkavati.

How to get there?
Drive out of Bangalore on Kanakapura Road. After Kanakapura, you can proceed for another 10 KM and then you can just ask anyone on the road for Chunchi Falls. I am suggesting that you ask because there is no board which can catch your attention πŸ™‚

You will need to take a deviation from the main road towards Mekedatu and Sangama. This Sangama is place where three rivers join. You will need to take a left deviation 16 KM BEFORE this Sangama which will take you to Chunchi Falls. Please keep asking people on the way, as there are many chances that you miss the small deviations.

We left Bangalore at 9 AM and after loosing out on few turns, reached the falls at around 11:45 AM. It was deserted and no one around as it was a working day. You will find local oldies sitting under the trees where you park your vehicle and they will come forward to take you down to the falls. Even though initally we didn’t want to, we had to as the way is through the rocks and trees and we might miss these pathways.

As monsoon’s are still setting in, there was not much water in the falls. There were small streams of falls. We spent around an hour there and returned back. The weather was too good (cloudy and cool wind blowing) and this was the best thing which happened. I would not call it a disastrous visit, but it would have been worth it if there was water (out timing was not good).

This is a cool drive and roads are not bad either.

Trip to Vizag

10 01 2007

I am born and brought up in The City of Destiny – Visakhapatnam. I come home once a year and I try to make it during Pongal. This time I decided to go home by drive along with my Parents. Here are my trip details…

Total Distance : 1,102
Total Drive Time: 16 Hrs 12 Minutes

We started in Bangalore at 6 AM in the morning and by 8 PM, we covered a distance of ~850 KM to reach Rajahmundry, a place 220 KM from Vizag.

From Bangalore, we need to take Old Madras Road to reach Chittore. From Chittore you need to deviate towards Tirupati and hit Gudur to touch the Golden Quadrilateral NH 5. I need to admit that this is one of the best things which can happen to India – The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) Project. The road is amazing and fantastic. However, watch out for loads of Toll Gates on the GQ.

Trip Log

Place Distance Distance from Bangalore
Bangalore 0.00  
A1, Chittore 167.00 167.00
Sri Kalahasti 133 300.00
Naidupeta 32.00 332.00
NH5, GQ 9.00 341.00
A1, Gudur 40.00 381.00
A1, Nellore 140.00 521.00
Vijayawada 173.00 694.00
Rajamundry 185.00 879.00
Visakhapatnam 223.00 1102.00

Where to take Breaks?
The best places to take breaks are A1 Plaza operated by Reliance. ThisPlaza is behind a Reliance Petrol Bunk on the highways. In the above trip log, I mentioned where you can find a A1 Plaza.
Note: If you are driving from Niadupeta to Gudur you will be on the left and A1 is on your right. When you see the board for A1, slowdown and there is a break in the median for A1 just 20 Mtrs before. You take your right and drive in the opposite direction.

Toll Gates
The following are the toll gates and the price you need to pay.

Chittore Bye-Pass to Tirupati Rs. 10
Budhanam Toll Plaza, Nellore Dist. Rs. 20
Nellore Toll Plaza, Nellore Dist. Rs. 15
NHAI Toll Plaza, Sunnambatti, Nellore Dist Rs. 35
Paleru Toll Gate Rs. 10
Kaza Toll Plaza Rs. 40
Potipadu Toll Gate Rs. 15
Kalaparu Toll Gate Rs. 15
NAHI Tanuku Toll Plaza Rs. 55
NHAI K Varam Toll Plaza Rs. 45
NHAI Vempadu Toll Plaza Rs. 45
Aganampudi Toll Gate Rs. 15
Total Rs. 320

I spent Rs.3344.00 for Diesel which amounts to 98.35 Lts of Diesel. Average milage is 11.5 KM.

Total Drive Cost
To summarize, I spent approximately Rs 3.32 per KM.

This is one of my best drives till date. If you planning for a drive to this side of the country, dont think twice, you will really enjoy it.

A Pilgrimage…

24 10 2006

Places – Udupi, Dharmastala, Kolluru
Total Run – 1,381.7 KM.

Oct 20-24, 2006 being holidays, we have decided to go on a small pilgrimage to Udupi, Dharmastala and Kolluru. This is my second long drive in my Scorpio. The first was to Ooty and it was very good.

We left on 21st morning and took the Bangalore – Mangalore road via Hassan to Udupi. The drive was fantastic till Hassan and after that we had trouble. The road was absolutely bad. I think ‘bad’ is a very small term I could use. It was pathetic. Took about 3 Hrs to cover a stretch of about 30 KM and you could imagive our fate.

We reached Udupi at around 6:30 PM. We lost a lot of time covering the bad stretches of roads and took about 4 breaks in the total journey.

On 22nd, we drove to Dharmastala from Udupi. It was about 110 KM and the road was really good. Had darshan and came back to Udupi by around 4 PM. In the evening we had darshan of Udupi Krishna and it was really good.
On 23rd, we drove to Kolluru which is 77 KM from Udupi. Kolluru is famous for Mookambika Temple. The road from Udupi – Kundapura is not good. You need to keep your leg on the clutch. From Kundapura – Kolluru is a very good drive. Kolluru is on the footsteps of Western ghats and you will go through thick forests and zig-zag roads. Its a decent drive.

We had darshan at the temple and started back to Bangalore. This time, we decided to come via Shimoga instead of the Mangalore road. We continued on the ghats and after 110 KM drive, reached Shimoga. The route is lonely, but the roads are pretty good.

From Shimoga it was another 298 KM to Bangalore. Initially the road was not that good, but after about 30 KM, the road was really smooth.

Reached home around 8 PM after a 500 KM drive. This is the first time I did such a long distance in my car, and none of us were tired. My Scorpio never let me down and gave a very good quality drive.

I have to mention that with A/C, the average milage I got was around 13.5, which is very good for a SUV with 2.6 Ltr CRDe Engine πŸ™‚

All New Scorpio 2006

24 10 2006

I decided to buy a Scorpio long ago. But, was unable to buy due to the huge investment. Finally, the day has come when I could afford it. I was trading in my 3 Year old Santro in which I did about 55,000 KM to buy my dream car.
I went for a test drive when the new version of Scorpio was launched. I was quite impressed. Thanked my stars that I could buy the new version and not the old one. On May 10,2006 I went ahead and booked the car. Got the vehicle delivered on the 10, June 2006. WOW!
This is a fambulous car made by India, for the Indian who cannot buy imported SUV’s. People told be that Scorpio is not at all advisable for Bangalore (this is where i live) roads. But, I still went ahead. After driving for around 4 Months, I can definitely say that this is a Santro in its segment in terms of Manuvarability. Believe me! I am not writing this on behalf of Mahindra nor any magazine. This comes from my heart. You should know how to handle a car and you will definitely enjoy driving this machine.
If at all I need to suggest one this for improvement, I would only say “Breaking”. It takes around 3-4 Sec to get the car to a standstill when you are driving at 100 KMPH. This is a bit huge time when you are talking about Indian roads. If this beast had ABS, nothing like it. I think I read it in one of the car magazines that ABS would be included by the year end, and i am sure that the price would be at least 1.5 Lacs more (which would definitely be beyond my budget). Even this version is amazing…