Day 3: 27-October-2013
Today was supposed to be a relatively lazy day – with just 2 hours of travel, or max 3. That is what I thought.
We woke up leisurely at around 0700, and had our cup of tea. We had decided against coffee as the coffee served at Kolavera was little strong, and of a little different taste than what we preferred – and their tea was very good. So wife and I chose tea after first experience with coffee. Dad and Mom chose tea from the first time itself.
I had planned to wash my car today as it had got soiled in the past drives. There was a washing bay – to my curiosity – at the homestay. It was a proper one which we see at washing stations, where we could wash the under-body as well. I enquired with Nishchal (son of owner uncle), and he told that this is common in the planters' homes in that area. The reason being, they typically had few vehicles and could not take them to wash to the town every time. Moreover, if the washing guys say they are busy, then it could be a lot of waste of time. So, many of them built this at their homes itself. There was a water tap and a hose next to the bay, so I could wash properly and it was over in about an hour.
Breakfast was ready by 0800 which was a spread which included a different kind of dosa (batter mixed with beaten rice powder). I thought we could leave by 1100 and as per my estimate, Kollur will take 2 hours of drive, and we could reach by 1300 or max 1330 to have lunch there, or somewhere en-route.
By the time I finished washing the car, others had got ready and had breakfast. It was my turn to take bath and get ready. I took bath and got ready by around 0930 and had breakfast. We spent some time packing and loading stuff into the car. The owner uncle and autny had gone to a relative’s place in the morning. So, we had bid them goodbye in the morning itself while I was washing the car. We got ready to leave by around 1100 and bid goodbye to Nischal, wrote our comments in the guest-book and left.
We would be taking the Tirthahalli – Agumbe – Someshwara route to Kollur as advised by Nischal. The roads were good and we covered Tirthahalli in 30 min. I filled petrol from there and increased the tyre pressure also a bit as seen in the ford note while washing. It said that if there are 3-4 passengers the pressure should be 34 psi. I had been riding at 31 psi. After increasing the tyre pressure the ride quality increased. We continued to Agumbe, and the roads were excellent. It was full of plantations on both sides, or forests, or villages. It was a real pleasure to drive on that road. No wonder why Malgudi days were shot in that village. If this is feeling so nice now, how it would have been when Malgudi days were shot?
We stopped in Agumbe for a tea-break. There is a small lake there, near where the ghat begins. Not sure if there is any activity there, like boating or walk-way. I did not venture out into find out more. We had tea and checked out a store with few handicraft items, and left. The ghat section was not in very good condition, but doable. We reached Someshwara in another 30 min and followed the signages to Kollur. Road conditions deteriorated after that. I got worried a bit. But then it improved, but still not good. I continued anyways, there was nothing much to do. By now, it was almost more than an hour and Kollur did not seem another 1 hour away, it definitely seemed more.
After Someshwara the roads are patchy, with certain bad sections, okay sections and good sections which came alternatively in cycles. We passed places like Halady, Sankaranarayana and finally reached Kollur by 1430. It took 3.5 hours against my assumption of 2 hours, due to 2 main reasons. One, the distance was more than I expected. I expected around 80-90 kms, but we drove around 140 kms. Second, the roads were not good throughout. 50% of the roads were in not-so-good or bad condition.
The question now was - where to have lunch? I did not stop anywhere on the way though it was lunch time and I had seen a couple of okay-types hotels. This is the problem with me. In eagerness to reach the destination I somewhat forget these little comforts or breaks that I should be giving my fellow-travellers and myself.
To our pleasant surprise Vasudev Adigas has opened an outlet in Kollur. They are in the premises of Hotel Mookambika Palace. I had read reviews about this hotel. Being a new hotel, it had good reviews. But tariff was on the higher side – 2k for a double bedroom per night. This was the starting as they had only A/c rooms. They seemed good. But I decided against. We had lunch at Vasudev Adigas, and proceeded towards Lalithambika Guest House managed by the temple. We normally stay here, and we get rooms for 300-350 for a double room. So spending 7 times that amount for one night was hurting the mind. So I decided to take this risk. I saw the rooms and seemed okay, though in mind I was not so okay. My review about this place can be read in Tripadvisor here.
We took rest for a while. Well, with the kid, it is not rest actually if the kid is not sleeping J Wife and I normally venture out to take bath in the stream nearby. This time also we stepped out, not sure of whether we can take bath or not. Dad and Mom also came along with us, with Samyu. The place was little away from Lalithambika guest house, and normally deserted. This time we did not venture out into water but gave Samyu a bath. She was so fascinated in playing with water that she cried and howled while she was taken off from water. We also would have jumped into water but could not get a right spot where we could do so.
We came back to the room, took bath, got ready and left for temple. The temple was not that crowded, may be because it was a working day. Had a good darshan, did our offerings and spent some time there. After darshan it was around 2030, and we proceeded towards Vasudev Adigas for dinner. I can confidently say that this place is one safe bet to have food in Kollur. I cannot guarantee any other place. Meanwhile, I had enquired about the road condition to Shimoga via Nagara. The feedback was negative stating that it is in shambles, and in some areas road never existed. So I had made up my mind to retrace the route which I took while coming. Retired to our rooms by 0900 thinking of tomorrow. It is going to be a long drive.
Day 4: 28-October-2013
We woke up by 0400 and got ready by 0500. We could not sleep properly as there we lot of mosquitoes. In fact the sleep was very bad. Luckily Samyuktha was sleeping well, and we ensured that she was covered properly. That really helped. But the sleep that I lost did affect me during the day while driving.
The temple opens around 0500 in the morning. The plan was to start immediately after the morning darshan. We were on the road by around 0545 after the darshan. The roads were empty except few vehicles once in a while. I drove with less anxiety as I knew the road conditions. Reached Someshwara by 0730, and I stopped for breakfast. Had a pretty good breakfast of Neer dosa, vada and Poori. We bought few snacks as well from here and started by around 0800. We crossed Agumbe and Tirthahalli without any stop. I wanted to stop at Sakrebylu elephant camp if possible. We reached there by around 1000 and it was open. They are open from 0830 to 1130, and it was a good experience.
There are elephants in captivity, they do bathing and feeding from 0830 to 1130 and then they are let into the forest for roaming till next day. The next day morning, the caretakers go into the jungle to bring them all back. Quite strange and unbelievable. But they do it daily, sometimes these elephants will be with other herd and it takes a hell a lot of efforts to bring them back.
So bathing time was over this time when we went, but could be near elephants. We did not do a ride though. Samyu was quite excited. She often imitates elephant and we are supposed to be acting scared when she does that. So she got to see some real elephant buddies, from 3 months old to 95 year old.
I took Shimoga, Arsikere route to Bangalore. We took a break at Café Coffee Day for lunch. The drive was getting little heavy as I had not slept properly before. But I managed to keep the head cool and continue. We passed Tumkur, after filling petrol, and after a small break where wife wanted to buy vegetables saying it will be fresh here. Reached Bangalore by 1815 and was very tired. Luckily Samyuktha seemed fine, apart from the fact that she had been restricted into the car’s space for her movements.
Well, a vacation that was very good had come to an end.