Romancing the rains and roads in South India

Tripoto
6th Jul 2016
Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India 1/1 by Spabiz2011
The roads are calling! 

One traveller's bad weather is another's miracle.......

Beyond the dominating entrance of the Bandipur National Park the road was a real treat, as was the foliage on either side of the narrow road. Half a km from the entrance we spotted deer...

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011

... and a family of elephants further down the road

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011

Before you know Bandipur National Park merges into Mudumalai National Park as we enter Tamil Nadu. The landscape, the foliage.....to absolutely die for!

Enjoying the beautiful drive we didn't realise (literally)when we entered the western ghats and took on the hair pin turns to gain height almost instantly.

Did a bit more of sight seeing....**Sim's Park** with its numerous old trees from across the globe, Lambs rock and further down Dolphins nose.

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011

For me the most interesting was the drive with tea estates on either side. The acres and acres of, our favourite beverage TEA being grown and later processed and sold at these small and large 'tapris' as you drive around.

Acres of Tea Estates

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011

The step farming and the lush green tea estates with an occasional water stream were sights to be revered.

Let's get tourist-y - The Botanical Gardens

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011

Once back in Ooty we went boating in the large and famous lake the light drizzle added to the charm to say the least.

Travellers forever!

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011

A number of huge green plains/meadows, tourists taking photographs. Called the "Shooting grounds', these were apparently places where a number of Bollywood movies have been shot and the tourist were encouraged to shoot movies of themselves here. Very popular among the tourist.

It was a good 30 kms extra that we drove to get down from this route , but it was worth every km. Since it was pouring heavily by now and it was evening, time to look for a place to crash. Once again we were lucky and got a good place to spend the night a couple of kms from the lake.

Highlight of the day: the drive with tea gardens on either side of the road and the awesome Tamil food in Ooty. The Pykara lake is also a must visit.

Time taken From 8am to 5 pm

Day 3

The loud chirping of the birds as they were returning home was the only noise here. The open rain water drains were brimming with water and the gushing sound of the water was music to the ears. About a km and a half's walk led us to the mouth of the jungle here. We were advised to return and go no further.

Highlight of the day: the walk in Vythiri village

Time ...10 am to 5 pm

Rain water drain... no gutter!

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011

Day 4

We took a road back to Vyrithi (Wayanad) to bypass Calicut, we came across a large number of fishermen selling tons of freshly caught fish to traders who were packing them in ice . The drive was dotted with cold storage facilities and a lot of commercial activity here.

Once we got on to the Calicut bypass road, we bid good bye to the sea, and said hello to the backwaters....yes please!

Backwaters of the Arabian Sea....banana plantations, coconut grooves and what have you....wow ...great drive till we once again ascended on the ghats region.

We got stuck in our first traffic jam and that too on the hair pin bends?? But, fear not, not one vehicle tried overtaking from the wrong side, the traffic police came in later  and got the mess sorted. The self restraint of the drivers here was commendable, definitely not the Delhi way of driving :\

Back to the resort and end of one more adventurous day.

Highlight of the day....The Kappad beach and drive along the sea on the Mangalore road. This road takes you all the way to Mangalore besides the sea.

Day 5

We planned to go all "touristy" today, sightseeing in the district Waynad. To begin with we drove towards **Banasura Dam**

Next on our agenda was to reach **Kutta** which lies at the edge of Coorg region, bordering Nagarhole wildlife Sanctuary. Once we did that, we thought of calling it a day.

Our homestay for the night!

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011

Cofffee estate at our homestay

Photo of Romancing the rains and roads in South India by Spabiz2011
Day 1

India during the summer rainy months of June to September feels like a different place. The hot moist air of the Indian Ocean, blowing over the country and months of oppressive heat is all forgotten once the monsoon arrives. The sky and sea turn a different shade of grey and the clouds can be seen rolling in the sky. Rains hit India in a very dramatic way.

Bangalore-Mysore  Highway

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Spabiz2011

Last year in the month of February we had taken a trip of Kerala.....the very "travel agency" type of itinerary which most people do.....Cochin, Allepy, Munnar, Thekkady and back to either Travandrum or Cochin for our flight back to Delhi. The trip was good except that there was too much driving involved and so the dependence on cabs which were not always as good as we wanted them to be. Hence the idea of a self drive road trip starting from a city which had good self drive rentals and from where we could cover north Kerala ....... in the monsoons! Bangalore was the best and obvious option.

As always we made no hotel bookings and planned to stop where ever we fancied at the end of the day. We had earlier done a road trip from Mumbai to Delhi in a similar manner, a couple of years back with several detours and several of those "extra" kilometers. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip with myriad landscapes which continuously changed as we changed state borders.

The overcast weather makes those State Highways so much more inviting!

Photo of Bangalore, Karnataka, India by Spabiz2011

Smooth..miles of tarmac flanked by green!

Photo of Bangalore, Karnataka, India by Spabiz2011

We landed in Bangalore early morning at around 7.30 am on 6th July. The car was handed over to us at the airport and we drove off immediately towards the Mysore road, aiming to miss the morning city traffic. The GPS was locked, tanks full, with a return ticket from Bangalore to Delhi for the 13th of July and absolutely nothing else planned, it was time to explore the western ghats and much more with the monsoons.

Wow... was it fun from the word GO.....the awesome weather and the rain washed greenery a balm to the eyes after the Delhi heat.

The roads were rain washed and smooth as mirror. The scenery breathtaking. A very appropriate time for a road trip.

After a sumptuous breakfast of hot idlis and filter coffee at Kamath in Srirangapatnam, we drove towards **Bandipur National Park**. The Mysore bypass road was a breeze with a dense green cover. Enroute were pretty small towns and sunflower plantations which added another hue to the landscape.

Yeah, can't mistake the mammoth entrance!

Photo of Bandipur National Park, Bandipur, Karnataka, India by Spabiz2011

Perfect for a Bollywood romantic song sequence perhaps?

Photo of Bandipur National Park, Bandipur, Karnataka, India by Spabiz2011

Called Kalhatti ghat or "Steep ghat" it branches off from Gundalur saves approx. 30 kms, on the standard route,though it is much steeper and has a mind boggling 36 hairpin bends. The Ghats are recognised as one of the world's hottest hot spots of biological diversity and contain a large portion of India's plant and animal species, many of whom are found nowhere else in the world.

Hairpins! 

Photo of Kalhatti, Karnataka, India by Spabiz2011

Manoeuvring these treacherous bends,we have reached the beautiful hill town of....**Ooty**.... awesome weather....light continuous drizzle and a temperature of a chilly 12 degrees.

By this time it was almost 5pm.

Time for hubby dear to take a break from the driving....so we checked into a hotel and submerged ourselves into a hot water tub.

Enough time later for a south Indian vegetarian dinner at one of the numerous diners of Ooty.

Highlight of day one......the fantastic drive thru Bandipur National Park and the hairpins of western ghats.

Time taken: from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm

DAY 2

Day 2

We drove after breakfast to **Coonoor** about 25kms from Ooty.

Hello Coonoor!

Photo of Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India by Spabiz2011

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway Toy train is unique as it is the steepest one in Asia. It weaves through forests, along the valleys and into little dark winding tunnels.It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway Toy train

Photo of Nilgiri Mountain Railway Line, Mettupalayam, Tamil Nadu, India by Spabiz2011

Ooty Botanical gardens is a must visit.

It was lunch time by now and after a south Indian "meal" we thought of going back to the plains and staying in one of the forest resorts around Masanagudi near the national parks but it was not to be, as we started for our downhill drive, we unknowingly took a road which was not the ghats road, which turned out to be equally beautiful and mesmerising. 

Photo of Ooty Botanical Gardens, Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Spabiz2011

After a turn on this road we came across the **Pykara lake** which is named after the sacred river Pykara. The river flows through Murukurti, Pykara and Glenmorgan dams, and forms part of an important hyro-electric power project. Beautiful.....lots of water...... very very picturesque, the kind of sight where you expect the king of the jungle to walk up for a drink...... very filmy. Boating available here too. Lovely view.

Pykara Lake

Photo of Pykara Lake, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India by Spabiz2011

Check out the clouds!

Photo of Pykara Lake, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India by Spabiz2011
Day 3

After a sumptuous breakfast at the resort we decided to hit the plains. The destination this time - **Wayanad**! The drive thru the tea gardens all the way was super comfortable and picturesque.

Waynad district is in the north east of Kerala. It is set high on the western ghats with altitudes ranging from 700 to 2100 metres. The name Waynad is derived from Vayal Nadu means the land of paddy fields...so we hit Kerala now into a land of paddy fields .

**Vythiri** is a small town in Waynad district which has the max number of resorts and it's here that we checked in.

Local village church, at a crossroad really

Photo of Vythiri, Kerala, India by Spabiz2011

After a relaxing cup of coffee, we decided to explore the area around our resort. So we just walked around lanes and by lanes and came across amazing sights. There was a christian mass being held at the crossroads by some missionaries who later proudly showed us their convent and school. The houses were painted in attractive colours and the area was full of coconut, banana, jack fruit, spices like pepper and cardamon and even coffee plants.

Vythiri Village

Photo of Vythiri, Kerala, India by Spabiz2011
Day 4

After an early breakfast we decided to drive to **Kozhikode or Calicut** as it was now known which was about 85 kms from Waynad.

Before we knew, we had hit another western ghats road and the hair pin turns were back. Quite a bit of traffic here with buses and trucks chugging along slowly. But the greenery and the random water streams coming down the mountains were a treat. Once we hit the plains, the drive was spotted by small prosperous towns along the way. Small towns with very clean colourfully painted houses are very typical of Kerala. The market places have a large number of gold jewellery shops. Kozhikode itself was a typical metro with huge malls and markets, traffic and noise, flyovers and bridges and a lots and lots of people.

The Commercial Calicut Beach

Photo of Kozhikode, Kerala, India by Spabiz2011

The **Calicut beach** was again a very commercial - touristy beach, something that doesn't really work for us.

So, we drove on to **Kappad beach**, a few kms down the Mangalore road. It was beautiful... lots of water and waves hitting the humongous rocks on shore. The golden color of the sand was pretty. This was where Vasco da Gama had first set foot on Indian soil and it eventually marked the sea route from Europe to India.

The Kappad beach - now that's more like it!

Photo of Kappad Beach, Kozhikode, Kappad, Kerala, India by Spabiz2011
Day 5

As always, the drive was awesome..... driving on the rain washed roads was a treat. Lot and lots of green cover, small streams of water and the tea gardens once more. On the way to the dam, came across some really beautiful resorts.... nestled in the interiors of this beautiful place, less visited and had some of the best views of this region.

Yeah.. pretty huge!

Photo of Banasura Sagar Dam, Padinjarathara, Kerala, India by Spabiz2011

The weather, brilliant!

Photo of Banasura Sagar Dam, Padinjarathara, Kerala, India by Spabiz2011

The dam was fun! We then moved on to the mighty **Meenmutty water falls** again brimming with water, these were a bit tough to climb and reach, but worth the effort as we reached almost the source of the water.

Looks like a photo, doesn't it?

Photo of Meenmutty Falls, Wayanad, Kerala, India by Spabiz2011

The immense flow!

Photo of Meenmutty Falls, Wayanad, Kerala, India by Spabiz2011

Next we decided to go towards **Kuruvadweep** - a protected delta comprising of a cluster of islands over Kabini river. However the area was inaccessible due to the rains.

Plan B: we decided to drive to Coorg......the coffee plantations waiting to be explored by us.

The drive was mesmerising with narrow roads going up and down. The landscape gave way to paddy fields and large plains. The plantation was now tall straight trees of beetle nut.

We stopped at the **Iruppu falls** in the Brahmagiri Range in South Coorg in Karnataka. The incessant rains had added volume to the water. The walk up was fun with small bridges and sneak views of the water fall. The source of course was roaring with huge volumes of water making it difficult to hear ones own voice. But it was therapeutic to just sit there with closed eyes and hear the roar of the water. Whatever tiredness that we felt just vanished here.

Insane! 

Photo of Iruppu Waterfall, Kurchi, Karnataka, India by Spabiz2011

For the first time on our trip we faced a bit of a difficulty in finding a place to stay. Coorg has mostly got homestay accommodation and we had to ask around for it. Finally we came across a lovely place a little off the main road in the middle of 8 acres of coffee plantation. Nice big clean rooms,hot water and yum home made dinner. Incidentally all the homestay facilities are registered with the authorities and regularly monitored and audited by them. Great experience on the whole.

Highlight--All the touristy and non touristy places were worth a visit.

Day 6

**Madikeri** is the most popular town in Coorg. We were a good 40kms from there. So after an early morning tour of the coffee plantation of our host, and home made breakfast, we left for Madikeri. Here again the roads were good and the landscape rain washed and green. Beetle nut, banana and coconut palms in abundance .......of course the coffee plantation is to die for ..... thick healthy shrubs with dark green leaves. The super tall and straight trees are the beetle nut trees.

The town of Madikeri has a domineering fort in the middle which now has several govt. offices. But with the downcast sky it looked beautiful in the "filmy" way. There are lots of tourist spots to visit here. The Omkareshwara Temple, Golden temple, Mallalli Falls, Elephant camp, Raja's seat etc..

Madekeri Fort

Photo of Coorg, Karnataka, India by Spabiz2011

Local banana chips 

Photo of Coorg, Karnataka, India by Spabiz2011
Day 6

As we were heading back to Bangalore today, we drove towards Kaushal Nagar which lead us straight to the Mysore Bangalore road.

The drive here too was good and dotted with places to sight see and after meeting the evening traffic in the city, we were back to the metro city with two whole days to do what we hadn't done so far......meet up with family and friends and shop shop and shop in Bangalore.

We drove around 1200kms in the 6 days that we were on the road. Fantastic well metalled roads and highways in all the three states that we went in and out of - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The rain Gods blessed us with lots and lots of rain...just as we hoped, expected and wanted. The landscape and scenery that we saw is to be experienced to believe. The accommodation we got was all super. The vegetarian food was available in abundance

.....so.....overall....

Day 9

A brilliant trip...couldn't ask for more....& Thank God for it.

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Spabiz2011
Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Spabiz2011
Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Spabiz2011
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