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Category Archives: Tourism

Yana, a hidden gem in the western ghats

As we walked down the steps from the not so high altitude of Yana Caves, it started to drizzle. By the time we took the next few steps it was a downpour. The rains in the mountains are very unpredictable and make a lot of noise as they come through the trees. You get drenched to the bones before you can open your raincoat.

Nestled in the western ghats near Sirsi, Yana is situated in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnatka. It is about 45 minutes from Sirsi or about an hour from Gokarna. As you reach the parking lot at Yana, you are greeted by the non-stop, high decibel sounds of cicadas and monkeys. You climb through a series of well paved trails and some cemented steps. All through the trek, you have a gushing stream to your right, which adds to the sound effect of the trek. We didn’t see or hear many birds, maybe because it was too rainy for them. The forest is dense and must be home to some amazing creatures. We had to stop for a few minutes to let a baby Russel’s Viper cross our path.

There are several man made structures on the way including a place to rest, toilets and a temple. But within a few minutes, as you take a bend in the path you get the first look at the beautiful Karst rock formations (I googled it!) which is very dark in colour. You continue past the first of those formations to end up in a small flat square piece of land where what looks like a private temple on the right and the entrance to the cave on the left. I say private because there are no government notifications or boards on display anywhere. There was a portly looking chap collecting money to let people into the temple or go to the caves! Ok, may be not. Maybe he was collecting a fee for letting you keep your footwear anywhere you wanted!

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The trek to Yana is not very long, but it is breathtakingly beautiful. But as with a few places I have visited in Karnataka, the tourist infrastructure is non existent. No forest guards, no signboards, not even water to drink, which may not be an issue in monsoons. The place is filthy with empty food packets and water bottles. I am not posting those pictures here.Here is what I wrote about my trip to Shivamogga in Jan 2015.

https://sciovitam.wordpress.com/2015/01/

You got to give credit to Kerala Tourism when it comes to providing infrastructure to tourists. Karnataka has to learn a lot from them.

Coming back to Yana, it is a gem in the western ghats and worth visiting, especially in the monsoons. Thank you Gulliver’s Adventures & Travels Pvt. Ltd. for an amazing experience.

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Shivamogga – A tourist’s disappointment

Shivamogga – A tourist’s disappointment

For six months, I researched on Internet and asked people about what one can do for a week in Shivamogga District, Karnataka. I was surprised that nothing much was available on the net, and whatever was available like this one from the official district website was poorly described. In 2010, an incredibly detailed master plan was made. I couldn’t find any updates on the internet, but I can tell you that nothing has ever come out of it. Once I embarked on my journey, I realised how poor the tourism facilities are in Shivamogga. For starters, the map below shows the city is situated along the Tunga River. Believe it or not, there is not a single park on the riverfront for recreation.

shimoga town

Based on the research, I decided to do two routes. One starting from Shivamogga and going North West, marked in Red. The other, going South West marked in Violet. shimoga area The Red Route.

Road to Bhadra: 

Most part of this 8 KM road is untarred and potholed. The only source of food and shelter at Bhadra is the Jungle Lodges & Resort facility. There is no boating or any other facility for general public. We could not go on wildlife safari as it was possible only through JLR, where we were not staying.

bhadra

Sharavati Reservoir at Honnemaradu. Honnemaradu1

Road to Honnemaradu: 

Honnemaradu is a breathtakingly beautiful place, but with no access and any kind of tourism facilities. It is a crying shame.

The Violet Route: Sakrebyle Elephant camp. sakarebyle

Total value for money. Open only from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM. The man is preparing a meal of rice grains packed inside hay. They have a lovely bath in the Tunga river and rest for the rest of the day.

Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary.

Total disappointment. A dilapidated building, a rusted watch tower, no boats, no birds.

There is another bird sanctuary in the area on the RED route named Gudavi. Did not go there- it is just .73 SqKM. How many birds can you fit in there?

Mandagadde

We did go to Jog Falls, but the flow was quite poor as it was past the monsoon season.

My final thoughts:-

All the places above has immense tourism potential. Excuses like ‘Forest Area’ etc does not cut ice. There are places like Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, Masinagudi/Avalanche in TN where there are well organised and conducted trips. But the fundamental needs like roads, food, water and safety have to be addressed first before this hugely untapped tourist area around the Tunga river can be a reality.

 

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Beaches of North Kerala

Beaches of North Kerala

While Kovalam, Varkala and Cherai beaches in South and Central Kerala have been on the tourist map for a very long time, the beaches of Northern Kerala have remained untapped, and is seldom visited even by those who live in South Kerala, let alone India. I took a trip to some of the beaches in Kannur district. They are all amazing, pristine and as awesome as the popular ones. In fact there is a beach where you can drive for 7 kilometers on the edge of the sea as the sand is so hard. I don’t think there is anything like that anywhere in India. Here are some snaps of my journey.

 

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Posted by on June 18, 2011 in Kerala, Nature, Tourism, Travel

 

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Edakkal Caves, Wayanad, Kerala

What you are looking at above is the ceiling of a cave! When I took a bumpy ride in a rickety Mahindra Jeep up the Wyanad hills, little did I realize that I was about to enter a cave that is 1500 feet vertically! I am talking about Edakkal Caves in Wyanad District of Kerala. This rock wedged itself after an earth quake 3000 years ago – Eda =Inbetween, Kallu =Stone in Malayalam, thus giving the cave name Edakkal caves.

Edakkal Caves are just off National Highway 212 between the the towns of Sulthan Batheri and Kalpatta in Kerala’s Wayanad district. This area is a part of the verdant forests that form the Kerala – Karnataka – Tamilnadu border. The approach to the cave itself is on a sheer vertical climb. You have to climb 2000 feet above MSL to be there. This is not recommended unless you have the fitness level to do rock climbing. The cave itself is not huge or cavernous (pun intended!), but should be about 1500 sqft floor area but the ceiling is really high! The cave etchings go back 2300 years.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in Kerala, Nature, Tourism, Travel

 

A bend in the river

The river is Meenachil, which takes a breathtaking but lazy turn at the backyard of my grand mother in law’s house. They have two sets of access ways to the river. The range of trees and plants they have are amazing- rubber ( of course!), jackfruits of 4 different varities- some of which are cooked raw and other eaten the old fashioned way after they are ripe, palms, drumsticks, bay leaf it is just endless. It was heartening to see that the food chain as we knew it continues to exist and flourish in this part of the world. Ettumanur is home to one of the best known Siva temples in south India. Hence there are some serious bulls out there who roam the backyards of the houses in the vicinity. And why not? There is enough food to go around, and there is enough place to leave your bullshit out! So next time the bull comes around, he has fresh vegetation to eat from, completely nourished by its own dung! Can’t think of doing things more organically.

I am blessed to be a mallu in that I can go home and be in the midst of nature! Don’t have to spend nervous moments figuring out hotels, food, things to do, what about the kids, blah, blah, blah! I go to my wife’s place, I have Thekkady, Vagamon, Kumarakom, Alleppy Beach, the backwaters of Kuttanad all within 4 hours. If I am still lazy to go to any of these places, I can just step out through the kitchen door, or quitely go down Grandma’s backyard and sit watching the river come by the bend!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Kerala, Nature, Tourism, Travel

 

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