It has been 4 months since the beginning of 2015, we hardly travelled anywhere in the first few months and our travel instincts were already gnawing by the time March arrived. That is when we decided we had to go somewhere in Summer. With the whole of India reaching boiling point by April, we decided on heading towards the Western Ghats, more specifically to the Karnataka side where the weather is a lot more merciful. To that, we added some wild ideas, a trip to Nagarahole and Bandipur,
Hyderabad – Bangalore – Nagarahole – Kutta – Bandipur and back. Our family was to join us at Bangalore driving from Nellore. Though the initial plan was take a train to Bangalore and then hire a self driven car, when we worked out the budget, taking our own car seemed to be a better deal. There was a last minute confusion too, with the Forest Department cancelling our booking at Bandipur National Park in the last moment because they were organising some workshop on the same date !
After a frantic search on the net, which was made difficult because it was going to be a long weekend every place was full, we zeroed in on a homestay at Gudalur, 30 kms from Bandipur. Finally, after a desperate-to-travel wait, we were off to Bangalore on 28th April. Just out of Hyderabad, our Figo reached a milestone !
100000 kms in less than 5 years, may the journeys continue !
We have taken the Bangalore route so many times now that the moment NH44 sees us, it must be thinking “there they come again !” We started at 2 PM from Hyderabad and reached Bangalore by 9 PM with breaks at Kurnool and AP Tourism restaurant at the AP-Karnataka border for dinner. We checked into our hotel in Bangalore booked through OYO rooms.
Early next morning, we started our journey to Kutta, a village at the edge of the Nagarahole National Park. With a nice breakfast at Adigas in Bangalore, we inched to Mysore, partly because of the traffic and partly because of our frequent stops for coffee (you can find Cafe Coffee Day joints throughout the highway), to attend to kids, mending shoes (that tore a month back !) or simply leisure, vacation driving. Lunch was at Akshaya Restaurant on the highway, close to Mysore. The roads were good throughout, Bangalore-Mysore highway needs no mention and from Mysore, all the way to Nagarahole is a very pleasant drive.
Welcome to the jungle !
By 3 PM, we were at the gates of Nagarahole National Park, the archway with a statue of a tiger on it, welcoming you to the Tiger Reserve. For the next 30 kms, you drive through the forests of Nagarahole. The speed limit is only 30 kms/per hour. Even if there was no speed limit, you would still go only at that speed, the beautiful green forest won’t let you go any faster !
Such greenery in peak summer ! This board says it all !
Enjoy nature and stay happy. Would you not, when you find such pretty Spotted Deer, happily grazing under the green canopy and cool breeze?
At every nook and corner of the road, you can see these deer, some grazing, some strolling and some simply standing and staring at the vehicles passing by. It is not a rare sight to see deer but watching them in their natural habitat in large numbers is exciting !
More than spotting animals, the real thrill is looking for animals, your senses are so active that any small movement, will make you alert, every rock you spot seems like an animal hiding ! May be that really is the animal instinct in us !
It took us about an hour to drive through Nagarahole National park, stopping for a minute near the Safari ticket counter, there was a bus safari ready but we decided to do it the next day. We continued on to Kutta, closer to the Karnataka – Kerala border. Outside the National Park, you get onto the hills and the familiar, refreshing sights of the Western Ghats, cloud covered mountains, coffee plantations, betel nut trees and the winding ghat roads, make their appearance.
The prefect homestay !
We drove straight to The Jade, our homestay in the village of Manchalli in Kutta. The Jade is probably the most popular homestay near Nagarahole and there is every reason why they are the best, right from the beautiful traditional Kodagu house, serene surroundings, the great hosts, Kabir Thimmaiah and his family, to the heavenly delicious food, The Jade is a perfect homestay !
We reached the homestay around 5 PM and immediately, nice coffee was served to us under this gazebo overlooking the coffee estate and the hills beyond.
While we enjoyed our coffee, dark clouds gathered and it started raining heavily !
A house with an old world charm.
Greenery all around.
Hot coffee and rain. We were ready to retire then and there !
For now, we could only retire into our rooms, located in a pretty little cottage.
The rooms have a very comfortable, pleasant and positive feel.
There is also a play area for kids. More than slide and the merry-go-round, there is ample space, mud, fresh open air and rural feel that kids of today badly need.
We relaxed for a while and took a walk around the estate, we walked down a path that lead us to open fields, we could see the cloud covered Western Ghats in the distance.
Nature is like this huge plug point where we simply attach our mind wires and recharge !
We got back to the homestay before dark and stayed indoors as rain lashed outside, it was a lovely family bonding time while watching the rain. Our favourite part was sitting outside on the platform surrounding the cottage and chatting like people did outside their village homes on evening in the good old days.
Soon it was dinner time and one could write an essay on the food alone, if they knew all the adjectives to describe food that fills you with joy ! For foodies like us, it is a short cut to heaven !
We suppose we dozed off, the moment we landed on the pillow, that is what bliss is all about.
– We had read about people complaining about lack of decent food joints on the Hyderabad – Bangalore highway for a quick break. There are a few good ones near Jadcherla, a few near Kurnool toll plaza including Bharat Petroleum’s Ghar Dhaba. There are eateries, further up near Gooty and AP Tourism’s Haritha Restaurant near Bagepalli. You will find major cities/towns – Kurnool, Gooty, Anantapur and Chikballapur at an interval of every 2 hours.
– Nagarahole road is closed between 6 PM and 6 AM, so if you are planning to drive through the National Park, calculate your timings accordingly.
– While driving through the National Park, one is expected to behave responsibly and not disturb the wildlife by honking or teasing the animals. Remember, the forest belongs to them. You are prohibited from over speeding, stopping your vehicle or getting off it. If you spot an animal, leave it alone and admire it in silence. Do not throw trash in the National Park or anywhere else for that matter !
– If you want to refresh, you can stop near the Forest guest house area, which is half way through the National Park.
– The nearest rail station for Kutta is Mysore, from there one will have to hire a cab to drive to Kutta.
– The Jade homestay tariff works out to Rs.1500/- per person per night including breakfast and dinner, lunch is not provided because you are supposed to be out exploring the beauty of the place during the day ! Being a popular homestay, you may want to make your bookings in advance, the hosts only encourage prior reservations.
– There are quite a number of homestays in and around Kutta. You could always read up the reviews online.
– Thirunelly temple, Nagarahole National Park, Iruppu Falls, Dubare Elephant Camp, Kuruva Island are some of the interesting places around Kutta.
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