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2012 New Year bash: Coorg January 11, 2012

Coorg : New year bash 2012

Place: Coorg or kodagu (Karnataka, India)

Speciality: Hill station (1500-2000 mtrs) above mean sea level. Coffee, spices plantation

Main town: Medikeri

Facilties: Almost all minimum facilities like ATM, filling stations, restaurants, hotels etc are there

Main Attractions: For detail please follow this link:

https://omus.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/coorg-trip-27th-28th-feb2010/

How to go? Madikeri is well connected from Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Hassan with regular buses running. Nearest airport is Mangalore (140Kms). Ours was by a rented Innova.

Our road map: Bangalore-Mysore- Hunsoor- Kushalnagar- Madikeri. Roads are very good as on 1st Jan 2012.

Enroute options : SH 17 (Bangalore-Mysore ) are dotted with restaurants n dhabas, cafes, bar & so finding one should not be a problem.

Follow link:  https://omus.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/sh17-bangalore-mysore-highway/ for more on SH17.

Hunsoor (Hunsoor Bypass) got few options like Café coorg. Kushalnagar is also infested with restaurants. We had our breakfast in Hotel Kings way, which was good in taste n budget (Rs. 400 for 6 people).

In nutshell, from Bangalore to Madikeri route has all basic facilities, a tourist route should have.

The plan to do something different for new year had weeks ago & it was decided to head off to some near-by hill station near Bangalore. Considering the crowd levels & cost factors, Coorg won over Ooty & Wayanad. But even after planning weeks ahead, it was difficult to get a cottage or homestay under reasonable price.What was shocking during our search that couples do pay up-to Rs. 50000 just for a weekend. Really it will be a fool to say India is a poor country. Anyways, coming back after making some 20 odd calls, we couldn’t find a deal for us. Frustrated (& was about to give up plan), I clicked 10th page in google n found Vanvihar Link. Luckily we got a good deal for us, which actually turned out to be golden deal. 

Two lessons from this exercise, infact three:

1) Plan your outing weeks ahead if you are in Bangalore. Because Bangalore will flood all the tourist places in 500 Kms radius.

2) India is not a poor country, it is unequaled distribution of wealth that is there.

3) Random/un-thought of things often turn out to be best things.

Anyways back to our New year bash, 6 of us: Avijit, Smruti, Baba Nihar, Srikant & HareKrishna started off in comfy 7+1 Innova on cool n cyclonic Saturday morning 4 AM . On way we had breakfast in Kushalnagar at Hotel Kings way (7/10). We reached our Homestay (Van Vihar), some 5 Kms from Madikeri, by 10 AM. After check-in & getting fresh, we were all set to explore few places in n around. We saw Raja’s seat , coffee plantation near our home stay & it was time for lunch. After lunch, we retired in our rooms, because of rain. Luckily, rain was gone by 9PM & we all partied into new year 2012 around camp fire.

Next day, we woke to stunning sun rise. This time I was actually getting a feeling why Coorg is called Scotland of Karnataka (if not of India). We started our return journey at 10 AM, visited Golden Temple in Bylakuppe, had lunch in Amarish Jungle Dhaba, on Mysore ring road near Infosys campus, & finally reached Bangalore by 8PM.

Ratings:

1)      Van Vihar Homestay : Cost ( Rs. 4000 per night). Easy can accommodate 5-8 people. It has got two houses with Ground floor, first floor & terrace. All the houses have its own kitchen & 24 hrs hot water facility. It had basic & neat & clean bedding (Pillows, bed, extra beds, blankets are provided) & toilet facilties. The caretaker, Pramod speaks good English & is very good guy. Terrace has some superb view of surrounding green hills. Although 6 kms from Madikeri, one feel like being inside a jungle with occasional traffic noise coming from nearby State highway.

Be wary , there are no near-by shops or any other facility. So prepare to bring your necessities beforehand. Also lunch & Dinner have tobe ordered beforehand, as they outsourced from outside.

Overall rating of the place (mine rating): 8/10

How to reach the place: Take a right turn just before Arch welcoming to Medikeri town (while coming from Kushalnagar or Bangalore or Mysore). From here there are Van Vihar board to guide. It is some 4-5 Kms from this turn.

For more details, click on Vanvihar website: http://www.vanaviharhomestay.com/

2)      King’s way restaurant: Kushalnagar. While coming from Bangalore, it is near the starting of town, on left side of road. Although small, it gave decent south Indian meals. It also Chole Batore, which surprisingly was also good. Cost wise it is medium with Dosa costing 35 to 45 rupees. Chole batore costs 60 bucks. Overall rating : 7.5/10

3)      Amarish Jungle Dhaba: On Mysore ring road, near to Infosys Campus. Generally flooded with Infoscians, it is a decent dhaba amid  densely packed coconut plantation. Be wary of coconuts falling. I had a close miss, with a coconut falling just 10 ft away from me. Overall rating : 7/10

4)      Rajvarshi Bar n restaurant: Near Raja’s seat, Madikeri. We had lunch there. Although ambience was bit old n dampy, but had plenty of food options. Taste was good. Our bill for 6 people lunching: Rs 1000. A Kingfisher premium costs Rs 100. Overall rating: 7/10

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SH17: Bangalore-Mysore Highway September 4, 2010

SH-17 Bangalore-Mysore highway

Courtesy: Google Maps

Like many Travel loving Bangaloreans, I am also one of them, who has travelled a lot in Bangalore-Mysore highway. Most reviews of this road is part of a big travelogue mainly Bangalore-Ooty or Bangalore-Mangalore or Bangalore-Coorg etc. Sadly there is no such blog which talks about just this and this highway only (as far as I could search in Google). So I decided to fill up this vacuum. Hope I am successful to some extent in this attempt. As I travel more n more on this road, I will definitely try out new outlets and post my reviews here. Request readers also to provide their valuable inputs.Your help in reviews and inputs will certainly help in capturing every single milestone of this 135 odd kms highway.

SH17, one of the most important highways of Karnataka, connects two biggest IT centers of Karnataka: Bangalore and Mysore. Certainly can be called IT nerve of Karnataka. Also this road is one of the preferred roads to go to Mangalore, second largest city of Karnataka. Besides connecting to economic centers of Karnataka, this road is a must to reach the Tourist centers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, mainly to ecologically sensitive “Western Ghats”. For Bangaloreans heading towards Coorg, Ooty, Wayanad (North Kerela), Satyamangalam (Veerapan’s erstwhile den), this road is must. SH-17 is also an alternative road to Mangalore, if one donot want to drive on NH-48.

Flow of SH-17: Bangalore-Kengeri- Bidadi- Ramanagara-Chana patna- Maloor- Maddur- Mandya- Srirangapatna- Mysore.

Ok, focusing back to highway SH17, 4 lane higway with divider, is one of the best roads in Karnataka (in my 3000 odd KMs travel-driving history inside Karnataka, sice June 2006), but is also busy and so notorious for number of accidents it sees in a day. Focusing back on goods, it has plenty of petrol pumps to fuel your vehicle’s stomach and more number of restaurants to fill in your body’s tank. Also to cater eyes of tourists, there’s plenty on the highway, but for sure donot keep high expectations. If out just for a casual break from Bangalore, then there’s plenty, but if one’s expectation is of a full fledged vacation, then there’s not much on road, but this roads does lead to places of those expectations (as I mentioned earlier Ooty, Wayanad, Coorg,Mysore etc.). SH-17 has milestones for people with religious taste, nature’s taste, amusement taste & also for people with dry n hungry toungues always. Last is the one, I would most recommend SH-17 for, if one is fond of highway and its food. If out just for food, better stay in Bangalore or Mysore ;-).

Sight seeing hungry eyes:

a) Wonderla: In Bidadi, its best amusement park of Bangalore. I have been there 4 times and never tired of going there. Just avoid weekends. If you want to enjoy best of this amusement park, go on a weekday. For me its 10/10. Its 2KMs off SH-17.

http://www.wonderla.com/

b) Innovative film city:Another supposedly amusement park for Bangloreans. I had gone once, hopefully will never go again, at least on my money.So thats sums up my take on the place. Its just over-priced. https://omus.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/innovative-film-city/

http://www.innovativefilmcity.in/

c) Ramanagara Hills: In Ramanagara, this is the place where Sholay saga was shot. Personally for me, its perfect place to take a break from Bangalore.

d) Go-Karting: Beside Raja Rajeswari hospital, good place to throw some money to get some adrenaline rush.

e) Fun-fort: Some 10 KMs before Mysore on SH-17, again this is an amusement park. Although never been there, but from outside looks, I can say its cousin of Innovative film city.

 f) Sri-Rangapatnam: I won’t write on this, since it is well covered in blogs related to “Mysore tourism”.

For people with religious appetite:

Nithyanand Ashram n Banyan tree: Personally its a no go. But still people go, so mentioned it.

Anjaneya Swamy temple (Kengal): Never been inside. But from outside it looks impressive, mainly because its nestling in a coconut tree farm.

Mosque in Ramanagara:

Fill up for a hungry Belly:

a) Sports cafe SH-17: http://sportscafesh17.com/

Its latest addition on SH-17. I saw only in my last drive on this road. So, till now haven’t been there, but outside looks did catch my attention, so surely will go there and note down my reviews. Hoping outside looks stays intact inside even.

b) Mc Donald: The world famous fast food chain is around 10kms after Maddur, driving towards Bangalore. Comes on right side. Got the usual menu. Who has appetite for western fast food, its heaven. It has everything, to make it a perfect higway stop. Huge parking area, petrol pump, neat toilets and good views of highway. I had stopped here after 1.5 hrs of non-stop driving and so exhaustness made me to eat a bill of Rs 150 (which is big in McD). It scores  10/10 for me.

c) Kamat Upachar :This was the first restaurant I went in, on SH-17, way back in 2006. Again its South Indian menu with toilet facilities make it a good stop on highway. Crowd happens to be there everytime I have went past this restaurant, stating its popularity among higway travellers. Although I donot have pleasant  memory of services, but I hope it has improved over years. Anyways for Idli-vada-Dosa lover, this is a good stop with reasonable price (may be 20% over-rated..but thats in 2006). I think 7.5/10 will do justice to place.

d) Maddur Tifany’s:  Falling on left of road, immediately after Maddur, while driving towards Bangalore, this is a very famous restaurant. Unluckily, I always plan to have food here, but plan never succeeded. But as per many travelogue blogs, this is highly recommended for breakfast and meals. Also whenever, I drive past this restaurant, its parking lot will be full. On my next drive on SH-17, this will be must..:-)

e) Kamath Lokaruchi: This restaurant has escaped my eyes or deleted from memory. I donot remember where exactly this is, but many blogs have mentioned about this restuarant, so decided to mention in here. Surely next trip, this restaurant will be my second priority, so that I can write a detail review.

f) CCD (MTR & Indradhanush): SH-17 is dotted with CCDs. The famous coffee chain is a constant companion along this drive and you are never far away from this. I have never stopped any of these CCDs, because its doesn’t fall within toungue taste and purse range. But I still would like to mention about the chain here, because it certainly is popular among Bangalore geeks and certainly going by Bangalore CCD’s experience, they are worth a stop with ultra neat toilets and relaxed atmosphere. People with fat purse and appetite for coffee, no doubt CCD is a relaxed milestone. One of the CCD (as imprinted in my memory) is clubbed with petrol pump, will surely find out in next trip and mention in here.BTW CCD stands for Cafe Coffee day [& BTW stands for “by the way”].

g) Adiga’s: The famous South Indian chain of restaurant, is right after Maddur, falling on left side, while driving towards Bangalore. I need not mention about the food of this famous South Indian food chain. Never been in this particular stop, but again this is also one of the busiest restaurants, I have seen on this highway. Will sometime get a review of this and jot it down here.

h) Amravati Restaurant: Immediately after Mandya (when heading towards Bangalore, it is on right side). This peice of information is from a blog and this restaurant has never caught my eye. Since it has good reviews on quality and price of food, I decided to give it a mention here.

i) Kadu Mane: Looks like half brother of Kamath chain of restaurants. The pure veggie restaurant is immediately after exit of Bangalore, right on left side of SH-17, while driving out of Bangalore. Specialising in South Indian food, taste is good, ambience is excllent, so is parking place and toilet.  Makes for a good stop for breakfast, once out of Bangalore. Overall score: 7.5/10 (Half point deducted, because I felt it to be overpriced,Rs 130 for breakfast for two. Proximity to Bangalore had its effect..:-) ). Traffic in n out of this place is a proof of its popularity.

Now there are thousands of Dhabas in SH-17, especially immediately after exiting Mysore, in Mandya, Maddur, Ramanagara, Channapatna and Bidadi. Because of its 2-T traffic (tourist and truck), that too comprising people not only from all parts of India, but world over, there are few theme based resorts and restaurants.

Most, rather all of the dhabas, have open air-under tree shade, eating tables and also hut shaped enclosed eating space, for people wanting some privacy. Few of the dhabas I have been till date are:

a) New Roti land: First dhaba one comes accross, while exiting Mysore and joining the highway. It is beside the big HP club petrol pump. They do serve alcohol, but I have seen families coming in here, so that should not be a problem.

Ambience: 7/10. Could have done better .

Hygiene: 6/10. Again there’s lot of scope for improvement.

Taste: 8/10. Scores went up a bit not because of my veg order but because of my friends praise for 3 versions of chicken they had. I had ordered Paneer, naan.Although there was lot of paneer, but masala was somewhat disappointing.

Service: 7/10. Our waitor was good.

Value of money: 7/10. I felt it was Justly priced. Hygiene of place and dress of waitor brought overall scores down.

b) 7 Hill dhaba: Probably last Dhaba on SH-17. Immediately after this, Bangalore buzz starts. Fooding, drinking both goes on.

Ambience: 7/10. Could have done better .

Hygiene: 6/10. Again there’s lot of scope for improvement.

Taste: 6/10. None of preparation was great. One reason could be timing. We had lunch at 3:30PM. But still taste didnot do justice to our tongues.

Service: 5/10. Waitor was just in-different to us. I donot know why??

Value of money: 5/10. I think proximity to Bangalore had its effect on this dhaba. It was overpriced and service was poor. So was hygiene. 

c) There’s another in Bidadi, where I had breakfast twice. Unfortunately I have forgotten its name. The restaurant is known for “Tatte idli“, a big jumbo sized idly, famous locally. One idli was enough for my breakfast. It had ok toilets, small parking place and both open air and closed restaurant. Overall score: 7/10. I donot think, I will be going there for the third time.

So till now, as per my experience, Maddur is best place to have any food on this highway. The other best part is, it is kind of mid-point of this highway. If you see all top restaurants mentioned, are in and around Maddur. Well Maddur could comfortably be called “City of Quenching SH-17 Highway Appetite“.

Miscellaneous:

Bangalore University, R V College of Engineering, Raja Rajeswari Hospital and College, Shaneswara Temple

Mandya (Sugar city): PES college, Govt Boys College, BGS global hospital, Mandya Medical college, Girija Theatre

Maddur: Swantantrata Soudha (Impressive structure in a village)

Ramanagar: Ghousia College, Couple hill view resorts are there.

Bidadi: 600 years old Banyan tree inside now ill-famed Nithyananda ashram

Vehicle’s appetite:

HP petrol pump: immediately exit of Mysore, after joining main Bangalore-Mysore highway. There are couple of good Petrol pumps with toilet and fooding facilities. So SH-17 not only takes care of yours , but also your vehicles’ appetite.

off SH-17:

1) Sivanasamudram water fall:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shivanasamudra_Falls

2) Cauvery Fishing camp: http://cauveryfishingcamp.com/

     Galibore fishing camp: http://www.holidaymakers.in/packages/adventure/galibore-fishing-nature-camp.html

  Doddamakali Nature Camp: http://rohbust.blogspot.com/2009/06/trip-report-doddamakali-nature-camp.html

3) Melukote Temple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melukote

4) Somnath Temple: http://www.south-india-tour-package.com/south-indian-temples/karnataka-temples/somnathpur-temple.html

Please follow following rules while you drive not only in SH-17, but anywhere:

1) Wear seat belts (if driving a car). Wear helmet if driving a two wheeler. 

2) Drinking n Talking on Mobile, should never accompany driving.

3) Donot trash, carry your trash and dump it responsibly

4) Obey traffic rules, Lane discipline is must.

5) Drive responsibly. In village respect pedestrian traffic and in forests respect presence of other species.

6) Respect others culture, customs, language and food.

BE RESPONSIBLE & EXPLORATIVE TOURIST and NOT AN EXPLOITIVE ONE.

WISH YOU HAPPY DRIVING n HOLIDAYS n SAFE JOURNEY.