Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rendezvous with Eternity

Lots of plans all along the way. But sometimes nothing seems to work out. But I had to keep up the promise I had made to myself. So I set out, all alone, to Eternity.

Ok. Enough of philosophy. I had made plans to visit Himada Gopalswamy Betta and Somanathpur. So I set out at 4:30 AM in the morning. Bangalore in the morning is worth a sight. All roads empty and no signals. Awesome !!!

Both these places are around Mysore. So it had to be Mysore road. I stopped enroute at a Coffee Day and watched the sunrise while sipping hot coffee. After relaxing my limbs, I hit the road again and reached Mysore at 6:30 AM. From Mysore, I followed the roads signs and some help by Yes-G towards HGB. The roads till Gundulpet are really good. But the roads after that are bone-rattlers. A turn to the right at Hangala village and you are 11 kms from Gopalswamy betta. The road to the top is very scenic and the ride is excellent. A temple dedicated to Lord Gopalswamy is at the top and the hill is covered with mist most the time (Hence the name). The temple is between the Bandipur National Park area and is protected. Hence, taking a hike is not advised (But rules are meant to be broken, arent they?). So I took a hike in to the hills hoping to find some elephants or bisons. But all I could see was a herd of deer at a great distance (But I did find lots of elephant dung though).

Time flew and before I realized people were starting to pour in. So I escaped from that place and started back. It was 10:30 AM by the time I reached the foothills again. And since Mysore was just about a hour's drive, I still had quite sometime at hand. So decided to drive through Bandipur forests hoping to catch sight of some fauna. But all I could manage was get more sightings of deer. It was deer, deer and more deer all along. SIGH !!!

Feeling frustrated and disappointed, I started back and made a stop at Gundulput to ease my aching bones. After some refreshments, I started back to Mysore. The ride was quite uneventful and I reached Mysore by 12:45 PM. I stopped at a restaurant for lunch and was on the way to Somanathpur soon.

If the road to HGB was a bone-rattler, then the road to Somanathpur was "uska baap". You can feel every bone in your body and every nut in your bike. However, the route is lined with lush green fields and the drive is very pleasant. I reached Somanathpur at around 1:45 PM. The temple appears out of nowhere. The temple is surrounded by couple of shops for the tourists and thats it. A beautiful and well maintained garden welcomes you to the temple. The temple is very old and beautiful. If you love archeology, then this place is your heaven. Some parts of the temple is in ruins and needs to be attended to. But that does not reduce the splendour of the place in any way.

I spent an hour and half at this place. Getting enough rest I started back. This time I planned to go to Maddur instead of going back to Mysore. Hoping the roads would be better, I started with renewed spirits. But no avail. The roads turned to be as bad as before. The drive till Maddur was nothing less than torture. I emerged highly shaken and sore when I joined Bangalore-Mysore state highway. And surely enough, the next stop was around 10 kms from Maddur - A Coffee Day.

I started at back towards Bangalore 5:15 PM and was back home at 6:45 PM, tired but satisfied.

Route Information:

Himada Gopalswamy betta (HGB): HGB is about 240 kms from Bangalore (from my house to be exact). You need to reach Mysore first (150 kms). Then at the entrance of Mysore, take the road towards Ooty. Drive through Nanjangud, Gundulpet and continue towards Bandipur. A few kms drive from Gundulpet, you will find a Karnatake tourism board (at Hangala village to be exact) directing towards right to HGB. You will need to take a left after some 4 kms on this road (There is a road sign which will direct you). From this place, HGB will be visible at a distance. At the foothills, you will find a forest checkpost. You will need to pay the entrance fee.

Somanathpura: If you are travelling from HGB, then continue on the same way back. On a junction, you will find a road sign directing towards Somanathpur. Somanathpur is around 35 kms from here. This road travels through Bannur and you will need to take a right after Bannur to reach Somanathpur. If you are travelling from Bangalore, take a left at Maddur signal and drive towards Malavalli (approx 18 kms). From Malavalli, drive towards Bannur (approx 15 kms) and reach the same junction as before, and take a left (this time) and reach Somanathpura.

Travel Tips:

  • Keep a watch on your fuel gauge. Petrol pumps are present only at some places.
  • Keep a check on your food and water stocks. You wont find any of these at HGB.
  • Knowing kannada is very helpful.
  • The roads are pretty bad. So be prepared for a rough ride.
  • Try to reach HGB as early as possible. This the best time of the day to visit HGB.