Year 2009 has come and gone, but it was "THE BEST" travel year I ever had.So it requires a mention here (just short of bragging eh :P). Never have I traveled so much in a single year.The travel bug has bitten me real hard in the bottom, so I cannot sit silently at home for more than 2-3 weekends :P. The mode of transport has varied from the gigantic trains to the measly bicycle, with bike,car and bus fitting themselves somewhere in between. Covered 3 states and 1 union territory and our country has 28 states (no guarantee when tat will increase ;) ), so what I have traveled is just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities awaiting me are infinite !!!!!
Many wonder, Why do people travel????
Is it for fun? Discovering new places ? Taking a break from the monotonous life we endure ? Our primate instinct of escaping to the wild outdoors ? or just for heck of it? bcoz you have nothing more interesting to do .......Well in my case all the above reasons are true and the last point in particular. Being a bachelor and having no girlfriend has resulted in weekends where I just laze around doing nothing, sometimes meet up with friends over a movie,lunch etc, other than that weekends in Bangalore is a boring option for me. So in order to avoid such a scenario try to get out of the city limits , the maddening traffic, the pollution spewed out my lakhs of vehicles, the ear splitting noise to some calm place where I can just relax and come back recharged to take on another week of monotonous life.
In today's world of information technology we have all the requirements at our fingertips, be it the details of the place , booking of tickets, contact numbers and what not. Imagine the same in pre-internet days, when the research what we do in a couple of minutes were obtained by word of mouth from friends, relatives and would usually take couple of months to plan a decent trip. Compared this with the present age where we can plan a trip for every weekend, the only thing required is the enthusiasm to go at such a pace, which believe me I have plenty of :).
Below is the gist of all the places visited in 2009, does not include trips to native or on a pilgrimage if at all any :P. Hope to increase the frequency and scale in 2010 with focus to Northern India. Probably 2010 might be the last year of aggressive traveling before I settle down concentrating on my future :), leading to tame travel plans. So got to make this year count in a big way :).
1. Skandagiri Night Trek(11 Jan 2009)
A full moon trek undertaken in the chilly month of January. Skandagiri is just off Chikballapur, where there is a diversion to be taken to the left while going from Bangalore. Roads are awesome(airport road), except the last stretch which is manageable. We went in bikes and reached the base at around 12 midnight. Trekked to the peak in moon light in around 3 hrs. Waited for the sun rise and returned back to Bangalore. Its best to avoid this place on weekends and full moon days. If adamant to go on such a day, expect to see a huge crowd. :(
2. Hogenakkal Bike Trip(14, 15 Mar 2009)
A 2 day bike trip we had undertaken to the border town of Hogenakkal in the month of Feb.Had taken the route of Hosur route and a right deviation just before Dharmapuri.While returning we took an interior route which joins at Attibele via TVS Nagar. The main attractions in this place are the coracle riding between the deep rocky gorges formed my the mighty Cauvery. Went to a sand beach by the river side and had a pain relieving body massage.Also there are number of small falls which can be accessed. Body massage is a must do thing at this place. Food is a problem if a pakka vegetarian.
3. Mekedatu and Chunchi Falls (4th April 2009)
A single day trip to the nearby Mekedatu situated at around 100 kms from Bangalore. Biking in the month of April along this route had a spine-heating experience. Had taken the Mysore road and just before the Kamath Lokaruchi we took a left deviation to reach Kanakpura. Reached the spot of Sangama where the river arkavathy converges to the river cauvery. Crossed the 2 ft deep river in our bikes :P . Moved towards Mekedatu which offers a breath-taking ravine. Had a nice bath at sangama. Moved towards Chunchi falls with around 2 km of trek from the parking place. The water at this time was minimum. Avoid this place in the peak of summer.
4. Kodaikanal(10-12 April 2009)
A nearly 450 km one way ride we had undertaken to spend long weekend we had, thanks to Good friday. Had taken the NH-7 route and after reaching the Kodai Road via Salem took a right turn to the enter the ghats of Kodaikanal. Even in the peak of summer this place was chilly. The warm clothes were out of the closet in the middle of summer. Lots of places to be covered around and can be done along a single route which covers most of the spots. A gem in middle of arid tamil Nadu summer. Imagine how this place will be in winter season????!!!!!!
5. Bandipur-Ooty Bike Trip (05-07 June 2009)
One of the craziest and most unpredictable bike journey. Had planned to just go to Bandipur and Gopalswamy betta. But ended up in Ooty for a cup of tea. Had travelled overnight to Mysore and left for Bandipur by the crack of dawn. Gopalswamy Betta is just before the Bandipur forests, with a diversion to right. Route was pretty awesome except for a section of around 20kms just before the forests. Ride through the forest was totally different experience. Encountered heavy rains the entire day adding to the out of world experience.
6. Shimoga Trip(30 July - 2 Aug 2009)
The district of Shimoga famous for receiving one of the highest rainfall in Southern India drew our attention. We planned the trip so as to coincide with the monsoon season and we were not at all disappointed. Had taken the midnight train to Shimoga and from then onwards moved to Thirtahalli, our base for the trip.Also did a river rafting on river Sita. The first blog I ever wrote was for the same trip. Monsoon time is a good time to visit this place.
7. Shivanasamudra-Talakad Bike Trip (28th Aug 2009)
A single day trip to the Shivanasamudra falls. There are 2 falls in here, one is Gaganchukki and the other Barachukki. Both are spectacular. the later more people friendly :). Also went to Talakad, but the last 20kms to the place is horrible. Talakad has lots of temple excavated from the sand dunes which has mysteriously raided the ancient city.
8. Wayanad Bike Trip (18-21 Sept 2009)
A popular tourist district in the state of Kerala. We got less than expected number for this trip i.e. 4 but even though it was a memorable trip. There are lot of places hyped by the Kerala tourism, but proper research will lead to an awesome time at this place. Had also gone to Calicut for an hour in the beach and returned back. Got an oppurtunity of discovering the less popular road via the Bandipur forests. Hotel rooms during a long weekend will be jampacked.
9. Kodachadri Trek (2-4 Oct 2009)
A trek which tests one's endurance not just physically but mentally as well. And doing the same in monsoon season notches it up a few levels. The psychological fact that millions of leeches vying for your drop of blood, is kinda creepy. Eventhough having encountered leech bites earlier, but seeing such a number pretty much overwhelmed me. While ascending it started to rain like the entire sea was draining itself over a small hole called Kodachadri, resulting in huge flash-floods in the dense forests, but thankfully not strong enough to wash us away. The views obtained during the ascent where really mindblowing.
10. Manchanbele Cycle Ride (22 Nov 2009)
One of the shortest but easily one of the toughest trip of the year. The cycling trip where I had a destination is mind , the Manchanbele Water Reservoir. Initial plan was to just reach the Big Banyan tree just off the Mysore road, but having still having oodles of energy left we decided to go to this place. Since the approach from mysore road is full of descents it resulted in steep climbing while returning back which pretty much sapped all our energy.
11. Pondicherry-Mahabalipuram Trip (5,6 Dec 2009)
A laidback vacation to eastern coast facing the Bay of Bengal. We first moved towards Pondicherry. A clean and sleepy city. Did some sight seeing and the next day moved towards Mahabalipuram along the scenic East Coast Road. Mahabalipuram is a small town famous because of various excavations found at this place. Joined the Chennai-Blore highway at kanchi and reached Blore by nightfall.
12. Kemmangundi Bike Trip (25-27 Dec 2009)
Travel 2009 was signed off in style by the biking trip to the offroading paradise of Kemmangundi. For 3 days we were in complete wilderness , with our group making up for the lack of wild animal sightings at this place :P. Had taken 2 different routes for onward and backward journey. Had taken the Blore-Tumkur-Lingadahalli-Kemmangundi route and while returning back took the Kemmangundi-Chikmagalur-Belur-Hassan-Blore route. The only place of shelter are the Govt guesthouses which have to be booked very much in advance if you expecting to go there on a long weekend.