Trip report: Anaikatti

Anaikatti is a sleepy hamlet about 30 mins from Coimbatore, at the beginning of the foothills that are part of the Palghat pass in the Western ghats. Sterling Anaikatti (like most sterling resorts) is another 15 mins away, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. This is one of the smaller resorts compared to other Sterling resorts. Beautiful all wood buildings and the beautiful River Siruvani flowing besides it. You cannot get into the river but there are nice sitout spots from where you can relax just watching the river flow by and hear the gurgling of the water.

River Siruvani from Sterling

Day 1: We started early from Bangalore (6AM). Breakfast at Murugan idli Krishnagiri around 7ish. Sailed past most of the toll booths on NH44 because of early morning and weekday (Monday). Crossed Salem and got onto NH 544 towards Coimbatore. We hit straight to Isha because we had done significant speed and reached around 1245PM.

It is definitely worth a one time visit. Beautiful. Massive. Peaceful. The Dhyanalingam shrine, where one needs to sit down and meditate for 10-15 min is amazing. There is a certain vibration / feeling that one gets when one sits in front of that huge lingam and the lamps and the silence, and the whistling of the wind.

We walked around all the other shrines. had simple meals in the cafeteria there. Good simple stuff. Saw the tallest face state of Adiyogi (Yep – it is a Guiness world record holder it seems).

On a lighter note, I am sure someone advising Sadhguru (while building Isha) was a big fan of Jurassic park. The tall arched entrances, the arecanut tree plantations, the wooden nameboards, the cursive handwriting. All too familiar. Son was making fun that a t-rex was going to jump out from nowhere.

Reached Sterling Anaikatti in the evening. Rest of the day/evening was just walking around the resort. It is indeed a very peaceful place. No dikchak DJ crowd. Mostly families with children who have come for a relaxing break. Suited us. ymmv of course.

View of the wooden buildings in Sterling Anaikatti

Day 2: First of three outings. Jeep ride to Edavani. This is an area about 30-40 mins from the resort through the mountains, crossing a few mountain streams (which just run over the road), eventually stopping a few km before the road ends. To go beyond, one needs permission because it is an area where tribals still habitate. One of the oldest living tribal populations in the area. The jeep driver stops at another of those mountain stream crossing places where we could get off the jeep, and get into the stream and just relax. The ice cold water was so clear and fresh.

Day 3: Second outing was called River walk. Again a jeep ride for about 30-40 minutes takes us to the banks of the river Bhavani. And the driver took us on a mini trek (no slopes) through dense vegetation along side the river all the way to a place where the River Siruvani and River Bhavani merge. And on the trek back, we were shown a spot where we could jump into the water. Safe rocky place. This was becoming a pattern 🙂

Day 4: Third and final outing was to a place called Maranati. This is an exciting jeep ride. About 20-30 mins of regular road and the last 15 mins was full off-roading on mud/rock paths on a 45 degree incline. At the end of it was a small water fall and a bit of slow rapids, where we could, yeah – you guessed it, jump into the water. We spent a lot of time here much more than the other two days. The other side of the river resembles a water hole like you see in Nat Geo. Our jeep driver told us that this was part of the Nilgiri Bio reserve, and in the late evening / nights, one can spot wildlife (mostly elephants) coming to drink water. We spotted only peacocks at the time we were there.

On all the three days, we were back for lunch at the resort. Evenings were mostly spent playing shuttle, TT, or board games (advantages of taking the car – we took on a bunch of games from home).

There is an evergreen forest about an hour away called Silent Valley. You drive up an hour and then the forest department takes you for a 4 hour jeep ride in the forest. Unfortunately we could not go because tickets were all booked up. Our jeep driver was saying, it is good to explore if you book that in advance (even before you land up).

The stay was comfortable. The rooms were a bit small. There are two types of rooms here – normal and premium. We could not get the latter. Premium rooms are slightly bigger and are an independent cottage types, whereas the normal rooms are 6 rooms in a block – two floors of 3 rooms each. There are only 6 premium rooms in the entire property. So try booking early. Food was decent – nothing to write home about.

Day 5/Return: Started early again 615ish. Dawn was just breaking. Easy 45 min ride to Coimbatore. Had breakfast at Annapurna Sai baba colony. And then headed to Marudhamalai Murugan temple. Reached around 8ish. Had a great darshan, and then started back to Bangalore.

Brilliant breakfast at Annapurna
Misty Marudhamalai

Lunch at Aasai Dosai Saravana Bhavan (Salem) around 1245 and back in Bangalore around 5ish. All in a good relaxing trip.

Wayanad-Kozhikode roadtrip – May 2017

Started off early at 6:15AM on a Thursday morning. Route plan was Bangalore – Nice Road – Mysore Road – Ramanagara. Breakfast at Kamat Lokaruchi. Took roughly an hour (usual time) to get there.

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The route from Ramanagar is – Mysore Bypass – Nanjangud – Gundlpet. At Gundlpet, you fork off towards Wayanad/Sultan Battery (the other road goes towards Ooty). After a few miles from Gundlpet, you get into forest territory. Awesome road and scenery all around.

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Super roads all the way. Took another half hour to get Windflower Resorts. Reached around 1:30PM – right in time for lunch.

If you went all the way to Vythiri town, you went too far. There is a town just before it called Chandel Junction. At Chandel, look out for Canara Bank and SBI ATM on the left, and a road that goes down hill right opposite it. The corner is also an auto stand. Easy to miss. You go down the road, or what is called a road for 3.5km. Horrible horrible driveway. Apparently they have not repaired the road because it is under some court stay order.

The resort is just fantastic. Isolated. But beautiful. We had booked a villa with a private jacuzzi. Totally enjoyed the room and the resort. Some pictures of the resort below.

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We went to Pookode lake one of the days, and totally not worth it. Super crowded small (compared to Ooty/Yercaud) lake. There is also a view point on the Kozhikode road that is pretty darned good. But we had to run off quickly. Too many rowdy monkeys demanding stuff from the tourists.

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There is one other place near by, called Banasura Dam. It is the second largest earthen dam in Asia (largest in India). You can do a speed boat ride (super awesome – my son loved it!) and just get some awesome views of the dam and the Kabini river.

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We stayed there Thursday and Friday. We were planning to leave Saturday back to Bangalore. But we realized that Kozhikode was just 2 hours away. And the beach beckoned. So we made a flash decision. Was able to snag a room in a beach resort in Kappad beach, which is 20 km from Kozhikode. The resort (Renai Kappad Beach resort) is separated from the beach by just a small road. We did Banasura on Saturday morning, on the way to Kozhikode. Reached Koppad beach by lunch time.

Evening was spent on the beach. Super time was had.

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Back to Bangalore on Sunday morning. Had breakfast in Kozhikode. It is a long ride back to Bangalore. Almost 10 hours including breaks. Lunch was at Gundlpet. There are a couple of decent restaurants just outside of the town. Reached home around 6PM.

 

Ooty Road-trip Oct 2 weekend 2015

General trip notes:
  • Mostly the roads were good – except for a short stretch from Mysore to Nanjangud – where there is road widening that is happening. Once this is finished, the road should be fully done.
  • I took the Masinagudi route to/from Ooty – this is the 36 hairpin bend short route. The road in this stretch is also awesome.
  • The road inside the Bandipur sanctuary has been freshly laid and is really good.
  • On our way to Ooty, we passed by the Bandipur area around 6PM. Looks like this is a great time to spot animals. Spotted hordes of bison, deer, and peacock.
  • On our way back, the traffic was horrendous. All of Bangalore was returning from the long weekend.
  • Do not miss the wood fired pizza at Nahar Side walk cafe. Their multi-cuisine restaurant – Chandan – is also pretty good. Both are pure vegetarian.
  • The Sterling Elk Hill property has undergone massive renovation and looks super posh inside. They are adding more rooms as well.
  • On the way back, if you want to fill gas, there is a bunk, right at the beginning of the Mysore road (from Ooty).
  • If you want to avoid the maddening crowds of Ooty, and want a relaxing drive, drive down the road towards Kundha/Upper Bhavani. The Emerald lake is just an awesome vista point.
  • If you want to have lunch in Mysore, but do not want to go into the city, there is a Kamat Madhuvan, just near the Mysore bypass.

 

Road trip : Bangalore to Kumbakonam and back

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Trip details:

  • Distance = 443 km (one-way)
  • Road until Namakkal is awesome (4-6 lane National Highway). I keep referring this to as Vajpayee Road – lest we forget the great man who kicked off the Golden Quadrilateral Highway project.
  • Speed will drop while approaching Salem though. Even though it is a bypass, several roundabouts and a lot of traffic will reduce your speed.
  • After Namakkal, it is 2 lane highway. Road quality is pretty decent though.
  • I was told that the last stretch to Musiri is really bad. So my brother-in-law had asked me to take the Kulithalai bridge just before reaching Musiri. The Kulithalai to Trichy road runs parallel to the Musiri Trichy road – just on the other side of the River Cauvery. The road however is decent.
  • Once inside Trichy, there are two ways to reach Kumbakonam.
  • First way is through Kallanai (Grand Anaicut) -> Thiruvaiyaar -> Kumbakonam.
  • I took this road on my onward journey. This is typical country road. Single lane. The road quality is OK, not spectacular. There are patches of good and bad roads. I am told however to avoid this road during rainy season, since the road quality invariably deteriorates.
  • Second way is through Tanjore -> Kumbakonam.
  • I took this road on the way back. From Trichy, take the road towards Samayapuram. You will see the road leading to Nagappitanam. This is a national highway connecting Nagappatinam->Coimbatore. Extremely good road. This road leads you to Tanjore outskirts. Take the Tanjore bypass toward Papanasam. You will hit Ammapettai, Papanasam, Swamimalai and then Kumbakonam.
  • Tanjore to Kumbakonam is typical of all Tanjore district (tanjavoor jilla roads :)) roads. Single lane. Winding roads with trees and fields on both sides. THe road will pass through every village/town on the road. Crazy bus drivers. Watch out for unmarked speed breakers too.

Om Arunachala

Last weekend, I did a whirlwind road-trip. Left Bangalore Friday afternoon at around 245PM, reached Thirvannamalai around 630PM. Stayed there overnight. Early morning, had dharshan of Lord Arunaachaleswara, and left for Kumbakonam by around 745AM. Reached by around noon. Stayed there overnight. Picked up the wife and baby, and started for Bangalore early .. around 630AM. Reached Bangalore around 5in the evening. Fairly fatigueing trip. One way is around 400km (slightly short of it). Did not take too many snaps, but here, for your viewing pleasure, I have two snaps of the Adi Arunaachaleswara temple in Thiruvannamalai.