Day 1 – Lepakshi – 27th June 2012
07:00 A.M. : Reach Hindupur
There are no direct buses from Lepakshi to any of the major cities and Hindupur is the closest town to get a connecting bus.
Although autos and buses both ply on the route between Hindupur and Lepakshi, the road is rife with potholes and an auto ride can be very bumpy. Opt for the bus instead.
08:30 A.M. :Take an auto to Lepakshi
09:00 A.M. : Visit the Lepakshi Virupaksha temple
There are five shrines in the main temple Gavi Virupaksha, Vishnu, Hanumanalinga, Ramalinga and Durga. Every year in the Durga festival, thousands of devotees come to the temple for Darshan. Situated in a corner it becomes difficult for the devotees to get it. It is solved in a very novel way by placing a mirror.
The ceiling of the temple has some beautiful paintings depicting stories of various Gods and Goddesses as well as the court of Virupanna himself.
In the temple compound is a huge Shivalinga shaded by Sheshanaga. Also in the compound complex is a foot impression believed to be of Sita. Near the bus stand is a giant statue of Nandi. Everyday this sculpture is washed by water and offers a breathtaking sight.
02:00 P.M. : Head back to Hindpur by bus. From there catch a connecting bus to B’lore.
08:00 A.M. : Take a bus to Calicut.
Wayanad is the first district after crossing Kerela border from Mysore and falls before Kozhikode
03:00 P.M. : Reach the picturesque town of Vythiri overlooking the cloud clad Chembra peak, the highest in Wayanad.
04:30 P.M. : Go for a boat ride in the Pookot lake, 3 km from Vythiri
05:30 P.M. : Go to the viewpoint at Lakkidi.
06:00 P.M. : Pay a visit to the chain tree on the route from Lakkidi to Vythiri
08:00 A.M. : Hire a jeep for the day for 1600 bucks to visit various spots across South Wayanad
08:30 A.M. : Visit the Soochipara waterfall. The name of the fall is derived from a rock in the shape of a needle.
10:00 A.M. : Visit the Edakkal caves.
The caves contain rock-cut sculptures depicting man,woman,cart-wheel, animals, etc. Two inscriptions on the wall document the inhabitants of the caves. i) A man who killed a hundred tigers, Nandu lived here(in Prakrit script dating back 2500 years) ii) King Vishnuverma lived here (Tamil Brahmi script, 2300 years ago)
01:00 P.M. : Go to the Karapuzha dam
Work at the Karapuzha dam had started years ago but stopped 5 years back due to land and political issues. The work has been started recently but is not yet a full-fledged tourist destination and enjoys unspoilt beauty and tranquility.
02:00 P.M. : Have lunch at ‘Homely Food’ in Kalpetta. The place is a family owned business opened in a homely atmosphere serving authentic Kerelite ‘Homely Food’. It is quite famous in the area.
03:00 P.M. : Visit the Banasura dam
Banasura dam is claimed to be the largest mud dam in Asia.
05:00 P.M. : Go to see one of the largest tree house hotels in the country at Vythiri resort. The resort is located amidst forest, km from Vythiri.
10:00 A.M. : Start from Vythiri.
There’s a strike in the neighbouring district, Kozhikode. Hence buses from Vythiri are disrupted.
10:30 A.M. : Reach Kalpetta and take a bus to Sultan Bathery.
Sulthan Bathery is a transport hub and has frequent buses to other neighbouring cities.
12:00 P.M. : Catch a bus to Gundlupet. There is no direct bus to Mysore or Bangaluroo.
Nanjangud was built around 9 century A.D. by the Ganga dynasty that ruled the area that time. Later it was renovated by the Vijayanagara dynasty and Wodeyar kings of Mysore.Known as the Kashi of South, the temple houses 200 big and small shrines and 121 statues of the various avatars of Lord Shiva along with 65 lingams.
05:00 P.M. : Catch a bus to Mysore, 20 km from Nanjangud
06:00 P.M. : Change bus to Bangaluroo at Mysore
11:00 P.M. : Take a return bus to Hyderabad
02:00 P.M. : Reach Pachmarhi.
I start in the morning from Bhopal and take a bus to Pipariya, 50 kms from Pachmarhi. Pipariya is the connecting junction to Pachmarhi with the hill station having no railway stations or direct buses to other cities of its own. Jeeps and other taxis, mostly Indica, ply to the colonial hill station through the dense forests of Saputara.
03:00 P.M. : Join a half-day excursion to Dhoopgarh
The best way to travel Pachmadhi is by hiring a safari gypsy. Pachmadhi, though frequented by a large number of tourists over years, most of the tourist spots lie deep in the jungle and do not have pucca roads. These rough-terrain utility vehicles are the most comfortable way to see around while the rolled-up roof offers a complete 360 degrees view of the splendid mountains and jungles.
On the way to Dhoopgarh, see the peak of Nagdwar. Nagdwar is a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that the Lord was once pursued by the demon Bhasmasur who was determined to burn all gods to ashes. The Lord had taken refuge in the cave. When Bhasmasur landed outside this narrow, 100-foot deep cave, Lord Shiva escaped taking the form of a cobra. Today, a naturally-formed idol of a cobra is the presiding deity at Nagdwar, with a small idol of Lord Shiva under it. There are 50 other temples here and can be reached only by trekking. Every year it is frequented by thousands of pilgrims in the season of Nagpanchami, specially from the areas of Vidarbha in Maharashtra.
07:30 P.M. : Return back to the hotel in Pachmarhi and retire for the day
06:00 A.M. : Wake up early to the sound of birds and crisp fresh mountain air.
09:00 A.M. : Start for JataShankar.
JataShankar is a naturally formed cave in a deep gorge. The rocks resemble the matted hair(jata) of Shiva, hence the name JataShankar.
10:30 A.M. : Visit the Gupt-Mahadev and Mahadev cave shrines
Both Gupt-Mahadev and Mahadev are shrines of Lord Shiva situated inside caves. While the Mahadev is larger, the Gupt-Mahadev is named so because the entrance is so narrow, it allows only one person to go at a time, making it the “secret” Mahadev temple.
01:00 P.M. : Visit Handi – Koh
The Handi Koh is a view point offering a beautiful sight of the Green Valley. This valley is named Green Valley because of the dense green trees covering it, however, it is spring when I visit. I get a splendid view of a yellow-orange-light green coloured valley. This variety of colours lasts only about 15-20 days.
The pool at the base of the Apsara falls forms a nice swimming area. During colonization, British ladies used to visit the fall to bathe. They looked like Apsara-angels to the locals who named it the Apsara fall. Interestingly, after the shoot of song sequence by Kareena for the movie Ashoka, the fall is also now knows as the Kareena fall
03:00 P.M. : Visit the Bee-fall.
Named so because of its sound like a swarm of bees and the stinging it creates as it falls on the skin, it supplies drinking water to the town of Pachmarhi.
05:30 P.M. : Go to Reechgadh
The Reachgadh gets its name from the touching of two cliffs(gadh-hills) at the top, looking like reaching out to each other. The area forms a rock shelter and has caves inside it.
09:00 A.M. : Leave for Pipariya
Day 1 8th Apr 2012
08:00 P.M. : Reach Habibganj station near Bhopal. Catch a bus to M P Nagar
09:00 A.M. : Catch a bus to Bhopal main station. Change a bus to Sanchi
The Stupa no 1 was believed to have housed the remains of Buddha, however the remains were not found. The remains of Buddha’s principal disciples Sariputra and Mahamogallana were found in the Stupa no 3 which were taken by the British museum and later returned after Independence. A beautiful Srilankan Stupa near the Sanchi Stupa houses these remains and are opened for public on the day of Buddha Purnima.
04:00 P.M. : Catch a return bus to Bhopal.
The Udayagiri caves in Vidisha, 10 km from Sanchi, is another place nearby worth visiting. However locals advise against travel with the Rang panchami in a 2 days and the local tradition of celebrating the holi with mud extending up to the 5th day.
05:30 P.M. : Visit the Upper lake.
Bhopal is also known as a city of lakes. The MP Tourism has water sports and boat rides on the lake and is a splendid view from atop the water research centre.
Day 2 Bhimbetka
09:00 A.M. : Catch a bus to Obedullahgunj, 50 odd km from Bhopal
11:00 A.M. : Reach Obedullahgunj.
On Reaching, I Come to know that Bhimbetka is another 10 km from the place. Buses do not ply frequently on this route. Villagers travel by hitching rides in trucks. I hop on a truck myself.
11:30 A.M. : Get down 3 km off Bhimbetka
Bhimbetka is 3 km off the highway, of which 2 km are inside the Ratapani Tiger Reserve. I walk for 2 km then get a ride by a family visiting the Mata temple.
12:30 P.M. : Visit the Goddess temple near the caves. The original temple is believed to be 5000 years old, though what is seen today is a small ceramic tiled temple. A cave on the top is where the Pandavas were believed to have lived
From there I take a bus upto Mandideep and from there an auto to Bhojpur.
04:00 P.M. Reach the village of Bhojpur.
However, while the temple was still under construction, Bhoja was killed in a war. The temple was never completed. However, it is still a living temple and sees a large number of devotees.
06:00 P.M. : Take a tempo back to Mandideep
07:00 P.M. : Catch a bus back to the city of Bhopal
Day 1 27th June 2012
07:00 A.M. : Reach Hospet
Direct buses to Badami are infrequent. Badami can be reached via Bijapur, Hubli, Hospet. Hospet is slightly longer than the other two routes, but I choose it for bus timing convenience.
09:00 A.M. : Catch the bus to Ilkal
10:30 A.M. : Reach Ilkal, 120 km from Hospet. Badami is further 50 km from here.
12:00 P.M. : Reach Badami.
I visit the Archelogical museum. The museum houses a beautifully carved 3 mt long torana and 3 sculptures depicting various stories from the Mahabharata.
There is life-size sculpture of the Lajja Gauri. The Lajja Gauri is a female fertility goddess worshipped for fertility and abundance. The goddess, in the child-birth-giving pose, is believed to have existed first in Aryan civilization and later became a part of Southern India. They have very less reference in Hindu scriptures hence they are believed to have existed outside the religion though were worshipped widely in the first millennium in the country.The pose though in birth-giving-like, the absence of the bulging belly indicates it actually denotes admitting to sex. Interestingly, the euphemistically named Lajja-Gauri meaning modesty has exposed genitals but a blooming lotus replacing the face.
03:00 P.M. : Visit the Badami fort belonging to the Chalukyan dynasty.
A magnificent granary and a Shiva temple on the top are worth the visit.
09:00 A.M. : Take an auto to Pattadkal, 20 kms from Badami. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Pattadkal has a number of temples dedicated to Shiva under temple architecture experimentation.
We visit the Banashankari temple, 5 km from Badami. First built-in 7th century A.D. it was destroyed by the Mughals. It was later rebuilt by a Maratha leader Parashuram Agale in the 18th century.
Every year a rath yatra takes place in the month of January when the generally peaceful Badami dons a festive look and devotees come from far and wide to participate.
02:00 P.M. : After lunch, head out for the Badami caves. Due to time crunch, skip Aihole, another temple site 18 km from Pattadkal.
There are 4 man-made cave temples and one natural cave leading to a Buddhist cave temple.
The first temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The 18 armed dancing Natraja, dancing Shiva, Ardhnarishwara – half Shiva half Parvati, Harihara – half Shiva half Vishnu, are the unique sculptures amongst 50+ others found in the first cave. The caves are named after the order of their discovery. However, the actual construction of the caves is also believed to have been in the same order with the first one the oldest.
Cave 2 and 3 are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and contain magnificent sculptures of Varaha (boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and Vamana (the dwarf incarnation of Vishnu) amongst others. The third cave contains the grandest sculptures in the cave-temples at Badami.
Cave 4 is dedicated to Lord Parsvanath and other Jain Tirthankaras. This is because by the time the 4th cave was built, the rulers had adopted Jainism.
06:00 P.M. : We leave for Hubli to catch bus back to Hyderabad.
Day 1 24th Sep 2011
09:00 A.M. : Reach Hospet, 15 kms away from Hampi. Catch a bus to Hampi
As soon as we alight from the bus, we are flocked by local boys trying to get people to look at the various homestay and guest houses. Many houses have been converted to homestay and are available at budget prices; we settle for one overlooking the Tungbhadra river. After lodging, its time to arrange the transport. We hire a bike to cover the ruins of Hampi spread over 25 sq kms.
11:00 A.M. : Visit the Virupaksha temple in Hampi bazaar.
The Virupaksha temple is a living temple that was first built in the 7th century and added to by various dynasties including the Vijayanagara dynasty.
02:00 P.M. : Ferry to the other side of Tungbhadra to Anegundi.
We see the stone chariot and a few other mandapas on the banks of Tungabhadra.
04:00 P.M. : Explore boulders situated on the road to Anegundi towards highway.
Hampi as famous for its ruins is also renowned for the boulder formation and attracts rock climbers from far and wide. We cross one hill and a canal and reach the peak of the second. The sun sets by the time we cross back the canal; it is dark. Without a torch or any other light, we are lost. We contemplate having to spend the night there when a few farmers returning from their fields find us. We get back to our bikes, but the ferry service had closed at 5, and it is already 8. We take the 50 km alternative route through the highway.
11:00 P.M. : Reach back Hampi.
We are tired after the dusty roads undergoing repair. Most of the restaurants have closed for the night, we are lucky to find one that is still open. Alcohol is illegal in Hampi but widely available; it is sold as special lassi.
05:00 A.M. : Wake up early to visit the temple on the Matanga hill, close to Hampi bazaar.
The climb is steep and has a few missing steps. We watch sunrise from the peak. The Achutya Raya temple is located right below the Matanga hill, and we have a splendid view from the top. Monkeys play on the steep rock faces close to where we sit.
10:00 A.M. : Plan to visit a waterfall villagers tell is 4 km from the main market.
We go off the main road to search the waterfall and cross through private farm lands as directed by localites. We even trespass a private fenced property guided by a farm help. The waterfall is not very big, hardly 10 feet, but the area is covered by huge boulders and the river flows under them for sometime. Water has seeped in through these rocks over years creating natural well like holes, up to 10-15 deep. The fall itself is 150 mts we are told. Our guide informs us there is a spot fit for swimming. We step on a hole and lose balance; the stream carries us in its current towards the fall. We manage to get hold of the rocks on the shore in the nick of time.
We cancel plans for the rest of the day.
05:00 P.M: Leave Hampi, catch the bus to Hospet.