After another long gap we got an opportunity, in the form of a 4 day Christmas holiday, to go on an outing. It was late by the time we started planning and getting accommodation was getting difficult. After evaluating different options, we closed in on to either Coonoor or Kudremukh. We got a booking in a small hotel in Coonoor. But Kudremukh was more tempting as we had read quite a bit about it and it appeared more beautiful and pristine. Kudremukh or "Kudere Mukha"literaly means "Horse Face". It gets this name from the highest peak in that region which resembles the face of a horse. It belongs to the Western Ghats mountain ranges of India and has 600 sq. km. of protected forests. There was a large open pit iron ore mine by KIOCL ( Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd.) which has ceased operations now owing to environmental pressures.
Day 1:We took the Rajhamsa from Bangalore to Hampi. This is a direct bus but a better choice would have been a Volvo to Hospet and local transport to Hampi which is 12 km from Hospet. As soon as we set foot in Hampi , guides and rickshaw drivers stalked us like any typical tourist spot. We walked past them to figure our way to Padma Guest house (try this number if you want to book 08394 241331) which is just around the corner of the street, haggled with the landlady Padma (as Chetan had hinted me to bargain prices), checked in for Rs.350. But I feel the price was not a bad option considering I am not the foreigner who would take a room for Rs.50 and soak in the culture.
Visited Kokkare Bellur again, 15 months after my first visit. There were not many birds this time. Painted Storks were around 20-25 in number.Pelicans were very less in number. I counted 7 or 8 pelicans. I tried to get a decent shot of these big birds, but in vain. That pelican was hiding behind the tree branches as if its being guilty of something:P Few of the sun-bathing Storks posed for the camera without hesitation. And so was this squatting one Bellur, became famous &got the prefix ‘Kokkare’ (Storks) because of these beautiful birds &is home for hundreds of storks &pelicans.
Predictably my favorite beaches are located in my home state of Karnataka , though I like Goan beaches , they are too crowded for my comfort. I haven't been to Kerala 's beaches and the beaches in Tamil Nadu (at least the ones I have been to) were very dirty and full of dead fish. I have been to Mumbai's beaches but they were dirtier than the TN ones. In Andhra Pradesh and Orissa the beaches were so hot that I couldn't enjoy being there and to my bad luck I visited these states in the peak of summer so I don't have particularly fond memories of these locations. Anyway now cutting the chatter here are some of my most favorite beaches in Karnataka . The holy beach behind the main temple in Gokarna , crowded but it is so long that one can find some secluded place...
My last visit to Athirappilly waterfalls was more than 20 years ago and my memories of the famous waterfalls were faint. Off late the urge to visit them have been on the rise and to fulfill it we started our drive from Cochin to Athirappilly on a lovely bright morning. After taking the deviation at Chalakkudi, lovely winding roads took us through a lot of greenery to one of the hotspots of Kerala . Enroute we passed numerous plantations and small creeks before reaching the waterfalls. A long queue of kiosks, which sold various items awaited us at the parking area. The falls is located amidst the thick Sholayar forests near Tamil Nadu border.