Where their wanderlust took them...

Travel picks

Where their wanderlust took them...

Roving eye:Vanivilasa Sagara. Photo by authorA Buddhist stupa dating back to the third century BC, a dusty little town near Tumkur called Sira, a sleepy town near Sringeri called Kigga, the breathtaking Kusledhama beach and Vanivilasa Sagara were just a few places our travel writers went to this year. Here’s their top ten destinations.

1. Sannathi, Gulbarga: A Buddhist stupa that dates back to the third century BC with sculptures that shows portraits of kings, ancient stupas and stories from Jataka Tales is probably one of the best destinations I have ever visited in 2011. The stupa, which was excavated near Gulbarga, is being restored painstakingly by historians and the ASI, and will soon be seen in all its pristine glory (as it was more than 2,000 years ago.) An edict belonging to Emperor Ashoka along with the portrait of the mighty ruler is found here. 

2. Mettukal or Honnametti Rock, BR Hills: ‘I am the monarch of all I survey,’ this rock seems to say as it stands precariously on the cliff overlooking the forests of B R Hills. Leaning against the rock, I look down at the endless green canopy of mountains that has no human habitation around. Hit the boulder with a rock and you can hear metallic sounds. Local legends say that there is gold inside it and the Mysore Maharaja had tried to pull it down with elephants, but the stone refused to move. Another story speaks of the golden footprint left by Lord Ranganatha during his flight across the hills. 

3. Sira: A dusty little town near Tumkur, which was once a prosperous Mughal province, waits to be discovered and restored. The palaces which are now nonexistent were once the inspiration for Hyder Ali and his son Tipu to build palaces in Srirangapatna and Bangalore.

What remains today are the ruins of an ancient fort built by a Nayak and a dargah of the saint Mallik Rehman where Mughal emperor Aurangazeb’s daughter is buried as well. 

4. Begur: A small village located in the outskirts of Bangalore gives the City its identity. Amidst all the hectic construction that destroys an idyllic village, I saw an inscription in a 1,000-year-old temple that mentions ‘Bengalooru’ for the first time in history. It spoke of a Battle of Bengalooru fought around 900 AD. The settlement itself dates back to the sixth century and its story can be pieced together through the old temples, the crumbling mud fort, the remains of a Jain basadi, lost inscriptions , broken veeragallus or hero stones and scattered sculptures in front of houses .

5. Nagavalli, Tumkur: To begin with, there is nothing really in Nagavalli to see, especially if you are looking at it from the conventional sense of the word. But I spent some precious hours here in the night, looking for the nocturnal slender loris. My guide was a high school master, BV Gundappa or BVG Sir, who has selflessly been  creating awareness to protect these animals among the villagers for over 15 years. “We have rescued a lot of them from towns and villages and release them into the wilds. We also have a local veterinarian who takes care if they are injured,” he adds. The bigger threats, he says, are of road kills and electricity wires as several animals are electrocuted. People indeed do make places. 

Laksmi Sharath

6. Kusledhama beach: One of the most beautiful stretches along the Arabian sea, Kusledhama is a hidden  sea beach. Totally isolated and calm, the only sound you can hear is that of the splashing waves. Clusters of boulders add a meaning to the seascape. At eight km from Ankola in Uttara Kannada district, you can reach the beach by taking a bus to Honnebail (five km) and walking a further three km. A jeep or auto can be hired from the town.

7. A trek in Charmadi Ghat: Of the many exciting trekking trails in the Charmadi Ghat area, a trek to Ballalarayana Durga is indeed rejuvenating. While the ascent in the forest calms your senses, the views from the top are truly spectacular. The cascade of Arbi Bandajje is bound to leave you breathless. Take a bus to Dharmasthala and from there, hire a jeep to Bandajje where guides for the trek are available.

8. Vanivilasa Sagara: Among the countless lakes and reservoirs, Vanivilasa Sagara or Marikanive stands out as the most picturesque. With green hills flanking the blue waters it makes for an ideal picnic spot. Drive on NH 4 for 160 km to Hiriyur and take the left for 19 km to reach the spot. Buses are also available.

9. Kigga: Kigga is a sleepy town near Sringeri. While the quietness of the town itself is inviting, the sights of Rishyashringa temple, Sirimane Falls and a lovely green tank are reason enough to visit. Kigga is 10 km from Sringeri and can be reached by buses.

10. Kundadri: Close to Agumbe stands Kundadri, a moderate rocky hill known for its Jain temple. The sunset views from here rival those of Agumbe and it is less crowded. The ancient basadi and the sacred pond are also worth visiting.

Kundadri can be reached from Thirthahalli, Sringeri or Agumbe (15 km) via Guddekeri by bus.

B V Prakash 

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