Usually it takes an enormous bribe or dire threats to get me agree to a road trip.I am quite content to pack the picnic basket for others and receive picture postcards or photographs in return. One of the main reasons for this is that traveling in diesel cars on rough roads has never been much fun for me. I keep rolling the windows down to take a bout of fresh air to combat my queasiness, while those around sit on the edges of their seat waiting with supplies such as sickness bag and cold water in case I throw up. Not exactly anyone’s idea of a “FUN” outing. So it was with much reservation that I chalked out the route for a day trip to Channapatna, Mallur and Melukote with my sister and daughter-in- law - something do-able even for a terrible traveler like me and close enough for us to turn back if my tantrums got really uncontrollable. The plan was to leave by 7:30 and return by 5:30 p.m.

Armed with adequate supplies of water, gelusil, Eno, churan varieties, lemon drinks, paper bags and music CDs, we left home by 7:30 a.m. We were to stop for breakfast at Kamat Lokaruchi at Janapadaloka in Ramnagaram which, according to blog reports, serves unlimited quantities of idly, Vada, dosa, akki roti, pongal etc. apart from fruits, juice and coffee/ tea for a mere 80 bucks. It seemed worth making the trip just for this. Thinking of this breakfast had made us quite hungry but it was 8:45 by the time we were actually there.

Our driver Suresh must have been an ambulance driver in a previous avatar as he could not bear any other vehicle between our car and the destination. Although the car did not have a siren he compensated for it by honking all the way despite our vociferous protests. I explained that we had all day and we were in no hurry to get to any of these places. The idea was to see what was possible within lunchtime and then head back. It seemed that his desire to get ahead of all vehicles on the road had nothing to do with our plans. It was just the way he operated. But for this he was in control of the vehicle and knew the way to all the places we had in mind.

Breakfast was nothing exceptional but definitely value for the money paid. The dining hall had thatched roof and was surrounded by trees. The place was swarming with monkeys who seemed not a bit threatened by the hordes of tourists.
The toilets were wet but clean.

Once our bellies were full we became serious tourists looking out for places of interest on our way. One such was a board pointing to a road leading to the Government Lacquer ware Craft Complex where we decided to stop on our way back. The idea was to visit the temples before they closed for the afternoon. In a few minutes we were at the Shri Aprameyaswamy Temple at Doddamallur. It is an ancient temple about 1500 years old. One of the priests informed us that Lord Rama stayed here and had worshipped Lord Aprameya. Hence the deity here is known as Sriramaprameya. His consort here is called Aravindavalli. Both the idols are very beautiful, especially the way their eyes were done up was very alluring. The other main attraction at this temple is a very beautiful idol of Lord Navaneetha Krishna in the form of a crawling child holding butter in his hand. At the shop outside the temple we saw pictures of the idol decorated with butter and in another dressed up as a king. There were just a few other visitors at the temple. A couple had come with a prayer for a child. Before performing the special prayer for them the priest asked them to pledge that they would return to the temple with an offering of a toy cradle after the child is born. We saw many cradles hanging from the roof of the sanctum.
It is said that Saint Purandaradasa composed the song ‘jagadhodharana” inspired by the form of the crawling Krishna (Ambegalu Krishna) and outside this shrine is a stone on which the song is inscribed.
Despite its ancience and associations with Rama and Purandaradasa, the temple has managed to remain relatively less touristy. We did not see many tourists probably because it was a weekday. It seems a lesser known destination even to people who have lived in Bangalore for generations.
By 10 am we were back in the car and asked our pilot Suresh if we could reach Melkote by 11. He readjusted his fingers around the horn and feet around the accelerator and happily nodded. It helped that the road was good until 30 km. before Melkote and then we had to turn into a mud road which slowed us down a bit. Undaunted, Suresh jumped over sugarcane and straw spread over the road and zoomed through the curves and narrow lanes so we were outside the Tirunarayana temple a little past 11. This is a very sacred shrine for the Vaishnavites as Sri Ramanujacharya had stayed here for a few years and worshipped at this temple. In fact both the main image and the one used for processions are supposed to have been lost and restored back to the temple by Sri Ramanuja. Again the images of all the deities are extremely beautiful in this temple. The temple has a beautiful tank or Kalyani Theertham which has featured in quite a number of kannada films. (We were told that the song “Barso re’ from Guru was picturized here.)
Melkote has another important temple for Yoga Narasimhaswami which is on a hill and which is reached after climbing 250 steps. Legend has it that the deity was installed by Prahlada. There were too many partitions in the Darshan area forcing the visitors to crowd together to get a good view of the shrine. And although there were about 4 or 5 priests, it was surprising that none of them would oblige us with the holy water despite our repeated requests. It seemed that all of them were having a bad day.
From the top, there is a nice view of the town and its neighborhood.

All the way down there were beggars on the steps, some singing Bhajans and some just begging. We made a brief stop at the Temple tank before heading back towards Maddur for Lunch at Adiga’s Hotel. Although I was quite pleased with the behavior of my digestive system so far in the trip, I decided not to push my luck and settled for a Roti and Corn masala and helped myself to some payasa and gulab jamun from the South Indian and North Indian Thalis ordered by others.

Post-lunch we went to meet the Painted storks and pelicans at Kokkare Bellur. We followed the directions on the signboards and were surprised to see one board which just said Kokkare Bellur with no arrows pointing anywhere. So we looked around for a lake which is where we expected the birds to be gathering. Not finding one, we casually looked up and found them right there – perched on the trees. As we walked around the narrow street we saw every tree covered with hundreds of them and a few babies in their nests too. They were beautiful and seemed completely at peace among the residents of the village who were having a noisy prayer to drum beats at their temple. I could not get much information on why the birds chose this particular spot for migration every year. One reason could be the proximity to the river Shimsa which might supply them with all the fish they need. The trees were nothing special – ordinary tamarind trees. So that doesn’t offer any explanation. The villagers seem to consider them as harbingers of good luck and the bird droppings acts as good manure for their crops. Apparently the villagers treat the birds as their own and prevent them from being harmed. So perhaps the birds feel secure here. I wish they would open their beaks and speak.
A few children ran to our car and pointed to other trees with birds. One of the boys showed us a wounded Pelican and said that it ate 6 kg of fish everyday and drank huge volumes of water, I forget how much. Then he asked me if I could give him some pens. He looked about 6 or 7 and so I asked him what he would do with a pen. He said he needed it for school work and a three year old next to him nodded. I knew for sure that they did not use pens for school work but took out the three pens from my bag and handed it to them, By then more children had gathered demanding pens. One girl even offered: ‘Give me money, I will buy pens from the shop’. We did not want to give them money so we gave them some biscuits and they were happy. It was also funny that they kept calling us "teacher' but at least that is a sure sign that they all go to school. or is it?

Passing through Channapatna, we stopped for tea and some shopping for the famous Channapatna toys. There were a few shops on the highway but when we went in they did not seem very interested in selling stuff to us.
Since we did not particularly fancy anything either, we decided to look for them in the government craft complex but at another time. My experience so far even gave me the courage to announce: ‘I think we could drive down on our own.”

So we started homeward stopping briefly at the Kengal Anjaneya temple at Ramnagaram on the highway. We could not take the road to Kanva reservoir about 5 km away due to road repair work. We looked at our watches. It was about 3:30 and getting back home before the horrible city traffic started sounded like a great idea. So we let our driver Suresh step on the accelerator while we dozed in our seats. At 4:45 we were already home drinking tea.

A very short and pleasant day trip via the NICE road and the Bangalore-Mysore expressway (SH17). The drive is quite smooth except when you drive through the villages to reach the spots. Food is not a problem. There are plenty of restaurants. Fill up the tank, pack water and music, fasten seat belts and just follow the road signs. It is that easy if you are in Bangalore. I can’t believe that I did not do this before!

23 Responses
  1. Gauri Says:

    Sounds like a lovely day, Usha :)

  2. pilot Suresh, LOL. Last time when we were driving from B'lore to Yercaud, I was begging my driver to go slow but it all fell on deaf ears. But he got us there in one piece *phew*

    Thanks for the virtual tour Usha.

  3. snippetsnscribbles Says:

    WOW! That was a beautiful account of a day that started on time and ended before schedule!! Kudos to Pilot Suresh :D

    Indeed all those places are worth seeing :) The architecture amazes me!

    ...and did you say Kamat Lokaruchi had monkeys ??!!! Thats it. They lost a valuable customer!

  4. thanks you so much for this.I am going to make Bangalore my home in September and mom wants to do this trip first :)

  5. Nice photos ! Thanks for the visual tour and the detailed write up.

    Did your pilot break the sound barrier on the return path ?

  6. Serendipity Says:

    :) we did the exact same thing some time back .. you're just like Ma! Amrtianjan hand towel leg towel face towel tissue omg omg.:)I know!! I get queasy in anything that moves i say!

  7. Serendipity Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Friends Says:

    Join the FRIENDS OF CHHATTISGARH for blogging


  9. Anonymous Says:

    It is not only Suresh the driver, all the PT drivers are like this. They seem to be on the edge since they keep driving all the time. We went to Channapatna, Srirangapatna, Chamundeswari hill and back to Bangalore. It was a nice experience.

  10. Choxbox Says:

    sounds like a fab trip :)

    NICE road is nice indeed! trip to melkote has been on the cards - this is the push i needed! and btw next time do check out janapada loka itself - its worth an hour or so.

  11. shy Says:

    so you missed Gym, for the trip?...just kidding( i am waiting to hear about the day you punched the security guy...)

    Thanks for sharing the rip experience. It is lovely and inspirational that you live life to the fullest!

  12. Unknown Says:

    sounds wonderful Usha and I loved the pics . Lol at the pilot Suresh !

  13. Jagadoddharana in Kapi raaga has been one of my favourites of all times :)

    The road trip sounds fun ... its been a long time since I visited Melkote ... my first car driving experience :)

  14. maami Says:

    Oh my, what I wouldn't give to sit on the steps by the temple tank.

  15. DivSu Says:

    Hi Usha, thought you'd like to read this :)

  16. Sukhdeepak Says:

    Sounds very interesting. Very nice pictures especially the photograph of pond.

  17. Hey .
    I am living in Noida right now and my job is taking me to banglore .
    I am an avid biker and planning to cover Kerla on Bullet .
    I am learning local languages ryt now and your article was very good about spots.thanks

  18. Mama - Mia Says:

    nnice! i LOVE going for lunch to Kamats! gorge on the North Karnataka meal.

    Cub was quite thrilled to see baby monkeys clinging to their mums on our last visit there! hehe!

    and i used to have motion sickness of that kind for the longest time.

    here's to more road trips for you now, eh?! :)


  19. Wow! Nice photos ! Thanks for the visual tour and the detailed write up.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Lovely description!! And so funny :)

    He readjusted his fingers around the horn and feet around the accelerator and happily nodded.

    Delightful read!!! Glad you could enjoy it... my daughter hates long drives for the same reason and as a kid I did too.

    Loved the pictures too.

  21. sm Says:

    thanks for sharing info
    great shots

  22. Sumathy Sreekumar Says:

    Hi Usha, Read your previous blog about gym in Bangalore Mirrior and that is how I am here:-). You write well, witty and well, I could feel as though I too was there with you all visiting these places:-). Well, Pilot Suresh LOL!hmm... will try these place sometime, I am looking for short trips near by Bangalore, thanks for the information. Now that you have got over your sickness, where have you planned your next trip?
    Keep writing.


  23. diya Says:

    That is a great trip!! Hoping to follow your foot steps (rather, car tyre marks) sometime soon!