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Friday, August 27, 2010

Halebid-Belur-Hassan Trip

It was a 1-2 days Belur-Halebid road-trip we planned to make, in our Maruti Swift. For this trip, we had two route options:

Option-1: Bangalore-Nelamangala-Hirisave-Hassan-Belur-Halebid-Hassan-Hirisave-Nelamangala-Bangalore
Option-2: Bangalore-Nelamangala-Tumkur-Tiptur-Arsikere-Banavara-Javagal-Halebid-Belur-Hassan-Nelamangala-Bangalore

Option-1 is what everyone would choose normally. But, it involves going twice on the tough 'Nelamangala-Hassan' segment on the Bangalore-Mangalore highway, i.e. NH-48. The high vehicular traffic including heavy trucks, LPG tankers, other lorries, buses and cars on that single track road makes it a difficult one. Added to that, the 4-lane / road-doubling work that has been going on between Nelamangala and Hirisave for many years have not been completed yet; making the traffic to crossover from one side to the other side at a lot of places - it is risky as well as tiresome.

Due to all that, we formed and chose our own new route, that is option-2. Thanks to the 'Get Directions' feature of Google Maps that allows to specify multiple destination points along a route, we could tweak and analyze both options before we chose one. Option-2 allowed us to explore some new segments, and at the same time avoided the narrow-road heavy-traffic NH-48 at least during the onward direction. The distance is very similar in both routes. Except that the state highway SH-58 segment in option-2 from Banavara to Halebidu via Javagallu was not even looking like a village road! However, there was absolutely no traffic on that segment, so we still were able to comfortably pass through that stretch. In fact we enjoyed a lot of things which I have described later. [Note: If you click on each picture you can view a (slightly) larger version]
CLICK HERE to view the direct Google Maps version of the Route Option-2

Car preparations were done a day prior to departure:
    - Topped up petrol tank
    - Windshield water tank topped up
    - Checked brake oil status
    - Tyre air pressure, including stepney
    - And, as I do always before any road trip, I did not forget to search online and carry the print out of all the Maruti service station options available in the major points in our route; in this case, at Nelamangala, Tumkur and Hassan.
    - Our Swift had the last general service at 16,800 KM, about 4 months ago. It was reading 19,200 KM at the start of this trip, and I did not give it for an extra general service specially prior to this 500+ KM trip. I trusted my car's healthy status, and, touch wood, it did not give me any trouble whatsoever till the end of the trip.



* Kodichikanahalli road, Bommanahalli: Departure: 7:00 AM, 21/Aug/10 (Sat).
* Reach NICE road via Vijaya Bank colony and Bannerghatta Road.
* NICE (Gottigere) Bannerghatta road toll plaza; paid Rs 83 for Tumkur road exit.
* 30 KM drive on NICE road to exit at the Tumkur road NH-4 highway (near the Bangalore international exhibition center).
Nice road - Nice!
* At Nelamangala on Tumkur road (i.e. NH-4) keep straight (If you turn left there you will enter the NH-48 towards Hassan / Mangalore).* Pass through toll plaza at Nelamangala and proceed on NH-4; we told the toll guy that we need to exit the NH-4 at Tumkur to turn left on NH-206 towards Tiptur, and he took Rs 26 for that.
Kamat Upachar - Dhaba
* After about 20-30 minutes drive from Nelamangala, and before Tumkur, we stopped for 25 minutes at Kamat Upachar Dhaba (at 8:35 AM) for a wonderful breakfast of Dosa, Poori, Idli-Vada and Coffee, and to use restroom; we saw, there is also a Barista Coffee Shop outlet adjoining this Kamat.
* When you enter Tumkur, there is another toll plaza. We showed the Rs 26 ticket and told him that we want to exit left to Tiptur direction. He told us to take the next left, which is Tumkur bye-pass, and that will take us towards Tiptur.
* The navigation map on my Nokia X6 was also working very well. We had the print-out of the Google Map Directions we carried, plus the Nokia X6 navigation. We were not going to be lost anywhere! (Well, we still had to check with people on the road-side at a few points: Once while entering the Tumkur bye-pass, and later, at the exit point of Tiptur, to find out the direction to Arsikere road)
Sign boards - Great!
* Turn at the next left and travel via Tumkur bye-pass. The roads are bad until you reach a T-junction to turn left on NH-206. Once on NH-206 it is nice.
* Pass through Gubbi, Tiptur, Arsikere and reach Banavara. [Do NOT take the left into SH-74 that appears before Arsikere itself; though that is suggested by Google Maps, it seems to be a bad road; just keep straight, pass through Arsikere and reach Banavara]
* From Arsikere you will start seeing the Karnataka Tourism's trademark YELLOW sign boards about directions and distances to Halebid & Belur [Now we started feeling that we are on the right track!]
* A note about the Karnataka Tourism's trademark YELLOW sign boards: These boards are wonderful guides to travelers all over Karnataka. We have gained a lot by those in many directions / destinations in Karnataka so far. Hat's off to the Tourism department in Karnataka for such a nice sign system.

* At Banavara, turn left, again, by following the Tourism sign board for Halebidu, and enter SH-58 towards Javagal (Javagallu in Kannada) and Halebidu.
* This SH-58 segment is very narrow, with a lot of damages, but we saw some widening work going on; so may be it will become better soon. But since there was very limited traffic we enjoyed the wide range of farming cultivations - arecanut / cabbage / ragi / sugar-cane / sunflower / coconut etc., the rare villages, the long snake that crossed the road just 2 meters in front of our car (Oh, that long snake! I applied the brakes seeing it at the last moment, we were stunned looking at it for those 3-4 seconds while it crossed the road in front of our car, and, forgot completely that I could have taken a picture; what a miss!), the grains being dried in the middle of the road, the KSRTC bus passing once in a while, the Tata MAGICs & Force TRAXs which are being used as local shuttles between villages, organic green-house farms, etc. It was a lovely drive.
SH58 - No traffic
SH58 - Road widening
Tata Magic - Shuttle between villages
Green house organic farms
* Passed through Javagal at 12:10 PM. Not sure whether Cricketer Javagal Srinath gets the first part of his name from this village. I have read that he was born in Mysore.
0th Milestone - Javagal
Cabbage, drooping Sunflowers
* About 5 KM before Halebid, we stopped for 20 minutes, under a tree-shade, beside one of those farms, to have the packed lunch that we had carried. The greenery everywhere around, the cool weather, calm road, etc. made it quite a thing.
* We reached Halebid at 1:00 PM.
* Museum entry = Rs 10 per adult; Entry to the Hoysaleshwara temple is free; Chappal storage = Rs 2 per pair.
* Wonderful carvings and sculptures. Mesmerizing, and spell-binding. Goose-bumps!
Halebid - The outlook
Halebid - The manual lathe effect
Halebid - Superb
Halebid - Stunning
Halebid - Nandi 1 of 2
Halebid - Mesmerizing extensive work!


* We started from Halebid at 2:15 PM and proceeded towards Belur.
Halebid to Belur - Drooping Sunflowers

Halebid to Belur road - Again calm roads
* Reached Belur at 2:40 PM.
* Entry to the Chennakeshava temple is free; Chappal storage = Rs 2 per pair.
* Much bigger temple than Halebidu, the carvings on the outer walls are not as stunning as in Halebidu. But the carvings and sculptures inside the temple are great here than Halebid.
Belur - Great work inside
Belur - Statues
Belur  - Not as extensive work as Halebid
Belur - Bigger than Halebid


* We left Belur at 3:00 PM. The possibility of going to Chikmagalur (only 20 KM from Belur), for a day, came up to our minds once again. We had been thinking of such a plan to add to this trip. But we had been there last year only, and we could not think about any specific visiting spots for now, so we dropped that idea. Then, we thought of pressing the pedal in one shot to go back straight to Bangalore (via Hassan, 4.5 to 5 hours drive?), but we decided against that plan, mainly because it will be getting dark soon, and of the bad traffic that will be on the Hassan-Nelamangala road. So we headed from Belur at 3:00 PM to Hassan, as planned, for the night halt.
* The route had a lot of greenery and we enjoyed driving this stretch too. The weather all day had been very cool, lot of moisture in the air, cloudy overcast conditions all the time, pretty nice. 
Ocassional rain drops, cloudy all the time

Marigold flowers, what a scene
* We reached Suvarna Regency, Hassan at 4:00 PM. Checked into the room we had already booked. We were damn tired. Took a bit of rest. Then went out for a drive across the length and breadth of Hassan and got some idea of the town's topology. We had read somewhere that Hassan is called "Poor-man's Ooty" and we were really wondering why, how, etc. But when we were walking and driving around Hassan (about 6 PM) we did feel a very chill weather, making us shiver a bit. May be, it is, poor-man's Ooty.
* The room at Suvarna Regency was good. It is on the Mangalore-Bangalore highway itself, and bang in the middle of Hassan's commercial locality. Roads in that surroundings were in very very (really) bad shape due to the recent rains; or may be they were like that only even before rains too! Dinner at the north Indian restaurant in Suvarna was great, and very courteously as well as quickly served.


* Next (22/Aug/10, Sun) morning, we had breakfast at Suvarna's south Indian restaurant and immediately departed towards Bangalore at 9:45 AM.
* From the previous day when we left Bangalore till this moment of departure from Hassan towards Bangalore we did not have any rains during our drive anywhere. Occasional 2 minute drizzle just for fun was seen, but no real rain. So we were lucky during the drive all through. But, we heard from the morning news that it had rained cats and dogs in Bangalore, Chikmagalur, Madikere, etc. on the previous day and there has been quite a few havoc, floods, tree-falls, and so on. Probably, we have been very lucky that we did not go to Chikmagalur from Belur.
* The NH-48 Road from Hassan to Hirisave (via Channarayapatna) was all just single track. It had a tight vegetation of greenery on both sides and it was soothing to the eyes. But, as expected, there was too much of truck traffic and other traffic as well. Hirisave is where the diversion from NH-48 is to be taken when one comes from Bangalore to Shravanabelagola. We also passed through a vegetable 'santhe' that was colorful.
Hassan to Hirisave - Tight greenery all around
Santhe on the way
Gas trucks!
* After Hirisave, soon, the road doubling work, the multiple crossovers from one side to the other, bad traffic, all makes it tough all the way till Nelamangala via Kunigal.
Road cross-overs - A lot!
Nokia Maps - Turn-by-turn Navigation
* We reached Bangalore at about 1:45 PM.

Overall, a nice, and thankfully an uneventful trip. Cheers!


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  2. One of the best blogs I have ever read. Loved the way you depicted yourself in this writeup. Hoping to see more about your trips. If anyone wants to try out their trips by bus, book your bus tickets in Online Bus Ticket Booking portal.


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