2011-05-04

Madurai

Started very early morning around 5.45 from our parking lot and with one stop at A2B restaurant at Krishnagiri reached Madurai exactly by 11.30AM. Then took some time to find out decent hotel two friends recommended “Royal Court” near Madurai railway station. The hotel is clean and neat the management was great to upgrade our room to executive suite as the original room smelt cigarettes.
After settling we had a vegetarian south Indian lunch at market area. Then after taking a well deserved afternoon siesta we went to so called religious hotspot – Meenakshi Temple. It has four entrances we entered via South gate after leaving our shoes with the temple authorized shoe stand. The shops near the gates also offer to keep your shops but they expect you buy something from them in return. Best thing is the city municipality have golf carts to take you around to any of four gates your wish to enter. Like Tirupati they have fast track system where if you buy costly ticket and can bypass some queue. Santanu preferred to go by general path as crowd was not much. Within two hours we were done. Would like you to go through more details of Meenakshi Temple this website is quite useful. The writer has well explained about temple interiors.
By 7.30 PM we were done and were just about to return it rained heavily all of sudden almost stopping everything that whole street was full of water because of poor drainage. Being one way road it was bit difficult to walk of our own and we got into one cycle-rickshaw to go back to hotel. But the rickshaw driver had to stop as rain was too heavy; it brought a great relief from the humidity and heat. Had dinner around 9.00PM at hotel as Santanu got some food packed from a near by Anna Meenakshi Restaurant and then went to bed early.

2011-05-02

Chikmagalur

After finishing Belur-Halebid by 3.00PM we moved towards Chikmaglur as we wanted to reach our Apna-Sapna homestay before dusk. For God knows what reason here all homestay are highly priced based on per person per night. The Mountain section from Chikmaglur to Attigundi (village) was excellent and fun to drive on the twist and turn. The last part was a dirt road where we took diversion for our homestay a downhill road. Almost reaching there we saw three gates to enter three different coffee estates. Bit confused initially but then figured out by guessing. Best part here you don’t get any signal on your mobile other than BSNL (state owned provider).
On reaching there we were given welcome drink and then showed our room by friendly staffs. It was not yet dusk and we freshened and sat in their dinning deck area to watch sunset. Mean while Aarush became friend with their in-house puppy. Although we were bit scared but he was fine with him. Valley in front of dining deck gave great view of sunset and sunrise.
There was another couple other than us who came to celebrate their birthday. They were friendly we enjoyed their company that night. Aarush dozed off early evening unusual then other days as he had lots of activity for one afternoon. Next morning we woke up bit late and missed the sun rise but enjoyed morning serenity. Only thing we encountered here was butterflies and flock of birds chattering merrily. Around 10 we all got ready for their estate trip to go down in their 4X4 jeep.
The first part of the estate trip was an introduction to different type’s coffee and their processing. We saw how it is dried under sun and tested the sweet coffee berries. We went to a roaring water fall within the Estate, Aarush and Santanu had nice time under fall. There after we waited for a while for our lunch. In meanwhile we came to know that all estate managers who kept us in good company with small talks and jokes. With chitchat we all became so friendly that hardly we felt that few min. Before we were all strangers and how time went by…didn’t have any track of time. They even arranged a rifle shooting for other guest to celebrate his B’day.

Late evening we were dropped to our rooms back then after relaxing we went for evening walk. We walked through other estate where we could hear the music of the cascades that dot this scenic landscape. And then finally found small stream of water gushing through their estates.Next morning around 10 we started for our return journey to Bangalore leisurely. On way back we paid 200 INR extra to traffic police for taking one way route at Chikmaglur town.
This resort is more of a tone down motel rather than homestay as it is managed by people rather than owner directly. The food was average and cooked by a North Indian chef and nothing extra ordinary it taste just like any other common restaurant. That way a touch of local cuisine or a real host was missing. Standard of room were very basic. Only thing that was positive for us was since all estate owners were there (it was coffee picking season) we had nice time. And jeep trip and lunch at the bottom of their estate was free for us as we asked for it.

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Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...