Day 3, 4- Bangalore, Dabaspet, Mysore, Nagarhole

*Back posted to maintain the continuity of the road trip. *

Summary: Spent day 3 in Bangalore meeting some friends during the day and devouring some amazing alooparathas made by Amit’s mom. Made a rushed drive to meet my mamaji, maami, cousin and my nani. At Dabaspet, which is about 50km backward on the same NH4 via the same outer ring road. Ate some more good motherly affection laced food, and then left at 6:30 in the morning of day 4 (having planned to leave at 5).  Got my cousin to tag along for this leg of the journey. Realized what different things people mean when they say that the roads are good. Drove towards Mysore, saw Philomena Church, couldnt see the palace, and then proceeded to Nagarhole National Park. Reached Narikadi Homestay in Kutta (t as in Tomato, not t as in “tarikh par tarikh”) after a gruelling drive. Approx 2:30 in the afternoon. Had a great lunch and dinner at Narikadi. Went for the evening safari at NHNP. The meter was at 1430 km or so by now. The trip mileage was at 13.5 kmpl. And the route we had taken was Bangalore-Dabaspet-Bangalore (NICE)- Mysore Road-Mysore-Hunsur-Nagarhole-Kutta. Torturous road, somewhat scenic as you drive through the national park.

Now the details –

Bangalore D3 was mostly about resting at our gracious hosts’ home, eating some amazingly delicious aloo paratha made by Amit’s mom for breakfast, meeting a few friends. Plan changed a little in the evening when I realized that my bade mama is posted 50-odd kms from Bangalore, and against what I was thinking, it’s not to be on my onward journey from Bangalore where I’d meet them, but that I had already missed out on meeting them on my way to Bangalore. See, they are at Dabaspet which is between Tumkur and Neelamangalam on NH4. To make matters worse, I realized very late that my nani is here as well. So biwi and I rushed over to spend the night with them. Quality time (limited though) was spent with mama, mami, nani and my little brother nikku. We also managed to convince Nikku to join us for the next leg of the trip to Nagarhole. And yeah, there was some delicious food at home – parathas, anda bhurji, rajma, bhindi, etc.

On D4, we had plans of leaving at 5 in the morning, and as per the plan, we left at 6-6:30. We took the NICE toll road to exit towards Mysore. And this is also the beginning of my learning that all roads are not the same. All highways are not 4 lane. All driving is not rational. And all Karnataka has ridiculous road bumps.
Anyway, to cut the long chase short, starting at ~1070kms on the meter, we did ~350kms during the day to get to Nagarhole via Mysore. We saw the Philomena Church in Mysore, where the Sunday mass was in progress. We wanted to spend an hour at the palace too, except that for some ridiculous reason (the King’s birthay or wedding anniversary or such), the palace was to open not before 11:30. And we were at Mysore at 10:00. We did the maths, and decided to move forward because we were keen on doing the afternoon/evening safari at Nagarhole.

We had booked through trailroute.in and were to stay at Narikadi home stay at Kutta. Its not Kutta as in Dog. The “t” sounds like the t in Texas and Tomato.  The drive from Mysore to Kutta takes you through the Nagarhole national park (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) and the distance of about 90 odd kms is a punishment for at least half of your sins. At least that’s what I think. That should make me happy, right? Half my sins absolved for? Well, that’s not your first reaction as you are going through the experience. You just want to get it done with and move on to a more sinful life at that point, just in case there is very little of it left. The roads are bad, and have been laid sporadically across what must have been a giant pothole encompassing the whole of the region in the times of Mahabharata. The speedbreakers are extremely torturous, especially for people who drive a car like the City. The number of times your car scrapes through makes you wonder if you will ever be able to drive beyond 10kmph.

Well, we managed to reach the homestay at about 2:30PM or so. ~4hours from when we started from Mysore. The route was the Hunsur one, in case you are wondering.

Things did improve from here. We had some excellent food waiting for us. A spicy dry variety of chicken, the brown rice pulao, white rice, sambhar, rasam, papad, two different vegetables, some pickle, curd, etc. Most excellent. Detour: There is a  little thing I need to share here. Whenever I am in my native village, somehow the food that has been procured closer to home and is less processed/moved around, etc. seems a lot tastier. And I am not sure if you have eaten food from the wooden/ clay ovens in villages. Something’s there that makes you wonder where that extra bit of taste is coming from. Not quite sure if that was the case here, but these guys have a 40 acre  estate where a whole bunch of farm products are sourced from, for their own kitchen as well.

We then rested for about 45 minutes and then left for the Nagarhole safari. The pics will be inserted once I have had a chance to overcome my laziness. The safari was interesting because at least two of the parties sharing the bus with us had already paid some under-table money to the driver to ensure good views and better exploration. People with giant lenses and mega-camera-bodies were with us trying to catch a glimpse of something exotic. Unfortunately for them, and not so bad for us, we saw the four horned antelope, a lot of cheetals, some sambhars, couple of Gaurs (wild bison), elephants, tonnes of monkeys and one lion tailed macaque. Between the three of us, we moved the camera around to get passably decent pictures of wilderness and animals. Done. Ticked. Get back to the home stay. Time check – 6:45PM. Darkness – check. Laziness-check. Fatigue- double check. Food craving – check.

Dinner surpassed the lunch with supremely fine vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. Language barriers with the serving staff made it difficult to get a lot of answers about the recipes or the contents, but I am a foodie who enjoys eating more than analyzing what is being eaten. Or instagraming it. The items included a variety of chilly chicken, coconut milk flavoured chicken variety with gravy, a very oil-free and delicious variety of bhindi with some coconut scrapings for garnishing, a very different variety of cabbage (new taste for me), some rasam on the side, and some rice. Usual suspects (curd, pickle, papad) etc were there.

By then we were in the zone where we lay down to read some and then go off to sleep. The plan for Day 5 was tentative, like most plans. One thing we knew, that NIkku had to catch a bus back to Bangalore. Which meant a 5:30AM start tentatively. For the records, I still hate getting up early morning.

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Day 2 : Hubli to Bangalore

So, we stayed in the Deluxe room at Tirumala Classic (also known as Dhammanagi Comforts) at Hubli. Breakfast was included in the rack rate. And the biwi and I had crashed rather early last night. Getting up at 4:30AM in excitement of starting this trip was finally hitting us, apparently.
We got up rather in time this morning (as planned) and were ready to leave Hubli by 7:30ish or so. Except that the breakfast would get served not before 8, which soon became 8:15 as per the best guesses offered by the hotel staff. Rather than spend another hour or so all decked up to leave, we decided in favor of checking out. However, the hotel staff was very friendly and offered to send the breakfast to our room right then. The offer was availed, but the delivery happened at 8:10 or so anyway! Indian hospitality has a way of biting you on your backside, you know. More often than you realise. Like that extra mithai that you eat on Diwali.

So, by the time we left, it was 8:45 or so. And this time round, we asked for the way to the highway rather than depend on google maps (our yesterday story on gmaps is in writing and shall be shared in due course of time). We hit the highway at 9:05 and started breezing through Karnataka after that. The destination was Bangalore – 403 ams from here. The next 250-300 kms were a breeze, and I think we were averaging 100+ kms an hour till then. Things slowed down once we reached Chitradurga. Work on the Golden Quadrilateral is not yet complete here onwards. In layman terms, it means that every 3-5 kms, you would be getting off the highway to drive a km or so as a diversion. Anyway, to cut the long chase short, we took about 4-4.5 hours to reach Bangalore outskirts, and another hour or so to cross the last 30kms or so to reach Whitefield where we are being graciously hosted by dear friends Amit and Shubha. After resting a bit, we had an evening bite at Alila and dinner at Chez Mariannick. Both the places are strongly recommended. At CM, you should go with the La Bergere pizza. Their chicken pizza was not that awesome. The veg one (La Bergere) was brilliant. Desserts are mindblowing too.

So, what’re the key takeaways from today –

  • Outer Ring Road is a colossal mess.
  • Some idiot has taken a lot of pain to design the speed breakers in Bangalore. They have been designed for the sole purpose of damaging cars and ensuring that no one even thinks about spending a lot of money on cars like Lamborghini or Ferrari. Those poor bottom feeding vehicles wont last a week in this city.
  • Also, in addition to the fuel expenses, you need to budget almost one rupee per kilometer on this highway as the toll fee that you’d pay at great frequency.
  • (This is for Mumbai folks only) – The houses and apartment complexes in Bangalore are huge!
  • And lastly, Bangalore is the only city where there are hundreds of Kebab and Biryani corners that specialize in Indian Chinese or Chinese Tandoori.
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