A trek to Tadiandamol

After a long gap of more than 8 years, I decided to trek again, and this time decided to do it solo. After looking at a bunch of trekking options in South India, I zeroed in on the Tadiandamol hills in the Coorg district.

Tadiandamol (also spelled Tadiyandamol) is the tallest peak in the Kodagu (or Coorg) district in Karnataka. The difficulty level of this trek is categorized as ‘moderate’, and it can be done as a weekend trek starting from Bangalore. I had read online that it is possible to camp at the peak or at the base of the hill. So, I had picked up a tent and mat for rent and carried them along with me.

The nearest town for this trek is Virajpet in the Coorg district. I boarded a KSRTC Volvo bus to Virajpet starting from the Shanti Nagar bus terminus on a Friday evening. The journey was uneventful, and I was at Virajpet at 4.30 am on Saturday. The total trek distance one-way is 8 km, and can be done in 4-5 hours. Since it was quite early in the day, and I did not want to end up reaching the peak right at noon, I decided to visit Talacauvery – the birth place of the river Cauvery.

Soon I reached the private bus stand in Virajpet, just around a 5 minutes walk from the main bus stand. From here, there are buses going to a town called Napoklu – which is mid-way between Virajpet and Talacauvery. The first bus for the day starts at 6.50 am, and I was soon on this bus making my way towards Talacauvery. Around 40 minutes into the journey, the bus crossed the Aramane stop where I would have to alight later in the day to start my trek towards Tadiandamol. I made a mental note of this bus stop.

The conductor dropped me at a junction called Nelaji from where he said the bus to Bhagamandala would arrive in 5 minutes. Bhagamandala is a small temple town at the base of the Talacauvery hills, and it is easy to find transportation to Talacauvery from this town. True to his words, the next bus was right on time, and I was dropped at the Bhagamandala bus stand. Here, I inquired around, and hired an auto-rickshaw to take me to Talacauvery and bring me back to Bhagamandala as well (costs Rs.250).

IMG_20170429_093725247
Me with Talacauvery in the background

In the hot morning sun, Talacauvery still looked beautiful. After customarily visiting the shrines of the river goddess and Shiva at the temple, I sat on a park bench there and took in the expansive views of the valley below. Having spent a few minutes there, I got back to Bhagamandala in the same auto-rickshaw, and got ready for my onward journey.

DSC04324
Valley view at Talacauvery

The time was around 11 am, and I was hungry. So, I gobbled up a couple of dosas in the nearby hotel and also picked up a couple of water bottles for my trek. Soon I boarded a bus back to Napoklu, and got dropped off in this town. A wait of another 10 minutes, and I got the bus going towards Virajpet, and got down at the Aramane (palace) bus stop from where the trek was to begin.

The initial 4 kms of this trek is practically a walk on a surfaced road – although it gradually keeps gaining altitude. Vehicles kept going up and down. In about an hour, I reached a view point from where the actual trek on a mud path starts. It is here that the vehicles have to be parked. Of course, the road isn’t very well laid, and cars with low ground clearance might have to be parked around a km before reaching this view point.

DSC04342
The trek path. The cloud covered peak on the left is Tadiandamol

I started walking along the mud path and in around 15 minutes, came upon a forest checkpost. The guard gave me a shock when he said that camping on the peak or at the base is not permitted, and I would have to leave my tent, sleeping bag and mat right at the forest guard’s quarters. I did not expect this. The time was around 2 pm, and this meant that I would have very less daylight left to trek all the was up and make it back to this checkpost. With no other option, I dropped my camping equipment at the checkpost, and proceeded further.

The gentle slopes soon give way to a steeper rocky terrain, and walking continuously became arduous. Also, the fact that I had lost touch with trekking for a while did not help things a bit. Nevertheless, a group of youngsters were trekking along, and were passively accompanying me, and also sometimes encouraging me to make it to the top (thanks to them).

DSC04380
Looking back at the path climbed
DSC04386
The path gets steeper towards the top

Around half-a-kilometer before reaching the top, I came across a small shola forest, which was the most taxing of the whole stretch to cross. The long and winding roots of the trees crisscrossed the climbing path, and acted as steps on which one has to climb to move forward. Each step is quite steep, and your shoe grip could be pretty precarious on these roots. This is one section which needed careful navigation both while climbing, as well as when descending.

DSC04395
Inside the shola forest – walking over the roots

It was 5.30 pm by the time I reached the peak huffing and panting all along. The peak seemed to be perennially surrounded by mist, and an Indian flag had been planted right at the top. On a clearer day, the view of the valley around would have been spectacular. But, I wasn’t complaining. The cloud cover and the mist was a welcome respite from the hot April sun, and helped me recover some of my spent energy. I spent around half-an-hour here clicking photographs, and relaxing before starting my descent.

DSC04367
The Indian flag at the peak

The descent was even more taxing on my feet and knees, but I kept walking. Soon, I picked up my equipment from the guard’s quarters, and reached the viewpoint from where the mud path had started. As luck would have it, there was a homestay at this point, and the keeper allowed me to pitch my tent on their ground. Also, I got to use their facilities, and got served piping hot dinner with chicken. The material comforts helped me recover well, and I soon dozed off into a deep sleep cocooned in my sleeping bag inside the tent.

It should be mentioned here that the view point in front of this homestay is quite a sight both in the evening and in the early hours of the day. The lights from the towns of Madikeri, Kushal nagar, and Virajpet are all visible from this point at night, and it is quite a spectacle. Similarly, early in the morning, the whole valley is spectacularly covered in layers of mist, which gives a ethereal feel to it.

DSC04414
Sunrise over the valley at the view point

The next morning, I started walking down and reached the Aramane or palace. This is the Nalknad Palace, which is nothing but a hideout built by the king of Coorg – Chikka Veerarajendra to escape from the onslaught of the British. The palace is maintained by the government, and has a keeper who could show me around. The 200 year old building needs better maintenance, but was well worth a short visit

IMG_20170430_101414927
The Nalknad Palace

In no time, I made my way back to the main road and took a bus back to Virajpet. Food options around the Virajpet bus stand are scanty, and I had to be content with a fast-food joint. The KSRTC Volvo to Bangalore was delayed by an hour, but I was soon on the bus on the last leg of my journey that would soon end in Bangalore.

Some tips for this trek:

  • The toilets in Virajpet KSRTC bus stand are in decent shape, and can very well be used for freshening up in the morning.
  • The actual trek start point (the mud path) is 4 kms inside from the main road. So, to save energy, it would be prudent to alight at a town called Kakabe and hire an auto-rickshaw to reach this start point. That way, the total trekking distance halves to 8 kms up and down.
  • With camping at the top banned, the homestay at this trek start point looked like a good option to stay. They have their own tents, and also permit visitors to pitch their tent (if the number is less, I believe). The name of this homestay is ‘West Wind Cottage‘. Details are attached below.

IMG_20170502_100913783

  • Once this homestay is crossed, no food or water is available (There is a stream which could have potable water in the post-monsoon months). So, make sure you carry some food and at least 2 liters of water per person as you climb. Many youngsters had not carried water, and were left quite tired at the top.
  • Wear sturdy footwear with good grip. The last section of the climb is quite steep, and one wrong step could leave you tumbling down the rock-strewn slopes. It is prudent to gauge each step and make sure the foot is well planted before making every move.
  • The trek path is known to be leech-infested during and after the monsoons. But the environs is also likely to be much greener and pleasant in this time. It is an year-round destination, and it is a personal choice when to do this trek.
  • As always, make sure to carry all your garbage and waste back with you to be disposed later at an appropriate place.
  • Camping at the top of the peak, and also at the big rock at the base of the peak has been banned from Jan 2017. A guard is posted at the check post to enforce this ban.
  • I found the most appropriate information on this trek at this link: http://kotresh.com/index.php/tadiandamol-trek

Videos from the trek:

 

 

A holiday in South Coorg

This year (2014), I and Sangeetha, along with my friend Joseph and his wife Sheba, decided to embark on a 4 day journey all around Coorg to drink in the beauty of the enchanting place. I have traveled to Coorg 4 times in the last 7 years I have been in Bangalore. And, this trip is definitely not going to be my last. The freshness and greenery keeps drawing me back to the ‘Scotland of India’.

Coorg is a perfect weekend destination for a break from the hectic life in Bangalore. Located at around 250 kms from Bangalore, the journey is quick and scenic, and the roads are well marked and smooth.

My trip in 2009 had been quite eventful and fun. We were a bunch of friends – and went there primarily to do white water rafting in the Barapole river. Adding to the excitement was the fact that we were chased by a lone elephant as we drove through the Nagarhole forest.

This trip was no less exciting. We rafted in the Barapole river, stayed in a wonderful homestay in Kutta, visited Talacauvery – the birthplace of the Cauvery river, saw quite a few elephants in a forest camp, and got a fleeting glimpse of a wild elephant in the woods (did not wait to get chased this time) 🙂

I have had the experience of staying in quite a few homestays during my trips to Coorg. This time, I stayed in Rest Inn Homestay, run by a wonderful gentleman – Mr. A N Belliappa. We had stayed at his homestay in 2012, and we were so mesmerised by the taste of the food cooked by his wife that we had decided to stay there again if we visited Coorg the next time.

Belliappa’s Rest Inn homestay is located in the middle of his coffee estate. He rents out 2 clean rooms in front of his home to guests. You can have hot and tasty Coorgi food cooked by his ever-smiling wife Mrs.Shobha. The couple were very friendly and hospitable, and made our stay memorable and pleasant.

Homestay details:

Rest Inn Home Stay
Ajjamada N Belliappa
Kurchi Village & Post, via Srimangala,
Beeruga Road, South Kodagu
Ph: 9449254990, (08274) 246230

Now, some photos from our trip:

DSC03628
We could find only Ibises in Ranganathittu

 

DSC03638
Me and Sangi at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
DSC03640
Sangi with Sheba
DSC03644
Rest Inn Home stay
DSC03658
Sangi on the zipline
DSC03674
Posing on a rope
DSC03692
Before we went rafting in Barapole
DSC03699
At an elephant camp near Titimathi
DSC03706
The Golden Buddha Temple (Namdroling monastery, Bylakuppe)
DSC03709
Ornamental doors
DSC03714
On the monastery grounds
DSC03719
A large bell in front of the temple
DSC03736
In front of the Buddha

Chikmagalur in the rains

Rolling green hillslopes in every direction you can turn around and look at; Your eyes cozily indulging in the game played between the mist and the mountain peaks; all this, and spending the evenings sipping steaming hot coffee lying around doing nothing in a 300 year old hertiage home – this is the summary of what we did on a three day trip in the heart of Western Ghats – the pride of southern India.

183716_10151182819166885_1557858440_n

I may never get tired of visiting Chikmagalur year after year. There must be some magic in this quaint little district in central Karnataka. This is the district that grows most of the coffee we drink; the home of the tallest peak in the state; the land where the spectacularly ravishing Malnad dishes like kadubu, akki rotti, shaavige and kaai haalu have reigned high; the supplier of iron ore for over a quarter of a century; an area of rich bio-diversity; and most importantly, the place where my family came from. I do not remember how many times I have been to Chikmagalur before, but I know the trips would not stop.

538990_10151182825316885_1030239313_n

I and my wife were one of the three couples who got together to visit this beautiful place in the middle of August. Monsoon is one of the best times to visit Chikmagalur. The brown iron-rich slopes of the lazy mountains of western ghats especially get blanketed in green during the monsoons. We decided to brave the rain, or rather, enjoy the rain for three days, leaving behind Bangalore to continue building its flyovers.

In recent times, the drive to Chikmagalur has only become better than ever. The four laning work on the Bangalore-Mangalore road has been progressing quite fast. The stretch from Nelamangala to Bellur cross is complete, and the stretch to Hassan is being developed quickly. The route would be- Bangalore – Hassan – Belur – Chikmagalur.

Link to the route on Google maps: http://goo.gl/XjIfE

On the map, zoom into Hassan, and see how I have bypassed Hassan town to reach Belur. Please follow this bypass – your vehicle would be very thankful you did.

574847_10151182819246885_798237869_n

When I think of Malnad cuisine, the places which come to my mind, of course other than my home, and the homes of my umpteen relatives dotted around Chikmagalur – are the homestays. I just love food in homestays. This time, we decided to find one which would be ideal for all of us to stay, soak in the mesmerising mountain scenery, and enjoy the scrumptious food as well. Remember that, when I say Chikmagalur, it is not the sleepy little town – which is the headquarters of the district – whereas, it is the whole district itself. So, do not be restricted in looking for homestays around the Chikmagalur town – not worth it. Zoom out of the town, and look for homestays nestled in one of the many coffee estates of the district – you would not be disappointed. Our choice was Gonakal homestay – 25 kms from the Chikmagalur town – on the Tarikere road.

557537_10151182822811885_924238326_n

The home we stayed is a 300 year old heritage house. It has been refurbished, and maintained spotlessly clean for the guests. A courtyard in the center of the house, which opens to the sky is the highlight. There are tasteful carvings on the wooden doors and pillars, which adds to the aesthetic appeal of the house. The hosts – the Gowdas should be definitely commended for their hospitality. Anudeep – the owner’s son took good care of us – gave directions to places to visit, briefed us of the history of the place, the family, the hunting traditions, and the ecology of the surroundings.

522120_10151182819096885_1471375649_n

The food was a delight to the palate. We had akki rotis, parathas, kadubus, shaavige, pooris, and what not – all happily doled out from a kitchen manned by the landlady. Out requests for coffee and tea were always fulfilled in the three days we spent in the home. The lip-smacking evening snacks were thoughtful, and rain pouring through the open courtyard while muchning on the snacks, only made us all fall in love with the place.

3384_10151182821981885_1284420865_n

We did an evening drive up Mullayanagiri – the tallest peak in Karnataka. The winds are generally strong around this hill, and it would be smart to take a windcheater with you. On a clear day, the views from the top will be unparalleled. However, mist can play spoilsport and cover up the entire valley leaving you blind. A small temple on the climb up to Mullayanagiri is a nice spot to park your vehicle, and take a hike on a rainy/cloudy day. On clearer days, the top of Mullayanagiri remains as inviting as ever to the nature-lover.

The most popular hill station in the non-touristy district of Chikmagalur is Kemmangundi. The hill is simply and iron-ore hill, and this gives the red color to the ranges. That is where it gets its name – Kemman, or ‘kemp mann’ – which means red soil in Kannada. The famous Kudremukha iron mines are not too far away from here. However, iron mining has been stopped in the district since the last 7 years, due to increased pressure from naturalists and environmental activists. The place is now free from the commercial activities of iron mining, and entirely a haven for trekking and tourism.

Coming back to Kemmangundi – it is a tiny little hillstation – that ends before it begins. There is a park and a children’s play area, and when you cross these to the tip of the ridge, you get a beautiful view of the valley below. Nevertheless, there is a small hike along pristine hill scenery which takes you to Z-point – the highest point tin Kemmangundi. This hike is a must for anybody visiting this place – the high point of your trip. The hike is around a kilometer, and should not take you more than an hour. You will be rewarded with more greenery than your eyes can take, or your camera sensors can capture. It is pure bliss.

The wind was blowing heavily when we reached the Z-point – and the mercury was falling – and three couples in this atmosphere meant romance was in the air. We sat around the hills enjoying the atmosphere, snacking on the biscuits we had carried along. Even after an hour, we could not drag ourselves out of this utopian surroundings. However, we had to. On our way back, we made a stop at a small, but charming waterfall. The hike to the Z-point made our day in Chikmagalur.

A jeep ride downhill from Kemmangundi to Hebbe falls would have been a highlight – but it could not be done. The recent Supreme court ruling which banned tourism in core areas of national parks has stopped jeep access to the Hebbe falls. An alternate route exists to the falls through coffee estates – but rainiy season in the hills brings with it the problem of leeches. A 4-5 km downhill walk with leeches getting on to your legs is the last thing couples would want on a romantic day out 😉 So, we decided to give it a miss. I should point out here that leeches are harmless and do not cause any pain when they suck out your blood. 484552_10151182826551885_1706680034_nThey do not spread any kind of infection. A little salt should make the leech leave its hold and fall. So, let not leeches hinder your experience in the western ghats. (The hike to Z-point does not have many leeches – however, the small waterfalls has some. So, plan accordingly).

A visit to the world-famous Hoysala temples of Belur and Halebid in Hassan district would be a delightful addition to your trip to Malnad. The temples have paid guides who can make you wonder at the architecture and skillfullness in carving out these outstanding pieces of art, and also the history of the Hoysalas. I have also talked about another symbol of heritage and awe – the Bahubali shrine in Shravanabelagola. This is also on the route from Bangalore to Chikmagalur.

574620_10151182820341885_1138613042_n

The best thing to do in Chikmagalur would be doing nothing. Just take a reclining chair with you to sit in the verandah of your homestay and gaze at the hills. The western ghats have been witness to many a historical events and culturally significant turnarounds – all the time nurturing in themselves the abundant flora and fauna – a lot of them endemic to this part of the world. Whether or not Western Ghats have to be a UNESCO world heritage site is a hotly debated topic these days. The need of the hour for development. as well as the need to preserve the bio-diversity of the valleys – both sides of the argument find merit. My only hope is that the district of Chikmagalur, and the Western Ghats in general, retain the loving memories they manage to invoke today – for the generations to follow too.

Also read:

My previous visit to Chikmagalur.
More pictures from Chikmagalur and Belur.

A weekend break in Yercaud

A mystical cover of mist slowly roves across the valley, and as it moves, a gentle drizzle of rain drops drifts in the air towards you. As you stand in the comfort of your balcony, the magic of the rain mixed with the myriad lights of the valley below transport you to a world so surreal that, doing nothing becomes all what you want to do here. Welcome to Yercaud.

For all the western ghats buffs among us, this idyllic hill station of Yercaud, nestled in the green bosom of the eastern ghats, comes as a surprise. A relaxing 4 hour journey from the maddening crowd of Bangalore lands you in Yercaud. Ideal for a quick weekend visit, Yercaud is one of those hill stations which still remain calm and peaceful, tucked away from the prying eyes of the tourist crowd. Apart from visiting a couple of view points, and boating in the lake, there is nothing much to do, and that is why you actually enjoy the beauty of this place.

Yercaud

The route is simple.

Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Salem – Yercaud    (230 kms)

Once you reach Salem, you will reach a Y-junction where you will have to choose between going into the city, or continuing on the NH7. Take the road that goes into the city, and reach the five-road junction. Here, take left towards the Sarada-college road. After about 3 kms on this road, you will reach a signal where you should take left to reach Yercaud. There are sufficient sign boards all along to guide. The ascent is gradual and starts around 8 kms from here. The hair-pin bends are manageable if you have previous ghat-driving experience. Also, the roads are butter-smooth throughout the drive. Expect to pay tolls close to Rs.200.

The Route

One of the highlights of this drive is the breakfast at Adayar Ananda Bhavan just before you reach Krishnagiri. You can feast on yummy dosa, vada, idly, pongal and filter coffee. But the place is perpetually crowded and you will have to elbow your way through a crowd eager to pounce on the offerings as much as yourself. The food tastes good, and there are not too many good alternatives to this place. A2B also serves packeted snacks that you can carry and much along on your drive.

My enjoyable experience in Yercaud was also due to my place of stay. I chose GRT Nature Trails, a wonderful boutique hotel overlooking the Shevaroy hills. The hotel itself is perched on the slopes of the hill, and the view from here is spellbounding. The view is also available from the rooms. The rooms are super-comfortable and provided with 3-star facilities. One highlight is, they have a good collection of movie DVDs (English, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu) and books – ideal for anyone who just want to laze around in the room. The hotel property itself is tastefully done, and has a ‘Skywalk’ on the roof. This is a glass-floored walkway, some 100 feet above the valley below. At night, the whole of Salem town comes alive with lights, and it is a treat to watch. So, even if you do not stay here, it is worth visiting the roof-top restaurant to get a spectacular view in the evening.

GRT Nature Trails

There are other good accommodation in Yercaud as well. Check out hotel reviews on TripAdvisor. Hotel Shevaroys is an option I found pleasant and affordable.

Restaurant

Coming to food, we had our lunch at the GRT hotel’s restaurant. It was a buffet with a decent spread. The best part was the Tamil dishes on the spread – vazhaikai poriyal, karunai kizhangu varuval, poondu meen kulambu, and many other similar stuff. I and my wife relished the food quite well. The desserts were yummy and there was a lot of variety to choose from. The restaurant itself is quite comfortable and located at the highest point in the hotel, overlooking the valley.

The Lake

A small lake in the center of the town attracts tourists. We chose a pedal boat, and pedalled as much as we could. The boat was too small for my size, and I had to really struggle to fold my legs and pedal. Choosing an oar-boat will be a better option – it comes with a boatman. Around the lake, don’t miss sampling the hot bhajjis. We also had bhel puri, but it was not much impressive. Adjacent to the lake, there is a deer park. It houses some animals in enclosures, and is ideal for a small walk around. My wife, especially, enjoyed the swings put up in the park.

There are a couple of view points – Ladies’ seat, Gents’ seat, Children’s seat and Pagoda point. There is a Servarayan temple, and a rose garden as well. These are your typical tourist spots, and can be covered in the morning. It shouldn’t take more that 3 hours to see all of them. The drive up to these view points and the winding routes are much enjoyable than the destination itself. Some vendors around these view points sell different varieties of fruits, which would be worth trying out. Monkey menace is omnipresent – so beware!

Room

If you are interested in a bit of descent and climb, you can visit the Killiyur falls. But, expect flowing water only during the monsoons. Also, there is an All-Terrain-Vehicle (ATV) track near the Grange resort. It would be fun to try this out with a bunch of friends.

Ladies Point

Despite all these, as I had mentioned before, spending a night here, and lazing around doing nothing much is the ideal way one should enjoy Yercaud. Some blogs claim that a day trip to this place is sufficient. My take is, you gain nothing in a day trip. Spend a night and relax in the hills; enjoy the sun rise and the sunset; boat in the lake; have a cozy dinner with your partner; take a small walk – eat hot bhajjis; wake up in the morning – drive around to the view points; have a pleasant drive back to Bangalore. This is how I would recommend spending a weekend in Yercaud.

Hogenakkal

We were done with our stay in Yercaud by noon on Sunday. I and my wife decided to take a detour to Hogenakkal falls near Dharmapuri on our way back. That was an interesting experience as well – but to talk about in another post. This is the route we took on our way back.

Yercaud – Salem – Omalur – Mecheri – Pennagaram – Hogenakkal

Hogenakkal – Pennagaram – Palakodu – Rayakottai – Hosur – Bangalore

Falls

I liked this route better because of the greenery, variety in terrain and small villages that come in between. In contrast, the spectacularly laid NH7 is a bit monotonous and boring. So, it could be a good option to make this detour while driving back.

In short, Yercaud is definitely a worthy break for a weekend visit from Bangalore.

Lumiere – The organic restaurant in Bangalore

LumiereHow many times have you been to an organic restaurant before? How many times have you really bothered if the food you eat is really organic or not? I have never bothered. So, when our office fixed a team lunch at an organic restaurant, there were gossips and giggles among all of us about ‘organic’. But the experience was nevertheless interesting.

Lumiere is Bangalore’s newest (and the only as far as I know) organic restaurant. It is located at Doddanakkundi on the Outer Ring Road connecting KR Puram and Marathahalli. Look out for the decorative ‘Jalsa’ restaurant as you drive by, and Lumiere is right next to ‘Jalsa’. The restaurant is on the fourth floor of a narrow building. The basement parking lot was very narrow and could hold around 5 cars, thats all. However, the restaurant itself is quite spacious and well decorated.

Ambience

The ambience in the restaurant is quite refreshing. The decor has been tastefully done with an elegant stairs leading up to the next level being the center of attraction in the restaurant. There was enough lighting, and to fight the noon-time scorching heat of Bangalore, they had pedestal fans all over. This was definitely an eyesore, as you don’t want to see tens of plastic-looking fans all over the place spoiling the feel of the decor. But they have chosen fans in lieu of AC to be environment friendly it seems. There was also an air cooler next to our table, which was causing more discomfort than anything else. The seating was reasonably comfortable, and the there were large table mats that could hold all of your cutlery, plus some juice glasses. There were some paintings on the wall, and carnatic music was being played in the speakers. Overall, an interesting ambience.

Food

We had booked the lunch buffet. There is a difference in price for the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian buffets, and this is really appreciable. We were served beetroot-ginger juice as a welcome drink, which was surprisingly tasty. The chicken clear soup was ok, and there were wheat breads and bread sticks and accompaniments. The main non-vegetarian dishes were Fish manchurian, fish masala, Chicken schezwan, and a chicken gravy. The fish dishes were refreshingly good and tasty, especially the fish masala.

Chicken pulav was good, but tasted more like chicken fried rice. There was something called ‘herb rice’ on the vegetarian side, which was nice. The veg noodles left a lot to be desired. I tried only the lady’s finger with salt and pepper from the vegetarian side, which was okayish. The desserts were nothing extraordinary. There was some kind of khoa sweet, rice kheer and fruits salad. We washed it off with a cool saunf sharbat, which I had for the first time, and found it surprisingly nice.

I don’t know if the ‘organic’ tag of the restaurant made any difference to the taste of the food. Nevertheless, the food was fresh and tasty. Even items which I do not normally enjoy were good enough in this restaurant. The best part is, they update their lunch menu everyday in their website. Full marks to this. In summary, the food was above average.

Service

This was the best part of the experience. The service was really good. The waiters were all prompt and at their heels to cater to the customers. The used plates were being cleared in no time, and the water glasses were being refilled even before you know it. Also, they answered all our questions on the food items patiently. I would rate the service excellent.

Verdict

Organic food is a new upmarket concept that is catching up in the big cities. Still organic food is rare and quite expensive too. However, this restaurant is priced reasonably (Rs.375 for non-veg, and Rs.300 for veg buffet), and the quality of the food, ambience, service are all good. Parking at peak hours could be the only setback. Overall the restaurant is worth trying – you might actually find the ‘organic’ part interesting after all.

Rating: 3.5/5

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

  • The Annual Independence Day Flower Show in Lalbagh, Bangalore was held from August 7, 2009.
  • This was the first ever flower show I attended, and it was very interesting.
  • I do not have a macro lens, so managed the shots with my 70-300mm VR telephoto zoom. (Emphasizes the need to get one soon).

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Lalbagh Flower Show 2009

Collage of colors

And this is an image of a frog in my garden… 🙂

Frog at home

Stamp papers in Bangalore

Update :: July 2011::

Buying stamp papers in Bangalore has changed ever since this article was written. The procedure now is like this:

1. Go to any sub-registrar’s office in Bangalore.
2. Procure an ordinary stamp paper from one of the shops nearby which sell these (not very hard to find).
3. Get the first page of the agreement typed, which mentions the name & address of parties between whom the agreement is executed.
4. Go to a window in the sub-registrar’s office, where you pay the necessary fees, and get the paper ‘Franked’.
Franking: A stamping machine is used to render a red-colored stamp on the paper, authenticating it, and showing the stamp value (also has sub-registrar’s signature).
5. Voila! You are done. This works for all types of documents, including rental agreements.

Note: I have noticed that in some cases, where the first page of the agreement is not typed, the name and address of the parties is written on the stamp paper itself (on the stamp), and the franking is done on that.

Buying stamp papers in Bangalore has been quite an ordeal of late. The serpentine queues in front of the State Bank of Mysore would be a nightmare for anyone who could even think of buying stamp papers. (Read here). Besides, it eats up almost the whole day, and comes as a curse for working professionals who are in need of stamp paper. So, what is the easy way out?

E-Stamping!
The Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited is the company which has been authorized to sell e-stamp papers across Karnataka. (Check their e-stamping website).

There are quite a few e-stamping centers in Bangalore, where you could get a stamp paper with the denomination of your choice just within a few minutes. However, instead of the papers printed with the rupee note kind of stamp at the top, here you would get an e-stamp. This is essentially a printed information with the document number, and a couple of other numbers, and it says Government of Karnataka e-stamping with the national emblem of three lions on it.

Stamp papers - Before and After (Courtesy: http://www.chowchowbath.com)
Stamp papers - Before and After (Courtesy: http://www.chowchowbath.com)

A couple of days back, I had been to the Domlur BDA complex (Near the Domlur bus-stand, adjacent to Domlur fly-over), which houses the Sub-Registrar’s office. I wanted to get an e-stamp paper. I was given a form to fill, where I had to mention the type of document, the first and the second party details (name and address should be suffcient. PAN number in case of high-value registrations), and sign it. The form should be given at the counter with the amount for which the stamp paper is sought. The amount could be paid in cash, or by way of demand draft. I guess this depends on the total amount being paid. I had to wait for approximately 10 minutes, and then the person at the counter gave me the e-stamped paper. The whole process took me just around 15 minutes. The stamp duty for different types of instruments is displayed on the notice board in the office. It is also available online here.

The e-paper is as authentic as the normal stamp papers. Also, since this has authentic numbers printed on it, anyone can verify the authenticity of the e-paper by logging on to this site (http://www.shcilestamp.com) and entering the appropriate numbers from the e-stamp paper.

The working hours for the e-stamping facility in Domlur BDA complex is from 9:45am to 4:30pm with a lunch break from 1:00pm to 2:30pm. It is open from Monday through Saturday. In addition to Domlur, this service is also available in Jayanagar and Koramangala sub-registrar’s offices (SHCIL branches). The government is also looking at making e-stamping the only way of buying stamp papers in future, as this eliminates all duplicate stamp papers and scams, and also renders authenticity to the papers by way of printing these numbers and making them available online.

Thanks to Kiran for providing useful information in his journal.

Addresses of SHCIL e-stamping centres in Bangalore:

Head office:
SHCIL, Bangalore Stock Exchange Ltd.,
Stock Exchange Towers, 51, 1st Cross,
J.C. Road, Bangalore,
PIN : 560027
Ph: (080) 22995246, 22995236

Jayanagar:
Shop No.7, Ist Floor,
#44, 33rd Cross, Jayanagar, 4th T Block,
Bangalore
PIN : 560011
Ph: (080) 26991062, 26991060

Koramangala:

Shcil, # 103, 1st Floor, Mig
Khb Colony, 17 Th Main, 5th Block
Koramangala, Bangalore
PIN : 560034
Ph: (080) 25529149, 25529150

Malleswaram:

Shcil, No.13 Vasant Milan, 1st Cross,
Malleswaram, Bangalore,
PIN : 560003
Ph: (080) 23318225, 23560525

Domlur:
Shcil, Domlur BDA complex,
Near Domlur Bus Stand, Bangalore
PIN : 560038
Ph: (080) 25352907