Just got back.
My trip –
Day 0: I knew I wanted to go out somewhere, alone, this weekend but wasn’t sure where. Went through Bhasker’s 52 weekend getaways book. Short-listed Nandi Hills, Bheemeshwari, Srirangapatna etc. Ruled out Nandi Hills because my bike is fairly new (did only 400km so far) and I didn’t want to take it uphill before doing the run-in properly. Bheemeshwari got ruled out because a friend suggested that the area is kind of remote and at certain patches the road is not so good. I was taking my bike out for the first time so I did not know if my bike can take it, I didn’t know the local language, I was going alone. So driving down was probably not a good idea. Srirangapatna – looked up on the map, turned out that is on the way to Mysore, 10km short. Very well. Looked up trains that go to Mysore. As it turned out, if I plan it well, I can leave Bangalore in the morning, visit Srirangapatna and come back by night. I had a long day ahead, so wanted to sleep early. But that was not to happen. Friends needed me for something or the other, finally got to sleep at 1o’clock in the night.
Day 1: Woke up at 5:00 am, got ready, packed my stuff in a backpack, took out my bike and headed off to the railway station. But I really really wanted to go on my bike. It would be such a boring trip otherwise. So I decided that I will try it out for a couple of tens of kms, if I find it tough I will head back. Now to the logistics of it. I knew how to get to Srirangapatnam once I am on the Mysore road, but I did not know how to get on to Mysore road. So I stopped for directions. I asked a gentleman what was the way to Mysore Road. He asked where on Mysore Road I wanted to go. I said, Mysore. He took one hard look at me, another at my bike and the third towards the sky. He then gave me elaborate directions and wished me luck. And so, I was off.
It was a beautiful drive. Smooth. Soulful. Moreso because it was my first ever long drive all on my own. I have travelled alone a lot of times before, but have never driven down. I was uneasy for the first 30-40kms, after that I was quite comfortable. It was quite chilly for the first couple of hours (oh yeah, it took me more than 2 hours to do the 130km, 4 hours actually) of the drive. So when I stopped mid-way to have my b’fast, I was shivering like hell. The waiter was nice enough to get me a shawl and a hot cup of coffee. I really needed it. I chatted with some strangers, had my breakfast, relaxed for a bit and I was on my way again.
Reached Srirangapatnam a little after 10am. Went straight to the KSTDC guest house (Hotel Mayura River View) in search of a room. There was no way I could visit the ruins, bird sanctuary and drive back to bangalore that same day. Apparently the guest house was all booked. But if you ever plan on visiting srirangapatnam, do book in advance at this guest house. Its a km or so off the highway, it feels like you are almost in the midst of no where … but most importantly, the guest house is located along the banks of cauvery. Very quiet and serene. Unfortunately, I had to move on … checked out a couple of Hotels, finally decided on Amblee Holiday Resort, also on the banks of Cauvery, but a bit closer to the highway. If not outstanding, it was good enough for a night’s stay.
Checked in, called up a friend (Naveen Vunnam, he wanted me to mention his name in full) to find out if there was anything I needed to do bike-wise, get it checked at a local mechanic or something like that before my drive back. Once that was taken care of, I slept like a log for a few hours. Woke up, had a late lunch and headed towards the ruins.
Found a nice guide, Munna Sheikh bhai, who took me around the ruins. There wasn’t much left of the historical town except for a couple of palaces (Tipu Sultan’s Winter palace (in ruins), Summer palace (Dariya Daulat Baag) which got converted into a museum, the gumbaj which is Tipu’s makbara, the famous wellesley bridge, a dungeon, Jumma masjid and Ranganathaswamy temple. Most ruins are in a very sad state. The summer palace which is made in wood at most places is a victim of termites, the paintings on the walls are fading away. The dungeon’s floor and walls seemed plastered and the walls were white-washed for whatever reason. It looked ugly. Whoever is the in-charge of the ruins is doing a very bad job. Its very unfortunate. Such awe-inspiring places in such incompetent hands.
After a long day, I returned to the resort. Some guests at the resort were playing volley ball along the Cauvery river. Joined them for a game. Had dinner and slept early.
Day 2: Woke up early next morning, had an early breakfast and headed towards the Ranganatittu Bird Sanctuary. Ranganatittu are a bunch of islands around 4km from Srirangapatnam. You take a jetty or a private boat into the bird sanctuary. If you are lucky and strain your eyes real hard, you might be able to spot a crocodile or two in the river. There are a bunch of them in the river, the boatsman told me. It was really overwhelming to be there. There were so many birds, and the whole space was so full of birds’ chirping … It was OVERWHELMING. Its a shame that I do not know the first thing about birds, so I couldn’t do much else other than give in to the enorimity of the whole experience (which in itself was …. ).
Got back from the sanctuary, packed my stuff, checked out, and I was on my way back by 11am. While it took me 4 hours to get there, it only took me 3 hours to come back 🙂
After a soulful ride, I was back in the bustling traffic of Bangalore. With people hoking at you to move even when the traffic light still shows a red, with people spitting from city buses with no concern for others, no patience on the road, people trying to inch their way and squeeze into the smallest gaps in the traffic, always ready to yell at each other …. well, all of this and more … and I am one of them now.