Prologue : Coorg was always in my wish list, thanks to the infographics and other articles that are shared in Facebook. I happened to be in Bangalore (or should I say Bengaluru?) due to yearly medical checkup of my wife. I have always dreamed of shifting to Bangalore and still waiting for the right offer!!. With the help of our so called very own Uttam Da, a medical adviser there, we were done with our business within a day and we still had left 2 days before our scheduled departure. Most of the people we met, suggested us two options, either to take a day trip to Mysore (or Mysuru) or else take a flight back to Kolkata next day. But none of us were in mood to take the flight back as that would incur a high cost which was not at all affordable for us. Though most of us agreed for a day trip to Mysore but my wife was not ready as that would require a continuous journey of 16 – 18 hours, as most buses leave early morning and drop at late night after visiting through all the sightseeing points in and around Mysore.
Though we were in tight budget but I still proposed the idea of visiting Coorg and make them agreed to at least let us inquire about the costs involved. And it seemed perfect to make a trip to Coorg, if we could afford, as we had 2 days left and we could easily spend 1 night at Coorg. Though it’s recommended to spend at least 2 nights in Coorg, but 1 night halt can also be justified. Upon inquiring Uttam Da about Coorg, we came to know that he’s unaware about the place, but he made a call to a reliable travel agent instantly to help us. After discussing with him, he told us that Coorg is a great destination and how come he was not aware about such destination even after living in Bangalore for more than 20 years. He further informed us that, the travel agent will charge around Rs. 9000/- for a Tavera. We knew, that as we were 6 persons, we had to either settle for Innova or Tavera or Xylo kind of vehicle. We requested him further to make some adjustments if possible. He called the travel agent up instantly again and tried confronting him, and finally he said that though the travel agent is not agreeing below Rs. 8500/- but he can settle us on Rs. 8000/-. We knew, this is justified price, considering the KM run along with a night stay. So we agreed. I tried searching for hotels in Goibibo, and came up with some great deals, but Uttam Da assured us that, June being off season there, we can manage some sweet deals on spot and asked us to be ready by 9 AM tomorrow.
9th June 2016 : Day 1 : Bengaluru To Coorg : I was really excited and happy as well, as I never thought, I’d get to visit Coorg on such a situation. But I was badly missing my DSLR, as I never thought I’d require it, as we were here for medical checkups. But my wife confronted me, that my beloved iPhone would suffice 😛 We were ready by sharp 9:00 AM and had our breakfast. Soon Mr. Iswar arrived in his white Swift Dzire and asked us whether we were ready. We nodded and asked him, whether he’ll be driving us, as we were confused with the Swift Dzire. Last night Uttam Da told us about Tavera and he clearly instructed this person that we are 6 people and to send a hindi speaking driver. He might have been able to saw the confusion in our face. He smiled and assured us that, he’s not driving us, instead our driver Mr. Ramesh is on his way and will be here soon.
I went to had a smoke, as I might not get chance anytime sooner to have another with mine and her family around. Finally Mr. Ramesh arrived and we started our journey at around 9:20 AM. The drive though NICE Road was awesome. On the way Mr. Ramesh showed us Ramnagara and showed us the hills where the famous Bollywood film “Sholay” was shot. The hills were looking exactly it was shown in “Sholay” and we started imagining the famous dialogues of the bandit (villain) “Gabbar” in our mind!!
On our way, he stopped at Petrol Pump, and asked us to pay Rs. 2500/- as advance for refuelling up near Wonder La which seemed to be a Water Theme Park like Aquatica back in Kolkata. Had a stop over for latrine and tea break at Devnagar in Mandya at around 11 o’ clock. Though her father chose to have tea as he simply can’t live without tea and he needs it at least after every 2-3 hours daily. Whereas, we spotted a person selling coconuts and choose to had same as it was really attracting us. We being from Kolkata, coconut is something highly priced in our state. Upon inquiring, he told each would cost Rs. 25/- any size. We were like Wow!! Really? Back in Kolkata, we have different prices for different size. And the ones which he had, will be minimum Rs. 50/- or something here (not less at least). So, due to the price, we actually consumed more coconuts than what we thought 😛
Finally we started again after around 30 minutes. I always love being on the front seat as I love chatting with the driver and try to gather as much information as possible about the places. Soon Me and Mr. Ramesh got friendly and I asked him what do they call “Bhaiya” or “Dada” there in Kannada. He told me, we can call him Ramesh Anna though he kept on exclaiming us as Sir. Though his Hindi was more of a South Indian accent, so preliminary we were having a tough time making out what he’s trying to say, but soon we got accustomed with it too. But we kept ourselves away from mocking his accent, as it may feel insulting to him.
He asked us whether we’d like to take a small detour to check out Shri Rangapatna Swami Temple. We readily got agreed and he took the Mysore Garden road. We reached Shri Rangapatna Temple at around 12:20 PM. As soon as we get down from the car, various touts of so called guides ran to us but Ramesh Anna shooed them away 😛 It took us around 20 minutes to explore the temple. And as were about to start it started raining. We requested Anna to stop at some ATM nearby, as otherwise it’d be an issue for us, as literally we didn’t had much cash with us. He stopped at Hunsur which also allowed me to have small smoke break which I was dying to had 😛
The drive through high way under heavy rain made us relaxed and tension free. But in the mean time, my wife expressed her tension of luggages getting wet as we had experienced on our Trip To Pelling. But we kept assuring her, that nothing such would happen. It was like driving through past the clouds. At some areas we were getting high rainfalls and as soon as we went past the cloud there was no sign of a single drop.
Anna stopped at some restaurants for lunch, but all of them seemed very costly, so we asked him to keep going on. We were just looking for roadside dhaba or small restaurants not anything luxury. But due to communication problem, we were having a hard time making him understand that. This kept going on till he passed Khushalnagar, saying that, we’d get better options at next town. But as we kept moving on, it seemed that, Khushalnagar was the best option for us for finding such small restaurants, as now, we could only spot high end restaurants. So we just asked him to skip searching for lunch and let’s proceed.
Our next stop was Golden Temple and luckily when he was entering the parking area we spotted few food joints which seemed perfect for our needs. We reached Golden Temple at around 3:30 PM. We were really hungry, so we first choose to have our lunch and then paying the visit to the Monastery. We spotted a Tibetian Restaurant there, and ordered Mixed Fried Rice and some Momo’s. I also called up Anna for lunch, but he said he’ll have it later. After having our lunch, we went to the Namdroling Monastery (Golden Temple). Though, TripAdvisor shows Namdroling Monastery and Golden Temple as two different places, but we found that both are same spot. We spotted some beautiful flowers in the monastery. It was really beautiful and a quit place to listen to your soul.
Then again, we started for our next destination Nisarga Dhama. We had to buy Entry Ticket for Rs. 10/- each. Initially the hanging bridge seemed nice to us, but as it was raining we couldn’t proceed much due muddy roads.
Next our plan was to visit Raja’s Seat, but as it was raining heavily Ramesh Anna informed us that there’s no point going there at this point of time. So he suggested us to proceed to hotel. We nodded and asked him to take us to some hotel or homestay if possible costing no more than Rs. 2000/- for two rooms. Last night when I was checking Goibibo, I spotted some nice deals for Rs. 1400/- for 2 triple sharing rooms. He told us, we can easily get some nice cottages within this budget, as it’s off season now. He made some call immediately, but unfortunately he informed us that, no one is willing to provide cottages within such budget and whether can we extend our budget to Rs. 3000/-. I clearly denied, as I knew I can always book some great homestay’s or hotels from Goibibo, but we were out of our luck, as there were no network in our mobiles, though we didn’t make him realize the same.
He tried calling another number and it seemed like he has arranged something. After done with the call, he informed us that, he managed to arrange something, but the owner is asking for Rs. 500/- more and upon reaching there we can bargain upto few hundreds. He informed us to bargain it to Rs. 2200/-. We had to agree, as we had no other way, as there was still no sign of network in our mobiles. I was really regretting our decision of not booking hotels yesterday via Goibibo. There were some really great rooms and great deals. If applied coupon, I’d have get some more discount or some cashback too. But, what’s the point of regretting now, so we decided to accept our fate.
After driving till Madikeri, Ramesh called that person again and met him. He was on a scooter showed us the way. Ramesh kept following him. Just from the main road of Madikeri, we took a road going downhills and later it proved to be a steep downhill road after driving around few meters. Finally the person parked his scooty in a villa and Ramesh too followed him. It was raining like cats and dogs, so Ramesh asked us to wait in the car and went with him inside to bargain. Finally after few minutes, Ramesh called me and introduced me to the other person, Lancy Fernandes. He showed us the villa and told us that, it actually belonged to his Father-In-Law, but now he have written this in the name of her daughter (his wife) and they run it as a homestay. I had noticed the homestay board outside the villa. He further told us that, generally they stay in the ground floor and they use the rooms on next floor as homestay. But now he’s not staying here instead he’s staying in his home, so we can use the whole villa just like our own home. I was glad to hear that but I got tensed as well by imagining what the price would be.
I clearly told him our budget and asked him what the price would be. He told us that generally he charges Rs. 3000/-, but as it’s being off season it’s our wish. I was more than happy to hear that, so I started bargaining him for Rs. 2000/- to Rs. 2200/-. After few minutes, he got agreed for Rs. 2400/-. But said that, we have to pay the full amount right now. Though I felt a bit suspicious, but then as it was just a night stay there’s no point of getting suspicious. When I was about to pay him, he requested to make it a round figure and pay Rs. 2500/-. Well he came up all this way in his raincoat in such heavy rain and Rs. 2500/- is just nothing for a villa on the cliff. So I didn’t mind much. He said, he’ll come in the morning to provide Tea and left after making Ramesh understand about the keys and other things.
Ramesh asked to call my family who was still waiting there in the car. He went to get our luggage, I helped him doing so. Everyone was really happy by knowing that this whole villa is now ours for the night and mostly my father-in-law liked it very much. It was well decorated and maintained. In the showcase, there were some pictures which seems to be of his family. While leaving he also told us, if we feel, we can parcel the foods and have our dinner here only and asked us to feel free to use his utensils. All of us wanted to have some tea. So Ramesh asked me to go with him and we can parcel the Tea. He helped us found a large Tea pot in the Kitchen. I was literally gasping while walking uphill on such steep road. I knew, we had to parcel the dinner too even if rain comes to halt. As everyone will not be able to climb up such a steep road. We parcelled some Tea and hot Pakodas for all of us.
In the mean time, while having our Tea, we roamed around the Villa, though we choose to not to explore the upper floors. There was a big hall in front with 4 attached bedrooms and one kitchen and large dining room and washrooms being on the end of dining. The backside of the villa was more vivid than the front. We noticed some rooms back in there too thinking it of to be Driver’s Rooms. Thinking of Ramesh might be staying in there, we asked Ramesh. But he said us not to worry and he’d sleep in Car. We just shooed him away for such of his decisions and asked him to stay with us within the villa. Though previously he was not agreeing but after forcing a bit he agreed. Why would a person sleep in car when there are rooms lying around. He told us that, being a driver, he’s used to such instances. I know, we were the guest and generally guests don’t like staying with drivers. But after all the driver is also a human being and when there are separate rooms lying around there’s no point making a person sleep in a car. After all he’s the person doing all the hard work and we are just sitting in the car.
Mr. Fernandes, seemed to be very luxurious person having hobby of various wines and whiskey’s. As 50% of the potion of his showcase was filled up with such bottles. Rest of the evening we kept watching TV. Later at around 8 PM, Ramesh asked me to come up with him to get the dinner, as things here closes by 9 PM. Ramesh Anna, me and my father-in-law went to get the dinner from a nearby hotel, Hotel Prestidge. It was almost raining throughout the night.
10th June 2016 : Day 1 : Coorg To Bangalore via Mysore : Last night while having our dinner, we requested Ramesh Anna to take us to Mysore Garden skipping the Dubare Elephant Camp. So we got ready early and started by 8:30 AM. Coorg was looking awesome post rainy weather. Our first stop for the day was Omkareshwara Temple. And then we went to Raja’s Seat. The view from Raja’s Seat was astounding specially after last night’s rain.
Then he took us to Raja’s Tomb.
Then finally we drove to Abbey Falls at around 10:00 AM.
After that, we directly drove to Mysore Garden with a small tiffin break in Khushalnagar. We managed to reach Mysore Garden within 2:10 PM. We had to pay an entry fee for Rs. 15/- per head.
I personally didn’t liked Mysore Garden much. So I requested Ramesh Anna whether it’ll be possible for him to drive us to Mysore Palace too. As this two are the main spot to see in Mysore amongst others. But he clearly denied and said that it’d not be possible. He started making false excuses that Mysore Palace gets closed within 5 o’ clock and it’ll not be possible for us to see the palace even if we drive upto there. But inquiring a security guard of Mysore Garden revealed the truth. After discussing for few minutes we came to know that the car doesn’t belongs to him and he’s answerable to Ishwara for any extra KM run and time.
We understood the situation and thus he asked us to speak to Ishwara. But we knew going through Ishwara would incur high charges for just a single spot. So we offered him Rs. 500/- preliminary but as he was not agreeing, we offered him another Rs. 200/- and finally he agreed!! So Mysore Palace was done for Rs. 700/-. He asked us to hurry up as it’d be around 10:00 PM to reach Bangalore.
Finally we reached Mysore Palace at 4:16 PM. Mysore Palace was looking just awesome such that I can’t explain the same in words. The pathway is properly marked such that anyone can walk around themselves. After roaming around the Palace we bought some Sandal Soaps and Incense Sticks from the shop and hawkers nearby.
Our trip was coming to end and it was time to return back to home. The drive through the highway and the cool breeze made us emotional about the memories of our Trip to Coorg and Mysore. Most of us went to sleep specially due to the post rain weather. In between we dad 2 stopovers on our way to Bannerghatta Road. In the end, Ramesh Anna managed to reach us within 9:20 PM.
On the way, we had already called Uttam Da and Ramesh Anna called up Ishwara. Ramesh Anna informed us, not to mention about Mysore Garden and Mysore Palace to Ishwara. Though we were already aware of that 😛 Being travelers we are already accustomed with such things, so we assured him not to worry.
Finally Ishwara and Uttam Da came up and asked us how was our trip and whether we enjoyed or not. We asked Uttam Da about the price, as the day before yesterday, he informed us that he can make it Rs. 8000/-. Uttam Da tried his best to convince and bargain, and Ishwara didn’t agreed for anything less than Rs. 8500/-. So we had already payed Ramesh Anna Rs. 2500/- for fuel as advance so payed him the remaining balance, Rs. 6000/-.
And thus, the small unplanned trip of ours came to end with some great loving memories.
Costs : Below is the total cost of our Trip to Coorg and Mysore from Bannerghatta Road to Bannerghatta Road. Please note that, at almost all the places we had to pay various Parking charges which increased the cost by around Rs. 500/-.
Toll Charges for NICE Road : Rs. 60/-
Parking at Golden Temple : Rs. 30/-
Nisarga Dhama Entry Fee : Rs. 10/- per head x 6 = Rs. 60/-
Parking at Raja’s Seat : Rs. 40/-
Parking at Abbey Falls : Rs. 30/-
Toll Charge for Brindavan Garden : Rs. 30/-
Brindavan Garden Entry Fee : Rs. 15/- per head x 6 = Rs. 90/-
Parking at Mysore Palace : Rs. 60/-
Mysore Palance Entry Fee : Rs. 40/- per head (for Indians Only) x 6 = Rs. 240/- [NOTE : For Foreigners it’s Rs. 200/- per head]
Toll Charges for NICE Road : Rs. 60/-
So Total Toll, Parking Charges and Entry Fee that we payed is Rs. 500/-
Though Fooding costs depends on what you eat and where you eat, but we mostly choose budget roadside restaurants. So just for an idea, below is the cost of our fooding for the whole trip.
Coconuts : Rs. 200/- (Rs. 25/- per piece)
Tea : Rs. 25/-
Lunch : Rs. 760/- (We had Mixed Fried Rice and Momo’s at an Tibetan Restaurant near Golden Temple)
Evening Tea and Snacks : Rs. 120/- (Rs. 10/- per cup)
Dinner : Rs. 1885/- (Please check the image below for the breakup)
Sweeper : Rs. 100/- (We kept all the parcel packets and containers in dustbin, so we payed her while leaving the villa in the morning for the cleanup)
Though we skipped lunch on Day 2, but had some biscuits and cakes on the way to Mysore Garden which was around Rs. 200/-
Evening Tea and Coldrinks : Rs. 100/-
So Total Fooding Cost comes to : Rs. 3390/-
Hotel (The Villa) : Rs. 2500/-
Car : Rs. 8500/-
Thus our total Bannerghatta Road to Bannerghatta Road cost for the Trip to Coorg and Mysore was : Rs. 500/- + Rs. 3390/- + Rs. 2500/- + Rs. 8500/- = Rs. 14890/-. Though we had estimated it to be within Rs. 13000/- but given the Villa deal I consider it to be a really budget trip for 6 persons.
Mr. Uttam : Uttam Da belongs from Bengal and is kind of a Medical Advisor there. He’s very helpful and a great person. So if you are ever going there for any kind of Medical Checkup, you can contact this person. But remember that he’s not a doctor, but just a guesthouse owner. He’s there in Bangalore from around 20 years and have some great sources and contacts of various Doctors and Hospitals. He can guide you to the right doctor and the right hospital. And for all these he doesn’t charge anything from you, as he gets commissions from the hospitals. We found him a gem in the world of Medical Knowledge. And truely, Bangalore is 200% better in terms of medical treatments. Both Doctors and Hospitals there are really generous and honest unlike back here in West Bengal. We payed him Rs. 10500/- for 6 persons for 5 days including fooding and lodging. And he helped us a lot in our medical checkups and doing the tests in cheap. You can contact him at +91-9845852593 / +91-9008407274.
Ishwara : The main travel agent cum driver. +91-9945307104. You may take reference of Uttam Da while speaking to him.
Ramesh Anna : The person with whom we traveled. +91-9945041045. He’s a very good person a great driver too. You can always feel the safety with him and will have a fun loving journey if you can get accustomed with him.