Avalabetta Peak – Half day trip from Bangalore

Avalabetta hills or Avalabetta peak is another weekend getaway around 100 kms from Bangalore. All said and done, probably it isn’t wise to go there on a weekend? Just like Nandi hills, maybe it’s crowded. I would always visit this place on a weekday.

What is different from Nandi hills which is around 30-40 kms closer going from Bangalore?

For one, the trek to the top is challenging while you don’t trek at all in Nandi hills. You just park your car, take pictures and leave in Nandi hills. No, that’s not true. Nandi hills have a few other things to offer as well. But let’s concentrate on Avalabetta for now. At Avalabetta, they have the entrance gates closed. So you park your car/motorbike and walk up. Say 3-4 kms? Feels quite long if you are unprepared (which I was). Compared to Nandi hills, it’s more dangerous. No safety rails and the rocks are easily accessible. You just need to be careful. I too climbed the rocks and I’m still alive, so just be careful. If your gut feeling says that you are stretching your luck, you stop right there. Also make sure there is someone to help you if you are going to climb these rocks. Friends, other tourists. It’s a tricky place to easily get stuck.

There are good views and you can easily manage to get a couple of good photographs early in the morning. Nandi hills security check-post opens only at 6 am which is kind of disappointing because the sun is already out by the time you reach the top. I’m not sure if Avalabetta hills have any such security measures. I hope it doesn’t.

So go there on a weekday. You can trek, you can take pictures and you can see lot of monkeys. There is a temple at the top and fantastic views on both right and left side of the temple leading to the rocks.

Last but not the least, the drive to the place is nice. Around 80 percent of the drive is on NH with good roads and the rest not so good village roads. Motorbikes can be fun, but I did it in a car. Starting early can help you beat the summer heat, also get you some good pictures. Some members of tripadvisor reports that the security guard asked for money. I didn’t see any security guard, though there were people selling water bottles, fruits and butter milk. Also there were reports of restrictions due to safety issues, again I’m unaware if that exists now.

A view from Avalabetta hills

 

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Leaving ‘The Nilgiris’

Picking up from here


As we all know, ‘Hartal/Bandh/Strike’ is the national festival of Kerala. Onam comes second. The day we were supposed to return back, there was a national strike announced by all the major trade unions in the country. There are people in Kerala who wait to hear about this so that they can go on the streets and vandalize public and private property, create havoc.

Now because of them we were unsure if we had to start on the same day and risk our lives for going back home. The night before leaving the place, saw us having intense discussions and debates over these. Heated arguments over pros and cons. Nonetheless, I wanted to leave because I had other engagements, same was the case with my friend. But we didn’t want to risk it.

It was decided that we go to Emerald lake/dam and Avalanche lake in the morning and while doing that we would call our contacts and see the situations in Kerala and decide, whether to go or whether not to.

So we leave for Emerald lake in the morning. The route is fairly simple, but since we chucked UB (Upper Bhavani from the list), the other two looked doable.

From my research 

  1. Glenmorgan needed Tamil Nadu Electricity Board permits to cross the check post. We were stopped at the check post and obviously told to leave. So if you are going there, be sure you get a permission to cross that check post. I don’t know what is beyond that check post.
  2. Mukurti Lake which is 40 kms away from Ooty, has a national park. If you need to trek, you need permission for it, from the TN forest department.
  3. Finally, the Emerald lake , Avalanche and Upper Bhavani are in the same route. 25 kms to Emerald lake, 35 kms to Avalanche and 60 kms to Upper Bhavani. The first two namely Emerald and Avalanche needs no permission, but to after that towards Upper Bhavani there is a check post from where you are allowed to go in their jeep. I have heard that it depends on how you convince the officers at the check post, they let you drive till the dam. But going beyond the dam needs permission.

So we started off with Emerald… Let’s pics do all the talking

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That’s a village, with a few houses to prove my point.

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Again someone has enjoyed cooking? If it were a dry season, then probably one small spark can bring down the whole forest. There is forest guards roaming around this area all the time. Though their real intention should be to see if someone is going against the rules set by forest dept, but the moment someone crosses they come for you to collect bribe. If you even think of giving them anything, keep it as low as Rs. 20 or 30 (max Rs. 50). A bottle of alcohol costs Rs 14 only there I believe.

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The Ripple effect 😉

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This budding photographer happens to be my buddy, not chaddi buddy though 😛

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After the Emerald journey, we were supposed to visit Avalanche but we look at each other and say to each other, ‘ Screw this… let’s go home.’ We call up people and check out the situations, no bad reports and we (he) decided to take a big leap of driving back to Kerala.

Some pics on the way

The St. Stephen’s church, Ooty. One of my favorite places in Ooty. Once the mist starts dropping, then the place looks even more amazing.

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The name of places in order as we descend from Ooty towards Coonoor, not all are there cos the idea occurred a bit later and not all the places are there… sadly.

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Before Coonoor.

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Will it be a hit or will it be a miss?

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Just miss. They better not miss it next time.

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Wild flowers for wild people who wants to go all wild. I know a few of them 😉

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Indians and Engineering, lol. No more comments.

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Driving back on that day meant empty roads. All the 36 million people apart from 3 or 4, were at home and none of them were seen out. The roads were empty and we touched 150 kmph, which is a great speed in Kerala.

On the whole we had some good time and a lot of memories. Would I like to go back? Yes, why not. It’s an amazing drive and the weather is too good. Maybe on a motorbike next time? not sure, but a visit again would be amazing.

Before I put a full stop to this series, I will share 3 pics that I loved out of the lot… saved them for last.

The fountain at Charring Cross (Pic credit to my friend)

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A bit more darker and …

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On that bombshell, Good night!


Any suggestions and comments would be welcome.

Al-Tawein – A quick drive to the mountains.

No, no rants here. I am just going to post a couple of pictures from my drive and a video which shows our drive to the top. The general public is not much aware of the existence of such a place. So the crowd is minimal and the roads are very narrow ensuring that it is a scary enough to make it exciting. The climbs are at 60-70 degree inclination and more than once I had to engage my first gear, to keep my car going.

The climb starts at coordinates 25.566062, 56.080848 (Google maps).

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The video of the climb is here by the VW-Audi club UAE,

the other video which we took,

And then I died. To find out how I died, keep visiting this space.


 

Jebel Al Jais _ The mountains revisited – 2

Read the first part here


 

As I was looking around I saw another road which led to a tower like structure. On asking the guard he said there is a road to this place. I move on to explore like a Ford Explorer, but not much joy with that. They had locked the way to go uphill. So I am going to do what I do the best (Hitman: Agent 47)

 

Warships… lot of them. Feels like watching Greece attack Troy.

 

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Then I see another spot, which sparked interest. Half of it was under shadow. Thanks to the mountains.

 

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Back to warships…

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Then in a while, our friend from old gang comes to visit. Sorry for the shake, I wasn’t prepared for him.

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Many people came in with their utensils to cook food. I don’t understand the obsession, maybe it’s fun.

 

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Again the roads….

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Here we are nearing the end. So should I post the ending now and later post the Golf section? Yeah, that will work I guess.

So on the descend I took some more pics of mountains, good roads, places nearby and stuff like that.

 

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And then the B&W I saved from before…

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And then the beautiful scenic place downhill.

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Isn’t the place very beautiful?

Now some Golfey time, anyone who wishes to skip this can do so. This is madness and obsession.

Golfey time

A fun fact : I took all the winding roads in 5th gear with occasional shifting to 4th gear to deal with hairpin bends. Apart from that 5th gear and moving steadily, not a slightest of feel that you are out of power. Amazing torque. This car never ceases to amaze me. Anything that doesn’t fail to astonish you may it be a car or a person, you will want to hold on to it forever. I am in the same situation. Everyday is different with this car. Amazing Engineering!!!

That’s why people are ready to pay hefty amounts for German cars even though their reliability and customer service is arguably the worst. The German cars are well Engineered. Especially my car belongs to an era when there were only limited essential electronics and the rest was to be taken care by the driver. It’s a drivers car… No doubt!!!

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Now this I wanted to try and make my wallpaper… Focus on the ground, for a change 😛 

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So highlights of this trip,

Start from home : 04:45 AM
Reach Jebel Al Jais 06:30 AM
Start the car for return leg 09:00 AM
Reach home 11:45 AM

Total kms : 250 kms approx

Total fuel : 20-25 liters approx

REVIEW :

5 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pros :

A silent getaway, amazing winding roads, availability of public washrooms and barbecue places, Cost effective, Scenic, Challenging roads, Close to the city limits, Good to take along friends, family, parents or loved ones, Quiet place.

Cons :

Bad stretches of road; not matching UAE standards, Frequent cyclists, Lot of blind spot, Narrow roads at some places, People may find the troubles taken unworthy for what awaits is just a view, Camping area/off road is accessible only with permission, Unavailability of Petrol pumps, shops after leaving the city limits.

Best time to visit :

October to December and March to May.

Things to be careful about:

Narrow roads, blind spots and harsh potholes. Food, water and fuel should be taken care of before you leave city limits.

My opinion :

Definitely worth a shot for all the beautiful roads till the place and if you love silence and tranquility, think no more. A good place for weekend retreat provided you are not travelling in the rush hour. Auto-enthusiasts can enjoy the winding roads. Recommended. 

Finally a parting shot…

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Cheers!!!


 

Jebel Al Jais _ The Mountains revisited – 1

With everyone’s permission let’s revisit this post and the place again, this time I will post a proper review of the place. Now click that link and read it, will you? 😛 


 Recap :

A few months back, I was on the way to Jebel Al Jais ( Jebel – Mountain, Al- The, Jais – name of the mountain) and I shared my story of racing with an FJ cruiser. I couldn’t complete that journey due to high traffic jam from the half way point. I returned back, and said I’ll try and not go there. Well I went there for a quick visit and that was a very wise decision.

10 reasons why you could possibly consider visiting this place:

1. An amazing place to visit with your partner, family or as couples/wanna be couples. This place is going to elate both of your mood.

2. Beautiful views of winding roads from almost everywhere as you ascend.

3. A treat for any Motorcycle/Car enthusiast. Such are the roads. Narrow winding roads… means high adrenaline.

4. During the ‘not so hot and not so cold’ climate in UAE, the breeze at the top is something that needs to be experienced.

5. Compared to Jebel Hafeet, the roads are a bit more challenging. The roads from the bottom to the top are around 35 kms and feels like never ending once you start ascend. That can be good and bad, depending on how you view it.

6. Camping, barbecue and all those facilities available. (mentioned later on)

7. Availability of Public washrooms at every 5 kms for men and women. Fairly in good condition.

8. It’s not very far from the nearest city/Emirate (Ras Al Khaimah). Only 25 kms or so till the base of the mountains.

9. This can be a biking/cycling track. There are a lot of Cyclists climbing up and you may possibly bump into a bunch of them.

10. Last but not the least, it’s a beautiful place (see the attached pics)

Info :

As opposed to some people thinking, Jebel Al Jais is not the most highest mountain range in UAE. Jebel Yibir is with a 1,500 + meters above sea level.  Jebel Al Jais is one of the highest places, not the highest point.

How to find this place :

Ask Google… he knows, is the most worthwhile answer. It’s close to the Emirate called Ras-Al-Khaimah, to which there are two express ways (namely E311 and E611 which later on merges to become E311) and one highway (E11) joining RAK to other Emirates. The speed limit of E11 is 100 kmph with 80 kmph at some places near RAK, while the express ways obviously is 120 kmph with tolerance of +20 kmph making it 140 kmph.

Attaching the maps as I took both the route. The to journey was via E311, starts from Emirates market near my home and merges on to E311 and joining E11 later. The E611 is far wider than E311 and joins E311 at the centre as you can see.

To jais

 

The return leg is usually slow paced, as I am coming alone and not in a hurry.

Back home

 

Around 125 kms one way is the mention here, and I think it’s a bit more than that. Around a 150 kms (sorry no odometer readings to back my statement).

Planning :

I was supposed to go to Jebel Al Jais only this weekend, but then thought to myself what is preventing me from going there that weekend. Who can guarantee that next weekend would not see me doing something urgent! So just decided a day before that I am going. Tanked up, checked the tire pressure and set it to the standard 35 psi and checked the coolant/water levels in radiator and that’s it.

My take on the trip :

I went with my lady love as well. She is made of steel and looks Indigo blue.

The never ending 35 kms, the climb… the ascend is a nightmare if you go in traffic and a pleasure to climb if empty. The last time was a good lesson and I corrected myself this time, went early morning on a weekend. When the world was asleep after partying, I woke up at 4:00 am in the morning and managed to leave by 4:45 am. The plan was leave by 4:15 am.

On the way I stopped by a petrol station and got something to eat for the morning and I drove away to RAK. I knew most of the place from before. But towards the end I got lost and drove around for a bit before I reached the place. That ate up some time but nonetheless, it was only around half past 6. I had to climb the 35 km twisties and I was down there.

The roads are not that great, and your heart breaks with each bad pothole your small car hits. My suspensions aren’t that great either. It’s stiff by default and that’s where the Golf gets it’s precise handling. The potholes would be hard to tackle sometimes, and in a blind spot some other times. Few kms were testing, but the remaining were amazing.

Driving on narrow winding roads is really an amazing feeling, dangerous but then the best thrills come with their own dangers. More danger, more thrill. So the safest bet is to stay in your limits and have as much as fun you can. May it be car, may it be life. Never forget the limits…. Gladly I know exactly the limits of my car. I know it’s brakes, I know it’s acceleration and I know it inside out, except it’s ABS malfunctioned once (or did I panic more than usual) and I hit a smooth speed breaker a bit hard. Arghhh!!!

As usual my Photography revolved around Golfey.

Let’s move on to that then

(Please don’t mind the Vignetting in some of the pics. My screwed in filters have screwed up. My mistake again that I kept them screwed in together for a long time.)

First look at the mountains, the sun’s showing up

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Playing with the focus I land with something that looks like the below

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And finally … I own a VW GOLF GTI MK4. lol

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Sooner than later, I stop again.

 

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Again…

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And again… ufff!

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The sun has shown up now… and it’s becoming visible.

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Point 7. Public washroom.

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Point 6. Barbecue

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Now some pictures of ravines. You will now notice why it is not a good idea to jump from a ravine.

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You see in the next picture, there is a minute thing on the road.

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Then I zoom completely, at a 105 mm

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How do people even jump from suicide points?

Then my rally car,

If I stand up to click it then it looks tiny like a scale model… awww

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Then I kneel down to make him feel better

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Then I start driving up again. Suddenly after a turn I see some mutton dressed in the shape of lamb crossing the road. (pun intended)

I park my car, and go after them.

One of them is thinking of committing suicide

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He apparently is troubled that his gf is seeing someone else, and then I tell him my story and that my passenger side seat belts have become stiff and crispy. He is moved by my story and …..

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You don’t swear at someone who saved your life… dude? Where is the god damn manners.

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Then I turn back and take a couple of pics, from the edge. I live on the Adgeeee, lol 😛

 

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I turn my head to see something that reminded me of India. Why this kolaveri di?

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A closer look

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The herd is not happy with my intrusion… I might have to leave soon.

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I drive drive and drive… I reach the end of the road

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So that was the end of my uphill journey. The roads after that point were doable on a 4×4 strictly. You can see the rules written on the board. I saw a couple of cars passing the gate, and on enquiry the guard mentioned that they were from the company and had permission.

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Then some random shots

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Then I saw a braveheart

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Leave the braveheart, check out the place

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To be contd… 

With rest of the story, my quick review of this place and some more snaps

The place beyond the mountains – End

Read the third part here.


 

she thought to herself… 

She picked up the intercom and called Nancy in. When she comes in, Mansa hands over a letter to her.

Nancy asked Mansa about the letter.

‘This is an appraisal letter. I had received it a week before.’

‘Thank you so…’

‘It’s not me, Nancy. Management has taken note of your efficiency. I am just like a messenger.’ Mansa exclaims

Nancy looks a bit stunned.

‘Keep up the good work, this was what I had called you for. You may leave now.’ Mansa exclaimed hurriedly. Like usual giving no chance for the other person to talk.

The management had gathered, and they had decided to cut a small cake along with her speak up about the company. Later on after cutting the cake and having a small tea party with everyone, they all assembled in the meeting room.

The operations head stood up and thanked Mansa for her contributions. There were hails and claps all around. He then asked to share her experience with Cii.

‘Hello everyone, I promise to keep this short.’ she smiled

‘First of all, thank you to everyone. The support has been tremendous. I must say I have moved up the ladder mostly cos of the good support and team work. I am leaving due to personal reasons as I cited. Jay has been too long with me in most of the good things in life. There are other things to get back to.

‘So yeah. That is that, and I wish you all the very best of luck ahead both professionally and personally.’

She ended it all with haste…and with these words Mansa signed off her official duties and in a couple of hours she was back home. She had a plan to get to know the whereabouts of Jay. Obviously both her mother and Jay’s parents would be knowing for sure. He would have called them a hundred times by now.

The next morning she left for her hometown to stay a couple of days at home. She tactfully hid the recent happenings of her life from her mother. Her mother would have not taken it well. She knew that and preferred to avoid all of those unnecessary hassles.On the third day, she goes to Jay’s house.

Jay’s mother was very fond of Mansa. Mansa loved her too, but in the recent past she hasn’t been in touch with her. Mansa states all the recent happening. His mother consoles her saying, ‘He can’t be gone for long.’ 

By then Mansa knew that he was in Middle east. The same place where they used to live before.

It wasn’t long that Jay called home, and his mother passed the phone to Mansa saying some stranger wanted to talk to him.

‘Remember me?’ Mansa asked

‘Yes, Why not!’ 

They talk a bit more and later on …….

‘Where do you live by the way?’ asked Mansa

‘You know the place, Mansa. We used to live there once.’

‘Hmm. Just wondering if you had space for me there?’

‘Just wondering What took you so long to ask…….’

 


THE long awaited END