Friday, October 24, 2014

Getting There
If you plan to visit Talakad, Somanathapur, Tirumakudalu Narasipur, and Nanjangud from overseas, the best option is to fly directly to Bengaluru International Airport and then take road transportation from there.

Mysore has recently opened an airport, though the number of flights is quite limited at the time of writing this book, with only one flight per day from Bengaluru.

Staying in Bengaluru
Since the road journey can be quite exhausting, I would suggest spending a night in Bengaluru before embarking on it. Bengaluru has a wide selection of hotels to choose from, ranging from top end establishments such as the Oberoi on MG Road and the Leela Palace Kempinski that can run to well over $200 a night to cheaper ones such as those operated by the Shilton group.

My own personal favorite is the Shilton Residence in Indiranagar, nearby the One Hundred Feet Road, which has spacious and comfortable rooms at very reasonable prices.

You can find out more information about these hotels by clicking on the following links:

http://www.theleela.com

http://www.oberoihotels.com/oberoi_bangalore/index.asp

http://www.shiltonhotels.com

Traveling from Bengaluru
There is no direct public transportation from Bengaluru to any of the destinations mentioned above, so your only option is to hire a car and driver from your hotel. Costs will vary depending on your itinerary and how many days you plan to go for, but in my experience they are quite reasonable.

You are advised to hire a car operated by the hotel you are staying at or from a reputable company such as Meru Cabs. For more information please click here: http://www.merucabs.com/

You should specify that the driver has at least a basic command of English to ensure smooth communication during the trip. The driver should also be able to help you find guides at the various locations you visit as well as restaurants etc.

If you are feeling hungry on the way to Talakad or Mysore, you should ask your driver to stop off at Kamat vegetarian restaurant about half-way along the route. This serves wonderful Idlys, Parathas, Dosas, and other south Indian delicacies, not to mention excellent coffee.

If you decide to go directly to Mysore first before visiting Talakad, there is a wide choice of public bus and train services available.

Buses operated by the Karnataka State Road Transportation (KSRTC) leave the central bus station near to the City train station at regular intervals with an average journey time of approximately two and a half hours. Ticket price is INR250 or about US$5. For more information, please click here: http://www.ksrtc.in/site/.

There are also regular train services between Bengaluru City Station and Mysore Junction. Journey time is between two and three hours. For more information, please click here: http://indiarailinfo.com/

Staying in Mysore

Mysore has a wide variety of hotels covering all price points. Many of these can be booked online at: http://www.mysorehotels.net. 

If you fancy a splurge, I would recommend the magnificent Lalitha Palace Hotel just outside the city. For more information, please click here: http://www.lalithamahalpalace.in/

Traveling from Mysore
While I would recommend that you hire a car and driver for your tours, it is also possible to take both private and state (KSRTC) buses to Talakad, Somanathapur, T Narasipur, and Nanjangud from Mysore. Ask at your hotel for more information.  –

Staying in Talakad
While there are apparently a few budget hotels in Talakad itself, probably the best options if you want to stay in the area are couple of resorts called Jaladhama and Raya, which are just a few miles away.

For more information, about the Jaladhama resort, please click here: http://www.jaladhama.net/.

To learn more about the Raya resort, please click here: http://raya.co.in/index.html.

Food and Water
The advice I received before making this tour was to take a packed lunch with me because of the poor quality of the restaurants in the area. I also carried a few bottles of branded mineral water to make sure I had enough fluids for the trip.

Maybe I was being excessively cautious, but it certainly pays to be careful about what you eat and drink during your trip.

Additional Tips
Traveling in India particularly in rural areas like the one described in this book can be quite a stressful experience. Chances are that the driver will not fully know the route and have to stop and ask for directions from time to time despite his protestations to the contrary. The roads, too, are extremely poor in places, making for an uncomfortable ride. My only advice is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful Karnataka countryside.

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