Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The fourth state: exploring Andhra..

I often find myself in company of people who flaunt their set of wheels' horsepower and complain at the same time. “Our country doesn't have good roads, too much traffic, driving is a pain, public transport is a mess”- they say. My answer to such people is always the same. You haven't explored your country well enough. There is no dearth of roads, use some state transport buses to get out of the city, and there is no dearth of places to put your horses to good use. But for all this, you have to step out from your shell and explore your beautiful country.

The idea of Horsley hills was introduced to me by Sridhar uncle when I visited their place last week. In no time, I figured out we had a lot in common. Chitra aunty and Sridhar uncle turned out to be one of the few people who could connect with what I do on the road on weekends. Most of our conversation over dinner was about places in and around Bangalore, and of course his BMW 320i and my Pulsar 200. He gave me a brief introduction of Horseley hills and I loved what I heard. However, uncle warned me that as it is with the other places we discussed; I should not expect much from this place besides the serenity and the charm of being cut off from the city life.

We set out in the chilly foggy morning at around 6:40am. Vikram's delay turned out to be a blessing. God knows if we would have had the guts to continue in the dark with visibility limited to around 70 meters. We exited Bangalore from Old Madras road which transforms into NH-4. This highway is and will remain one of the worst roads of Bangalore for at least some more time thanks to the construction going on. Surprisingly, both sides of the highway exiting Bangalore (Tumkur road as well as Old Madras road side) portray the same sorry picture. Fortunately, we got off this wretched road just before Hoskote to get on the state highway 88. For an hour: we wiped our visors, we shivered, we blinked a million times but we bravely rode on. The town of Chintamani saw the end of our fog Chintaas after which we sped up with Praddy leading the way. The sun was finally victorious and we welcomed in the hope that it’d take care of our wet gloves, shoes and clothes. The roads are majestic and judging by the build quality, they should continue to be so for at least a year or so. The above mentioned Horse power flaunters/city cribbers can make a note of this. Got power? Then this is one of the places to show! We passed a queer bamboo staff and it was after a while that it struck me that it signified our arrival into the state of Andhra Pradesh. Talk about a free country and the freedom to move anywhere! That border check post; (if I may call it that) would make the city or district borders look like bullet infested war frontiers. The state highway ends at Madanpalle from where we continued on the NH 205.

This turned out to be a major trucking route and we were glad to have taken the state highway. Upon querying for the route, I was told there’s no ‘Horse-ley’ here, but I could visit ‘Haarss-lee’ hills nearby if I wanted to.. Now having corrected my pronunciation, we started our climb. The ascent to Horsley hills is very similar to Nandi hills and is characterized by monkeys, hair pin turns and a slight drop in temperature. The pleasant drive ended at the AP tourism's Haritha resort. The rooms are good value for money and this resort defines the place. There's nothing else at the hill-top besides this.

However, the 'adventure sports' banner caught our eye and we started querying about it. Unfortunately, Zorbing was out of question as they would not bother to set up the ball unless we were at least 20 people. Hence we took up net climbing and suspended walk. It turned out to be a lot more exciting than it initially seemed to the inexperienced eye. We would conclude later that this, combined with the lovely roads and the view was the best part of this trip.

We started back and stopped for a while at a handicraft shop set up on the roadside. Quality's not that great, but you do get pottery works real cheap. Thereafter, we stopped at a roadside dhaba and it was just fantastic having that kind after such a long time. Also, we were still in AP and Vikram wisely ordered butter chicken. It was just awesome with the characteristic Andhra spices! We continued driving almost non stop and made it to Bangalore a little before 4pm.

For those of you considering travelling to this place or Tirupati; I strongly recommend this route. Avoid the truck traffic and the city of Chittoor by taking the Chintamani route. Also, give a call to Vamsi (9676392142). He can work out a good package for everything: your stay, food as well as adventure sports.

For a better picture, visit http://praagraw.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/an-excursion-to-horsley-hills/ and for the masterly blend of humor and sarcasm visit http://vaultofvagaries.blogspot.com/2010/02/horsley-hills-fog-food-and-fear.html

No comments:

Post a Comment