An indication of long weekends is the huge traffic jam outside of Kamat Lokaruchi on Mysuru Road. I’m sure there are indicators on Hosur Road, Hyderabad Road, Old Madras Road, New Madras Road, Tumkur Road – you get the drift. Since travelling with the Usual Suspects usually involved bolting awake at 05.30 and out of the house in 15 mins, we usually missed this mass grazing where assorted mothers, fathers, screaming kids and frazzled grandparents converge. I’m glad to say that The Missus and I missed this too.
We were on our way to Wayanad – new Palace Hotel beckoned, but that itch was left unscratched. This time we checked into Edakkal Hermitage near Edakkal (and hence the name) and stayed put. Considering the hordes that have now invaded Bengaluru; Wayanad and Kerala are no longer out of bounds for anyone. Getting there is not a problem, in fact, I believe going to Wayanad is probably the only route out of Bengaluru that is guaranteed not to jar your bones during any stretch of the journey. Any travel to the West coast involves travelling through the ravines that go under the name of NH 17 and the Charmadi Ghats. Ditto anything beyond Chikkamagaluru town. Getting to Coorg is now an excellent excuse to off road. OK, so maybe getting to Pondi is tad better.
We teamed up with the New, Usual, Suspects. Getting out and away was a breeze. It took us just a tad over 5.5 hours to get to Edakkal. Considering I drive a trusty, but slow ride, this is more a testament to the roads than the said ride. Most folks know the way to Bandipur so there is not much to say for that. You follow the same route till Gundulpet, and turn where the “good” road turns right for Wayanad. There used to be a hotel just outside Gundulpet that didn’t advertise itself as a hotel. Instead it had a huge board that said Clean Toilets Here. Considering that there was nothing since you passed Mysuru and now, most folks stopped there. You could see it from all the skid marks. It used to serve decent, vegetarian fare. This has now passed into the hands of some solid meat eating Mallus and now serves decent, non-vegetaran fare. The toilets, though, are still clean enough.
Due to the rains early in March, the weather in the hills of Edakkal was very pleasant. The folks at Edakkal were very helpful and unobtrusive. Two diametrically opposite traits that they managed very well. The Edakkal Hermitage is spread on the lower foothills of the Edakkal caves. A word of advice would be to skip the caves if you’re travelling over the weekend. There are hordes of idiotic software types from Bengaluru, with overly enthusiastic local school and college kids who tend to cause a jam on the way up to the caves and further towards the peak. If at all the weekend is all you can have, then try it early Sunday morning when there’s likely to be lesser crowd.
All in all, Edakkal gives you solid value for money. For those who are more snobbily inclined, Vythiri has lots of places that can help you contribute heavily to the GDP of that area and said resorts. Problem is resort development in Vythiri has gone a little amok. With too many of them around, you can then soak in the atmosphere you gave a miss at the Kamat Lokaruchi. Or you can stick to Edakkal and miss all the crowds.