Guide to Strawberry Festival in Mahabaleshwar

Adorning the Sahyadri mountain range, Mahabaleshwar & Panchgani are the most popular hill stations in Maharashtra having served as the summer capital during the British Raj. The pristine locales only rivaled by the delicious ‘Mahabaleshwar Strawberry’.

Strawberries were introduced to Mahabaleshwar by the British & has become popular as ‘Mahabaleshwar Strawberry’ .  In 2010 ‘Mahabaleshwar Strawberry’ obtained the Geographical Indication (GI) tag [A geographical indication (GI) tag is an indication that identifies goods as produced from a particular area, which has special quality or reputation attributable to its geographical origin].

Strawberry Festival:

Being a seasonal fruit, the annual Strawberry Festival in Mahabaleshwar & Panchgani is a celebration of the strawberry harvest held from December to April culminating in a 3-day strawberry-mela during the Easter Weekend in April.

However fresh strawberries and strawberry-based foods are available throughout between December and April.

What and Where to Eat Strawberries:

Mahabaleshwar strawberry is used in making various food products such as preserves, jams, fruit crushes, ice-creams, milkshakes, strawberry with fresh cream, strawberry fudge and jelly toffees

Strawberries with Fresh Cream:

The best way to consume strawberries!! Strawberries with fresh cream consists of layers of fresh strawberries and fresh cream, ice-cream. One can also add chocolates, mulberries etc to this heavenly delight.

Where to Eat: The best version of this is at The House of Berries, Kates Point Road, Mahabaleshwar

Strawberry and Cream with Chocolate at Kates Point Road Mahabaleshwar

Strawberry and Cream with Chocolate – Yumm!!

Strawberry Fruit:

More than 50% of The Mahabaleshwar Strawberry is dominated by Sweet Charlie variety and is absolutely delicious to taste.

Where to buy: Main Market, Mahabaleshwar @ 80 -100 INR for 1 kg (trust me 1 kg is just not enough!!)

Fresh Strawberries and Mulberries at Mahabaleshwar Market

Fresh Strawberries and Mulberries

Fresh Strawberries with Nutella:

A DIY dessert – dip fresh strawberries in Nutella to find Nirvana!!

Strawberries with Nutella at Strawberry Festival Mahabaleshwar

Strawberry with Nutella – the most easy dessert to make 😛

Other Must-Eat Places in Mahabaleshwar:

Sri SiddiVinayak Snacks Centre, Mahabaleshwar:

A humble café serving popular Maharashtrian snacks such as Sabudana vada, batata vada, poha, vada pav with delicious chai.

  • What to Eat: Chai (elaichi-flavored) and vada-pav
  • Location: Mahabaleshwar Main Market (end of the street)
Chai and Vada Pav Sri SiddiVinayak Snacks Centre in Mahabaleshwar

Chai and Vada in Mahabaleshwar

Jelly Toffees, Mahabaleshwar:

Available in every-possible flavour ranging from fruits to pan-masala, these jelly toffees are apt for snacking during those lazy walks.

Where to buy: plenty of shops in Mahabaleshwar Main Market

Jelly Toffees at Mahabaleshwar Main Market

Jelly Toffees!!

Here are some tips to carry strawberries back home:

  • Carry strawberries in a vented box – which allows air to pass through & keeps them dry
  • Storage: can be kept outside if consumed within 2 days, else refrigerate the fruits (No Deep Freeze)
  • DO NOT remove the green stem-leaves on top of the fruits while carrying/storing them (Removal of the stem evaporates the moisture of the fruit)
  • Wash the Strawberries ONLY before eating – DO NOT wash them and store (Strawberries are like sponges, they absorb water immediately, which may lead to fungus formation during transit)
Pratapgad Fort Maharashtra

Must Visit: Pratapgad Fort – 30 kms from Mahabaleshwar

View from Kates Point Mahabaleshwar

View from Kates Point Mahabaleshwar

Enroute Mahabaleshwar on a Kawasaki Versys 650

Mahabaleshwar – Best Relished on a Motorcycle 🙂

21 Breakfast Ride Getaways from Bengaluru

Presenting the most delicious  South-Indian Breakfast Getaways from Bengaluru, best explored on a motorcycle 🙂

1) Gayathri Tiffin Room (GTR), Mysore

An iconic vegetarian restaurant in Mysore, GTR has been delighting food-patrons with South-Indian breakfast for decades

  • Must Eat – Masala Dosa + Kesari Bath + Filter Coffee
  • Distance from Bangalore – 150 kms
  • Highway – NH 275
  • Location – Gayathri Tiffin Room (GTR)
  • Timings – 7 am to 11 am and 330 pm to 8 pm (Closed on Monday)
  • Motorcycle Parking- Available
Kesari Bath and Masala Dosa - Gayathri Tiffin Room (GTR) Mysore

Kesari Bath and Masala Dosa – Gayathri Tiffin Room (GTR)

2) Sri Laxmi Bhavan Tiffin Room, Chitradurga

Ask anyone in Chitradurga for good breakfast and they will point you to this place, Sri Laxmi Bhavan Tiffin room is nestled in the central part of Chitradurga town with a close proximity to the fort.

  • Must Eat – Khali Dosa + Masala Dosa
  • Distance from Bangalore – 201 kms
  • Highway – NH 4
  • Location – Sri Laxmi Bhavan Tiffin Room Chitradurga
  • Timings – 7 am to 8 pm (Closed on Tuesday)
  • Motorcycle Parking- No dedicated parking (but you can park across the street before the shops open by 9 am)
  • Recommended to visit the Chitradurga Fort, its majestic !!
Khali Dosa at Sri Laxmi Bhavan Tiffin Room Chitradurga

Khali Dosa – Sri Laxmi Bhavan Tiffin Room

3) Swamy Hotel, Hiriyur

Thronged by truckers, Swamy Hotel is the South-Indian replica of a dhaba which is rugged on ambiance but high on taste of the food and friendly staff.

  • Must Eat – Ghee Dosa + Pongal
  • Distance from Bangalore – 159 kms
  • Highway – NH 4
  • Location – Swamy Hotel Hiriyur
  • Timings – 6 am to 12 pm (breakfast-only) – Open all days of the week
  • Motorcycle Parking- Yes, they have all the space to accommodate an entire motorcycle assembly line 😛
  • Good to Know – There is a separate family section inside the main hotel (recommended if you are accompanied by your wife/girlfriend and kids)
Ghee Dosa at Swamy Hotel Hiriyur

Ghee Dosa – Swamy Hotel

4) Ganapati Coffee Bar, Madhugiri

Popularly known as ‘Shivanna Hotel’ by locals, Ganapati Coffee Bar is a humble South-Indian mess serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Must Eat – Khali Dosa + Idli with Chilli Bajji
  • Distance from Bangalore – 105 kms
  • Highway – NH 69
  • Location – Reach the Superintendent of Police (SP) Office inside Madhugiri town and ask the locals for Shivanna Hotel instead of Ganapati Coffee Bar, the hotel is about 200 to 300m from the SP office (Google Maps link to the Madhugiri SP Office)
  • Timings – 7 am to 5 pm – Open all days of the week
  • Motorcycle Parking- Available
  • Recommended to visit the Madhugiri Fort, its majestic !!
  • Good to know – The coffee (ironic to the place) isn’t good
Idli with Chilli Bajji at Ganapati Coffee Bar in Madhugiri

Idli with Chilli Bajji – Ganapati Coffee Bar

5) Kadambam, Channapatna

Although this once beautiful highway is plagued by the hordes of restaurant-chains and eateries, Kadambam stands out with its authentic Iyengar cuisine.

  • Must Eat – Sakkare Pongal + Khara Pongal + Puliyogare
  • Distance from Bangalore – 66kms
  • Highway – SH 17/NH 275
  • Location – Kadambam Channapatna
  • Timings – 7 am to 12 pm (breakfast) – Open all days of the week
  • Motorcycle Parking- Available
Sakkare Pongal and Khara Pongal at Kadambam Channapatna Mysore Road

Sakkare Pongal & Khara Pongal – Kadambam Channapatna

6) Idly Mane, Harohalli

Run by a husband and wife, Idly Mane serves ‘soft-as-butterthatte idlis along with chutney and sagu (potato-based curry)

  • Must try – Thatte Idly and vada
  • Timings: 6:30 am to 11 am, Open all days
  • They do not serve coffee or tea
  • Distance from Bangalore – 40kms
  • Location: Idly Mane Harohalli, Kanakpura road (NH-209)
  • Motorcycle parking – No dedicated parking, can be parked at the front of the hotel
Thatte Idli at Idli Mane Harohalli, Kanakpura Road NH209

Thatte Idli at Idli Mane Harohalli

7) Subbanna Mess, Melkote

This is ‘a typical brahmin mess’ serving all 3 meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) throughout the year and one has to remove footwear before delving into food (symbolic of hygiene and respect to food)

  • Must try – Sakkare Pongal + Puliogare + thatte idly
  • Timings – 6 am to 12 pm (only breakfast) – they are open till 11 pm , Open all days
  • Distance from Bangalore – 130 kms
  • Location – Subbanna Mess, Melkote, Karnataka
  • Motorcycle parking – No dedicated parking, can be parked at the front of the hotel
Puliogare and Sakkare Pongal at Subbanna Mess Melkote

Puliogare and Sakkare Pongal at Subbanna Mess Melkote

PS: One has to remove footwear to eat the food in the dining section (They also have a separate verandah where one doesn’t need to remove their footwear to eat)

8) Shri Janardhan Hotel, Ramanagara, Mysore Road

This place is for the sweet-tooth foodie – breakfast + mysore pak or badam halwa + filter coffee is the recommended course of action :p

  • Must try – Masala dosa + mysore pak + badma halwa + filter coffee
  • Timings – 7:30 am to 9:30 pm (Dosas are available till 11:30 am and resume from 4 pm onwards)
  • Closed on Thursday
  • Distance from Bangalore – 40 kms
  • Location – Janardhan Hotel Ramanagara Town (off Mysore Road), Karnataka
  • Motorcycle parking – No dedicated parking, can be parked at the front of the hotel
Masala Dosa at Hotel Shri Janardhan or Mysore Pak Hotel at Ramanagara Karnataka

Masala Dosa at Mysore Pak Hotel, Ramanagara

9) Shree Veerabhadreshwara Bhavana, Halagur

Discovery of this place is dedicated to a dear friend Praveen. This is your typical hanchina-mane (tiled house) serving breakfast in Halagur, a bustling town on NH209 before Malavalli.

  • Must try – Masala dosa + pakodas (their norm is 2 masala dosas in a single plate : D)
  • Timings – 6 am to 11 am and 3:30 pm to 7 pm, Open all days
  • Distance from Bangalore – 90 kms
  • Location – Shree Veerabhadreshwara Bhavana Halagur, Kanakpura road, NH209
  • Motorcycle parking – No dedicated parking, can be parked at the front of the hotel
Masala Dosa + Pakoda at Shree Veerabhadreshwara Bhavana, Halagur,NH 209

Masala Dosa + Pakoda at Shree Veerabhadreshwara Bhavana, Halagur

10) Harsha Café, Mandya

One of the most popular breakfast places in Mandya, Harsha Café serves delicious south Indian breakfast and snacks throughout the day.

  • Must try – Set dosa + coffee
  • Timings – 7:30 am to 8:30 pm
  • Closed on Friday
  • Distance from Bangalore – 100 kms
  • Location – Harsha Cafe VV Road, Mandya
  • Motorcycle parking – No dedicated parking, can be parked at the front of the hotel
Set Dosa at Harsha Cafe, VV Road Mandya

Set Dosa at Harsha Cafe Mandya

11) Nani Hotel, Vijayapura

This place has been delighting the town of Vijayapura for over 50 years with yummy Dosas, Idlis and Rice bath.

  • Must Eat – Masala Dosa + Filter Coffee (ask them to make it strong – works like charm during this perfect weather)  🙂
  • Distance from Bangalore – 58kms
  • Highway – NH7 (after Bengaluru Airport)
  • Location – Google Maps Link
  • Timings – 7 am to 11 am
  • Motorcycle Parking- no specific/allotted parking (but there is always place to park)
  • The menu keeps changing (as and when they get over)
Masala Dosa at Nani Hotel Vijayapura

Masala Dosa at Nani Hotel Vijayapura

12) Shashi Hotel, Nittur

A family-run place/house serving delicious food for about 100 years and the hospitality is unlike anything I have seen 🙂 There is no signboard, but ask anyone in Nittur town for Shashi’s hotel and they point you to his house.

  • Must Eat – Lemon garlic rice (the best I have had till date) + thatte idli + rava idli
  • Distance from Bangalore- 100kms (brilliant tarmac)
  • Highway – NH206 (Bangalore – Shimoga highway After Gubbi town)
  • Location –  Google Maps Link  (Landmark: KSRTC Bus Stand, Nittur and ask for Shashi’s hotel)
  • Timings- 7am to 12pm (open throughout the week)
  • Motorcycle Parking- no specific/allotted parking (but there is always place to park)
  • Highly Recommend to call Mr.Shashi on +919686100951
Thatte Idli with Nippat at Shashi Hotel Nittur, Karnataka

Thatte Idli with Nippat – works really well!!

13) Hotel Sri Satyanarayana, Someshwara after Agumbe

Brilliant roads (except the Agumbe ghat) + great food = An awesome combo 🙂

  • Must Eat – Avalakki with Curd + Neer dosa
  • Distance from Bangalore- 370kms
  • Highway – NH 48 + SH 57
  • Location:  Google Maps Link
  • Timings- 7:30 am to 9:30 pm
  • Motorcycle Parking- lots of space at the front of the hotel
  • Highly Recommended to stay-over, experience the sunrise at Agumbe and head to Hotel Satyanarayana for breakfast
Avalakki with Curd - Hotel Sri Satyanarayana, Someshwar, Agumbe Karnataka

Avalakki with Curd – Minimum 3 plates/person is required :d

14) Shark Dhaba, (between Solur and Kunigal)

Breakfast under the trees by day and a regular dhaba by night – they churn out yummy dosas and chutney on NH 48.

PS: I m still wondering why they had to name it ‘Shark Dhaba’ 😛

  • Must Eat – Thatte Idli and vada with generous servings of chutney + filter coffee (avoid the tea) + masala dosas
  • Distance from Bangalore- 50kms
  • Highway – NH48 (Bangalore-Mangalore highway)
  • Location – Google Maps Link 
  • Timings- 6 am to 11 am
  • Motorcycle Parking- lavish parking facility
Thatte Idli and Vada at Shark Dhabha after Solur, Karnataka ( NH48)

Thatte Idli and Vada at Shark Dhabha after Solur NH48

15) Hotel Prasanna Kaggalipura (Kanakpura Road)

This place was found during one of the cycling trips – the relaxed pace helps to notice places :d

  • Must Eat – thatte idly with sagoo + puri with sagoo
  • Distance from Bangalore- 35 kms
  • Highway – NH 209
  • Location – Near Kaggalipura lake bund (its on the main highway and is easy to spot due to town traffic)
  • Timings- 6 30 am to 11 am
  • Motorcycle Parking- maximum of 5 to 6 bikes can be parked upfront (bylanes can accommodate few more )
Thatte Idly at Hotel Prasanna, Kagglipura

Thatte Idly with Sagoo – A Must Try

16) Renukamba Thatte Idli, Bidadi, Mysore Road

Journey on Mysore road is incomplete without the hot thatte (plate-sized) idlis and crispy vada in Bidadi.

  • Must Eat – Thatte Idli + Vada  with atleast 2 dollops of butter
  • Distance from Bangalore- 45kms
  • Highway – SH17 or Mysore Road.
  • Location – Google Maps link
  • Timings- 5:30 am to 8:30 pm
  • Motorcycle Parking- no specific/allotted parking (but there is always place to park)
Bidadi Thatte Idli - Hotel Renukamba, Bidadi, Karnataka

Bidadi Thatte Idli – Hotel Renukamba, Bidadi

17) Preethi Canteen, Birur

Don’t let the distance deter you from trying this place, you will thank me for this after you taste the food.

  • Must Eat – Benne Khali Dosa + Coffee + vada with chutney
  • Distance from Bangalore- 200kms (brilliant tarmac)
  • Highway – NH206 Arsikere road.
  • Location – Google Maps link
  • Timings- 7:30 am to 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm (Closed on Thursday)
  • Motorcycle Parking- no specific/allotted parking (but there is always place to park)
Benne Khali Dosa - Preethi Canteen Birur

Benne Khali Dosa – Preethi Canteen Birur

18) Pavitra Idli Hotel, Tumkur Road

A must stop place for idli, vada and coffee near Kyathsandra on NH4 close to Tumkur.

  • Must Eat – Thatte Idli + Vada  with at-least 2 dollops of butter along with filter coffee
  • Distance from Bangalore- 70kms
  • Highway – NH4 or Tumkur Road.
  • Location  – Google Maps link
  • Timings- 6 am to 12 pm
  • Motorcycle Parking- no specific/allotted parking (but there is an adjacent bylane that can be used)
Benne Idli Sagu at Pavithra Idli Hotel, Kyathasandra Tumkur

Benne Idli with Vada – Pavitra Idli Hotel

19)  Vasu Hotel, Kanakpura Road

The Dosa place on Kanakpura road, Vasu Hotel is one of the best known and most visited hotels by locals of Kanakpura town.

  • Must Eat – Masala Dosa
  • Distance from Bangalore- 50kms
  • Highway – NH209 or Kanakpura Road.
  • Location – Google Maps link
  • Timings- 6 am to 5 pm
  • Motorcycle Parking- no specific/allotted parking (but there is always place to park)
Masala Dosa at Vasu Hotel KNS Circle Kanakpura Karnataka

Masala Dosa – yummmmmm!!

20) Ganesh Bhavan, Denkanikotte

Easily the least-known place, Ganesh Bhavan in Denkanikotte town (next to the Post Office) is one of the highly frequented places by the locals.

  • Must Eat – Idli + Masala Dosa
  • Distance from Bangalore- 60kms
  • Highway – SH17 or Anchetty Road.
  • Location –  Google Maps link
  • Timings- 7 am to 5 pm (Weekdays) and 7 am to 1 pm (on Sundays)
  • Motorcycle Parking- no specific/allotted parking (but there is always place to park)

Masala Dosa-Denkanikotte

21) Sri Lakshmi Tiffin Centre, Mulbagal

Sri Lakshmi Tiffin Centre represents the epitome of  dosa-making in Mulbagal and is thronged by the locals for their daily-dose of breakfast and evening snacks

Onion Dosa at Sri Lakshmi Tiffin Centre Mulbagal

Onion Dosa – resembles a pizza 😛

  • Must Eat – Onion Dosa + Masala Dosa+ Sabbakki Idli
  • Distance from Bangalore- 97kms
  • Highway – NH 75 or Kolar Road.
  • Location – Google Maps link
  • Timings – Monday to Sunday (7:30 am to 11:30 am) and (5 pm to 8 pm)
  • One of their specialty is ‘Sabakki (sabudana) Idli’ – which is prepared only on Sundays
  • Motorcycle Parking – Ample space
  • They don’t serve coffee/tea and sambar

All the above places don’t accept cards – Cash only.

Ride, Eat and Explore !! Happy tripping 🙂

Sai Prasad Restaurant Calangute Goa

When it comes to finding authentic food, trust the locals – based on the recommendation of a co-passenger in the local bus, I stumbled upon this ‘mess-type’ bar & restaurant in Calangute serving Goan Fish Curry Rice Thali.

Sai Prasad Restaurant looks like a proper ‘hole in the wall’ place with minimum ambiance packed with delicious food and beer. Although they serve pretty much everything from the sea, its the Goan Fish Curry Thali which holds the numero-uno place among the patrons.

Goan Fish Curry Rice Thali at Sai Prasad Restaurant in Calangute Goa

Authentic & Delicious Goan Fish Curry Rice Thali !!

The Goan Fish Curry Rice Thali is a delicious meal comprising of Goan Fish Curry, Rava-fry Fish, Salad, White Rice, Pickle, Subzi, Papad, Yellow Dal with coconut (trust me it tastes good) and Rava-fried potato fritters (do not forget to ask for more fritters).

View from Siolim Chopdem Bridge across Chapora river in Goa

Goa – not ‘just’ beaches right !!

Useful Information:

  • Cash only, No cards or Paytm payment
  • Timings: 12 pm to 4 pm & 8:30 pm to 11 pm
  • Orientation:  Calangute Goa – Google Maps Link
  • Parking: Motorcycles can be easily parked, no dedicated parking for cars (One can park the car in Calangute Mall & walk to the restaurant which isn’t more than 100m from the Mall)
Peace and football at Morjim Beach in Goa

Beach Essentials 😀  @Morjim Beach

Travel Tips:

  • Ditch the regularly crowded ‘Baga-Anjuna-Vagator sector’ and head to Morjim Beach to spend time with turtles and for beach football 🙂
  • Enroute Morjim – DO NOT forget to soak in the views from Chopdem-Siolim Bridge across River Chapora

Hotel Sri Annapoorneshwari Hariharapura Koppa

When it comes to food, “word of mouth” has never let me down. Suggested by a dear friend, Hotel Sri Annapoorneshwari in Hariharapura, a vtown near Koppa was our breakfast stop during the Malnad Ride and it turned out to be good one.

Run by Mr. Sudhkar GowdaHotel Sri Annapoorneshwari is an extension of Mr. Sudhakar’s house with a mini-shop selling provisions and a home-kitchen, where the food is prepared for the patrons. The porch & garage area of the house is converted into the dining area which overlooks the State Highway (SH 65) connecting Hariharapura and Begar.

Chitranna and Brinda's Kokum Soda at Hotel Sri Annapoorneshwari in Hariharapura, Koppa

Chitranna for the Hunger and Kokum Soda for the thirst – perfect !!

Malnad Roads - between Varanga & Karkala

Malnad Roads – Best Relished on a Motorcycle 🙂

Recommended to Eat:

Breakfast: Chitranna (cooked rice flavored with spices, particularly oil-popped mustard seeds and turmeric) coupled with a few bottles of Kokum Soda are the most delicious on their breakfast menu which includes Idly, Vada, Maida-based Parota (Kerala-style), Dosa, Wheat Chapati etc

Parota and Brinda Kokum Soda at Hotel Sri Annapoorneshwari Hariharapura

So refreshing – Wish we could carry more of Kokum Soda !!

Lunch: Incase you sticking around for lunch, they serve delicious Ragi Mudde, Fish & Chicken thali meals only in the afternoon. However some breakfast items such as Chitranna, Idly-Vada, Parota etc. are available throughout.

Places to visit around Hariharapura:

  • Hariharapura Hanging Bridge : Built across River Tunga , this is one of the few hanging bridges in Karnataka which can be crossed on a motorcycle.

Orientation: Google Maps Link (located about 1 km from the town-center of Hariharapura)

  • Kundadri Hills : A serene hillock with cloud-laced views of the Western Ghats and a Jain Basadi at the summit.

Orientation: Google Maps Link (located about 28 kms from Hariharapura)

Kundadri Hills Karnataka

View worth a ride – summit of Kundadri Hills

Useful Information:

  • Orientation: The eatery is located on the Right-side before entering Hariharapura town (coming from Begar)
  • Timings: 7:30 am to 11 pm
  • Contact Details of the owner: Sudhakar Gowda @ +919841394689
  • Mode of payment: Accepts Cash & Paytm payment only
  • No dedicated parking for motorcycles or cars, however it’s easy to find a spot to park them next to the highway
Hotel Sri Annapoorneshwari at Hariharapura (SH 65)

Hotel Sri Annapoorneshwari at Hariharapura

Brik Oven Church Street Bengaluru

There is something delectable about wood-fired thin-crust pizzas and very few places actually get them right.

Started by Anirudh Nopany and Sreeram Anvesh – Brik Oven located on Church Street (next to India Coffee House) is one of the recent additions to the city’s food-map that serves authentic wood-fired pizzas and sinful milkshakes.

The open-kitchen, shelves of ingredients, piles of wood stacked to fire the oven complete the look of an actual Italian pizzeria.
With only two chefs doing all the work, be prepared to wait. After all, they ‘deliver good food not fast food.’

Meanwhile one can dive-in to the freshly-baked Garlic Bread and Mint with Feta Dip.

Red Cotta Pizza:
Topped with spinach, red peppers, garlic, ricotta and mozzarella, the pizza-base made from freshly kneaded dough has an earthy taste that complements the toppings.
Popeye & Olive Oyl pizza is the chicken-version of the red cotta.

Red Cotta Pizza at Brik Oven Church Street Bengaluru

Red Cotta Pizza – deliciousness!!

Freak Shake:
If you are a ‘chocoholic’ – this is a must-try.

Freak shake is a vanilla milkshake topped with ice cream, Nutella, M&Ms ,Oreo cookie, Chocolate chip cookie, Chocolate brownie, Snickers and slices of waffles & wafer-sticks.

The rim of the mason jar is dressed with a generous amount of peanut butter and cookie crumbs.

Freak Shake at Brik Oven Church Street Bengaluru

Freak Shake – slurrrppp!!

Useful Information:
– Go hungry!!
– Timings 1 pm to 4 pm & 7 pm to 10 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
– Paid Parking for cars & motorcycles within Brigade Gardens
– The place is usually packed, so head straight inside to book a table
– Payment: Cash and cards are accepted

My search for authentic Italian thin-crust pizzas & delicious wholesome milkshakes ends!!

Ride De Malnad

“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it” – Jules Renard.

One such beauty is Malnad or Malenadu, a richly-forested, heavy rain fall area spread over the western and eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, covering parts of Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu and Hassan districts in Karnataka.

Malenadu translates to ‘land of hills’ – is blessed with fantastic winding roads surrounded by coffee estates, daunting hills with Jain temples at the summit, temples of great archaeological & mythical significance, abundant wildlife, birthplace to numerous rivers and delicious Malnad cuisine.

Malnad Roads - between Varanga & Karkala

Malnad Roads – Best Relished on a Motorcycle 🙂

Motorcycles:

  • KTM Duke 390
  • Hero Karizma

Route:

Bengaluru > Hassan > Kottigehara > Belthangady > Bajegoli > Karkala > Varanga > Karkala > Bajegoli > Sringeri (since Agumbe ghat was closed due to road works) > Begar >Nantur > Kundadri Hill > Hariharapura > Kuppalli > Koppa > Jayapura > Balehonnur > Aldur > Chikmagaluru > Belur > Hassan > Bengaluru

Total Distance: 700kms

Neer Dosa at Kottigehara, Opposite KSRTC bus stand

Neer Dosa at Kottigehara – do not miss!!

Varanga:

Varanga, a small town between Karkala & Agumbe is a popular pilgrim centre for Jains with 3 main Basadis aka Jain Temples:

  • Neminatha Basadi – this is the oldest & biggest amongst the 3 Jain Basadis with a history of about 1,200 years
  • Chandranatha Basadi – this houses the Jain Math and has a history of about 1,000 years
  • Kere Basadi – Knows as the ‘Lake Temple’, this is situated in the middle of a green lake in Varanga, like a ‘lotus in a pond’. This Basadi has a history of close to 850 years
Kere Basadi aka Lake Temple at Varanga

Kere Basadi aka Lake Temple at Varanga

Useful Information on Varanga Jain Temples:

  • Best time to visit: Early mornings
  • Best time of the year to visit: October to February
  • Contact the Jain Math inside Chandranatha Basadi to visit the Kere Basadi (lake temple) – it is closed most of the times. The only way to reach this Basadi is in a small wooden boat.
  • Footwear should be removed before entering the Jain temple

Sringeri:

One of the few temples I love and feel drawn towards. With a rich history of about 1,200 years, Sringeri is flocked by pilgrims and nature lovers alike.

Vidyashankara Temple at Sringeri

Vidyashankara Temple at Sringeri

Kundadri:

Cloud-surfing views of the Western ghats, two beautiful ponds on the hill-top and a Jain Basadi with a history of 2000 years – ‘peace’ and ‘serenity’ sum-up Kundadri Hills.

Kundadri Hills Karnataka

View worth a ride – summit of Kundadri Hills

Useful Information on Kundadri Hills:

  • No Entrance Fees
  • Cars & motorcycles go all the way up – one has to climb about 50 steps to reach the view point & the temple
  • Where to Eat: Chitranna (lemon rice) & Kokum Soda at Hotel Sri Annapurneshwari in Hariharapura (28kms from Kundadri)
  • Don’t miss to ride across the ‘Cable Suspended Bridge‘ in Hariharapura
Lemon Rice & Kokum Soda at Hotel Sri Annapurneshwari, Hariharapura

Lemon Rice & Kokum Soda at Hotel Sri Annapurneshwari, Hariharapura

Kavishaila & Kavimane, Kuppalli:

Kuvempu’s ancestral home or Kavimane in Kuppalli has been restored and converted into a museum. The poet’s 250 years old house is a quintessential Malnad house with a courtyard in the middle and jackfruit wood pillars.

Kavimane, residence of Kuvempu at Kuppalli

Kavimane at Kuppalli

Kavishaila is a rock monument on top of a small hill in Kuppalli made of megalithic rocks dedicated to Kannada poet Kuvempu. The rocks have been arranged in a circular fashion with a memorial at the centre of the rock monument where Kuvempu was laid to rest after his death.

PS: Relish the beautifully marked and well paved roads leading to Kavishaila & Kavimane once you deviate from the main highway

Kavishaila at Kuppalli

Kavishaila at Kuppalli

Useful Information on KaviShaila & Kavimane:

  • Entrance fees of 10 INR/person is charged to Kavimane
  • Photography inside the house is NOT allowed
  • Footwear should be removed before entering Kavimane
  • Riding Gear: request the ticket counter guys to hold them
  • Carry a hat and sunglasses while visiting Kavishaila
  • No facility to keep the riding gear at Kavishaila
  • Ample parking for motorcycles at Kavimane & Kavishaila
  • Both are open all days of the year

Badra Coffee Stop – Coffee Shop, Balehonnur:

Do not miss their cold coffee and bread omelette !! Look out for an assortment of coffee powders and Malnad food products.

Badra coffee stop is open all days of the week from 8 am to 7:30 pm

Cold Coffee and Bread Omlette at Badra Coffee Stop, Balehonnur

Badra Coffee Stop – A Must Stop on Balehonnur-Aldur highway!!

Balehonnur to Aldur - best motorcycling roads in Karnataka

Balehonnur to Aldur – one of the best motorcycling roads in Karnataka

Wish you guys lots of motorcycling and food-trips 🙂 – have a wonderful 2017 !!

Ride de Gandikota, Belum Caves and Yaganti

Gandikota & Belum Caves have become one of the most popular places to ride in South India owing to the beautiful landscapes and deliciously spicy Andhra cuisine. Although the roads are boring straights, the stunning vistas of Gandikota, Yaganti and Belum Caves made up for the journey.

Motorcycle ride to Gandikota on a KTM Duke 390, Yamaha R15 and a Hero Karizma

View worthy of 300 kms ride @ Gandikota

Motorcycles:

  • Hero Karizma
  • Yamaha R15 v2
  • KTM Duke 390
Breakfast in Anantpur with Pongal at Sri Mukambika Tiffin Centre, Anantpur

Must Eat – Delicious Pongal for breakfast at Sri Mukambika Tiffin Centre, Anantpur

Yaganti:

Surrounded by beautiful rocks and natural water springs, Yaganti is nothing short of a nature-lover’s delight and a mythology buff’s imagination that teleport you to different universe.

Yaganti consists of the main Uma Maheswara Temple, a Pushkarini and 3 Caves (Agastya Cave, Veera Brahmam Cave & Venkateshwara Cave).

Sri Uma Maheswari Temple at Yaganti

The Majestic Sri Uma Maheswari Temple at Yaganti

Interesting Facts of Yaganti:

  • The Nandi idol facing Shiva has been growing in its size over the years. Archaeological Survey of India has confirmed that the rock grows at the rate of 1 inch per 20 years (10 mm per 8 years) due to special composition of the rock used to build the Nandi idol.
  • There is a burning lamp called Akasha Deepam (meaning sky lamp) on the top of the hill behind the main Uma Maheswara temple. It is lit up every day and it glows from dusk to dawn.

Useful Information on Yaganti:

  • Best time to visit & click pictures: 7 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 6 pm (It gets hot afterwards)
  • Best month to visit: December & January
  • Do not carry riding gear into the temple (unless you love juggling between your gear, phone and SLR camera :p), instead request the guys at any of the shops at the temple entrance to keep them till you return (be kind enough to return the favor by buying some refreshments!!)
  • Watch out for the monkeys, they love everything they see 😀
  • Entrance Fee to be paid/person (no additional fees for camera or recording gear)
  • DO NOT miss to stop for the majestic views of Owk Reservoir & its submerged villages, en-route to Belum Caves from Yaganti
  • Where to eat:
    • Bangalore to Yaganti – Pongal & Masala Dosa at Sri Mukambika Tiffen Centre, Anantpur (near Hotel Masineni Grand)
    • Outside Yaganti Temple – Uggani Bajji & Lime Soda
Lime Soda & Uggani Bajji at the shops outside Yaganti Temple

Lime Soda & Uggani Bajji – must try at Yaganti !!

Motorcycle ride to Owk Reservoir - Enroute to Belum Caves from Yaganti

Owk Reservoir – En-route to Belum Caves from Yaganti

Belum Caves:

Belum Caves is the second largest cave in India. It is a natural underground cave formed by the constant flow of underground water. The caves reach its deepest point (150 feet from entrance level) at the point known as Pataalaganga.

The caves were explored and mapped by Mr H. Daniel Gebauer, a German Speleologist in 1982-1983.

Inside Belum Caves near Kurnool from Bangalore

Inside Belum Caves – gateway to a different universe!!

Useful Information on Belum Caves:

  • Best time to visit & click pictures: I recommend visiting on weekdays, weekends are nothing short of chaos
  • Best month to visit: throughout the year
  • AVOID AT ALL COST carrying riding gear into the cave (it gets hot and plus certain sections of the cave is very tight to get through with the riding gear), instead request the guys at refreshment shops to keep them till you return (be kind enough to return the favour by buying some refreshments!!)
  • Carry a spare tee-shirt, navigating the caves is nothing short of burning 400 calories 😛
  • Entrance Fee to be paid/person (no additional fees for camera or recording gear)
View from Gebauer Hall in Belum Caves

View from Gebauer Hall in Belum Caves – Apt to stash a Bat Mobile 😛

Gandikota:

Gandikota, popularly known as the ‘Grand Canyon of India’ consists of a fort built on top of the gorge formed by the Penna river with the Erramala hills . “Gandi” in Telugu means “a gorge,” and “kota” means “a fort.”

KTM Duke 390 with an Arai Quantum 2 helmet at Gandikota Fort

Inside Gandikota Fort – Such a Poser 😀

Places to Visit within Gandikota Fort:

  • Madhavaraya Temple
  • Jama Masjid
  • Granary
  • Ranganatha Swamy Temple
  • View Points (Gandikota Fort & Gorge)
  • Fort Entrance through which one can ride out in his/her motorcycle
  • Jail
Andhra Snacks, munchies at Gandikota Fort

Must Eat – Munchies at Gandikota Fort 😀

Useful Information on Gandikota:

  • Best time to visit & click pictures: 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm (It gets hot afterwards)
  • Best month to visit: December & January
  • Do not carry riding gear to the canyon and the fort (unless you want to test your stamina), instead request the guys at Haritha Hotel, Gandikota (by AP Tourism) to keep them till you return (be kind enough to return the favor by buying some refreshments!!)
  • Timings: There is no official Open/Close Time, but a good indicator of the close-time is when the hawkers start to pack-up
  • Carry a cap, sunglasses and water
  • Motorcycles are allowed all the way till the Granary (through the fort-walls)
  • Stay:
    • In order to capture Gandikota in the best-light, book & stay at the Haritha accommodation
    • Camping: Legally not allowed, although it can be done by convincing the ‘On Duty night-guard’ (Being a Heritage site, I highly recommend ‘Against’ camping within the fort)
    • Recommended to stay in Prodattur (35 kms from Gandikota) for various accommodation options (We stayed at Sri Swastik Residency, Prodattur – good accommodation with secure parking for motorcycles)
  • Where to Eat: Delicious Andhra Meals at Thilak Hotel, Mydukur Road in Prodattur
Authentic Veg Andhra Meals at Thilak Hotel Prodattur

Must Eat – Authentic Veg Andhra Meals at Thilak Hotel Prodattur

Route:

Bangalore > Anantpur > Peapully > Yaganti > > Banaganpalli > Owk > Belum Caves > Prodattur > Jammalamadugu > Gandikota > Pulivendula > Kadiri > Gorantla > Kodur Junction > Bagepalli > Bangalore

Road conditions in the above route are good with occasional unpaved roads (due to road expansion work), easy to navigate on a hard-suspension motorcycle like the Duke 390.

Total Distance: 800 kms

Ride to Gandikota, Belum Caves & Yaganti on a KTM Duke 390, Hero Karizma & Yamaha R15 v2

The Trio!! Soaking in the view at Owk Reservoir

Go ahead, get on your motorcycles and ride into the new year!!