23rd April 2011
I had heard that the “shortcut road” connecting the two hill stations of Karnataka was very scenic. My two attempts to drive on this road were unsuccessful. I had tried to start from Kemmangundi but horrible roads made me return back on all both occasions. I even gave a thought of walking on that road but like many other plans it never materialized.
Recently, my friend Arjun showed me a news clip that mentioned about the road being repaired between Bababudan Giri and Kemmangundi. I quickly planned a trip this summer as I was skeptical about the quality of newly laid roads after monsoon. This time I decided to start from Bababudan Giri. As expected, accommodation at Kemmangundi was not available thus forcing me to make it a day trip.
As indicated by the news clip, the road was extremely smooth from Bababudan Giri. The winding roads through the coffee estates were paradise for the people in the vehicle. But all good things must end at some point and suddenly the tar road vanished. The bumpy ride started and the next 16 km to Kemmangundi promised to be torturous. Few vehicles from the opposite side convinced that the roads were “drivable”.
After the roads turned bad, we entered into Bhadra wildlife sanctuary area. That might be the reason for bad roads!! Getting permission to repair or construct roads inside wildlife sanctuary is difficult these days.
The scenery changed dramatically after the entry into the National forest. The road passed through the shoal grasslands with deep valleys and lofty hills on the side of the road. Due to summer, the hills were brown. There was absolutely no human habitation till Kemmangundi. As the roads winds through the grasslands, one can see a vehicle moving on shoulder of some hill from a far distance. Though it was a long weekend the density of vehicles was quite less ensuring peaceful drive.
For me, this was one of the best scenic drives in Karnataka. The closest would be the drive through Kudremukh National forest but that being a National highway does not offer the solitude and freshness of BababudanGiri – Kemmangundi stretch.
The rods become extremely bad as Kemmangundi neared. Kemmangundi was filled with people and vehicles. First time I visited Kemmangundi was 20 years ago with my parents. There was hardly couple of other tourist families at that time. With time, lot of things has changed and so is the crowd. Facilities still remain the same!!
Very soon, we were back on the scenic stretch of Kemmangundi – Babbudan Giri. At a view point, I parked the car to the side and took out my camera while my Wife and daughter started climbing a small hill.