Shettihalli Church

Distance from Bangalore : 200km

This is by far the best church I’ve ever been to. It’s an abandoned and ruined church that sits on the reservoir of a dam and gets submerged in it during the rainy season. Pretty cool, eh?

Started from the usual rendezvous point at 6:15 and took the ORR to reach Yeshwantpur/Goraguntepalya. Got stuck at the railway gate for about 10 mins. Then the right to Nelamangala. This stretch of road has gone through a lot of patch work and the road is somewhat uncomfortable. There was also a pretty high amount of traffic for a saturday early morning. At Nelamangala, a left to the Bangalore-Mangalore highway, which is part of the NH75. The roads are butter smooth, with not a pothole anywhere. Few sets of tiny speedbreakers near towns and big ones near toll booths. Patchwork was done at few places, but done so neat and clean that it’s still level with the road surface. The roads are scenic with lush green on both sides and on the divider (with a lot flowers). The sky was ummm.. sky blue as well. As is the norm on this road, food is taken only from New Golden Breeze Restaurant. (No, they didn’t pay me to put their name). On reaching Hassan, take a left towards Gorur Dam and well, use Maps to get to the church. The roads are good for the most part with few potholes occasionally.

The last half a Kilometre to the church is through non-existent roads. Cars will be able to go through this part too. The path leads all the way up to the church. You can actually take your bike into the church. Yup, I rode through the church. The rains were bad this year and so the church wasn’t submerged. The river/reservoir was a few tens of metres away but the soil was a bit marshy. Did go near the water, but it was dirty as hell. Didn’t touch it.

Took few photos of the church. It does look weird to see the ruins of a church. Just the bricks. Lots of people have written their names and their crushes’ names on the wall and it does look bad. There were about 10 people while we were around. Some climbed up the walls. Didn’t try it as there were broken glass pieces from beer bottles everywhere. (Thankfully, didn’t puncture the tyres).

Must admit, the place looks really dull in real, but looks a lot better in pics. Even better with some filters.


Could spot the dam far in the horizon, a few kilometres away. Made me wonder how much water there would’ve been present in the reservoir when the church gets submerged. Also, decided to visit the dam as it was only 17kms from the church. Maps on, Helmets on. Went near the dam and all gates were closed, barricaded and police personnel present. There were multiple entry points and same story everywhere. Apparently the water from this river  (Hemavathi) is also being diverted to Tamil Nadu, like Cauvery due to Supreme Court orders (TIL). The locals made a fuss and police were deployed and no one would be allowed near the dam for a while (till all issues are resolved). The cops were nice and friendly to us. Came back to Bangalore. Same route. Lesser stops. 180 odd Kms on tolled nearly empty highways then boom, bumper to bumper traffic at Goraguntepalya. Took a few mins to cross that and then another half an hour to the 10-15kms to home!!

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Distance from Bangalore : 90km

The route’s boring for the most part. NH7 -> Airport road, devanallhi, go past Nandi Hills, past Chikaballapur up to Perasandra. Have to take a left at Perasandra. This is a tricky one as there are no boards and you’ve to rely on Maps. I missed the exit, but as I was on a bike, could merge on to the service road through a narrow gully instead of going a few kms ahead. Anyway, the roads are butter smooth up until this point. No potholes, no patch work repairs, no unevenness, nothing. Both sides of the road are somewhat deserted land making the roads extremely boring and sleepy. You hardly have vehicles to overtake or vehicles overtaking you.

Once you take a left at Perasandra, the roads become almost non-existent for a kilometre or two. So many potholes that there’s no way you can go through this stretch even at city speed limits. There’s a diversion to the left, and then it’s pretty much straight roads. The road seemed to be laid somewhat recent. It was pretty black and smooth. Not too wide, but a car and a bike can squeeze through at the same time.  Around 9kms and you’ll reach a small town. Take a right and then immediately a left and then it’s straight roads all the way to the hilltop.

The last stretch of the hilltop is concrete paved. Slightly widened by a couple of feet on either sides by interlocked tiles. Outside that there are umm… mini concrete pillars (something like milestones only a feet tall) all the way up top. Road is wide enough for two cars at a time. A couple of hairpins. The concrete road is uneven. Up top, there’s space to park bikes. People park cars on the roadside too. Heavier cars might slide so stones are kept beneath the wheels to prevent that.

The climb begins. Steps are laid out from the rock stones. There are about 200-300 steps in total spread over small stretches. There’s a temple on the way and loads of monkeys. Crossing this stretch on a day when the crowd is small, like a weekday, is tricky. They try to snatch your phones, cameras or whatever is in your hand, so be careful. Once the steps are done you reach a viewpoint kinda thingy. The view from there is pretty good. Hills all over.

There’s another viewpoint which is a few metres further down, but there’s no direct or paved path. Will have to climb down the rocks, holding the rocks or the few tree branches on the way. Theoretically dangerous, but nothing to worry. Anyone should be able to do this. Would need both hands to hold on, so wore the helmet during this descend. Once you reach the point, there’s a small pond and near it the rock stretches out on to the cliff and makes for a very good photo point. On weekends there’s queue to take photos at this spot. Thankfully the day I went, the crowd was okay and nobody spend and eternity clicking photos although it felt like it. The place does get warm/hot pretty quick, so start the return journey as soon as you’re done.

Published in: on September 3, 2016 at 12:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ride to Kolli Hills

For the past few weeks, the car has been doing the commute duties while the bike was taken out only on the weekends for 100+ km rides. Perfect. Been doing only short rides though. Home-IPC-Nandi Hills-Devanahalli-Hosakote-Home got boring after a while. Wanted to do something longer.

Woke up saturday morning and decided that I’m riding to Kolli hills. (yeah, just like that). Pinged the usual suspect, A, but no reply. He was probably sleeping. Asked a couple of other friends and they said it’s too far for the bike (pussies). Went back to watching TV and youtube. Around 11, A pinged and said he said let’s do it. He wanted to ride up and down on the same day. Said it’d be impossible as we get only an average speed of 50kmph due to all the breaks, but he wanted to try. Finally convinced him to pack some clothes, just in case. Oh, BTW, he rides a Twister. Yes, that puny thing who’s rear tyre is 30mm narrower than my front tyre.

Decided to meet at Shell Lingarajapuram, the usual rendezvous point at 12. Thanks to the rush, by the time we tanked up (or half tanked) and set the right pressure in the tyres, it was 12:30.  The route was Hennur-KRpuram-Silkboard-Ecity-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri and then google maps thereafter. First stop – brunch at Adyar Ananda Bhavan (A2B) Hosur.

Off we went, navigating through the never sleeping TinFactory-KRpuram traffic. Took about 45 minutes to reach silk board. Such times are unheard of for a saturday afternoon of a long weekend. Turned left to the Ecity flyover and sped to the lay-bye and then was forced to slow down as they were re-laying tarmac on one lane and everyone was forced to the remaining lane, including some crawler who was way ahead, with no room for anyone to overtake him. Paid 1 way toll and was stuck at the signal for long. Then it was non-stop till A2B.

Opted for meals as it’d available instantly and both of us were hungry like anything. Also, asked for 2 gulab jamuns from their bakery counter. One bite and we both knew, it was by far the worst either of us has ever had. It was bad beyond belief.But challenged ourselves to complete it and we did.

Ride resumed. Hosur-Krishnagiri was long, but not boring. Maintained good speeds of 80-90kmph with occasional bursts crossing 110 on empty stretches. On one slight downhill slope, hit 126, the top speed for the day. (All speedo indicated). The roads were mostly 6 laned and were smooth with no potholes or speed breakers anywhere. One of the safest roads I’ve ridden/driven on. The roads weren’t fenced,  yet no animals or humans on the road, trying to cross or to kill you.

Stopped a few times, like every 50kms as A is a compulsive smoker. T’was a good break for the bums and the bikes too. Also had an abrupt stop on the road as we spotted something weird in the sky.


Kept riding and once past Dharmapuri, we took the salem bypass and then on to the Salem-Madurai highway, NH44/AH43. Took a left at Kalangani. It was a road shock, switching from 6 lanes highway with a median to a single road with a white lane as the median. I was used to such roads in Kerala, but A took a while to get used. Got lost a couple of times as this was not the main route and there were no sign boards. (Note to self : Get a phone mount). Stopped at a tea stall and the guy vouched that the road we were on leads to Karavalli.

Reached Karavalli at around 6:30. It was almost dusk and this is where the climb starts. The original plan to reach up-top before sunset, but missed that. Now the rush was to climb up before it gets dark and so, we started. 70 hairpins. Yes, seventy. Stopped at a couple of them to click photos. The roads were a bit patchy until the 11th or 12th, but really smooth after that. They’re narrow though. There were a lot of bus/lorries (Dunno if it was because of the time). Bikes didn’t have to stop as the roads were wide enough for a bike and a bus together, but a car would have to get one set of wheels off the road, which is terribly inconvenient and scary at some patches where there’s no barricade. Anyway, halfway through, we saw clouds approaching and rushed up.

Reached the top safely and there was a market kinda thing going on. It started drizzling and we took shelter at a closed shop, near a Tea stall. Drizzle became rain and lightning and thunder. The ceiling of the shop we were taking shelter was pretty small and there was a lot of water being sprayed on to our jeans and shoes and they were getting drenched badly. Thought about taking shelter at a closed shop on the other side that had a sit-out kinda thing but the tea stall owner stopped us saying it’s dangerous as that building did not have a lightning conductor and people have gotten struck by lightning there before. Seemed true, because that was the only place that was somewhat guaranteed of not being drenched yet there was no one there and the entire market was taking shelter at places that’d get them partially drenched.

Rain started subsiding only after half an hour. Asked the tea stall guys about accommodation places and he said there are hotels/resorts 5kms further. Waited for another 15-20 minutes for the rain to stop, but it only slowed down to a drizzle. Decided to proceed anyway. A had a rain coat. I only had a mesh windcheater that was seeping water in. Rode 5kms and saw few lodges. Stopped at the first one to be told that no rooms were available and all the rooms in the entire town are taken. Called bullshit and decided to check out the other places and realized he wasn’t bullshitting. Everything was taken. Not the news you want to know at 9pm, drenched, cold and tired. Drizzle became rain again and we did not have shelter. Became ball drenched soon and started shivering. Stopped at a small place for dinner.

During the dinner, decided that there was no choice but to climb down the hairpins again. The nearest accommodation would be only at Salem, about 100kms. Might as go back to bangalore then. Had a pretty heavy dinner and the total bill came out to be just 120. Same thing at a similar set up would’ve been at least 3 times that. But anyway, tanked up (Yeah, there was a petrol bunk in the town) and proceeded to climb down.  Just before the hairpin, I decided to change my Tshirt as I was shivering. So, middle of the night, roadside, I stripped and changed. Climbed down the hairpins slowly and cautious. Was misty/foggy at some places. Reached down at around 10:30. There were few T stalls open. Took a break and went a few kms when A realized he forgot his backpack at the stall with his wallet and phone in it. Went back and it was there, safe.

Reached the main highway past 11 and a random police checkup just before hitting it. They didn’t believe that we were going all the way back to Bangalore. But anyway, got on to the roads and there was more traffic than daytime. Lorries, lorries and more lorries. Lorries everywhere. Trains of lorries. Swarms of lorries. One lorry at 30kmph on one lane, one overtaking it in the next lane at 31kmph and another one overtaking them both at 32kmph in the last lane. Not so much a problem for us as we were on bikes and there was sufficient space beyond the white line on the left. Despite the million lorries on the roads, it was very safe to ride. They always stuck to their lanes.

We had thought that the ride on the highway would be slow assuming it’d be cold and dark. But we were actually faster. There were street lights at some places and at others the headlamps from the lorries and other vehicles helped us. The median had big leafy plants that was blocking the high beam from the oncoming traffic on the other side. Took a couple of breaks, only at the toll booths at Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. Agreed to do the last 100km nonstop. By the time we reached Ecity, my entire body was aching like hell. The arms, shoulders, back, thighs, legs, everything. The minor jumps on the flyover was sending jolts of pain all over the body. Post silkboard, decided to go slow as there are a lot of potholes and speed breakers.

Around 4:30 AM and there were a lot of bikes and zoomcars on the ORR. Took around 45 minutes to reach Kammanahalli. Saw more vehicles on this stretch at this time of the day than the entire to and fro journey on the highway. Also, this was the only part of the ride that felt unsafe or dangerous. Stopped at a tea vendor in kammanahalli and then parted ways to our homes. Reached home, took a shower and slept.

Total distance covered = 620km

Petrol = 1200Rs worth.

Mileage = ~31kmpl.

Misc expenses =~ 300 per head.



Published in: on August 21, 2016 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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OnePlus One

Soooo, I had been using my Xperia Arc S since Christmas 2011. That’s right, almost 3 years. It had a single core processor clocked at 1.4GHz, Adreno 205, 512MB RAM, 4.2″ 233PPI screen, an 8MP cam that could record 720p video, 1500mAh battery etc. They look like laughing stock now, but was quite a big deal back then. In fact, it was Sony Ericsson’s flagship model. Yes, Sony Ericsson. The company was re-branded to Sony Mobile Communications a couple of years ago. It was 3 years old on the calendar, but a few generations old in terms of technology.

The phone was quite good. It still is. It’s light, compact, thin and looks sexy. The display is still pretty good. The camera still takes beautiful pictures. The 1500mAh battery lasts a day and the battery backup hasn’t diminished a bit over the years. The XDA community for this device is still pretty big and people come up with new KitKat based custom ROMs even now. I had been using one for over 6 months now. No dead pixels, no hardware issues. The phone once fell of my pocket while I was riding my bike at around 30kmph. It has a few scratches on the side and some bits of the chrome are gone, but no cracks on the screen or the body. The phone also endured 3-4 rain rides and was noticeably wet, but despite not being waterproof, the phone had no issues. It still works like it did on day 1.

I wouldn’t label the phone as perfect in today’s world though. The technology has become obsolete and that can be seen in a lot of places. 512 megs of RAM and a 1.4GHz single core isn’t quite good enough for today’s use. Apps are noticeably laggy. Even trivial apps like contacts or call log take 2-3 seconds (and a lot more when someone else is using or watching) to open up. Apps hog more memory now and the number of apps that can be left open have reduced drastically. Only 300MB or so of internal memory was available and that meant at times I had to uninstall some to get some new one or to update an existing one. Sony had given up on updates after the Ice Cream Sandwich. Though there are tonnes of ROMs based on Jelly Bean and KitKat, the Kernel’s aren’t that impressive. The battery drain is much more compared to the stock kernel. In terms of hardware, I’ve no idea if they would still provide support if there’s a physical damage. The body and panels are not available anywhere. Heck, even a screen guard isn’t.

I had been thinking about upgrading ever since the Nexus 4 was announced. Kept postponing the plan until a stage where it was too late and it was probably better to wait for the Nexus 5. Did that, but that phone turned out to be a disappointment as in it wasn’t a huge upgrade over the 4. Had my eyes on Nexus 6. There were repeated rumours and ‘leaks’ that it would be made by motorola and it would have a 6″ screen. And when motorola came out with their flagship moto X which was a pretty big improvement over its previous generation moto X, i was quite convinced that the nexus 6 would be based on that. I didn’t think it was possible that the nexus would be cheaper than the moto variant, and decided to look for further options.

Had had my eyes on the OnePlus One and the Oppo Find 7 ever since they were announced. Wasn’t quite serious about them because, well, the Chinese image. Anyway, the Find 7 was priced too steep. The OnePlus One (OPO) was priced perfect, not only was it unavailable in India, it needed an invite. Since the moto X launch, I had been searching every day on ways to get an invite and get it shipped to India, but then I wasn’t too serious about it. I had 3 colleagues go on an official visit to the US for 2 weeks or so, and that’s when I got serious, but couldn’t get an invite. Disappointment again. On a random night, just before I was about to hit the bed, did a search and found @abhic who was willing to give an invite (for free!). Buzzed him and he sent it immediately without any hesitation. Had only a couple of hours to claim it and once claimed, I had 24 hours to get it. Had seen articles on how to order it from India and get it shipped but never bothered to read through them. Now had no choice. Long story short, I barely slept that night and somehow made it to the office for the meeting at noon. Made a paypal account, got it verified, made a PPOBOX account, a oneplus account, typed in a lot of addresses and phone numbers and it was done. Also sent copies of id proofs and invoices to PPOBOX for KYC verification and customs clearance.

The order was made on September 29th and it reached PPOBOX’s mumbai hub on October 9th. Paid them the hefty shipping charge (which included the insurace cost and the customs duty) and they shipped it via Bluedart with a guaranteed delivery date of 12th October. Bluedart being Bluedart (that’s another story), made me make a lot of calls, send a whole bunch of emails, hurl abuses left, right and centre and I finally got the item on 18th October. Also ordered a Diztronic case (matte blue) which looks and functions pretty good.

My experience with the phone hasn’t been any different from the million reviews you see online. The only issue I have with the phone is it’s sheer size. It’s big. BIG. BIIIG. 2 weeks today and I still haven’t completely gotten used to it. I’m getting better though. The Galaxy Note 2 seems puny now. I still feel awkward while making calls with a brick sized phone on my face even when nobody is watching. My jeans used to have freakishly huge pockets until 2 weeks ago. Not anymore.

Published in: on November 1, 2014 at 2:10 am  Comments (2)