Christmas, Fog and the Journey


Day 1 – 25th December 2011

Delhi – Bengaluru – Madikeri

The end of December is always foggy in New Delhi and usually disrupts all modes of transportation. I was praying that on the 25th, the day we were flying out from New Delhi, that there would be no fog.
Airplane taxing to the runway at the Delhi airport
Airplane taxing to the runway at Delhi airport
Any delay in the flight would cause problems for the next leg of our journey; the 6-7 hrs drive from Bengaluru to Madikeri.

Thankfully, this Christmas morning was not foggy at all.

I wanted to take photos at the airport, so after security check, I took my camera out from my backpack. At the boarding gate a security person told me to put the camera away as there was no baggage tag on it. I stepped out of the queue to do so and as a result missed the bus taking my other family members to the plane.

For some reason the automatic door at the boarding gate was wide open and I was first in queue, enjoying chilly winds of Delhi’s winter. Luckily another bus came without much delay.

The missing of bus was a blessing in disguise as I got some exclusive moments to take pictures outside the aircraft.

Landing at the Bengaluru airport
Landing at the Bengaluru airport
We had five seats on the plane, but only one was a window seat. No prize to guess who took that one, so I could try my hand at aerial photography.

Bengaluru airport is located 25 km outside the city. The location is picturesque with a mountain view on one side.

The plane landed at 12:20 pm. The weather was quite warm so we took off our jackets. We were expecting to wear them again only on the return flight.

A taxi was booked for our entire stay. The driver was standing near the exit door of the airport with a placard so it was easy to find him. His name was Prakash.

We had asked for a driver who would be fluent in English and comfortable with Hindi. The travel agency, Skyway Travels, responded in their email, "We will provide the driver who can manage with Hindi and English Language". By God, he could barely manage both, but he seemed a very nice person.

The car was black Toyota, Innova. It was well maintained and in a very good condition. We never felt that we were in taxi.

We had two large suitcases and one carry bag. He put the two suitcases on the roof rack, leaving ample space for all of us in car.

It was Sunday and Christmas so the roads were empty. We were able to breeze through the city. Unfortunately, on the return journey we would have to face the notorious Bengaluru traffic jam.

Approaching Mysore city from Bengaluru
Approaching Mysore city from Bengaluru
Just before Mysore we stopped for lunch at the Shivalli Restaurant. It was a nice little restaurant that seemed to be very popular. The manager was quite a gentleman, and not only attended to us personally, but also brought many sample dishes for us to taste.

Being a fan of North Indian food the only thing I found to my taste was Poori & Aloo Subzi. The gravy of Aloo Subzi was more like Sambar, but it was very good. The grape juice was delicious.

Prakash tried to pay for his lunch, but we insisted that we would take care of it. He ate with us during our entire stay. He always ordered the thali and, for some reason, drank tea. Coorg is famous for coffee so it was a surprise.

We reached Mysore around 4:00 pm. It is a beautiful city with wide roads. There was lot of greenery around, with trees on roadside and parks. A one day tour was already planned for the city so we just travelled across.

At Kushalnagar (48 Km from Madikeri) we stopped for coffee at the Kingsway Hotel, a place highly recommended by Prakash. The coffee was refreshing.

We started the last leg of the journey. The houses were beautifully decorated for Christmas. The climb to the hills started after a small village named Suntikoppa. From there it was a 30-45 minute drive to our destination.

A small town on the way to Madikeri
A small town on the way to Madikeri
In Madikeri there are a lot of three-wheeler autos with which to move around, but it is good to have your own vehicle. The town itself has only a few tourist attractions. Most of the places to see are at least 20-30 km away, not to mention that, due to the incline, even a light walk on mountains could be a killer.

We were going to stay at Club Mahindra resort. It is 5 km away from the town and spread across 30 acres.

The resort was beautifully decorated for Christmas. We were welcomed by a chandan tika on the forehead, although the garland was missing. It would have been a little too much for domestic tourists.

The check-in process went very smoothly. We sat in the lobby while Ian (Club Mahindra executive) did all of the paper work. Ian walked us to our apartment, explaining on the way about the facilities and the shop.

I asked for photography tips. He told me about the hillock, the highest view point in the resort, which could easily be found using a map of the resort which was available at the reception desk.

It was a single bedroom apartment but large enough to accommodate two couples, with a second bed that was made by converting the sofa in the living area.

The kitchen was fully equipped with microwave oven, toaster, electric kettle and a fridge. The resort has its own water source which they double filter. The tap water from kitchen sink was safe to drink. This was a relief as room service takes quite a bit of time due to the distance. Asking for water every now and then could have been an unpleasant experience.

On many website forums I had read that the top floor apartments have better views, so I had called the resort and requested this. At the time of our check-in, a top floor apartment was not available. I realized, however, that the view from everywhere was fantastic, so it did not matter.

Map of Club Mahindra Resort, Coorg
Map of Club Mahindra Resort, Coorg
There are 200 apartments in the resort, housed in 16 blocks. They are all a reasonable distance apart, so the resort does not look crowded.

Each block is named after a fruit. The block where we stayed was named Falsa. Karvand block was the most secluded and near the hillock. If I had to choose, I would have chosen that block.

Barbadas would be the best block if mobility is an issue as it is closest to the entrance, to reception, to shop and to restaurants.

Vehicles are not allowed inside the resort. There is an electric buggy service for baggage and physically challenged people, but you have to wait for that. My mother-in-law once waived to a buggy going in the opposite direction. The staff was courteous to immediately taking a U-turn and coming back to drop us, but they have their limitations, so do not have high expectations. After unpacking and freshening up, it was 9:10 pm. Joohi (my wife) told me that we would require milk for Shubhang (our son) and that I should ask for the hours of the shop. I called reception and they told me that it had closed at 9:00 pm. Taking a chance, I went to the shop anyway, but it was indeed closed. Ian should have told us this since we were checking in at 7:30 pm. We ended up having to order it from room service.

The 25th seemed to be the coldest day of our stay, but maybe because it was quite windy. In Delhi I had checked many websites (accu weather, weather underground etc.) and they all showed the minimum temperature ranging between 15°C - 17°C. They also forecast rain on the 27th & 28th. Fortunately they were proven wrong. It did not rain at all during our stay but the temperatures at night were quite cold.

Ceiling fan at the Coffee Blossom restaurant
Ceiling fan at the Coffee Blossom restaurant
Club Mahindra, Coorg has three restaurants:
  • Mercara – Buffet. Pure vegetarian
  • Coffee Blossom – A la carte. Vegetarian and non vegetarian
  • Green Cardamom – Buffet. Emphasis on non vegetarian and continental dishes.
They are all located near each other in a straight path. Mercara came first, but it was so crowded that we immediately bypassed it.

Coffee Blossom looked empty and had a nice menu, but we wanted to see the other one too. Green Cardamom offered very few vegetarian dishes. Since our entire group is vegetarian, this was not a good option for us.

We came back to the Coffee Blossom. Despite being almost empty, there was an atmosphere of chaos among staff members. The wait was quite long, but worth it. The food was excellent.

My very first day in South India was quite enjoyable.

Back at apartment, I set my alarm for 5:15 am so that I would be able to capture nature at sunrise with my camera.


Day 1 Photographs
(Click on an image to enlarge it. Press F11 key to watch in full screen)
Gurgaon toll gate on the way to airport
Gurgaon toll gate on the way to airport
Spicejet plane at the Delhi airport
Spicejet plane at the Delhi airport
Boarding on the Indigo airplane
Boarding on the plane at Delhi airport
Aerial view near Bengaluru city
Aerial view near Bengaluru city
Beautiful sky from airplane window
Beautiful sky from airplane window
Aerial view of Bengaluru suburbs
Aerial view of Bengaluru suburbs
Bengaluru airport
Bengaluru airport
Scenic Bengaluru airport
Scenic Bengaluru airport
Beautiful Bengaluru airport
Beautiful Bengaluru airport
Outside the Bengaluru airport
Outside the Bengaluru airport
Leaving the Bengaluru city
Leaving the Bengaluru city
Shivalli restaurant, Mysore
Shivalli restaurant, Mysore
Outside Shivalli restaurant
Outside Shivalli restaurant
Lord Ganesha in the car
Lord Ganesha in the car
Sunset somewhere near Mysore
Sunset somewhere near Mysore
Crying for the Christmas gifts at Club Mahindra resort
Crying for the Christmas gifts at Club Mahindra resort
Waiting for dinner at Coffee Blossom restaurant
Waiting for dinner at Coffee Blossom restaurant
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