Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Word on Swift, Ritz and Fabia

Regular readers of my blog know I am fond of driving. I haven't driven high-end cars for long distances. I have read both professional reviews and user reviews of almost all the cars sold in India. Until Hassan Trip, I never thought of writing a blog post on a car, let alone Maruti Suzuki Swift.

My friend Jagga has a Swift Vxi, 2009 model (1.3L, not the new car which is 1.2L). 5 of us went to Hassan to attend a marriage and also visit some of the places nearby. Having driven for over 600 km in 2 days, I fell in love with this car and thought of writing a few words about the car.

Car has good power and I managed to keep consistently with 135-140 kmph with 5 people and their luggage on board. While coming from Chitradurga, I even raced to 160 kmph for a couple of minutes before slowing down as the car, I thought was not designed for such speed because since it was becoming unstable. This time, we were only two people and so, the weight was less.

A month back I drove my friend's recently bought Skoda Fabia diesel. I always thought diesel cars have better power though a little less acceleration. When I drove the Fabia diesel, I was very disappointed with it's acceleration. If someone, regularly drives a petrol, test drives it, he won't buy it. However, I didn't drive long distance, so I can't tell how it's power is distributed among different speeds (gears).

My cousin bought Ritz diesel and I happened to drive it from Chitradurga till Bangalore a couple of weeks ago. I was a little skeptical about it's power because on spec, it is 75 ps and 190 Nm torque, which matches that of Fabia's. However there was a surprise for me - the acceleration. Ritz diesel's acceleration is much better and almost comparable to petrol similar sized engines. Both are common rail direct injection technology diesel engines but stark difference in acceleration, which makes me believe Fabia's engine was not refined (or rather fine tuned) for initial acceleration, which people like it very much in India to race when the signal becomes green!

Now, I need to drive more cars on different road conditions to compare them better.

PS: Views expressed here are based only on my personal experiences and the particular cars I drove.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Kanva Dam

While coming back from Kokkare Bellur, we took a left turn around 10km before Ramanagara to reach Kanva dam as planned. One wouldn't miss since there clear sign boards on the road showing the way.

It is a small irrigation project built in 1946 across river Kanva, a tributary of river Cauvery. It is named after sage Kanva who is said to have lived in caves on river banks during Ramayana. Now, it's a popular tourist place, with tourists being mostly from Bengaluru.

It's a nice place to spend an hour or two in the evening. If you are expecting anything more than this you might be disappointed! If you are particular about birding, then it's one of the places to visit in early mornings.

There is a compound on a hillock (more like a hillock rather). Somehow it was reminding Great Wall of China (structure resembling if you imagine so).

Dr. Raj is a veteran Kannada actor, he was lead actor in a movie called Sipayi Ramu, released in 1971. While passing just saw a plantation with the same name and captured it.

We spent an hour at Kanva before heading back.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kokkare Bellur

This is a post long overdue. I always wanted to visit Kokkare Bellur and thought why not go on a day last year.. Though I was not sure that we would sight birds since it was March 5th, 2011 and the season was almost over. Nevertheless, set out, thought atleast it would be a nice drive with wifey and a friend if there were not birds.

Reaching Kokkare Bellur was easy. Drive towards Mysore on SH 17 and cross Channapatna. After about 10 kms take left at a village named Rudrakshipura. Until reaching this place, I didn't know such a village exists. It is not that it should not exist, but the name Rudrakshipura is used extensively in a Kannada TV serial Mukta Mukta and in the serial, it is the capital of Rudranchala state. Now, every time I see the serial and they refer international airport I remember this village and smile unknowingly.

Coming back to travelogue from TV serial, Kokkare Bellur is around 12 km from Rudrakshipura. We were just approaching it, and a couple of boys aged 8-10 came running towards the car and volunteered to guide us. I had read about this in Aravind's blog, and thought of getting some books but forgot to carry. I gave some stationary items which I would keep in car. If somebody goes there, you may give them stationary items, if you feel you could give them something, which would be better utilized, instead of money or shooing them away.

The first sight of birds was a little confusing. I thought somebody dumped dustbins (like typical Bangalore inner roads) and the tree looked like a garbage yard before realizing they were actually painted storks sitting on the tree! We could spot a good number of birds but not of different species. This was when I seriously thought of buying a better camera as the point and shoot I have was not supporting in any way to capture birds.

After rolling over farms and backyards of some houses, we started back, only to return in Jan end or Feb first next time.

While returning, we had a detour to see Kanva reservoir, which I will write in next post.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vani Vilasa Sagar Dam

On our way back to Bangalore from Chitradurga, a fantastic fort visit, we saw the signboards leading to Vani Vilasa Sagar dam by Karnataka Tourism Dept. We had time and steered the car off NH4 towards the reservoir at Hiriyur, 40 km from Chitradurga. The dam is around 15 km on Hiriyur - Hosadurga road but boards (in Kannada) takes there without any confusion.

Vani Vilasa Sagar dam, also called Mari Kanive, is truly an architectural wonder. I have been numerous dams in Karnataka and according to my opinion, this reservoir is most marvelous engineering creation. The two mantapas or pavilion halls built on the two ends of the dam are constructions to watch. While I took a look at the halls, I forgot to take the snaps. The view points on the hillock at the other side leading on top of the dam provides a fantastic view of the forests and wind mills beyond the water.

Vani Vilasa Sagar dam was built by an engineering team headed by Tara Chand Dalal on the order of his king of Mysore, Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV in early 20th century. The Mysore king had to pledge some royal jewellery due to shortage of money and hence it was called Vani Vilasa Sagar. Vani Vilasa was the name of the youngest daughter of the Mysore king (source: Wikipedia). The dam, built across the river Vedavathi, measures 162ft by 1300 ft and is the source of domestic water for the nearby towns Chitradurga and Hiriyur and is the source of water for agriculture for Hiriyur and Challakere taluks through canals on the both sides of the dam.

It is a good picnic spot and one can spend a couple of hours with family.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chitradurga Fort

Chitradurga Fort visit was planned in the previous night. And the count decreased from car capacity of 5 people to only 2 when we actually started. Nevertheless, we took off on September 24th, 2011. "Nagara Haavu", veteran Kannada actor Dr. Vishnuvardhan's first film was shot here. Following this, many other movies were shot. A Couple of years back a Kannada movie namely "Kallarali Hoovagi" was entirely filmed here which covers most part of the fort in detail.

The drive from Bangalore to Chitradurga was smooth except that we paid Rs. 213/- for the toll (most of it was 2-way since we were coming back on the same day). The road is very good and the traffic, apart from trucks, was less. We covered 200km in just about 3 hrs and reached fort by 11 am. Guides would be available, both of us were not much aware of fort and the dynasty, so we thought it would be better to hire a guide. There were 13 licensed guides who take around Rs. 250/- for a 2+ hrs tour through the fort. ASI has declared this fort as a monument of national importance and hence any destruction is considered a serious offence now.

The fort covers about 1500 acres and houses a palace and 18 temples, a series of connected water tank, 19 gateways, 38 entrances, 35 secret entrances and 4 invisible passages and almost 2000 watchtowers, store rooms and garadi mane (traditional gym) and a jail. The fortification wall length is 8 km. There were some rocks which looked like elephant and frog. There was an interesting method to cut the rocks for construction material. Masons used to drill closely-spaced holes along straight line and pour water for months and the rocks were split precisely.

The fort, built in stages and expanded from 10th century to 18th century, consists of seven circular walls and popularly called "Elu Sutthina Kote" in Kannada. Of these, 2 are now part of the town and only from the third one, the present day fort starts. The walls contain loopholes to shoot the enemy and are surrounded by moat. After couple of 90 degree turns The gateways are accessible only after a couple of 90 degree left and right turns through passages. This slowed down invaders and made them easy targets so as not to allow the enemies to force open the door with long metal or wooden pieces by hitting the door gaining the momentum running to it.

Many of you might have heard the story of legendary Onake Obavv. This was the place where single handedly killed hundreds of enemy soldiers who were trying to enter through secret passage with only Onake (pestle).

To end with, it was a fabulous day and it's worth a visit. It was 2 pm when we climbed down and we returned after something fill our stomach. While returning we visited Vani Vilas dam off Hiriyur, a town on the way to Bangalore from Chitradurga on NH4. I will write about that next.