My third weekend in India I decided to sign up for a day-trip to get me out of Mysore. I had been craving nature and the sounds of the earth. I was feeling pretty antsy being in the busy city surrounded by speeding cars, scooters, rickshaws and the endless honking that follows. My friend Roni and contacted one of the tour companies that posts on the Ashtanga page on Facebook about what tours they had available for that weekend.
The name of the tour company we used is GoMowgli and they are an Indian company currently based in Mysore. I used their website contact form to email and ask about what upcoming day tours they had leaving from Mysore. GoMowgli has tour packages in Karnataka, Kerala, and Goa. These are all states in India in the Southwestern part of the country. Roni and I had a couple of friends who had used GoMowgli the weekend prior and had a great time so we were interested in finding a good day trip we could do on our “rest” day.
My email was responded to pretty quickly with 2 different tour options for the upcoming weekend. One was a repeat of the tour our friends had done, the other was a new tour.
Kunti Betta-Ranganathittu-SriRangapatna-Venugopal Temple
A lot of the tours revolve around temples and holy places in the area and while I was interested in those I was also craving some nature time. Roni and I chose the 1st option because we knew it included a hike.
On Sunday morning we awoke and got ready in our respective lodgings and met at the coconut stand on Contour Road. From there we crossed Contour to Amruth’s for a chai (Rs 15 = $0.22). One of the best spots for Chai in Gokulum. Our tour guides arrived soon after in a decent-looking van. Our guides for the day were Anil and Kamal, two very nice men who spoke good english and were very polite. Roni and I hopped in and we drove to another part of Mysore where we picked up 2 other foreigners before beginning our journey. We drove for about an hour to our first stop, Kunti Betta in the small town of Pandavapura in the Mandaya district of Karnataka. Kunti Betta is of course surrounded by stories and mythology and in a beautiful location. Our climb started immediately and we climbed for just over an hour to the top, I’m used to trails in the US where someone has been through and laid out the path, at Kunti Betta you create your own trail and fortunately our guides were familiar with a safe route up the mountain.
After we reached the top our guide Anil told us a story about the area and we looked out at rice and coconut tree fields. We found out that the coconuts we get in Mysore come from that area, which I thought was pretty cool. After a short break at the top we turned around and headed back down. Once at the bottom we climbed back in our van and headed down the road to a jaggery factory. At the factory we got to watch the process of stripping and crushing the sugar cane to squeeze out the juice. The juice is pumped into a vat where it is heated, molded and cooled to make jaggery bricks. Jaggery is a dark sugar, like brown sugar people use as sweetner.
After our little trip to the jaggery factory we were off again to the Ranganathittu Wildlife Bird Sanctuary which took about 30 minutes. As foreigners we had to pay Rs300 to get in, Indians pay about Rs40 and an additional Rs1500 (split 4 ways) for a boat that would take us around the sanctuary. The boat ride was so relaxing after our hike and we got to see lots of crocodiles and birds. Getting that close to a crocodile was pretty cool as the swam and sunned themselves all around us. Our guides were very knowledgeable too about the wildlife around us and would tell us the name of each creature. We remained at the sanctuary a while after the boat ride wandering and looking at the different foliage in the area.
Lunch was at a lovely little restaurant near the sanctuary called the Hotel Mayura River View at Srirangapattana. One thing to note is hotel in India means restaurant. The food was yummy and we were happy to sit and talk with our guides for a while. Roni and I split a dish since we had packed snacks. Our next stop was Sri Rangapatna which is also an island and was a fort at one point during colonization. We spent some time at the small museum on the island learning about the history of the island and it’s people. We also stopped by the Dungeon where the Indian sultan contained British prisoners for many years.
The final stop of the day meant we had to drive back toward Mysore, we were stopping the Venugopal Swami Temple by the KRS Dam. The temple was being reconstructed because the original had been submerged under water at some point. Since the temple was in the process of being reconstructed it was pretty empty, there were no deity sculptures or ornate carvings and we were allowed into the central temple area with the shrine. Roni and I poked around a bit, but then took a little walk to a nearby outlook. We headed back to Mysore about 5:30pm and were back in Mysore about 6:30pm.
The tour of course was very informative and fun, I had been looking forward to getting out of Mysore and needed that adventure. I was also glad to have a friend who went with. I was very grateful to our guides Anil and Kamal who took very good care of us and provided great information at each stop! I would highly recommend taking a tour with GoMowgli if you are visiting India. I know that they were in the process of expanding the regions they serve so they might be taking more tours soon! The total cost of this trip was around Rs 2,900 = $45 US.
For more information be sure you are part of the Ashtanga Community in Mysore Facebook page, GoMowgli will post tour updates there specifically for that community. You can also like them on Facebook, follow them on Instagram, and check out their website.