Doha (Qatar) was simmering with peak temperature of 48 degrees C. We thought that it was a very good idea to visit Udupi and Bengaluru during end May and early June 2011. So we caught an Air India Express flight to Mangalore on 20th May 2011.
Every time I visit Udupi and also Bengaluru, I come across lots of things which have changed and most often these changes were not really welcome changes. But I must say some of the recent changes which I have encountered were definitely for the better such as a swanky airport terminal at Bajpe Airport. Some experiences of mine during this recent trip which I would like to share with you all are given below:
- The National Highway No. 17 (Now it is NH 66 – The new numbering system for National Highways which has allotted ‘even’ numbers for all NH Roads in the North-South direction with numbers increasing from East to West) is being widened. This has resulted in chopping of many trees along the road. The 72.5 KM stretch between Kundapur and Surathkal is being converted into a four lane road. The work is not completed and is resulting in some traffic chaos. However, people are upbeat and looking to travel from Udupi to Mangalore within one hour, once the road is fully operational.
- Lots of residential projects are coming-up in Udupi, Mangalore and Bengaluru. The prices, however, are high. I think, the prices are artificially high as registration for new properties have come-down drastically, as per a source.
- During this trip, I did visit Bhandarakeri Math in Mysore, Udupi Sri Krishna Math, and Kollur Mookambika Temple. Devotees have to undergo a lot of hardships in these places, including those relating to parking of their vehicles. When one eventually makes it to these holy places, one comes across dirt, filth and greedy archaks. This has reinforced my belief that inner peace and spiritual experience is best achieved when one prays in the comfort of his house.
- However, at Sri Krishna Math, it was interesting to see a group of Catholic Women singing their traditional songs (as part of a Konkani Programme) in the temple auditorium.
- Bengaluru traffic scene has become more chaotic these days. It takes indefinite time to reach places within Bengaluru. One night we were worried about our son who had to drive from his office in Sarjapur Road to Vijayanagar and it took him nearly four hours.
- Shiroor Ashok mam has found an answer to all these. He has established a farm in the cool and peaceful surroundings, just outside Mysore. “Shiroor Farms” is in Marashettanahalli near Devalapura and is a sprawling 10 acres farm. The farm house is innovatively designed and spacious. Farm has two small lakes and also a canal of Cauvery going through it. We saw many tropical fruit trees including Mango, Chickoo, Orange etc. “Swanand” is a hall cum auditorium constructed within the farm where in Ashok mam conducts sessions on “Stress Management”. There is a lovely dog and a Cow and Calf. We also saw sandalwood trees, flowering plants, coconut and many other trees. Mami treated us to fresh tender coconut and Chickoo fruit. It was an experience of a life time for us.
- Another highlight of the trip was attending a “Harikatha” discourse by Santh Bhadragiri Achuthadas at Bhandarakeri Math, Mysore. It was a short (one hour) discourse with lots of interesting upa-kathas which were all contemporary. He has a great style and kept us spell-bound for the entire duration of the discourse.
- Travelling by road between Udupi and Bengaluru and between Bengaluru and Mysore did take its toll and all of us became sick during the last part of the trip. Though temperatures are not as high as in Doha, humidity and lack of air-conditioning in residences makes it difficult. Probably the peak of summer is not the ideal time to visit Udupi and Bengaluru.