The Bus To BR Hills

#1 Jan 17th, 2009, 10:44
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The 9:00 a.m. bus to BR Hills leaves the station promptly at 8:40 — with me on it. As soon as the bus is in the road I have a desperate need to pee. Comforting myself with the belief that the bus will stop for five minutes at Nanjangud Station forty minutes down the line I clench my knees together and try to concentrate on the scenery. Ten minutes into the ride I feel like I'm gonna die if I don't pee. Fifteen minutes further on I'm hardly thinking about it.

....When the bus does stop I'm told to get off and wait by the bus. However when it starts up again I'm told it's going to an entirely different terminus. Apparently the clerk at Mysore, although he spoke decent English, has fed me yet more misinformation. There is no straight through bus; it terminates right here in the middle of nowhere. After much gesturing and pidgin Hindi (useless in S. India) I get directions to Chamaranagar, a two hour walk, where I will be able to get a bus that will continue on to BR Hills.

....One of the great pleasures of travel is experiencing untainted otherness. In an effort to maintain this feeling I have developed a sort of mental filter that helps lessen impact of zillions of Pepsi ads and American myth films like Batman and Nightmare On Elm. As the connecting bus humps and bumps down dirt roads through rural villages in Southern India we continue to pass torn remains of posters for Jurassic Park and Star Trek wheat-pasted to the sides of chai stands and 200 year-old temples. The part of my mind that filters out this stuff is working overtime. The site of flickering black and white televisions inside rough-hewn coconut shacks is a niggling reminder of unrelenting 20th century progress. Even villages consisting of the most rudimentary daub and whattle huts possess satellite dishes with multiple feed-outs allowing entire villages to simultaneously watch nightly re-runs of Kojak episodes offered by the Arab run satellite stations.

....At the next station I get out and take a seat on the curbing and make entries in my journal while waiting for still another connecting bus. Instantly, I am surrounded by small skinny barefoot children and teenagers. The few white people these kids have ever seen were on television and so, they will inspect me for as long as it takes for them to be absolutely certain that I am not Michael Jackson or Kojak. The wait for the bus is mercifully brief. A little way out of town the road turns to mud and there are no more signs in English. Clouds of butterflies and three-inch darning needles rush at the windshield, a galaxy of winged stars and comets. The afternoon sun effortlessly induces a brief midday heat coma, from which I wake, thick, sleep-sweaty to a sound like the continual dropping of massive silverware drawers as the bus negotiates a series of craterous potholes before coming to a stop. I sit up straight and look around. The air all around us is surreal with butterflies. Three brightly painted elephants are lined up by the side of the road as if cuing for the bus, making everything around them seem somehow diminished. Sitting at the back of the bus is a frail old man in a tattered dhoti with a large sack.

....While waiting for the aisle to clear enough for him to negotiate it, he repeats a sad mantra, "forest gone, forest gone, forest gone." I postulate then, how perhaps, his soul has been rent asunder with sorrow over the way avaricious Indian business combines and Nepali teak-pirates have betrayed Gandhiji's utopian dream, stealing away with the hopes of future generations by stripping away the forests of his beloved India. His mantra "forest gone, forest gone, forest gone" becomes more strident as he struggles from his seat and makes his way from the back of the bus. The grief of his betrayal is heart rending. I don't know how everyone can ignore the old man's cries. I have half a notion to run over and hug the old guy. At the very least I thought, I should help him off the bus with his enormous sack. As I begin to rise from my seat the man seated behind me taps my shoulder. "Why looking so sad? He is telling all that he is Forest Gump."
Last edited by Keshava; Jan 18th, 2009 at 22:26..
#2 Jan 18th, 2009, 16:56
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So did you make it to BR Hills? Did you stay there? What was that like?

In 2006 we wanted to drive from Mysore to Srirangam. The first time around we drove on the NH which was OK. The second time around we decided to take the "scenic" route. This was Mysore to BR Hills to Mettur to Namakkal to Srirangam.The road to BR HIlls and the climb up the hills and descent down on the other side was the worst journey ever. The road was full of potholes, stones, broken bits of tar and an extremely uncomfortable ride.

Once we crossed the border into Tamil nadu, it was a fantastic road and we sailed through.
#3 Jan 18th, 2009, 17:20
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Originally Posted by Keshava View Post As I begin to rise from my seat the man seated behind me taps my shoulder. "Why looking so sad? He is telling all that he is Forest Gump."


Keshava, that was a wonderful writeup, it captures the experience perfecctly. Please please do write more.
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Last edited by Haylo; Jan 19th, 2009 at 00:41..
#4 Jan 18th, 2009, 22:23
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Originally Posted by sweetmango View Post So did you make it to BR Hills? Did you stay there? What was that like?

In 2006 we wanted to drive from Mysore to Srirangam. The first time around we drove on the NH which was OK. The second time around we decided to take the "scenic" route. This was Mysore to BR Hills to Mettur to Namakkal to Srirangam.The road to BR HIlls and the climb up the hills and descent down on the other side was the worst journey ever. The road was full of potholes, stones, broken bits of tar and an extremely uncomfortable ride.

Once we crossed the border into Tamil nadu, it was a fantastic road and we sailed through.
Sure - I made it. I've been back many times since. I'd been on my way to meet Swami Nirmalananda that time. Swamiji's (who took Mahasamadhi in '95) ashram in BR Hills is actually in the middle of a wildlife preserve. Swami Bramhadev is presently heading the little ashram there. It's a really beautiful place - but it's fate is uncertain, as is often the case with ashrams in India - because so many are built on govt. owned land. If you're in Mysore it's easy to get there by bus or taxi. There's no facility really for staying there. Visitors quarters are limited to one tiny cabin with two single beds and it's always "booked" far in advance. But it's a wonderful place to visit for a day. There are leopards still walking around and wild elephants - which is why you have to come up early in the day and leave around sunset. They close the roads at night so cars don't hit the elephants. Which begs the question: Why did the elephant cross the road?

(By the way, writing in paragraphs might ensure more people read this, people are put off by seeing huge blocks of text, and this is too good to sit unread - it's not too late to edit)

Advice taken.
Cheers,
K
Last edited by Keshava; Jan 19th, 2009 at 22:26..
#5 Feb 16th, 2009, 22:11
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Originally Posted by sweetmango View Post This was Mysore to BR Hills to Mettur to Namakkal to Srirangam.The road to BR HIlls and the climb up the hills and descent down on the other side was the worst journey ever. The road was full of potholes, stones, broken bits of tar and an extremely uncomfortable ride.
@Sweetmango,

Just for Future Visitors I am providing this info ..

Most probably you are refering to MM Hills [ Madheswaran Malai [Tamil] / Mala Madeswara Betta[Kannada]] and that's what is in Karnataka side and adjacent to Tamilnadu and the route to MM Hills is still in the same condition only . BR Hills is not a Enroute place for anywhere and reaching that place by public bus itself is kind of difficult..

Velu
#6 Feb 17th, 2009, 00:17
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Originally Posted by pmvelu View Post @Sweetmango,

Just for Future Visitors I am providing this info ..

Most probably you are refering to MM Hills [ Madheswaran Malai [Tamil] / Mala Madeswara Betta[Kannada]] and that's what is in Karnataka side and adjacent to Tamilnadu and the route to MM Hills is still in the same condition only . BR Hills is not a Enroute place for anywhere and reaching that place by public bus itself is kind of difficult..

Velu
Yes, you are quite right. I mixed them up. It was MM Hills.
#7 Feb 23rd, 2009, 11:37
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Originally Posted by pmvelu View Post @Sweetmango,

Just for Future Visitors I am providing this info ..

Most probably you are refering to MM Hills [ Madheswaran Malai [Tamil] / Mala Madeswara Betta[Kannada]] and that's what is in Karnataka side and adjacent to Tamilnadu and the route to MM Hills is still in the same condition only . BR Hills is not a Enroute place for anywhere and reaching that place by public bus itself is kind of difficult..

Velu
You are quite mistaken. I have been back there many times. Reaching by bus is no problem. I know this area well.
#8 Feb 23rd, 2009, 11:45
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@Kesava,

As far I know there are around 3 Direct buses a day from Mysore bus stand to BR Hills and that's why I told it's kind of difficult !.. As you visited many a times this place, you should know things better . Please Post what's the approximate bus frequency which will help future visitors to this thread !

I stand Corrected !! Thanks for that !

Regards
Velu
#9 Feb 23rd, 2009, 12:37
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Originally Posted by pmvelu View Post As far I know there are around 3 Direct buses a day from Mysore bus stand to BR Hills and that's why I told it's kind of difficult !
Coming from a "developed" country where many rural villages now have no shop of any kind and buses on only several days a week, three direct buses a day sounds a LOT!

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