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The Green Embassy, Sagara - Why you must check out this hotel when you visit Jog Falls

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Introduction


Green Embassy Hotel, Sagara
My cousin arrived from United States of America and I had a chance to decide to have a backpack trip with him. It was a short decision to make and I had to hurry to make the best use of the time I had with him. For over 40 years I've never visited Jog Falls and I was always wanting to go there to see what it felt like to stand in front of the Majestic waterfalls of Karnataka.
We had to quickly book a mode of transport to get us there & also had to book a hotel for our stay there. Besides this we also had to find ways of reaching Jog Falls, seeing place and getting back to Bangalore within a day.

Route map

Map from Bangalore to Jog Falls
The distance from Bangalore to Jog Falls is about 445 km and it roughly takes about anywhere between 7 to 8 hours to reach there. We had a few options to get there which included KSRTC, going by train or driving there.
I have given to many places already within India and I was kind of fed up of taking my car out for this journey. As one would expect getting train tickets is extremely difficult to go to this place since this route is always busy and many people book the tickets in advance. So that left me with only one another option which was KSRTC.
My cousin said he would take care of the booking for the KSRTC bus and my responsibility was to book the hotel in a place called Sagar which was close to Jog Falls. The train actually goes to a place called talguppa but it is a place which is a bit nondescript and has only a railway station there. Please bear in mind that this place does not have proper hotels or stay options although there are some homestays near by.
Your best option would be to go to Shimoga or Sagara. There are frequent buses from Sagar to Jog Falls and it would roughly take about an hour to reach there. Although Google Maps says that it's about 38 to 40 minutes one must factor into the route the railway crossing as well as the drive Downhill and again a bit Uphill to reach Jog Falls. Given this consideration and some wait time at the bus stand in Sagar it is better to keep about an hour for your travel to reach there.
I have already written a blog post about the KSRTC bus booking service online which you can read more about here. For this blog post I will focus on the hotel that we stayed in which was called the green Embassy in Sagar.

Criteria for the hotel choices

One of the main criteria that I had for choosing a hotel was that it must be very near to the bus stand or railway station or both if possible. Not only that it also had to have a decent restaurant as well as should be available at a value for money price. After doing a bit of research I did find that the gerusoppa kstdc hotel at Jog Falls itself was booked completely for the weekend.
Also since it was pretty expensive I had to choose something more reasonable. This is where I came across green embassy hotel which I finally booked.

Distance

The green embassy hotel is about 4 minutes by drive and about 10 to 15 minutes by walk from the bus stand or railway station in Sagar. This actually ticked my requirement for having hotel nearby. For the uninitiated this hotel is not a four or five star hotel but a more reasonable hotel in the area. It has nearly about three to four floors with a decent amount of rooms.

Rooms


The rooms are surprisingly clean and had large Windows and curtains. The beds were large and neat and the room also had a writing table and the customary wardrobe in it. One of the most important things everybody Looks for while booking a hotel is how good the toilet is. I was pleasantly surprised with the toilet within the room. Again it was not of four or five star quality but then for what it was it offered a very neat Western commode a good large and neat wash basin, with all the toiletries kept beside it.

Toilets


The toilet also had a shower partition and the water was quite hot for a good satisfying shower. One of the problems I always have with hotels is the pressure from the shower. Sometimes the pressure is so low that the whole experience of having a good shower is lost. The green Embassy was good in that respect.

Restaurant


Breakfast was complementary along with the hotel cost per night but since we stayed only for the day we had to pay originally for the breakfast. The breakfast is not a generous spread, but rather a few items of the menu that the waiter will discuss with you. Based on what you like he will be able to make a the crispy dosa and serve you Idli and vada, besides offering a few other things like Hot and Cold beverages and a few other items.
There are two restaurants within the hotel one is called swadishta and the other is called garlic. One the first one is a pure vegetarian restaurant the second one is a combination of veg and non veg food. We preferred to have food in the vegetarian restaurant and hence could not get a chance to check out the garlic restaurant for the vegetarian choices there.
The restaurant itself was very pricey and for just a handful of items that we eat we ended up paying up to almost 500 rupees which was high in my opinion. Not to worry though because there are very good restaurants around the area just if you step out of the hotel. All these restaurants can be found between the hotel and the railway station as you take a walk. So if you are not in the mood for having pricey food within the hotel you can always step out for a walk to eat somewhere cheaper.
The food itself was good but it was not of the best quality that you get in other major towns. How it was still tasty and we liked it a lot.

Cost of stay

I had already pre negotiated my time of arrival with the hotel and the chicken itself was pretty smooth and not a major affair. Our room was already ready by the time we reached Sagar.
Typical Hotel costs in These areas can range between 2000 to 5000 rupees. Green Embassy was somewhere in between. The room rack rate was 2000 rupees and we got the room at about 2300 rupees without breakfast. With breakfast it would amount to about 2800 rupees which is slightly on the higher side for a place like Sagar.
I also ordered a couple of beverages using room service which cost about 78 rupees.

The good parts about the hotel


  • [ ] proximity to railway station and bus station by walk
  • [ ] very neat and clean
  • [ ] good toilets
  • [ ] decent breakfast
  • [ ] a large enough car park

The bad parts about the hotel

  • [ ] breakfast is a bit pricey
  • [ ] the TV has very minimal channels and to do very well with an attached set top box

Conclusion


The Green Embassy is a very reasonable hotel for a place like Sagar. Its proximity to the bus station and the railway station makes it all the more likeable.
The varieties of restaurants available should cater to most people who want some good. The neat rooms and a friendly reception plus a reasonable car park and front entrance make this hotel good to stay in.

If you're going for short stay which does not involve breakfast you can negotiate the rates with the hotel upfront. The best way to get to Sagar would be by bus or by train. Driving there is pretty long distance and can make you tired.
If you like this post and you wish to visit Jog Falls please do share this with your friends. If you have any queries or comments type them in the comments box below.

5 must see reasons for traveling on KSRTC Airavat

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My cousin had come for a holiday from the USA to Bengaluru and what better opportunity I had but to plan a quick backpack trip for a day from Bangalore to Jog Falls near Talguppa and Sagara (total of 399km approx). As a usual planner my go to destination for bus ticket bookings was RedBus.

My brother took up the bus booking and I managed the hotel booking, just to split the responsibility. This is where he suggested that we travel by the tried and tested KSRTC Airavat buses. Since a long time KSRTC has been providing transport to many states around Karnataka with their reliable Volvo and Scania buses.


Let us look at the top reasons for you to choose KSRTC over other private players for your travel specifically around Karnataka.

Timeliness


KSRTC buses mostly start from Majestic bus station at different times of the day. Many buses generally start near to midnight at or around 10:30 pm or so when the traffic within the city is a bit low so as to help them negotiate the exit from Bangalore. We had booked a ticket to Sagara in Karnataka and the bus departed exactly at 10:30 pm sharp.

Arrival time is also on the mark and they generally arrive at destinations on or earlier to the said time most of the times barring those times when there is some serious blockage on the roads which is beyond their control.

Online booking and cancellation facility


Though until sometime the online booking experience was not that great, these days the whole process is flawless. You can book tickets on the government portal of KSRTC. You can also use the KSRTC PNR enquiry system to view your PNR status of the booked tickets. While returning from our trip, since we got a train ticket with IRCTC tatkal booking, we needed to cancel the bus ticket. We could do that using the KSRTC ticket cancellation online by just using our PNR number and transaction password printed on the ticket.


You can easily pick source and destination and it shows all the buses available, including a seat map with seats specifically reserved for ladies for safety purposes.

If you are frequent traveler you can create your own login at the KSRTC login online booking link. Here you can save your details and easily book tickets as and when you like without much fuss.

On the topic of refunds, you can check the KSRTC refund status at the same source you booked the ticket with (like your bank account, or credit card, etc)

Reliability



There has always been one feather in the cap for KSRTC buses. And that is the reliability of the transport system. They undertake thousands of trips a year to different destinations and the drivers are familiar with the route and drive safely and within prescribed speed limits. They are careful on the road and one can hardly feel any discomfort while on their buses. The Volvo and Scania buses are comfortable and have decent amount of seat recline and space.

Facilities in the bus



You can get one or more water bottles depending on your use, they have a seat recline system which is decent and almost horizontal. There is also a blanket for you in case you feel cold. The airconditioning system has vents that are easy to close and open and you can precisely set an air flow pattern that you desire. Just to let you know about the comfort, we were sitting on the last two seats of the bus and rarely felt any jerk for the whole journey.

Compared to the Scania the Volvo buses are slightly more comfortable since the Scania buses sometimes lets in the road bumps filter into the cabin, but having said this - there is nothing seriously wrong with either variety of transport

Cleanliness




The buses look modern and clean, and you do not get a feeling you are getting into a rickety old bus at any point in time. Buses are neat, seats look new and well kept and the water, blankets are all well arranged.

Cost of Travel


The cost of travel is pretty reasonable compared to private players. Depending on the class of travel - normal, airavat or diamond class - the cost for our trip from Bangalore to Sagar varied between Rs.340/- to Rs.580/- which is in my opinion very effective for that distance.

If you are a senior citizen KSRTC has a special discount for you as well, you can see the rules on this link(section IV & V).

So what are you waiting for? Decide your destination, hop on to a KSRTC Airavat and sleep like a baby !

Ensure to insure

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(image for representational purpose only)

I bought myself a swanky two wheeler and was thrilled to take it out for a ride. It was a normal day for me and I was full of energy and positivity to make my day at office productive. I prayed that my ride was smooth like any other day.

I started driving out to the office and while I was on the road there was an auto which took a sudden u-turn without warning from my left lane to the extreme right lane on the side of oncoming traffic. There was hardly any moment for me to react and I wished and prayed that nothing drastic happened. My two wheeler crashed into the auto and both the vehicles were badly dented.

Upon mutual discussion I gathered that the auto driver did not have valid vehicle insurance which I could use to settle the claim. Since I had my own valid two wheeler insurance, I could log a claim and complaint and get the vehicle repaired soon.

These days driving a two wheeler around Bangalore is a nightmare. The traffic is a chaos and bigger vehicles do not spare a thought about smaller ones or give way to them. There is another extreme set of drivers who keep changing lanes without warning incoveniencing two wheelers. These people exhibit a complete lack of discipline and do not care about anyone else on the road.

Some of us don’t wear helmets, some of us carry more than two passengers, some of us hold kids in precarious positions and some of us get wet in the rain and continue driving at night without proper road lighting.

I have even seen buses constantly honk by driving very close to two wheelers from behind them scaring them out of their wits. Just one touch is enough to send the two wheeler driver flying onto the road. Also in general lots of people flout rules for their convenience such as talking on the mobile or using a shortcut one way road etc.

There are lots of us who offer prayers to the lord before we leave for work each day. We even get very concerned if bad omens occur such as cats crossing on the road or if we sneeze before leaving somewhere. Some people have lemon and chillis hanging in their vehicles to ward off bad incidents. Similarly we feel good if bird poops on our vehicles, or hear bells as these are considered as good omens.

Bharti Axa has put up an ad that reflects the reality of how we believe more in superstitions than take up a rather concrete resolution of having something as important as insurance which would matter more in emergency circumstances.




While these things can alter your state of mind, the reality is that you need to be very careful while driving in this crazy traffic that is getting worse day by day.

In the worst case that you did have an accident with your two wheeler god forbid, having a comprehensive bike insurance will save you a lot of hassles. Arguably getting an insurance for your vehicle can be pretty cumbersome as you need to go around town in search for the same wasting your time. But the good news is that most insurance companies now offer you online two wheeler insurance.

You can visit their websites, punch in a few personal details and information regarding your vehicle using which you can decide on your insurance amount almost then and there. For some rare cases the vehicle needs to be inspected in case the insurance may have expired. Having online bike insurance is a boon for people who are busy at their offices as its a pretty seamless application process. Also the more expensive the bike is, all the more important it is to have proper bike insurance.

There are different types of insurance available from basic to comprehensive and sometimes even pedestrian coverage. It is always prudential to have a good insurance cover for yourself and your vehicle rather than get into a police case mess during accidents. Not having insurance will attract additional penalties as well as you are flouting the rules while driving. It will also increase costs of repair for your vehicle.

Given that every day of our life is precious for us and our families it is important not to let down the people dependent on us. We do not know what surprises are in store for us on the road, but it would be a good feeling to know that we are secured if we have comprehensive motorcycle insurance. Being insured is always a safe feeling and this is one of the reason for you to ensure to insure yourself !

Giria’s Explorium - half a day worth of learning experience for your kids

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Giria’s is a well known name in FMCG industry with many showrooms selling lots of home appliances all over the country and many in Bengaluru. However little is known about their Explorium centre which is constructed especially for kids to learn lots of things.

The explorium is in Domlur, right opposite the EGL business park and is easy to spot. It opens between 9 to 10am and if you are one of the first few there, you can get a good parking spot for your car. The entry fee is a split of 70% - 30% between adult and kid and for two adults and kids is around Rs 2000/-. That is about 7-8$ for a ticket which is reasonable. Once you pay up and while you enter you are tagged with an wrist sticker to let you in along with your kid/s.

Some of the things which are installed for learning purposes include a huge rocket with steps to climb into and go into the many sides of the rocket and climb down again. Kids will perpetually enjoy this as they get to explore the inner realms of the rocket though its mostly metal and nothing electric within. They can easily spend about an hour there.

Also there are pins against which kids can push their body parts and the relevant shapes will manifest on the other side. This gives kids the ability to explore and touch and feel and understand the shapes that are generated by this game. Further There are air based experiements which explain centrifugual forces and their effects on many materials such as paper, cloth, dense and light materials, hollow balls, etc.

The other game is about applying a huge amount of force to set a ball right to the top of the celiing explaining how the energy is transferred to produce motion. Besides these there are a couple of electric circuits related experiments which will show the kids how a light bulb can be made to glow based on rotary forces applied. You can build paper planes as per instructions given and see which plane flies the farthest. Further there are huge building blocks with which you can build entire cities (not literally of course) - and make shapes out of blocks.

Further there are installations to show you how JCB’s and cranes operate and let the kid get a sense of how to operate this mega machines in real life. The kids get to move blocks and lift mud using these earth mover machines themselves which is a reasonable learning. A little ahead on the ground floor are other experiments to make kids understand gravitational forces by rearranging channels along which the balls move.

Also in a separate section are water related experiements to teach how water flows, how dams are constructed and wheel based water lifts and so on. There is a water fountain which was not working at the time we went there.

The first floor is more for younger kids having gardens, paint art, sand art and so on. The second floor has a restaurant run by the Chancery Hotel near Raj Bhavan and a store which sells toys. Both of these are slightly expensive and the restaurant food is decent even if not the seating spaces. The seating is at best average and could have been better.

Unless otherwise the management decides to keep changing the sets of experiments on a regular basis, this is just a one of stop for your kids to spend some time. A much better and more advanced place of similar nature is the Visweswaraya Musem which is well known for the exposure it gives to multiple segments such as science, math, agrictulure, electricity, etc.

So if you want your kids to learn something new which is different from the ordinary games and fun people have at all the malls, the Explorium is a good place to visit for once. It is not terribly expensive and the games there are a little more of a stimulus for the kids minds compared to the electronic racing games at malls. I would say that the Explorium is a place to visit at least once if you are in Bangalore.

Earning the best Benne Masala Dosa in Bengaluru - Central Tiffin Rooms (Shri Sagar)

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Good food is always a foodie’s dream come true. And if it is also tasty to the core, all the more merrier. What better way than to talk about Bengaluru’s myriad restaurants that serve the one most admired dish that every Bengalurean has no qualms eating at any time of the day or night - Crispy Masala Dosa !!
When it comes to serving the most tastiest Dosa, there are three restaurants that come to the mind for any true blue Bengalurean - CTR (Central Tiffin Rooms or Shri Sagar), Janata Hotel and Vidyarthi Bhavan. One can most comfortably say that Amma’s dosas are only next best to these restaurants!

Of these three restaurants CTR surely has everyone drooling for its most famous butter dosas or Benne Dosas. And eating one there is never an easy exercise. Maybe easier for the real Namma Bengluru guys living in West Bengaluru - but for the so called “IT Posh Crowd” on the eastern boundaries of this city - these great dosas need to be earned.
It means getting up very early in the morning, commuting a great deal, reaching a place, jostling to stand in the queue and go through an excrutiating wait to get the dosas that melt in your mouth with that heavenly taste. For people living on Outer Ring Road towards the IT side of the city in places like Koramangala or HSR Layout - the easiest way to reach Malleswaram is to either hire a cab or auto and get straight there.


However the nearest metro station is either Indiranagar or Jayanagar/Banashankari. For the former there is a change over from Purple Line to Green Line at Majestic station and for the latter it is just one train straight to Malleswaram station. The best part about this station is that it also has a direct entry into Mantri mall from the station itself. Now beat that !
If you are in the mood to test out the metro be warned that on weekend mornings the trains are crowded with people going to Majestic to catch outbound trains to other cities. So jostling around the crowds within the trains are the norm. It takes about an hour or more to reach Malleswaram after which it is a walk from the Metro to Margosa Road - CTR.
If you want to read more about the Green Line Metro, be sure to click here.

The restaturant itself is very small. The benches are really small which have of late been a bit remodelled to accomodate people to sit properly. That however does not spare your meal from being overlooked and discussed about by the standing queue of wishing to be dosa eaters right behind you. The madness starts as soon as you enter the restaurant in trying to find a place to secure to stand (not sit yet) in order to secure the place to sit next. Once you slot yourself into position the next obvious thing to do is keep staring at the guy eating on the table in anticipation that the fifth dosa he ordered would be the last for that day so you could get that prized place on the table.

If you are the one seated on the table be prepared for loads of comments from people standing besides you which may seem intimidating for you. They would keep repeating your order to the waiters even if you dont because - hang on - they just want you to eat your grub fast and get out of the table. You can find people strategizing across two tables and taking bets which one will get empty first so the losers can dart to the winning side to grab that table. Sometimes people can even step on your feet to make you feel the pain of wanting to earn your dosa there.

It is absolute chaos and for people who prefer a silent leave-me-alone-to-eat restaurant - please look elsewhere. In fact the moment you sit on your table that you managed to usurp from the outgoing king - the time bomb begins to tick - for you to be eliminated next. The trick is to keep ordering something so that your table always looks full. That is the only way to make sure you have your seat even if you are not really eating. There is also the first floor where you can sit and eat in peace but I have never even bothered to look at that as there is a bigger queue for you to even get a table there.

Having talked about the restaurant itself the only other thing left to talk about is its menu - the perfect benne dosas in particular. The fact that they do make poori’s or idlis and vadas does not matter for anyone. The dosas here are so good and the main reason people flock to this restaurant for - so much so that if you do not say what you want it is assumed that you want dosas and if you do not quote how much it is automatically assumed to be one plate. The buttery dosas are made small and crisp that it literally crunches and melts in your mouth. The accompanying Chutneys are sometimes off the mark and sometimes good so it depends on your luck.

The dosas here are worth all that travel and wait and are really sumptuous to say the least. You would definitely leave the restaurant smiling no matter what the cacophony was around you. Of course there is a parcel facility or you could stand out and eat as well if you’d like to. Much more simpler if you would ask me.
One more thing : This is perhaps one of the hotels in Bangalore where you would get this quality of dosa for a meagre Rs.25/- even in 2017. That is because the hotel is there for a tradition not for profits.

On a bit of history about this restaurant, someone by my name started it way before I was born or my father was born even - nevertheless its good to know a bit on this.
This hotel was started by Y.V. Subramanyam and brothers (Y.V. Srikanteshwaran, Y.V. Krishna Iyer and Y.V. Ramachandran) in the 1920s. They hailed from a village called Yelagondana Halli, Mulbagal taluk, Kolar district, whose residents are Ashtagrama Iyers of Tamil origin. It is recorded that during the visit by the Maharaja of Mysore, Y.V. Subramanyam supplied and served breakfast in traditional attire. They opened another hotel in Krishna Buildings, Avenue Road. This was a famous meeting place for writers and artists in the 1940s and 1950s, and its name is mentioned in many books and articles.[citation needed] Y.V. Ramachandran, the youngest of the brothers, was a Freedom Fighter. Subramanyam was the founder president of the Bangalore Hoteliers Association in BVK. Iyengar Road, which later became the Karnataka Hotel Owners Association. Changed circumstances in the huge joint family caused Subramanyam to sell his hotel in as is condition in the mid-1950s. It still has a vintage wall clock and rosewood furniture with Italian marble table tops. It is said the brothers passed on tips about preparations to the new owners along with advice to take care of workers by not overburdening them. It was established as Shree Sagar in 1950 by Raghavendra and the management was passed on to Ramakrishna Holla in 1952. It was bought by Sanjeeva Poojari in 1992 and was renamed Central Tiffin Room.
source: Wikipedia
I am assuming your taste buds are already active and ticking. So what are you waiting for? Head over to the CTR (also known as Shri sagar) in Malleswaram and enjoy crispy dosas and some great filter coffee to go with it. And if you do get time check out Janata Hotel nearby or Vidyarthi Bhavan in Basavanagudi.

(click to open in Google Maps)
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