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  • Submitted by: bhushanks, India
  • Submission Date: 04th Nov 2008

What are names for but the associations we heap on them?!

For long, Anchetti was one such name. A destination, because I used to see the name on some buses. A possibility, because any time I wished to, I could take one of these buses and go there and find out what it was like. As though, it were the promised pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Of course, I did not find out where it was and how far away, just yet.

Then I bought a state map of the Archaeological Survey of India and pored over it for days, mentally marking out the places I had been to, the routes I had covered and what was left stil undiscovered. It was a heady experience, like sipping champagne.

As my finger traced the way out of Karnataka at Attibele and entered into Tamil Nadu at Hosur and moved farther still, it paused at Denkanikota to the west of Hosur. I had been there more than once as my uncle hailed from that place. It evoked a steady stream of memories, like the first rain in summer.

The grandfather, who was the first 'landlord' I had ever met, had twinkle in his eyes, gulped ragi balls effortlessly and bought us sweet bun with sugar crystals on top. The house with tiled roof had a small space open to the sky in the center of the hall for people to wash their feet etc., and a well in the bathroom, to draw water before bathing. There were cows in the shed and mosquitoes aplenty.

Denkanikota had a huge tank/lake as well: we had once gone missing for hours just trying to go around it as kids, and I - as the ringleader - got a dressing down when we returned! Those, perhaps were the beginnings of your Travel Expert!

What struck me about the map was the huge patch of green beyond Denkanikota. High altitude was also indicated. I was perplexed and surprised because this part had not come up in any descriptions of the region I had read anywhere. I was discovering only now, there were forests and hills to be explored in this place.

Nestled in the midst of this greenery was Anchetti. I knew right then I will go to this place some day!

When we did visit Anchetti on 11/05/2008 it was quite sudden, considering my penchant for picking a destination over many days. So happened we were nearing the end of my wife's vacations and we had still not booked a suitable place to go for a break. Those details make two separate stories and I will choose another day to tell you about it. Now it is Anchetti, first things first!

My search for some really close by places fit for a day trip from Bangalore led me to two names - Thally & Anchetti. Essentially we were looking for a new, (perhaps) cooler place at some altitude. Somehow Thally did not appear too promising for such an outing so we picked on Anchetti. Google Earth too promised me we will see hills, greenery and even water there, so Anchetti it was.

It was a Sunday and my wife was willing to buy my enthusiasm. I told her we will definitely decide upon another place in the next week, for now we could take a short ride out of town and check out this place. So off we went to Hosur, changed to a crowded bus and reached Denkanikota. So far so good.

Then began our long wait for the Anchetti bus. As it generally happens, I had seen it way too often when I had no intentions of boarding it. Now that we were waiting, it took a long time to come. We shared a freshly cut cucumber and eyed the small bananas. We picked up dark-hued jaggery that was cast like an idli! We bought some great onion pakoras and gulped down fruit juice before the bus appeared and triggered a pandemonium. The strategy was clear - my wife would barge in first and hold a seat for me; I would get into the stream of humanity soon after and reach her.

This was neither chauvinism nor chivalry - this was survival! Mind you, there was every risk I would call off the entire thing and head home - I have done it on some occasions before! - there have been times when I have felt it is best to conserve energy because I am a strong believer of, 'tomorrow is another day.'

Getting into that bus, reaching my wife and plonking myself beside her was almost out of some horror movie. It took me time and courage to use my body weight and wade through the surging humanity milling about the wee aisle of that bus. Then I had to coax the ladies and gents to give way as they were simply in no mood to let me reach there later than them and still manage to take a seat! They did finally relent and I sat down heavily, realising this is quite a regular mode of travel for the majority of our population.

We, the urban folk are spoilt with too many comfortable options I guess and we need to get this rough treatment once in a way to remind us of the ground we stand on! I believe this rough and tumble is a part of being a traveller, especially a budget wanderer. No complaints there!

This last stretch was where all the promises lay, otherwise it was a great setting for me to nod off and get my beauty sleep that Sunday afternoon! We did not have to wait very long after we left Denkanikota and the cultivated lands on either side gave way to small hillocks with boulders. Greenery appeared in the form of bushes first, then grew into thicker vegetation. Considering that it was the later part of summer, this was refreshing and also hinted at a water source nearby. This was also one of those rare stretches of forest where we did not encounter the check post or the patrol jeeps. Being elephant country, it was mandatory that the milestones were painted in green - you have probably heard before that elephants simply dislike your white coloured milestones, so they simply uproot & throw them away! - giving away the fact that the land was under the Forest Department.

It must be admitted that there are many more breath-taking rides we have been on, in terms of the scenery we get to see. The USP of Anchetti is its proximity to Bangalore. Crossing the border, looking at the Tamil boards and hearing people talk around you highlights the fact that you are away from home! Yet, hardly have you travelled some 70km or so and you get to be treated to green forests, distant hills and a drive through ghat section complete with hairpin bends! Hurtling downhill at a good speed, the bus made short work of all these. When we crossed a short bridge, I sensed that we were getting closer to Anchetti. Before we could appreciate that, we were already there!

We decided to let this bus return so we could spend some more time at Anchetti and then head home. We paid a visit to the humble bakery and gulped hot tea from another stall. We traced a few steps back in the direction we came from and returned; we took a few steps in the other direction to see what else was there and retreated. Really there was nothing of much interest in this dusty little place so I switched to observing & contemplating till the return bus could arrive.

Anchetti is a little wayside hamlet, enroute - as I discovered - Hogenakkal & Pennagaram! As I knew, the route to Hogenakkal passed through places like Rayakottai & Palakkodu from Hosur. So I figured this route must have been improved recently hence it was attracting traffic. As evidence to that, the road conditions were, I would say, superb all the way to Anchetti! This was definitely a plus point and naturally caused more traffic flow, which explained the dusty look.

Even otherwise, from the vantage point of the bus stand, Anchetti did not look very lively. Considering that I expected to find some lodging facility there, it turned to be a really humble little place. We did not find any signs of a place of worship, we found quite a few meat shops and eye-catching mounds of puffed rice in huge bags that were stitched together for that purpose. To me it looked like a small settlement of people who lived off the produces of the surrounding forests.

Of course, the maps I saw had clearly indicated that Anchetti formed a T-junction. We came in from Denkanikota and a left turn would have taken us to Pennagaram. The right turn was non-descript, nothing very important lay beyond. The forests in fact lay to the back of this T-junction and there was no open passage for us to explore. Standing there at Anchetti, we now realised that the right turn took one back to Karnataka - to Kanakapura in fact, via a place called Hunasanahalli!

Things started falling into place quickly now. Anchetti was not the only hilly place close to Bangalore. How could I forget my visit to Galibore by the river Cauvery?! Indeed, such terrain appeared to reach up to Bheemeshwari, recede and then join the foothills of the MM Hills range! Anchetti was the other side of these ranges and hence a part of the Veerappan territory! To me it appeared like the Western Ghats makes one final incursion around the Bannerghatta region and flattens out beyond Bangalore, making the whole region a part and parcel of the Cauvery river system! Today, like the Yamuna in Delhi, one has to go looking for the Vrishabhavathi in Bangalore!

The return journey was uneventful except that the bus travelled really slowly, loaded as it was with revellers returning from Hogenakkal, of whom we had seen a lot more as we waited for the bus at Anchetti. Of course, these people were travelling by cars, which fully answered my curiosity about why so many cars were seen on that route. Thankfully this was a direct bus to Bangalore so we were saved from changing more buses for the day. However, lot of time elapsed as the bus had to take a long deviation just to touch the new bus terminus on the outskirts of Hosur.

End of the day, my wife pronounced: this looks good for a bike ride!

I lost no time in drumming up others' interest in Anchetti. I told my cousin Sudhir, whose father hailed from Denkanikota. He had heard that they often enjoyed a bicycle ride to the forests. Now his interest was kindled. We decided to visit Anchetti again on 01/06/2008, this time on a Kawasaki bike.

He picked me up as planned and we rode up to Chandapura. Confusion led me to insist that we take the right turn there, instead of later on at Attibele. As a result we got an unexpected bonus! Our original plan was to take virtually the same route as before, except for deviating at Attibele and taking the road via the TVS Motors plant as a bye-pass to Hosur and heading out to Denkanikota directly. Instead, we landed at Anekal!

We said 'Great' and proceeded to Gummalapura and onward to.... Thally, the 'Little England!' Honestly we could not make out why it was called so, though both Sudhir and me had read about it from other bikers' accounts on the internet. We took a refreshment break at Thally and read with surprise the board put up by the shop at the cross-roads: Mysore Road! The shopkeeper then explained that Thally town was about a kilometer away and the road continued to another town on the Kanakapura road, from where one could head out to Mysore. Which means, people in these parts do not necessarily touch Bangalore to go to places like Kanakapura, Ramanagaram and all the way to Mysore! A great insight indeed if you were planning a bike rally in these parts!

From here we headed straight to Anchetti via Denkanikota and Sudhir simply refused to have anything to do with this dusty place. We took the left and continued. Immediately I noticed the wide enough stream of water, which had all but dried up during our last visit! I mean, we simply had not realised then that a stream flowed through!

We rode on for a couple of kilometers more before abandoning our plans to look for a tea shack. Sat down by a compost heap and took a few sepia-toned photographs with the mobile. Started back and halted midway on the climb, though we had read caution notices that passengers should not alight at these places. We reasoned that it made more sense during nights, especially when the vegetation was lush and water was plenty, which draw out the elephants from their daytime retreat.

Then we heard the sound of water flowing, spotted the muddy brown stream gushing amongst boulders way below, noticed there were some young fellas who had probably been swimming somewhere nearby. It was a typically non-threatening stretch of forest with the winding road acting like a lifeline! Only when you spend enough time off the road do you appreciate the existence of a road however humble!!

Then we continued up to the outskirts of Denkanikota, stopped for some grub as we felt ravenously hungry, proceeded to Sudhir's ancestral home which I was visiting after many, many years. There was absolutely no disrepair as I feared - in fact, it had been improved in patches and was absolutely comfortable as we stepped in from the sun. We gobbled up some jackfruit that grew in the backyard, chit-chatted some more and hit the road again.

This time we managed to take the road towards TVS Motors and then linked up to NH4. Our journey home was halted briefly as the rain lashed out, and, more hot food awaited us when we reached home. We did not ask for anything else!! The romance with Anchetti had concluded, promising to resurface on some unsuspecting rainy day!

One thing however had changed: Anchetti was no longer just a name, a destination or a possibility - it had entered the long list of places that have suffered a visit by us!! Long live Anchetti!