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From Diary 6 and the south, I now head north.
9/3 2020.
It is a rainy morning for once, but I have both raincoat and umbrella - in the car. Well, it does stop before I finish my breakfast.

The first target is Dolphin's Nose viewpoint to see the waterfall and the nature in the area. Getting out of town turns out to be way more easy as getting in, as most are still asleep .

It is still misty among the mountains with the tea plantations. When it opens up a bit, I make way too many photos of the bright green tea plants. Here are many flowering purple trees and a few yellow ones as well.

I reach the outcrop; Dolphin's Nose, and with the exception of a large family of monkeys, I'm here alone. The last 25 metres is fenced in, and coast R10. I climb the fence as the monkeys, but leave a bill in the ticket counter. It might be a great view a clear day, now it it only clouds I see.

I hear the waterfall, and get a breath glimpse of it, way out on a barren rock wall, on the other side of the gorge. It is real narrow, and fare from impressive. Not enough to keep me here for sure. Back through the now sun covered tea plantations and Coonoor. Then through a few smaller mountain towns, before I head down again.

My next target is even higher up; Doddabatta to see the view from their 2633 meter high viewpoint. It is through dense forest the last bit, and I have to stop a few times, to have a closer look at the plants. Well, here are a lot of Australian gum-trees, but also some highland conifers and annuals.

It is a popular place among the Indians, and I really can't figure why? It have cleared up, but the views are nothing special. It is just slightly lower farmland, forest and towns. I do a tour around, to be sure I haven't missed anything - and buy half a kilo local chocolate. It does taste better, after it have been heated in the sun-exposed car for quite some time. I find some small Peperomias near the car, before I  leave.

Then it is back down, but slowly this time. I reach Ooty / Udhagamadalam, and head straight to their Botanical Garden. Well, it is a nice park with some lovely flowering plants and a few botanical collections. Both on the roads, and here, I get this Sunday feeling, despite it is Monday.

I do the tour around, and see the fernery and Begonia house, along with the ponds and some odd Dragon Trees, which are dark read? They do not look dried out, and I can't figure what stresses them. Their cactus collection is a disaster. I find their minute bonsai collection the most interesting. One of the Figus is 40 years old.

It is only noon, and I figure I can head on. Next sight is only 130 kilometres away. It is down through some real big forests, where gum-trees dominates with their pole-like stems in huge plantations. Here are also some huge conifers, which might be the original forest - or not? Half way down, around 1000 metres, the tea plantations are back. Further down, I reach the huge bamboo. I pass several smaller towns, among them Wellington. None of them make me feel like stopping.

Then I reach something completely different: At 1000 metres, a forest with huge, dormant trees with some room in-between. To me, it look like elephant country, and it soon turns into Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. I see some Sita deer close to the road, but fail to make a good photo.

Then, along the river, I spot a lone elephant. It is standing dosing in the shadow, and apparently, the other guests haven't seen it. I manages to fight the eager to walk closer to it. Besides from these animals, I see only a few birds. Then I'm out of the park, only to enter Bandipur Tiger Reserve. To me, it look the same, except from the elephant. Well, it might be a bit more green? Here are huge fruits on the breadfruit tree, and I recall how great they taste fried.

Just before I exit, I see a huge Euphorbia tree. Would have loved a closer look, but I am within view of the ranger at the gate. I enters Karnataka & Bengaluru, and nothing prevents me from just driving. Well, except the police. The first group are real eager. They end up telling me to go to some specific big city, and get a permit. I manages to talk me out of that, and the next two groups believe; I have been checked before.

I reach Mysuru, another old city with a huge palace. It actually have several magnificent buildings, but it is three in the afternoon, and I decided to see it all this afternoon. I book into a dorm-bed at the great looking Mansion 1907, which is exactly that. It is a short walk to the palace, but a tuc-tuc driver get the better of me - and €0,40.

I start seeing it, but it is too big and not old enough to really catch me. Well, normal; I' not into weapons, but I do find the big collection of black-powder canons interesting, as they are like new. Usually, I see them rusted and with all the wood gone. I reach the entrance to the interior, but from the wrong side of the fence. Despite there are no line, I can not pass through the gab: I have to walk all the way around. They can have it.

I actually think it is an Indian thing: The other day, I was asked to park under a house. And stopped a meter from the wall, when I reversed in. Then he wanted a friend to park outside me, and I had to turn around the car!!! They jut can't improvise. I have heard their programming is the same.

On the short route to next palace, I pass several impressive buildings, but can't be bothered. The Jaganmoha Palace should be impressive as well, but the garden is neglected, and I skip it as well.
On the way to the bazaar, I see one of the huge carriages, used in religious processions. And a huge tent, which have been used for a feast.

The around 12 pots are roughly 6-800 litres, and they are scooping the last bits up. In Danish, we have a term: "Big kitchen", and this fit the description!  I find a square, used for market as well. Fruits, flowers and whatever else people thing other people will buy.

Like vultures, the black&white cows lours around, waiting for a discarded fruit - or one that is not watched. The cows are fat and lazy; one don't even bother to stand up: It have just poisoned it selves next to the trashcan. It is a great looking old town, packed with great motives.

I find the bazaar, and everyone is real friendly. I thought, it was because I was the only tourist around, but here are actually several white-haired tourists. One ask me; How do you know everyone here? I don't, they just want to know me, and everyone is calling at me. The other tourists are completely ignored, except from the professional guides.

I see the banana street, the flower road, the banana leaves area, the herbs men, spices, cane sugar, the fresh fruits, the dried spices, the colours, the oils and many others. I ask the key-maker, if he can tin-solde, as my camera-battery-charger have a loose connection. He can't, but leads me several alleys to one who can. Tea is on me.

When it get too dark to make photos, I start looking for dinner. I ask the shop keepers, and they all point me in one direction. A real nice restaurant, and their main courses are around €0,50-1,00. I grab a few, before I head home. Like so many other bigger restaurants, they have a scale standing: "Have you checked your weight?". I doubt we will see that soon in Denmark.  Mountains tea, Doddabatta, Ooty BG, Mudumalai & Bandipur Tiger Res. and old Mysuru.

10. There is only 90 kilometres to my first sight, and it is mainly through the 1000 meters highland. At first, ´the road cuts through many small towns and villages. Cows are walked on grass, porches swept and mopeds are fired up. I pass several artificial ponds, looking so great in this else so dry landscape. One of them have a few groups of Lotus.

I reach Bylakuppe at ten, and it is a bit special. It is mainly a huge monastery and a little village. And most people around here are from Tibet. This "Little Tibet" draws in other monks and half the men on the street is dressed in bordeaux and yellow robes. I still think it look a bit odd to see a monk on a scooter or talking in a smart phone. I walk the street, sip a tea and then enters the huge monastery complex.

Here are all kind of shops at first, then areas closed for others than monks, and then the three main temples. Inside, they do look kind of new, but at least, here are no LED lights on the Buddha states.
A ceremony starts in one of the smaller temples, and I make a video. It is quite noisy, with a big drum and huge horns.

Here are a nice little garden, but also huge areas for the resident monks, closed for others. It seems like the area is prepared for huge numbers of visitors, but today, we are only around fifteen pilgrims and tourist. A mass finishes in the main temple, and the visitors can get a glimpse of the inside.

To be honest; I had hoped for a village with Tibet people, not a rather new monastery. I head on, and chooses the mountain route, hoping for the best. It soon turn into a narrow road, but the sealing is smooth - at first. It is real green and lush, with big trees and small meadows.

Then I reach a dormant forest like yesterday. Some areas look like they have been planted: Too uniform, to be natural. Others are a lovely mix of different species, some with leaves. At 1000 metres, coffee plants are found all over, under the big trees. It is the flowering season, and the scent from the flowers fill the entire area.

In one area, it seems like someone have tried to chop down all the trees and make something else, perhaps tea plantation. Now, they got a huge desert in the else green forest area. It look like a golf course  - without any grass.
The road turns into one lane, but still sealed. It is still coffee land, but I hardly see any buildings of any sort.

The GPS want me to turn down a real narrow and badly maintained trail, with a branch across. And I should follow it for quite some time. Back 20 kilometres, and then out another narrow mountain road. It maintain huge trees with flowering coffee bushes under, and a great drive. I just wished the road would have some straight areas, but it is all bends.

Without warning, the road turns into a gravel road, and not that smooth. The mountains turn more rough, and here are barren bedrock-peaks. Here are not many road signs, but one is just a death skull with crossed bones. That should cover it all! One area is red dust - not only on the rod, but way out on the trees and bushes.

It is only a bit pass three, when I reach the minute village Dharmasthala. I have a guesthouse lined up, but fail to find it. Never mind, I try the huge hotel. It turns out to be the guesthouse! It is a massive pilgrim place, and here are several massive hotels to accommodate them. No towel, no Wi-Fi, but a nice room.

I drop the bag, and head down town. The village have disappeared in modern shops and alike, selling whatever pilgrims want to buy. Here are hardly any, but they should be able to handle 200.000 a day, without any problem, and way more at special days!

I find tea and see some ancient holy wagons, which have been collected here. It is temples on wheels. I see the stands with things to offer, and do a tour around the closed temple. It all look so new, and the crowd-control equals that of the hugest stations - and then some!

Out in the back, I find a few old huts and young cows, along with small fields. Then I find one of the halls for sleeping, and another for eating. I am glad I got here off-season! One of the "selfie-guys" speak a good English (rare!), and tells me the temple will open at five.

While I wait, I chat with him, and get to see the else closed aquarium. Normal aquarium fish, grown to massive sizes. Most from South America, I think. Then I deposit my flipflaps for one Rupee (€0), and somehow get in to the "Q" line. It is one hall after the other with narrow lines, fenced by huge fences. I think I walk a kilometre - and they have opened most!

No cell phones, no camera, no talking and no shirts. The line circles the huge building, crossing the exit by a bridge. Then we slowly passes several old shrines and alike. Small buildings, pitch black inside, with a golden figure, up-lit by burning butter and some flowers. Offerings can be made, ash received along with blessings.

I completely miss the spiritual atmosphere, which I think drowns in the commercial. It is almost as bad as Catholics'! I am so glad I just found the sweet spot, where people have been waiting in line all day, and just before those who didn't bother, turned up. And it is off season. I only wasted an hour. It could easily have been an day.

Back in "town", I find a restaurant, and buy a ticket for food and one for tea. Not sure what I get, but it taste great. Home to sort out the few photos of the day; mainly green walls from the forest. where yesterday offered so much, today didn't. But I get to bed in time! Tibet in Bylakuppe, Green forest, Dharmasthala.
         Time for Diary 8.

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