Nature's marvel - Dodda Alada Mara
Known as "Dodda Aalada Mara" in south India's Kannada language (meaning 'Big Banyan tree') this is one of the largest Banyan trees in south India. Its branches spead over a wide area making the tree quite a spectacle. You can see many of its branches and roots in the above picture.
The tree is revered by locals as sacred and is protected. The tree is home to varied wildlife including different species of owls and also some wood pigeons.
Location: Dodda Alada Mara is located about 10 km to the north of Sira Town on the Sira - Amarapura Main road. This is located near Kaggaladu Heronry/ Community Conserved Area.
Nearest Airport: Bangalore City
Nearest Rail: Tumkur City
Key attractions: Along the way one could stop over at-
i) Kallambella wetland to see waterfowl.
ii) historic Seebe temple at Seebe village, which lies along the Tumkur - Sira stretch of the National Highway 4.
iii) historic Moghul architecture at Sira Town.
IF YOU GO:
When to go: Early February to early May
Best time of the day: Summers are very dry with day temperatureshovering around 40 degrees. Try being at the place early in themorning or late in the evening.
Where to eat: Carry own food or eat at Hotels in Sira Town. One decent one is Hotel Kamath near Sira Town along National Highway 4 on Tumkur Road.
Where to stay: Kaggaladu has no accomodation.
Getting there: Since the Bangalore - Pune/ Mumbai National Highway No:4 passes through Sira Town, the best way to get there is to drive down from Bangalore city (about 3 hrs drive). Sira is about 50 km away from Tumkur City and about 120 km from Bangalore.
1) Drive on the National Highway 4 towards Tumkur town.
2) 3.5 km after the Kyathasandra Highway toll gate and about 3 km before Tumkur City, the highway splits into Shimoga Road (which enters Tumkur City) and Sira Road (which bypasses Tumkur City).
3) Travel on the Sira Road / Tumkur Bypass and after the bypass ends continue towards Sira/ Hiriyur. (This is one of the best stretches of this highway in Karnataka!)
4) As you near Sira Town (after about 50 km from Tumkur) just before the highway turns north-west and by-passes Sira Town get off the highway and enter Sira Town (from one of the passages/ breaks in the road median).
5) In Sira, travel along the main road inside the town. Just after the Sira Bus-stand ask any one for the office of Sira Circle Inspector of Police. You will be directed to drive from the bus stand to one of the circles leading out of the town. There, turn north (take a right) and go to the Sira Police offices complex (offices of Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sira Rural Sub-Division and Sira Circle Inspector of Police).
6) Drive north (straight) on the Sira - Amrapura main road from the Sira Police offices complex to Togarugunte (pronounced 'tog-ru-goontey') village. The Big Banyan Tree (ask any one for 'Dodda Aalada Mara') is towards right immediately after Togarugunte village. This is just before 'Bande-kunte' gate, about 10 km from Sira Town (this 10 km stretch has quite a few potholes).
1. Please maintain a low profile and make sure you respect the locals.
2. Make sure you don't interrupt the local traffic when you park your vehicles
3. Leave nothing including disposable and non-disposable garbage.
4. Carry adequate supply of water, as this region of south India gets pretty hot and dry suring summer.
NOTE: I have included the above information to give visitors a general idea of the places. I request readers to make more detailed enquiries with the Tumkur district administration to know the exact road conditions and facilities for tourists.
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