Antargange – A world full of caves

31 Jan

The name sounded fancy – Antargange… Raj and I discussed and decided to do this trek. We also decided to post it on FB and invite interested friends to join us. A few did and with bit of co-ordination, we were on the 6:30AM Lalbagh Express to Bangarpet on Republic Day. On reaching, we quickly boarded a bus to Kolar, had some really good Masala Dosas for breakfast and boarded an auto to the base of Antargange.

The climb begins here

The climb begins here

Antargange is a simple hike. Around 600 steps apparently, bit of rough surface climb and you will be done. What makes this destination special are the boulders. Thousands of them everywhere you look. And they have formed, what we refer to as caves. This means exploration – which means lots of uncertainity – which means, a whole lot of fun :)

Reminded me of Hampi

Reminded me of Hampi

The first cave we entered had a lot of sunlight. Raj had done Antargange before and kept saying how it is so different in the night as there is absolutely no light and it is so easy to get lost. I hate jumps. From a height to a not so flat surface with rocks on either side is not a pleasant sight for me. Fellow trekkers’ motivation is actually pressure. Coz, they want you to get done, so they can do it and we can all move ahead :) My neck starts to stiffen when I have to jump 5 feet below but the thing about such activities is you have to face your fear and take that leap. Raj has started teaching me how to jump and climb and I love the experience.

Narrow Creeks

Narrow Creeks

At every point, you have a choice – A choice to go ahead with the next exploration knowing it will be difficult or just sit in a cool cave and wait for your friends to come back. You can always choose the easy way out and here’s a confession, I am tempted to do so. But I chose to go every time and till now I have not regretted it. Every experience turns out to be so good. So exhilarating. So fulfilling. When you are amidst crazily huge boulders and every next step of yours is not headed out but only further into the ground, you feel the rush. When you see fellow trekkers feeling the same emotions, you are further charged to do more, to take larger leaps, climb harder rocks, go looking for more adventure.

Raj - Our champ

Raj – Our champ

While we were figuring out how to come back to the point where we left our bags, we heard voices. 2 guys were lost in the cave below us and had tried to come out for over 20 minutes in vain. The thing is, when you look up, you will see rocks and some sunlight. But you don’t know which one is the way out. We helped them find our place and with some co-ordination, helped them out. Nagesh, our fellow trekker had a fall and was bruised. I felt guilty for not having carried a first aid kit. Becoming a part of my trek kit going forward. We all got hurt at some point of this exploration but we moved ahead. Pain is good :)

Inside the caves

Inside the caves

Lunch was in a beautiful location amidst boulders. Conversations revolved around personal experiences of various hikes, animals and reptiles spotted on various jungle treks, movies like 127 hours and Into the Wild, plans for Must Visit locations.

Exploration

Exploration

We were done with 2 caves around 2:00 PM. We headed towards Paparayanahalli as Raj knew about a fort on top of a hill in that village. After walking through the village and Avarekai (kind of beans used in Karnataka) fields, we reached the base of Durga. We all rested for a bit. Power naps give you much-needed rest and energy to do more. Apparently the boulders behind this fort are even more exciting. So plans were getting made for our next visit :)

Heading towards Durga

Heading towards Durga

We walked down to the bus stand and every villager we asked said the bus is to Kolar is at 5:00 PM. After waiting till 5:15 PM when no bus was at sight, we hitch hiked a drive in a Maruti Omni. The bus journey from Kolar to Bangalore felt very long with all the traffic at KR Puram.

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All in all, I love Antargange. It lived up to its fanciness and I wish to go there again.

Trek Details:

Trek Details:
Date: Jan 26, 2013
Place: Antargange, Kolar – 70 kms from Bangalore
Organizer: Formed our own group
Camera Used: Canon Powershot SX 230HS
Mode of Transport: Train, Bus and Auto

Saying hello to the mountains – 2014 way! @Makalidurga

22 Jan
Makalidurga

Makalidurga

I have this belief – The first day defines how your whole year goes. It’s difficult to include some traveling when the first day of the year is a weekday. So, I adjusted my belief, made it the first weekend, connected with my new trekker buddy Rajesh and planned a hike to Makalidurga. 5 of us started headed towards Doddaballapura.

Makalidurga is one of the simpler treks around Bangalore. Typical of hills close by, Makalidurga too is mostly rocky with small patches of trees and a small temple at the top. you will notice a lake as you go higher and at some point we realised it looks like an inverted guitar.

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The fort at the top is beautiful making the view picturesque. Rajesh and I walked around some more and watched a train pass by. From the height of a mountain, it looked like a snake going into its house.

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We goofed up by not carrying enough water. We had less than half a lite for lunch and nothing for our journey back. Luckily we had carried some oranges which saved us from dehydration.

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On our way back, we stopped at Ghati Subramanya temple. We were back in Bangalore by 7:00 PM.

A little step towards fulfilling the dream of 2014 being a travelicious year :)

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Trek Details
Date: Jan 4, 2013
Place: Makalidurga, Doddaballaupur – 60kms from Bangalore
Organizer: Formed our own group
Camera Used: Canon Powershot SX 230HS
Mode of Transport: Fiat Linea
 
Map to Makalidurga

Unexplored beaches in the Kokan belt of Maharashtra

17 Jan

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Do you remember that scene from the Bollywood flick – Jab We Met? The one where Geet(Kareena) is about to run away from her home and she sneaks into Aditya’s room to bid good bye.

Geet: Main toh bhaag rahi hoon. Saara kuch planned hai. Tumhein bye bolne aayi hoon.
Aditya decides to run away with her. When they step out: 
Aditya: Plan kya hai?
Geet: Kayee options hain.
Aditya: (surprised) Options?
Geet: Ya to hum railway station ja sakte hain, ya bus stand.
Aditya: (intrigued) Aur vahan pahunchenge kaise?
Geet: Let’s see. Main road se autorickshaw mil sakta hai.
Aditya: (exasperated) Unbelievable.
He stops running.
Geet: Arey chalo…
Aditya: (scolding) Ye tumhara plan hai? Shayad main road se rickshaw milega? Tumhein zara bhi akal hai ki nahin?

Ahem.. Aishwarya and I planned a girl trip. Whenever we go with the boys, we don’t worry much about safety etc. And travel and moving around is taken care of by them. We wanted to dirty our hands, handle the whole thing ourselves. Anjarle was the destination. Saara sab kuch planned tha – We booked our bus tickets, planned to meet at Karad bypass (the connecting point between Bangalore and Pune) and guessed we would get buses to Dapoli and from there to Anjarle. One day before our trip, we called our friend Amit to get some local Anjarle numbers – Just in case. We shared our plan with him and  he wanted to join us. 

This had to be our girl trip. But Amit had asked the question and we love him too much to say no. So, we planned some girl time away and decided to let Amit drive us to the destination. Once he picked us up, he told us that on hearing our plan, he was so worried about our safety, that he decided he had to be with us. He was sure, with the plan we had, we will never reach Anjarle.The thing is, we had assumed too much. The connectivity between Karad and Dapoli is very poor and Anjarle too is a remote village with few vehicles and no mobile connectivity. So, Amit applied for 3 days leave, became our “Aditya(Shahid Kapoor)” who drove us to our destination. Sweetest gesture ever!!! 

Waiting for me at Wai Junction

Waiting for me at Wai Junction

NH4 – Wai junction was our meeting point, good old poha our breakfast! The drive to Dapoli started at 9:00 AM and with hardly any stops, ended at 1:00 PM. Almost the entire 140 kms is through mountains. At Dapoli, we had our first coastal meal of the trip. The fish and prawns were heavenly and throughout our trip we ate lots and lots of them. The last 20 kms of our drive was ahead of us with so many pit stops as the drive is downhill and you get to see Anjarle and Harnai from the top. Palande was the first beach we spotted and we had to take a moment to walk on beach sand! Ketki beach resort at Anjarle, the place where we stayed(@Rs. 1000 per room for 2) is on the beach. 10 steps and you are walking towards the sea. How cool is that :)

Our stay :)

Our stay :)

As we waited for them to clean up our room, we couldn’t resist getting into water. We played in this very friendly beach to our heart’s content and decided to check in and come back again. The hot kaanda bhajjis and not so warm chai on the beach fueled us enough for another round of wave bashing.

Anjarle Sunset

Anjarle Sunset

Best workout ever :)

Best workout ever :)

We gobbled down some awesome kokan food, played some Carrom and Amit headed to Dapoli to be with his friend. Aishwarya has always been a fitness person. I started working out recently and so far I’m loving it. So, the next morning, we headed out to the beach for a run at 6:30 AM. It felt great to run with such great ambience as motivation. At the end of the horizon was a small hill and we decided to hike up.???????????????????????????????

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On enquiry, we figured there are buses to our next destination – Murud(Not the Murud of Kashid, Murud, Janjira fame). We waited at the Durga Devi Temple for half hour and boarded a local bus to Murud. The drive is scenic as you are traversing from beach view to mountain view, back to beach view.

View of Anjarle

View of Anjarle

We walked around till we spotted a resort(Swapnadeep – Rs. 1000 per room) which looked good for us. We left our bags at the reception and headed out in look out for a good restaurant. We walked for maybe a kilometer and half and found not a single eatery. We had started entering houses that had boards saying they provide meals and asking them if we would get food(begging almost, except we were willing to pay). Finally, we admitted defeat and had lunch where we stayed. To our surprise, the food was exceptional and the prawn curry was heavenly. 

Kokan Food!

Kokan Food!

We heard about a fish auction at Harnai and wanted to experience it. Our bus dropped us at a junction and we started walking towards the fish auction point on the beach. This is where the unpleasant part started. We saw a dead dog and a dead pig on the beach. It looked like they were dead from drowning for a couple of days. Locals did not seem to care and were playing cricket right next to it. The shore was dirty and almost everything was happening there. Men stared and passed comments as we walked towards the watch tower. But once we reached an elevation, we did not seem to care as the view of the boats in the sea was just, so colourful.

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As we did not wish to go back through the beach, we decided to take the road and stumbled upon Bhuikot Killa – One of the few forts of Shivaji that is not on a mountain or an island. It is on plain land. The sunset from here was breathtaking.  The long walk felt never-ending and we finally reached the junction at dusk.

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Sunset at Harnai

Sunset at Harnai

Next morning, we walked around the Murud beach noticing all the birds and animals that have walked on the shore.

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We headed out to Karde beach which is my favorite beach from this trip. The water at the beginning is see through almost till your feet are 2 ft deep. It turns brown after that, blue in the middle and green at the end. All this with lots of white from the waves. I loved this beach. We started to build a sand castle but ended up building a watch tower and a pyramid.

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We checked out of our hotel at 1:30 PM and we had to reach Satara at 6:00 PM. Extremely difficult but Amit with his impeccable driving skills ensured we could take a short break at Mahabaleshwar for some amazing Strawberry cream, at Satara for Pedha and still make it to the bus.

All in all a beautiful trip to beautiful beaches. I still don’t feel like getting back to my routine. I want to be back at Anjarle :)

Trip Details
Travel: Bangalore to Wai Junction – Airavat Bus – 8:00 PM departure. Satara Bypass to Bangalore: Airavat Bus – 4:00 PM departure from Pune
Mode of transport: Fiat Punto
Cameras used: Canon Powershot SX230 HS and Canon Powershot Sx170 IS
Pune to Anjarle: 198 kms
Resorts: Ketki Beach Resort, Anjarle: +9194204 74912 , +9175888 57813, +912358 – 234391
(Keep trying as they are not reachable most of the time)
Swapnadeep Resort, Murud: +919223289152
 

15 Bare Essentials of a Rustic Trek

24 Dec

On my first trek, I was totally ill-equipped. I wore the wrong pair of shoes(1 size smaller at that), did not carry enough water, and came back badly tanned. After having completed many more, I think now, you would find these bare essentials in my bag for sure. So, here’s the list for anyone trekking for the first time and a checklist for someone already hiking regularly!

Hunter Shoes

Hunter Shoes

1. The right pair of shoes: This is probably the most important investment for any trekker. Pick up the right pair and you will love trekking forever. Pick up the wrong pair and it will make every experience of yours horrid. I started with a pair of PUMA shoes. I lost track of the number of falls in my initial treks. I accepted it as a part of treks until I got myself a pair of Army Shoes from Russel Market, Bangalore. It truly changes the way you look at treks. I take my steps more confidently because the grip is great, it supports your ankles well and dries up real quick. I have done over 40 treks in this one pair and it’s still in great condition. And here is the best part. I spent Rs. 275 on this pair. So, Bangaloreans, go to Russel Market to get your pair of Army Shoes

Canon Powershot SX 230 HS

Canon Powershot SX 230 HS

2. Camera: I cannot start a trek without my camera. And i love the sling-pouch my Canon has. It helps to capture every candid shot of nature and creates memories on the go. My camera: Canon Powershot SX 230 HS

3. Sunscreen: Unless you want layers and layers of tan(which I have carelessly worn), you MUST carry a sunscreen. I have read, you should use it 30 minutes before you go under the sun. Of all the sunscreens I have used on treks, there are 2 I like the most – Biotique and Ayur

4. Shades: I am not too much of a shades person in the city. But on treks it’s a MUST have. It gets really hot at some points and wearing a good pair of shades decreases the stress on eyes and hence the fatigue. It may be a good idea not to carry your expensive pair because you have to account for some fall on some rock, some wear and tear and chances of it getting lost. A good Fastrack pair should do!

5. Cap: Cannot stress more on the importance of using one. At 12 in the noon, trying climbing a mountain without a cap and you will know what I am talking about. It has saved me from getting giddy many a times. I am still heartbroken about having lost my Nike Nadal Cap at Dhak Bahiri :(

6. This one’s for girls: I cannot step out without my lip-balm/gloss, kajal and hair-brush, why make an exception on treks eh? :)

A good jacket

A good jacket

7. Jacket: It may be a little heavy but it always helps to keep a jacket handy. The journey to the mountain maybe cold, you may feel chilly while on top, you may need a pillow to rest for a bit, The sunscreen is not working – One solution – A good jacket

8. Water: This one is a no brainer. Always keep atleast 2 litres of water. Sometimes the organizers specify the right amount. When you are in the sun, nothing satisfies you as well as a few sips of water

Boiled Eggs - i wish they looked this good in my box

Boiled Eggs – i wish they looked this good in my box

9. Boiled Eggs: This one is a life saver. Boil some eggs and without removing the outer peel, pack it in a box. It fills you up quickly and helps your muscles recover faster. The only thing is, it may get messy if the shell breaks

10. Dry Fruits: This too is a must have on any trek. It helps gain energy instantly and is a good form of snacking

11. Salt: Sometimes, while descending because of change in altitude, apparently our BP fluctuates? Salt comes in handy. Not only there. You can use it if the food provided by the organizers is bland, if the leeches are bugging you too much or you have carried a fruit that needs some zing

12. Candies: Glucose helps gain energy and makes sense to have some of them in the front pocket of your bag

13. Paper Soap: I love this idea. Single sheets of soaps – No fuss of packing up your soap after

Flip Flops and Crocs

Flip Flops and Crocs

14. Flip Flops: There is no pleasure like getting out of your trekking shoes after a long day of hike. Flip flops help your feet breathe and relax. Also, if you are camping, you would want a pair to just walk around the camp site. You can replace this with a good pair of Crocs too. They are way too comfortable ( even the fake ones ;) )

15. Sanitizer: It gets really messy on treks. If its raining, then your hands will be full of muck, if it isn’t raining then full or dust. Also, there may not be enough water to wash your hands. A small bottle of sanitizer always comes handy

I hope this list helps. Most items are from the perspective of a one day trek. The are must carry items even for a 2 dayer but, you need better preparation for a 2 day trek – Sleeping bag, thermals, a warm cap(kind of skull-cap), toiletries, head torch, some wet tissues. I think I’ll save this up for another blog.

Here’s an interesting image for all backpackers. Thanks Pradeep for sharing :)

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5 habits that’ll make you travel all through the year

9 Dec

I meet friends – the kinds you meet once in a while and catch up over a nice cup of tea about all the drama, good and bad in our lives, and they tell me that as much as they are happy about all my treks and trips. They tell me that it looks so fancy from the outside, with all the social media updates and the blogs. They tell me they wish to travel a lot more too but.. With that but starts a list of reasons.

Forget the 22 part. Age is just a number!!!

Forget the 22 part. Age is just a number!!!

I am writing this blog to urge all friends of mine to not give in to those reasons and see the world because like he says in Into the Wild – The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

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Travel bug bit me really hard about 2 years ago, when I shifted to Pune, a city absolutely new to me with no friends, very few relatives, a rented bachelor pad, new job, all alone – COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone. When you are in this situation, I guess, you develop a new hobby and I chose travel. I was blessed with great colleagues who loved travel too and blessed with an undying spirit to travel and experience the new. Some of the habits we inculcated which made us travel throughout the year.

Travel at the drop of a hat

After a late night party, a few us spoke about what to do next. Someone suggested to drive up to Naneghat – They said the sunrise is beautiful from there as the clouds open up to show the valley. Within an hour, we had booked a Qualis and started our drive to Naneghat. It took longer than expected, we reached after the sun had risen, some of us threw up because of the ghats and bad roads but what an experience it was to take off just like that. Human life should be filled with new experiences to keep the soul alive and this sure shook my entire system up!

Naneghat

Fill your weekends with travel

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2012 was supposed to be my travel year – I said 52 weekends – at least 50 new places. This meant planning for a trek/trip almost throughout the year. You need to dedicate a few hours, a bit of your money to travel every month. I would start planning on Tuesday for the upcoming weekend if it’s a trek or maybe a month in advance if it’s a big trip. While planning involve all your co-trekkers/travelers. My travel friends were such sweethearts, they were as excited as me or more about the 50 places resolution and most of the credit goes to them for making it happen.

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Make travel friends on the go

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It’s easiest to make friends on treks than anywhere else. Like minded people with all the time in the world to talk as they too are ascending/descending the mountain with you. You know your kind soon. I met Aishwarya, Amit and Mark on different treks and we all went on a common trek where they became friends too. See, that’s the thing about treks. Your network amplifies before you know and you have new best friends across the country or even globe.

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Share your travel stories

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I love sharing stories. My friends know that. I think I have stopped bugging them with my stories as I have blogging as my outlet. People who love travel will read it and so will people who love me. And for my closest bunch, they still get a call and detailed narration about the happenings. I love sharing my experiences as that is the best way I know to express myself. It also helps me create memories I can come back to sometime in future. And if someone, anyone takes inspiration and decides to travel more, it would totally be worth it!

Choose your wallet size

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The good thing about travel is, you can choose how economical or luxurious you want it to be. I always choose to be economical. that way, I could travel more. Affordable hotel rooms, travel by train/bus, trek (cheapest way to see new places), go with groups, make one day travel plans. However small or big.. You ARE traveling and traversing from one mountain to another, from one dream to another, from one sunset to another, filling your life with endless new experiences.

A really affordable treehouse in Dandeli

A really affordable treehouse in Dandeli

Somnathpur, Srirangapatna, Karigatta – A photo blog

2 Dec

If you have visited Belur and Halebidu and liked the archaeological significance they hold in history, you would also love to visit other Hoysala temples. We had 1 day and we wished to put it to good use by dedicating it to travel. After dropping our friend to Mysore, we headed back on Bangalore-Mysore Highway and stopped at Srirangapatna. We did not get to see much here which is a disappointment but Srirangapatna is so close to Bangalore, that you can check out all the places on any day(Or that’s the hope).

Colonel Bailey's Dungeon

Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon

This place is eerie. History says Tipu Sultan, held captive, British prisoners here.

Colonel Bailey's Dungeon

Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon

Apparently, during the seige of Srirangapatnam, one of the cannons rolled back, pierced the ceiling and fell into the dungeon.

On the route between Mysore Road and Somnathpur - Karigatta Village

On the route between Mysore Road and Somnathpur – Karigatta Village

This village is very low profile but every-time I pass by, I absolutely love it. There is a great amount of positiveness in the air, the land is fertile and people look happy and prosperous.

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Somnathpur temple was built after Belur and Halebidu temples, so the craftsmanship is considered superior. Though small, the temple is beautiful, less crowded and pleasant. We hired a guide who told us all about the Channakeshava Temple.

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The Keshava temple is one of the finest and most complete examples of Hoysala architecture and is in a very well-preserved condition.

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We took the Kanakpura Road back to Bangalore which was so much better than the crowded Mysore Road.

Trip Details: 
Date: Nov 24, 2013
Places Visited: Mysore, Srirangapatna, Somnathpura, Karigatta
Mode of Transport: Fiat Linea 
Camera Used: Canon Powershot SX230 HS
 
 

Chikmagalur – An unforgettable Figo drive!

23 Nov ???????????????????????????????

 

Chikkamagalur – The town that was given away to the younger daughter as a part of dowry is blessed in every way possible. To start with, the district of Chikmagalur is huge. There are over 20 KNOWN and FAMOUS destinations(I can only imagine how many are unexplored). You will either be amidst dense forests or Coffee Estates. You get great Malnad Food wherever you go. People are friendly and sweet. 80% of the road to Chikmagalur from Bangalore are in perfect condition and for the other 20%, work is on!!

By Gaadi.com

Ford Figo has been my goodluck charm. In the last 6 months, Figo has done 6 long drives(More than 300kms one way drives) – Kakkabe in Coorg – 32kms of no road trail, 2 trips to Mangalore, 1 to Kukke Subramanya, 1 to Kudremukh, and this one to Chikmagalur. Figo has so far made long drives an absolute pleasure.

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We headed out to Guddadamane in Guddadur, close to Aldur on Saturday morning at 6:45 AM. With a half hour breakfast break and a 2 hour stop at Belur, we reached Guddadamane Homestay at 1:30 PM.

Guddadamane

Guddadamane

Belur and Halebid never seem to bore me. This must be my third or fourth visit and I still listen to the stories narrated by the guides some of which are brand new. It’s amazing how efficient people in the olden days were when they constructed these temples. Anyone who goes to Belur and Halebid will first know about the stone used to carve those intricate sculptures.

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???????????????????????????????Guddadamane is a beautiful 150 year old bungalow converted into a homestay. The rooms provided to us were cozy and quiet! Sarasa, the help there was super thrilled to meet someone who could speak Tulu. The other rooms were occupied by Bengalis and she was having a tough time communicating!

We almost set out to explore the mountain with gum boots et al but used rain as a reaason to just chill out at this beautiful homestay with hot Chikmagalur Coffee. After an hour or so, we headed out to the College Ground spot where a few movies are shot. You know, while driving, you see some spots and you wish to stop the car and be there? That happened to us when we were driving to Guddadamane. So, when we took the same route to go to College Ground Point, we made sure we got off at this point, spent some time and clicked some pictures.

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College ground point is beautiful with not at soul nearby. I have always yearned to do some workout in the mountains but have been conscious because of the crowd. So, here we were, just us and not a soul to care and I gave my body the treat it deserved. Some of my favorite yogasans. Figo felt great too to be on the cliff :) :) 

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Sun decided to go down, forcing us to get back to Guddadamane where another round of hot coffee was waiting for us. After a sumptous round of Malnad dinner, we called it a day as we had to start Sunday Morning super early to explore the highest peak of Karnataka. Also, next day was Ayudha Pooja. We asked Sarala to help us with some flowers and some Pooja material as this was the first Ayudha Pooja for Figo. When we woke up the next day, they had decorated the car wiith flowers, kumkum and turmeric, had placed the lemons under the tyres. All we had to do was pray and start drive. This gesture made us so so happy!!!

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Being a frequent trekker, it hurt my ego to drive up a mountain and not hike it.  But, this was a leisure trip and i swallowed my shame and convinced myself that it was OK. Mullayanagiri, the highest peak in Karnataka is absolutely beautiful. You can drive almost till the peak but ideally, you should stop at the first pitstop and walk up. This is because the road gets narrow and it would get difficult if there is another car coming in the oppisite direction and secondly you may not get the best view from the peak but the path leading to the peak will leave you mesmerized.

We spent a lot of time walking on these roads, clicking pictures, staring at nature and chit chatting. There is a small temple at the peak which when we went was filled with noisy tourists shouting on top of their voices. So, without spending much time there, we started our walk back.

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My favorite pic from this trip

Our drive down was beautiful too and we tried to go slow to soak in more of Chikmagalur. On reaching the town, we referred to trip Advisor for a good restaurant and went to “Eats of Arab” for some delicious Biriyani and Kebabs.

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Around 3:30, we headed towards Halebidu. The guide here was not very impressive as she was in a hurry to finish really quick.So, after she was done, we went around the temple one more time admiring the beauty of Hoysala Dynasty.

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It was getting dark and we set out on a less than 4 hour drive to Bangalore. It feels great when you can overtake almost all hatchbacks and a few sedans. We absolutely enjoyed the power Figo gave to us and reached Bangalore much before the estimated time of our Map My India Navigator. We always race with the GPS. We try to beat whatever she says. But, she corrects herself, as we drive and we, we just act lame :p

Guddadamane Homestay: Sarasa – 9986209682
Date: Oct 11,12-2013
Place: Chikmagalur, Aldur, Mullayanagiri, Belur, Halebidu
Camera Used: Canon Powershot SX230HS
 
The special mentions about Ford Figo are made as a part of my participation in #blogyourdrive contest by gaadi.com

Kodachadri – 30 kms in 2 days

20 Nov

Treks are addictive. They make you give up your inhibitions and your fears, shuts up your doubts and confusions and pushes you towards the road less travelled. And you come back feeling better than ever, feeling the joy of experiencing the unseen, of exploring the unknown, of realising that you have it in you to do the un-doable!!

Treks are also the best place to meet awesome people, people you wish to hang out with even after the trip is over, people you want to be friends with for a long time to come. Most people you meet on treks are down to earth and humble and if you like that kind, you should definitely try and trek!

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By the time I finished Kodachadri, I realized how much more there is to do when it comes to building my endurance, to become stronger mentally and physically. So far, none of my treks demanded so much out of me as much as Kodachadri did. But, I loved it. I loved every bit of pain in my body, loved every step taken towards a new experience.

Nagara Fort, the first pit stop at the break of dawn was a treat to the eyes. A quick route to the top gives you a panoramic view of the landscape which looks picture perfect from every angle. Cultivated land, a house in between, a river flowing in the background with multiple bridges, trees all around and the fort itself adding to its beauty. Nagara Fort is a must see place on the way to Kodachadri.

View from Nagara Fort

View from Nagara Fort

View from Nagara Fort

View from Nagara Fort

Nittur fed us with some delicious South Indian breakfast and soon, we were ready to start hiking. From the Main Road, we entered this small opening and hence started the 2 day long, almost 30 km hike, trek, exploration. After walking through a jeep trail for an hour or so, we entered through the fields and forests to reach Hidlumane Falls. The water here was freezing and everyone played in the falls. No leech bites so far :)

Hidlumane Falls

From here we started the almost 4 to 5 hours of steep uphill climb to reach Kodachadri peak with not many breaks. This was my first 2 day 1 night trek – Which meant heavy backpack with sleeping bag, poncho, extra water bottles, food, clothes etc. The bag was heavy, the mountain steep and end was nowhere in sight. So we kept hiking, chit chatting when we could gasp a breath, pushing ourselves to greater heights.. literally!

View on the way to Kodachadri Peak

View on the way to Kodachadri Peak

Very close to the peak, there were vendors selling, cucumber, watermelon, churmuri, groundnuts. We gobbled them all :). As we reached the Kodachadri peak, we saw co-trekkers, sitting at cliffs and waiting for the much spoken about sunset. The sun threw different colours on the mountains giving us the much-needed relief after a hard day’s trek! The moon on the other side looked gorgeous on an almost full moon night giving us enough light to walk up to our camping spot.

Sunset from Kodachari

Sunset from Kodachari

Picture Courtesy - Johnson Pinto

Picture Courtesy – Johnson Pinto

Moon as seen from our campsite

Moon as seen from our campsite

On reaching a small plateau, we started the big task of setting up a community tent. I call it that coz 12-13 people slept inside this one tent. Organizers had carried ropes and tarpaulins and with the help of the entire group, a tent was built. And before I knew, majority of them were inside and ready to sleep. And it was only 8 PM. Rest of us, sitting outside definitely did not want to sleep this early and hence started playing Mafia, a game well explained by Girish and played even better by the rest of us. The game requires you to be sly, strategic and manipulative and we tried our best to be all of that. Most of us failed and some did phenomenally well!

The night was bad for me. It was very windy, tent loud because of the wind and very little place to sleep. I am not sure how long I slept for but I definitely woke up 5 to 6 times with an imagination of some animal or worse, some stranger at our camp site.

Morning started at 5:30 with Patrick’s voice waking all of us up. We quickly packed our sleeping bags, rolled up the tarpaulins and ropes and walked towards another mountain for the sunrise. The view was beautiful and I will let these pictures do the talking.

Sunrise

Sunrise

The colours it adds to our life

The colours it adds to our lives

We soon started our descend and headed towards Batrumane where a few of us stopped for tea. You would expect longer breaks on a trek this long, but no they were really short ones. The descend took us about 2 hours. We stopped at Santosh Hotel where we had our breakfast and packed Lemon Rice for lunch.

Santosh Hotel

Santosh Hotel

From here started the exploration of Arshingundi Falls. Patrick, our organizer has a GPS device which guided us till a certain point I’m guessing but after that a lot was dependent on their sense of direction. So initially we ended up at a stream leading to a certain falls. There was absolutely no trail through the forests and we had to slide, slip, run, jump, grab trees and roots to move forward. All this while trying not to get bitten by leeches. After some more climb and descend we reached an unknown falls but a beautiful one.

Exploration

Exploration

Guys played in the falls and I sat with my feet in the water getting a natural foot massage. Lunch followed and without too much rest, we started the ascend. There were 2 options. One was to head towards Kollur and the other to go back to where we started from. I’m again guessing we couldn’t figure out the route to Kollur and hence walked back the same way we came.

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While descending, I kept hoping we won’t have to climb back the same way as the route is very steep but god definitely was not listening. Everytime I looked up, I couldn’t see the sky, which meant we were still in dense forests. I am not sure how long we climbed for or the distance we covered, but it sure felt never-ending. And not taking enough breaks did not help either.

DSC06603I wonder what I would have done if not for the trees. They supported us in every way possible. I held on to them to pull myself up, hugged them to make sure I did not fall, leaned on them when I could not carry my weight anymore, grabbed their roots when I couldn’t find anything else to hold onto. It’s ironic, even a tree which probably is very young and looks strength-less could help us in so many ways. New found respect for Nature God.

We finally made it to the top from where it was another 4-5km walk but on flat surface. After walking till the main road, we spotted our matador, where we dumped our bags, and headed straight to the stream to freshen up. It felt good to be clean again :)

You would expect a bunch of totally drained human beings at the end of such an ordeal but this group was crazy. We danced in a moving matador for over an hour and played antakshari for 2 hours after that. But a sumptuous dinner at Shimoga is all it took to shut us up and open our eyes only to see Bangalore flyovers and morning traffic.

One of the toughest treks I have done so far but a must do.

Things I loved:

  • The gang of guys I hung out with. Tulu(My mother tongue) jokes were hilarious and definitely reduced the extertion.
  • The sunrise was beautiful
  • Landscape unmatched. I have dreamed of being amidst such mountains for really long
  • Mafia game was super fun. Thanks Girish
  • I have more or less overcome my fear of leeches

Things that could have been better:

  • More breaks during trek would have been most appreciated
  • A visit to Kollour Mookambika temple would have been great
  • More time to click pictures.
Trek Details:
Date: 16th and 17th Nov 2013
Place: Kodachadri, Shimoga District
Organizer: Bangalore Ascenders
Camera Used: Canon Powershot SX230HS
Mode of Transport: 21 seater Matador
 
Useful Links:
BASC Website: www.bangaloreascenders.org
Sleeping Bags on hire(Rs. 50 per day): Saravana – 9035914262 
 
The itinerary we followed is as follows:
  • Day 0
    • We left Bangalore by 11:00 PM.
    • Day 1
      • Reached Nagada Fort on the way by 730AM. Spent an hour exploring the fort
      • Reached Nittur by 9:30AM and started hiking from here after breakfast
      • Reached Hidlumane falls around 12:00 PM
      • Continued hiking from 12:30 PM. Stopped for a really short lunch break around 1:15 PM
      • Started hiking again around 1:40 PM
      • Reached Kodachadri peak by 5:00 PM
      • Watched the sunset and headed towards our camping site by 6:45 PM
      • Started building our tent by 7:00 PM
      • Completed tent building by 8:00 PM
      • Played Mafia for the next few hours and called it a day by 10:30 PM
      • Day 2
        • Started next morning at 5:30 AM
        • Headed to a nearby hill to watch sunrise. Reached by 6:30 AM
        • Started hiking again at 7:30 AM
        • Reached Batrumane at 8:00 AM and stopped for a cup of Chai
        • Reached Santosh Hotel at 9:00 AM. Had breakfast
        • Started Arshingundi Falls Exploration. Ended up at a different spot of the same stream and continued the hike
        • Reached an unknown falls around 1:00 PM. Had lunch here and headed back by 1:30 PM
        • Reached a plateau by 4:00 PM
        • Reached our bus by 5:00 PM
        • Washed up at a near-by stream. Headed back to Bangalore at 6:30 PM
        • Dinner at 9:30 PM at Shimoga
        • Day 3
          • Reached Bangalore by 4:30 AM

Bilikal Ragaswamy Betta – A One dayer near Bangaalore

6 Nov

BR HillsThis trek was meant to happen more than 2 months ago with Bangalore Ascenders and a dear friend Pradeep but my mom got all upset about me going on a night trek (I could not convince her with stories of night treks in Maharashtra), that I has to back out in the last hour. Months later, an email from Bangalore Trekking Club about a day trek to the same hill was all it took for me to register. And a call to Priyanka, my colleague at Himalaya Drug Company sealed the deal as we planned to pack our bags and head out to the mountains over a weekend.

BR Hills

Bilikal Rangaswamy Trek is an extremely simple one with a well carved out and broad path up till the peak. You can made it exciting with a bit of boulder climbing. But the view of green and rocky mountains in front of you makes it a must climb mountain. You can easily finish this trek in half a day. Usually people cover Chunchi Falls as a part of this trek but we spent a lot of time on the peak, chit chatting, exploring and enjoying the greenery.

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BTC is a fun group and Sangamesh a very friendly organiser with a smiling face that puts you at ease from the word go. We headed out of Bangalore at 7:30 AM and started our hike at around 10:00 AM. We stopped in between for breakfast and packed lunch which stayed packed till the end(More about that in a bit). I was thrilled to meet a fellow Pune Trekker with who I went on and on about all the adventures in Maharashtra.

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The villagers were celebrating the arrival of their new tractor at the peak of Bilikal Betta(in a temple). When they saw us, they invited us to have lunch with them and cooked some hot sambar and rice for over 20 extra last-minute guests. The food was delicious and hospitality unmatched.

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We sat on the rocks and shared stories, played games and cracked jokes as if we knew each other for years. That’s the thing about treks. You bond really well with strangers from the word go. Coz, there is a very strong shared interest. It starts with stories of people having trekked in different terrains, various travel stories and can, at any point, take a sharp turn and become a conversation you might have had only with your best friend. That’s the thing about treks :)

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Trek Details: 
Date: Oct 26, 2013. 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Location: Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta, Kanakpura. 70 kms from Bangalore
Map: Google has made it so difficult to embed maps. If any of you know how to, please let me know. 
Trek Group: Bangalore Trekking Club. (It’s a Not for Profit Group)
Cost: Rs. 340 per head. Inclusive of breakfast, lunch, evening chai, travel
Camera Used: Canon Powershot SX 230HS
Mode of Transport: Tempo Traveler

Swim a Mile – Pearlie’s day in the pool

21 Oct

Took Pearlie for a swim. Aaskar – The place has nice boarding facilities for dogs. 2 puppies were running around and started following Pearlie. Pearlie was not very impressed. She started barking at a lab puppy who kept biting her ears. Later, Pearlie got into the pool with my brother. She was apprehensive at first but with some nudging, did her first swim. She had a worried look on her face. That’s a first. Soon, she got used to the water and started swimming with ease. Natural Swimmers these dogs are. She slept almost through the entire drive back. We are not sure if she enjoyed it more than we did :)

The worried look I was talking about

The worried look I was talking about

Happy Pearlie :)

Happy Pearlie :)

Aaskar near Varthur, Bangalore: Contact No: 7829747732
Nearest Landmark: Forum Value Mall.
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