Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jingalala Nagala NNNagalllaaaaAAAAA

When was the last you explored a new side of You?

When was the last you turned into that timid little child, sitting on an edge, blabbering strange things and holding onto your fears – only to realize that there’s a big bundle of confidence awaiting you on the other side!!

Woosh! Adrenaline rush! Trek to Nagala was all about it!

The 20 of us gathered at Terminal 3 of the Majestic bus stand on Feb 6th, and after a wait we got inside the bus to Puttur [..and that was the first-time ever I saw a Life-jacket in real… ‘go-with-the-flow’ – was all I said to myself :P!]. After spending some time hogging the gobi-k-paraanthas brought by Neer and then regular leg-pulling sessions, we took a nap until we reached Puttur. The next journey was an hour’s travel to Nagala from Puttur (again by bus).

Morning at around 6am, we reached Nagalapuram and waited for our Guide to open up the waiting rooms for us to freshen up. The wait-time was passed with random photo-session and hot cuppa bed-chai at a stall (that was playing old MGR-TMS songs, and made me feel home at the very arrival of the place :P :))

chitchat post Bed-chai time

After freshening up, and post breakfast – we packed our food stuff and got inside a tempo to reach our trek base.

Day 1 Journey began..

     Post the backpacking, introduction, rules and regulations – we started our trek. Much is said and heard about Nagala off-late! And trust me, it’s all too less to describe the beauty of the place. A lesser-explored region as it has been, the place is really pristine and gives you a totally out-of-the-world experience. As this was a bit off-season hike to the place, some of the streams were dried up and were now just a path with small boulders and pebbles. Nevertheless, the hiking was fun with the amazing group that we had, and the forest still charming us with its tranquility.  

Introduction round at the trek base

Stream-crosing at a small streamlet

We had skipped Pool-1 since it already was filled with a crowd, and decided to make it little quicker to Pool-2 and occupy it.

Pool-2, get-set, Go!

     Enter Pool-2, and we could sense adrenalines already rushing :P. Quickly, we dropped our luggages, put on our Life-jackets and got all set to venture into something New! [Non-swimmers had to learn the basics (on how to float comfortably using life-jackets) and Swimmers wanted to push themselves to a new level of jumps and dives.  Well – I fall into the former category viz. Non-swimmers :P )

     After floating through the easy waters, we decided to move into deeper areas (some of us were entering such depths of waters for the first time ever – thanks to the Life-jackets!). There were panic-attacks, flutters, inhibitions and hesitations – but at the same time – loads of motivation, encouragement and Pushes from the organizers and team mates :P. The non-swimmers successfully made it to the other end of the water pool (thanks to Srikanth and Sundeep – who turned de facto trainers for all of us non-swimmers :P !!). Li’l champ Vaishnavi was an awesome learner and performer! The swimmers were having their time diving, jumping from a lower rock and swimming; when our Guide suddenly made a spectacular jump off a 25ft cliff, giving us an awe!! Should I really mention that watching this, our BTCians got inspired and immediately started climbing up that 25ft cliff to attempt the same thing ?? ;) [I think that’s understood :P a bunch of adventurists that we are :P]

The motivation, de-motivation, black-out, 25ft- whaaa??, this is crazy!!

     Soon, a group of dare-devil BTCians gathered at that tiny space towards the edge of the 25ft cliff. The first ones to climb it (read Captain Viru and Aamir), were now postponing their turns to jump (well, you stand at that edge – and you’ll realize that sachme phat-ti hai :P). The mood was on. The photographers and videographers were all-ready with their cams. The non-swimmer spectators were all loud-n-cheer to the 25ft-gang. And Wooooshhhh – one after the other – the daredevils began to jump!! An amazing sight that it was, we, the spectators began to howl, clap, and cheer for the rest! (Captain Srikanth, was at his jumping-best, despite being a non-swimmer). Shwetha, who had just learnt how to float with the jacket, surprised all of us by attempting this challenging jump within few seconds of motivation! Shabbir’s ‘5-people-slapped-on-face’ description about his own dive and land-straight-on-face into the waters, got us all guffawing and then put us into mischief-mode (of course, the jump and pain wouldn't have been thaat easy!) Padma and Vivek were very quick jumpers!

yeah...that's 25-feet!! B-)
The motivating spectators, for the 25ft Jumpers :P

     Almost everyone were done with their turns, however, the 2 of them – Captain Viru and Aamir – were still struck on the edge – waiting for their muhurat [I repeat! Its absolutely normal! Sachme phat-ti hai :P]. All the attention now turned to the 2 of them, who had been procrastinating since quite a while. After loads of howls and shouts, Aamir finally ventured in, making the entire crowd cheer for him; and now it was Captain Viru’s turn.

 ‘abbey.. camera ka battery khatam ho raha hai’ ‘abbey..dhoop lag rahi hai, video nahi niklega, jaldi jump maar’ ‘Viru..u can do it’ ‘Don’t give a second thought..just jump’ ‘you’ll be safe..come on’ ….. 5 mins. Over. 10 minutes. Over. 15 minutes. Over. We-lost-count-of-how-many-minutes-gone-by. Over.

     When nothing worked, and Viru still stood on the edge staring at the water and contemplating, Shabbir n I decided to trick him into reverse-psychology [yeah..the art of motivating through de-motivation ;)]. ‘Viru..wapas aaja..tu nai kar paayega’ ‘guys..let’s go for lunch, he’s not gonna do it’ ‘tere bas ki baat nahi hai’ ‘camera band ho gaya, jump maar ya mat maar’..We had just started to flood him with a series of intentional de-motivating lines, when Splashhhhhhhh - the water splashed. And out emerged our Captain, finally taking his big leap of faith (the reverse-mapping had worked within minutes, you see ;) :P )! We all cheered for him finally and then – headed out for our pet-pooja :P

Trek post Pool-2 fun!

Peak / Magic pool:

     Soon after lunch, and a bit of cracking jokes, we started trekking our way towards our destination. Crossing streams and boulders was quite a challenging tasks, nevertheless it was fun! After close to an hour of trek, we reached the peak and dropped our bags at a spot where we were about to camp, sometime later in the evening. The magic-pool is just a 5 mins trek above this spot. The Magic pool has a 15ft water-fall, wherein you can slide and jump too!. [not sure, what held me back, but I decided not even enter the falls despite all the encouragement from the organizers and the rest of the folks!]. The group spent about an hour here jumping and sliding (this was comparatively a smaller rock, than the previous pool), and then we descended back to our camping spot.

That's the magical Pool!!

Camping – skygazing – asteroid fall- Astronomy vs. Astrology – anna daatas:

     [Around 7.00pm]  Soon, it grew darker. We all made ourselves comfortable at the camping spot, and took a nice break – spread our sleeping mats, sat together cracked jokes, chased the rats etc etc. Our guide Giri, brought dry woods and lit the fire for cooking. Our Annadaatas (the term plagiarized from WOW blogs:P) Rajalakshmi and Padma went full swing with their cooking talents [the rest of us helped them in other tasks : chopping vegetables, cleaning some vessels, fetching water etc]. A yum daal for 20 was cooked. Later, when Giri took the responsibility of cooking the 3kg rice for us; we decided to trek again to the top for some skygazing – as it had now grown beautifully starry!

     We all rested at places here and there. Some of us chose to silently sky-gaze, while the rest continued to chitchat topics ranging from movies, to politics, to astronomy. During sky-watching, some of us spotted a brilliant Asteroid-fall [I consider this spectacle an icing in the cake J] – and that triggered the topic of astronomy vs. astrology (which continued till dinner).

Group having dinner

     Back at the camping site, we hogged the yum daal-rice, puliyogare rice and then curd rice [a complete meal, I say!] for dinner (thanks again to our Annadatas!) and then sealed Day-1’s adventure with a peaceful sleep…

Day-2 and the ‘Enlightenment’ – the ‘chain-jumps’ and Lagoon exploration!!!

The ‘Enlightenment’ slide: On early Day-2 morning, the early birds (basically the WOW gang), trekked to the magic pool first in order to freshen up. Don’t know whether it was the freshness of a bright new day, or the realization of ‘no-regrets-later’; I suddenly ‘felt-like-sliding’ into the same waterfall that I had hesitated to even enter the previous evening :P [a gut-feeling had caught hold of me, you can say that!]. Raja Lakshmi too had got a similar feeling, and we rushed back to our camping site to pull our organizers (who were now pro-jumpers :P) for moral support (and of course, contingency!!). The photographers followed us with their cams, expecting something miraculous :P And yeah…my first slide was successfully accomplished - followed by Viru’s, and then Srikanth, and then li’l champ Vaishnavi, and then mumma Rajalakshmi, and then Jita (who got inspired by the whole jig – and later herself turned into an inspiration:P). 

     With our new-found confidence of facing the deep-waters, Jita and I took rounds of sliding and then moved on to next level – Jumps. With the crew’s motivation and Viru-Srikanth’s push; we managed to take 2 jumps into the magic pool. The sun was gradually rising up, and we decided to go back to our camp for breakfast (yeah..with the early morning hunger pangs, we had turned ‘ready-to-eat’ (I literally mean – we were ready-to-eat-anything-that-was-cooked!)..After hogging on the noodles, biscuits, rajma rice and kesari bath [be careful when anyone mentions ‘gajar-ka-halwa’ on an outing :P]; we packed our bags and started to descend.

Well..dont wonder, some of these had gone for the 'enlightenment-jump' :P

Breakfast and packing!

Lagoon exploration and Chain-jumps: Our next destination during the descend was another pool, that was covered with wide stretch of rocks. We floated and spent inside the pool, enjoying our time. A rock at a distance from the pool seemed like it was the end of the it, however a narrow passage to its side led to a lagoon (which according to Srikanth boss, was unexplored until we did it!). yayyyy! We had ended up exploring something new :D. After floating / swimming to the other end of the lagoon, we found a small water-fall with heavy currents (Credits to Aamir for discovering this!). The water-fall was a chilling experience (we took turns into the falls, since it was a small one). After offering sufficient back-massage into the falls, we climbed the rocks to take another round of jumps!

Day-2 Trek! trek!

the 'Chain-jumpers' selfie ;)

The big stretch of rocks on the side-ways offered a rather wide slant start-point for us to jump, and we, the ecstatic jumpers and divers, decided to do a ‘chain-jump’. Enacting the ‘rang-de-basanti’ moments by jumping one-after the other through the stretch (yeah..we had three rounds of Spectacular chain-jumps..and it was a hell-of-a-lifetime-moment!), we coiled back to individual jumps, swimming and floats.

Lunch and descend back to base:

     After spending sufficient time at this pool, doing-the-new again, we hiked back to our trail and halted at an open space for Lunch. Well, lunch was a random ‘snatch-and-eat’ jig with everyone digging into everyone’s boxes, packets, and hands too!

     After lunch, we descended back to our base (with few pitstops here-and-there), and Ahmed’s jokes (actually, more of witty comments:P) – that made our rather tiring hike a little lighter!!

The team! At the base

     By evening we were at the base, where the tempo had been waiting for us. We reached the bus-stop, had a chai-break at the same stall that had played old MGR songs the previous morning and then walked to the bus-stop, where we waited for bus to Puttur. Bus arrived, reached Puttur for dinner, post dinner waited for bus to Bangalore (scheduled at 10.00pm).

     Boarded our return bus, and post a feedback session, we all slipped into our own ‘unbelievable-dreamworld’ until the next morning; when we bid adieu to each other – after an amazing forest-trek!
Well, who said that Nagala is only a ‘swimmers paradise’. I believe it’s a learners-paradise; a safe and amazing place for people who are willing to learn and explore water sports (of course, Life-jackets zindabad :P)

     Thanks to the entire team for being a motivating-lot, ensuring each others’ safety and pulling up an amazing show. Special mention to Captain Srikanth and Virander for organizing it!

     And yeah, for all the inhibitions and fears that pretty-much the whole group had conquered within ourselves – the only theme song that comes to my mind is….

‘ …Tum ek dariya ke jaise, leharon mein behna seekho
Har ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahein
Har ek pal ek naya samaa dekhe ye nigaahe
Jo apni aankhon mein hairaniyan leke chal rahe ho
Toh zinda ho tum….’

Har ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahein :) B-)


Photo credits: Ahmed, Sundeep and Vivek

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kickassome Trek to Karnataka's highest peak - Mullayanagiri

     Every girl is a story in herself…Caught in between a thousand things – she is always looking for that one chance where life takes her to a very ‘filmy-mode’ the sense – go out to a place she has never been before, explore new people, live out that tiny little weirdo in her – in short – be herself, at least for a while! And then one fine day, in the middle of her monotonous life, a mail pops into her mailbox about an all-woman 2-day trek. She runs through her trail of thoughts, signs up for it, and then waits…

     Well, every girl is a story in herself J Caught in between a thousand things and emotions – she is always looking for that one chance where life takes her to her personal freedom..she has her own tiny wishes, wants to feel and experience different things with people she wishes to.  Putting everything aside, one fine day she plans to step out of the monotonity, plans up stuff, announces an all-woman 2-day trek, and then waits…

Time has come. The shortlist is out. The wait is over. She knows it's time to live-out-loud. She packs up...


     12 such women, technically called ‘Wowies’ :P meet up at the Shantala Silk House on the night of Friday, 7th November. The trip is : in and around Chikkamagaluru. The main destination is ‘Mullayanagiri – the highest peak of Karnataka’. And the actual trip story begins here….


     In that hustle-bustle of a typical Friday-night Bangalore traffic..

     Even before Moyee or I could give instructions, the team of wowies were already done with luggage-loading inside the TT and were all-set! Waaahhh – berry quick – I was amazed! The group had a mix of first timers and familiar faces.

     After a team pic at the start, we started our journey from Bangalore, towards Kemmanagundi (Chikmagalur). Most of them had seemingly busy days with meetings and stuff; and hence chose to take a nap during the journey. (guess I was the only one irritating everyone with the apples that I had got for dinner, at every other halt :P) Moyee and I took rounds of ‘stay-awake’  during the journey, as watch-women :P


Day 1: Saturday

Early Morning: Entry in the Homestay and yum breakfast!!

     Somewhere around 4.45 am the next morning, even before the sun had risen, we reached the Homestay, and received a very warm welcome from the Homestay couple. After unloading the luggages, we took rest for a while in our respective rooms, and then gathered for a chit-chat during the sunrise-time. Three of my most-pampered enemies joined in the chit-chat: Nono, Popo and Popi (very fondly named by li’l Champ Vaishnavi) ! Ok – so these are (not-so-for-me) friendly doggies of the Homestay owners – that freaked me out every time I found them around me! 

     Stories of dogs, and then adventures, beach trekking and biking brought us into the spirit of trekking…and then made us discover the word ‘Assomme’ :D Post a lip-smacking, yummy breakfast from homestay, we headed out to Kalhatti falls with our Homestay guide. Nono and Popi also followed us throughout. Pit-stops, helping hands, pic-stops, jokes happened all the way through the falls when we finally reached the peak. Somewhere on the way is when we modified the term ‘Assomme’ (that sounded little awkward) to ‘Kickassomme’ (thiss! Really has a punch!:P)

Team chilling at homestay, before breakfast : Day-1

The super-cool kiddo!

Kalhatti Falls & the Fun:

     Introduction – after spending over 12 hours together, we finally conducted the formality of the introduction round. Keeping in mind the range of age groups, we included ‘favorite color, favourite fruit and hobby’ as a must-talk-about in this round [Moyee discovered that we were a lot of ‘aam’ junta – I mean, ‘mango-liking’ people among us :P]

     No sooner did the introduction round get over, than we found the roars of the waterfalls calling us ;). Juby was the first one to hop and reach the falls. Motivated by her, a few of us (including me, myself!) hopped in too :D and Gosh!! The ice cold water of the falls, literally gave us a chill down the spine – purely a WOW moment of the trip. After experiencing total numbness and absolute shivers at times, we successfully found a way to counter the freezing chill water – called as ‘Phubying’ (named after the participant from whom we discovered this :P) [well, its nothing but an art of blowing air from your mouth :P] With a literal ‘super-cool’ experience and photo-sessions, we headed back to our homestay for Lunch.

Trek to Kalhatti falls

Kalhatti Falls 

Ice-cold water!!

Well - that's Phubying ;) :P

Lunch: The Homestay food was one of the highlights of the trip. [so yum that we organizers even considered slashing out the rest of the day’s plan and have a nice sleep for the entire day!;)].  

Rose-garden and Z-point: Post lunch, we headed out for the Rose-Garden late in the afternoon, at  Kemmangundi (that was half an hour journey from the Homestay) and our ‘animal-instincts’ suddenly woke up wide. On reaching the peak of the garden (yeah it has a small elevation, from where you can view the Z-point at a distance), we posed like we were never human beings and what more – gave a free entertainment to the public who were watching us now and then [but then, who cares – life’s truly filmy at times – jo karna hai kar lo ;)]. 

     After spending some time at the view point; we moved back to our route and trekked to the Z-point (about 1.5 kms)! Somehow, our timing turned out to be accurate, and we happened to reach the peak dot at the Sunset J [Mission accomplished!]. After spending few minutes at the peak posing for pics, we descended to the base at dusk and then started our journey back towards the Homestay where Fooooood-n-Fun was awaiting us….

A team pic at Rose-garden peak

Camp-fire, wedding stories, dance-n-dinner:

     It was the twilight hour. Back at the homestay, the girls had now refreshed from the entire day’s fun. But the ‘raat was still baaki ...and so was day-1 ka picture, dost!!’  ;). And, it continued over the camp-fire; plates of bhajjis and Manchurians; when our lady, Moyee, opened her favourite topic of --  ummm…well…errrrr…‘shaadi’ :P The next few hours turned out to be sweet and touching, when the girls freely shared their unique and interesting wedding-stories (some love, some arranged). And the yet-to-be-married ones shared their totally amazing ‘partner preferences’ (well, let me not get into details here:P) [I told ya in my previous blogs, that women do bond over Food and family :P].

     To seal the session with more energy, we had a round of dance and thumkas; again random photo-session and then sat for Dinner [the mention of the homestay food itself is enough for mouth-watering!!!]. Over the delicious food, we discussed plans for Day-2 and then retired to our beds…

Kickassome Day-1 ends….

Day-2 begins here….

The Mullayanagiri Trek:

     With a filled tummy and a heavy heart, we checked out of the Homestay, post breakfast (of course, with a heavenly memory of the foooood!). Our Day -2 destination was – the Mullayanagiri peak (the highest peak of Karnataka). Due to some incorrect directions from the localites, we landed up at the base of another hill adjacent to Mullayanagiri viz. Sitayanagiri; instead of Sarpa-dari (that was our intended  start-point). However, in order to not waste much time traveling in TT , we decided to start our trek from Sitayanagiri itself (post sufficient enquiries); and made our start-point (Sarpa-daari) as our target-end-point :P  [There is a path that connects both the hills, and so if u land up at the wrong hill, dont worry, you've just earned a bonus trek - just like we did  :P]

     Throughout the trek it was an amazing team work. The girls spent 5 awesome hours covering the double-hills of Sitayanagiri and Mullyanagiri by  - Holding hands, cracking jokes, dancing to jab-we-met songs, breaks for food, route tracking by the leads (Moyee, Juby and jayasree), few breaks for pics,  hilarious crisis-management of Rashmi’s peeled shoe-sole; and yoodling like tarzan (just for fun ;)) – it was truly a ‘be-totally-yourself’ time for the girls!! :D. The sweeping team reached the Sarpa daari base by 4.00pm – and with a victorious photo-session, we headed out for the next destination – Baba Budanagiri.

Thats Mullayanagiri 

and that's Sarpa-daari (yayyy...we reached !! :D)

Baba Buddanagiri and Maanikyadaara:

     We reached the Maanikyadara falls in the evening. This is a small water-fall that comes after crossing the Baba Budanagiri hill. After spending few minutes outside the falls, we took a snack-break in a stall at the Fall entrance [the group hadn’t had a proper lunch break and were now hungry :)]

     Post the snack-break we travelled back to Baba Budanagiri to visit the dargah (also called as Datta peetha). Some of us went inside the dargah to experience a peaceful ambience and collected balls of the red-mud (that is believed to heal skin problems); from a dedicated spot inside the dargah. It was dusk again..our trip was almost coming to an end..With some mixed feelings still inside us, we started our journey back to Bangalore.

Chickamagaluru and return:

     On our journey enroute Bangalore, we stopped at Chickamagaluru to kill some time strolling around; and then have dinner. Well, every lane of the town had a golgappa stall; and by the time we crossed the 5th or 6th lane, most of us got tempted to intrude into one such stall [WOWies by default are bhukkads u see ;)]. After strolling for some more time into the unknown streets, we entered a restaurant for dinner (again the girls had a great time laughing-for-no-reason during the wait time!!). Post-dinner, we walked towards our TT, had a feedback session, settled inside the TT and then continued our return journey to Bangalore – with wonderful memories in mind, and mixed feelings inside our hearts…:):)

Veg foodies...

Non-veg foodiess...


     Monday morning: Back to Bangalore and she winds up her trip with loads of memories..

     She just had an unbelievable weekend! It was more of some sort of 'dream-come-true' - it felt unbelievable to think that she'd just did all those things over the weekend that just went by - explored a place she had never been before, met new people she had never seen before! Again, with mixed emotions, she hugged and bid adieu to her fellow travellers and made a promise of meeting them some other time in some other travel..

With this, she prepared to coil back to the routine and the same old e-mails [perhaps, waiting for another such e-mail that would change her life for a weekend atleast ;)]

Well! Every girl is a story in herself….:) Some of her chapters just have a 'WOW' flavor to it ...:) \m/

BTC-WOW touches the highest peak of Karnataka - at Mullayanagiri peak!

--> Sreemoyee (for having waited an entire day; for my confirmation on this trip – would have definitely missed something big, if you hadn’t waited –  Thank You! :) ). 
--> Channa and Chaits – for all the offline support in planning and organizing this trip. Wouldn’t have been a success without your timely advises and supportJ.
-->  Captain Ajju – well, I’ve got nothing to explain here. This trip was dedicated to you!

Photo credits: Juby


Thursday, November 6, 2014

From Hills to Caves! The Adventure with a surprise and a Bonus!

Twin Adventure: Siddarabetta Cave exploration and Channarayana Durga climb

Siddarabetta – a dream destination!

     Well..more than a 'trekker', I had always connected more to the tag of a ‘Wanderer’ ;) for simple reasons – very few dream destinations, a handful of target peaks – rest, just go wherever Life takes you to and – get Surprised!

Siddarabetta though, was one of my dream destinations mainly for two reasons: 1. Heard a lot about the history and ambience of the place. 2. Cave exploration.

     Got a chance to co-organize this trek with Master Oogway aka Abhishek :P Despite the facts we had with us (heard from many sources that cave exploration was stopped sometime back here), we still decided to go ahead with the plan; and see if we came up with something new ;) :P. And so opened the event, shortlisted candidates, packed our bags on the D-day and started our journey in the TT…in heavy rains on Sunday morning….

The Introduction round with no names:

     Yes. We really did this ;) The regular tu-tu-main-main between Abhiyum naanum started from the beginning of the journey itself :P He wanted to play Dumb Charades, but I wanted to have an Intro round first! Well, we then decided not to disappoint each other and came up with an ‘Introduction via Dumb Charades’ game ;). So the deal was – each participant had to enact the name of another participant in the group [surprisingly, none had noticed anybody else’s name out of the shortlist e-mail ;)]. With all the right spirits, the game – with this twist – turned so exciting, that nobody introduced themselves during the  idli-vada break (in the middle of the game), and eagerly waited for the game to be resumed post tiffin :P Try it – and you will find out how much power your Nomenclature has ;) (right from mythological characters, to planets, to chemicals, movies, and some totally weird names you wouldn’t have imagined you can link with!). 

     Nilavalagaan – took away the icing, thanks to the game, everyone remembered his name too well throughout the day :P

Dumb Charades 

Dumb Charades :P

Audience trying to guess who :P

     So after this totally out-of-the-box Introduction round, we moved to the regular Dumb Charades. A proper mix of people from all parts of India ensured that movie names were brutally murdered and then enacted! [I never saw the name ‘Zubeida’ from the ‘Shuu…su..zooo.??  Ta …da??’ angle before, thanks to Tamil’s form of script, the movie-name turned out to be a hilarious word] The ice-breaking session was successfully accomplished in the TT, and we reached the base of Siddarabetta.

Cave exploration:

     At the parking lot, Abhi & I came across this elderly person who, must say,was a blessing-in-disguise. He not only gave us directions to the start of the trek, but also confirmed that cave-exploration was allowed; and advised us on the rates to be negotiated with the guide. With this bunch of useful information, we reached the peak, hired a Guide and started out for exploring the 1km long cave J

     Everyone was super excited with this bit [me too – this being my second cave exploration in the last 15 days :P], and with all sorts of jokes, we headed inside the cave in a queue. Someone from our queue gave a hilarious start by commenting ‘pls don’t faarrr***, we are bending behind u’; well, and then keeping with the ambience of the place, we immediately hushed to silence; and entered the beautiful gallery of rocks!


1/4th of the cave is just a walk inside the gallery. Right at the entrance you will find an Eeshwara temple, and a priest pouring cold water on people [you need a token to take this holy bath]. Few guys took a complete bath with those 3 mugs of cold water, well, I chose to get it poured only on my head:P. We reached a point where another Shivalinga stood [apparently it is naturally formed ‘shivalinga’] and a small water outlet nearby [drink this water – and you will really feel its amrith!’]

End of 1/4th of the cave

Start of the Actual work-out :P Cross this challenging slab!

     The actual work-out started after crossing this part of the cave. We faced an inclined slab of rock, that had to be covered tactfully. Thanks to Abhi, Guru, Miten and the guide – who ensured that all of us crossed this slab successfully. The way after crossing this slab was a total criss-cross of narrow lanes [some vertically narrow, some horizontally :P], and we had to do all sorts of twisting, bending, jumping rocks and the monkey-jazz – which was thrilling and fun :D The ambience inside the cave was truly mesmerizing - you could feel real great vibes around! In the mid-way we found a grapevine [the guide told some technical word for this tree in kannada] that’s ages old. Took few pics mid-way and then successfully completed our 1km of Cave exploration – a thrill of the event!

Somewhere in the middle of the cave

somehwere inside - 2 :P

The Bonus trek - Channarayana Durga:

     All thrilled, happy, and hungry after completing the cave-exploration – we starting chalking out plans on ‘what next’. It was just 1.00pm, and we had time till the evening in our hands. So we decided to have our lunch inside the TT, and do another trek – to Channarayana Durga (a half an hour journey from Siddarabetta) [thanks to Abhi’s time calculations!].

Hurrr…hurrr…aage badho:

Channarayana Durga Ascend – though a smaller peak, this is a little challenging due to its steepness. The initial stretch got little tiring for many due to the sun; but eventually the afternoon turned a bit gloomy – and with Abhi’s hurrr..hurrr..and the kicks of motivations that the team gave each other  – everyone managed to reach the top of the Fort :D The last stretch of the peak is truly a beauty. Abhi then took us to a viewpoint on the top of the Fort. To reach this you have to climb the steps built on the wall, with creepers as the hand support – this was thrilling as well!

Channarayana Durga - view from Base
Last stretch of Chanarayana Durga fort

The View point

Channarayana Durga Descend [swap of organizers-participants :P]

     Post a small photo-session and the ‘Awesome’ feeling; we started descending down the peak. We reached half-way through and rested at an ‘open space’ [ Master Oogway’s all-time favourite spot of any hill - an 'open space' :P]. Some of us (including both Abhi & I) were so engrossed in watching the sky here, that we did not realize that most of the participants had already moved ahead of us :D Looking at the progress, both of us sweeped the group for a while; and watched the rest of them leading us and doing it so well :D Well, it really felt proud to see the whole group making such progress through the day – considering there were a good number of first-timers as well! ;) :P
Reached the base – all wearied down, thrilled and happy with the twin adventure – we called it a day and headed towards our TT.

Return journey:

     Took a session of feedback, visited some memories from the morning Dumb-charades-Introduction, gave tips to the first-timers and then a round of cheer to the whole team! Post this, we rested on our seats – not feeling strangers any more - and waited for our respective stops to bid a good-bye to one another with a promise of meeting sometime, at some other trek J

     Well, this trek was an amazing booster – being the 2nd cave exploration within span of 15 days, plus, a twin adventure on a single day :P

Thanks to Abhi (Master Oogway, truly :P) and the whole group for being an awesome sport. Kudos to all the first-timers who took all of our motivation very sportively and completed the whole adventure! Hats off..

A special thanks to Captain Ajju for the training, which helped a lot :)

And finally, signing off, confessing that the term – ‘Bonus trek’ is not my original…plagiarized from Chaitanya [a fellow BTC Organizer..:P]


Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Photographer’s Paradise – Organizers Trip to Badami!

A Photographer’s Paradise – Organizers Trip to Badami!

To begin with, I’d say that some walks are just about…

…coming face-to-face with timeless beauty,
… watching the power of standing strong even in times of destruction,
…treading those roads which men of strength have walked, but are now, just in our hearts

     Well, I had been longing since a while – to have a peaceful walk straight down the Historical Heritages. And AihoLe (pronounce : ayi-Ho-Ley) / Badami was on the top of my List (mainly for Line number 3 mentioned above).  Hadn’t shared this thought with anyone though (rather, left it on time to play it), but when one fine day, in between those tangled thread of mails (on Organizers’ trip-locations), when I read : ‘Location finalized to Badami’ – I was like – woaaaah! Life does throw surprises at you…
Train journey: Gang-of-bhukkads
Golgumbaaz express: (16535) : A troupe of 10 bhukkads: Even before the introduction round (ow..we had 2 ex-organizers – Shruthi n Dinesh; and a new one – Raja - too!), we started the ritual of hogging (this time, with a break of 5-minutes after finishing each snack – that went on for an hour and a half, until it was time for dinner). Chaitanya and Shubhroto tried playing the ‘gentlemen’ initially (by pretending as if they weren’t a part of us, the gluttons); but later gave up. Shubhroto joined openly by confessing  – ‘I was not hungry, but after watching you guys I am also feeling like eating something’. While our silent-killer Chaits went a step ahead by quietly snatching the popcorn pack from my hand; when Hiren & I were busy digging into chips.
The night went by – with the game of UNO (that awakened the strategist out of Subbu, and the Babaji out of Hiren); and then some gossips – and finally we wished each other a Good night and slipped into our dreamworld…

Day 1: Pattadakallu, AihoLe:

     Our Day 1 trip started with settling down at a lodge in Badami (we had planned caves visit for Day 2). After a quick refreshment and breakfast, we started out in the auto that Chaits n Channa had hired for the day. First destination was the Banashankari Temple. This temple’s existence is dated back to 7th Century AD, and is an abode to a form of the ‘Goddess of Forest’. After finishing our ‘darshan’ and a brief photo session near a lake opposite to our temple, we headed out for our next destination, in the same auto. Our Biker guy Subbu seemed so overwhelmed with the temple darshan, that he could not stop asking for his ‘Arati’, ‘Aradhana’, ‘Pooja’ and finally ‘Prarthana’ throughout our travel to the next destination. The next visit was to an Ashrama.

Banashankari Temple

Team at Banashankari temple

Maharatha - at the Ashrama

     The village of Badami, in itself turned out to be a mesmerizing place. When you are travelling from one sight-seeing spot to another, it gives you a feel as if you yourself have entered inside some scenic artwork [reminded me of the regular sceneries we used to paint in school days – with hills, birds flying across the hills, bore wells, women carrying piles of hay (jowar in real), and squirrels and trees around :P].

     Our next visit was at an Ashrama near Banashankari temple. This had a Maharatha – that is built splendidly; and a Samadhi of a Jain priest of those ages. Another round of randomn photography and amazing comments at the Trucks-with-dhinkchak-music-systems; we headed out for Pattadakallu. And Our Real Trip began…

…And our photographers got equipped with their DSLR’s and tripods.

Pattadakallu – This place has a group of quaint temple monuments built during the Chalukyan ages – the main gopuras of which have been strategically destroyed in wars. It also has a number shrines of Shivalingas – each having a nandi facing it – again heads of which have been destroyed. Despite the destructions, the place offered picturesque display of the intricately designed structures, murals and sculptures carved on the columns and walls – that have still stood strong and still stay beautiful. These are basically craft-works on tales picked from Hindu mythology (some of which are known – loads of which are lost down the ages). Pattadakallu is listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

     While the photographers got busy capturing shots; I had a nice time looking around and feeling amazed at the fact that I was face-to-face with something that was existing even centuries ago – timelessness! [Sculptures, Ancient architecture, Mythology and History had always been a fascination!]. We had loads of time to bask into the place, but suddenly our organizer Chaits started getting a bit restless. After spending sufficient time – we packed up to leave Pattadakallu – on instructions by a bit-restless Chaitanya (we later know why :P)



     It was afternoon (close to 1:00pm). Our next spot was AihoLe. In the morning, it was decided that we would be skipping lunch; however our plans was suddenly changed by Chaits – reasons still unknown. We would be going to a dhaba nearby AihoLe for lunch and then visit the Heritage site.  Nevertheless, we agreed and continued our travel full-on fun with ‘Ae-Raja’; Subrata-turned Shubhroto-turned Subbu-turned Subbanna’s quest for his Prarthana (phew!); some leg pulling session to Shruthi and so on and so forth. We took 2 tables and ordered dry and soft jowar rottis (speciality of the place); along with some other dishes. While we were waiting for the food to arrive and casually chit-chatting; the sound of a very familiar bike caught our attention – and Lo! Here arrives Captain Virander proudly in his Harley, along with  Deepthy. 

     We howled and clapped at the surprise entry (and now understood all that restlessness and sudden-plan-changes made by Chaitanya – he was aware of if, and was co-ordinating secretly with him all this while). With the two joining us, there was no derth of the already fun-environment (just that there were more number of PJs now :P). We were still waiting for our food, when again Captain Viru surprised me by handing over the BTC pull over that I had ordered. [Well, this was again a surprise because of the confusion that I had created, over my pullover’s delivery; in the group chat the previous evening. Chaits had forgotten to get it, and poor Viru had to bear the consequences : of dramatically riding all the way  some 500 kms on his Harley and delivering it :P]

     Post lunch – we headed out for AihoLe. And it started pouring heavily. After an hour’s wait inside a lone temple right opposite to our destination spot; we entered the temple complex when the downpour reduced a bit. This place, again, had a group of temples built in Chalukyan era; with Inscriptions and sculptures of the Mythological tales. Inside the same complex, we made a visit to the museum that have preserved some of the sculptures of gods and goddesses; and provides information on the excavated site.

AihoLe excavated site

The sculpted columns - AihoLe.

     It started to rain again. The heavy downpour did not show any signs of stopping or slowing down since then; hence we cancelled our further visit plans (that was a bit of disappointment to our photographers) – and decided to get back to our lodge at Badami – now some 30 kms away.  The journey on the way turned out to be out-and-out hilarious: the take-of-the-hour being ‘the cover’ comment that Ritu had made on me! [Hiren and Raja couldnot control falling and laughing about it!]

     After returning to our lodge, we refreshed ourselves; had dinner; and then gathered to play our savior game of UNO. And with the game – all the true colors of the group appeared :P. Chaitanya’s conspiracy to corner me in the game (I had to ensure I did not sit beside him in future rounds :P); our Advocate Shruthi madam’s Liar’ing; Channa and Shubhroto – the strategists (read cheaters); and Hiren’s Babaji avatar with his rut ‘Bhagwan sabka hota hai’  - all this ensured the fun was on till the end. After pathetically losing all the rounds of the game, I finally won one last round – and then we all decided to crash down our respective beds; and get prepared for the next day’s trip.

Day 2: Badami Caves:

     Day 2 was quite a dry and sunny day. It again, began our day with breakfast’n’chai – and then a walk up to the Badami Fort. Our BTC cameramen and women were all in action again with full enthu. Hard core climber Hiren now was little happy that he got to ‘Climb’ at least somewhere :P The Badami hill is an absolutely stunning region to tread into! What makes the place more beautiful is the red soiled region that makes the entire region naturally colored and attractive. 

     I immediately immersed myself into the ambience of the place – my thoughts revolved around a lot of things, as I made my way peacefully through the alleys and steps: people, human efforts, Nature’s way of showing us examples of strength etc etc. With not much public around, we had a great time admiring the grandeur work; and also cracking stupid jokes; clicking loads of pictures and having fun. Ritz and I started our punar-janmon ki katha related to the place, when Shruthi and Viru suddenly realized that they too had been with us in that previous birth ( some of us BTCians are previous-birth-se-mile-hue jaani dushman hain :P)! The view from the top was vividly attractive; as we could see the entire Bhootnath Cave temple (our next destination) from the top. Our photographers continued hopping and clicking pics (when some of us non-photographers happily posed for them along with the sculptures :P)

Badami - entrance

Walking into the alley  between the fort rocks

Some of  the BTC Marvels - standing on top of Badami Marvels ;)

Bhootnath Cave Temples:

     Located right opposite to the fort, the Bhootnath Cave temple is a perfect epitome of Beauty. Some of our guys – Channa, Hiren and Viru chose to take a dive in the lake, before heading out towards the caves. This is a group of 4 caves, each having a sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa, a verandah and pillars. The cave temples also bear exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals – a perfect treat for the lenses of both -  photographers’ and story-seekers like me J

Inside Badami cave temple




     The walk specifically to this cave temple felt peaceful and soothing – I could not believe I was actually right here – to one of my dream destinations (that was still - just with me!) To add to the feeling was the magnificent surrounding that we couldn’t stop appreciating. Our photographers went zoom with their Visual talents, capturing all that they could out of the place. We spent a couple of hours soaking into these marvels; and it was time for us to push off for lunch.

  Walked down a hotel for lunch, again had a blast of fun-round with the group – sharing previous trek stories, cracking some doubly-meaningful jokes,  and digging into each others’ plates. Back there in our room at the lodge, we did our final packing (some of the folks rested in the time that was left, and the rest again tuned into the game of UNO). Had a small meeting where we discussed stuff, and then headed out for our return journey, calling it a peaceful-weekend-Getaway. So, if you are someone who loves to bask into timeless pieces of beauty, or a passionate Photographer - AihoLe / Badami / Pattadakallu ought to be in your 'must-visit' list - and your quest for that peace and creative urges will certainly be fulfilled ;) :P

     Well, the entire trip was fully-loaded with surprises, yet again fun with people; while accomplishing my personal quest. In the end it was just a : 'some-things-just-happen-perfectly-for-you'...Finding all that we were seeking out of the trip, and loads of memories; we bid each other adieu and continued with our tasks on Monday morning...

Some of the after-effects of the trip:
1. Shubhroto is still addicted to the ‘sounds like’ rule of Dumb charades (this was during return journey)
2.  Hiren & Raja still imagine things when they think of the ‘cover’ story and burst out..
3. Photographers: Channa, Ritz, Chaitanya still admire their photographic skills; and are making        plans for the next appetite for their creative juices..
4.   Dinesh is still waiting with his ‘Application-pending’ status :P [would not like to mention anything further for ‘peace’ sake :P]

       Ahh..yes…and adding to my souvenir collection (be it from our History-making 2-day WOW trip; or the unexpected events at this Badami trip) -  my BTC pullover’s gonna bear the special stamp of this : ‘Delivered via harleydavidson courier services: C & V’… ;)

A traveller...

Theme song of the trip: With no doubt, a beautiful number by my icon Dr. Rajkumar - 'huttidare...' that talks of these marvels of Karnataka :)

Photo credits: Channa, Chaitanya, Ritu