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’..in 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….

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     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

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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...

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     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!




Credits: 
--> 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


Cheers!
Swatz...

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!


 
Cave-entrance



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]

Cheers!
Swatz


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)



Pattadakallu-1

Pattadakallu




     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 – hummm..so 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 (yeah..so 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’… ;)


Cheers!
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

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

WOW Trek to Rayakkottai - Take 2!

WOW Trek to Rayakkottai - Take 2!
                                             - from the Organizers words...:)

Life was on a ‘Wake up Swa, saare pal kahe. Wake up Swa, chal kaheen chale..’ mode. There was an urge to do something different, something New, something ‘out-of-the-box’! And suddenly a friend (and a fellow trekker Shilpa) buzzes and talks about a trek  – WOW trek to Rayakottai. With ‘should-I’ , ‘shouldn’t I’; some drama with Shilpa on whether I really should go for it; I finally enroll for the trek, and get shortlisted too! And then unreserved train..and meet our organizer Ajita for the first time..and all new people..and then climb and help each other…and then this and that…and then…well...blah blah blah..etc etc etc…

Waitta minnute!

That was the story of a year back – 13th July, 2013! My first trek as a participant..my first trek ever, for that matter!

Well..they talk about ‘the Circle of Life’, ‘what goes around, comes around’..and so, the circle that began a year ago, completed on the same weekend this year, as follows [with a different role, this time!]  –

****

Life was now on ‘mera falsafa, kandhe pe mera basta! Chala main jahaan, le chala mujhe rasta..’ mode! [Co-incidentally..Ranbir Kapoor again!].  And once again – with a bit of ‘should-I’, ‘shouldn’t I’– I finally opened my own event – WOW Trek to Rayakkottai – as an organizer this time.


12th July, 2014: WOW Trek to Rayakkottai:


Rayakkottai peak


Were waiting for a couple of participants at Platform 1 of the City Railway station, when DJ bumped in to give us a surprise visit [they were on a BTC Shivagange trip]. With the participants of mom-kid pair, childhood-buddies pair, and a bundle of creative people (who happily used their organizer as a scapegoat for their camera-testing) - the event was gonna be interesting. No last-minute drop-outs, and a kick of motivation with this!

Boarded the train and started the fun with our ‘khaane-ka-drama’. Train was an hour late, which meant we had more time to while inside, and have more fun and munch on more stuff :P . Sushmita turned out to be a great bakra for our pranks & dialog-baazi; and in turn, we (read Yamini, Shaily, Yogi and I) turned into her default models for photoshoot.

Reached Rayakkottai station at around 10.30 am. Weather was little gloomy and windy. Language wasn’t a problem, as some of us knew Tamil [the localites were, in fact, more pleased and co-operative with us because of our language skill:P]. After breakfast and a round of introduction, we got our lunch-packs and began our trek. Divided the group of 13 into 3 sub-groups and started climbing. Well..dint notice this in the past (was more of a follow-the-leader back then); but Rayakkottai is an easy trail with markings on small rocks throughout the path.

The climb – a ‘heavily-windy-trek!’:

The climb was just fun, with nothing else to bother us (but for our photographers who kept experimenting with their new camera, and us). As we climbed further, the weather got even more windy. So after various themes of trekking over the past one year (day-trek, night-trek, rain-trek, 2-day-trek etc..), we had a different experience of a ‘heavily-windy-trek’..at times giving us a dash and push too! With comments ranging from ‘bachchi-sabko-sambhaalo’ [ah..yes..we had a 11-year old rock-climber Vaishnavi among us;)] to ‘organizer-ko-paperweight-dedo-warna-uD-jaayegi’- there was no derth of pulling each others’ legs throughout.



Rayakkottai – despite being an easy level of trek, is an amazing place mainly because of the green view it offers [while many single-day trek destinations will give u civilization-view from the top, this peak will show u a breathtaking view of other hills and green all around apart from mere civilization - as Krishnagiri district is a hilly region in itself]. We climbed further and took a deviation mid-way, to check out a cave-temple where we took a short break.

After a short photo-session, we trekked further in between the broken Fort walls and gates, to meet our destination peak. The last tiny stretch to the peak was a little adventurous [a bush of Cactii that had grown due to rains, had made this stretch little risky..however, with each others’ help we ensured that all was safe, unhurt and successfully made it to the peak]

Peak & E(pic):

The peak, as always, was a stunning experience. The girls again got engrossed in their creative photo session for a while; until I had to repeatedly call them out for lunch (gosh – and realized we have had troubled our organizers much more than this, being on the other side :P). With heavy winds blowing, we had a little tough time in finding an appropriate place to have lunch. Finally we settled down, finished our lunch and started to explore around the peak.

While we were thinking of different and creative poses for pics [my ‘kuch-alag-karo-kuch-alag-karo’ manthra was constantly on], Sumithra (a participant) came up with an idea of forming WOW (woohooo..feels proud to have creative minds amongst you!). And that was it! With a number of different WOW formations, and hilarious trial-errors – we finally came up with this E(pic):D

WOW Formation!

Post the celebrations of this success, the team explored another rock that is located above the peak. Satisfied and all-happy with the view, they returned to the peak for a short chilling session - that turned out to be hilarious again, when our li’l Master Vaishnavi surprised us with handful of chocolates from all of her trouser pockets, and distributed to us [reminded me of my childhood days – difference being – back then – ‘distribution’ concept was non-existant:P]

Bag-pack and return:

2.30 pm. The return train was scheduled at 4.00pm, which meant it was time for descend. To add an adventure-feel to the entire event, half of the team took a muddy road on the way; and realized that was not the trail connecting to our original route. Taking our route back finally gave the girls a ‘trek-feel’, and after reconnecting to our original route, we descended down further to reach the base.

Thus successfully accomplishing the event, we walked towards the station – where we had a feedback session, some closing formalities; and then completion of the remaining snacks [train was an hour late again!].

Train arrived. Team dispersed and gathered again at the City Railway station. With thank-yous and promises of meeting in some other trek, some other time; we called it a treknic and dispersed – to continue the journey of our respective lives…


Once again, a beautiful team-work shown by each participant. Special mention to Yogita & Ashwini for being there. And a big thanks to Captain Ajju and BTC team for their support! The journey from being a non-trekker to turning into a trekker; and then to a Trek -organizer over the span of exactly a year, has had been incredible!

From all that I have seen and experienced about treks over this year - all I would say is : Trekking ain't a passion, it's a Spirit!

Cheers!
Swatz

Thursday, July 3, 2014

BTC Organizers Trek - to Tadiandamol [Coorg] - June 21st & 22nd

Will it rain? Wont it rain? What to pack? what not to pack? which seat to catch in the TT? - lotsa thoughts! Finally, gave up on each thought - sought people's help and prepared myself for my first ever Organizers Trek.

June 20th , evening:

     With a very responsibly packed baggage (ok, so again only some of my friends can comprehend why I the word ‘responsibly’ here :P!), I headed out for Shantala Silk house in my Shikari Shamboo avatar; and met the rest of the BTC organizers who had already gathered at the destination. Must say, it was a confluence of different personalities – again; people from different cultural backgrounds, different mind-sets, different thoughts and views on adventure.

     While we waited for few others to join us, Channa inaugurated the Fun by opening the churmuri packet he had got from his native. We – the bhukkads (I mean the whole troupe, none specific) dug our hands at the poor plastic cover to get maximum share of the churmuri :D. This followed the distribution of ‘lauki-ka-halva’ (took some time to explain gujju bhai Hiren that its duddhi-no-halvo :P) brought by Viru.

     Cracked jokes. Saw Channa, Deepthy, Sangu and Viru’s bag-packing techniques.  Chit-chatted for a while. Had some more of snacks-eating sessions (lonavala Chikki from Sush), and started in our TT that arrived an hour late!

     Journey was more peaceful one (considering that most of us were from IT sector, and had arrived after a week full of facing computers).  Passed our time talking about various things : drink-n-drive cases, signal jump fines, elephant-chasing experiences n blah blah blah. Stopped over for dinner at 11pm (after a hiatus on finding an appropriate place to hog :D). Continued our journey to reach the destination.

June 21st :Morning:

     Enter Coorg. And our organizer Abhi’s prayers were answered! The place welcomed us with rain showers. Got the TT stopped outside the Virajpet bus stand, for refreshing ourselves. After brushing our teeth (..and i sound utterly insane here!) (on strict instructions by Abhi – else some of us junglees did not really care – it was gonna be a jungle exploration, after all :P!), we headed out for breaksfast. Got our lunch parcelled, and started for our first destination  – Chelavara Water falls. The ambience here already had started to captivate us, as we walked our way to reach the Falls. The falls was even more mesmerizing! Some of us stepped onto the chill waters (thanks to Deepthy n Sush for handholding me); and later gave some work to our photographers – Anthony, Ritz and Channa :P


Chelavara Falls

Chelavara Falls - 2

BTC organizing team



     Took our time to take in all that the place gave us. Finally, we all had woken up completely (after a refreshing experience at Chelavara); and then headed out for another view point – Choma Kunda. Thanks to Sangu’s hilarious music dedication session (Ritz and Sush were the DJs) – our journey from Chelavara to Choma Kunda was much more lively and active :P

Choma kunda viewpoint – a walk into the Clouds!

     Got down from the TT, and again – the rains! The way to the base of this viewpoint was equally beautiful. Throughout this passage, Viru kept his notoriety on, by hopping and splashing water on every possible targets (some of us – Abhi, Hiren, Ritz, Sush n I - literally ran away to escape the brunt – while the rest were attacked :D!)

     Post the fun-walk, we reached the base of the viewpoint and started to trek. The climb to the peak was a bliss – with just the green on our path; and the fog-white and chill winds blowing around. Abhi’s dhyaan-mantra seemed to have really impressed the rain gods, and the showers went on and off all along! From the peak we witnessed the clouds gliding above from the valley below (yes! You read it right! They glided above from below indeed!) – and this was really a heavenly experience! At some points, the clouds cleared out giving us spectacular sights of the dense forest at the valley down below. We howled, clicked pictures and moved to another part of the peak where we enjoyed heavy rains.  By this time – I was totally lost into some peaceful world – with a stream of memories with childhood-buddies enjoying out in the rains, gushing in from no-where and catching hold of my brain! Of course, this lasted for a short period of time, and then we all started out to touch the base.


Walk all the way to choma kunda peak
     
A click from the Choma-kunda viewpoint

     Took a different route for the descend. Had a brief but interesting conversation with Hiren on life as a Gujju, and life as a Bangalorean! The conversation was abrupted by Viru’s intentional attempts of distracting us with ‘yeh duniya kaisi hai’ rut; and the photo sessions mid-way until we reached the base :D Sangu-Channa pair were all time the ‘solo-picture-perfectoss’ :P

     Had no clue about what time it was [we had barely seen the sun since the time we were up, and were too engrossed in the fun and nature], but our tummies signaled that it was time for us to take a lunch break. 
   
     Drove for some more time with another round of music dedication, and cracking more jokes, until we reached a school outside the Nalknad Palace. By now it had turned into a ritual that whenever our organizer – Abhi - stepped out of the TT, it inevitably started to rain heavily! :D We halted outside the school, where we decided to have our lunch. Even post the lunch, we had to wait for the rains to stop – but since Abhi refused to get back inside the TT (oops..i mean since the rains refused to stop :P), we had to postpone our plans of trekking to the forest peak. We explored the palace (that felt more like kannada movie Aptamitra’s haunted house), had a photo session again and wandered around wondering what next to do (rains hadn’t stopped still!)

     Felt like it was dusk (again with no idea of what time it was) and Viru, Channa, Sangu and Abhi chalked out plans on halt for the night. With a bit of investigations, we zeroed in on a place and boarded our TT. We halted on the way near a shop and then came an announcement – ‘We will have an Introduction round’ :D Piyush instant comment – ‘subah se sabko dekh toh liya, ab kya introduction lena hai’ got us chuckling, nevertheless, we had to finish the formality :P. After the formal stuff, we headed out to a house for the night-stay.

     Sushma’s Takeshi-castle act was a super funny one :D (poor thing had confidently got out of the bus without rain cover, but the moment Abhi stepped out, again rains started showering, and I had to quickly wrap her inside the rain cover that I thankfully had handy – well.. letting only her head sneak out of the cover :D. Wonder how did she manage to walk all the way from the TT to the house with even her hands wrapped inside the cover – or did she manage to pop out her hands on the way?? :D). Thanks to Subrata who threw the light on our way (while we were struggling to get our torches in those heavy rains, reluctant to open our bagpacks!)

in-house camping (uncaptured in photos) :P

     Ok! So we are different! And so what if the rains tried to spoil the sport..we dint blame it and still made our way to camping – inside the house :P the owners were kind enough to let us set up a camp fire (mainly to cook our dinner).  We 4 girls urged our organizer to set up a tent inside our room – one of the craziest decisions made (just wanted to have a tent-feeling, as we had missed it), and our organizer set it up with no complains :D

     Had a nice sharing-n-caring dinner, cracked jokes, countered Viru’s ‘ye duniya..ye duniya..’ saga, watched Abhi’s fun chase and shooing away the owner’s cat out of the tent; and then called it an adventurous day…

    Everyone retired, we girls retired into the tent – the suffocation that Deepthy and I felt inside the tent, led to a series of comedies (ok..not blaming the other 2 :D), and we both decided to sleep out of the tent (wanting some fresh air) letting Ritz n Sush have a peaceful tent-sleep :P. it felt more like Dip and I were guards to the queens resting happily inside their palanquin :D![yeah..guards..because the next day morning we realized we and our sleeping bags had got all wet due to water dripping down from the roof :D, the tent-ers were spared of this...hmmm...;)

Day 1 – the end…

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Day 2:
     Rains hadn’t stopped still! It had been a continuous pour since the previous evening. Again after some brainstorming, the organizers tweaked the day’s plans that felt safer - considering the weather conditions. After thanking the house owners (who were really sweet and all smiles at us), we packed and set out for our first destination of Day 2 – Talakaveri.

     Day 2 was a more active one in the TT – when even Subrata and Piyush (who were more of silent spectators the previous day) joined in the fun by discussing stuff about biking [and later paired up with Viru - to pull Ritz, Dip’s and Sushma’s legs by calling them ‘Indicator’ :D]. well…i was busy pulling Hiren and Abhi’s legs [Anthony, Sangu and Channa had nice entertainment, I guess :D]

Talakaveri – a nice rainy walk till the entrance reminded me of Diddy’s song – Home Coming. Anthony was at his comedy best. :D As soon as we entered the place – Dip, Hiren & I turned into kids and started splashing water on each other (yeah…insanity inside the temple). The weather was all gloomy and on-off rains.


The series of 'mannat-buildings' :P

BTC folks with their 'wishes stones'

loved this pic!  return from Talakaveri..walk towards TT


     Peak was an amazing place. Its believed that this is a place for asking ‘mannats (wishes)’. You have to lay pieces of stones one over the other and ask for something, and it shall be granted. Sush, Ritz and I – sparing no chances – busied ourselves by constructing stories of stone buildings with wishes :D (not only for us, but for others too :P). In the end, we realized that my ‘mannat-building’ had disappeared. Concluding that someone up there had really picked it up, we returned to join the rest of the folks (who were busy taking pictures)

BTC (mock) Family and Abbey Falls:

     The journey from Talakaveri to Abbey falls was hilarious. With all intentions of ragging Abhi to the core; we created a nice BTC (mock) family – with Abhi, Sush, myself, Hiren, Deepthy and Viru as characters [keep guessing who’s who – I mean ‘wild-guessing’ :P]. Anthony – the all-silent chap in the team opened up with little dance jig :P


Abbey falls somewhat reminded me of Iruppu in terms of its aura. Again, the casper in me played up its prank! Had a gut feeling since the beginning of the trek that I was gonna bump into a known face somewhere in the journey, and lo! Bumped into a friend’s friend! The Falls in itself was a beautiful sight (the rains adding to the experience). Channa diligently managed to ask for umbrellas (to capture the moments even in those rains) :D

Abbi - The Falls


Click with Abbhi - The organizer :P


Mandalpatti :

     The return from Abbey falls again indicated it was time to fuel ourselves again.  After lunch, we journeyed again with some travel music on inside the TT. Realized that we actually had good singers in Hiren and Sangu :P ([and thanks guys for letting me listen to ‘hosanna’ – never spared any gang / group from the song :P] Reached the start point to Mandalpatti.  The bikers viz Piyush, Subrata n Viru chose to stay at the base for some reasons; while we set out to explore. After an arduous 4km walk, we took onto a jeep ride on awesome roads to meet the viewpoint.   

Climb to the Mandalpatti Viewpoint

Blissed out - on the top of the tower

The spooky (Ritz term), mystifyin (my term) spot! reminded me of Kung fu panda set up and Master Oogway!

Viewpoint – was equally scintillating as the previous one (except that nothing was seen but for the white clouds :P – it was the weather that did the magic!). We chose to experience this chillness and the cold rains on the top of the tower; and again clicked nice snaps. Hiren did a brilliant ‘Sholay-wala-Veeru’ act from the tower (when the rest had got down); until we had to accept Dips as his Basanti :P [ok..i spill some beans about the BTC mock family here :P]. The jeep ride back to the base was again hilarious – the heads of BTC mock family (Abhiyum naanum :P) had got silent; when the rest (Dip, Sush, Sangu and Ritz) continued commenting. Sushma’s comment ‘bechaara beta baap ko nahi pehchaan paa raha’ – was the ultimate one :D

Coorg monstery [The ‘WOW’ memory]:

     Again, it felt like dusk after we had returned from Mandalpatti. With no other places in mind, and lot of time left to return, we went to the Coorg Monastery. Ritz and I instantly went down the memory lane reminiscing the first ever BTC WOW 2-day event :D [just that this was evening time we were inside the monastery]. Missed Captain Ajju big time here! However, had a great time with the troupe. Did some nautanki, again clicked pics [Anthony, Channa and Rits – got too technically deep into photography – and the rest of us happily posed:P].

End of Journey…

     Thankfully the rains had stopped on day 2 evening [finally saw some stars on the sky]. We set out for our return journey, post a fulfilling dinner. Reached Bangalore the next day morning, had a feedback session, and then bid each other adieu and returned to our abodes….The 2 days had been awesome, yet another feather in the BTC cap!

Credits:

     Well..with BTC – the word ‘thanks’ is losing its lustre (need to find a similar term with bigger magnitude!)! But anyways, a big thanks to Abhi for organizing this trek. There was a lot of learning from this trip. Kudos for planning it!

     Hats off to core BTC folks for establishing such a diverse team of weirdos :D Looking forward for learning and contributing in the weirdness :P

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Note by ‘the-blogger-at-heart’:

     Well..i would have loved to name this post as a sequel to my previous posts ‘How-do-we-meet-them : Part 3’ [the first 2 parts written way back in 2010]. It had always been a wonder on how we bump into people and places (we have had really no clue of); and picks up experiences and lessons outta them! The entire event reminded me vividly of childhood days and BBSR folks [KE4 was always in my mind].

     Sealing the post with a quote – “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move” [Robert Louis Stevenson]

Exploring more – thoughts, people, experiences…

For now, signing off..

Truly,
A Wanderer – in resonance with ‘Life’!

The blogger’s theme song for the event: ‘Dekha hai aise bhi’ from Lucky Ali.


 P.C: Ritz and Channa