KumaraParvatha – II

Frequency of trekking has reduced a lot. More or less equal to the number of blog posts i manage to write in a year. So when an opportunity came up, could not resist it, even though it was mid April. Also, it was led by Captain Muthukumar, which meant most of logistics are already taken care and the only action that might be required is
walking during the trek. So trip was on, the place decided was Kokkebetta in Coorg. People joined, left, started for the trip and had to pull out at the last minute, eventually we were left with a gang of 4. Good crowd considering that it is getting difficult to get a good trekking crowd. Looks like Kokkebetta takes only 45 minutes to reach the peak, not worthy to be called a trek so on the last hour the place was changed to Kumaraparvatha. Kumaraparvatha is supposed to be tough, had experienced it once, doing it in a single day on summer looked like a self imposed punishment. The only reprieve was, we will be climbing via somwarpet route and climbing down to Kukke, and this route is supposed to be little easier.10261973_642393812481789_7551459377866756883_n

Got down at Kushal Nagar at 4.30AM and waited for the bus to Somwarpet. The first bus to somwarpet is operated by Swamy travels and starts at 6.00 AM sharp. From Somwarpet, you need to catch one more bus (Pushpagiri Travels) to Beedhalli. The trek started at 9.00AM. From Beedhalli, it is 4KM to forest guest house. First half of 4KM is tar road till a temple, and the next half one has to follow the jeep track to the forest guest house. The real trek starts from here. We reached the guest house at 9.45AM. After completing the registration at the forest guest house it is 7KM to the pushpagiri peak. Good part was the first 3-4KM is through dense forest, which protects you from sunlight and makes the trek a lot easier. Since it has rained on the day before, it was relatively cool and enjoyable. The only problem we faced under these conditions were the leeches.. We walked fast, and managed to escape without any bites. After the forest, there is a moderately steep climb, to reach the peak. We managed to reach the peak around 12.30PM and rested for a while, helping ourselves to the snacks and juices we carried.

Anyway could not spend much time on the peak, as the strenuous second half waited and also had to consider the time factor. The rains on the previous day, had made the weather a little pleasant and there was some mist at the peak, which did make it a little awesome. Started the climb down at around 1.15PM. Considering that the last part of the trek is in the forest again, wanted to complete it before 6.00PM or before we lose the sunlight. So walked fast with little breaks. Halted for around 15 minutes at Bhattar Mane, for the butter milk and continued the race against the sun. The sight of snake crossing the path and elephant dung on the path inside the forest, made us forget the breaks. Finally the trek ended at just after 6PM but was too tired to celebrate the fact that i had completed 25KM with less breaks in a trek on a single day. The journey back home was in the last seat of Karnataka Sarige bus, the only option that was available to us. The last seat factor went unnoticed as the tiredness took over and i slept like a log through out the journey.

Auroville Marathon

It all started with our friend Vanniaperumal asking us to join him for a trip to Pondicherry. He had plans of participating in the Auroville marathon. He has taken up running as hobby for some reason and is spending good amount of time discovering the streets in his village. It was long since we went for a trip together. With the trekking gang disintegrated escaping out of bangalore on some trip was becoming a rare phenomenon. So decided to join him for the trip and for some reason registered for the the marathon as well. We had not given too much of thought on whether it was possible to complete, what sort of training it required etc.

The training started a month before the marathon with a 10K run in lalbagh. 10KM on the first day was not a good idea, we realized it the hard way completing it mostly by walking and taking 1 hour 40 minutes. That day it dawned upon us that 21KM is going to be a daunting task and requires a lot of practice. Tried running in the morning for sometime but sleep is more precious than these stuffs. So hit the gym @ office in the evening for the first time in life. I had decided never to visit a gym but to remain healthy by doing routine activities. But i had no other option this time and started running 3 to 4 KM daily.

Running was fun. Running 21KM was self imposed punishment. Realized that when we decided to try 21KM before the marathon day and tried the same in lalbagh. It took 3 hours 20 minutes, with some running and lot of walking. End result was a lot of pain and walking style like a duck after that. But we knew it was achievable. Few more days at the gym and a week of rest, we were ready for the marathon on Feb 9. Atleast we thought we were.

Went to Pondicherry on Feb 8. Visited Auroville and collected the BIB. Liked the atmosphere in Auroville and how organized they were. After some roaming around Pondicherry and enjoying the TN cuisines in their original taste, visited auroville in the night again as Vanni had registered the pasta dinner. That dinner helps in running better next day it seems 🙂 Mani and myself assumed idly and dosa does the same and had that for dinner. Came back to room and rested. Should say, i did relish the food in pondicherry.

Auroville was bustling with activity when we reached at 5.30AM.  This time there were more than 2000 participants for the half marathon alone so it was crowded. I was supposed to start in the first wave of 600 @ 6:15AM, while vanni and mani were in the wave that started at 6.25AM. The marathon started sharply at 6:15AM and i started running without much plan, with the only intention of finishing it without injuries. Soon i was running a decent pace, overtaking the slow runners and in sight of the leaders. Thanks to the gym, was able to maintain the pace for sometime but soon settled to the speed i am comfortable with, around 8-8.5KMPH. Was excited every time i crossed every KM mark, but as time progressed 1KM looked a little elongated. Could not stop thinking the organizers are playing some cruel trick and increased the distance. Anyway, at the end of an hour, i had completed 8KM. Was able to maintain the pace and completed 10KM in 1 hour 15 minutes.

10KM was a sign of achievement, soon a signal from the cerebrum asked me to slow down. I could see a lot of people from second, third and fourth wave overtaking and disappearing. Since it was expected didn’t care much. But when girls overtook, there was a tight slap on the ego, but body and mind were in unison and made sure there was no increase in the speed. But no sign of Vanni and Mani. At the second hour i completed around 15KM and around here, Vanni crossed me, uttered few words hastily and ran ahead. Mani was nowhere in sight.

After 15KM, succumbed to the pressure of mind and started walking. Tried doing it at a reasonable pace, but dont think i achieved it. It was also turning hot, which was acting as a deterrent. Continued walking till 20KM in the next 50 or so minutes. After 20KM, not sure what motivated me, is that the crowd near the finishing line or the gal who was irritating me by overtaking me and then walking in front and doing the same once i crossed her, i suddenly got some energy to run again. When it was around 300 meters from the finishing line, found that there is a chance to complete the marathon within 3 hours. Was pumped up in seconds and started sprinting. It felt like sprinting, probably was running at a decent pace. Not sure where the energy had vanished after 15KM, and how it returned. Atlast the finish line was in sight, body ached, gasped a little for breath but completed the marathon at last in around 2 hours 59 minutes. Target achieved.

I am still not sure, how running 21KM is fun 🙂 But wont deny getting a medal and posing for a photo, though it is your own camera did give a momentary happiness. A sense of achievement and completion that is missing in this adult life. I was not comparing myself with others, nor did i find think about how will it help  in future, what i had was a childish joy of accomplishing something though it could be worthless. In that way, it was fun indeed.  Now i am running few KMs in gym daily. Looks like there is one marathon on the way, lets see if i run in that as well.

Mullayanagiri – Bababudangiri Trek 2013

This blog is turning out to be a travelogue. Will have to change it. With New Year close on the heels, think will add it to the empty list of New Year resolutions, though what happens to

Anyway this trip was the third attempt to complete full length of the jinxed Mullayanagiri – Kemmangundi trek. Having balked at previous attempts, Attempt #1 and Attempt #2 due to various reasons, was excited about this trek. Dec 14 was fixed as the date for the quest. The plan died in few days when people in trekking gang were unable to join due to different reason and got a life when Rakesh Balakrishnan kindled the thought, why not just the two of us with just two days to go for the weekend. It was a great idea,  but just two of us trekking in reserved forest and camping nowhere near civilization did send shivers down the spine. Though we were excited and enthusiastic, the real test would be when we start walking. The plan looked exciting, achievable and foolish as well. The hopes died, when BMC from where we usually rent our tents said tents were not available during that weekend. But we did managed to arrange from Mars Adventures. We purchased sleeping bags from Decathlon, since it looked a better option than renting them for every trip. Bus tickets to chickmagalur were never a problem, and soon we saw ourselves packing.

Day 1  – Saturday  – Dec 14, 2013

Reached chickmagalur at around 5.00AM, checked into a hotel and got ready for the trip at 8.00AM. Made sure to open the tent and pack it in our bags. Carrying tent in hand is laborious and makes the ascent difficult. There is a single bus service from chickmagalur to Sarpadhari, the trek starting point. Bus name is S.M.S but they start at their own sweet time when they feel it is crowded enough. So if you want to start the trek early, better to choose cab/auto. We went in an auto who charged Rs. 250. The trek from Sarpadhari to Bababudangiri/Galikere can be split into four parts

1) The climb from Sarpadhari to Mullayanagiri Peak.
2) Mullayanagiri to Attigundi checkpost.
3) Checkpost – BSNL tower via that knife edge that is exactly opposite to the checkpost.
4) BSNL tower – Bababudangiri/Galikere.

IMG_8566Our aim was to camp at Galikere and trek to Kemmangundi the next day. Knew at every part, it will be a race against time. Started the trek at 9.15Am. It was a quick climb (by our standards) to the peak and we reached the peak before 11.00AM. Mullayanagiri was awesome as usual. A little misty even after monsoon. The grasses were slowly drying after the monsoon but was green enough to make a grand sight. We spent a little time at the peak and started for part 2 of the trek. Finding the path to attigundi post from mullayangiri peak was tough. But from the previous attempt i knew it existed somewhere behind the temple. So after a little search were able to locate it. Once we find the path, the walk to Attigundi checkpost is easy, so we did it without taking many breaks. Had a quick lunch @ Attigundi checkpost. Everything was going according to plan 🙂 Or looked like.

The twist waited when we were about to start the third part of the trek. It was Dattareya Jeyanthi on Dec 15, 2013 and due to security reasons the knife edge the direct path which goes through the gorge(knife’s path) to the BSNL tower was closed. The police advised us to go via the road. We followed the road for a while, searched for a path and decided to the walk parallel to the original route and join the path from knife edge at some point. There was no path, so had to venture into the bushes and shrubs and create our own path chasing away the small snakes (exaggerated, found only one)  that were resting. The next hour was dedicated to this. The good part was we were able to do it and get back to the original path, and the bad part was we had lost a good amount of time. And we reached the BSNL tower by 5.00PM.

Any trek will involve meeting a local who will claim the place we intend to go is not near as we think, but it is +x KM. Such meeting happened in the BSNL tower. We were under the impression that Galikere is around 4-5KM from BSNLIMG_8719 tower, but the guy there claimed it is 8KM. We knew 8KM after 5PM will involve trekking in the dark. Anyway learnt next day that Galikere is 5KM from the place and the route is not difficult either. The guy also showed us Manikyadhara, that is very close to the tower, where we can camp. Mr. Prasad, the forest officer we met during the last visit had mentioned that it is good for camping and we get food/fish fry there. I remembered the place name and the office name because of the mention of fish fry. Manikyadhara also has a small waterfalls which attracts tourists. Anyway all shops were closed due to Dattareya Jeyanthi and there were no jeeps as well. Otherwise it is possible to rent a jeep from there to Galikere. With were very little options left we decided to camp near a pond in Manikyadhara. The place was pretty and peaceful. There were no rough winds which left us in absolute silence. Still was able to manage only a disturbed sleep due to the cold weather and possibly due to the uneasy tranquility that prevailed.

Day 2 – Sunday – Dec 15, 2013

Woke up around 6IMG_8736.30AM to the sound of birds. In particular there was a bird that whistled/sang beautifully. Was not able to sight it. Spent sometime roaming and exploring the area around the tent, more importantly waiting for the sun to heat up a little, so the bath in Manikyadhara falls will be enjoyable. Though Manikyadhara falls did not have much water to offer, the bath was exhilarating. Camping at Manikyadhara meant 5KM gets added to the Day 2 trek to Kemmangundi, making it more than 20KM and impossible. So we called it a day and walked towards Bababudangiri. From the “My Tracks” android app the total distance we covered was around 13KM on the first day and 3KM walk to bababudangiri on the second day. The SMS bus service was the only option available. Boarded the bus at  11.15AM which started at 12.45PM and reached chickmagalur at the right time to catch the 2PM bus back to bangalore 🙂

Though the weather during december was good and helped in trekking without drizzle and leeches, it is during the monsoon or just after the end of monsoon, Mullayanagiri is at its supreme grandeur. The thought beckons attempt #4 for the full 30+ KM trek, time will answer whether it will happen.

Belur Halebidu Trip

Not sure how many times the trip was planned and cancelled in the past. It was on the list for a long time, and interest accrued everytime i stumbled upon some photos in the web. Everytime a plan was made, there was a reason to cancel it as well. This time we planned it on Friday evening and started on friday night. Plan was simple, catch the last bus to Belur in the night, spend time in the temples the next day and reach bangalore before 9PM. Surprisingly we were able to execute it without hiccups. Boarded the 11.30PM bus to chickmagalur and reached Belur by 4.30AM with very little sleep. Ambled through the streets searching for a lodge, found most of them closed. After a while checked into a not so good room utilized the 1hour we had for a nap.

Went early to the ChennaKeshava temple and were able to attended the first pooja that was happening there. After that we had the whole day to soak ourselves in the aesthetic beauty of the two masterpieces of the hoysala architecture. The temples are built using soapstones. The outer and inner walls of these star shaped temples were filled with numerous intricate carvings, notable ones a.k.a the ones that we recongnised, include Lord Narasimha tearing Hiranyakashipu, Gajasurasamhara, Vishnu’s varaha avatar, Arjun in his suyamvaram etc. With careful and patient observation one might be able to discover a lot of details in the sculptures. No wonder it took more than a century to build it. Might have been more appealing if they were not destroyed during invasions. The outer walls also houses 38 madhanikas statues or women statues. Each of the madhanikas strike a different pose. There are around 644 elephants on the outer walls and it is said each one is distinct. There is also a huge pillar that is not fixed to the ground but stands on its weight for centuries. There are three more temples in the same complex – Kappe Channigraya temple, Sowmyanayaki temple and an Andal temple. Spent few hours filling the camera’s memory card and then started to Halebidu, to visit the Hoysaleshwara and  Kedareshwara temple.

They live upto the expectations that you have set from seeing the chennakeshava temples. The base of the temple walls consist of moldings with friezes that consist of elephants, lions, scrolls, horses, scrolls, puranic scenes, mythical beasts (makara) and swans. You can see some sculptures that were in chennakeshava temple as well, but that would not act as a deterrent to explore the other sculptures. A slight drizzle did disturb a bit, but it did set expectations if we are to attempt a trek in mullayanagiri or kemmanagundi. After few hours in the temple, started the journey back and reached as planned. Overall a nice trip that went fine with little planning.

Photos @ Picasa

Machanabele – Savanadurga Trip

Sleep, Wake up, eat, sleep, internet/movie, eat, sleep. Had got adopted to this routine very well whenever i stayed in bangalore during the weekend. The only way to break it was to pack the bags and get out of the city. This trip was the result of such an urge to break the laziness and do something. Manchanabele & Savanadurga was the only option that was considered.

Onward Route: Bangalore – Bidadi – Bidadi Tavarakere Nelamangala road – Manchanabele dam- Savanadurga.

This is a longer route and was consciously decided keeping in mind the Thatta idly shop @ Bidadi. Started @ 8AM and struggled through the traffic in Mysore road and reached Bidadi idly shop by around 10AM. After that the ride was smooth and pressure free in Bidadi – Tavarakere – Nelamangala road. Should say enjoyed the extra 10KMs. Thanks to the rains, the weather was pleasant though it was mid of the summer. The dam had some water too, which allowed to rest on the shores enjoying the cool breeze and seeing the birds flying around.

Could have spent more time there but we were already late for the trek. So started and rode to Savanadurga, one of the largest monoliths in Asia. Without wasting time started climbing, but it was noon already. Finding the trek route was not difficult as it is well marked. It was not very hot, but it was hot enough to make the trek difficult. I was not expecting much challenge but soon realized my stamina has record low level. Slowly climbed the peak sipping water every now and then. The trek can be divided to four stages – the outer fort walls, the inner fort walls, the mantapa and the summit. To me it looked like a single steep climb from bottom to the top. Anyway, with determination we reached the summit where there is a nandi statue in exactly two hours. Climbing down was easy, which we did in less than an hour.

Started the journey back home a little later around 4PM. The route we took was Savanadurga – Manchanabele – Dodda Alada Mara – Mysore Road – Bangalore. This is the shortest route with well laid roads. Stopped at dodda alada mara or the big banyan tree on the way. Reached home once again after struggling through the bangalore traffic. It was a nice trip at the end.

Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/ManchanabeleSavanadurga

Sakleshpur Trip

When you look up the sky in the night and watch the stars, what you are seeing is actually the past. Something that happens today in Andromeda will take 2.5 million years to reach earth and for scientists here to realize what actually happened. So what is the point ? I am fast. It took only a month for this post to be published!!!!

Anyway, visited Sakleshpur sometime around March. This was a different trip for me, no trekking, hiking and planning  too. Aim was to visit a resort, eat, sleep, relax and come back. Long time since i went on a trip like that, so agreed instantly when invited. The resort we visited was “The Hills“. Tucked away from the Sakleshpur town, far away from the crowd and with nothing much around that is really worth visiting, it was a perfect vacation that i wanted to try. Reached Sakleshpur in the noon, had lunch and retired to sleep. 

Evening visited Magajahalli waterfalls. Small it was, had good amount of water and more important, none around to disturb a peaceful bath in the falls. Since it was March, the water was not cold as well. The falls was ours for the next 1 hour. Spent the next hour in the falls, enjoying the force with which the water fell on our body. Returning to the resort indulged in a game of shuttle, a round of archery and other petty things the resort guys had to name as activities. Rest of the night was dedicated to some heated discussion which usually involved around house, rent, bangalore, traffic, marriage, gals etc etc.

The next day woke up around 7.00AM.  It was nice to wake up to the sounds of birds and insects and compared to horns of vehicle and sound of the busy people. The only plan for the day was to visit a temple nearby and walk around the hills nearby. Did the same, visited the temple pond and fed the hundreds of fishes in the small pond and started the journey back to Bangalore after a nice trip.

Kodachadri Trek

A trek after a long long time. Kodachadri was on the list for a long time. Since it is a beaten and little easy decided to try it. The gang too pitched in and the trek was on. There are two or three ways to trek to Kodachadri Peak.

1) Starts from Karikatte. This is a shorter route and easy one. Most of them start from here and go via the Santosh Hotel/Kaka Angadi. The trek goes via a Jeep route till Santosh Hotel and the actual trekking starts after the hotel.

2) Starts from Marakuttaka (locals pronounce it differently something like Marakudukka) which is near sigandur cross. This goes via Hidlumane Falls and is a little longer route. Even here the trek goes via jeep route till Hidlumane after which the real trekking starts. Check these out – Sigandur Cross: http://wikimapia.org/118754 /Sigandur-Cross & Marakuttaka Bus Stop – http://wikimapia.org/433100/Marakuttaka-bus-stop

We decided to climb up from Marakuttaka, visit Hidlumane Falls and then trek to the peak via PWD guest house and camp at Sarvajna Peeta. The idea of visiting the “Hidlumane Falls” in the middle of the falls was exciting. And while coming back, decided to come via Santosh Hotel, and if possible visit Arashinagundi falls.

Late Start: There is a KSRTC bus from bangalore that stops at Sigandur Cross. Starts at 8.30PM and reaches there at 6.00AM. Walk back towards Nittur for 2KM and there is a small bridge with a Jeep track on the right, which is Marakuttaka or the trek starting point. Tried adding it to Google Maps, hope it is visible now. Anyway that was the plan initiallly. When one of our friend wanted to join at the end, had to replan, and choose SRS instead of KSRTC due to unavailability of tickets. SRS reached Kollur at 9.30AM after a 12 hour journey. Checked into a hotel, quickly refreshed and finished breakfast, and hired two autos to Marakuttaka. There is a bus from Kollur to Marakuttaka every 1 hour too  from Kollur Bus Stand. We reached Marakuttaka, a little after 1.00 PM. And the trek started. One thing was clear, we are going to trek in the night with torches to reach the peak.

Trek to the Hidlumane Falls: The initial trek take you along the well established jeep track. All we had to do was follow the main jeep track. After a little walk, there is a small stream to cross after which it continues once again on the jeep track. There were locals moving around in bikes and cycles to help us. Soon we crossed a lonely hut, where we asked for direction and then a school. The jeep track ends at Hidlumane or Gururaj’s home. To go Hidlumane falls, cross Hidlumane, and cross Gururaj’s fields. Can ask Gururaj for direction too. After few minutes of walk, reached the base of Hidlumane falls. Hidlumane is a cascade waterfall with a total of around 7 cascades. Cross the first one and second one and continue on the trail on the right side of the falls to reach the main falls. The second or the third one too has enough water to take bath, but the final one is majestic. We reached the falls at 3.00PM and the water was ice cold then too. It was more like small icicles falling on your body. The bath was exhilarating.

Trek to the peak: After spending quite a good time in the falls, started the trek towards the peak. We took the path on the left(when you are facing the falls) of the falls and later learnt that there is no route there. Had to do a bit of climbing, jumping, sliding to reach that conclusion. You can try that and then go the neat trail on the right or go to the trail on the right(right when you are facing the falls). This trail is neat and leads you to the jeep track. Takes around 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the pace to reach the jeep track. Take right on the jeep track and continue to the PWD house. Jeep drivers warned us about putting tents @ sarvajna peeta. Looks like forest guards took away the tents of few people a week back. One guy said, we can camp if we are planning for camp fire. And one more guy said, we can camp, there are one or two there already. We had no other option too, so we continued to the peak. It was dark, people were descending after the sunset, we were climbing up for the camp. Few were puzzled at the idea of us camping at the peak, few had got sarcastic comments about it. Anyway we continued and reached the peak at around 7.30PM. One good thing was it is very difficult to miss the path in Kodachadri, unlike other trekking places.

Camp: Spent sometime searching for the best place to camp. After a futile search, decided to camp near the peeta. Set up the tents, finished the dinner with the food we had carried, and then dozed off at 9.50PM, only to wake up at 2.00AM. I heard sound of someone scratching our tents from outside. Pushed the tent from inside, felt a strong push from outside. And i felt i heard some footsteps. Next 30 minutes went in listening to the sounds intently and trying to guess and also envy my friend(Sai) who is having a peaceful sleep amidst all this drama 🙂 Blessed he is.  Atlast he too woke up at 2.45AM. Together we slowly opened the tent and looked around. Nothing. Closed it, we could hear all nonsense. Open, nothing. Anyway after some investigation decided it was the air outside and the sound of footsteps could be that of the dog outside. Later learnt that our friends in other tents were awake from 12.00 to 3.00 and slept only after we woke up and started talking 🙂 Nice & thrilling, as long as there are no misadventures.

Sunrise & Trek down: Woke up at 5.30AM, packed the tents and waited for the sunrise, which didn’t happen till 6.30. While Mohan & Anoop spent time munching snacks early in the morning, Sai was busy putting water bottle cap on a torch light!!! After a few hide and seeks, the sun emerged above a sea of clouds. Awesome it was. Clicked a few snaps and started trekking down at around 7.20PM. Trek down to PWD guest house, and then take the narrow trail opposite to PWD guest house to reach Santosh Hotel. The trek to santosh hotel was easy and we did it in around three hours, with a 30 minutes pit stop in between. Had Puttu-kadala at Santosh hotel and then enquired about Arashinagundi falls. Looks like the entry fee per head is 250 Rs and then we may have to take a guide, since the path cannot be easily found. Decided against it, took the jeep track to Karikatte, and walked for the next one hour to reach karikatte. Took a jeep from there and reached Kollur at around 12.30PM. Checked into a hotel, took bath and rested for a while. Also Kollur Mookambika temple in the evening. Think this is the second visit to the temple in five years. It was not crowded and had a neat darshan.

Started back to bangalore in the 7.00PM bus and reached bangalore in the morning after a not so tiring, nice and wonderful trek with hidlumane falls being the highlight.

Snaps: Mine & Sai‘s