Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kavi Mane Karedaga...

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to drive to shimoga with friends I decided to drop oh no postpone the plan till my love becomes mine. Fingers crossed!! But shimoga refused to get out of my mind. Travel freaks were busy to join & hence it was my sis, bro & Suma who made it along with me. Plan took strength only the previous day when Chaitra helped me book tatkal tickets. Unlike all my jaunts the plan was not so concrete except for two specific places that was a “must” visit.

Shimoga’s chilled morning woke me up when the train was near Badravathi. I had some how missed to carry warm clothes this time in spite of being aware of December weather. This made me tremble in cold. On reaching the station, the vehicle which was booked was waiting for us and in no time we reached University campus where we had booked a room. The cold made us doze off again in the rooms. But nevertheless we all managed to get ready by 7:30am to kick start.

A light breakfast in shimoga city, we next stopped for a little while at Gajanur dam. Almost every dam I have been in the recent past are closed for visitors for security reasons. The dam is long spread across the breadth of the Tunga river.

Sakkarebaylu – elephant camp was all welcoming with few elephants already taking bath in the river. Elephants are one of my favorites creations of god. Sixty year old Geetha was just then fresh after a bath. She patiently posed for the pictures while 90 year old Indira was still in water letting shakeeb her mahout, brush the mud out of her body. Me & Suma pulled our pants and got into this business. Every time Indira moved her body we were scared & stepped back to check if she was fine with us & checked with mahout about every action she did. This huge animal always fascinates me. I admire those tiny eyes which gives a feeling that she is so monotonous meanwhile pious. The mahouts very keenly answered all our queries. They really loved those animals and loved taking care of them.

I was busy playing with my camera & in no time there were 11 elephants taking bath one after the other and lined up to greet visitors. Each one had beautiful names, Indira, geetha, Nethra, kaveri, Kapila, new tusker, saagar, Ganga, Amrutha, Surya, Aale (a goddess in Nepal, named by an nepali officer). Surya, the youngest in the herd played with all the other elephants in the family. He was just 2.5year old and was to start his schooling shortly. Every morning mahouts have tough time bringing him out of water. It was so funny to see the way he made mahout run behind him to catch him. We were not very happy leaving this place, watching those huge animals playing, following his master’s commands was so much fun. The journey in the not-so-cosy car was still so beautiful because of the scenic beauty of the place.

The drive to kuppalli was quiet long. We stopped in front of one of the most beautiful houses in kuppalli. No wonder a poet like Kuvempu had so many inspirations right in this place to write such great epics in kannada. The very air feels so pious & poetic. I would say the place still got so much of positive energy. To describe this place is not in my reach but it was way beautiful than what I had imagined it to be. The moment I stepped in I was spell bound. It’s like a dream. We call this style of houses as “Thotti-mane” in our colloquial language. Every small thing starting from the utensils used, till the mantap that was used in kuvempu’s wedding is so carefully preserved for the generations to come. Every corner in this house has a story to narrate. First floor has a long story on the wall. From the poet’s childhood till his last few days of life is portrayed with pictures. A room is dedicated for the books this great man wrote in his life span. The volumes are so huge that I think one life is not sufficient to relish reading all his work. Me & Suma sat for a while enjoying being there. We picked up few of his books & by very instinct I wrote few lines in kannada about this awesome place in the feedback book.

On our way back, we had a light lunch in the canteen very next to Kavi mane. Very tasty full meal & puliogre was served. We visited kavishaila. Kuvempu rests here forever. Thejaswi’s burial place is also monumented close by.

KavaleDurga (I must suggest to read more about the beautiful history of this place on internet) was the second must visit place I had in my list. This is an old fort with a beautiful view of Varahi backwaters. The fort is still not so famous to the visitors fortunately & hence very clean. Initially we entered a farm & was skeptical for being on the right path. The fort is covered with thick forest and hence the view never reveals its beauty hidden in it. We trekked a short distance and finally found the entrance of the fort with two circular bastions and found a notice board giving a brief description of this fort. We barely had an idea about the distance to reach the top. Since it was already evening & the sun was almost bidding bye for the day we had to put less effort to reach the top. On the way we happened to see few beautiful temples and structures giving a hint of the king’s era. The steps are uneven as we climb up. 

Finally when you reach the top of the hill there were two things which caught my attention. One is the beautiful view of the back water spread over vast area & a single rock standing with a small shrine. The shape of this rock is eye-catching. The time of the day we were on the top was perfect to enjoy the sun setting while the breeze would start getting colder. There was no tinge of dark covering the sky yet, so it perfect time to capture pictures of the surrounding landscape. I enjoyed taking pictures and wanted to spend a good amount of time. Provided it was just me with my typical Travel Freaks hanging out there, I would have enjoyed sitting there till I would say bye to the last ray of the sun for the day but my sis stood up to warn for getting down before dark consumes the sky. We also had to spare the driver waiting for us down there so I agreed.

We drove back to reach shimoga at around 7:30pm. Our unplanned trip had a gap to be filled, our return tickets were not yet confirmed. After having seen the impossibility to book train tickets & packed night buses, we decided to book the evening bus to Bangalore. So tomorrow we have just half a day to visit places.

Our driver was param-bhakth of Goddess Sigandureshwari. During my previous visit to shimoga, we had dropped the plan of visiting this place as it was crowded like mad. So this time my driver suggested to catch the first launch which takes us to the other side of the river. As always I was sure to enjoy the launch ride and the serenity early in the morning than anything else but was not too sure of getting people ready by 5:30am. But to my surprise we were all set to start off on time but ofcourse we dozed off in the car. I could not keep myself awake inspite of knowing how beautiful the early morning ride to sagara would be. Bad me. But initially the visibility was very less due to the fog and hardly could to see anything on the road-side.

The first launch was packed with people & we managed to sneak in. The bus & few other vehicles accompanied us to cross the river. The view was great but effort to catch the view of the surrounding nature was difficult in that crowded launch. On reaching the other side we had a light breakfast and enjoyed a bumpy ride in a vehicle which was in an almost-crashing-down condition. The driver ridding this van looked like he was never introduced to the breaks in his vehicle or may be he had sworn on god not to use it or in worst case this vehicle never had one. I was glad we were alive and the first thing I did as soon as I entered the temple was to thank the goddess for this. The temple is very beautiful & people explained her to be a strong goddess who can fulfill all your wishes. As always I can only laugh at all those explanations of being strong & weak gods and those hundred stories they have to prove it. We purchased laddu prashad and started back. This ride was another chance to test our good fortune, this was even more bumpier than the previous one. Back near the launch we managed to catch the corners & so I could capture few good pictures of the place around. We treated ourselves with buttermilk after reaching back.

Another round of sleep in the car while we drove to Ikkeri temple. My favorite temple in sagara. For it has so many memories of my childhood attached with this place. The best one amongst all is to crawl down that huge Basava’s leg which is right in front of the temple. I still remember me & my cousins did that with so much ease and enjoyed doing it again n again. Today it is neither allowed to do so nor can I. The temple is just too beautiful and like any other has a lot of history. It was peak noon and sun was not letting me sleep in the car. We did a mistake of choosing lion safari over another beautiful temple kelladi nearby. Bad decisions are always a part of an unplanned travels. We reached lion safari by late afternoon & was left with no enthusiasm to see anything. Atleast I was too tired to walk any distance, strange of me. I choose to sit near the park till the others were back after greeting some cheetahs, black panthers and pythons.

 Back in our rooms to fresh up. Sumanth did a small round of self-photography, mutual photography. Don’t ask for its meanings, I am sure you’ll kill yourself after the explanations. ROFL!! Our empty stomachs demanded some snacks before boarding the bus, the driver was not too sure of finding anything at that time of the day but finally he decided to take us to dosa point. Here is the best thing happened, Benne Dosa!!! Benne Masala Dosa to be precise. It was soooo yummy that we could not stop for one. As always a round of tea to settle things in the tummy and we reached bus station by 5:00PM.

We thanked our driver for his great hospitality. Throughout the journey he was more excited than any of us. We had booked a KSRTC Rajahamsa, the lesser I talk about it the better. We reached Bangalore by 12:30AM. We had enough time to catch sleep before another busy Monday could start.

Throughout the trip I missed Travel Freaks & as promised we shall have to be there soon! Let's drive > Shimoga!!! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Post Kudremukh trek

Time for some fun after a strenuous trek the previous day. A sunny morning started with all the other trekking groups packing their bags and left Sathish’s house all for ourselves. Morning tea prepared in firewood stove tasted so good. You feel like having it every hour. We sat outside the house stretching ourselves and feeling the warm sun on our skin. Our plan for the day was to relax till noon and start towards Hornadu by evening. A yummy veg-pulav with raitha was loaded tummy full followed by another round of hot tea.

A dip in nearby falls was a perfect relaxation plan. Not more than 2 mins walk from the house is this small stream of water. The water was chilling cold inspite of the sun shining so bright. We walked for a while on the rocky bank till we reached a pool deep enough to enjoy a swim. One by one we all got down into the water. The cold water sent tickles up our body as we stepped deeper. Few swam to reach opposite end of the pool and found a small natural Jacuzzi a little ahead. We all followed them and enjoyed a great massage in the water. Water flow was strong enough to carry yourself in the current. After spending time enjoying the chilled pool of water, we were back home for another round of bath in hot water.

We sat outside the house enjoying lovely songs pavan’s mobile was playing. Suhas was busy with Osho’s The book of understanding. After a light lunch we drove towards Hornadu. The temple is crowded during the weekends. We stood in the queue for the darshan of the beautiful idol of Annapoorneshwari goddess. Few had a long list of items to buy from this place which is very famous for its coffee & variety of spieces.  The temple prashad is served even before the Mahamangalarthi. Waiting in the queue for prashad, Manish turned to be great entertainer with his mimcry of several Mr.Bean’s episodes. The younger crowd never looked tired till the end. They taught few of us their own invented “cha” language. Suhas, Ajay & Pavan were amazed and wanted to try their hand learning the new tongue. It all seemed like a coded language to me. I was in my own world recollecting few Yograj Bhat’s melodies, Suhas always helps me appreciate movies & music.

We started our journey back to Bangalore by 8:30pm. The journey initially was fun filled with Manish’s singing and others joined for anthakshari. The driver took us round and round around the chikkamagalur city as he dint know the route towards bangalore. Smart people sat with their Smart phones and directed him with routes. Guys hardly slept till early morning. We reached Bangalore not very late.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kudremukh after a hiatus

The travel freaks were still munching on the sweet memories of Sarpass and it took us quiet a time to realise that we had not packed our bags for more than 4 months for a trek.

Ajay wore the captains hat with Adi and whatsApp made our planning stuff much easier than ever before. As always there were few new editions to the group and last minute cancellations too. The group size was 13. We had few pick up points before we started our journey in a mini bus. Adi’s family participating in the trek is growing in number with each time and this time they were 6 with Manish & Preethu as new faces. After a long time Pavan was travelling with us.

Surprisingly all of them sticked to their seats and quickly dozed off. It was difficult for me to follow this and I spoke non-stop with Nam till late night. When finally I felt my head would blow off because of my blabbering I put the curtains over my eyes and forced to sleep. The lovely songs playing dint let me sleep for long and when it finally stopped I remember we had almost reached our destination.

We reached Ballgal early morning next day. Two jeeps were already parked which would ride for another 7kms to reach Sathish’s place, from where we start our trek. After a quick round of morning tea-coffee we all enjoyed a bumpy ride for another 45mins.

Sathish’s house is always crowded with trekkers over weekends especially on Saturdays. His house is amidst mountains in all directions. Lots of greenery around and cold water running out from the water pipes all the time. In the whole house I dint see the concept of taps and so no one needs to think of closing it. It’s a scene which we all bangaloreans feel jealous about. We occupied our allotted rooms and very leisurely got ourselves ready for the day’s trek. After a light breakfast (Idly, chatni & sambhar) and even lighter pack lunch (puliyogere) in our ever lightest back pack we started our conquest of kudremukh peak.

For the first time TFs (read as Travel Freaks) was on a challenge to accomplish both uphill & downhill trails in a single day. It was 9:45am. The weather was not extremely hot as it had rained 3 days back but sun dint look any compromising. A rare cool breeze from the forest helped to remove the sweat from our body. A tree shade after a long walk in sun always feels like heaven. Initial trek is mostly inside the forest and it never drains any energy. The stream water flowing between every couple of mountains does its magic as soon as it gets down your thirsty throat. There can’t be more tastier & purer water or drink than this. You sit back on one of these rocks around the stream sipping in that cold water, splash some on your tired face, you’ll be fresh again to continue. The dreadful stretch comes in almost at the end and now you are forced to keep walking even if you are dead tired. Standing for rest in the hot sun is more tiring that walking. And there is not sign of a single tree till your eyes could see. The dried grass and sun baked rocks add no fun to us while resting.

And from nowhere a blow of blissful breeze makes you halt and your body embraces it. You turn back with arms stretched out welcoming the cool air and stand for a while to see a landscape of green mountains around. You are lost in the world & the magic vanishes with the return of still air. You feel a little better & it feels even more better when you see others who are still far behind and you realize you have covered that tiring stretch and left with only a little distance to reach the peak… :P Seriously the feeling of staying ahead of someone always brings some strength in me to continue walking. I don’t really understand whether this is a weekness or a strength I have.

We reached the peak by 1:15pm. Kudremukh peak stands at a height of 1892mts above sea level. Another peak captured was the feeling besides the endless beautiful mountains lying unfolded in front of your eyes. Feeding the empty tummy came in immediately. Puliogere was a bad choice in the hot weather but we were not left with any other option. After posing for few clicks we all started descends. As always I hate this part as I very well know my knees will suffer. But this time it was pretty co-operative.

I remained with the last group getting down. We were all very tired. We waited for Sathish’s house very badly. Every curve on one mountain showed another mountain to be crossed and the end never seemed close. Our tiredness increased as we covered one mountain hoping it to be the last one but proved wrong. Our minds tried to recollect if the stream we were crossing was the first one when we started uphill. And the moment we reach a place you could recognize from the memory we would then start calculating the probable distance left to reach Sathish’s house. This was the first time I felt the downhill took longer than uphill.

 At one point I left the group as I could not walk slow anymore and the dead legs refused to stop and I started walking with quick decisions on lefts and rights in the forest. At one such diversions I stopped for a while and before I could hastily decide to take right I saw an arrow pointing left. Oops!!! I walked left.  I reached a house which dint look like Sathish’s. Mind decided that I was lost in the forest. Was not worried about being lost but this would mean few extra miles to reach the right place. Every single step mattered. I felt before I take my steps back I should first find out which way in the forest I need to walk for Sathish’s house. The owner of the house unwelcomingly looked at me but very well guessed my question. Sathish is their neighbor & she might get to answer this question to every trekker passing by thinking they are lost. I was relieved by her answer, Sathish’s house was right behind hers.

On reaching the place I was as happy as a small kid seeing its mother after a long wait. I threw myself on the portico. Tea had just arrived. Not long the rest of the team arrived. To pamper our tired legs few choose over a hot bath and few others loved a dip in the nearby falls. I always love the former. The team was sitting round for a game on Bluff. This was the best episode with so many entertainers making this trek so memorable. Cheers to Manu, Ajay, Suhas & not to forget RS!!
After a light dinner, we collected warm blankets and packed ourselves close to ward off close. It was a good night sleep for every part of the aching body!!! 
Catch you for tomorrow's fun in the next post.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Eradane dinada MaLLeyali ChaLLyali

A lazy day pulled all of us out of our beds very late. Another rainy day in Madikeri. Our cook Raju treated us with the most delicious cuisine of Madikeri, akki kadbu with Coconut chatni. I loaded my plate with akki kadboos as much as it could hold and with so much ease each of the kadboo slide down my food pipe. Hats off to the cook who offered us such awesome breakfast. 

Talking of whom I should not forget sharing this information which Suma gave us after we returned from our trip. 

Suma writes,

I wish to share wit u ppl one information that i got to know when i was just having a casual conversation  with "Govind Raju" urf Raju - the cook, 
who treated our taste buds with all delicious foods, amoung which "Akki kadbu" is one which i liked the most. 

Well, Raju is basically serving as a president of NACO branch in Kodagu district - an organization that provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control program 
in India. 
During weekdays he involves himself in this organizational work and spends his weekends serving here( in home stay ) as a part time cook. 
The money that he and his wife earns from this part time work is being donated to the organization - where in, its being used to pay the educational fees of kids 
in this organization. 
He returned on friday night attending a meeting in Mumbai and was there in Ganga Homestay by sat morning to serve us with his food and care as well.. 

I still was very curious to know about the way he made himself into this organization, but then i somehow found tat - it might be too personal so dint dare 
to ask him any more and the conversation about NACO ended up and we started with our breakfast. 

One good thing i gotta know and made me feel happy about was - ppl in that small place are also so concerned about their responsibilities towords the society. 
Nice ppl ah..:) 


Suma S

What a worth of his life. I feel very ashamed of myself for all the damn reasons I give myself for not doing anything other than office, eating, sleeping & shit. At the end everything I am doing is just shit.

The bus drove towards Bhagamandala to reach TalaKaveri. It was raining all the more this day. Few of them who were ready to get drenched got down the bus and visited the temple. Rest of us enjoyed photo shoot near an abandoned temple. And when the rain gave a break, we reached a roadside shop for hot bhajjis. The orders finally missed our count and suhas had to take help of his smart phone to keep the numbers. If I try to recollect we had hogged 30+ bhajjis, 15 chilly bhajji, 30+ pakodas, 3 avalakki, one serving of tea, 2 buttermilk.

We started towards Dubare forest elephant camp for Rafting. On our way we stopped near a shop to buy Honey. Madikeri is famous for its spices, honey, home made chocolates and the list is actually very big. We shopped for honey, chocolates and coffee powder. 

Bus journey was filled with noise and dancing all the way. It was around 4PM when we reached Rafting spot. 18 of us, 6 each in 3 rafts with our guides. Most of us were rafting for third time so we dint spend time for rules and quickly took positions on the raft. Our guide, Giri was a localite. He was fun to be with. I don’t remember a single moment that he shut his mouth. He spoke all south Indian language ofcourse koncham koncham(Little). And I met someone after a very long time with whom I could speak in my broken coorgi. He plucked Jamun fruit(Neeralle hannu) for us, taking the raft close to the bank where these trees were plenty. We saw mango trees on our way, as expected he played pranks on us and made us sip in those really soar mangoes. We dived into the water and spent some time floating and swimming. I was too lazy to row the raft hard and just rowed superficially on the water surface. Dani & Adi did a great job. The rapids were good, surfing only showed how heavy Adi was... hee hee. The best part was the non-stop bug-bug of Giri. Our raft was the last one to complete rafting.

It was dark when we completed rafting for more than an hour. After a quick changing we started towards Hassan to drop Su and Radhika. The bus journey was even more interesting, Namratha, Divya and Manja shared their views about the group. Few more interesting stories and announcements followed. Dinner at 12AM at a dhaba and we reached Bangalore early in the morning.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

MaLLeyali ChaLLiyali ... Madikeri li...

Monsoon is a always a welcome change after a hot summer. Bangalore rains ditched us this time, forcing we freaks to chill out in Coorg. The plan was to visit the recently explored Mandalpatti which I would still call Mugilpete of Gallipata Movie. Suhas & Ajay came up with this plan and a casual mail from Suhas ended up crossing over 100+ mail exchanges and finally 19 of us were there loitering around Suhas's house before leaving. This was the higgest number till date in Travel freaks's history, like any other trips this time too we had 3 freshers. Cute lil cousins of Adi that was Namratha & Divya and Manu & Dani's roomie Manja!

As always Suhas had a plan, Bhavana & Adi assisted him arranging for stay & travel resp. The bus journey troubled few of us by sending jerks at few places but nothing could disturb my sleep. I was still sleeping when we reached the homestay and I just grabbed few more hours of nap after reaching my bed. And when I woke up to look around I could feel I was trembling in that freezing cold. It was raining outside. A perfect day to sip in some nice hot coffee reading a novel lying crawled on your bed watching the rain outside. Another lazy trip by this crazy bunch of people. I loved the Homestay - Ganga. It was like cozy, private and amidst so much greenery. Great choice Bhavana.

A hot water bath gave a much needed warmth. Idly and Sambhar along with kesari bath for breakfast. Around 10:30AM our jeeps were ready to drive us to Madalpatti. All the way at every turn Manu, dani & Manja recollected their bike ride to this place a year before. They had a story behind every hump ditch, every paddy field, every mountain & every water stream that came our way. And no doubt I envied them like any other time they talk about it. Every turn jeep took, Manu would say "Che Bike irbekithu Kaili" (I wish my bike was with me) and Dani, Manja would turn back to give him a admitting smile.

It was an extremely cloudy day. Forget the view of mountains around we could hardly see things 10mts ahead. It was a disappointment but we refused to stop enjoying what was in offer for us. We climbed up the view point and enjoyed the breeze for a while. We walked up another mountain and posed for pictures jumping in air, feeling the drizzle dancing on our face and decorting our face with those tiny dews. It was already lunch time and we had animals howling for food inside our stomach. Chapathi-kurma & yumm Veg bath with raitha was stuffed in quickly near a small hotel. Sipping a hot tea in that drizzling rain on those wet roads surrounded by cloudy mountains... can any combination be better than this. I loved it totally!!!

Madikeri is a place I never get bored inspite of those n number of visits. It charms me with its great beauty and makes me one with nature so naturally.

Abbey falls, another beautiful place to visit in Madikeri. The grandeur of the falls was far below than usual due to ccanty rains. But still was a treat to enjoy watching the falls dropping down on the rocks and flow down the bridge you are standing on. Little fishes seemed dancing with the water falls. I kept watching the falls waiting and enjoying those fishes performing for us. Dani sent tremors on the bridge while dancing like those fishes. He was imitating our bollywood couples running in slow motions with the waterfalls in background.

The next few places was Gaddige. I found the below details from Internet about this place – “Gadduge is a place with tombs of Kodava royalty, court dignitaries, royal priest and the royal bulls. It is situated on a hillock with a good view of the city. The monuments are built in Indo-Sarcenic style with domes in the center and turrets at the edges. The central tomb is of Doddaveerarajendra and his queen. To the right is the tomb of Lingarajendra, built by his son Chikkaveerarajendra in A.D. 1820. To the left is the tomb of the royal priest Rudrappa, built in A.D. 1834. Nearby are buried two royal officials, Biddanda Bopu who died fighting Tipu Sultan, and his son Biddanda Somaiah.

Omkareshwara temple which I remember this temple for its huge fish tank right in the entrance. Internet says – “In 1820 a significant building built by Lingarajendra was Omkareshwara temple. This has both Islamic and Gothic style of architecture. There is a tank in front of the temple. There is a footpath leading to a small "Mantap".  The walls of temple are decorated with intriguing paintings, including Sai Baba and Raghvendra Swamy. A huge tank situated opposite the temple is populated largely by fishes; devotees are allowed to feed them. According to the legends, the Shiva Lingam worshipped in the temple has been imported from Varanasi.”

Madikeri fort is a huge wall constructed around the meuseum, Mahathma Gandhi public library and the mercara palace. Two elephant like looking structures also take their share of place inside the fort. You can walk along this wall till the other end. The monsoon rains made this fort look grey and greens covered on those wet walls.

Raja Seat – where kings spent their evenings relaxing and enjoying a spectacular view of their kingdom. A beautiful garden treats every one making those cozy to enjoy a beautiful sunset. Rains dint let us say bye to sun, it was extremely foggy. A toy train takes you around the place giving you a better view of the city around. In a pleasant weather, it is lovely place to take a stroll in the garden enjoying the lights following the sunset.

The fun was not over, it had just started on reaching our home stay. Guys dint waste much time and settled down with their favorite drinks. Endless number of dishes decorated our dinner carpet and we almost hogged in every thing offered as soon as it was served. Dinner was late as there were bluff masters bluffing around for a long time. One after the other said good night and moved to their respective rooms to catch a nice sleep inside their warm blankets.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bhandhak Thatch

 After a long walk we finally reached Bhandak Thatch. The last camp of our trek. The camp was no less than  Switzerland. Green meadows completely covered with grasslands and surrounded by mountains. The sight of cattle grazing on these grassland, tall pine trees covering the forest, far view of the snow mountains and our tents laid out in the middle. Everyone were amused by this sight. I really felt jealous of the camp leader here, for he could stay in this heavenly place for close to a month. The real celebration of completing the trek was so visible today in all of us or may be the very place demanded a celebration.

By this time, my body had started answering, I felt a little tired. I took out my camera and started exploring the camp site. Soon handed over the camera to Suhas. Thought of spending some quite time watching the sun setting.  The energetic group resounded a YES! for any game. No one was inside the tent that whole evening. They played Lagori, Kho-Kho and Dodge ball. I am sure they had great fun. I had fun watching them play.

You can see them in action in this picture. Lagori was in full swing. Every throw that hit the stones, a roaring sound of the group and then the game begins chasing the ball and the other team scattering not to get hit and mean while see that the stones are put back in its place. The games helped them get warmed up. It was an extremely cold evening.

Kho-Kho was like watching a comedy show. People were running left and right and everywhere reminded me of movie scenes of people catching a hen. Few others would ask which direction I can run & by then the players were off the scene... Ha ha!!!

They took a break for soup. We sat on the grass relaxing and passing the soup mugs after having a sip. Kalla dani would go for a second sip and the next person would snatch it from him. The games started again.

After an amazing trek for almost a week, this was the day to just sit and recollect those wonderful moments you had all these days. I have no doubt that every man who has walked this path will cherish them throughout his life. This will be one such chapter of my life which I will recall again and again and forever. Today when I look into those pictures captured while walking on the snow makes me so humble & thankful for all those who made this happen to me. I question myself often, was it really me who experience those blissful days in himalayas. Life is so beautiful!!! So Colorful!!!

Just when you were realizing how colorful our lives were, the nature around was preparing itself to end another beautiful day. The mountains at the horizon hid behind a cover of mist. The sky turned a mixture of colors. Rather the sight was as if different colors danced on the sky just as the painter moves his brush over his art. People who were engrossed in playing came running towards the hills to bid bye and enjoyed the sight of the lovely sky. Golden rays of the setting sun fell on the hills escaping through the tall pine trees. We watched the sky till it became completely dark and walked back to our tents.

After dinner I walked back to this place and sat for some more time with a plan to spend night out there watching the nature all night. Raja, the only impossible guy under the sun only can change such crazy plans of mine. We walked back to our tents.

Temperature was the lowest that night, we experience a 0 degrees. It was difficult to digest this fact when I was told so the next day morning. I was still alive, very much alive. The group quickly packed their bags to start their journey back to base camp after posing in the sun for a group picture. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Biskeri Thatch

A beautiful camp site surrounded by Snow moutains. A small waterfall's melody on the adjacent mountain. A small stream of water ran near the tent. We reached here around 3:30pm. The tea and hot pakodas were already waiting for us on the serving table.

                                                         - Picture taken by Amit Mehta

I was with the last batch which reached the camp as my legs always give hand while climbing down. On reaching late, it is always easy to identify girls tents, look for chappals in red, yellow or with strawberries, flowers on them... :P that will for sure be our tent... Ha ha!!! Our tent faced the waterfall on the opposite mountain. It was an amazing view. It was still sunny at 4pm, we put our clothes for dry after a roll over in the snow for the whole day.

The group sat out for long time sipping in hot soup. Everybody very implicitly celebrating the day, the pride of conquering those tall mountains, the himalyan mountains. A joy we relished every moment being with the nature, being a part of her and in her. Once it got dark there were none outside. We collected our blankets and sleeping bags and packed ourselves inside the tents till the dinner was served. We were all too tired after long hours of trekking. We had our dinner early and said good night. I dint want to sleep so we decided to walk up the path were we got down and sit on those grass patches. But the rest of group were too tired to join me till there. We stood there for sometime and then forced ourselves to disperse to our respective tents.

 - Picture taken by Amit Mehta

The next day morning was again so very beautiful. The view mesmerized many of us and unlike other days, this day I saw lot many people sitting and watching the sunrise. What was so special in today's sunrise I never know, may be people felt that the sun was celebrating our successful completion of yesterday's trek in Sarpass and was congratulating us with his all the more bright rays. Yea I remember he was very bright this morning. I loved the way my day started.

After the usual routine of bed tea, submitting the blankets, breakfast, pack lunch and counting before starting the next day's trek, we started climbing down the hill. I loved today's journey even more as I decided to stay with my group, all these days I kept faster pace but since I knew my weakness I din't want to bother my knees much and so kept a slower pace. And it was truly a rewarding decision for it let me enjoy every color of nature with its leaves, fallen trees, shadow game the sun played with the trees and many many more such beautiful scenes.

By this time Suhas was totally in the world of photography. He dint spare even a single thing that came his way. He clicked and clicked and clicked till he felt it was a good shot. He would them come running to show them to us... :) 

 Manu had his own good time playing pranks and this time Adi had mild heart attack when he heard a big noise from no where and suddenly Manu jumps out of a tree trunk. Earlier Suma was a easy target who was almost in tears in spite of Dani being with her.

After a small rappelling down, we reached the lunch point next to a beautiful water fall. Adi and Raja were tempted to take a dip in it. They appoint Manu to keep a watch. Manu proved a good watchman (of course not by watching them but by taking few nice clicks  ..:P Now don't ask me how do I know that they were nice shots...ok  :P) Here at the lunch point, Suhas and Dani were in the kitchen preparing Omlette for themselves. We had tea which was'nt so good but we would just sip in anything hot in the name of tea. After filling our tummy, we were back on track.

There was a long way to walk to reach the last camp. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Big Day through SARPASS !!!

We reached Tilalotni... the highest altitude of 12500ft at which we would spend a night. The campsite was covered with snow in all directions. It was a treat to our eyes.

Naturally it was very cold here. But we dint want to sit inside the tent and miss a chance to embrace the nature at its best. Sight was so beautiful that our eyes said NO to close even for a while. We climbed on a rock near the campsite and captured several unforgettable shots which are now hung on the walls of my room. I see them every moment I spend in my room. I miss them too!!!

- This picture is one of my favorites!!! I love it so much ... & this is the first thing I see in the morning!!! :)        

After a hot cup of tea and soup, few went exploring the campsite. It was picture perfect place. Manu enjoyed flaunting different poses in front of the camera. Now I know why he likes Pavan Kalyan so much as a hero! My favorite jamoon was served for dinner. We got into our sleeping bags soon after the dinner as we had start our next day trek very early by 4:30AM. No kidding. And so only I remember this camp more or less as a military camp. This being a huge team, we agreed upon waking up at 2:30am. Agreeing is different than executing it guys. Pity me, I dint know that these people were serious about it. The camp men came at sharp 2:30am to every tent and refused to leave untill every person in the tent got up n sat with their tea mugs... Huh. I was as always the last one to do that. I was shouting that I have got up even when I was still lying with my eyes closed. Finally when the tea came I had to get up for it.  The group was ready to start their big days trek to cross Sarpass at 5am. Every one of us were waiting for this day. No doubt this day proved that it is worth all the compromises & risks that were taken just to be here. The feeling of being on top of the world was all ours today. 

We were finally crossing the Sarpass. One of the sherpas who accompanied us was in Byillakuppe for close to a decade. He told us that as soon as we mentioned that we were from Mysore. Small World!!!

The ice was fresh and slippery. Our forclaz shoe with Vibram soles was of great help, the grip it provided at every step on ice made me realize the value of every pie I paid for it. We thanked Rohi for his suggestion on buying this shoe. This was the best and most worthy investment we made for this trek. Since the ice was still fresh and loose our legs would go deep into the ice almost till our knees. Dani knows better than anybody about how slippery and risky it was to walk on fresh ice. He almost missed a heart beat when he fell and tumbled few steps while climbing. Naveen who was right behind him managed to grab this guy and from then Dani was extra cautious while walking on ice. 

We reached the highest point 13800ft. Few jumped with joy, wrote their names on snow, slept on never ending snow posing for the camera and few others clicked pictures with Indian flag. 

After a while the fun game of sliding started. This was the best part of this day's trek ofcourse every bit of this moment at this altitude was like heavenly. We put on our rain pants to slide with rockets speed. We loved sliding so much that we said NO to walk and started sliding even for short distances. And when we tried doing this where there was no slope to slide down we hit our bum like "dhabb" and still refuse to climb up, we used to crawl down with our legs....

After enjoying or rather practicing to slide, we stopped for tea at the tea point. I enjoyed a nice nap, I was probably compensating the short of sleep I had the previous night... :P We then saw the view of Biskeri peak which was almost a 90 degree vertical climb. A rope was tied and let down, holding which we had to climb this stretch which might have been close to 30 feet. 

From the peak, we were now ready for the gaint slide. No rollacoster ride can beat this one. We watched others landing in variety of ways. Few went slowly while the person behind them would come like rockets colliding with others. Those who missed their balance landed on their stomach with snow covered faces. Few rolled and tumbled down. Our hats and rain coats departed from us half way and the person coming behind us would bring them while sliding. people screamed on top of their voice, made various sounds as they slide. I was told that we were sliding at a speed of 41kmph.

It was just the begining, there were several slides further till we reached the next camp. Once we all did this gaint slide, we started playing with ice throwing ice balls at eachother. Your hands literally burns in snow. Maximum tan and frost bite at the sametime can be experience at this place alone. We did another slide curled like left and right to reach the lunch point. We had yummy maggi hear. Raja expressed his love for another round of maggi and the whole team joined for the second serving. Well at every tea point we would sip in endless tea and today we wanted something more to celebrate the success of crossing Sarpass. And maggi got all its credits for joining us in this moment of merimment. We laid ourselves drying in the sun and packed our bags towards Biskeri Thatch. After a short while from the lunch point was another slide. Our guide took us to the middle of one of the mountains and made us slide down. Getting to this middle of the mountain was the most scariest point. I was literally crawling on the snow with both my hands holding the snow deep down. the slide was like ONCE MORE... We entered the forest and by evening 3pm we reached another wonderful camp site BISKERI THATCH. We were so happy for completing the Sarpass and even after a several weeks that I am writting about it, I feel so good about it. I am jumping with joy. And I guess we were all on cloud 9 even after sliding down several slides.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Zirmi - Rain & snowfall composed on the same day!!!

We saw the ZIRMI camp banner and little distance from there it started raining. I stretched out my hands and I could feel small small pebbles of ice falling on my hands. It was blissful.

Zirmi - Meaning Mountain sheep; goat. I somehow liked the name and was waiting for this day. It was no disappointment. A Lovely campsite. We were very close to the snow. You would feel as if a lil more distance and there are, amidst snow.

The camp leader Vivek Khole was our campleader in Caranzol, goa trek as well. It was good to see him again. Even after reaching the camp it lightly drizzled but dint stop us from collecting the hot tea and aloo bonda. We could hear songs from one of the tents, few more joined them.

When the rain gave a break, we took a short walk to a near by hill and started our Music session. Lil later Pallav ji and the camp leader himself joined the show. Romantic numbers by ARR and Md Rafi were recollected. We were all lost in the wonderful blend of music and nature.

                                 - UT thank you for this pic... It brings back lotsa sweet memories!!!!

 Tu hi re... Tu hi re... perfectly set the mood and we all swayed with the tune. Started getting darker and colder, we dint want to disperse... even now while writing about it I feel I want to write more about this evening. It was an unforgettable evening for me! I seriously felt I should start my music classes again.

The camp leader reminded for an early dinner. And it was the best food ever had before. It tasted even more yummier may be because of the cold and other factors, but it was the best. I dint eat, I hogged. Once we were inside the tent after the dinner, it started to rain rats & cats. It rained the whole night. And since the tents were put on a slope, I was worried that the water would run into the tents & made sure I cover my camera with my rain coat. Fortunately we dint have anything like that in spite of the heavy rain. And I slept like a baby and this was the last day I slept so well in the rest of the trek.

                                 - Beautiful view of the Snow mountains. Picture taken by Utkarsh

Every morning, my day would start early, walk to an aloofed place, sit on a rock and wait for the sun to come up. The warmth you feel when the first few rays of sun kisses your skin is so good. I used to sit quiet but with hundred and one thoughts running in my mind. After a while I used to get some calm. It was difficult to get answers for certain subtle questions. But neither I stopped asking them. I used to struggle to come out of that rush of thoughts, the serenity of the nature around helped me enjoy both the noise inside and the peace outside my mind. I used to enjoy this part and hated when they called for breakfast. I refused to move from that place till I see others packing theirs bags and throw them out of the tents. I would then go fresh up, lazily do the packing and get ready for the count.

Hoping to meet Vivek Sir again in another trek with YHAI, we bid bye to him and to his wonderful kitchen staff. After a short distance from Zirmi, we saw small patches of snow dried up and hard. From there it we were walking on snow and as we reached the tea point, there was light snow fall and it became windy. We sheltered ourselves in those tents put up at the tea point. Tea and Maggi continued to do its magic.

There are certain things even the best writer fails to put in words, THE GREAT HIMALAYAS is one such place. I don’t even give a try, for how much ever I try to describe it, it is for sure an understatement. Also its nice to fantasy the mother nature, the way you want and wait for that day to experience it by yourself and for those who have experienced this, they know what I mean. This trek was giving me many first time experiences, snowfall was one among them. I was feeling like standing my arms stretched out feel the snow falling right on my face. We had seen right amount of everything throughout the trek so far. A lil rain and snowfall, like trailers… Poori picture was waiting for us the next few days at sarpass.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Khordu Thatch

Next day trek was in dense forest. We packed our lunch and started our trek to Khordu thatch. Our guide was a local of Shilah village, he spoke all the way keeping us occupied. Our group leader used to be the last person walking. The trek was uphill today. We walked at our own paces, the fast ones used to be with the guide ahead, few would give a stop to click pictures in between and the slower ones at the end. Once in a while we stopped for the rest of the group to reach, take a count and start again. We stopped for lunch after a while. Hot tea, Maggie and Omlete was served. We would go sit next to the fire they had put to beat the cold. 

After trek for another hour and a half we reached the next camp, a warm welcome by the camp leader in Khordu thatch. He was assisted by two MBA students. The tents were put on slopes so sleeping directions changed with every camp depending on the way it was put. 

- One among the two MBA students assisting the camp leader.

We sat on a rock putting our clothes for dry. Soon after the dusk, it used to get colder. Later in the evening tea & peanuts was served for snacks. Hot Soups used to be every bodies fav. We helped ourselves with several rounds of soup along with chit-chat sitting behind the camp. Somewhere in between me and Manu mentioned about our releases scheduled back in ofc that day. We were scolded black and blue for that :P That was the last time the thought of ofc came to my mind. Everything was left far behind after I reached the next camps. Nights used to be extremely cold, we used to sleep very close to each other keeping all our bags at the sides to stop the wind entering the tents from the flapes. 

The next day morning, as usual routine of cleaning the tents was made a little fun. We were asked to decorate the tents and the cleanest tent was awarded. We gathered all fallen leaves and branches to make it look welcoming for the next batch. I am sure SP7 people were spooked to see a horn kept right in front of the tent. Ha Ha… Well it was’nt that bad either.

- Vidya writes a Welcome note for SP7. Nam too at work.

After bidding bye to those wonderful people in Khordu thatch we started trekking in same the dense forest. Within no time we reached the lunch point. Few of them dint want to stop for lunch hence continues further. We relaxed for while stretching in the sun, charging our batteries with solar chargers, tea, omlete  as always and the GUju gang sang songs. Few got down to catch better signals and made calls. Post lunch the weather changed and we wore our rain jackets.

                                                                                     - Anurag, he gave us the task to decorate the tent. Very nicely justified why he awarded the second tent and not the rest. Suma even today repeats few of his dialogues with actions. She seemed to be impressed.. :P

The rest of the day was very beautiful and one of my best experiences in the trek. Would like to write it in the next episode of Zirmi!!!