Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Caranzol to Nandran & finally to Tambdi Surla - Day 7, 8

          We wanted to start the next day trek at a relaxed pace as we had a short distance to cover. We would trek mostly through the forest roads never to take right in which case we would again reach Dudhsagar. On our way, we spotted a board which read 500mts to Ghost Canon. This 500mts never came for almost a kilometer. The canon was full of rocks with water standing in between its two banks. We reached Aranyak where we took a pit stop.
We next stopped for lunch on the road side. Inspite of taking sweet time, we reached Nandran camp site very early by 2:30PM. We dried our clothes in that hot afternoon sun, within no time they were dried. This camp had two deep wells for water. We had to pull the water out from well using buckets and use it for drinking and all other needs. The evening snacks had tea and peanuts. We took a stroll around this beautiful camp site to locate a watch tower.

Suma scared a pity spider by snapping a macro shots at it a hundred times.  We saw panther marks on the trees around the camp, we were warned not to go out after dark. We started going through the pics taken, we were excited to see them on big screen. Our group had grown big with wifi and team, Ashi lured us by showing the pics of Sarkundi. Amazing place!!! We had our supper and assembled for our last campfire of our trek. Santhosh ji entertained us with his soulful songs. Camp leader too shared few jokes with us. Followed by songs and dance. We dint want to sleep so early so few of us continued our singing, dancing and experience sharing sessions. Mandeep finally danced!!!

The last day trek was a long one and also to be covered by noon. Santhosh uncle and Alka Aunt bid bye to the rest of the trek members as they were to catch a early train to Mumbai. We all missed their lovely company. We started early, initially the trek was inside the forest for almost 6kms. Reached a small stream. Our first pit stop. We reached another beautiful stream on the way. We relaxed here for a long time. Soon crossed a trench which was being dug to avoid public entering into the forest. After the forest exploration we were to walk on those tar roads, saw such roads after a long break. But this stretch was extremely tiring because of the hot sun. I literally threw myself on the road at one point of time. It was not too long fortunately. We reached the ancient temple in tambdi surla. Suma liked this name Thambdi Surla so much that she planned to name her childern after this name :P one will be named Thambdi and the other one as Surla!!! WOW. Imagine. The welcome drink here was the fresh stream flowing adjacent to the temple. The temple has a beautiful structure resembling any other south Indian temple. Like any other temples, this one too has few disfigured structures. But the linga in side the Garbha gudi was beautifully decorated with flowers.
       It was very difficult to hold back your tired body from resting in this temple. We reached the temple by 12:30 and the bus to pick us up back to base camp was scheduled to come there by 2:30PM. So we had enough time to relax. Chilled lime soda quenched our never ending thirst. We started our bus journey back to base camp in panaji. Anthakshari pitched in to keep us occupied while covering this long ride. We reached the base camp by 4:30PM. The camp was now less crowded. We waited for our extra luggages, sanchu
left the same day. We had plans to visit evening cruise and then have dinner outside. With great lot of difficulty and confusion we boarded Royale cruise, which was more or less a military school wrongly named a party cruise. We still managed to have lil fun and started looking for a good hotel to fill our empty stomachs.

Velsao - Dudhsagar - Caranzol of Day 5 & 6

The next trail was in dudhsagar forest. We had a train from Velsao to Colem station. It took less than an hour to reach the last station from where we would start trekking in the Bhagawan Mahaveer Sanctuary. The trek was inside the forest for the rest of the camp. Manoj Joshi in his briefing had mentioned about the ticks which are noticed in the forest which will bite the softer skin creating itching of skin. The solution for this problem was to apply a mixture of coconut oil and dettol. As soon as we reached colem, we applied loads of this solution, started walking in the dense forest. We looked for arrow marks every hundred meters. If for a long time one din’t find any arrows then it was clear that we were on the wrong track. We did mistakes couple of times. On such mistakes was to reach the rail track, perfect spot for pics.

We waited for a goods train to pass by and then Sathu located that the arrows showed a different path so we descend down to take the forest path. We spotted many streams on our way, to splash some water on the sweating face, filling our bottles and to soak our tired legs in it for some help. The camp was near a village, the camp leader whom we named Angaar, stood near the stream directing us towards the camp.

We found a lovely stream to take bath, extremely cold water added to the thrill of taking bath in a natural jacuzzi. Hmmm we had the best bath here. I felt like sitting on the banks of this stream forever, for there was so much of life here. Fishes playing around your legs, the music of the flowing water, felt so close to nature.

  ANGAAARRR had a grim face, giving a briefing and mentioned every small details about the camp. The dustbins, number of pits in the camp. So now what do we do learning this. Ha Ha!!! He was supposed to be in a military camp, he gave strict instructions about the timings to collect and return the blankets, food and keeping the tents clean. He had warned us, if the tents were not kept clean, we would not be given pack lunch… Oh god!!!! Sometime around 7PM, Santhosh sir gave commands to guys who marched left – right left – right… Ha Ha… I could hear guys making fun shouting – “arre 6:30 baj gaya, kambal vapas kardo!!!!”.

After the briefing, Su, Suma and myself went to the stream back and sat there till it was dark. This was the best part of the trek. Suma was telling the comments on the toilets in this camp – as they were “high from down” (?????.) Me & Su found people trying to capture pictures of butterflies in their camera…  HA HA !!! LOL!!! We usually speak nonsense but irrespective of what ever we speak, we have great fun spending time together and with the nature. Going back, super delicious pakoda and hot tea follwed by quick dinner. Bikinga guys also joined us here.

No lights but campfire went on. I was told in the morning that I had missed the fun. Imran Kismi, Aarmir khans were all out there performing that night :P

             We were to visit dudhsagar falls today. Camp leader joined us till the falls. There was very less water, so we dint get to see its real grandeur. We were strictly not allowed to get into the water. We walked on the rail track for a while and waited for a train to gush in when we were passing through on of those pitch dark tunnels. From here, we started descending down into the forest. Patches of grasslands in between. Camp leader  instructed us to apply the medicine for ticks now, we walked into the forest and the camp leader bid bye back to his camp to tame another bunch of trekkers.

Looking for a stream for lunch, we walked quite a distance. We were not sure to find any on the way so halted near the lime soda shop. After lunch few surrendered for a nap and few of us started UNO. We were 10 of us so naturally the game went for a long time. Nobody was in a hurry to reach the next camp. The game went for more than an hour by then a small group had left while those who were sleeping made themselves at home under a tree. The game was great fun. Rest of the trek till the camp was lil tiring where we had to climb and run down inside the forest.

 We reached caranzol camp by evening. Contrastingly camp leader of caranzol was very jovial and easy going man. He assured a separate charging point for girls ha ha!!! Yes, it was a tough game to get a two pin slot to charge your cell phone. Caranzol, another lovely camp right in front of the stream. We dint want to miss another lovely massage by the stream water. UNO geared up again, teen pathi also made entry under the guidance of Santhosh uncle. After tea, We climbed up the camp site, a open field covered by hills from all sides. Tried some photography till the dusk, few could make calls home using those thin signals. Today no missing the campfire for another round of dumb charades. Santhosh uncle sang some lovely songs dedicated to his lovely wife, who never came out of the tent during campfires. I should not forget to mention Vishal and Jathin’s Bhojpuri song.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Trek from Mobor beach to Velsao - Day 3 & 4

The real trek was to start today from Mobor beach to Benaulim, a 12km walk along the beach. I used to always dream of walking on the beach bare foot all the length of its shore. Every other second a wave comes and washes away the sand below your feet. The moment the bus dropped us from base camp to mobor beach, we threw our luggage on the share and jumped into the water. The strech of virgin beaches in goa had started treating us, leaving us alone from the otherwise crowded beaches.

We all had lovely time enjoying the natural acupuncture while walking. The sun was scorching as if angry with us. Probably that’s how goan weather is, but it was tiring to bear him. We were dead tired and stopped at every shack we came across. The lunch packed were again poori and aloo subzi…. No!!!! We pushed them into our empty stomach. After another round of swim in the beach, we all started walking again towards the next camp. All one could see the endless sea and the never-seen camp. We were desperately looking for the YHI Camp board which came after a long long time and that was 4:15 in the evening. So we had walked from 10:30 in the morning till 4:15 in the evening with an hour’s break for lunch.

We were welcomed by the camp leader in Beanulim. Welcome drink used to be RASNA served at 4:30. Two small rooms for girls and a big hall for the guys. The camp leader’s tent was adjacent. Camp had no bathrooms, so no bath. HUH!!!

After hot cup of tean and pakoda, we started exploring the place around. We were told that Benaulim had a good market. Wanted to visit it, but we choose beach over the market and went straight to the beach to watch the sunset. Sat there till dark and walked back to the camp. By 8 delicious dinner was served. Catched sleep early coz of the tablet which went in to cure my throat infection.

Next day morning, I had blocked nose. It was difficult to imagine a hard day of trek. I had to force myself get up and start the day. Anywys no worries of taking bath :P we freshened up and lined up for chole bathura. Packed lunch and started our next day trek to Velsao.

Strangely nobody went even close to sea today. Ha ha we were tired of beaches by now. Sun was even more sharper today. But the distance to be covered was much lesser than previous day.  So we took long pit stops more often. The group moved at its own pace. I was dead tired today, I was blaming myself for not working out properly before going there.

 We took shade under the coconut trees lined up along the shore. The moment you halted for rest, I would fall on my back resting on the luggage and within no time grab a nap. Most difficult part was to lift back the aching shoulders load them with the fat luggage and start walking again. I hated this part.

We were left just a half an hour walk to reach the next camp site. We found life guards house to have lunch and relax. We had lunch and started chit chat with the few others who had stopped for lunch. Sitting on top of the guards house we could get a nice view of the beach. For better connectivity Mr Wifi sat on the tower waiting for better signals. Ha ha!!!! Ashish, Mohit aka Wifi, Survesh aka Par Par paresh and Parimal, who sings so good.

Reaching camp, Velsao camp was lovely, facing the beach. A perfect evening to spend on the beach and enjoy the last sunset of the year. I could not stop myself from throwing into the water. No regrets, for now I know what I would have had missed in that case. I had gala time in the beach.

Well, taking bath in after a dip in salt water was a must. This was new variety of bath.... no further details. The bath was refreshing, so was the tea too. Charging points were available here, I managed to fill in some life to my dead S2 for I had to make or receive calls for the night. Post dinner we had plans for Camp fire on the beach, a real camp fire ha... Not like the one in base camp with few bulbs HUH!!!  Goa has a ritual of burning an old man while they welcome the new year. The story seemed interesting to me, like this old man who has a cigar in his mouth and a bottle in his hand is burnt implying that we leave behind all our bad habits and start the new year as a better person. Well the story remains just a story most of the time. We played anthakshari till it striked 5 minutes to 12, this was the best part - that crowd crossed all craziness by creating our own forms of the same, sang the same line hundred times, searching for songs on our phones, at times guys danced in excitment "chumma chumma de de ...." OMG!!! it was. Clock ticked 12 finally, all started shouting a countdown and announced a new year... My watch still showed a minute left, anyways our phones started ringing. Every body around exchanged greetings. We walked close to the sea, enjoyed the crackers throwing colors in the sky ...a nice place to start a year ha!!!! We walked back to our tents but the phone calls never ended. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Unseen Goa In detail - Day 2

Hot tea at 5:25AM. You need to be ready by then to have it. I had to forget sleeping till late for the rest of the camp. After a warm up, We were ready for the rock climbing and rappeling. This was my second rock climbing task after the one I did in Nilshi, Mumbai. I had fun doing it.

To get acclamatised to walking, we did a short trek to Dona paula, a lovely place. We walked from Miramar beach which was right behind the camp site for couple of kms. We reached a garden facing the beach. The guide who had come along with us, asked us to keep our lugguages on the benches and settle down on the grass. Quick round of short introduction of all the participants, about their previous treks through YHI. We were very few freshers. Majority of them had atleast done one in the past. I was surprised to know that many had done Sarpass, Sarkundi treks more than once. The age group was also diverse. Youngsters naturally out numbrered, but none the less there were many who were here enjoying their retired life. There were 26 guys from IIT BHU, Varanasi. 4 from Nagpur both doing their BTech. Many from bangalore including us. The guide had to choose amoung us as a leader, deputy leader and a environment leader. Rohit the most common name suggested for all the posts... I still don't understand why. Finally we had Vishal from BHU as a leader, Santhosh Sir as deputy leader who was accompanied by his beautiful wife Alka Aunt. Rohit had to become the environment leader. So you know his job... :) Interesting. By now we had atleast few names registered. The group started moving towards Dona paula. The sun was scorching forcing us to quench the thirst with a lime soda. Climb up a few steps, a lovely sight of miramar beach and the shore getting dreched by those small waves.

We boarded a bus from dona paula to reach the base camp. After lunch, we submitted our extra luggage. UNO had started playing its charm on us. We had a breifing session by Manoj Joshi. I was surprised to see this man, whom I imagined to be a young man after listening to him over fun, was a young at heart man with so much energy and zeal. He educated us about the history and geography of Goa. Noting down the route map for the trek which was to start from next day. Snake show was scheduled just to make us aware of the common snakes found in the goan forest. Lil about what has to be done if we come across this creatures and handle the situation if one gets kissed by them. Lotsa myths more than facts. Awesome queries and equally interesting replies. Our hero was brought in a sack, we were assured that it was a non venomous snake so guts played less role, all liked feeling his skin, holding him, posing with him. But the snake charmer was always careful enough to make sure that his dear darling was not hurt by any of us. Dinner time, yummy!!!!

Unseen Goa In detail - Day 1

         YHI was always in my top list for it being very afforable and being different from any other travel groups. Its a great opportunity to seen the unseen through YHI. When I was plannin my shutdown, I came across Goa National trekking expedition for 9 days from their  website. Seemed okey for me to take 4 extra leaves. Informed frens and as expected only few could say yes. Till the last minute we dint have the list of those who would be going to goa. Finally, lucky ones made it - Me, Su, Suma, Sumanth and Adi. We booked the transport and the programme almost two months ahead of the date. Got our leaves approved and waited for the new year holiday.

We planned to start from bangalore on 27th evening. Suhas, Manu, Abhi, Manas had come to see us off from majestic at 8:30PM. Suhas knew what he was missing now. We reached Goa by 9AM to report in Campal base camp, panaji Gao. Panaji bus stand was crowded, weather was contrasting to that of bangalore showing 33 degrees. We were now sweating inside a local bus to reach campal, a 15mins ride from bus stand. The buses in panaji will not move out untill they are completely packed with passengers. The conductors job is to use his best skill to fill in as many people as possible. The fares are super cheap & the driver is kind enough to stop where ever you want. We least effort we reached the base camp. It was close to 10AM. We checked in, collected our IDs searched for our alloted tents. My first impression lookin at the tents was like - "Am I spending the rest of my 9 days here... ???" Well it was my own choice to come here. There were family camping, biking guys, sailing team and the huge trekking crowd. Easily more that 600 people. The frustration grew after we looked around the camp and esp the bathrooms. We were forced to digest it. We freshed up, planned to go around the city for the rest of the day, as there were no activities. We collected our knapsack, bedspreads and inner sleeping bag. These added to our assets till the end.

Shubha from bangalore who was in the same bus as ours also joined us. We took a short walk to find a small hotel to have puri and bhaaji. We started to calangotte beach around 15kms from the panaji bus stand. Ride was a long one in the local bus sitting in the last row enjoying the view of the city with every house decorated for chirstmas. Calangotte beach was crowded like mad. One could sight people every where enjoying a ride on motor boats, banana rides, bumper rides and the parachutes a lil far. For coming in the peak season, we managed to get a deal of Rs500 for all the sports. We enjoyed all the rides except me having a tough time in parasailing, not while in air but sailing. I could easily decide that sailing is not my cup of coffee.

We had late lunch in a hotel near the beach, we took a bus back to panjim bus stand and to the base camp. We took bath in cold water. Sipped in hot tea and ready for the dinner. Dinner had chappathis, aloo baaji, rice sambhar, kheer. pretty much the same all the days. We were informed to assemble for briefing about the programme by the camp leader SP Chauhan, a handsome man. He spoke about the rules, camp site and about the next day plan. Then another round of bournvita surved, lights off by 11:30PM.