Saturday, August 30, 2008

Skandagiri Trek

Skandagiri is 73km from Bangalore. Located at an altitude of 1750 mts, its a beautiful location for moderate trekking. This is essentially a night trek, but we decided to trek in the morning as girls were accompanying us. The trekking day started off with me searching for ATM at 4:30 AM. I then picked up Manish and Uttaran. Arun and Kiran were right on time. So the only people who were late at the start point(EGL) were Ozzy and Prerna.There can never be a trek without at least one person getting late. We never thought getting out of the city would be a problem, but it turns out Uttaran (Our Navigator) has not done his "classwork". We were roaming around the city to find the exit to Bellary road. Finally, we were out and cruising along the highway. Reached Chikbalapur at 7:30 AM, and soon found our way to basecamp of Skandagiri. We parked our cars at basecamp, and found a guide for the trek. Although a guide is not needed for the morning trek, we decided to hire him nonetheless. We started the climb around 8:00AM, and it took us 3 hours to reach the top. We had few first timers with us, so we had to stop at regular intervals for them. Irrespective of the stops we made it to the top in good time. On the way we saw all the 6 circular fort walls as stated in the wiki .

A View From The Top

There were supposed to be two unexplored caves which are python infected. We didn't get a chance to see them, but if i ever go there again, thats something i want to see. Prerna was struggling, as the climb was steep. Apart from a few statements like "You guys carry on, ill be here. Pick me up when you come down", "I don't think i can make it" she mustered enough energy to reach the top. Energy bars must have done the trick :) . Ozzy was not doing any better either, he conveniently declared the trek as Fitness Awareness Session. While Arun and Uttaran, our official photographers were busy shooting pics, we were enjoying the scenic beauty form the hill. We could see mist and lush green trees all around us. Manish showed us a beautiful spot to rest and nap for a while but we ignored it at that moment.

Another View

That was a big mistake because, on the way down we could not get to that spot as it was already occupied by "shrill voiced" college girls. We finally managed to conquer the hill only to find no shade at the top. There was nothing there except a small temple.

Photo Time Folks!!

The place was dirty, and filled with plastic papers and bottles. Alas! the beauty of the place was spoilt by irresponsible city idiots. It was scorching hot and no place for us to hide. After searching around a bit we settled down in a place and started our regular chitchats. The topic of discussion was none other than our Sunflower boy. We seriously need to find better topic to discuss. We had some food, so we got busy munching them. Prerna had made some rolls which were delicious and in matter of minutes it was over. It was very clear why this place is meant for night trek. There are no tress or rocks on top for shade. So by 12:30 PM, we decided to climbdown and stop at a place for lunch, which never happened. Climbing down was also a little tough as it was steep. So much so that everyone there managed to come up with a theory of why goats can climb down comfortably than humans. Since Prerna was the one leading the pack and was pretty comfortable than she was when climbing up, Arun nicknamed her "The Goat". Ozzy and Manish were falling behind and the reason being few "Natural Beauties" ;-).

Climbing Down The Hill With "The Goat" Leading The Pack

We reached the basecamp by 2:30 PM. It was blistering hot. On our way to Bangalore we decided to stop at a road side Dhaba for lunch. We found one soon after a sudden downpour. It was rather strange to see the weather change so suddenly. Nonetheless, it was awesome driving in the rain and with our CJ (car jockey) Arun playing superb rock number i had no complain.

A Funny Notice
We had a long lunch session discussing topics from liquor to linux and finally reached Bangalore at 5:30 PM. It was a fun trek and iam looking forward for more. And before i forget, kudos to Kiran for dirtying her "Orbit White Shoes".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Excited About Trek To Skandagiri!!

This is all in all uttaran's idea. Initially i was hesitant about Skandagiri as i was planning the same trek with another group. I realized that might not happen as my other group is full of ditcher's. This is the chance to make it there. We made all our plans, we will start at 5:00 am from egl and hope to return back by 7:00pm. In our usual long tea breaks we decided what stuff to be carried. We are 6 of us taking 2 cars. Me and Ozzy are the car drivers. Arun might bring another person along, not decided yet. These folks want me to cook at the peak!! Iam not sure if thats gonna happen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Testing The New Template

This really not a post, but just to test the new template. I might not del this post after all.
Wanna know more ?
This is supposed to be hidden, lets see if this works, or else ill be back to square 1. Btw, iam done with getting a new license plate attached to the car, iam happy now.Done it!!! now my read more... works on IE and FF

Monday, August 25, 2008

When traditions conflict modern outlook

Just few days to go for my cousin's wedding, iam a nervous wreck. First, i will be asked to wear dothi which i have never worn all my life. I feel very insecure with the traditional outfit. Just when iam getting accustomed to what i have to go through, there come another shocker. The Bridegroom is supposed to put a ring on my fingers!!! Isint is what people do in gay marriages?? I hoping none of the bridegroom's friends from US will attend the wedding.

Broke the number plate!!

Yesterday, i managed to break the license number plate of my car. I admit it was my fault that i did not notice the bike parked behind my car. I could not see from my rare view mirror as the bike was parked using the side stand. It was totally not visible in the mirror causing the accident. Whom should i blame? Me/Guy Who parked the bike/The car manufactures ?. I know it has to be me, but i think the car manufactures must start having this beeping sensors in the rare, to identify any objects not seen through the mirror.

Trip To Kakinada & Yanam

Phani's wedding was something i was looking forward to. The wedding was to take place at Vizag and the reception at Kakinada. I planned on attending only the reception. The main attractions apart from the wedding was food. This town is supposed to be famous for crabs and peserets (dosa). I reached on 23rd morning and headed to the hotel. I met couple of my college friends who had also come for the reception. Knowing that the reception is only in the evening we decided to take a cab and head to Rajamundri. We wanted to spend sometime at the banks of river Godhavari. The moment we stepped outside the room, we felt the heat and we rushed back to the room. The rest of the day was spent watching movies on my laptop. The food at the reception was extraordinary. So after a heavy dinner we decided to take a cab to Yanam. Yanam is a union territory, about 24 km from Kakinada. Booze is supposed to damn cheap at Yanam, so we made sure we go there that very night. Little did we know that Yanam was a very small town and a decent accommodation was not possible. Besides it was already 10:30 pm and we were not in a position to search for a good motels. We settled down in a small stinking room with A/C. The toilets were so dirty that we decided to skip the morning downloads :-). We spent rest of the night boozing and talking about politics. On sunday morning we went around Yanam only to find a river bank. After few hours, we could no longer tolerate the heat.

The River Bank, Yanam

We boarded a bus back to Kakinada. We reached Kakinada around lunch time, so we walked around to find some hotel that serves Andhra meals. But it was so hot that we abandoned the search and settled for an A/C restaurant. It was time to say good bye to Kakinada, but the heat had other plans. It was not a very comfortable train journey from Kakinada to Bangalore. To make things worse there was a kid near me who was playing "spiderman" by hanging on the chains and jumping from one seat to another. It was a tiring journey but food was something i will remember for a long time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Week Of Iranian Cinema

After the trek, it was time to relax. Nothing befitting than watch some good movies. Thats my idea of relaxation in city.I had 3 movies lined up for viewing. The first one was "The Dark Night", "Children Of Heaven" and "The Color Of Paradise". Dark Night is the latest batman flick which everyone is talking about. The "excellent" casting of Heath Ledger as joker is often raved about. I have seen it on dvd before and was not all that impressed about it. But after lot of people recommending me to go to the theaters, i decided to give it a shot. Surely it was not as bad as i thought. It was very good entertainer and worth a watch. I guess its the best batman movie so far. This blog entry is not to talk about this movie, rather about two Iranian cinemas i have seen on the same day. I was a bit skeptical of Iranian movies as i thought it would be about some religious nut cases trying to make a point. But it turns out to be way more than that. It makes Hollywood/Bollywood movies look dumb. I guess they are dumb when compared to this.

Children Of Heaven: (Majid Majidi)

This is a simple story of brother and sister living in poverty. The boy (brother) looses his sisters shoes at the market. Afraid to let their parents know of the loss, they begin sharing the one pair of shoes. The little girl wears it to school in the morning and the boy takes it from her in the afternoon. The story moves on with lovely incidences that bring you delight and awe. The movie's got some amazing moments to cherish. The pair is so natural with those furrowed faces, anxious knitted brows, range of sad faces they come up with make it worthy numerous viewing. My top three moments in the movie has to be , the scene where both the children sit in front of their parents and exchange glances and talk to each other in writing so as to avoid their parents overhearing the loss of the shoe. The scene where both the children follow the little girl who is using the "lost" pair of shoes, only to realize that they live in much more poverty than them. Finally, the climax, its a poetic finish to the story. Its a must watch for all people who love good movies. Frankly, Dark night stands no chance in front of this movie. No special effects, no big actors, no hi-funda concept, just purely human and lovable.

The Color Of Paradise: (Majid Majidi)

Another masterpiece from the same director. This also an Iranian film. The story is about a boy, who is rejected by his father because he is blind. The story goes on to show what feelings a person goes through when not liked by people he loves. The movie also shows the angle where the father feels that a blind son can never lift him off his poor economic status, hence only a burden. The boy is taken to his village to meet his grandma and his sisters and realizes that he would want to stay with them and study in their school rather than a blind school. The movies rolls out in slow pace with beautiful cinematography, breath taking scenery. I have never cried for any movie before until i saw this. It was truly touching when the father realizes his mistake and tries desperately to save his dying son. Its sure to make you cry. This is a movie with such strong message, human value,love and caring.

I know theses movies are of different genre and not the same as action flick. But still it make me wonder why cant people take movies like this with good social message. Hats of to Majid Majidi for bring us such great cinema.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Trek At Muthati

After week long anticipation of the trek at kodachadri (near shimoga) that was planned 1 month in advance, the air was filled with disappointment. We learnt that shimoga was flooded due to heavy rains and trek was not possible. The long awaited trek had come to an end even before it started. We had 3 days to kill and no plan in place. Sensing this few of my friends decided to head home rather than wasting their time in bangalore doing nothing. We were down to just 4. We decided to drive down to nandhi hills near bangalore. We knew it was not a trekking spot, but at least it took us out of the city. Nandhi hills trip proved to be a good time pass, but there were far too many tourist to actually have fun. In matter of 15 mins we decided that we shall trek Muthati the next day. Raja and Joe were the people who worked out the logistics for the trek. I took the responsibility of driving and kicha, hmm sleeping. We started from bangalore at 6:30 AM on Saturday. We had enough food and water, as there would be nothing available there. We left the city via kanakapura road. The roads were very good, so we cruised at around 80kmph.

Raja, Me and Joe before we left bangalore.

It was decided that we shall have our breakfast at some restaurant in kanakapura. We reached there around 7:45 AM. We found it difficult to get a decent place to eat. Even though there were small hotels on the way, we could not park our car. Finally we found one small hotel for breakfast with a good car park. By 8:10 AM we were on our way to a small village called Sathnur. The road at this stretch was bad and narrow so we decided to slow down. Once we reached Sathnur which was around 16km from Kanakapura, we took a deviation to head towards Muthati which is around 18km. The roads were narrow so we had to be careful. We were a bit surprised that most of the journey from Sathnur to Muthati was downhill.

Road from Sathnur to Muthati

We reached Muthati around 9:15 AM. It was told that Muthati was a dirty place. But we did not find it that dirty. We found the forest department and payed Rs.150 per head for the trek. For a guide we had to pay Rs.150. The forest dept guy took the money and didnt give any receipt. On asking, he said if receipt is needed it will cost us more. We knew he was cheating us, but we decided to let go as we had to park our car in their camp and didnt want any trouble. Our guide's name was Nagaraj. He took us through a small hill to mark the starting point of the trek. We were told that there are various hills that can be covered in the trek depending upon difficulty and time. Joe had to catch a train at 10:00 pm the very same day, so we decided upon a trek route which would get us back by 3:00 pm. The route we decided was Muthati Base camp - Devanamundi Hills - Kalibetta - Mannabetta - Bheemeshwari - Muthati Base camp. We started our accent to reach Devanamundi which was the hardest part. It was very steep and by the time we reached our first destination we were exhausted. We rested for a while during which we saw the beauty of river cauvery flowing through the hills.

River Cauvery At Its Best

The next destination was Kallibetta, and way to reach it was a slippery rocks, untamed thorny bushes and tall grass. We had difficult time walking through these obstacles. Our guide was very helpful in clearing the way for us. He even offered to carry one of our backpacks as kicha was struggling. The most difficult stage of the trek was to jump to the other side of a huge inclined rock with a cactus plant exposing all its thorns at us. Our guide did it with ease. I was a bit nervous and i approached with great caution. Our only grip was the rock and nothing else to hold on to. In the end it was successful manoeuvre and all of us got to the other side safely. I managed to get a thorn embedded in my palm.

Me relaxing after the thorn incident

Our next stop was Mannabetta. This stretch was not as tedious as the previous ones. It was more like a stroll in the park. At this point we started noticing fresh elephant dung. Our guide cautioned us that an elephant had just crossed this path and we were to remain silent until we cross this stretch. Initially we were scared as none of us had seen a wild elephant. Soon fear gave away to excitement. We wanted to come face to face with a wild elephant. Suddenly we heard a noise near the thick bushes. We were sure it was an elephant. On further investigating we found that it was a lone woodcutter. Dismayed, we asked our guide if we can follow the elephant trail. He talked us out of it as it was very dangerous. We finally reached Mannabetta which had a watch tower. The scene from the watch tower was astounding. It was great view. It would have been good if we had an SLR.

A View From The Watch Tower

We rested in the watch tower for few minutes before we continued our trek to Bheemeshwari. This was a piece of cake and we reached Bheemeshwari at 1:15 PM. We had tender coconut water and walked to the river bank for lunch. We saw a funny "No-Plastic Zone" sign on the way.

A Funny Notice
We ate our full near the river cauvery. We decided to head back to the base camp. The route to base camp was not tough but we found it hard after the heavy meal. We went to another watch tower and rested there for sometime. The main problem was the number of accents and descents in the trek which tires a person quickly.

Pretty Tired Kicha :-)

Our guide promised us that route to base camp was very easy. It was easy and we managed to reach the road to base camp. We had to walk 6km on road to reach the destination. We were thirsty and tired. We walked as fast as we can to reach the camp. On the way we saw police patrol question the lorry filling up sand. We were not sure if it was illegal. We were also stopped by forest dept officials and inquired about our whereabouts. Our guide spoke to the officials and they let us go. We finally reached the base camp at 3:10 PM.

Wow!! its finally over.

There was a concern if i could drive back immediately after this tough trek. I decided to drive down without a break just to get away from a some IT folks who have gathered in the base camp for some team building activity. The drive back was tougher than i though due to exhaustion, but good old classic rock n roll kept me going with me singing "Highway to hell".

Total Distance Of The trek : 20km
Difficulty : Medium