Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kolkata Sep 2009.

The Night of Travel:
The train was to leave at 7 30 pm and me, Pakya(Sourabh N Nayak) and Baldya(Sandeep Vishwanath) reached Yeshwanthpur railway station at 7 15 or so to meet up with the fourth partner for the journey, Mr Srikanth Manikarnike later christened as Chopusey in the due course of the journey(considering his love for American Chopusey as the preferred dish whereever he goes).

Train left from Bangalore en-route to Kolkata. Then, by 9 or 10 pm, we were all hungry and hence I took out few chapathis which my sister had prepared. We had masala chapathis with tomato chutney. Super oota.

Then, we started getting aquainted to our neighbours in the train. Neighbours were trained army cadets. They had just finished their trainings and going home before they ll get posted in various parts of India. Found it interesting and inspiring to know about them.

Pakya was busy with his boob, eiks book on the Story of India. Sandy was busy reading his book on common-sense called Screenplay. Chopusey was busy reading his Jeffrey Archer novel. My scoop session had everyone engrossed on the night of journey. I planned to take a novel but could not. Then, Baldya gave me his notebook where he had written few of his ideas on direction, screenplay and other related ideas. Once I had finished reading that book, I was again without anything to do. Thats when Sandy gave me Mankuthimmana Kagga, a a great literary art in kannada literature by DVG. Started reading that and thats when some topic broke out and suddenly I found myself telling the scoops of South Indian film industry and related to some sportspersons in India. The situation which took which movie maker to make which movie and at the expense of what and what was the motive behind that was explained by me. Then Pakya gave me a comment saying that you know how to tell a story. I freaked out, literally. Dont know what I was saying. Some people take drugs and alchohol to get high. Take me out of bangalore or even my locality vijayanagar, and I ll get high. Donno what things I ll say.

So, this happened that whatever illogical statement we made was counted and obviously I leaded the charts. The count was incremented and maintained very religiously.

We reached the Howrah railway station Kolkata at 5 am, a solid 32 hours journey moving across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal. A noteworthy observation was the acres and acres of paddy-fields in Andhra Pradesh. It was such a picturesque site.
So, we were banking on the SBI guest house which was meant for SBI employees taking Baldya`s father`s SBI employee ID as reference. But when we went to one of the SBI guest house in Jadunath dey road. The hotel guy said coolly that the rooms were full. Then, when we searched for room in nearby area where the hotel receptionist gave a surprised look and shock at the seemingly unprepared us. This made us think of the trouble we were in. A whammy of fear in an unknown place!!. We were trying to book a room when it was the peak Dusshera season. Finally, somehow got into Kakudgachi area SBI guest house getting after some circus.
Got ready and saw few pandals of Kali mata accompanied by Tonmoy(our college mate) who works there in Kolkata.
Then, full taxi ride. Went to Kolkata Park Street for lunch followed by a desert at Flury's one of the oldest teahouse which serves European style confectionaries(found in 1927).
After that, we began sight seeing. Saw the church St.Pauls Cathedral, then Victoria Memorial(an alternative to Taj Mahal a memorial dedicated to Mumtaz). Tony left us after getting us to Babughat, next to the great Eden Gardens cricket stadium where Kali idols were immersed. It was a sight never ever seen by me.After seeing the young and the old enjoy the immersion of Kali idols in zeal on the banks of river Hooghly, the sorrow of Bengal. Sandy was so interested in the Kali idol immersion that he said us to carry on and that he will come back to the hotel room after some time. We were also of the same mindset. We stayed there for a good 4 hours before it was dawn.
It was so exciting to know the craze of people of Bengal especially during the Dussehra season.
We next went to a mall near Salt Lake city late night when we even managed to go to a disco. I wanted to be a disco-dancer there but there was no company for me to dance with. Hence, Mithun da inside me is still to be unleashed, atleast in West Bengal :). The day ended with a not-so-good meal(fish fry and biryani)

The next day, Tonmoy was to go to office. So we were all alone in the unknown city, with a tour`s guide in hand though. We had taken help from Tony for the route to world famous Kali temple. We were supposed to get a metro from Girish park station which was 20 mins away from Kakudgachi, our place of staying.
So, we got up and got ready to embark on a journey that we planned for the day. We took a bus to Girish park. Took a metro to Kalighat, the place name where there s the Kali mandir. Still can recollect a few stops en-route to Kalighat(Esplanade, Park Street....)
Kali temple experience was good. A person offered to get us the darshan of Kali mata. Once we refused to take flowers to offer Kali, he ditched us. After that, somehow we got the darshan of Kali mata where it was filled with people to the limit of breathlessness.
After Kali temple visit, we went to a nearby saree shop. Me, Chopusey and Baldya got sarees for our mothers. The shop keeper didnt give us even 1% discount, dont know why.
Then, Chopusey was supposed to meet his friend from college, a localite in Kolkata who had also been to Kolkata for Durga pooja. He went to meet him and me, Pakya n Baldya planned to explore the city.
We took a bus, trams and roamed around North and Central Kolkata. The best part about the trams in Kolkata is, the maximum price of ticket to roam around per trip is Rs. 4(yeah baby, you heard it right). Such a nice feeling to be travelling in tram. We also happened to interact with the conductor of tram on our way back to the guest-house. He showed us the College Road, University and other areas of Central Kolkata along with the significance of the same. An enjoyable tram experience indeed!!
After this journey, Chopusey joined us by 7 pm. We did a quick logical analysis and came to a conclusion to leave for Darjeeling that night.
Please do await my equally exciting Darjeeing saga in my next blog entry.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bandajje trek-A reality check(August 8th, 9th 2009)

The Preface:The discussion to trek to Bandajje which is near Dharmasthala of Mangalore district happened the day of the trek over chat. Chota Chethan who was planning to go alone invited me and sourabh to join him for the trek that afternoon and we both accepted the offer with glee. Tickets got booked in the Rajahamsa bus in KSRTC.

The route of the trek:Dharmasthala->Ujire(9kms)->Mundaje(9 kms)->Bandaje Arbi->Ballala Rayana Durga Fort ->Sunkasale.

Things to carry and take care of:
  • Tent and torch if you are planning to camp near the arbi waterfalls.
  • Water owing to the humidity of the area.
  • First aid kit.
  • If in monsoon, beware of the slippery terrain and leeches.
  • Elephants and bisons are know to exist, so beware!
  • September till April is the best time to visit. But in March, April the humidity can take the toll on your body.
  • May to August is the monsoon season and the trek is strictly for adventurous folks.

The night before the trek:Our bus was scheduled to leave at 10 45 pm, finally left at 11 45 pm. Have to blame the badly managed money making KSRTC for the delay:(.

By 6:30 am, we arrived at the Dharmasthala bus stand and took the nearest lodge to get ready. The holy Dharmasthala was as usual bustling with people and the since it was the monsoon season, there was cloud cover as well.By 7 30 am, we had darshan of Lord Manjunatha at the picturesque dharmasthala manjuntha temple. By 9, we had taken a bus to Ujire where we had breakfast. I had idli and upma along with a cuppa coffee.

Then we took a jeep to the Mundaje, the place where we started the trek.
After an hour or so, we were already facing the difficulty in trekking and Chota chethan, being the professional trekker that he is was leading and raced far away from us. Me and Sourabh were panting and puffing then. The humidity added with the terrain was turning out to be too difficult for us. I had a custom of not drinking water in my previous treks but all those customs went down the drain here. Added to that, the leeches were already attacking at full force and moving on our shoes. We did not take any preventive measures for leeches. So pick up the leech and throw it was the policy followed there.

Arabbi falls trek which goes past Bandajje forest and then the picturesque Arabbi falls.
Trek to the top of Bandajje,the leechy affair, the lush green grasslands,
Arabbi falls: It was a seriously beautiful place. A spot from where the cloud clears and when we get a view of the falls is a sight which one ll never forget for a long time.
By 5 o clock, we had a campsite behind the falls for which one has to cross the stream. Beware of flash floods during rainy season.
at 7pm, we were having the food which we took from Bangalore.
The pear fruit, the MTR ready to eat rice sambhar, man they still make me drool ;)
Chit-chat about the past trek experiences and sleep by 8 30 or 9

We woke up at 6:45 am, got ready a bit lazily to leave the place by 7 30 am. If its Chethan, it will be a difficult day of trek. So, me and pakya got prepared for the same and started trekking. Incidentally, we happened to bump into one of my previous collegemate Hariram en route to the top. Bandajje trek expert chota chethan was to their rescue to help them with the route for descent and other details. We could hear Harry and gang taking bath in the stream and conversing was audible to us.

Then, we went past grasslands and after an hour of trekking we were able to see the fort of Ballalaraya which was visible from a distance. I still cant forget the great view en route to the fort which extends very far. Then a steep trek of about 1 hour took us to the fort of Ballalaraya. The fort extended to a long distance on either side. It s a treat to the eyes to watch the same. We had a bisi-bele-bath MTR packet to savour there. I got a bit dizzy there. Then we got ready and started the descent. I lead the trek on way down.

We descended from the fort towards the district of Honnavar via the forest. Chota had warned us about the blood suckers`(leeches) presence in the fort. Before that, we had to encounter a slippery terrain for some time. Moiself and Chota could have been the casualties if something had gone wrong. We were lucky to have maneuvered the terrain. What followed that was a leechy affair. The sun was scantly visible in the thick jungles. If ever we planned to take rest, the leeches would have a feasty leg to savour. So, walk walk walk was the mantra of movement then. This jungle reminded me of the forest which we go past when we had gone to see Meenmutty falls in God`s one gountry Gerala:) So, after an hour`s descent, we had come to a place where there was a water source from a tank where we cleaned the leech prone shoes and legs. Got ready in a few minutes and walked on the road to a place called Kottigehara which was nearly 4 kms from the place of descent(Sunkasale).

From kottigehara, we took a bus to a place called Mudigere. In Mudigere, I was still in the unsettled state with respect to dizziness. Chota and pakya had a plate set dosa to quench their hunger while I was content with a tender coconut. From there, we took a bus to Chickamangaluru. I cant forget the taste of Bindu jeera masala soda which chota got there. Bindu JMS rox!! Then we got a bus to namma Bengaluru at about 3 pm and we were back to Bang ;) by about 10 pm. I got down near Navrang. Chota and Pakya went to majestic. They also had the pleasure of going to KFC :(

P.S: This tough trek taught me a few things about my body which I had taken lightly(related to cramps and fitness). Working towards a fit me post that. Also, my overconfidence about the things which I said in trek is still ridiculed among my BMS pals. Finally, I would like to sign off by saying All`s well that ends well. Right?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Shivagange, Tumkur on August 1, 2009- part 1

The plan initially started out as a 2 day trip before one of our friend Bhanuprakash leaves for his Masters to the US turned out to be a 1 day trip. And how memorable this trip was!! The initial plan was to go to Shivanasamudra and nearby places in Mysore in the mid of July. Then the destination got changed to Rottikallu, Sakleshpura which was planned for in the third week of July. And finally on Bhanu`s birthday night, after serious discussion about the places to visit and our knowledge on geography in and around Bangalore, we all agreed to go to Shivagange, Tumkur. Also in the itenary were Devarayanadurga and Namadachilume which are also pretty famous tourist spots in Tumkur.

Lemme introduce to you the characters of this travelogue:
  • Mony alias Bindass Mohan(as his orkut profile says) alias MMS(my latest nickname given to him).
  • Bhanusha alias Tagaru mari.
  • CC alias Dilip CC.
  • Bonda or Naveen Kumar B, my schoolie.
  • Lucky or Lakshman.
  • Govinda alias Venky, one of my closest schoolie.
The plan was to leave Bangalore by 5 am on saturday, August the 1st. I slept pretty late the last night at 2:30 am which has become a habit of mine. The lazy lord i.e "ME" kept moi mobile in the computer table draw and never ever bothered to keep it next to me before sleeping. Mony, CC and Venky called me nearly 10 times but to no avail. Hero was out dreaming ;) Then came a phone call at 5 20 am to my landline number which my mom picked up and woke me up :(. At the same time, Bonda also came to my place to wake me up. I told Bonda that I ll meet up with the other guys after 10 mins. Then, got ready within a flash which is one of my speciality:), sporting a tee-shirt, jeans, moi jacket and pair of sandals(sandals idea was cos the places we were about to visit had many temples). And then, I planned to leave for Mony`s place which was the starting point of our travel that day. I went there and sat next to their gate on a raised concrete structure. I was still in the hangover of having less sleep and thought over few things that came to my mind. Then came Govinda whose house happens to be down the street of Mony`s and asked me what I was doing there sittin alone. After few minutes, we went to Mony`s place, had a cuppa coffee and by 6 am, Mr Bhanusha had come with his Hyundai Santro. We all, moiself, Bonda, CC, Mony and Venky went to get into Bhanu`s car and thats when we came to know the first problem we were about to face, the space problem. 6 people in a car, 2 at the front(Bhanu and Bonda), myself, CC, Mony and Venky at the back(Are u kidding me??). Thats when the talks came of getting a two wheeler also along with the car for the trip. Also, we had to pick up Mr. Loocky from nearby Chandra Layout to make the magnificient seven who were about to summit Shivagange. So we left from Mony`s place to pick up Lucky boy and this is where the journey to Tumkur`s Shivagange istarts:

Shivagange, Tumkur on August 1, 2009- part 2

We waited for Lucky to come near Chandra Layout petrol bunk at nearly 6 30 am. He came ten minutes later that we thought which made matters worse. Three people were sitting at the front i.e Bhanu, Bonda and Lucky. They somehow could manage and then we thought it would be better to have a bike also. So we went back to Mony`s place. Then there was a slight discussion sparked off by Govinda saying that he shall stay back for some reason. We had to console him to nullify that decision of his. CC had got his bike and he was riding it already with Bonda as his pillion rider. The trip finally took off with Bhanu and Mony at the front of the car and myself, Govinda and Lucky at the back.

We were hearing to the very famous audio clipping named Rescue Ganesh which was the talk of the car ;). Bhanu had become a fan of this audio clipping. We went past Yeshwanthpur and in no time we were in Tumkur road. We were regularly in touch with the biker boys for that moment, CC and Bonda. We whizzed past the toll-gate in Tumkur road and we had touched Dobbaspet. We took a left turn there and we were in the Shivagange route. After 3 mins of driving in that direction, we took a break. Then, the photo session took place. We gave every godamm pose. One standing out from the car with doors open, sitting on the car bonnet, 4 guys pissing simultaneously in a straight line were some of the poses I can remember now. But the best pose was when we all jumped at the same time and click, the photo was taken. The best looking photo of that session was taken by Bhanu.

Then, as we neared the temple town of Shivagange, there was another small photoshoot which was taken near a small temple on top of a 10 foot boulder.

After the photoshoot we parked our vehicles next to the temple main entrance. The watch read 9 am. Had plate idlis for breakfast, the speciality in Shivagange. We also were able to get lemon rice which we did not expect to get. After that we went to a kalyani(water square with steps) surrounded by 108 shivalingas. All the shivalingas were named something or the other.
Continued in the next blog( The trek to the top of Shivagange)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shivagange, Tumkur on August 1, 2009- part 3

The trek to the top of Shivagange which I presumed to be a bit tough in the end turned out to be not so difficult afterall. Probably I have improved my trek fitness after a few treks. We started our trek by 9 30 am and after 10-20 mins, we found ourselves next to a big rock which took some hiking. That rock was climbed by Bonda and Bhanu and others including me were waiting for them to return safely. I saw Govinda move slowly with the bag that we had got. So, I got the bag from him and resumed trekking. Within another 20-30 minutes, we were near the famous Olakallu theertha( which can be literally translated to Within stone water). That temple has a structure of small hole within which water keeps flowing . This structure is within the temple and adjacent to the interior shiva temple. It is said that if a person doesnt get to touch the water in the hole, the person has sinned. There was no power then, so moving into the temple was difficult considering the cavy architecture of the temple. So, the temple priest adviced us to go to the top and come back to this temple later when the power would have come. So, we resumed the trek again and saw monkeys all around. I have had a bad experience with monkeys so I was kinda skeptical about the experience with monkeys this time around also.
In the above picture, one can see the 2 monkeys in the background.

After an hour or so, we neared the top where the climb appeared to be difficult. I had given the bag to CC who led the trek then. Also, the steps which were provided to climb to the top were dangerous. Bonda was carrying a water bottle, which a monkey snatched from him and how well it opened the bottle cap and drank water after placing the bottle horizontally!!. It was a treat to watch. By 12 pm, we had summitted Shivagange with ease and I felt good. As soon we reached the top, the pure air which filled my lungs was blissful. Then we searched for a spot to sleep on the top. I wanted to revisit all the places which I had visited last time when I came in 2004(the first memorable trip with my engineering mates:) ). I quickly rushed to Shantala drop (which is a spot on the peak where queen shantala had committed suicide)After few minutes, we planned to have a photoshoot. We gave poses climbing a boulder there, few including me later gave bare chested poses for the camera and we planned to sleep on the top for a while cracking PJs and taking rest.

Then, we moved over to the other side of the cliff and took few photos. The best one was at the extreme end:
And the other good pic , next to the bull(Basavanna) perpendicular to the place in the picture above:The most uttered dialogue in this period at the top was from one of my favourite movies-The Shawshank Redemption. The dialogue said : "Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free".
Then we came down the hill pretty easily taking break at a lot of places to have buttermilk, churmuri( a type of bhel puri) . Also, we went to Olakallu theertha, where we were fortunate enough to have touched the flowing water inside the stone structure.

It was a memorable trip where we enjoyed completely. Not a dull moment in the entire journey and hope I get to be part of many such memorable journeys. Will keep you guys updated on my adventures in this blog.
Adventure is here!!