Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kodachadri, Idlumane Falls!

Ever since I had conquered the toughest mountain climb of South India Kumara Parvata, I was planning for another affair with mountains. And barely a month later I was up for Kodachadri. From what I heard was that this trek would be a cake's walk in comparison to KP, it wasn't supposed to be. It was challenging with rains, leeches and steep climbs adding to the challenge which I thoroughly enjoyed and I guess at the end of the day we all enjoyed. 
Again enrolled with BMC (Bangalore Mountaineering Club) with a couple of office friends and to my good surprise the guide who was a part of KP trek was accompanying us. Since almost 40 people had enrolled for this we had 3 tempo travelers. We boarded our respective tempos on Friday night (10:00 P.M) and then what followed was absolute craziness. I haven't seen anyone drive like this man before. In our tempo we were all kept on the edge of our seats by his erratic but skillful driving and by the time we reached our base camp (6:30 A.M) almost no body in our tempo had slept. When we just enquired about the driver we were told that his name was Mental Madhu and he enjoyed driving like this. Anyway having that lucky feeling of being safe we all freshened up and had our breakfast. The home stay was atypical of the western ghats - pipe connection from running stream, ample gardening around the house, first-class hospitality and tasty breakfast.The freshness of the air, the smell of the soil and the overnight rains had just made the base camp so wonderful and we knew great things were ahead of us. After a small ice breaking session with all the trekkers we started over climb towards the peak at 9:30 A.M
Ice breaking session before the trek
The first steps towards the Climb

We started initially on the jeep track and diverged after about 20 mins by crossing one of the numerous streams into the jungle route. Many of us walked through the stream with the shoes getting wet while a few clever ones removed the shoes and put them back after crossing.
Atin crossing the stream
The advent of the Rain showers

We were immediately treated with fallen trees covered with moss and flat mushroom, ferns, new leaves sprouting, fallen leaves, noisy insects, leeches, etc. There was a bit of humidity too. Soon we spotted wild frogs famous around these areas. Some were dark brownish, some like a chameleon sporting mix of light brown and tinge of green similar to the muddy path we were treading on. Beautiful wild flowers completed our blessed experience.And as expected the rain showers came too to make it a messy but a wonderful experience. People who had come prepared with raincoats used them and others without had to use the polythene caps. I had an umbrella which I gave to one of my fellow trekkers. It took us another 45 minutes or so to cross the forest with its slippery paths punctuated with thin streams and wilderness all around. We came out on a wide grassland with beautiful view of mountain ranges covered mostly with thick trees all around us. We took the opportunity to rest and remove leeches, and yeah most important of all - taking snaps. The coordinators pointed some peak having patch of grass surrounded by thick forest as part of our route - but there wasn't any distinct shape to be able to remember. As we started again and crossed the grassland, we came across villages with green cultivation all around. Crossing the fields, the forests started again - this time with plenty of short waterfalls and wide streams.After about 20 minutes, we came across the most dangerous part of our trek - crossing a bed of rocks made slippery by water flow. Two huge fallen trees were our support and even then crossing was dangerous. It took about 20 minutes for our entire group to get through it. It was immensely dangerous those minutes of the trek. I being very excited ran to the front, falling and crawling but nothing could have dampened my spirits then.

Leech Removal and Photography ;)
Open Grassland
We now had to steadily climb around the edges of the mountain having thick cover of forest interspersed with waterfalls. I kept on bathing in the waterfalls that came across my way only to know that none of them was the real waterfall. I trekked bare foot after that because I didn't want to waste time in wearing and removing my footwear. After another 20 minute hike, we finally reached the main attraction of the trek - Idlumane falls and what a pretty sign it was. The joy on our faces knew no bounds. It was simply breathtaking. Since it was monsoon season, there was enormous supply of water-flow and certainly gushing and icy cold, even at 12:00 A.M. The pure and cold water doesn't need a second invitation - one simply shouldn't miss it. The force of the water felt as if being barraged by bullets. And of course, it was the much needed massage for journey ahead.

Idlumane Falls 
After the refreshing bath, we climbed further up through the winding forest. At one spot, coordinators had to climb up first and lend support for us to go ahead. I was exhausted to a great extent after the 45 hr long stay under the waterfall. For the first time during the trek so far, we got tired and our legs pained from steady and steep climbing. At around 1 P.M we finally left behind the last of our forest trekking and that meant that the leeches were left behind too for the time being. But more steep climb awaited us through the grasslands. 

Out of the Waterfall and forest -> Step slope awaits us

Climbing the Steep Slope


Ups and downs -> Life Isn't it
After a bit of up and down between hills and a sighting of Kodachadri with its jeep tracks opposite our hill, we settled down to have lunch on a rocky bed with a stream nearby. The stream was actually flowing under the rocks before breaking out and forming a small pool and allowing trees to grow around it. Anyone having extra eateries shared it across the group - another highlight point of our awesome togetherness. Lunch was finished in a jiffy and within the hour we were up again towards our destination. After another huffing and puffing climb for 15 minutes, we joined the jeep tracks of Kodachadri.  The view from the tracks was again exhilarating, the scenery enriched with misty clouds now starting to engulf all around. The Sun though continued to play hide and seek. The photography sessions followed.

Lunch at the swampy lands :)

Jeep trails at Kodachadri Peak

Mu Sigmans - Current and Ex ;)
It was close to 4:30 P.M. To be frank I had lost count of hours since it was the least of my concerns then. The winding jeep tracks were boring after having trekked through the forests, but they did provide us breath-taking views of misty covered hills and forests and gorges and guest houses. We went to a temple atop the Kodachadri Peak, had some snacks and were on our way back to base camp. It starts raining very heavily and rain coat was no protection either but now we hardly cared about anything. We had conquered Kodachadri and were joyous of that fact. We reached the base camp at around 6:30 P.M
Group Pic at the Temple

Near the base camp after finishing the Trek
We might have called it a day from trekking perspective. But back in the home stay, we settled nicely for another round of gossiping while dinner was being prepared. We enjoyed hot and nourishing dinner and went to sleep. The sleeping bags were perfect in protecting us from the cold as well as varied insects. We got up around 7-8 A.M in the morning and after having a refreshing breakfast we left for Nagara Fort on our way back to Bangalore. The fort was ruined yet beautifully maintained with greenery all around. It was amazing to think what people achieved in construction in those days without all the automated machinery of today. We spent around 50 minutes to see the entire fort. Loads of discussion took place in my Tempo, ranging from Indian states to psychology to Hindi, Kannada and Tamil songs and what not and when we were close to Bangalore we had the antakshari to sum up a wonderful experience.

Nagara Fort

The Trekking group

People ask me what do you get out of these climbs, why are you straining your body on a weekend and not enjoy at bar or at home. My simple answer to them is that you just get sheer joy out of these adventures. Nothing less nothing more and that is why we live, to know the feeling of sheer joy and happiness and this joy is after all the life and the end of it. We don't live (by that i don't mean mere existing) because we have to eat but we eat because we have to live.That is what is meant of life and life meant to be. To get the Joy out of it :)

Hoping to meet my fellow trekkers sooner, Keep Trekking and Rocking :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do before you die - Kumara Parvata

Initially I had created this blog to write about Cricket, my biggest passion but then travelling has always been there at the core of my soul. Throughout my graduation had the desire to go to Kumara Parvatha, supposedly the most toughest trek in South India, but for some reason or the other got procrastinated. Finally one fine day in office came across this trek to be conducted by Bangalore Mountaineering Club and decided to go for it. I am not a believer of planning and planned trips because LIFE doesn't come in a planned manner, so better leave the planning in the Work Place, to the projects and the Project Managers. I called up the BMC folks and made the bookings and 4 of us (Ankit, Ashish, Sahil and Myself) were ready to roll.

Friday night 10 P.M we boarded the bus from Domlur and met our wonderful guide and friend Sam. Before we could think of who other folks for the trek would be the Tempo Traveller was filled with a bunch of people, each and everyone great in their own way. Vineet, Robin 1(Indian :D), Prateek, Robin 2(French :D), Clo, Kusum and Rajalakshmi  Mam. Had some crazy conversations about our lives, serials watched and random stuff before everyone dozed off  to wake up for an enlightning couple of days.
The Route Map to KP
Reached Kukke Subramanya around 5:30 in the morning, got a few rooms to freshen up and after having a not so satisfying breakfast at the highly-recommended Neo Mysore CafĂ©, we shouldered our bags and walked in the direction of the forest trail around 7 A.M. Our first pit-stop was the renowned Bhattare Mane (House of the Bhats, you know we are famous ;)). The almost 7km trek from Kukke to Bhattare Mane is mostly through a forest which is majorly known for its elephants, though we didn't come across any. During this stretch of trek most of us had already started huffing and puffing but the frequent stops, talks and the constant motivation to scale Kumara Parvata kept us going. By the time (11:00 A.M) we reached Bhattara Mane, we were completely exhausted. With barely any energy left, we immediately had our lunch (which included rice, curry, & buttermilk). Food never tasted so great. It was not the greatest of the food but you know the worth of something when you have it the least.
Bhattare Mane
After refueling our energy levels and refilling our water bottles, we again resumed our trek at around 12 noon. Our next goal was to reach the Mantap (3-4 km from Bhattara Mane). With absolutely no forest cover and completely exposed to sun, we knew that the trek would only get tougher and tougher but the frequent cloud cover and the breeze just helped us.Meanwhile, we saw a cow killed by some wild animal and the kill was quite fresh. We were a little scared but then we had to make a move. After a certain distance, we split into groups but not separated by a huge distance. We were in constant touch with each other. Somewhere midway between Bhattara Mane and Mantap, we took breaks so that everyone was in a condition to go ahead with steeper challenges ahead.We continued, and by the time we reached the Mantap, it was 2:00 P.M. Some of us took the much needed rest here and Sam, Robin 2 and myself tried some weird rock climbing here only ending with Robin bleeding. 
We decided to move forward, hoping that we would reach the peak before dusk. The stretch after Mantap wasn’t as strenuous as the one prior, but we weren’t sure how far the peak was. One of the drawbacks of this trek is that, you don’t get to see the peak until the last mile and you realize that the three mountaineering rules are actually true ;)
"It's always further than it looks.
It's always taller than it looks.
And it's always harder than it looks." 
The trek we had to do
The trek from Mantap to false peak and from the false peak to Shesh Parvat was covered by me in no time. Sahil was catching up fast with me and we waited for the rest of the team and we finally re-united at the Parvat where the mist and the breeze had a soothing effect on all our tiredness. Finally we felt so delighted to have reached an inch closer to the top (KP). We carried forward our run through the densest of the jungles filled with wild animals, scared at first but once we were out of the jungle we had another tough task ahead, climbing a wall at least 50-60 degree in slope. It was tiring, would be an understatement, my legs felt cramps but Robin 2 and Sam just whistled past the rock and once we crossed the giant rock we could see Kumara Parvata right in front of us. What a feeling! the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, nothing can beat that....Super Awesome feeling :) Clicked a few pictures :) There was dense cloud cover and mist blowing at the KP. We had to cross the jungle while climbing down, so we decided to leave around 4 P.M. The jungle was familiar this time around, crossed it with ease, stopped for some time more at Shesha Parvata, now that we were away from the jungle we took some fast steps and decided to go in dfferent groups based on the pace of trekkers and finally by 6 P.M we were back at Bhattare Mane where we had to stay for the night. We were tired, ankles and soles paining but the inner soul was joyous. We had conquered the KP :)

The steep rock just before KP
The night was better than we most thought it would be. Played Mafia and had enormous fun and not for a moment did I feel that I was among people whom i hardly knew. Played Dumb-charades thereafter and it was fun primarily due to Robin 2's weird acting and some amazing performances by each of us :)

We had dinner and slept in our sleeping bags. It was just the best of the sleep i had had for a long long time. There were no mosquitoes, no humidity, no cold. Everything was just perfect. Woke up in the morning, freshened up and were ready to climb down from Bhattare Mane to Kukke.

The trekking team with the Bhats
We left around 8:30 A.M and during the trek downward divided into two groups and went at different paces. During the climb down there were wonderful discussions which made the the journey easier. By the time we reached we reach our base camp it was 11:30 and i was dying of hunger. Got into a restaurant and had some poori bhaaji that satisfied the hunger for a while. The drive towards Bangalore couldn't have been better. It started raining and the cool breeze blew away the whole tiredness. Reached home by 8 P.M on Sunday, but the feeling of being able to do this trek was just amazing. It still feels great to have done something like this and I would continue to do such treks in future since someone has truly meant   "that time spent on a rock climb isn't subtracted from your life span." 

To quote some one: “The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.”    

Make your feet your friend :) \m/

Monday, April 4, 2011

The HAPPIEST day of OUR lives

It was chaos,excitement,screams all around as I stood still like a stone . I was so numb standing on Church street .I could just see people shouting "bharat maata ki jai" ,"India India" .The crowds were going berserk ,fireworks everwhere ,roads choked . It was no ordinary day . It was no new year day because this much crowd was too much for that day also .It seemed a carnival ,an independence day but it was something I never had seen before . I was not able to conceive what was happning til a child bumped into me and I started recalling things .

10 hours ago on 2nd of April who was to know that tonight is gonna be a very very good good night in their lives as I saw the PESIT auditorium brimming with people as never before . It was the WORLD CUP FINAL between India and Sri Lanka or what facebook and other social networking sites were calling RAMAYANA 2 .Zaheer's cracker of a spell to begin with and Mahela played one of the best innings in a world cup final ,calm and composed and scoring at a rate that defied faith . Some late fireworks by Sri Lankan bowlers set the target to India as 275 a score almost out of reach for an opposition given it was a final of WORLD CUP (a pressure cooker situation) even if you have Sachin and Sehwag in your ranks but as fast as i wrote these names with this pace only the two were back in pavilion with India reeling at 31/2 .Billions of people in shock and disbelief as the match went on , but cricket is a game of unfathomed uncertainties .Gambhir and Kohli played the knocks of their careers steadying India to safety when Dhoni did a blunder but what an awesome blunder it was : a game changer, a history recreator !!!!! . I salute MSD ,what comittment ,perservance and temperament .It was just unbelievable calmness under pressure. To be really frank I am not a great fan of Dhoni's class of batting but that least bothers Dhoni or someone else and if you win like this you are in a class of our own. The great bowling wizard Murali failed miserabley in his final game but it was one of those very few off colour days. It was weary bowling, the body aching and the fizz long since gone from the champagne . My farewell to the greatest bowler of the game .OH ! boy oh! boy ! what scenes !! at the WANKHADE pitch after the historical and exquisite six by Dhoni bringing up the win .Tears of joy flowed like anything .I had promised not to cry if India lose this one but i couldn’t hold back my tears .Swirling my shirt in celebration . It was as crazy as crazy can ever get . Salute to each and every member of team including coach Gary and support staff .

At Wankhade there was one name enchanting "Sachin" . The "GOD" who had served so well for 21 years got what he most deserved .The childish smile on his face,the humblness in his voice,that uncanny look, the passion in his eyes and what not . It is just not cricket at that time .There is more to it . Words dry up here .

Celebrations all around and i was in as state of delirium, a vertigo and once again someone pushed me and I realised I was on MG road . Was I dreaming or was it real ?? I dont know but i wanted that night to go on for ever . Never ever will i find so many happy people around .Two days after the win ,I still cant believe . We have got this WORLD CUP in our teens , we can cherish this for ever . It is just more than a feeling . I wanna carry it for ever .

Akhil Bhat : When i dreamt a dream , it remained a dream

when i stopped ,i realised it .

P.S : This is dedicated to all countrymen because cricket is just not a game here .It permeates life here as the monsoon rain seeps into the soil.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Epic Clash !!!

Individuals dont win,teams do ...that is what sums up the enormously hyped cricket match between India and Pakistan .I have been seeing matches for almost 15 years now but this match was something special. At 12:30 p.m every day it is supposed to be a traffic free road ,but what i witnessed on Wednesday left me bewildered ; roads full of traffic and that too every one going from office,college, school towards home....It just seemed one way traffic and the discussion was nothing else but about the big battle . Ind vs Pak is always special for it is more than a game . It is adrenaline rush,emotions attached to billions of Indians and Pakistanis . As always both teams played with full zeal and passion and didnt disappoint any cricket lover. The match was marked with the poor display of fielding from pakistan ,superb batting by Sachin (though i didnt find it that superb except for 2 cover drives .I am writing superb just for Sachin fans otherwise they wont spare me ),a great spell of lethal fast bowling from Wahab Riaz , amazing line and length of indian pace trio, bhajji and yuvi and at last mature and sensible batting by Raina .In the end India emerged victorious yet again against Pakistan in aWorld Cup game .A big Pakistan population tasted disappointment but millions and billions of Indian people saw hope , a dream ....A hope to win the world cup yet again , dream of adream Saturday . Hope we realise the dream .....Go INDIA go !!!!

One thing for all Sachin fans (I am one ) . 'Just dont support Indian team because Sachin is playing , support Sachin because he is playin for team india ' (this i am writing because of my experience over the last 15 years and having witnessed enough scenes of depleting spectators once Sachin gets out ) .Sachin wont be happy seeing you people do this, such is his love for cricket and INDIA . " How can you respect your GOD without respecting the RELIGION ????"

P.S : SACHIN is the greatest ever batsman to have played this game and watching his batting is the best scene on a cricket field .

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New WORLD CUP era begins !! :)

I am a crazy cricket fan . Having followed this game from the age of 4 or 5 , actually an age hard to remember also , and i am writing an article on cricket at the age of 21 .May sound strange but sometimes you have to wait and wait for the right moment . Hit the iron when it is hot. And the moment has arrived and I am writing my first article on cricket which will be followed by many hopefully.

India playing australia .....hmmmm does that ring a bell ?? and yes it does even if it doesnt . We as a country have grown up watching cricket and whoever has had even the weakest of interests in this game would remember the thrashing the Indian team (actually the "TEAM INDIA" as they were being called after Sourav Ganguly took over the captaincy and produced a match winning combination from a bunch of young ,talented but directionless cricketers) got at the hands of Kangaroos at Johannesburg on 23 march 2003 . The game still fresh in our minds as India took on Australia today on 24th march 2011 exactly 8 years after that shock defeat which left millions and billions Indian supporters shattered wherein Kangaroos shock and awe Indians , little did we know that History was up there in the making . The toss was won by a different team but the team batting first was the same or was it ?? No gilly,hayden, mcgrath !! To be really frank beating this Australian side would have been a cake walk for Indians had there been a descent bowling attack for India . Indian bowling attack looked like a car on one wheel (Zaheer impact for sure , harbhajan hardly making a difference and part timers ). India did a decent job bowling first up with Ashwin and Zaheer as usual at his best .THE part timer Yuvi ...oh is he really a part timer ?? our strike bowler harbhajan .....did he really strike some matches back...i dont remember every one did a gud job restricting Aussies to a score of 260 which was not that small as it seems . What really stole the show in that first innings of match was the batting class of Ricky Ponting who didnt know that this would be his last world cup game . Boy what a classic knock and that too in a big match like this , full credit as if he had kept this one for India and his farewell (He had last scored a century on valentines day the previous year ....long wait ah ) , full credit to 'Punter' .

What was coming up was even much more treat to our eyes. India began steady with Sachin and Sehwag in great nick but Australia stuck some crucial blows at regular intervals and it was left to two men to do something special for the Indian team . Cometh the moment Cometh 'Yuvi' . Yuvi has been special for India ever since he made his innings debut . He scored 84 against the same opposition way back as a 19 year boy in 1999 knockout trophy. He was at his witty best and the man who stole the show and for me he played a gem of an innings.It wasnt easy and it aint easy for any person playing his 2nd world cup match and going out their (70 needed to win from 12 overs) and playing in such a pressure cooker situation as siddhu says . Raina the man cool as a cucumber rotated the strike ,faced short balls played his skin out and did what really mattered "AN END to AUSSIE domination in WORLD CUP " . Team India prevailed in the battle of Nerves and its India more importantly it is INDIA vs PAKISTAN in semifinals .Things cant grow better and bigger than this .

Dhoni's comment in the presentation was a treat to listen , you need not care about oppositions if you are giving more than 100 % effort on the field . I need to salute the PUNTER for his courageous innings , Sachins humility , Zaheers big heart and more importantly allround yuvi for making this dream possible . Raina for his temperament and maturity with which he played .

Thank you Indian team for at least giving this world cup a new dimension beating Kangaroos.Now we can have a new WORLD champion . No matter who it is but still my heart says " INDIA INDIA " .Come ON INDIA dikha do duniya ko hila do !!!