Friday, December 28, 2007

*Grass - North Karnataka & Goa in Tempo Traveller

Twin Tunnel

North Karnataka was in my mind for a very long time. Harish did the marketing and got the head count to 12. On the 21st of December we managed to head out of Bangalore by 21:00 hours for the Christmas weekend. One of the items banned in this trip was ‘grass’, which was quite promptly followed by all. The team consisted of:
Harish alias Hari Sadu, the organizer and chief accountant; Guru, gym body curly hair and a proud Nokia Express Music mobile owner;
Roti and Magod Falls in the Backdrop
Vivek, this man can eat absolutely anything and is most of the time munching something; Jatin, loves to photograph anything that moves; Nagesh, this man’s the only one who can do a bit of lateral thinking, most entertaining of the lot; Devadatt, very happy thing, this thing needs to get hooked up to something real fast, Homo’s seem to get attracted to it; Sreeni / Srinivas the most quietest of the lot, I hardly heard them ever speak or say a thing all along the journey, yea but I guess they have a lot of complaints now; Preetham, the man who lives his horrific dreams, you need to consult him to know misfortune coming your way. Praveen, this guy reminds me of ‘Rocky’; Arun, the guys secretly call him ‘Rowdy’, I don’t know why, this guy’s quite interested in talking about `grass`, drinks and is a good sport; Roti finally the only good guy of the lot.
Day 1:
Magod was the 1st destination, which should have been quite easily accessible via Yellapur, which gave us the 1st twist. After breakfast at 10:30 near Yellapur we head off to Magod.

Magod Falls Full Preview
It’s awesome just that one can’t get to the water. Well nothing interesting happened till we figured out our ‘Snake man’ had a ravenous thirst for water. This man had emptied Half of our packaged drinking-water reserves!
Our next destination for the day was Kavala caves after much confusion; a guide accompanied us too. The hike was a 2 hour uphill-cement stairway without railings. A pretty good hike up landed us in an amazing cave. The naturally formed linga is 2 meters in diameter & is 1.5 meters in height.
Cavala Caves Natural Limestone Cave Formation
There are sharp pointed limestone formations on top as well. Torch is a must, watch your head as you move about, each of the 12 got hit at least once.
Moon Peeping, shot during the hike back from Kavala Caves
Day 2:
Previous night we had each signed up for Rafting in `Kaali nadi` @ 900 per person for the 1st batch & we had to miss breakfast. Rafting was instructed by a British national -> John who claimed to have settled in India after marrying an Indian Journalist/Teacher/Naturalist -> multitalented lady. He had another female accomplice from New Zeland[HOT Chick] Devadatta was quite excited riding with her getting to the rafting site, he even managed to get her personal cell number, now claims to have lost it(forget it I know he hasn’t lost it, it’s just possessiveness!). Well one thing to appreciate about John is that he had picked up Kannada and was quite fluent with that! Back to rafting, instructions were given and we were we started off, the event was over in about 45 minutes; during the course of the event we were allowed to float in water. This is supposed to be a Level - #3.
We next head off to Syntheri Rocks.
Syntheri Rocks withouth the Falls
By the time we hit this place It was 17:00 hours, we got to spend 2 hours here. The rock formation is quite different here and has a stream that flows nearby, the valley is pretty good and clean, most visitors here are Marathi speaking. The best part is this is in a Thick forest with thick tree cover and we could spot wild life crossing the roads. These roads are deserted at night. The worst part in our entire journey is both Lunch and Dinner were never addressed with importance. We ate in all kinds of places and luckily didn’t fall sick. During Day 2 dinner there was a very interesting lateral thinking by `Snake man`; it was about a `Toy Train` plying between Castle Rock and Doodhsagar Railway station. He seemed more interested in the Size of the train rather than -> fare, stops, journey time etc…
Night of misery
Thanks to me for the night’s stay @ Castle Rock Railway station; the idea was to save about 2 hours of journey time the following day by not staying at Ambaiwaad. I managed to convince the guys about castle rock railway station, the guys after much growling and no much option agreed. The ticket counter personal at Londa railway station suggested us to halt in Castle rock Railway waiting room. On reach the station we figured out the waiting room meant 1 open room without beds and 4 rocking chairs that don’t rock; including a Round table. The arm rest broken, chilly weather conditions made sleeping a life time experience. On seeing the conditions inside half the guys decided to lock themselves up in the TT (Good idea). The rest decided to try out the waiting room. I obviously had no choice but to rock the night out. By the time I picked up my shawl and other necessities the rocking chairs were all occupied, left with no choice I hit the Round table. I had a broken sleep, but never complained. `Snake man` had the sleep of his life…. He had chosen to keep the Door wide open and the chilly winds straight at him. He slept on the floor over a sleeping bag (not inside!) I believe he even sleep walked at various intervals to the nearby fire to warm him up. It was decided that we cross over to Goa to hit Doodsagar, by a goods train.
I Love this Job!
The Train was to depart at 7:00 hours, but some engine problems and wait for another train delayed it by an hour. The goods train experience was quite different. The train transported Hematite Ore from Goa to Karnataka and the entire train was quite polluted with fine powder which got on us everywhere.
I still Can't find the last boggie
The scenery is excellent and I recommend every one must do this once. We could reach the falls quite comfortably as per directions given by the engine driver. It’s not actually a trek it’s just a 1 km downhill descent.
Three of my GFs
This place has a hippie crowd, gals in bikini’s wow quite awesome.
Naughty Red Santa
Dev n other bad guys couldn’t resist capturing their every move. Dev I suggest you buy yourself a bigger cam!
Train and Falls in back drop
There were a few desi chicks not to mention. However the journey back wasn’t quite pleasant it was a 14km jeep track trek with the last 6 kms on rail track leading us to Polem Railway station. From Polem we hit Molem Bus stop (last town on Goa Side) and we crossed over to `Anmod` where our TT was waiting. We spent the night in an Udupi lodge in Karwar. The sweet memories of Toy Train and lateral thinking gave us a hard stomach ache but we finally managed to sleep real well.
Day 4:
Our initial plan was to boat to Kumargad island; which did not happen we ended up at Devbagh beach. Before that we visited some ancient fort that had been captured by shivaji during his reign.
NH17 Off Karwar Fort
The place is well maintained and one gets a good view of NH17 Bridge and all islands around Karwar. Devabagh beach is good.
Clint Eastwood in Devabagh Beach Resort
We made best of the resources out there and at free of expense. We played Kabbadi in the `Gali mara` tree shades, Hari Sadu pounced on Vivek when he got excited. Me Roti attacked Vivek in the melee Vivek’s buniyan tore into two, it seemed as though he was raped* real baad. On low tide we could walk upto a nearby island where we made Praveen lie down and carved out a caricature of a sexy woman.
Ready to Eat Fresh Fish
Every guy took turns and finally the thing even got Pregnant. Well we had too much fun and 6 guys decided to stay back the rest a small shower and back before sun-set. However we were too late for the sun set. After the shower we were late and decided to get off the bridge and take snaps of the crimson sky. Meanwhile disaster struck soon when the TT was reversing in the beach area; 2 wheels sunk in sand. Run out of options they had to seek help from local fishermen, who made quick bucks ->500! The journey back turned out to be a 14+ hour drive we reached Bangalore at 14:00 hours.
#1 No toy trains ply between Castle Rock and Doodhsagar
#2 Lunches and Dinners are both important plan accordingly.
#3 managing a big group and addressing every man’s concern is not possible.
#4 When you don’t get sleep play POKER 
#5 ‘Snake man’ is offended; no offence meant
#6 TT is not very comfortable its cramped; the legs hurt the most esp. if you have long legs
#7 Rafting is very expensive, 1/3rd the expense of our whole trip!
#8 The Night spent at Castle Rock was my best experience in the whole trip.

Monday, April 23, 2007



Four members showed up at Majestic KSRTC Platform 2, it was decided we trek from Bandaje and complete the trek by getting off at Shankashale. The team consisted of Ganesh, Ashutosh, Venkat and Roti the greatest. We boarded a bus to Dharmasthala at around 23:30 hours and got the last seat as usual. The ride was not really all that bumpy, it was pretty pleasant.

Day 1:
We reached Dharmasthala at around 6 and left from there at around 7:30 to Ujire[8km from Dharmasthala] from here we hired a jeep to take us to Bandaje via Mundaje[The foothills from where the trek begins]. The shared jeep ride was amazing with 19 people on board at one point it time, the driver drove safely with just one half of his ass on the seat. We started trekking at 8:30.
We hit the stream at 10:30 took a bath and after breakfast we resumed the trek up. The climb gets steeper as you go higher up. After a while you reach open space and this is the toughest part of the trek. You get a sneak peek of the falls from the edge of the steep ascent.

Once you make it to the top you get to hear the falls, taking a steep ascent down you get to the cliff of the water fall. This reminds me of Onake Abbi falls in Augumbe(not very popular, did not find any write-up on the net as well); however Bandaje is not all that majestic, but it’s still a tougher hike up when compared to Onake Abbi falls. There was a light downpour, after the sun came out again we saw a herd of 8 Bison on the adjacent mountain. Venkat and myself had a sleeping bag, we slept without much complaints. Ganesh and Ashutosh had problems with the cool night breeze. I had missed dinner due to some stomach upset.

Day 2:
I woke up at 4:00 and had the campfire burning till 7:00. With a lot of mist and cloud cover it was not very tough to make the steep ascent.

We planned to get off Shankashale after trekking past

Ballala-rayana-durga. The ascent was pretty strenuous; we took a lot of breaks to get on top. We were trekking past all the high mountains. The view was majestic and pretty hot as well as there was no tree cover all through. We were lucky again to spot a heard of wild bison. The final part of the trek has a lot of tree cover and is a steep downhill ascent in most cases. Its rocky and you need to watch your step.
The locals here helped us with water. To get the auto to pick us up we had to call from sultanpet(4 km from Shankashale). Everyone had lunch at a local Non-Vegetarian restaurant. However I preferred to drink something to cool down my stomach and restore my body fluids.

I had puked at least 3 times during the ascent to sultanpet. After lunch we took a small nap upto 14:00 hours. The bus to Kottigehara was scheduled to arrive at 14:45 hoursand was pretty much on time we had a tough time standing for 45 minutes. At 15:30 we reached Kottigehara. The bus to Hassan arrived at 16:00 hours. We reached Hassan at 18:45 hours. After a mini meal we left hassan at 19:30 hours to reach Bangalore at 00.15 hours. By then I had missed my last bus. Whereas the others managed to get some bus to take them home.

Total Expense Sheet:
#1 Packaged Food – 87
#2 Bus Ticket to Majestic – 09
#3 Tickets to Dharmasthala – 154
#4 Dharmasthala to Ujire – 10
#5 Shared travel by jeep to bandaje – 20
#6 Sultanpet to Shankashale – 25
#7 Shankashale to Kottigehara – 10
#8 Kottigehara to Hassan – 45
#9 Hassan to Bangalore – 90
#10 Bangalore city to my home – 110 !
#11 Misc. expenses(food) – 110
Grand total: 670

Grand Finale:
#1 Bandaje trek is amazing, its challenging to ascend from Bandaje side and get off at Shankashale side
#2 Carry some chocolates & Glucose, its pretty energising
#3 Make sure you reach Bangalore by 00:00 hours else you will end up paying heavily on autos
#4 Carry some basic medicines