Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Charmadi ~ Alekhan,Anandaka falls Jenkallu,KodaiKallu,Baalekallu betta

From Kodai Kallu Gudda - Rohit,Satya,Jayashree,Purushottam,Gururaj

With just a 4 day gap from a trip to Kanyakumari it was too early to think of another outing. I need to get out on a trek as I had missed the quota for the month. After a bit of research we decided on Baalekallu gudda in Charmadi Ranges. Five planned and all five showed up something strange, generally there are dropouts.. The same troupe showed up the ones at Kanyakumari. We board the red bus to Dharmasthala.

The initial plan
Dharmasthala ~> Ujjire ~> Charmadi ~> Balekallu Gudda (halt and return next day)
From Anekan falls - Off Charmadi Ghats

Day 1 [10th Oct. 2009]:
Reached Dharmasthala at around 700 hours, most people in bus seem to have put up "omelettes"(puke) in and around the bus. The roads screwed up big time, high time the roads are re-laid. Soon after breakfast we left to Ujjire from where we got into a bus to take us to "Anekan falls" (road side falls).
From Jeep track to Bidrutale Village
I had been there before, i felt the water was more this time; thanks to the rains. Good that we did not get into the water, we soon hitch-hiked to Bidrutale cross by a KSRTC bus.
From ID Please... what the hell is this?

The Trek finally begins:
We began our trek finally, it was quite late 1100 hours. On our way up we met up a localite who told us to take a deviation sharp left [ಕಾಲ್ ದಾರಿ] on seeing the first fork. We kept going on and on along the mountain ridges.
From Kodai kallu Gudda to the Right
We soon passed Jenkallu gudda (which we did not realise :)) and continued our journey till we saw Baale kallu gudda, which we thought was just another peak initially. We had lunch and decided to scale it.
From Baalekallu Gudda Conquered
This was the best part of the whole trek. The Western slopes of this peak are lush green and seem virgin.... We knew we were on the highest peak in the vicinity we had conquered Baale kallu gudda.
From Western Face of Baale kallu Gudda
We next checked out Kodai Kallu gudda, which was inviting. We later decided to camp close to water source below baalekallu gudda. We had plans for camp fire, with no dry wood around we just hit our sleeping bags
From Northern Ridges of Baalekallu Gudda

Day 2 [11th Oct 2009]:
We woke up intime to see sunrise behind us. It was an awesome sight, we freshened up and left to Kodai kallu gudda again as Jayashree had missed it the previous evening.
From View down Kodaikallu gudda
We decided to make our own path down to the road below. It took us about a couple of hours and we made it down in 1 piece each!
From Amedikallu Peak (Centre Right)
We did run into what looked like a rat snake during our descent.
From View while getting off Kodai kallu gudda
I had my camera tightly packed in and was too lazy to get down to photograph him.
From ID Please... Minchkallu gudda ?

Getting to Anandaka Falls:
Well our next destination was "Anandaka Falls" in "Didupe". We hitch hiked a vegetable tempo who dropped us at didupe village crossing.
From Trek to Anandaka Falls along Khudremuk Wild Life Reserve
Here we hired an Auto to take us near to Anandaka Falls. He dropped us at a jeep trail and left. From here on every person we ran into said its just a km away. we actually trekked for more than an Hour at a brisk pace! We finally saw the water off the falls and realised we were pretty close..
From Trek to Anandaka Falls through Private Estates
We dropped our luggage at the Brahmin's house and promptly followed their advice ! which was quite silly. We trekked straight up the flowing stream without realising we could have made our own path adjacent to the flowing water... Satya was a victim of 4 accidents, lucky to have survived having drowned a couple of times after sliding down slippery rocks. We soon realised there was a path along the falls and took that. On reaching the falls all our efforts had paid off! It's just too too good !!! one must not miss this awesome water fall it resembles koodalteertha water falls, but this fall has more water. Five minutes a 50 mts away from the fall and we were dripping wet top to bottom! It was like a few hundred jacuzzi pumps directed at you, mind blowing! This was our final destination, we soon moved out of from there to the place where the auto dropped us, freshened up in the flowing water and dialed a jeep. This man looted us INR 400 to drop us off at Ujjire, from where we again hit Dharmasthala and a night bus back to Bangalore... Again the bus smelt of Omelettes :), but we had no choice........
From Three Shot Panorama of Baalekallu Gudda

#1 A guide is not required.
#2 Charmadi is Hot & Humid most of the year round, do not fear the leaches
#3 You find plenty of water, a 500ml reserve is sufficient to keep you going provided you refill at every water hole
#4 An umbrella helps, sunscreen must :), a hat too
#5 Very scenic, do carry your cam.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Destination South [Rameshwaram~Kanyakumari~Kovalam]

The group consisted of Satya(Tobe professor from IISc.),Purushottam(from Healthscribe), Jaya(Opps Mgr. from Intel), Gururaj (from Healthscribe) & myself. We were to board the bus 19:00 hours at Wilson Garden bus stop (KPN Travels to Ramanathapuram). We all made it in time except Satya, who was late by atleast 30 minutes, the bus left the bus stand and he had to catch up with our bus and board it :D, he got into an auto and chased us.. He ended up spending INR 150 for riding just 2 kms !!

Below is the Complete itinerary:

View Larger Map

Day 1 [2nd Oct 2009] - Rameshwaram
Our first destination was Pamban Bridge, supposed to be the longest suspension railway bridge in India. Pamban Railway Bridge By the time we got off it was 1300 hours, without any place to freshen up we stayed dirty; ended up treating ourselves with Ice Creams for breakfast/lunch. Soon we checked into a local lodge at Rameshwaram Island freshened up and contacted a local Maruti van to take us around for INR 500. We covered Abdul Kallam's residence, Dhansukoti, Rama Teertha, Seetha Teertha, Lakshmana Teertha, Pancha Mukhi Anjaneya temples. 7 horses from nowhere in Dhanuskoti Dhanskoti is the best and must not be missed!! We even got a chance to touch and feel the floating rocks in one of the Sri Ram temples. We visited Rameshwaram main temple very late and missed tasting water off the 22 sacred wells!! FYI timings for tasting the holy water -> 0430~1200 hours. After dinner at local restaurant we headed for the last bus at 22:15 hours towards Madhuri.

Day 2 [3rd Oct 2009] - Kanyakumari
From Madhuri we hit Nagercoil and then to Suchindram Temple complex. Here we had our archane done and offered bettle leaves to lord Hanuman (the sculpture here is a lot different and looks majestic). Next we checked into Vivekananda Kendra which is a few Kms away. We had breakfast at the Kendra and head of to sight seeing, we covered the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the Tamil poet's statue(which I do not find impressive at all, its made of large rock chunks cemented with seams clearly visible). Later we visited the holy Kanyakumari Temple and checked out the diamond nose ring. View from sunset point (Kanyakumari) The last part for the day was sunset for which we had to walk 4 kms. The sunset was a surprise with clear skies... the deep orange colouring's unforgettable. We postpone the sunrise to next day and ended the day playing Poker till 0100 hours.
I did win 1 of the 2 games played!

Day 3 [4th Oct 2009] - Kanyakumari Sunrise ~ Kovalam
Next morning we woke up at 0600 hours but not in time for sunrise; by the time we made it to sunrise point it was 0630 hours. The place is clean and well maintained. We soon checked out and headed to Triveni Sangam, which we failed to notice a day earlier, wasn't impressive though. Getting to Kovalam was a pain we had to change 2 busses and 2 autos.. In the end wasn't very impressive, however we played around in the salty water which was the last part of our 3 day trip.

#1 Kanyakumari is losing its charm due to over commercialisation, hawkers and careless tourists; you see litter, bottles, hawkers everywhere.
#2 Rameshwaram is truly amazing I wish I had a couple more days to spend, its truly a different experience
#3 Travel b/w Trivandram~Bangalore by Volvo twin axel was most expensive INR 925!
#4 We missed Adams bridge in Rameshwaram which is further away from Dhanushkoti

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Amedikallu – All New Trek Route

Amedikallu is believed to be one of the tougher treks in the Western Ghats. Satyaveer Singh tobe Professor from IISc Bangalore did extensive research and worked out what looked like a perfect cake walk to Amedikallu and adjacent Ridge. The trek was being planned for quite sometime but happened only on 12th June 2009.
The group consisted of 4 including myself off which 2 were amateurs Raghuveer(small Startup), Anand(Cisco), Satya(IISc) and Rohit(TCS).
Amedikallu Amedikallu in the backdrop

Day 1 - Amedikallu Ridge
We reached Kokkada (en route to Dharmasthala), from here hired a jeep to Sheshila (INR 250). From the driver we understood it has been 2 days since we had rains. We began trekking at 0900 hours at a slow pace; we had trouble finding trails leading us to the peak all through.
Amedikallu Large Wood Spider found during the ascent
The monsoon had covered all trails we had to trust our instincts and keep going; leaches too had grown bigger and the blood sucking monsters did what they do best.
Amedikallu Nice looking Parasite on a broken tree trunk
While on the Amedikallu ridge at 16:00 hours dark clouds came crashing and with no place to take shelter we just stood still among the dark monsoon clouds;
Amedikallu First glimpse of Shola grass
with strong winds and limited visibility we just stood still for 2 hours. When the rains subsided we kept looking around hoping to find a suitable campsite as reaching the peak was ruled out.
Amedikallu First signs of Monsoon clouds
We found a boulder which was positioned such that it would cut off strong winds under which we camped for the night.
Amedikallu Time to pack my camera safe inside

Day 2 - New Trail
Next morning we got the most beautiful sight ever imaginable.
Amedikallu First light
The air was pure, clear skies, fluorescent green cover all over with thick fog cover over low lying areas it was just awesome & unforgettable….
Amedikallu A close-up of early morning mist
Without wasting much time we started our ascent to reach the peak. On the way we found a few rare Rock Orchids.
Amedikallu Rock Orchid

The 360degree view peak was truly mind boggling.. We could spot -> KP, Khudremukh Range, Yettina Bhuja Ridge and few other Ranges..
Amedikallu View from Peak over the entire Amedikallu Range
Intermittently the clouds cleared to give even better views and patterns. Yettina Bhuja looked like Saturn with the clouds around it like a ring. We spent close to an hour on the peak. We trekked along the ridge hoping to find a shorter trek route on a different exit.
Amedikallu Yettina Bhuja to the Left & entire Amedikallu Ridge
Here we found 3 fully grown huge Sambars, by then I had packed my camera and was in no position to shoot ‘em. We next entered a thick forested region heading North East only to realise after 30 minutes it was impenetrable and we had to revisit our exit route.

Plan Change
What we decided next was either too stupid or simply the best trek route way back to civilization. This was something we had done no homework at all, we had no navigation equipment like a simple compass.
Amedikallu Our Destination as seen from Amedikallu Peak
We just knew one thing – A river flows heading to the West along the southern side of Amedikallu Valley [river flows in the valley b/w Amedikallu & Yettina Bhuja]. Our gut feel was if we hit this river and stick to the right bank of the river and head towards West we would hit civilization. From the peak we worked out the possible path we take along the ridge.
Amedikallu The steep Ridge that we took to hurry down...
Remember we had no trails to follow nor navigation equipment to ensure we don’t veer off course.

The Steep Descent
To begin with it was shola grass initially with blades of grass cutting through our arms. The combination of sweat (salt) + Sun over bruised arms was quite something to remember. Our calculations went wrong when we hit a cliff and we were forced to revisit our plan. Satya and myself were forced to take lead and shift to an adjacent ridge a few meters away which was at an 80Degree inclination we certainly cheated death here a couple of times. But it was worth what we did, we discovered a new unexplored stream here, the water here tasted distinctly different, it was literally sweet and unforgettable.
Amedikallu Signs of Grasslands almost coming to an end..
We then found an alternate route that would help us go further without having to put the other 2 at risk. However these extras costed us more time than anticipated. Finally the grassland was over by then it was 18:00 hours. Without wasting much time we dragged ourselves through thick forests, Satya, myself cleared the way taking turns as Raghu & Anand had enough and just wanted to end this soon.
Amedikallu Stream in the thick forests; we camped nearby..
Anand ended up puking a couple times and Raghu already had a spinning head. Within no time it started to pour down heavy around 19:15 hours. A Viper?In this thick forest cover we found a couple of snakes who posed for a while in front of my camera. With bad visibility, rains and leeches forced us to camp in the forest again. With food supplies running short and poor time to distance coverage ratio we had to sleep empty stomach, however we did get a couple of sips of lemon juice prepared with Glucon D + 2 lemons [400ml / 4 = about 100 ml per person; no sugar so I used Glucon D]. The campsite was of a different kind – A tree had fallen and cleared a small patch on the forest floor; we had no campfire, we were close to a stream with a lot of bamboo [elephant’s fav. food] and trees that appeared like leopards favourite hunting ground, so I guess we had chosen the right place. We heard and saw some curious creatures creeping in the dark, no guess what it was. Satya and I stayed up whole night ringing a vessel and screaming all night to shoo off nocturnal creatures.

Day 3 - Tough Decisions
Next morning we were just too tired to do anything. We again worked out a new strategy. We had run out of food we had to eat just enough to keep us going, we had a spoon of protein supplement [Whey Protein] + a couple of oat meal + 2 kharoojs + a little bit of MTR ready to eat stuff . Found him while finding our way back trekking from AmedikalluIf we followed the river it would take us to our destination in a winding manner which would be longer, the plan was to cut across by climbing up another mountain range and slide downhill other side to hit the valley down below. The climb down was too steep almost a cliff, I had to take lead and keep the team going.. Finally we hit the valley and the first glimpse of blue skies above and the adjacent Yettina Bhuja mountain ridge slopes. cob webThis was a great relief; it was just 09:00 hours.
Amedikallu We made to the Valley finally!
From here on we stuck to the right bank of the river and kept heading in the westward direction. The stream got bigger and wider here we saw a Manikchand packet indicating we were close to civilization. Soon we hit a pathway which took us back to Sheshila village. On the way we met a localite who took us to his home and served us Chai + Mangoes + Bathing facilities seeing our state.
Sheshila That's Satish's house a localite where we freshened up

This was the best trek ever; I got a chance to use my new monopod to take most of the shots off my camera.
#1 We Discovered a new stream which had a distinctly different taste.
#2 All the while we had a GPS which gave us incorrect Altitude readings which was not of much help.
#3 Since the trek extended into day 3 and no network, people back home ended up panicking
#4 Monsoon treks have always been different and adventurous; if you make it out alive you carry some awesome memories with you.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mountain Motor-biking - Destination Madikeri

Tadindamool Sunrise as seen from the Slopes of Tadindamool Peak

The idea was to bike to Madikeri covering Dubare Elephant Camp, Tibetan settlement, Abbey Falls, Tadindamool and Bhagamandala. Initial head count indicated a record 20+ bikers, but finally just 8 showed up on 6 bikes as always. Yamaha FZ, Pulsar, Splendour, Gladiator, Unicorn & Victor.
All 8 Taken at Kushalnagar - Day 1

After a bit of confusion we started off quite late 0630 hours, the meeting point was Banashankri Temple. We stopped by for breakfast at Indraprastha Channapatna. By now the group had already broken down into 3 sub-groups. Vinay, Dinesh and Myself were way behind everyone else. 3 of Vinay's friends lead the way followed by Gururaj & Purushottam. On Mysore road we saw about 4 car accidents with atleast 3 cars involved in bumper to bumper crashes.

Dubare Elephant Camp:
Dubare Elephant Torture Camp

Our first destination was not so interesting. The place is over hyped with actually nothing much to see. There are a few elephants on the other bank, each time people wish to pose with them the mahout would poke the animal to obey. It was indeed a sorry sight. By the time we all moved out it was 1430 hours, we had to wait another 30 mins after a heavy down pour. We checked into a room at Kushalnagar after a lot of drama.
Dubare Elephant Camp Constipated 'Mamu'

Day 2 [2-May-2009]:
Tibetan Settlement:

Bylekuppe Prayers outside the Golden Temple

It was a long day, we started early morning back towards Tibetan Settlement visited the Golden Temple & 2 monasteries - Namdroling Monastery & Sera Mey Monastry (Little known but a good one).
Bylekuppe Sera Mey Monastry

Cauvery Nisarga Dhama
This is again an over hyped highly commercialised with absolutely nothing much to see or do... It's more or less a bamboo groove filled with naughty couples.
Abbey Falls:
The ghat section that leads to Abbey falls was a good one. The water level had receded, we took some snaps and hurried our way to Tadindamool Peak.
We started pretty late from Madikeri at around 17:30 hours, It was getting dark but the weather was pleasant and a very amazing biking stretch. While riding on the motorable stretch both Purushottam & Dinesh had a non-fatal fall. They decided not to bike over the rocky terrain and stopped soon afterwards. Gururaj and Myself went ahead kept going till we hit a cliff, at this point our bikes too got jammed.
Tadindamool Peak Unlucky 'Mamu' munching on a full seeded Mango without the pulp
We had scaled 60% of Tadindamool. We just parked our bikes near by the others joined us too and we camped near a water hole 200 mts from our bikes. Next morning we made it to the peak.
Tadindamool View from Campsite

Day 3 [3rd May 2009]:
Dinesh's bike got punchered descending Tadindamool. We had to bike 13 kms to have it fixed. Next was Gururaj's Bike in Madikeri. We had to cut down on Bhagamandala, by the time we started from Madikeri it was 1630hours. At Bylekuppe Gururaj decided he would halt at Mysore and drive back next morn. Dinesh and Vinay and his other friends were already way ahead of us. I decided to ride back faster and managed to get home by 20:30 hours.. I wasn't sure how I managed to overtake Dinesh and Vinay's friends. The ride back was amazing, it had rained too and the weather was pleasant.

#1 Mountain Biking was fun!
#2 My bike gave a mileage of 30km per litre
#3 Very few repair hops are open Sunday
#4 It's a good idea to carry a spare tube, hand pump & tool kit on a biking trip.
#5 Hunsur Road stretch b/w Mysore & Bylekuppe is awesome.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kaginari Ruins

What seemed to be a complete disaster turned out to be an okish trek… Everyone who was asked to join in seemed to say yes, with no one saying a no we thought we were expecting about 20+ head count. Finally it turned out that 11 trekkers finally showed up at Majestic Platform #5 our usual meeting point. The troupe consisted of Nagappa, Vinay, Venkat, Rithika, Satyaveer, Ritesh & 4 off his friends and myself.

Day 1 [25th]
On reaching Sakleshpur at 430hours we slept a while, had breakfast at 630hours freshened up and left to Aane Mahal [ಆನೆ ಮಹಲ್] where our guide would pick us up and drive us to Kaginari village.
Bisle Ghat Green Vine Snake ~>Thanks to Aditya for identifying the snake
The plan was to trek upto Thimaddka [ತಿಮದ್ಕ], by the time we started it was about 1100 hours it took us a while to complete the 10km trek. On the way we got to see no wildlife, however we did find fresh Bear shit, dry Tiger shit a few wild poisonous/non-poisonous mushrooms and a bamboo viper…From the peak we could spot Kumaraparvatha, Amedikallu, Jenkallu Gudda, Nayee gudda and Aramane Gudda.
Bisle Ghat Near the Peak
We camped on Thimadaka peak which is roughly at 4000 Ft above sea level, we had a big camp fire too.. Dinner was MTR stuff and steamed rice..
Bisle Ghat Sunset point - Thimadaka

Bisle Ghat Amazing Camp Fire that burned all night

Day 2 [26th]
Bisle Ghat Automatic Revolver...

Our guide had parked his vehicle at Kaginari, hence we were forced to retrace the same old path. The other route was to get off at Shiragabilu Railway station and then hit Gundia Check post where we catch a bus to Bangalore.
Kaginari Village Cattle Grazing
On our way back we checked out the fort ruins and took bath in the flowing stream near Kaginari Village before heading back.
Munjarabad Fort Lilly in prison
On our way back we visited Munjarabad Fort
Munjarabad Fort Leaning against the Fort Wall
. We hit the 1800 hour sakleshpur ~ Bangalore Local bus (not the Express bus), that dropped us at Majestic at 0030 hours.
Munjarabad Fort Potrait

#1 It’s an easy trek, good one for first timers
#2 According to our guide it has abundant wildlife population
#3 The place is scenic, good to visit after rains
#4 A guide’s not required, the path is clear and free from confusion.
#5 half a litre water reserve will do provided you refill at every water hole.
#6 Don’t take the local bus, always take the Express.
Bisle Ghat View down Thimadka, KP is the farthest and Faintest

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