Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pyramid Valley

Pyramid Valley Front View of the Pyramid

This unheard place is just 35 kms from Bangalore. It is near Harohalli about 15 kms before Kanakapura via NH 209. It is believed to be the largest Meditation Pyramid in the world.

Preetham and myself decided to visit the place. Since we did not know the exact location, we overshot our destination and missed a very prominent land mark where we were to take a left deviation. We initially hit Harohalli city limits and had to back track.
Pyramid Valley Budha statue

The campus is pretty big which is yet to be completed, including the Pyramid. There is a big Amphitheatre, Canteen Facility, Library and the Pyramid Itself. Kids are strictly not permitted inside the Pyramid and visitors are expected to turn off cell phones inside the pyramid.
Pyramid Valley Pyramid Meditation hall entrance

Inside the Pyramid:
There is a huge meditation hall, it's got a King's chamber where it's believed to have the maximum concentration of cosmic energy however one's expected to spend at-least 30 minutes on entering the King's chamber meditating.
Pyramid Valley Pyramid Meditation hall entrance
People recommend Full moon day to experience highest doses of cosmic energy. The atmosphere inside is stuffy and I felt the heat as I kept getting closer to the King's chamber; however there's sufficient lighting. With construction activity still in progress, the environment is noisy and it's hard to meditate; when I was around, a worker was drilling holes with a high speed electrical drill gun inside the Pyramid's stairway :) I could not figure out the idea behind this.
Pyramid Valley The Pyramid Back view

Lunch is served to everyone, including visitors between 1300-1400 hours everyday. From the workers inside the facility, I understand weekend spiritual classes are conducted.

1 - Nice place to spend a few hours seeing the architectural marvel.
2 - The best part - There's no one marketing around for taking up courses or into making donations.
Somanahalli Lake near Somanahalli

Muthodi Wildlife Reserve

2010-06-2010 - 13-06-2010 - Kemangundi,Baababudangiri,Muthodi WLR & Mulliyanagiri


We decided to hit the Western Ghats again. This itenary was finalised Thursday night. Harish did wonders and managed to arrange a Qualis Friday morning such that we start off Friday Evening - amazing guy. The troupe consided of Harish(KK), Jatin, Murali, Gururaj, Debjyothi,Vinesh & Rohit.
Muthodi Wildlife Safari Left to Right inorder: Jatin,Rohit,Debjyothi,Vignesh,Murali,Harish,Gururaj
The meeting point was Majestic Railway station at 2300 hours. Everyone made it on time.

Day 1 - 2010-06-12 - Z-point,Habbi Falls,Jagur View point,Gaali Kere,Manikya Dhara
Kemangundi Z-point

We reached Z-point at 0500 hours, we were the only souls out there. The view was berathtaking. There were clouds clearing up in the direction of the strong chilly winds, the surrounding landscapes had green cover with thick fog everywhere. The ones with cameras were busy clicking and rest were modelling.
Kemangundi Z-point Jatin left behind
We were done by 0800 hours, we had breakfast at Kemangundi and left to Habbi Falls. The only mode of transport is an off-road vehicle with 4x drive.
Kemangundi Flower @ Guest House
Its just about 10 kms and the joy ride will cost you INR 850.. He finally agreed upon INR 700; the ride was bumpy all the while with greenary everywhere.
Kemangundi Habbi Water Falls [Hebbe Falls]
After lunch at Kemangundi we left to Baababuddangiri. The drive to Baababudangiri is awesome through Muthodi Wildlife Reserve.
Muthodi Wildlife Reserve Jaguar View Point [Silver Oak Trees]
The terrain is mountainous with shola vegetation at higher altitudes and thick tree cover lower down.
Muthodi Wildlife Reserve Near Jaguar View Point
We halted by Jaguar view point took a few snaps and left soon after it started to rain. Next we hit this Manikya dhara, the place is a total mess with clothing thrown everywhere and extremely unhygenic.
Baababuddangiri View point at Manikyadhara
However the view from here is breathtaking. We next made it to Gaalikere temple (Anyaneya Temple).
Baababuddangiri Gaalikere
The place was clean but covered with thick clouds with poor visibility. We had to do a bit of jugglary to get our Qualis in making a U-Turn.
Baababudangiri Drive back to Chickmagalur
We then hit Chickmagalur for night stay. We checked into a couple of double bed rooms and had a great dinner.

Day 2 - 2010-06-13 - Sathodi Wildlife Reserve,Mulliyanagiri.
Sathodi Wildlife Safari Indian Gaur

We started our day at 0600 hours with Sathodi wildlife reserve jungle safari. We could spot just the herbivours - Gaurs, deers, peacocks, Kingfishers and a 400 year old teak tree. There is a drive through the wildlife reserve to Mulliyanagiri which we took.
Muthodi Wildlife Safari 400 year old Teak Tree
This route is very scenic and we stopped by a lot of places taking snaps. With every ascent the weather got harsher on the peak it was a storm. Very strong winds, thick fog and intermittent rainfall prevented us from playing around with our cameras.
Mulliyanagiri Mulliyanagiri temple in backdrop
We hurried up to the temple got wet and retured back to Chickmagalur. On reaching Chickmagalur we had a royal meal checked out of the lodge and headed back to Bangalore by 1500 hours. We reached homes by 2200 hours Sunday evening.

Finale -
-Total Expense per head worked out - INR 1550
-With heavy rains forcast not many tourists around

Appeal -
I see a lot of trashing at Habbi Falls/Inside the Wildlife Reserve - plastic Bottles, Glass bottles (broken)..etc, be responsible tourists and dispose them appropriately.

Kemangundi 2Near Jaguar View Point

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mogala Betta [Virgin Trek]

From Mogala Betta [Virgin Trek Route]

Two Day Trek [2010-05-08 - 2010-05-09]

It had been quite sometime before a Virgin Trek was planned out. I decided it must happen over this weekend. About 10-15 showed interest and 6 showed up off which just 4 completed it. Among the people who made it - Purushottam, Gururaj,Srikanth and Rohit.
From My new avatar - Naxal

We reached Gundia 0700 hours, freshened up had Tea and started the trek. The forest isn't thick we could lock our compasses North-East and kept going. The humidity was pretty high and water consumption was high too. By the time we made it to open grasslands it was Noon. By now Sandeep and Ravi dropped out. Srikanth could not take it and ended up taking a very long nap.
From In the Jungle

Soon it was 1500 hours and started to pour down heavily. By now we were dangerously low on water; we ended up drinking rain water droplets, and it was pretty evident no water ahead as well. The rains gave no respite, the humidity was still very high we kept going.
From Bisle Ghat in the background

Only purushottam made it to the sumit. We were short by 300 meters! => I still have unfinished business will come back for it soon!!! However I did not want to re-trace the serpentine route we took to get here, we took another path which seemed more easier to reach the nearest water source. To do that we had to cut through a dense jungle starting 1900 hours with a pair of torches.
From View down Mogala Betta
The dense jungle had wild thorny shrubs and gigantic trees. We also found a dried up stream which we followed till 2100 hours and decided to spend the night beside it.
From Prominent Peaks from Left to Right -> Amedikallu,Yettina Bhuja,OG in front of it,Dipadkal Gudda, Jenkallu gudda(Mist covered)

Due to damp forest floor no dry wood was available for camp fire. We had some Diesel which we sprinkled around and slept. At 2300 hours it suddenly started to rain down heavy. The rains wouldn't stop, it poured down heavy till about 0300 hours. The umbrella we carried helped us protect our bags and our heads from drowning :)
From Mogala Betta after rains

After about 0100 hours I was out of my sense and had gone to deep deep sleep, I don't recollect how the umbrella got off my head. We woke up at 0600 hours and waited for sunlight to penetrate the thick forest. We started our trek at 0700 hours. We reached Gundia by 1030 hours.

Gururaj, Purushottam and Srikanth decided to visit Kukke temple I decided to head back to Bangalore. Reached back home at 1800 hours.

1. Water ~> Most important on any trek
2. Make sure you have determined and brave people while attempting something like this.
3. Compass helped us a lot, I am now confident of compass reading
4. I will re-visit this place sometime soon......

From We Made it out alive! - Gururaj,Purushottam,Srikanth & Rohit.

More Pix here:
2010-05-08 - 2010-05-09 - Mogala Betta [Virgin Trek]

Channa Giri [Biking + Trek]


From Chikballapur Lighting...

[1 Day Biking + Trekking]
After seeing a few great pix off Pranjal, I decided to bike and trek this place. Vishnu and his friends showed interest and joined in. I do not recollect the group size :) we were about 13.
From Partial Group: Rohit,Jatin,Arpita,Manisha,Tarun,Rahul,Ritu,idplz,Aadarsh,Vishnu; the rest were sleeping:)

We biked on International Airport till we hit Nandi hills crossing. After much confusion and inquiry we made it to the place. We started our Trek at 0030 hours. We reached the peak by 0330 hours.
From Skandagiri? Not sure which place it is..

We were all set and we started preparing hot hot Bajji's. The guys were the cooks and the girls were just complaining. The bajji episode ended at 0500 hours. It was time for sunrise. We got onto the other side [East] took a few snaps till sunrise.
From Sunrise Channagiri

We soon started our downward journey and made it back to civilisation by 1100 hours.

1. Preparing Bajji's all night was a great experience.
2. Biking Friday night's a good idea not much traffic.

Waynaad ~ Mysore [Trip]

From Mysore Palace at 0300 hours :)

2010-02-26 - 2010-03-01 [3 Day TT Trip]

1st March holi - And a long weekend. We decided we go out on a trip to Waynaad covering Masinagudi and Gopalswamy Betta. Initially 8+ showed interest finally 7 showed up. Fuel prices were hiked at the stoke of Midnight. To our fate, our driver was unaware of this. Starting right from 0030 hours we were on the look out for Diesel on the outskirts of Maddur. We were kept waiting till the new price was formally announced and the equipments re-calibrated We spent about 2 hours doing nothing. Girish and his accomplice deserted the group on reaching Mysore.

The road to Waynaad via Bandipur National Park is closed between 2100 hours & 0600 hours for animal safety. We ended up waiting b/w 0400 to 0600 hours. We freshened up at "Way to Life" in Kalepta. We visited Pookat lake -> Meenumuthy falls -> Kuruva Island in order and finally halted for the night back in Gundlepet.
From Chembra Peaks as seen near Meenumutty Falls..

Pookat Lake is just another lake, the only entertainment here is boating, it's more of a hype. Meenumutty Falls is in a Reserve Forest. One has to trek 2 kms starting from a Private Tea estate and then through a forest. The fall is pretty good but the visit comes at a premium. There is a INR 300 for entry for a group of <=10.
From Meenumutty Falls

Kuruva Island is again a hype, reminds me of Cauvery Nisarga Dhama in Coorg, with the exception that there's no rope bridge here instead we have a bamboo raft to cross over. However this place closes down by 1630 hours for fear of Wild Elephants; we reached here at 1700 hours and weren't allowed to cross over to the adjacent island.
From Rohit @ Kuruva Island

Day 2 - Mysore ~ Madhumalay

Next morning we headed off to Gopalswamy betta, by the time we reached the top it was 1000 hours and we weren't lucky and din't spot wildlife. We trekked into the forests of Bandipur upto 1500 hours after a brief visit to Himavad Gopalswamy Betta.
From Drive Down Gopalswamy Betta

We next got to Madhumalay Wildlife reserve. We went on a safari tour. The safari put me to sleep, it was even hard to spot even deers and elephants. The best part is this entire stretch had no crows.

Our next destination was Nanjangud temple. Since it was Sunday a big crowd had gathered and we eneded up waiting an hour. It was too late and we missed Palace lighting.

We next head off the Pizza Corner for dinner. Dinner went on for 2 hours after a long wait. We next need pan, our driver misunderstood it as pawn and took us to Cauvery Emporium. We finally got the pan we were after near St. Philominas Church. By the time we made it home it was 2 am.

1. Total Expense per person worked out to INR 2050.
2. No crows in and around Gopalswamy Hills

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valikunja - Kudremukh Range

From Valikuja Peak in Backdrop;Gururaj,Raghavendra,Purushottam and Rohit in-order

The trek was a mistake with absolutely no real intent. It was decided Friday 1700 hours that we'd trek; Valikunja & Sitabhumi peaks were in our long pending list, we zeroed-in on Valikunja. Participants were just 4 in all - Gururaj, Purushottam, Raghavendra & Rohit(ME). We reached majestic Bus stand at 2300 hours, with no direct busses to Karkala we took a bus to Dharmasthala.
From Happy Valentine's Eve

Day 1[13th Feb. 2010]
On reaching Dharmasthala we were fortunate to find a bus to Karkala waiting. From Karkala we took a bus to Ajakar and a connecting bus to Under. Under's the place from where the trek begins.
From Final Destination
By the time we started the trek, it was close to noon at 1100 hours. We took no guide as usual and decided to make our own roads; we took a winding route though many estates and finally got right on-track what appeared to be a prominent trail taking is the direction of Valikunja. As we got into into tree cover, the climb got steeper; we ended up taking longer breaks with very little ascent.
From Toad in action at a local stream

By 1715 hours we hit the last known water source, we knew we were close to the peak we camped for the night along the trail, with no suitable flat camping site.
We could smell fresh elephant dung and foot print beside the water source and decided to have 2 camp fires to keep off wild visitors. 2 slept and 2 stayed up - 5 hrs straight feeding the fires.

Pre-Dinner was something unusual, thanks to Purushottam and his special Recipe -> Bun Masala. Ingredients were Finely cut tomatoes + Sev + Mixture + Chilly Powder + Salt stuffed into half sliced bun.

Day2 [14th Feb. 2010]
From Happy Valentines' Day

It was Valentine's day but not for serious trekkers like us, we started the day early and crossed over to the Adjacent peak to Valikunja. We realised this only on reaching the Shola Grasslands. We tried to look for any possible routes to get us Valikunja. We realised we had missed the possible route up long back. We had little choice and cut straight through the jungle again making our own roads.
From View of Valikunja from the Adjacent Peak

Just a few meters from the last known water source; we were in open grasslands and had the peak in sight. The climb up wasn't easy either, now with the sun aiming right at you + no breeze + no tree cover we had little respite, we kept going faster, at one point we dumped our luggage.
From Valikunja Peak - Blown-up Transmission Tower

The peak had what looked like a blown-up Transmission Tower with Solar panel mounted over it. Found a couple of foot prints carved out, not sure the history behind it.
We soon started the downward journey, we maintained a pretty good pace. On getting back to civilisation we freshened up in a steam and got ready to board the bus back to Karkala at 1430hours.

After a sumptuous meal we got to Dharmasthala visited the temple and boarded a night bus back to Bangalore at 2130. We made it back to our homes by 0630 hours Monday morning.
From The Descent

1. The forest is infested with tics during Jan~Feb, avoid this season.
2. Tics cause more damage than leeches; Their bites turn sore, very itchy and need medical attention.
3. The total expenses worked out to be around INR 700.
4. With no breeze you must avoid this season.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Yettina Bhuja to Ombattu Gudde ~ Virgin route

Route – Bhirapura -> Yettina Bhuja -> Lakshmi Estate [halt] -> OG -> Devara Holla [halt] -> Gundia Check Post.
From Yettina Bhuja - View near Bhirapura Temple

From Bhirapura – Raghavendra,Rohit,Srikanth,Jaya,Murali,Girish,Gururaj,Purushottam

The troupe consisted of a long list, a record number of 8 joined in, the initial count was about 12 unfortunately 4 did not show up. Tickets were however booked for 8 in advance. The trek troupe consisted of Gururaj, Purushottam, Raghavendra, Jaya, Girish, Srikanth, Murali and Rohit.

Day 1 :
We had booked an overnight bus from Bangalore to Mudigiere the nearest town to Bhirapura. We reached Bhirapura at 0430 hours.
From Bhirapura - Temple
Freshened up and had breakfast at the bus stand and boarded an auto to drop us off at Bhirapura Temple. The initial climb had a prominent trail, the trail soon died down but our destination was well within sight and we managed to summit by 1000 hours as per my planning.
From Yettina Bhuja - Along the Ridge
Here we had Breakfast round - II; Here I took out our navigation equipment and for the last time decided the path we would trace to get to OG[Ombattu Gudde] ridge, our equipment was one of the most primitive ones, a compass & maps from Map Survey of India. It was decided we head South-West to get to OG.
From Yettina Bhuja - Along the Ridge

The only catch was to find an animal trail, human path or an entry point through the thick bushes. I had to lead the way with a sickle clearing the thick spiny forest cover.
From Jenkallu + Dipadkallu + Peak 1259 - As viewed from Yettina Bhuja
We were quite fortunate to find a wide path that would help us summit the first huddle. On reaching there, we could see our jeep trail in the distant far in the South West direction. This was the fist sign of our success. We continued to stay high and walk along the ridge that would connect us to the OG-Jeep track.
From Ridge to OG - I see a Jeep track

From OG - Jeep Track Finally!

We reached close to OG by 1600 hours, we were dangerously low on water, we had to get to the nearby Lakshmi Estate and decide our next move.
From Yetina Bhuja ~ OG – Cliff en Route
On reaching there it was decided most people wanted to sleep in and around the estate. We had a campfire, prepared Noodles, Sweet Potato – Roast, Alu – Roast along with MTR ready to eat and some home made chapattis. Murli and Myself stayed up late, the rest slept by 2100 hours. We were up till 0000 hours and we slept in the open beside the camp fire. By 0300 hours strong winds in our direction woke us up and drove us inside the estate.
From OG Track - scorching sun

From Dipadkallu - Jenkallu - Peak 1259

Day 2
From OG Peak - Dry Shola Grass

Next morning we had breakfast and headed off to OG at a snails pace. We stared at 0800 hours hit the peak at around 1000 hours, we identified all prominent peaks nearby,
From Jenkallu Gudda View
we had earlier scaled Dipadkal gudda, Jenkallu Gudda, Peak 1252, Amedikallu and Yettina Bhuja as well. While on the OG peak we missed the actual trail that would safely lead us back to Gundia.
From OG – We Descended here
Looking back at the map we re-aligned and decided to take a steep decent down to the Devara Hola and look for the route back. But the decent proved quite costly. We stated at aroud 1030 hours, by the time we hit the stream below it was 1200 hours. As per the 48P9N/W it was just a displacement of 1 km!
By now the group split into 2, Gururaj, Purushottam and Raghavendra decided to leave the rest behind and tightened pace. The group moved slowly I had to find alternate routes and get the group kicking up pace. I got hysterical at times and yelled at the slow ones. We [group with 5] took a few breaks, including a lunch break and continued the descent along the river banks and at times through the forest.

Meanwhile the other 3 had no navigation equipment and had to wait for us with no option to back out. The 3 alos did not have any food left to camp for the night. The 3 had identified a suitable campsite right beside a bamboo groove and had started a fire. The 3 had collected enough fire wood for the night. By the time we regrouped it was 1730 hours. Later we realized the 3 had reached just 30 minutes earlier having kept a brisk pace with minimum breaks and having missed lunch break. For the record we had trekked just 4 kms from the OG peak which had taken 1000 - 1700 = 7 hours!!
From Devara Hola - View from our Campsite

Srikanth had got enough food for all we prepared Ragi Malt off ‘Uri Ittu’ and chapattis for dinner. We slept early and decided to start the day on fist ray of light.

Day 3
We started 0700 hours next day. Just after walking a 100 meters we ended up hitting thick Bamboo shoots; we crossed over to the other side and soon had to cross back over as we hit a dead end.

Ray of hope:
From Addahole - While Crossing the Stream

We got lucky as we found a trail that was pretty wide beside the Devara Holla. We moved along the path at a brisk pace and saw writings in Fresh chalk with arrows, after a while we saw ‘Gundia’ followed by an arrow pointing in the direction we were heading. Within an hour we hit Addahola. After a short photo session we continued our sprint to Gundia. All the while we were hoping for Mobile network connectivity to inform our dear ones on our whereabouts, but in vain. We hit NH 48 at 1330 hours. Here we found a small coin booth soon after crossing the overbridge, made calls back home. The group again split here, 3 guys decided to head back to Bangalore the rest continued to visit Kukke Subramanya temple and then back to Bangalore.
From Bisle Ghat - Amma Temple

At Kukke we visited both temples and then to a local – Amma’s Temple en route to Bisle view point. We had to drop Bisle view point 28kms from Kukke due to bad road condition and huge demands by local Jeep men. We boarded an overnight bus from Kukke ~ Bangalore at 0930 hours and touched down at Majestic at 0800 hours, the return journey was smooth until we hit a road block on Tumkur Road, the bus driver was smart enough to wait an hour and cut into Maagadi Road to drop us off at Majestic Bus stand.
From Yettina Bhuja ~ OG - The path we took

1.OG rocks as always, a memorable hark back after a 3 month break due to a broken left arm and low back injury.
2.Over all Trek expense INR 731 per head includes bus + misc. expenses incurred during and after the trek.
3.I had parasitic ticks around my ankle, have now turned itchy.
4.All Eight have bruised hands and legs after grabbing thorny shrubs along the trek.