Friday, November 28, 2008

My travel with Rebel

As I had mentioned in my previous post, I didn't post any picture till I could see the things through my new Canon 450D DSLR. The wait ended a month ago when my manager came back from US carrying my request in his hands.

I traveled to many places since then - Hebbal Lake (twice), Lalbag, Skandagiri, Kudremukh, Mysore.. Initially I got frustrated when I could not take a good pictures from such a costly camera. Later I realized that online learning is not fruitful unless you do hands on. Until I received this camera I thought photography with DSLR is easy but NO.. It's not at all easy. My workshops went on one after the another, I was just trying to click anything interesting. As of today, I am satisfied to have got the following pictures during my travel over last few weeks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Drive away on a boring Sunday evening!

It's Sunday evening.. Tomorrow it's Monday, and a holiday for Diwali.. Wait for my DSLR seems never ending though it's just one more day to go :-).  I and a cousin of mine decided to drive to Hebbal lake today.. However, since it was 4.30, and towards Hebbal there would be lot of traffic , I asked him if we can go to ThippagonDana haLLi lake instead.  This is the place I heard about but had never been to. From Basaveshwara Nagar, we started towards this place in search of birds and lake.. On the way there were a lot of birds but we decided to reach the lake rather than stopping by those birds. However when we reached the main gate of the lake it was closed and there were boards put up saying that the entry is restricted. After enquiring a person standing on the other side of the gate if we can get inside, he said we cannot enter the premises; if they allowed us then they would lose their job! I am wondering - since when, our govt became so strict?; rather, since when our govt employees became so obedient? 
We drove 2-3 kms further and we could spot a way from the backside. Though we could not go close to the lake we could see the bridge and lake from little distance away. There were lots of eagles flying above. The camera did not have much of the work to do. However the 2 enthusiasts did try to capture something there since we visited. :-)
It was a wonderful ride of 30kms one way, towards Taverekere and further. Mind was refreshed after crossing the outskirts of the city and finding the green on both sides. Fresh air is always good to breath you see! :-) 
Beams of the vehicle!
On the road behind the lake  
Working with slow shutter speed
            You can see few stars too
This is the last time I am posting pictures from a borrowed camera.  
From 28th of Oct, all pictures will be from my very own Canon EOS 450D/Rebel XSI :-) 
Just waiting to hold it and click every beautiful thing on this earth! 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

RanganatiTTu - Birds' Paradise

On a saturday evening I felt like driving to some place on Sunday. I was totally frustrated with the 2 days continuous travel that week. I wanted to get to some beautiful place which would wash my mind and make me fresh on Monday :-) The option which could strike my mind that time was, RanganatiTTu. and guess what? I drove my Honda Activa to the place from Bangalore. LOL! But trust me this 2 wheeler is the best one for a drive on smooth roads. 45kms milage and which could reach up to 80 km/hr. What else do you expect? ;-) Just posting here some of the best pics that I managed to get in Sony Cyber shot H5. Lovers in the Air Lonely Pied Kingfisher White Ibis Butterfly in a garden nearby Pollens of a flower

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"Journey to conquer the highest peaks continues.." - A trek to Thadiyendamol - Coorg District!

27th and 28th Sep, 2008

Place: Thadiyendamol, Near Kakabbe
District: Coorg
Route map:
Approximate route from Bangalore: Mysore road --> Sri rangapattana --> Right turn towards Hunsur --> Virajpet road --> After 5 kms Left turn towards Kakabbe -> There comes a sign board called (Misty woods)just follow that till you reach the home stays.

This place had been on top of my mind from many days. This was one of the trekking spots that I had not yet covered. 26th Sep, a fine Friday morning, for which every software engineer waits eagerly, I decided to spend the weekend memorably. Also my colleague who's last day in my company was nearing, insisted me to plan for some trek. Just a phone call to an estate in Thadiyendamol gave a kick start to our journey. I remember the plan wasn't working out that well, since everybody I asked about the trip had second thoughts about joining this trip. However 6 people were ready end of the day. Qualis was good enough to accomodate all of us. When Qualis left my house in Vijayanagar at 11 PM in the night, just after 2 kms it got punctured - The driver said 2 mins and he will replace it. The spanner got bent when he was trying to loosen the jammed nut. I really had second thought of continuing the trip then. However driver's friend nearby helped him fix this problem.

By the time I could pick up everyone from their house it was midnight. This is how our journey started towards the highest peak of Coorg.I want to make this post very simple, and to tell you how much successful and fun this trip was, the photographs are the witness! Here is the short story of the entire trip after we left Bangalore in the midnight.

Wonderful ride on Mysore road till Sri rangapaTTana, the place of Sultans! – Then a right turn towards Hunsur - We had to ask a lot of people about the correct road to Virajpet. By the time it was 3.30 am in the morning, driver realized that he was feeling sleepy. He parked the vehicle on the side, and slept off.

We got down, and stood outside to discuss all problems in the world, one of them was traffic in Bangalore J. Meantime, I took out my camera to take few shots of Moon. I had gone through a lot of training material on Photography of late. I wanted to apply this learning in this trip. The moon danced up and down in my camera. My desperate effort to capture the moon wasn’t successful but it created magical pictures. J

After an hour we woke up our driver to tell him that we were supposed to go for a trip J We reached Virajpet early morning at around 6.30 am, and then moved towards Kakabe. All along the way the scenery was ecstatic! Believe me eyes couldn’t get more satisfaction than that. Rajiv Gandhi National Park on the way was thick and green and had a pride of its own! The mist and fog covered the green fields here and there as if to decorate Mother Nature. The curvy roads lead us towards the peace and beauty of the greenery. Beautiful water birds and lot of other flies were amazing to see.

The owner of the home stay showed us a great hospitality to welcome us and treat us with breakfast and tea. It was 8am in the morning and we were thinking what the plan should be. After a little discussion we came to a conclusion that we trek to the peak post lunch, considering a lot of factors like lunch, sun set etc. It was a very good decision. Meantime we freshened up ourselves. I and Larry went out for a walk after breakfast. We rushed into the backyards of a house to find a water stream and large green field a little further. My camera had a lot of work to do there since it was the best spot for photography. A lush green cultivated field - several types of butterflies and some other insects with full of colors - sound from the small water stream as if it was pouring water on the dusty mind to clean it up – everything around was soothing. Had a good time there applying my photography skills.

Backyard of a house, Thadiyendamol

After Lunch we started our trek to the highest peak. Though there was tar road till some point, we decided to walk rather than taking a jeep drive. The uphill was really steep, but we got to see nice views on the way, and hence it wasn’t that tiring. By the time we reached the place where the tar road ended and where exactly the trek starts, we had taken about 1 hour. From that point onwards it was real trekking – thick green trees and bushes on the sides and a completely rough mud roads – and that’s what I like , “Real trek” J

There were many other troops for the trekking, including Bangalore Mountaineering Club who were really enthusiastic. We saw that they were carrying tents too to make a halt near the top of the hill during that night. It was really tempting; we drooled on it a bit J However, we had a “Josh” to stay back on top without tent, which didn’t last long; in fact the “josh” ended right there when the chilling cold attacked our body just after the sun set.

Road to Heaven - Nearing the Peak

The way towards peak was just like a Road to Heaven. As we climbed up we felt tired but looking up to the peak pumped in more energy in us to push ourselves. But when we reached the top of the hill, it was rejuvenating. It was 5.20 PM when we reached the top. The following pictures are enough to express how good it was at the peak J That was one of the best sun sets ever I could see. How best can I explain the beauty of distant clouds which looked below our level, the horizon created during the sun set, refreshing breeze, soothing atmosphere! All experiences are just captured in my camera; It was the fantastic weather for photography, trust me, whatever it required for photography – Optimum light, Optimum clouds, no rains – everything was available at the highest peak of Coorg.

As I told before we could not wait on the top for longer time after sun set since it was getting colder. We trekked down few hills and by the time we reached BMC’s tents it was dark! We had borrowed a torch from the home stay owner, which was of great help for six of us. Every now and then, we turned off the torch and looked towards the sky to find zillions of stars; the sky looked so rich and bright like never before. We walked brisk but carefully towards the foothill. We asked the driver to come till the point where tar road was available. By the time we reached down, the driver was there and it was a great relief getting into Qualis. We were really hungry because we didn’t carry even a chocolate while trekking. As soon as we reached back, we freshened up and grabbed the most delicious and tasty food prepared by Aunt in the home stay. It tasted just amazing!

Next day I got up early at 7 am and wentout for a walk, again, just to breathe the sweet air. The breakfast was wonderful again; I am really grateful to the home stay owner and his wife. Initially the amount that he said he will charge us looked to me costly but after Sunday morning’s breakfast when we were leaving, it really looked a very small amount. Though we hardly spent 30 hours there in Thadiyendamol, all of us felt we were there for weeks. We said bye to uncle and aunty, the driver then took over and drove towards a beautiful water fall called Chelawara water falls, on the way back. The water fall is as good as Hebbe falls in KemmannugunDi. If you are going to Thadiyendamol, this is a must visit! We tried our hand reaching just below the water fall, and took a nice bath.

Chelawara water fall, few kms from Thadiyendamol
Nothing interesting happened on the way back to Bangalore; apart from Upendra’s dilogues in Buddivantha entertaining us to the fullest!

When we reached Bangalore it was Sunday 5PM. The individual expense on this trip was just 1550rs including everything. So Thadiyendamol is amazing place to be visited, which is situated less than 300 kms from Bangalore (5 hours drive) and gives you the best experience. And if you are going there anywhere between Sep and Nov, wonderful time to visit!

Just go for it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tranquility to Turbulence - A trip to Sita Nadi, Agumbe and Sringeri

Caution!! Long (and may be boring) post ahead - Just putting it down here so that I don't forget any silly or tiny thing also about this trip.. Read at you own risk ;-)

March 7th 2008, 11:14 am: Mail from Manz.. Guys,
I Know it is too early to plan for the next trip, but when it is time for the next trip, lets see if we can make it to this place... It sounds really interesting :)
~Manasvi :-)

Just a glance at the above blog was enough to frame an idea of visiting this place in monsoon. Hats off to the guy (Kartik I guess) who posted that wonderful experience with few amazing snaps of river rafting and mountain biking. Manz had just thrown a stone hoping that it will strike few of us, but eventually it did strike all of us and made us eagerly wait for the monsoons for our adventurous trip to Agumbe. Well...Everyone knows that if something is being planned too early, the efforts will go in vain. Sita nadi trip set an exception to that statement. We all waited for this trip for months and the plan worked out just as expected, may be more than that. Everyone I met since I heard about this place, I kept mentioning about this place and kept making false promises except to "this group". I am thinking of a better name for "this group". Any suggestions from "this group" are most welcome. As the clouds thundered and sky started showering, all of them who were convinced with my false promises, started buzzing me "boss, monsoon arrived? You said we will go sita nadi.. are we going??" - I didn't know what reasons I would give to avoid them.  

1st Aug 2008, around 9 PM: 
The late night discussions about plans, long chat with San who was in Denmark, a telecon of 1 and 1/2 hours between me, Manz and San to get convinced about San's plans and list of places to be visited, home made food preparation by Hari, Shy, Nidhi and Thrish, Larry and San's shopping for snacks - everything put together made us occupy our seats in TT with Raghu (driver) all set for the river rafting and leechy trek in the Agumbe Ghats. Gang - Below in the video :-)

Though we made sure we had everything set for next 2 days including food, we had to get down for dinner at 10PM. After having delicious grilled sandwiches, pretty costly though, the TT took a left turn on the Tumkur road, towards Haasan. The road was pretty good and we reached Beluru at around 2 AM. We got down from the TT to stretch our body a bit. After a while, we had to get back into TT and close our eyes in search of sleep. I desperately prayed for a proper sleep, but the curvy roads and on/off rain made it difficult for me. The road was so calm in the late night, rather an early morning; I could easily count the number of vehicles that our TT encountered on a stretch of 50kms. 2nd Aug, 4:30 AM, Sringeri: Highly opposed place for the first visit, Sringeri was the place where Raghu insisted us to stop by and look for lodge. I was happy that my plan was working out. We took 2 rooms (for 100 rs!!!), in the vicinity of "Sharadambe Temple" to sleep for some time and to get fresh. Except for the "no hot water" and the colorful cold water the rooms were pretty good. Most of us took bath and headed towards the temple which was very close the rooms.

I believe there wouldn't have been a better start to this trip than stepping into Sringeri Sharadambe temple. It was a cloudy morning, with a drizzle now and then. We took Darshan and visited small little temples around, went near the bridge. The place looked awesome and peaceful; water current below the bridge was setting fear in the mind for the river rafting that was supposed to happen on that afternoon.
Soothing atmosphere and a Holy place - Sringeri 

After eating Idlis that we carried from home, it was time to start to Agumbe which is 18 kms from Sringeri, a 20 minutes journey. We reached Agumbe, Malya Residency, right opposite to Agumbe police station, at 10:30 am. We had booked rooms over the phone 2 weeks before. After dumping the entire luggage inside, we got ourselves ready for the much awaited River Rafting in Sita Nadi. At around 11:15AM TT left Agumbe, and drove towards Sita Nadi Nature Camp, which is approx 20 KMs from Agumbe. To reach the place, one has to drive down through the Ghats crossing 14 hair pin bend curves and Someswara. 2nd Aug, 12.15 PM, Sita Nature Camp: As we reached the Sita Nature Camp gate, our excitement to see the river Sita reached heights. When we all got down, eyes first searched for the rafts to get the feel of rafting but unfortunately there were none because the morning batch hadn't yet returned. We met Sharat from Adreno Adventure club through whom we booked for long run rafting for 3 hours. We had to sign the security paper to own our life's responsibility. It was precisely 12:15 PM when reached there and the rafting time given to us was 2:00 PM. Sharath asked why we were so early and I told him that we wanted some time to set ourselves. In the mean time we had lunch and roamed around enjoying the serene beauty of the nature camp for a while. The current in Sita River was setting more fear and excitement as we assembled on the banks of Sita. A beautiful voice emerged in the middle of the silent nature camp; it was Nidhi's melodious voice which we were all entertained with, "Tere bina zindagi se.." one of everyone's favorite songs, was heard more fluent when she was singing that. San was busy with her handy cam, Manz & Kumz with photography, Shy in imagining zuiinnnnn swim in the river, Amit and Monty still trying to make themselves more comfortable with new group, Trish was busy taking "close up" pictures of her sis - Hari and Larry were on the branches of a tree which was leaning towards the river.
Waiting for the rafts - Sita Nature Camp                                  


It turned out to be a much longer wait than we expected. It was already 2:15 and we could not see the rafts coming in. Also Sharat was telling that there were some problems. Everyone kept their fingers crossed, waited eagerly near the Shores. Finally we could see the rafts after half an hour and there were instructors too. The wait seemed to be over when we were asked to assemble to listen to the instructions. We then wore, with all excitement, the raft wear which were all over the rafts. As the guides and organizers were pumping the blow inside the rafts, we felt the adrenaline pump. Then we moved close to the river for further instructions. Basically there would be one instructor per raft who will sit at the back and give us the commands. It all started with "Paddle forward, paddle backward, right forward and left backward" etc... Then Sharath moved on to explain the consequences if we are detached from the raft in the middle, if the raft itself topples, not to panic since the life jacket could helo us float for 24 hours at least! (After that!!!???) - Those instructions were really scary - scary enough to change manz's facial expressions. "We will all practice few commands for sometime, near the shores.." - That’s what Sharath told and our rafts moved on.. Hari and I occupied front rowers' position. We were watching the current in the water waiting for the raft so long and now we are on it!! Initially it was scary. There was a specific position in which you have to sit and lock your legs to the raft; however we weren't that perfect in doing that. Within few minutes of our rafting there was one huge rapid, which came as a surprise and since it was the first, we weren't prepared for it at all... My god! I became upside down and water gushed through my nasal cavities. Huh.... That was really a spine-chilling experience. However I was still attached the raft and the paddle was with me.

"Kaalu" was the name of our guide; let me call him a commander. The guy looked tall and dark. He held a paddle with a larger blade than his subordinates'. He looked Nepali but spoke Hindi and English. He is an expert in this art of rafting and he does this in both India and Nepal it seems according to the seasons.Truly a memorable adventure - Sitanadi                                   


Kaalu kept pestering me to hold the raft properly, to bend forward while rowing... Though it was annoying, it was for my safety and it was lesson for me for my next rafting (If I do!!). The river seems silent after a while's rafting. Kaalu said that we can jump into the water but holding the rope along side the raft. San had got free pass to jump wherever she wants even without any support. She just utilized her chance and jumped straight into water; Shy sitting on the raft was imagining herself in San's position - "zuuinnnnnnnn..." - Yes she just imagined, did not make an attempt to get down. Sangeetha was flowing away faster than the raft and finally a small thin bush helped her to give support. Even the bush would have felt happy that in life it could give support to one creature at least. :-) Kaalu stretched the paddle towards San and managed to pull her back into the raft. She kept smiling as though nothing would have happened. 60 odd years old uncle who was sitting behind took this opportunity to praise her and ask her name. When an old man does this, nobody says that he is flirting. On the other hand, when I asked the old man's daughter who was sitting behind me about what she does, everybody thinks I was flirting. Bad people!
The river Sita, which takes birth in Narasimha Parvata, and flows down through the western Ghats of Agumbe to meet Arabian see, was flowing wild, wide and full. The trees along side the river remained serene in the midst of the turbulent wind and monsoons... We could catch the sight of many birds every now and then... Just to add more attraction to the present beautiful view, a peacock, flew just few meters above our head from one end of the river to cross it and find a place on a tree's branch. Our raft was gushing down through the wild water but still we could turn back to have a glance at the peacock... It was a typical Indian Blue Peacock.

After 15 minutes of rafting we all got used to it and the fear of water and the current disappeared; in fact we went in Sync with Sita. We desperately waited for more dip rapids while Shy prayed for calm water to swim! Everywhere balance is required you see! When we neared a bridge where the other troops were parking their rafts, we thought it was over! :-( However it was a break for the people who were registered for long run and an end for the people who were on a short run. It was already 1 1/2 hours of rafting. The raft mates changed for the next half and Larry occupied the front rower's seat along with me.
When we got close to the other rafts we spilled water over them as though we had caught up a fight with the other gang; it was fun though. The stomach started complaining for food after a while; I was really damn hungry. However just to deviate thought of hunger, some interesting things happened in next few minutes. Monty never wanted to get into water since he had back pain and all; as soon as he mentioned that, there was rapid waiting for him to make him upside down. Well as expected he was dipped in water for a while but he managed to hold on to the rope and the paddle. Hari on the other side, in the same situation, just missed his paddle - that he realized after climbing the raft. We could see the paddle taking the other way, and we somehow wanted to get it back. To add more curiosity to this there were lot small bushes spread across the river widely, right in front. I thought the paddle would get stuck with a bush on the way. As we decided to turn back after crossing the bushes, we could see the paddle crossing our raft in all its glory. That's it, one long stretch towards it; we could get hold of it. After another while there seemed to be huge rapids, and it was scary enough to see; but our rafting ended just before those rapids. Larry wanted to cover those rapids and then stop. He didn’t know that there was a water fall just few meters ahead. We had one more adventure to do there; we had to carry the raft on top of our head and climb a steep little hill to park it near the road. It was really painful and we all struggled to carry it.

Labour work - carrying the rafts to the main road :-)

There was a bus waiting for the rafting candidates; we had to walk for a kilo meter to board the bus; as we entered the bus we could see all the wet bodies occupying the seats; as usual I chose the last row, my favorite from college days :-). Back to the nature camp, we dried ourselves with the warm clothes. A cup of tea/coffee with Bajji after that ended our tenure at Sita. We came back home after a shopping for pickles, ghee and Curd, prepared steamed rice, had a peaceful dinner with our home made chaptis and parathas. Carrying food there turned out to be a wise decision as far as I think.

3rd Aug, 2008: 10:00 am "What's today's plan?" - That was a question everybody asked while having breakfast, and question, obviously, was to San. She said she had no idea; as per our discussion before the trip our avid trekkers’ gang had decided to trek to Koodlu Theertha falls. However, trek to this falls should be ventured only in dry season otherwise people will come back with leeches everywhere. ;-). Lodge's owner suggested me to route the gang to Barkana falls which was quite a small trek and there was a view point of the falls and another falls called Jogi Gundi falls where we could get into water.

We took his suggestions seriously and started our Sunday's ventures with trek to Barkana falls. That was the best time when we visited; looked green everywhere. There was a threat of leeches while we stepped down from TT to start off the trek. There were small little water streams on the way; I liked them and few hated them the most. As we were pushing ourselves hard to catch up with Baabanna, the local guide, Shy lead him and moved fast like never before. Moreover all the way through we were busy detaching the leech attacks; by the time we removed one, there were five stuck on the other leg.

The entire group was split into 2, one lead by Shy and another by no one. Hari, Thrish, Nidhi, Law, San and I lost the leading group. Though we were walking along the correct road, we thought we were lost; we decided that it's wise to go back and see if there was any other turn rather than walking a long way and messing it up. We suspected a right turn which we left behind. We came back and checked with suspected turn but it was not the one as there was no leading path towards that direction. We had no other way than get back to TT. We lost the way on the way back too. I was totally messed up with the directions. However Hari and Law made the best efforts to guide all of us to the correct road. Also people who saw the falls were coming back and we could hear from them; finally we got the right track towards TT. It was a real disappointment for me that I could not see the falls. There was nothing that I could do though. The thing which cooled my temper down at that moment was that we had one more water fall to visit.

Though, it was disappointing not to see the water fall, there was a lot of fun trekking through the thick green forest and getting lost twice both ways. There were few awesome clicks by my camera too. It rained on and off; standing head up towards the sky facing the crystal clear rain drops amidst the thick green forest certainly gave a feeling of "true happiness".
       There was much more fun waiting for us when we neared the TT; I hesitantly asked Raghu to allow me to sit on top. He reluctantly said No! However, Hari and I moved back and climbed the steps to conquer the top of TT. Raghu had nothing to say than to drive. There was heat inside the TT because of jealous as some people did not make it to the top. We reached Jogi Gundi water fall's starting point soon after a small drive. Amit and Monty did not come out as they had warmed themselves with warm clothes and did not want to get the new clothes wet. All others went down to see Jogi Gundi falls. I made sure this time that Mr Baabanna was with us, though there were little interruptions by someone ;-). It wasn't a long trek; we reached the falls in just 10 mins. The fall wasn't that height, but there was too much of water and the falls roared in the middle of stupendous field of trees. The water was damn cold. It required little adventurous efforts to get into water but eventually we all got into water and shared a rock to sit, watching the falls closely. I tried to get close to the fall, but the buoyancy created was threatening. After spilling water over each other like small kids, we said bye to the falls and we literally ran towards the TT for occupying the top seat. Well... shy missed it this time and Amit, Monty were already sitting inside..
The ride while we were sitting on top of TT, certainly was the best of this trip. We enjoyed this as much as rafting a day before. A Drizzle , a narrow road, Raghu's "wonder la" sort of ride, trees along the way, the green grass on the sides, the shining wet faces with smile on the face - everything put together was just like "time of life" (as manz described it right then and there). It was truly superb, amazing ride. Words can't explain it better.
We got down just a half km before Mallya Residency, where we stayed. We did crazy stuff while we walked till the lodge. We bent down our knees to take a race as if it was some Olympic track; never realized there was a van coming from behind. A man inside the van was totally confused to see what was happening there, he peeped through the window while the TT passed us, still confused!!

We went back to the lodge desperately to change dress. Before that everybody enjoyed eating "Neeru Dosa". It was a great satisfaction after making sure that there were no leeches on the body, and when we warmed ourselves. It was time to vacate the rooms and say bye to Mallya Residency. After checking out from there, we drove to Someswara and visited few temples in the evening. The plan was to reach Sringeri by 7.30 PM at least. It worked out as expected. We had lot of group photo sessions near Someshwar, before we left the place.

A decent gang with a set of dependent and independent individuals ;-)
As planned we reached Sringeri at the right time, before "Maha MangaLaruthi" that happens at 8.10 PM. San, Hari, Shy and I preferred to wait for the Puja before we had dinner. Others preferred Pet Puja first. There was a little fun when we had our dinner. San could see a leech there also, and I can't forget how she ran from there to sit next to Hari who was sitting a little away. After a round of walk around the temple, we left the campus in search of TT. That also turned out to be dramatic. We could not find our TT in the vicinity of the temple. We played Sholay trick.. aadhe idhar jaao, aadhe udhar jaao.. and it worked too, we could finally spot the TT. So just like that our visits on the trip ended with start as Sringeri and end also as Sringeri.. Couldn't have asked for more..

We played Hitch while coming back to Bangalore, which got stuck half way through - but not before Hitch conveyed a message - "Life is not the amount of breaths we take; it's the moments that take our breaths away" - which went in sync with our trip to Agumbe. There were plenty of such moments that took our breaths away. The fun, the wonderful rides, the laughter, the trip ended at around 4:15am in the morning when I buzzed the door bell to irritate my brother and woke him up to open the door.

4th Aug 2008 10 AM: Back on my Honda activa and on my way to office towards Jayanagar; mind has stopped calculating the routine roads and is still sailing in the fond memories of Agumbe trip.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fly High

"How? Why? When? Where?" How does it feel when you are flying? How do the landscapes look when you see them from a height? This curiosity and excitement remained for a long time in life till I really experienced it. When I was in schools, I used to watch these things on TV, and always wondered "When will I do such things?" - May be money was the factor which made me wonder that way.. Today it's not about money, it's about I wanted to experience something like this and I am going for it, that's it! This parasailing was an inspiration from one of my friends who celebrated one of the special days in her life in a grand way by doing parasailing. I grabbed the instructor's phone number and details from her blog. That's it, I got in touch with Mr Neeraj (9886797597) who conducts this adventurous sport.. Everything was set for the weekend, but then on a beautiful friday, the day IT people long for a long week, though it comes every week, turned out to be a shock to the entire, B'lore. The entire city was stunned, menaced by few creatures on this earth who belong to nowhere and who love no human being. Serial bomb blasts, 4 according to one tv channel, 5,6,7 according few other news channels., startled living beings in Bangalore. Nothing affected my plans for the parasailing though. My eagerness to pull out few people from my team in office went in vain. It was such a disaster that, 1 out of some 60 people accepted my invite. It was Amit who accompanied me and my previous colleague, a friend, Lawrence.. Landmark: On a fine Sunday morning, all the roads of b'lore gave a feeling of the old garden city, when there were not many vehicles around.... The roads were empty like never before.. becasue of the bomb blasts' after-effect. We were supposed to go to KR Puram hanging bridge from where the parasailing place was exactly 9kms towards Chennai & Tirupati. From the hanging brindge we kept riding till we reached a "Bharat Petroleum Bunk" on the LEFT side.. (one comes on the right side also, but that's not the one). We stopped by and called up the instructor, he directed us from there to the destination! On the field: While we entered the field, we could see the instructor was already there with his gypsi. and his 007 son was getting ready for the sailing. As we entered the field we were getting scared. But this kid, Jaswant, who had so much of guts to sail alone in the air, quite a good height, really inspired us. Jaswant - a fearless dude! We signed on a sheet of paper, didn't read a single line then, but I guess it was about out we bearing our life's responsibility.. Amit was the first one to go... He was all excited as the parachute was being tied to him. The gypsi which had the other end of the rope, started and move a 100 meter away.. and then 1 2 3 few seconds Amit reached heights! Next was the Lawrence's turn. He would also reach quite a good height but he was cribbing that it was not as high as the one he had done before in Jakkur..
That was quite a good height

Finally it was my turn. I don't know what was going on in my mind then, but it was a great feeling... As the intructor took his gypsi forward, I was asked to run 2 steps; yes with those 2 steps in next few seconds I also reached high high on the sky.. I carried Amit's Nokia N95 cell phone with the camera switched on to video mode.

start of the adventure
I can't explain the feeling when you are so high in the sky, your legs are hanging down, and down you see the large green field, all of my friends looked so tiny, there were many cattles on the field, everything looked so beautiful; I didn't want to come down. But for the money we were paying, 300 RS, 5 minutes was like too much of time. Landing was smooth. Mission accomplished feeling :0).
Landing was smooth but it was me who gave it little twist
We then paid him money and thank'd him for the wonderful experince he provided us through parasailing, I promised him his son's photographs which I had captured in my camera. It was then the time to say bye to everyone and the field. On the way back home it rained heavily, and we were supposed to go a friend's place for lunch, we went there, had lunch and reached home early in the evening.

Monday, June 16, 2008

KemmannuGunDi - Hebbe Falls - MuLLayyanagiri -

Friday, 13th June 2008
- 2:00 PM
Subrahmanya Arcade (My office)
(Friend of mine calls me)
Friend: "Hey, sorry for calling you up on the last day and inviting you for the trip.. would you be interested?"
Me: "Dude, just because few seats are left unoccupied, are you asking me this? Not really intended me to come on the trip huh?"
Friend: "ha ha ha..nothing like that, I thought someone else would call you"
Me: "Well, today I have a telecon with my US peers and a customer, so if this issue gets fixed will be able to come. But chances are 10%.. "
- 8:00 PM
Me: "Hey I can't come for the trip, I have to stay back in the office since we are supposed to have a net meeting with the customer..Now the chances are 5% that I can make it for the trip..If some miracle happens and the issue gets resolved, I will join last moment!"
-9:15 PM
A mail from a US peer: "Hi Prashant, the net meeting is over, the steps provided by you guys seemed to work just fine"
Me: "Sir (to my colleague), I will go home and try to catch up with my friends for the trip"
And thats it, my 5% chances turned out to be 200% to make it for, what I call a wonderful wonderful trip to KemmannugunDi, a hill station distant 40Kms from Chikkamagaluru.
Started from Bangalore at 11:30PM in the night from my pol, vijayanagar, the 21 seater containing the mixture of the generations drove us to Chikkamagaluru. Yes, there weren't only friends but friends' friends, friend's parents in-laws, son, husband..
Mullayyanagiri was the first place to be visited on the list - It would have been a second visit to the highest peak, but still I didn't mind - My second visit to the same place started giving me a different feeling as the bus started trekking the hill :-). This time around it was drizzling there. There was a small tree bent towards the middle of the road obstructing the way for our cute bus. I was more than happy to help the cleaner, to move the tree upstraight to make way for ourselves. Great feeling!!
As and when I saw the places we trekked through last time around, I was showing my friends, "see this is how we came last time..." 2 months back it was a clear sky, with bright sun throughout out trek. This time no trekking; We had the bus.. On the way we got down at a view point to inaugurate our photo sessions!
Before reaching Mullayyanagiri, there comes a place called, SitaLLayyanagiri, from where we can trek to the peak - it takes about half an hour to 45 mins. I asked who wants to get down and try to trek through the clouds. All youngies stood up and said "Let's go"! And as expected it turned out to be an amazing experience. C'mon who wouldn't like walking through the clouds.. Few of the troop who had never seen such a scenic beauty were already on the sky, it was so good to hear a Northie praising my state Karnataka for the first time..
"Amazing, fabulous, ultimate, heaven.." these are words I could hear frequently on our way up the hill.
Our bus which took some people in it did not manage to reach the peak, since the driver got threatened by the high speed blowing wind and clouds. He stopped it in the middle of the way itself. Trust me it was really scary, I man could have been easily flew away with the wind.. But still our other teammates and their parents, made an effort to get down and walk till the top. We were relieved to see them near the top.
Now came the most challenging part of this trek. A man can stand on the earth and look up to see the clouds moving - we could see them all around us... so much of fog and blowing wind which could take anyone away easily.. Few guys from the other troop warned us "don't go..very risky..hammering wind!" Initially we were hesitant. But then I said, we should climb few steps up and come back if it gets diffcult. Slowly and steadily we managed to climb up few steps, after a while, it was a moment of life or death. Had we not held each other's hands we could have gone with the wind! majority of us decided that we should go back, but there were 3 people who wanted to make it to the top. We took a deep breath and said "Time to climb down".. as we turned our face down to climb down, the 3 of them who were interested, just ran up the steps. Now a big dilemma, "Shall we also go or wait for them (if at all they come back)?" - I said "we should also go up to see these guys are there" - We made it to the peak point somehow and grabbed a cup of "requested tea" at the top [ priest's house on the top].
There were showers for some time, and as soon as it slowed down we fastened our pace to climb down the steps. What a memorable and scariest experience!
Next place on the list was BababuDangiri, a holy place basically. Way to BababuDangiri was unforgettable. It really makes you wonder; look through the window of the bus and see numerous cloud formations and their meet with the hills, some milky clouds look sliding down the hills, way down you see the trees which give guest appearance when the clouds are away.. I know I can't explain all this like the writers do or the Discovery Channel's presentation of the scenic beauties.. That's why I put a lot of photos to make myself more expressive :). Well, for a moment I felt I am blessed to be still in India unlike others going out of the country in hunt of success!
A feeling of bliss..
By the time we reached the place called "Datta peeTha" I was done with a nap. The chill cold weather woke me up and my hungry stomache made me grab a Pulav packet and after that I could not stop myself searching for a tea shop in the vicinity. I managed to get one and had 4 cups of hot hot tea :-)
Once we were done with the Darshan (visit) to the temple, it was time to go to KemmannugunDi. On the way "Mungaaru Male" was enjoyed by all of us, with lot of cheering for Ganesh and all the songs. As I wanted it to be, we reached the place when the movie reached a part where Ganesh gets acceptance from the girl for his proposal :-) "A happy ending" I said as the driver switched off the tv.
So far I felt I was on the sky, in fact I was!! I could feel the ground when I touched the soil. With a set of very good organisers for the trip, everything was set right for accommodation etc.. As we reached the guest house, there was a huge queue for... you know for what.. ;-)
Next on the list was Z-point, the next day, but we were unfortunate to miss going there because of rain and fog.
Next it was Hebbe falls right after the breakfast. We walked for a km to get jeeps to Hebbe falls which is approx 8 KMs from that place. The jeep drive was so amazing and seeing stupendous fields of grass on the way made me feel really happy. Hats off to the drivers who manage to take us through, through such a bad mud road, and high speed wind. Jeep dropped us near a guest house from where the falls was again around 2 kms away. This 2 kms way to the falls in this weather is outstanding. With so many water streams on the way which you have to cross, and the steepy little hills which you climb give you undoubtedly a great feeling. Not to forget few leeches who give you few unforgettable memories when stuck to your legs to suck your very sweer blood :0)
Just as we turned right from a curve on the way, we were shown the great hebbe falls by mother nature and the two eyes were really not enough to catch the beauty of it. Hebbe really rocks between the picturesque nature of hills and trees..
Only few of us escaped leech attack, some realized late in the jeep when they thought their leg was itching.
Back to KemmannugunDi on a jeep drive, lunch at the guest house restaurent, a group photo, a visit to a small holy place "Kallatigiri falls" on the way back to b'lore and then back to bengaluru, a city full of IT people, ended our trip without any hassles!! All thanks to the wonderful organisers who took take care of every possible things to make this trip a big success!! Right from snacks to entertaining us with "Jab we met", "Mungaaru MaLe", and "Tom and Jerry" - They had made all arrangements!!
My mind is still not out of that wind and takes a lot of time to pull myself out of such a masti-misty trip (that's how someone called it on the trip)....
People stare at the peak and say "How can someone climb up to that point?"
I stand on the peak and say "Why can't you climb up and play with the clouds?"
Visit for few more snaps -