Jul 30, 2008

History beckons - Badami-Aihole-Pattadkal-Hampi

Travel into the history and back with us........

From the memories comes alive the ruins of the Chalukya – Vijayanagar empire.
the chalukyans.. the great vijayanagar kingdom........ we are proud to be a part of this...

The hot bed of Karnataka – Badami, Aihole and Pattadkal.. topped up with Hampi!

When I was browsing through the collection of pictures which have almost occupied my entire hard disk, I realized there were quite a few sojourns which we had undertaken, some still afresh in our memories and some of which I remember vaguely, which can be shared with the world. So of the list, here comes out the ruins of the Chalukyas and the Vijayanagar Empire. Barely a month after being laid low by the appendix scare, the adrenaline inside me was pumping for some action and also while recuperating my mind was scouting for some place for our next sojourn. As it was still January 2007, we short-listed on the Badami, Aihole and the Pattadkal coupled with Hampi, as it would be the best probable season to be there. The Aihole-Badami-Pattadkal has some glorious temples, some of the India’s finest sculptural work. This is a group of fifty odd beautiful shrines spread across, each with its own individual style of architecture. Badami was the capital of the Chalukyan empire in the 6th century; 8kms north of Badami is Pattadkal and downwards 13kms is Aihole.

Badami – the first thing anybody visiting this place notices is the mammoth sandstone cliff, which is like a horseshoe, shape which encloses a lake in between. The views here at the sunrise and sunset are amazing. There are the temples and rock cut caves of which the loveliest is the Bhutanatha temple. <--- ---="" badami="" cliff="" sandstone="" the=""> In the southern part of the cliff is a stairway that leads to four exquisite rocks cut shrines carved into the hillside. The first cave is the Shiva, next two are for Vishnu and the last is a Jain shrine. The Shiva sculpture is a rare image of an eighteen armed dancing Shiva. I can’t describe the entire sculpture because one should visit to see and feel the beauty.

Aihole – Here temples are in clusters scattered over. Most notable are the Ravana Phadi cave, Durga temple, Lad khan temple and the list goes on…

Pattadkal – This is one huge complex of temples located next to the river Malaprabha. The temples are built in the south Indian Dravidian as well as the north Indian nagara style of architecture with the papanatha temple, which is a mix of both. Here notable temples are the Jambulinga temple, Galaganatha temple Virupaksha & the Mallikarjuna temples.

Our journey to the past: January 07 – There is a direct service from Bangalore to Badami; Rajahamsa service is operated on this route. Took this bus on January 25th evening, which reaches Badami by 8am. Badami is around 500kms from Bangalore and best reached by an overnight journey. After getting off the bus, could feel the heat instantly, here temperatures it’s the dry heat that gets on to you and you tend to get dehydrated very quickly. As it’s a heritage site, you see lot of visitors as well as foreigners here and don’t expect the rates around here to be cheaper, infact unless you bargain the size of your wallet reduces drastically. Got into a moderate hotel after searching around a few places to rest for a while and plan for the action for the day. The first thing that caught our eyes when we were moving around was the awesome sandstone cliff, which stands tall and beautiful in the background, much to that later. We were celebrating the republic day in our unique own way admiring the history that our land holds. We planned to cover Aihole and Pattadkal for the day and cover up Badami the next day. Negotiated with an auto driver to take us around both these places and finally settled for 150 per head (3 members) for the round about trip covering all the important places around Aihole and Pattadkal.

First we visited the famous Banashankari temple, which is very popular here enroute to Pattadkal that is around 8kms away; the road was horrible (stone clad road and a bumpy auto ride!!). Restoration and renovation of these heritage spots at Pattadkal was still going on and I wish at least now a year later, it should be completed and the roads tarred for the benefit of the tourists. We go to complexes / malls around; anyone been to a complex of temples? <--- ---="" complex="" pattadkal="" temple="" virupaksa=""> Here its temples everywhere and the red-brown combination strike through wherever you go. The sculpting works amazes you to no end, reminiscing the fact that India indeed has a glorious past adorned with such great knowledge and heritage. Notable here is the Virupaksha temple; also the most beautiful of the temples here is built in the north Indian style akin to a few temples, which are built according to the north Indian kind of architecture.

<--- ---="" at="" carvings="" pattadkal="">
Our next destination was Aihole, which is around 13kms from Pattadkal. Aihole was the first capital of the Chalukyas before Pulakeshi I moved the capital to Badami. There are several clusters of temples at Aihole to be seen unlike Pattadkal. Here also the rock-cut architectural tradition continues in the Ravanaphadi cave, <--- ---="" aihole="" cave="" ravanphadi=""> which has a linga in the sanctum at the rear end of the hall. Its sculpted walls and side shrines are peopled with large figures and lovely motifs adorn the pillars and ceiling. <--- ---="" aihole="" dancing="" great="" shiva=""> A great dancing Shiva appears here and the sculpture works needs to be seen to be believed. The swirling forms of two great snakes that he holds and the lovely images of the Sapta matrikas capture the graceful movements of the dancing Shiva. The best-known temple here is the photogenic Durga temple (I myself have seen this picture of the temple adorn many calendars and placards). <--- ---="" aihole="" durga="" famous="" temple=""> Seeing through all these temples and the magnificent sculptures and architecture, we were so exhausted, amazed and drained out that only the butter-milk sold by the local vendors could rejuvenate us and bring us back to the 20th century. We took so much time that we could only cover Aihole and Pattadkal for the day, so we planned Badami and Hampi for the next day. We went back to our base at Badami and rested our drained out bodies for a more grueling day out in the sun the next day. January 27th 9am – ideally we had to be at our offices doing the grueling work, but we were freaking out here digging into the history that was unfolding like a fairy tale and amazed us to no end. Badami or Vatapi as it was known was the center of ancient Chalukyan glory. The first of the rock-cut shrines in a cave is a rare image of an eighteen-armed dancing Shiva (curse me as I’m unable to find out where this snap is stored). <--- ---="" agastyatheertha="" at="" badami="" cave="" temples=""> It’s a beautiful sculpture with Shiva waving his arms vigorously accompanied by musicians around with one foot of his securely on the ground and the other raised above. The second cave has images of Vishnu in his varaha and trivikrama incarnations. The third rock cut temple can be reached climbing a flight of 60 steps, this cave again denoted to Vishnu with carved images of narasimha and trivikrama avatars. The fourth is a Jain rock cut temple dating back to 12th century dedicated to Tirtankara Adinatha. We came down and went ahead to the side opposite to the caves where there is a museum, which holds quite a few rare sculptures, and carvings that probably could not be restored. We can walk up to after a series of round about flight of steps to reach the top of the peak from where a beautiful view of the entire Badami town is visible to the naked eye. The sight was not so rejuvenating as it was hot and humid and we quickly came back to undertake our next sojourn.

<--- ---="" badami="" from="" the="" top="" town="" view=""> We had planned to go to Hampi from here, but were rudely awakened by the fact that there were no direct services from here. It was nearly evening as we spent time waiting for the connecting bus that would drop us half the way through to proceed ahead, but as said fortune favors the brave, a direct bus from a remote town to Hampi landed there, much to our amusement and relief. We boarded the bus and it left almost empty with 3 seats filled by us and a couple to other passengers for company. As the roads were good, reached Hampi by late evening after nearly 3-4 hours of smooth journey in the famed NWKRTC. We had planned to stay overnight at Hospet and then proceed the next morning to Hampi (as the rentals in Hampi are quite expensive), but we ran out of luck and we wasted nearly 3 hours searching for a place to spend the night, finally found a room with plentiful of mosquitoes and we woke up the next day with mosquito bites all over us. <--- ---="" ganesha="" groundnut="" hampi=""> 28th January, being a Sunday still we woke up quite early and reached Hampi by 9am. Hampi is a magical place that draws us towards it quite often and never once are we bored of visiting this place, which we do again and again. <--- ---="" famed="" hampi="" lotus="" mahal="" ugranarasimha=""> Being a world heritage site has its own disadvantages with people, government and traders making the most of it and as a result the small town is generally crowded and with chaos. There is nothing special to describe about Hampi here that nobody knows, but still visiting all those ruins which have been / are being restored / renovated is itself fascinating and some sense of excitement and happiness engulfs us as we walk amidst the ruins. <--- ---="" balance="" hampi="" king="" restoration="" ruins="" s=""> Observing the queen’s palace, the king’s balance, the stables for the elephants and the horses, only one thing popped up in our minds, how would it have been then?? Totally refreshed and almost traveling back into the history made our bonding with our history all the more stable and we returned back with a hope that more and more young people visit these places to be aware of the history of this great land and the people who ruled here. <--- ---="" chariot="" hampi="" stone=""> Coming back to my desk, as I am typing this travelogue, a thought passed through my mind, on one part were the lush green hillocks of the Kodachadri and the Mullaingiri where I had been and the other, the rocky hot terrains of the Badami, Aihole, Pattadkal and Hampi, we truly are blessed to be living amidst such great confluence of nature mixed with rich cultural heritage. Proud to be a part of this “One state – Many worlds”. <--- ---="" hampi="" rocky="" scenery=""> Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!

Jul 28, 2008

Some Useful information...

When it strikes...we get panicky and start searching for the numbers of where to complaint or whom to call.

This is some information which we require time and again...

Inputs are welcome.....

Police Control Room : 100 Fire Engine : 101 Ambulance : 102 Traffic / Accidents : 103 CTC Sanjeevini - 24/7 emergency ambulance service - 1062

Online blood donors availability / requirement: http://www.friendstosupport.org/

Check this link below for all helpline and important numbers http://www.bangalore-karnataka.com/emergency.htm

KPTCL office, BTM layout : 080-26688191 Street light (BTM layout) : 080-56994360 BSNL telephone exchange (for complaints) : 080-26682198 (BTM layout) BSNL customer care (BTM layout) : 080-26681818 / 26682828 BSNL toll free number : 1500 BSNL technical support : 1800-424-1600 BSNL telephone directory enquiry - 197 Tata Indicom customer service no : 080-66600121 Reliance customer care no : 30333333 / *333 Airtel customer care : 121 / 9845012345 Vodafone care no : 111 / 98860 98860 Spice customer care : 98440 98440 / 080-22098440

KSRTC control room : 080-22255720 / 22871945 KSRTC enquiry : 080-22873377 BMTC control room : 080-22952522 / 22952422

Bangalore city railway station enquiry : 131 / 132 Railways reservations : 1361 Railways enquiry: 139

BWSSB complaints : 080-22945125 Rotary Life Saving Brigade : 1050 Jayadeva heart brigade : 1051 TTK healthcare services emergency contact no : 1800-425-8885 / 080-25026700

HDFC bank debit card phonebanking no : 080-66003322 HDFC bank credit card call centre no : 080-66224332 Citibank credit card call centre no : 080-22272484 SBI card helpline : 1800-180-1290 ICICI bank call centre : 080-41131877

Book your online movie tickets here... http://www.pvrcinemas.com/ http://www.inoxmovies.com/ http://www.visioncinemas.net/ http://www.famecinemas.com/ http://www.bookmyshow.com/ http://www.iticket.in/

For booking online bus tickets log on to... http://www.redbus.in/ http://www.ticketvala.com/ http://www.vrllogistics.in/ http://www.rajnationalexpress.in/ (http://www.raj.travel/) http://www.durgamba.com/ http://www.ksrtc.in/

Book your online railway tickets here... http://www.irctc.co.in/ http://www.indianrail.gov.in/

Book your online flight tickets here... http://www.makemytrip.co.in/ http://www.airdeccan.net/ http://www.yatra.com/ http://www.cleartrip.com/

Services to the Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL): Vayu vajra (BMTC volvo buses) online bus booking to Devanahalli International Airport: http://www.bmtcinfo.com/english/bial.html BMTC online portal with timings and fare of all Vayuvajra(Volvo) and Suvarna bus services to BIAL.

Cab (taxi) transfers to Devanahalli International Airport: http://www.merucabs.com/ Tel : 080-44224422 - 24*7 service Mahindra Renault Logans and Maruti Esteems http://www.easycabs.com/ Tel : 080-43434343 Maruti Esteems, Mahindra Renault Logans, Indigo Marina http://www.airliftonline.com/ Tel : Call Centre: 080-4052 8888 Online booking help : 98450 47788 Toyota Innovas on sharing basis.

Jul 25, 2008

Serial blasts rocks Bangalore !!!!!

Ouch!!! Aww!!! It finally happenned which we Bangaloreans never thought should never happen in this IT capital of india, infact it was more like we were sitting on a volcano just about to explode or more rather "this was expected some day to happen in bengaluru", in the backdrop of recent blasts across the country and also the arrests and seizures made... its time bengaluru police woke up and be more stringent against these acts...

25th July 2008: the BLACK friday -- the day started on a omnious note with rain gods opening up right from the morning (probably was a warning which went unnoticed), lazy afternoon with the people gearing up for the weekend........ suddenly were jolted by the news of "blasts in bangalore".... the news started.. 1st blast at madivala.... then 2nd.. then 3rd.. 4th.. 5th............. 8th (at the last count).... at various places more so concentrated towards south bangalore. Each news channel started showing different counts of people injured, dead....... and the places where it took place.. virtually confusing any person who saw or read them.

It was chaos at our office located on the Richmond road with news of almost 5-6 blasts in the surrounding areas of madivala, adugodi, richmond circle, nr mallya hospital, langford town... who knew which place was next ??? Everybody wanted to get home desperately; ensure their near and dear ones are fine but the jammed networks notably reliance, hutch adding more to the chaos............... Everybody were requested to stay in the office primarily as it was safer than the surroundings and as 4pm approached, they were let to go or got dropped off to their places; For the male staff, manage yourselves..... !!!!!!!!!

I managed to see two of the blast sites (the one at langford town and the other at the madivala check post bus stop where unfortunately a woman was killed)....

> at the langford site -- Could not see any damage to the sports shop there, a few policemen were there had cordoned off the place and as its right next to the busier, smaller hosur road nothing much could be found out by self...

> at the madivala checkpost bus stand -- there was a huge gathering, people more curious to see the place, what's left behind and hordes of them coming and coming...... The bust shelter bore maximum damages to the blast and this was the place where an unfortunate lady was the victim of this cowardly, distardly act.

Overall being a citizen of this lovely city, i along with many others condemn in the most stringent of words and action this act of cowardness and probably with the motive to hamper the peace here (which in any case they wont be successful in).

Bangalore wont be bogged down by such lousy acts and we sure will bug out the "miscreants" and will Ctrl+Alt+Del them for good.

Can't imagine what if the blasts were of high intensity with them being ripped off more in places where its crowded usually !!!!!!

The events that shook bengaluru :

> 1:20pm : Madivala bus stand - 1 lady instantly killed

> 1:35pm : Nanjappa layout near adugodi

> 1:40pm : Aanepalya - Adugodi - in a granite shop

> 1:45pm : Langford road

> 1:50pm : Near mallya hospital

> 2:00pm : Hosaguddahalli - near Gopalan mall on mysore road

> 2:05pm : Nayandahalli on mysore road

> 2:10pm : Kengeri gate near RV college, mysore road.

the bus stand at Madivala ripped off where i had been.......

Jul 22, 2008

My Articles in the Papers!!!

Travelling / Trekking is sure a passion for may souls alike out there, but putting them onto a piece of paper is much more difficult / strenous than the adventure itself. See below my share of difficult job done which "Bangalore Mirror" (daily newspaper in for Bangalore) thought ideal to publish.

Thanks a ton to Bangalore Mirror, hope they keep on continuing like this and thanks to all my friends out there who have been very supportive and continue to do so...

..and now starts the journey with "Deccan Herald" (daily newspaper) too...

1. BR hills - Mysuru birding article in Mirror -

2. Bandipur - Mudumalai - Masinagudi travelogue adventure in Mirror-

3. On top of Kodagu's highest peak - The Tadiandamol experience in Mirror -

4. The long 9 day trip across Karnataka Anveshane experience in Mirror -

5. Mullaingiri-Kemmangundi article in Mirror

6. Maidenahalli article in Mirror

( currently unavailable, mostly archived :( )

8. Badami, Aihole, Pattadkal and Hampi travelogue -

9. Pristine Kodachadri article in Mirror -

10. Wayanad experience in Mirror -

11.Kalavarahalli betta article in Mirror-

Current Status: Its been now a year since my articles have appeared in the papers, either due to my lack of interest and some due to 'no response' from the editors :)

Jul 12, 2008

Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta (G Betta)

The first reaction i got when i said that we are going to Himavad Gopalaswamy betta was " 
Where is this place?? ". 

Not surprised because G betta is completely ignored and not so famous as its neighbours in bandipur, mudumalai and nanjangud. G betta is located in the range of bandipur forest area and its a pukka wildlife spot mixed with devotion as there is a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna atop the hillock. 

Its located in the Chamarajanagar district at a height of 1454m and is the highest peak in the Bandipur national park. Dense fog is predominant here and hense the prefix "Himavad" and the temple of Venugopalaswamy (krisnha) which completes the name `Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta`. We got to know about this place through friends and wanted to visit there to just hop around. Our initial plans was for 2 days with trekking to this place from the base and so on but finally everything got cancelled and we dropped the idea of going with the common dialogue "yavaga time agutho hogona bidu, next time nodona bidu maga". 

17th May 2008: Saturday afternoon 3:30pm me and raja were casually chatting, both held up with work and were discussing about visiting G betta, suddenly decided on visiting the place and to be back by the next day evening, to summarize we had just 30 odd hours for around 450 kms and to be back...

Called up our other partner guru and asked him to be at my house my 5pm, and he readily agreed!!! as ever. Called our other kulla partner Manoja -- and he was in office !!! - asked him to push off from there and be ready by 5pm, so within 10mts of casual talk we had decided to visit Gbetta in my beloved alto spending the night at mysore. So as planned hours before, picked up guru and manoja as usual was late, delayed all the more by 30 mts, then picked up raja on the way and finally left bangalore by 6pm, crazy fellows that we are... The only thing which was disturbing us was the absence of our cameras, we had NO cameras with us, only our mobiles to suffice... Raced off to mysore road, filled up the tank at ioc and left to mysore in search of a sound sleep. Reached mysore by 9:30pm after dinner at haripriya hotel in mandya and started searching for a place to settle down.. and lo behold....... "man proposes god disposes" -- proved itself again to us because we could not find any vacant rooms/lodges to stay.. and the places we found were demanding 1200 rs only for the night stay!!!!!

No idea why the prices were so high that weekend, after the dissappointment at mysore, decided to try at nanjangud which anyways was near to our destination. Finally found a place in nanjangud and laid down quietly after a tiring day.... 

18th May 2008: Left the place as early as 4:30am because still we had around 50+kms to cover. Still yawning drove slowly (rather the road after gundlupet is in a very bad shape)... moving further ahead of gundlupet, you find a big arch at the right side (when coming from mysore).. indicating the path to G betta. This is the entrance to the peak.. and the arch is for the temple atop the hill. Sunrise time, empty roads and no cameras.. sigh!!!!.. We could see cloud cover everywhere... and still clicked some photos using our mobiles stopping our vehicle right in the middle of the road without a soul to be bothered of. Again after driving for a few kms, reached the checkpost beyond which entry is only allowed between 6am and 5pm as its a prime wildlife habitat (more explanation for this later). Ours was only the 2nd vehicle to be going in that direction... we were there quite early and it turned out to be a perfect timing for us..... 

The roads are tarred upto the peak to help devotees reach the temple, but its so steep that you cant push your vehicle in 3rd or 4th gear as it just wont move ahead. My poor alto was cruising in 2nd gear and on 3rd started struggling.... the road doesnt look so but it is so.... and to add to the excitement we found lots of fresh elephant dung all along the path making us look out at every turning whether there are elephants ahead of us, luckily we came across none.. Steep and also the roads are narrow with hairpin bends we were wondering if night driving was allowed here, and if you face elephants (u will face) along the way, there are NO ESCAPE routes......... (thankfully so entry is not allowed after 5pm). After few more kms up the winding road, reached the top where the temple is located. There is a guest house there (it was closed for renovation but now reopened... and you can stay there overnight with permissions from the forest department). The temple opens only by 9 or 10am (curse me for my poor memory)... and we were searching for a place to freshen before visiting the temple. Found the guesthouse caretaker at the right time and he arranged everything for us "in the open bathroom"... ah what a lovely natural feel !!! Made the customary temple visit, listened to the history of the temple and came back praying for the good of the world. Came out and ventured behind the temple to view the lovely sight it offers.... Being on top of the highest peak in the range offers an unardulent, beautiful lush green view of the surroundings. The farther you see, the more greener it turns with hillocks in between and clouds playing hide and seek all day long. No wonder its called Himavad G betta. We saw a group of enthusiasts some distance away also admiring something, we joined them only to realize they were admiring a herd of elephants grazing on another hillock to the left of us... (the peak through which the roads are created.. made us wonder what if we had encountered them on the roads... that was a huge herd)... Got a good sighting of 2 adults and a calf which came close by.... we were rueing the fact that we had no cameras to capture all these wild moments, still it was one of the best wildlife sightings with lots to see around (and practically without spending anything).... spent quite a considerable amount of time admiring the valley and the surroundings topped up with the wildlife.. Didn't venture out too deep as we were warned about wild animals around.. 

As the sun rose, it was getting hotter and hotter, realized we had nothing much more to do, so decided to drive back and also pay a visit to Bandipura par and drive back home. As it was afternoon, not much of acitivity at bandipura, went around the museum there - i think hardly anybody notices it, rested for some time in the cool grass seeing the tamed baby elephant and the boars playing around. Time to pack up..... left bandipura and after few kms... the road is worse upto gundlupet (i have already been thrice on this stretch in the last 6 months, and i have seen absolutely no improvement.. Hope this changes before my next sojourn on this route !!!). Lunch break at gundlupet, had a spicy meal and then started our way back to bangalore with the regular pit stops now and then. Reached outskirts of bangalore by 6pm (but reached home only by 7:15pm, curse the traffic that piles up rapidly after bidadi...). 10pm : i was wondering what all we went through the last 48 hours and i had to be in office the next morning... the way life just goes on............................... The series of phots say it all........ (all with our mobiles only !!!)

(1)the mysuru palace at night... (2)valley view... (3)our palace on wheels...

(1)sunrise view... (2)posing on the way to gbetta... (3)the valley view from behind the temple...

(1)..(2)..(3).. posing with the valley as the background...

(1)..(2)..(3).. posing in front of the gbetta temple... 

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!

Jul 2, 2008

Kodachadri Magic !!!

Kodachadri was on our wishlist from a long time and more so after the recent kannada movie "Gaalipata", conquering kodachadri was on the top of our list which finally came true in the summer month of April 2008. As refereed in the movie, (referred as Mugilpete), Kodachadri is always covered by clouds. Sun is allowed only to play hide and seek here and it’s not for a longer duration you get to see him. Finally 4 of us achieved the feat in the summer of 2008. (Many suggested avoiding the summers, but we went on and we were convinced either summer or spring or winter or monsoons, Kodachadri could be visited anytime).

Kodachadri is the second highest peak in Karnataka at 1813m (next only to Mullaingiri) located in the Shivamogga district nearby to the pilgrim center Kollur in the Western Ghats. It’s around 380 kms from Bangalore and about 20 kms from the temple town of Kollur and can be reached by either a trek or a rough jeep ride.

We had 3-4 days at our disposal and we clubbed Kodachadri with a few other places to suffice the days we had. We covered Bangalore-Sagara-Sigandoor-Kollur-Kodachadri-Byndoor-Murudeshwar-Gokarna circuit. The second part was quite tiring and we struggled a bit because of the weather and the travel part...

Our journey: 25th 26th April 2008 – Took off from Bangalore by the Kollur bus (those who plan to go to kodachadri directly can board this bus and get down at the Karakatte gate - one of the gateways for the trek), which leaves razor sharp at 8:30pm from the KBS. Reached Shimoga somewhere early dawn, got into a hotel with influence for the morning duties and left for Sagara to head towards Sigandoor, which was our planned destination. Private buses rule in this part of the state and they are very dependable and convenient. Sigandoor is around 35 kms from Sagara town wherein you need to ride on a launch (Crossing the river on a launch with the bus, cars bikes and people on board) and further ahead can reach Kollur via Nittur. The launch ride was itself an experience with the surprise that such mode of transport still exists.
(1)early moring at Shivamogga ..... (2) posing at the now defunct sagara railway station....

on the way to sigandoor... (below).. the launch ride....

(below)... disembarking from the joy ride; (2)the sigandoor temple....
(below).. the kollur bus stand; (2)posing at byndoor beach....
27th April 2008: The D-day... There are 4-5 trekking routes to reach Kodachadri in addition to the jeep track. Advised not to take the jeep ride unless you have strong backs and are lazy enough not to trek up. The experience, excitement, freshness added with the opportunity to view nature at its best is only when you trek and not in the tiresome jeep ride. We started off at 6.15 from Kollur, 15mts delay from our scheduled departure, had a quick breakfast (eventually missed the 6:15 bus) and managed to reach Karakatte gate(our starting point) at 7:10 after paying 200 Rs for the auto ride of around 20kms in the ghat section. There is no gate as such but only a wide mud path, which is to the left when coming from Sagara, which is known as Karakatte gate. From here the peak is about 10 kms, the first 4.5kms on an almost straight wide path ending up near the mallu hotel “Hotel Santhosh”. This is the pit stop for all trekkers passing by where idlis and puttus are available to regain your lost energy because the trek ahead is completely uphill and quite straining for lazy people like us. We reached here at 8:40, a good 90 minutes from the start; it was a nice walk amidst the forest with only the buzz of insects and the chirping of birds to accompany you. With a rest of 40 minutes, with our batteries recharged we started off from there with no idea of what lay ahead but with lots of zeal and enthusiasm to conquer the beautiful peak which lay around 5.5 kms ahead...

(1)warming up...notice my juttu.. (2)... ready..steady..go... at the karakatte gate...
(1)take a break...; (2)posing yo yo guys...; (3)the terrible foursome....
(1)long way to go... (2).. at the mallu hotel santhosh.....
(1)mouth watering idlis & puttus..; (2)a view of the valley as we ascend...; (3)tired ???

The wide jeep track, which we took till now suddenly turned into a serpentine narrow path ahead of this hotel and the ascent, starts from here. In this trek, follow the straight path ahead and you will surely reach the top, don’t take diversions unless you are sure of it. We went ahead passing through dense jungle and suddenly on to bare stretch and again through the foothill of thick forests and again through a bald patch of a hillock, it goes this way as almost you trek through 3-4 smaller hillocks with mesmerizing scenes of the kollur forest range all around you. You can spot the guesthouse from quite a distance, but it’s not as close as it appears. The trek through the forests is quite exciting and frightening sometimes when you suddenly hear growls around; the ideal way is to trek as a group not letting anyone stray away. As it was summer, it was dry around and with no leeches around; still the pale green hillocks offer a soothing scene for us people who are getting used to see no greens at all in Bangalore.
(1)posing for a shot; (2)see the valley behind; (3)the much needed pit stop.....

At a place where we were exhausted and tired and were about to breakdown, we suddenly spotted a makeshift shop where the person was selling juices and cucumber for the trekkers. It was rather surprising at this place, somewhere in the dense jungle, with hardly few people coming by, made us realize what all people do to earn a living. From this point, the guesthouse is around 30 minutes trek, but we went ahead lazily and casually stopping even for a dance in between with those heavy sacks just in excitement, as we were almost near the peak. Finally after almost 3.5 hours of exciting, entertaining, frightening, water dripping, exhausting trek, we reached the guesthouse, which is the base of the peak. Here there are few bhattara manes and also the guesthouse where you get accommodation as well as food. Half the mission accomplished.. what was a dream just hours ago was achieved and we couldn't believe ourselves that we were really atop the pristine Kodachadri...
(1)the guest house atop; (2)We did it mate....... ; (3)its just 2pm and the cloud cover.. truly amazing...

It was a bright sunny afternoon and the skies were clear and suddenly at around 2 pm, thick clouds engulfed the sky and the sun was shadowed completely, this hide and seek continued almost till the evening when it was time for us to trek to the peak for the sunset. A 30 minutes trek (the mindblowing valley view..) to the ultimate peak at the right side from behind the guesthouse passing by the ganesh guha, walking amidst the clouds blowing directly onto you (the cool breeze of the clouds is best experienced and not described) the shankara peeta can be spotted with the background of beautiful clouds and the golden sun setting up for a beautiful photo shoot (THE best sunset i have ever witnessed)....
(1)ganesh guha; (2)on the way to shankara peetam; (3)the sunset magic unfolds.....

The thick blanket of snow white clouds huddled together with the golden rays falling on them and topped up with the cool breeze and the calm surroundings makes you feel ecstatic and the scenery mesmerizing. Sitting on the rocks watching the sun go down, with the cool breeze is itself rejuvenating and exhilarating making you forget all your city blues. Chitramoola and Agastya theetha (a small waterfalls with leeches) are the places around which we could not trek due to lack of time. We came back on a slightly different route, but fast paced with the help of a high beam torch we had to the guest house, gobbled up what was served for dinner, chatted for quite some time sitting in the cool breeze and finally laid down and almost everyone dozed off instantly after an exciting day and mind load of memories to cherish.
the pictures tell it all...........................

28th April 2008: We planned to catch the sunrise atop another peak, but being lazy enough, got up only at 6:30 and lo behold the sight outside was awesome - zero visibility, thick fog cover and forget the sun, nothing could be seen. Still we started our trek to the opposite peak of shankara peeta where supposedly the sunrise had to be seen. Halfway through we were lost because of the fog cover, forgot where we had seen the route the previous evening and just stood still with no idea of where to go and hardly could see anything leave alone the peak. Luckily a strong breeze cleared the fog cover for us and the route became visible and we just followed the path, sometimes the path wading ahead at the edge of the cliff with only the fog blanket which could be seen below. Atop the peak, with only fog-covered landscape to see accompanied by strong winds, it was time again to dance and cheer with the gaalipata song playing in the background aloud to express our excitement and happiness.
(1)na nai na na nai !!!; (2)poor visibility.. foggy morning... Back to the guesthouse and after having the breakfast we moved ahead next to the peak where supposedly shots of the movie Gaalipata were filmed. The peak is itself a treat to the sore eyes covered by small green plants presenting you a green blanket with a background of a thick green forest covered hill to one side and a beautiful valley on the other side.
 (1)the peak; (2)the valley view; 

We started back by 12pm with a promise of coming back here again and again more rather as and when time permits, to rejuvenate ourselves, find solitude and to rediscover oneself amidst the nature. It took us almost 3 hours to (with the customary break at hotel santhosh) descend savouring the beauty of the hills and wading goodbye to them to reach the main road (karakatte gate) at around 3:15. We had to camp on the roadside for the next 2 hours as we had missed the bus at 3 which went off early at 2:45pm. So utilized the time effectively once again dancing away and playing with the amused stares of the passer bys encouraging us all the more. Thus ended our most memorable trek coupled with a few more first experiences and memories to cherish forever... Hail Kodachadri !!!

The only thing that haunted us was the disposal of plastics near the guesthouse as well as the shankara peeta, why are people so callous towards nature even in such a place? Also alarming was the no of people who undertake the risky jeep ride... ??? and when we came back, the place was crowded with jeeps all around confusing us whether did we descend directly into Bangalore or what !!!!
(1)dump of plastics; (2)the board telling the history of kodachadri; (3)the numerous jeeps lined up near the bhattara mane......
(1)bye bye kodachadri; (2)long wait for the bus at the karakatte gate....

Came back to kollur, made the customary visit to the mookambika temple and rested for the day... Still the feeling of conquering Kodachadri was sinking in...

29th April 2008: After a good mosquito night's sleep, woke up and left kollur by 10am to cover murudeshwar and gokarna for the day and return back to our place by the night sleeper coach of vrl from gokarna. The travel turned out to be quite hectic and with the sun blazing hot along the coastline, showed no mercy on us (2 days.. two sides of extreme temperature was felt).... After visiting this, finally left for bangalore from gokarna after 4 days of travel with loads of memories and lots of fresh zeal and enthusiasm to carry on our mundane jobs left behind !!!

Tips: Trek route: We took the karakatte route as this was the most publicised on the net. There are also routes form Kodachadri cross and Nagara. Al routes converge near the mallu hotel. Distance: rather time: Approximately 4 hours even for the laziest bums... Carry light baggage, lots of water and fruits, avoid oily snacks and NO PLASTICS please. High beam torches and sufficient battery backup for the cameras as electricity is only for 2 hours in the night at the guesthouse.

Accomodation: available at the govt. guesthouse as also the few bhattara mane's present there. guest house contact person: Mr. Rajendra - tel no: 092428 92299; 08185 290368 atop kodachadri.

Bus: Direct bus from bangalore to Kollur at 8:30pm everyday, get down at Karakatte gate. Time to visit: All round the year, but avoid peak monsoons. Surf the net and you will get loads of information. Happy Trekking! The team: Nagaraj, Siddesh, Gururaj and Santosh.

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!