Kudremukha - A Trek to Remember

I had been an admirer of Neelima ever since I landed on her blog. Reading through her travelogue will not only make you jealous but inspires to take up travel more seriously. One such post talked about how she managed to do so many treks, traveling with various travel groups and thats how I got introduced BASC - Bangalore ASCendars. With no second thoughts I liked their FB page and registered in their group ( free registration ofcourse ) , just to realize later that unlike other groups, they are one of the most active and passionate group which travels every weekend. If you are looking for luxury and comfort BASC is not the place to be. I kept on ignoring the travel updates from BASC. Kudremukh was one such mail which I would have ignored on any normal day. It came on a day where I was too pumped up reading many travel blogs and I had no second thought whatsoever and registered. The difficulty level was Medium to Hard and as a prerequisite you are expected to have done similar treks to be considered eligible. Luckily we had Kumaraparvatha and Kodachadri on our conquered list.

Picturesque grasslands of Kudremukh
There was the confirmation mail with our names and a list of todo items. We gathered at majestic by 10 PM and exchanged smiles and hand shakes. It took sometime for us to get comfortable with new faces as we two were the odd ones in the group not knowing kannada. The next day started with sight seeing of Kudremukh iron ores followed by Hanumangunde falls and a quick stop at Ganga moola which I decided to skip and rest in bus as I drained out completely during the ascend from falls. It was almost by lunch we had breakfast ( yummy puliogere and neer dosa ) and headed back to the home stay. The roller coaster experience of 11 km ride on complete mud road in a fully packed jeep brought us to home stay. Rice, Sambhar, Papad and Pickle lunch at homestay filled our stomachs. With half of day to spend, the plan was to trek to Durga dibba / Devara dibba hills which the organizer claimed to be a trial version of the larger trek to come tomorrow. This was my first experience of trekking with rains on and off. Sometimes there were occasional drizzles, sometimes heavy downpour. Truly an experience.

There is beauty all around us. You just need to look.
 Passing through the slippery terrains and slopes, finally we reached the peak and found ourselves in the natures lap with the passing clouds and greenery all around. BLISS is the word. Later in the evening we had a dip in the cold stream removing away all the weariness in the limbs. The evening was well spent with introductions, card games and seniors ragging the first timers. Dinner was served and we hit the bed by 12.

It feels good to be lost in the right direction
With packed lunch boxes, GPS gadgets to track the route, wireless devices to communicate, ropes to cross the streams, we set out at 6.30 Am to the most awaited 22Kms trek of Kudremukha. I was excited  to beat my previous best record of 15 Kms. The first milestone was to trek to Gomukha peak (1625 m) followed by Kudremukha. It was tough, sloppy and slippery at places. The monsoon wasn't that kind at times. But the inspiration to proceed further was right there, whenever we took a moment and looked around. And being one of the slowest and photography enthusiast didn't go well together. Every time I stop to shoot Girish will be right behind poking me to move forward.  Unlike experienced trekkers we didn't pack much of eatables and the group which moved fast had plenty of reserves which would get over by the time we reach them.

Say NO to littering
This is when my tastebuds realized left over particles of Krack jack can be so delicious. People were gracious to offer some eatables while others became close enough to pluck it and eat.  The atmosphere was very friendly and never like we had just met. People were sharing their previous trek experiences and striking poses and the mood was lively. You can never stop being amazed at such a serene landscape and breath taking sceneries. Finally we made it to the peak ( 1850 m ) and after the usual group photo shoot, we had the much awaited lunch by the stream and we returned back.

Leeches. Ahh, how did I not mention about them. During this entire episode, they had a great time finding, and sneaking into our shoes. There was heavy blood shed all along the trials. I too had few bad bites which still remains as a souvenir.

Tired and Worn out
We made it back to the homestay with sore legs and tired body, but a happy heart. Met new people who shared similar interest, made friends, pushed the body limits both mentally and physically , Kudremukh is definitely a trek to remember.

"In the end
my shoes tore,
feet became sore,
but heart said
lets do it
once more."

Contact - Arun ( 08263214235 ) is the local guide who arranges weekend treks in Kudremukh.

Channapatna - The Land of Toys

Couple of months passed in 2014 and thanks to my laziness & procrastination I still have a backlog of travel posts to update. Channapatna was the first among them which happened way back in August 2013. It has been in the todo list for quiet some time. After going thru the usual workflow of reading blogs, browsing photos, gathering friends the date got finalized. As usual it was a delayed start around 8 AM but the weather was very kind on us. Bangalore weather when at its best can even make the office ride enjoyable. It was one such day and that combined with the awesomeness of the NICE road, the experience was pure bliss. No one was in a mood to rush and even the fastest bike was clocking at 20 Km/h.

NICE road has always been nice

We stopped at for breakfast around 10 somewhere past NICE road and had idly vada sambar. One of the spiciest sambars I ve ever had, ending the course with a cup of coffee. Finally sun woke up around 11 and we had no choice but to speed up the ride and reached the temple around 11.30.

Navaneetha Krishna Temple
The Navneetha Krishna temple features the childhood version of krishna in his crawling posture. The belief associated with Navaneetha Krishna Temple is that worshipping here will eliminate "Putra dosham". We also happened to witness the ritual of people donating coconuts/rice and other stuffs in weights equal to their kids. There is a huge weight balance, and they donations are weighted equalled to the weight of the kid.

Navaneetha Krishna a.k.a Kulanthai Krishna



Soon before the thought of where to have lunch arose, the iyer announced that there will be a anna thaanam today. Lucky indeed. We happily ate the served Besi bellabath and curd rice accompanied by potato chips.

We were done by 2 and since Channapatna is famous for handmade toys, we set out to buy some souvenirs. Since I wanted to shoot some landscape, myself and few others rode to kanva reservoir while others were busy exploring the toy shops. The cloud play at the Kanva reservoir was quiet dramatic and I managed to click few HDR shots and as usual failed portrait attempts of Jai & Puhal.

Surreal dreams at Kanva Reservoir
While we were busy shooting, the other group managed to find a wholesale manufacturer who built toys in his house. It was a kind gesture from him to greet them with coffee and also explained his business. The bulk purchase was complete and meanwhile we too were done with kanva reservoir, as planned we met at the Kengal Anjeneya temple which is on the junction of Kanva reservoir entry. It was a festival day and the temple was obviously over crowded. We had a quick glimpse of Anjaneya and set out on the final lap of our ride.

Kengal Anjenaya Temple
The return journey was equally pleasant till we reached bangalore by 5.30 at Banngerghetta road. Crossing Banngerghetta road during peak hours is a challenge in itself. Adding to the challenge is an bus breakdown which made traffic move like a tortoise. After putting all the driving skills to test, performing matrix stunts in the non moving traffic we managed to reach home by 7.30. A day well spent.

Solo Travel, Kannada Certification and much more

Solo travel. I never knew something of that sort existed till I landed accidentally ( luckily ) on one such travel blog. Ever since that I was curious to explore the joy of traveling solo. Eventually I happened to see many of that kind in Twitter and FB who preferred to travel solo which increased my curiosity to try it atleast once. But as always laziness and procrastination made sure I didn't.

Champakadhama swamy temple
I had borrowed the 17-70mm macro lens to shoot flowers at the Lalbhag flower show. We also planned a ride to Bannerghetta National park the next day hoping to shoot some butterflies in action before returning the lens.  Owing to laziness everyone backed out at last moment and surprisingly me being the most laziest decided to ride solo. I started at 8 AM and the initial signs of traffic free roads, soothing breezy weather and added solitude made the ride more enjoyable. Thanks to the pleasing climate the speed never clocked beyond 50Km/h. To add to the bliss had Idly Vada drenched in Sambhar for breakfast.

Pleasant Surprises

The first surprise of the solo travel happened when I took a wrong turn which lead to a temple instead of park. Wrong route leading to a temple seemed like a divine blessing, I switched plans and decided to explore the temple. The CHAMPAKADHAMA TEMPLE dedicated to incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The atmosphere and lighting was good, and with the cloud patterns inviting for a HDR shot, I clicked few shots of the temple.  I got to know there was another temple at hill top. It took about 10 mins of uphill trek to reach NARASIMHA SWAMY temple. Amused by my photographic antics, the lady selling water bottles outside the temple suggested me to visit the ANJANEYA temple located at a distance of 3 Kms on the other side of the hill.

The trail looked suspicious as I couldn't see any traces of  crowd heading towards the temple. I still took my chance and walked for 2 Kms into the forest till I spotted this.

Beware - Bear ahead
All alone in the jungle, unable to read kannada, my mind interpreted the poster as BEWARE - BEAR AHEAD. Mission abort, I said to myself and returned back. Disturbed a couple asking route who were trying to have some private time in the jungle. The grandpa who was looking after his grazing cows assured me that I was on the right path which prompted me to start all over again. This time it was a 4 km walk till I spotted a similar sign board with a TIGER in it. No more adventure. Walked back all the way to where I started. Luckily when I almost called it off, I met a passerby who was heading towards the temple. I requested her to take me along and she gladly agreed. She doesn't know English and in my case its "Kannada baralva". But we still managed to have conversation which lasted for 30 minutes. As the long walk came to an end, I took some photos of the temple and I bid adieu and thanked her for making my trip more memorable. I also clicked a pose of her. She certified that my Kannada ain't that bad. I was back at the base around 11 AM and as planned I visited the butterfly park and caught some butterflies in action too.

"5 varusa, ee kannada sakku" , She said.

Did I enjoy traveling solo ?

Well I did enjoy. There was ample time for introspection, freedom of taking decisions, relaxing and most importantly getting lost in the nature. And as always happiness is not in the journey but the experiences that you encounter in the journey. The experience of being helped out by a stranger,  joy of conversing in a fairly known language made my day.

Photos


Valley of Tridax seen on the way to Anjaneya Temple
Narasimha swamy temple

Sculpture of Lord Anjaneya carved on the footsteps of the tank
Sacred threads tied around tree in Anjaneye temple
I did visit the butterfly park

A run to remember

When was the last time you ran ?? Let me guess, was it to catch bus, may be at your school sports day, probably on a lonely night chased by stray dog. Ever thought about running a marathon ? No ? Me neither.

You'll never know how it feels unless you start

But I had an opportunity to photograph one such event which ultimately changed my perception towards running. Ananda yana translating to "happy journey" is a marathon event organized by a running enthusiastic group named "Runners high". keeping aside the objective of the run which is for a social cause, few moments left me with a great interest for the sport.

Age - Just a number
This was my first marathon experience and given my preconceived notion that marathon is meant only for physically fit runners, I was surprised to see people from all age groups participating in the run. Kids accompanying their parents, well built-fit-adults and to my amazement watching the age old grandma's and grandpa's in action with their beautiful smile was a perfect bliss. When there is passion and determination, age becomes just a number.

There is no secret ingredient
There is no secret ingredient
Getting trained.
Marathon can make a great picnic spot too
Every participant deserves to cross the finish line
While many of them were professional runners who managed to complete their run, there were a few inexperienced finding it quiet difficult. With their body starting to give up few meters before the finish line, these runners went back and joined them clapping, encouraging, motivating and kept pushing them to complete the race. The very gesture of ensuring every participant deserves to finish the race is a great moment to watch. And photograph too.

Helping Hand



Spreading positive energy
Nevertheless to mention about the environment, it was so energetic. The mood was very pleasant and energetic with volunteers actively cheering, the music band with high volumes, people dancing to the music, kids helping runners with water, there was so much of joy and energy all around. Though I was never a part of the run, I could feel the positive energy and the enthusiasm in me.

Go Go Go !!!

Passion
One common factor which I observed and can relate to is their passion towards running. No one worries about the outcome. It doesn't matter whether they run fast, run far, finish first or last. They just run. It is not the result but the process they enjoy doing. Once you are passionate about something, the process excites you more than the results.

Untitled

When people ask why do I photograph, I really don't have an answer. Its quiet difficult to explain how I feel creating a picture. So I asked the same question to google - "Why do people run?" and ended up with this quote.

JUST RUN

It felt good being an observer. May be I should run a marathon to experience how good it really feels.

Cheers,
`Prem.

An adventurous trek to Kodachadri

Kodachadri trek is unarguably one of the scariest & most adventurous trek I ever did till date. Hope it remains the only scariest trek. Ever since Kumaraparvatha happened, we always wanted to relive the experience of carrying the backpacks through the foggy mountain trails with lush greenery on either side. Thus Kodachadri happened.

Refractions of Nature

Route - Bangalore -> Shimoga -> Jog Falls - > Kollur -> Kodachadri -> Hidlumane -> Nittur -> Bangalore

Jog Falls & Mookambika Temple

The experience at the Jog falls wasn't very great. It was a not-so-much-monsoon season and there was hardly any water in the falls. Bad time to visit Jog falls. Special prayers & poojas were happening in Mookambika temple, Kollur. The temple was over crowded & took a long time in the queue to get darshan. Interesting trivia about this place is that only males without any clothes on top are permitted to enter.

Raja stream at Jog falls

The mistaken identity

It was approximately 12th or 13th break, we decided to have lunch before the chapati masala cross its expiry time. Running low on water, and still 5Kms more to reach the peak, we were cautious not to waste water. The lunch was filling & when the water bottle was taking its turns amongst us, Mohan was lost in the conversation and involuntarily reached out to the bottle on the other side of the bag which had the Diesel for the camp fire. Dharani was quick in pointing out, but not that quicker in preventing Diesel reaching his stomach. Mohan took over the rest of the water bottle, goggling & burping all along the way.  Muthu meanwhile worried about the reduction in quantity of the Diesel for camp fire.

Into the wild
Scary Adventure

Unaware ( rather I should say careless) of the fact that camping is prohibited, we carried heavy tents all the way up. Being warned by the locals that the rangers on rounds will take away the tents, the only option we had was to opt for stay in Battermane. But that would make all the efforts of carrying the backpacks all the way up go void. We found a flat surface 3 kms trekking down & laid the tents by 6 PM. Unfortunately Battermane had no parcel services & we were asked to be there at 8.15 PM for dinner. It was completely dark by 7 PM, we started climbing through the forest. 12 people trekking in the forest at night with small LED torch lights surrounded by complete darkness, it was scary. The most scariest of all came after completing dinner, when we walked to the terrace. It was complete pitch black. We trekked down very carefully on the narrow trails, each one ensuring the other doesn't get lost. Could have been a cakewalk for Bear Grylls, but still one of the scariest episodes. It was a great sense of relief after reaching the camping site. Scary adventure indeed.

Condition of my shoes upon reaching the peak


Windows Xp'd
Hidlumane Falls -

The timing at which we reached Hidlumane falls was perfect. It was long walk, scorching sun chasing on top, hardly any shades to hide and finally at the end of a tiresome trek you find this hidden treasure awaiting. The bath at Hidlumane falls was very much refreshing taking away all the tiredness in the trek. Personally I would suggest to trek from Kollur, so that you can experience the sheer joy Hidlumane Falls offers. We spent around 2 hrs at this place.

Lost in Nature
Trek Information -

Total days - 3. Dec - 29 to Dec 31.
Day 1 - Jog Falls in the morning. Sight seeing at Moogambika Temple and stay in Kollur.
Day 2 - Trek from Kollur to Kodachadri.
Day 3 - Trek from Kodachadri to Nittur. Return to Bangalore.
Trek Routes - 1) Via Kollur  2) Via Nittur 3)  Jeep Route.
Distance - approx 20kms.
Contact Numbers - Rajendra ( 9449145540 )
Network Signal - zero. 
Food & Accommodation ( Day 1 )  - Hotels in Jog falls & nearby places. Kerala style restaurants in Kollur. Plenty of lodges in Kollur.
Food & Accommodation ( Day 2 ) - Packed lunch ( we got chapathis ) at Kollur. Yummy dinner & breakfast at Battermane on the hill top. Accommodations available at Battermane & PWD house on pre-booking. Dinner at Battermane gets served at 8 and you need to tell in advance. Couple of Buttermilk vendors along the trial route. Not much of water streams due to lack of rains. 'Hotel Santhosh' at 5kms if you trek from Kollur. Accommodation available at Hidlumane( 5kms ) if you trek from Nittur.

Cheers,
Prem.