Tag Archives: Bangalore treks

Makalidurga Ghats- Inspiring the Indian Railways..

This one was totally unplanned..!!

We decided to visit the Ghati Subramanya temple on Ganesha Chaturthi day considering less crowd in a Subramanya temple… The place is about 13kms from Doddaballapura.

Ghati welcomed us with a mesmerising view of the hills, lakes (or rather puddles of water) scattered in the meadow and a lot of greenery around.. The boundary of the meadow was lined by a railway track- It looked beautiful.!!

A Welcome view to Ghati
A Welcome view to Ghati

And just as we slowed down to appreciate the view, a freight loco came zipping along the line- and now it looked picture perfect..!! And just as I thought that this scene was familiar- my mind wandered to recollect where I had seen it; and soon I knew the answer: it was the “Makalidurga Ghats” I had seen in an IRCTC- South Western railways hoarding at Cantonment station; I had then gone back home and googled about the place, but had soon forgotten…!! So, this is great !!

Temple entrance
Temple entrance
Ghati (3)
Outside the temple complex

We then proceeded to the temple and finished the darshan early(considering less crowd). And we then straight away followed the milestones to Makalidurga… Just back from a railway trek to Dudhsagar 2 days back- and here— an inspiration for another railway trek- We stopped our car close to the railway station and walked 3-4kms along the track to reach the bridge I had seen in the hoarding… But sadly, there was no train that would pass at that time..:(

The railway station as viewed from the bridge
The railway station as viewed from the bridge

We then explored the place around.. One of the hills offers an amazing view of the villages around.. There are ruins of an old fort atop the hill which makes it a great place for some exploration…

The Makalidurga temple
The Makalidurga temple

I later learnt that the place is crowded with trekkers on weekends who usually come here for adventure sports and camping.. Truly… its beautiful.. That too a place soo close to Bengalooru city??

A view from the road
A view from the road

It was afternoon.. and we did not want to take the risk of seeing the moon(Chauthi) on Ganesha festival day.. and so, started back early..

The IRCTC photo that I couldnt capture :'(Picture courtesy: IRCTC hoarding at Cantonment station
The IRCTC photo that I couldnt capture 😥
Picture courtesy: IRCTC hoarding at Cantonment station

A great destination…. totally unplanned.. totally AWESOME..!!!

"Dude-The-Sagar".. Finally..!!

If you have read my previous 2 posts- The railway adventure & Dos and don’ts , you’re sure to have got an insight to the adventure part of the trip..  Anyways.. now the trip part of the story.. 🙂

17 of us boarded MAS-Vasco exprs from YPR on Friday night and alighted at Castle rock station the next morning at 9.15.a.m. Castle Rock is cute little station which divides the village into two- on one side is the railway colony, school, hospital, offices etc. and on the other side is the town(if at all it is called so) with basic amenities like a grocery store and a few petty shops. The station is all green and is a treat to the eyes which just landed from a concrete city.

@Castle rock station- in the midst of the Braganza GhatsART a.ka. Accident Relief Train is parked by the side
@Castle rock station- in the midst of the Braganza Ghats
ART a.ka. Accident Relief Train is parked by the side

We started to walk towards Dudhsagar- encountering numerous waterfalls where we stopped each time to take good photos..

The entrance to Castle rock adventure camp
The entrance to Castle rock adventure camp

A total of 11 tunnels before you reach the waterfalls, plus 2 to reach the view point. The 1st one can be approached by crossing a girder bridge watching a scenic view of the valley.

Tunnel no.7 (3)
The girder bridge
The Rock formations- View from the bridge
The Rock formations- View from the bridge
The tunnel no.2 exit
The tunnel no.2 exit

The 2nd tunnel is the longest-at 624m. and the most beautiful one which resembles an entrance into a Castle.

A waterfall we explored after tunnel no.3

A waterfall we explored after tunnel no.3

With the 3rd one came a waterfall within a vault..

The cave by the side of our way
The cave by the side of our way
The waterfalls within the vault by the rail-side
The waterfalls within the vault by the rail-side
Goa territory starts here
Goa territory starts here

We crossed Goa border after finding our way out of the 4th tunnel.

Goa is just a tunnel away.. yay..!!
Goa is just a tunnel away.. yay..!!

After a long walk there on, we crossed tunnel no.5 where we were sidetracked by a goods train.

Run for life..!!
Run for life..!!

6th n 7th came together, 7th being nothing more than a small arch. Then we crossed 8, 9 and 10…

Light at the end of darkness..
Light at the end of darkness..

Finally we had a ray of hope after this 1..We had reached Dudhsagar station-all tired after a long walk in hot sun while on a monsoon trek 😦

The DDS station
The DDS station

Then, the 11th…. We were all hooting, clapping in joy as we were getting out of this one- And there we saw the 1st glance of the mighty “Ocean of Milk”.. Totally.. It was a a great sense of contentment after a long tiring walk- it was alllllll worth it..!!

Just out of tunnel no.11
Just out of tunnel no.11
The 1st glance
The 1st glance
Torch lights to keep us up all night :)
Torch lights to keep us up all night 🙂

The only shelter available to pitch a tent was already occupied by a large group and we had no choice but to tent in the open.. As we were basking in the glory of the waterfalls, it was soon dark.. We put up a small campfire sort of a thing so that we had enough light to see each other’s face- but the rain gods who did not appear during the trek spoilt sport now. We had to manage the rest of the night with our torches..

It poured cats and dogs the whole night.. The roaring noise of the waterfalls at the backdrop and the loud hooting sound of the train once in every half an hour, the tent pitched right next to the track with the waterfalls on the otherside- It was indeed a night to remember..!!

Next morning, we all rised with the sun and spent some peaceful time beside the violent waters..

The sea-of-milk.. Truly..!!
The sea-of-milk.. Truly..!!

It was already 2 days & 2nights since we last saw the restroom or a bathroom, we looked around to find a little place where we could finish that as well.. A small waterfalls nestled deep inside the woods- We girls just jumped into the water  while the guys kept a watch on trespassers at bay.. 😉

This is where every man wished he was that morning ;)
This is where every man wished he was that morning;)

Mythology says that the “DevaKannikas or the Apsaras are often seen bathing in the midst of the woods  before sunrise.. and if one is lucky, he can see them walk by in wet clothes” LOL… something similar to that, We couldn’t find a place to change, we all wore our jackets and walked 1.5kms towards our tents. On the way, we came across tens of trekkers who desperately stared at us.. Anyways.. the pristine water and the divine girls- deadly combo- Nobody could help the sight.!!

The Apsarakonda ;)
The Apsarakonda;)

We were told that the passenger train would cross the waterfalls by 9.15.a.m. This meant that we had to be at the view point by that time to get that perfect Internet photo..!!

Finally.. We got what we wanted..!!
Finally.. We got what we wanted..!!

And so we did…. After a long photo session and before the crowd who had just arrived in the train would spoil the peace, we headed back to our tents.. We had a round of heavy brunch and slowly packed up.. The initial plan was to walk the track all the way to Kulem, but owing to the cruel sun, we decided to take a goods’ train either to Kulem or Castle rock. We missed the goods’ train to Kulem by a few minutes and so  we had to wait at the Dudhsagar station for the passenger train going towards CLR.

And with that.. Curtains down to our trip to DDS falls..!!!Note:
1. Clicking credits to “Sam”- our official photographer during the entire trip..!!
2. If you’re camping there, carry tents- no matter what season it is.. Be prepared to get mobbed by monkeys
3. There is a guy who sells tea, dinner on Saturdays & breakfast on Sundays
4. You get booze near the shelter on a weekend night
5. There is a restroom (decent enough in the jungle) attached to the shelter
6. Buy a return ticket from Kulem or Castle rock depending on the direction you are heading to..

The railway adventure from Dudhsagar

< 16-Sept-12>

When you are back from a trek to Dudhsagar and talk about a “Railway adventure”- the usual things that strike anybody are train spotting, tunnels, wild encounters, the rail line that passes across the mighty waterfalls so on and so forth..!!! And there is ample information available all over the net about this walk along the railway tracks… So that’s the railway adventure…!!!

“NO…!!! ” I’m not here to speak about such a lame adventure- What if we did not come across any wildlife on our way..? There is always something even better that comes across as a compensation for not having any wild encounters..!!

We were all on our return part of our trip.. and were just happy that everything went on well so far.. And then began the actual adventure unfolding one by one..

Scene no.1:

We were mocked at, at Dudhsagar station when we enquired about the tickets. Why that? We had even requested the person at the ticket counter in Castle Rock to issue return tickets from Kulem to Londa as we did not want to take any chances. But, our requests were all turned down telling that it was not needed. Like every other tourist/trekker who comes to Dudhsagar, we too decided to travel ticket-less till Castle Rock station. There were more than 500 people who got into the Vasco-Nizamuddin express with us- all without a ticket..!! This is nothing unusual as each and every blog on the net speaks about ticket-less travel. In less than 5 minutes after the train had started, the TT came asking for our tickets. We honestly displayed our tickets(from Londa to Bangalore). He told us to show the tickets from Dudhsagar to Londa and we told him this was the only one we had. His voice sounded a little harsh this time. We explained all that we knew about the reason for this kind of travelling.. But now he told us to pay a fine of 500Rs per head. 17X500???? Noway..!!!! Finally.. he took us all to one end of the bogie and settled the scene for a total of Rs.460. That too- Till Londa 🙂 Now it calls for an adventure of travelling ticket-less right..??
But that’s not the case, everybody knows that there is no ticket issued from DDS, so this kind of checking is a major scam happening in these trains..

All ticket-less trekkers ready to jump into the Vasco-Nizamuddin exprs
All ticket-less trekkers ready to jump into the Vasco-Nizamuddin exprs

Scene no.2:

Onboard Rani Chennamma Express:

Approx.9.00.p.m.:  17 of us are playing dumbcharades, all seated in the same compartment and the entire bogie looking at us in awe(some jealous of us for the fun we were having, some surprised of the size of the gang, some enjoying the game with us, and some definitely pissed with the loud noise we were making). 2 police men walk across the bogie without bothering to notice anybody in particular.

Approx.11.00.p.m.:   We all decide to go to sleep as we were all pooped out of the long trek and most of us had to go to office the next morning. All are dispersed from the seats and preparing the bed.

Approx.11.30.p.m.:   Less than 2 minutes before we turned the lights off.. The 2 policemen appear out of nowhere..

“What’s going on here? We have received a call from the control room that there is a lot of noise coming from this bogie. Other passengers have complained about it..!!”

“But, we are sorry Sir, We had stopped playing half an hour ago and were just about to hit the bed”

“What are you playing with all these girls I say? and You.. dressed up like Y*su Chr*sta….” pointing out at XYZ..

XYZ got pissed off and revolted, “Mind your tongue, how dare you talk like that……”

The rest of us dragged him away before the scene got worse..

“Oh not just causing public nuisance, now you are fighting with a cop huh? All of you get off the train at Davangere station and lets talk about it in the station” the Cop asserted..

“But Sir, We will keep quiet now on and take responsibility not to disturb others. We are sorry..!!”

“We don’t know all that, get down at the next station or else pay a fine of 1000Rs. per head”

“Please consider, girls are travelling with us. We can’t get down in the middle of the night and we are on our way back, we don’t have so much money either”

“Just get down and lets see at the station”

This went on till approx.1.30.a.m and the entire bogie was watching the fun with no one even bothering to support us considering that we were all kids(or something like that, atleast out of courtesy)

Finally we all pooled in all the ‘Tens’ we had and settled the matter with Rs.500. A toll for absolutely no mistake of ours..!!

“The Indian Police”..!!! They are more than wild and entertaining who could well give an excellent replacement for the Orangutans- which are critically endangered.!!

Anything for money….. There is NOTHING that can be done to eliminate corruption in our country..!! We all speak volumes about a corruption free nation but we ourselves promote it in absolute helplessness..!! And Ohh?? Safety and respect for women???? what does that mean? I don’t remember coming across any term like that during my journey…

A corridor of the hanging pillar- Lepakshi

It is said that Jataayu- The vulture (mentioned in the Ramayana) fell here when hit by Ravana. Later, Rama is said to have commanded the bird to rise- Le Pakshi, and hence the name of that town.

Initially the plan took off with the idea of covering a lot of places along the way.. A super awesome NH7 led us straight till Bagepalli- From there a small deviation took us to Lepakshi.. But this place is a storehouse of history.. Every stone here has a tale to tell.. Be it from mythology or the recent past history of the Vijayanagar empire.. We walked carefully reading every story that unfolded at every step.. and that ended for more than half a day..

Left: The perfect man; Right: The perfect woman

The sculptures in the main hall of the Veerabhadra temple gives us the specifications to measure the beauty of a perfect man and a perfect woman.

Side entrance to the Natya Mantapa
Side entrance to the Natya Mantapa

Nagalingesvara- Carved out of a natural boulder to the west of the shrine, is a seven-hooded Naga sheltering a black-polished lingam cradled in its ribbed coils. A saptamatrika panel is placed below to the right. History tells us that the sculptor had come home for lunch one day. His mother said she would be back soon with food. She was surprised when she had returned. She exclaimed “Oh my son..!! You have carved such a big and a beautiful statue in such a short interval.” Even before she completed, a big crack developed across the linga. This makes it un-worthy of any Pooja/ offerings at the temple.

The Nagalingesvara idol with two different views

Among the several ornate pillars that decorate the temple corridor, one takes a special mention in several architectural marvels lists- The hanging pillar. It doesn’t rest completely on the ground and hence a sheet of paper can be easily passed through the gap under it.

This Kalyana mantapa has been depicted as the site of the celestial wedding between Shiva and Parvati, and each of the pillars is a celebration of this – drummers and musicians adding to the atmosphere and lesser gods and goddesses blessing the couple. A similar place is believed to exist in Kailasa and it was therefore pronounced that a place more beautiful shouldn’t exist on the earth. And hence, this remains unfinished.

Sita Paada
Sita Paada

As the history says, the place could have got its name referring to the two brothers- Veeranna and Virupanna, under King Achutaraya of the Vijayanagara dynasty. The latter who was the treasurer of Penukonda province (today’s Anantpur) spared no expense to have the temple built the way he wished as a tribute to the Lord, as his mute son regained his speech after playing near the Udbhava moorthy of Shiva which was on this hillock, leading to suspicions from the king about embezzlement of money. In grief and in anticipation of royal punishment, Virupanna plucked out his own eyes and threw them against the wall. And thus, lepa-akshi (blinded eyes). Till date one can find those blood stains on that wall. It has even been tested and proven that the blood stains are indeed real..!!

Ancient paintings on the temple ceiling
Ancient paintings on the temple ceiling
The traditional Lepakshi prints found on Sarees were sourced from these pillars
The traditional Lepakshi prints found on Sarees were sourced from these pillars

The Basava / Nandi is the largest monolithic Nandi in India. It is built facing the Naga Linga within the temple complex. However, this is half a kilometer away from the main temple.

Basavanna- Guarding the entrance
The largest monolithic Nandi in the world- Facing the Veerabhadra temple
We were told that Jataayu died in another place i.e. about 2 kms from the temple. But there isn’t any walkable road to the exact spot. This is quite sad that a place of such importance is not maintained or highlighted anywhere in the map..
But, overall- it was a wonderful trip with a lot of gyan on history and the epics.. that too at a distance of just about 120kms from Bangalore..!!

Across the brook- Bridging two Worlds

<Dated: Sometime when I was three or four>

Every girl has a Superman in her life.. For some it could be her father or in some case- a distant uncle.. And for me- it is “My Super Grandpa”.The wooden bridge layed across a brook in my hometown is one of the many reasons for which he is immortal in the memories of the nearby villagers even a decade after his departure. So, now I get down to how this happened: 

Introduction:

There are three ways to reach Abbi falls:

  1. A motor able asphalted road- about 8kms from Madikeri town. The most comfortable one if you have own transport from the town.(Lots of details are available on the net)  
  2. A partially adventurous one- about 8kms from Madikeri. One needs to take a private bus from Madikeri to Kootpole. And hike for about 4 kms to reach the falls.
  3. The most adventurous route(difficult)-  trek through thick jungle lined by deep valley on one side and thorny bushes on the other side.(Will write about this one some other day) 

There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret, Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I choose to write about the 2nd route- The closest to my heart..!!

It is in this route, that one has to cross a brook in order to reach the waterfalls. When I say a brook- it is not a small stream that you can jump across; especially during the monsoons. One needs to walk over a carefully laid wooden bridge holding tightly onto nothing more than a thin steel wire..!!

The Bridge across the brook
The Bridge across the brook

This is a bridge which is not meant for the tourists and that is why it continues to remain unknown. This bridge is actually one single tree kept across the river carefully. It was laid across with a purpose of providing accessibility to the nearby villagers who could not afford a taxi for daily commutation.

And among these villagers, the one who stands out is “The Superman- My Grandpa”. He is the sole man behind the existence of this bridge. From selection of the finest tree(neeredithakai Mara- in Kodava Thakk), to gathering labourers to pull it all the way up from his estate to the river bank and putting it across the rivulet(about 60 feet wide)- he is the only mastermind behind it all..!!

I recollect faint memories of sitting by the side and watching all this action as a little girl… Some 25 odd men pulling the tree up the sloppy estate, I lending a squirrel’s help with my tiny hands to my grandpa in his mission, getting a pat on my back for my hard work.. And once the bridge was done, I remember the days when grandpa used to hold my hands tight and teach me how to cross the river.. It just fills my heart with coldness…

Walking over the wooden bridge
Walking over the wooden bridge

This bridge stands strong till date- even after bearing all seasons for more than two decades now.. It is become a part of the villagers’ everyday life… Though it was built with the idea of having easy access for grandpa to reach his estates every day, he did not restrict it only for himself. It was open for the public too, helping all the villagers living around this area. This truly stands out as a symbol of his greatness… And I miss him so much every time I walk this way or I hear of people speak of this great man..!!

Monsoon retreat- Jog falls

The whole purpose of this trip was to see the Jog in all its might..!! And this could happen in no better time than the monsoons..

So mom, bro and I boarded a KSRTC on Saturday night such that we could reach Shimoga by 6.00.a.m. From there a jeep’s ride was awaiting us to reach Sagar town.

The entry to Sagar
The entry to Sagar
Sharavathi by the road side
Sharavathi by the road side

Firstly, we wanted take a chance to go check out the Hydroelectric project , take a cable car ride down the hill which unfortunately we couldn’t do as we were stopped due to security reasons.

Nevertheless, the view of the Linganamakki dam and the scenery around almost evened up for the miss.

Linganamakki dam
Linganamakki dam
The valley view from the dam
The valley view from the dam

And then.. Six kilometers uphill- we reached the place which was the sole motive of our trip. “The Jog”..!!

But, when we reached there, it was something that caused total dismay..!!! The clouds paired up with thick mist had enshrouded the waterfalls completely.. And were all just blanked out..(literally..!!) there was absolutely nothing infront of us except the mist mist mist and more mist.. To top it all, it was raining cats and dogs..

We turned our backs and decided to walk towards the jeep with a heavy heart .. As we did, I just happened to turn towards the falls to check on our luck.. And yes…. we were LUCKY..!! The mist was slowly clearing out.. And we could faintly spot the Sharavathi streaming down in full action..

The Jog
The Jog

2 minutes up and the view was all clear: The Mighty King (Raaja), the Graceful Queen (Rani), the Thunderous Roarer and the Storming Rocket – YES… We did it..!! We felt a great sense of achievement very contrary to what we felt a minute ago..

While we got some nice clicks, the mist enclothed the falls again.. and we waited for it to clear out to capture a few more photos because this time we knew that the action was repetitive..

Jog - a side view
Jog – a side view
Jog- where the descend ends
Jog- where the descend ends

After a while we walked around to get different views of the falls- we went to the top, almost till the bottom area, sides… and so on.. It was a difficult task considering the heavy rains and the slippery path-thanks to the moss and algae; But totally worth the risk 🙂

Roarr.r..:)

Roarr.r..:)

By late afternoon, we visited a nearby zoo and also went on a lion and tiger safari.. Not a typical safari in the wild.. It is more like a fenced enclosure.. Also we spotted deers, sambars and peacocks..

And it was all the time we had with us. We had almost reached the end of a funday-Sunday..

We boarded the bus back to Bangalore at night and we had to gear up for the crazy week that was awaiting us..

A day out… at Kaiwara

Wake up….!! Wednesday morninggg…. A weekend when the rest of the world is working their asses off half way through their week.. n I sat wondering how I was going to kill the rest of the day amidst the four walls of my house, all jobless….

Some old place I was told about, by my friend who had done her internship at- popped in my mind- “Kaiwara”. I jumped out of my bed and began to google for it.. With lot of information available online, I was able to jort down the list of places to see in and around Kaiwara along with a rough route map.. n that’s it.. I dragged my mum along, pulled the car out of the garage n zooommm we went…….

We started from Bangalore at around 9.a.m and reached Devanahalli in a while. From there we took the Vijayapura bypass road. A good 45min drive from the airport at an average 60kmph speed is what it took us to reach Kaiwara.

I ain’t a good photographer, but definitely these photos might be of interest for those of you planning for a weekend exploration.

As soon as one enters the Kaiwara town, a small lane on the left leads you to the Narayanapa Mutt. This is a mutt managed by M.S.Ramaiah trust. This is where Saint Narayanappa attained “Eternal Bliss or jeeva Samadhi”.

The Narayanappa Mutt
The Narayanappa Mutt

Half a kilometer away from the Mutt is the “Bheemeshwara temple”. This is where the mythology has it that Bheema killed Bakasura during the exile period of the Pandavas. There is a group of small temples there, each named after the Pandava brothers within the same premises.

Bheemeshwara temple
Bheemeshwara temple

Overlooking the Mutt, is the Bheema baana Betta or Kaiwara Betta. We thought of giving it a miss considering the number of steps we had to climb up and the time we were left with, to cover other places around. Or rather, my mum thought it would be impossible for her to scale it up 😛

The Kaivara betta
The Kaivara betta

One kilometer further ahead, we reached “Tapovana”, the place where the saint used to meditate back in the days. There is a small garden around there, which can be given a miss. Few yards uphill from there, we reached the “Vaikunta Betta”. At the base of the hill is the “Amaranareyana Temple” dedicated to Lord Vishnu built by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. Climb upstairs (which more looks ignored by vistors)- we reached the “Yoganarasimha Temple”, the cave temple, believed to be the place where the Lord appeared infront of Narayanappa. The temple terrace gives an excellent view of the entire town. A word of caution though: Too many monkeys around there.. it was no monkey business.!!

Entrance to Vaikunta betta
Entrance to Vaikunta betta
A view from The Vaikunta temple
A view from The Vaikunta temple

Then started the best stretch of the drive. 5kms uphill…. It surely made us wonder how beautiful Mount Kailash(in the Himalayas) could be if the lesser known “MahaKailasaGiri Betta” is so beautiful. Atop the hill is a set of newly chiseled man made caves, home to 3 temples.

Enroute to Kailasa
Enroute to Kailasa
Another view of the Kailasa giri
Another view of the Kailasa giri

Food is provided unlimited to every pilgrim/visitor at KailasaGiri temple and the Mutt between 12.30.p.m and 3.00.p.m. So we decided to hog some yummy temple food at Kailasa giri itself.

By this time, we had covered all the places I had googled to visit in Kaiwara. But it was still 2.30.p.m and we had a lot of time left. While coming downhill, we decided to follow a signboard which indicated the way to “ChenaKeshava Cave Temple” but once we reached it, it was quite a disappointment.

Enroute to Channakeshava guhantara temple
Enroute to Channakeshava guhantara temple

Someone had mentioned about “Venkateshwara Temple” in Alambagiri- about 10kms from Kaiwara. This place is supposedly famous for Paper made handicrafts. So we decided to explore this place too. But, some renovation work in this ancient temple was in progress and there were absolutely no shops in that place (forget handicrafts stores) left us saddened.

Alambagiri Venkateshwara temple (1)
Alambagiri Venkateshwara temple

Oh and by the way.. Kaiwara is famous for silk rearing & weaving. May be you should try to pick up some silk stuffs while you are there.

Google told me that “Ambaji Durga Cave temple” was 7kms away from Kaiwara, but nobody seemed to have heard of it. So we thought it was time we returned back to where we belong to- Bengaluru. It was still 4.00.p.m but done with the day’s outing.. Though it was a small trip, totally unplanned- it was worth the visit..!