Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nijagal Betta

With friends from the French Class, I have been planning a trek for almost an year. It had never happened until we all decided that this time there would be no procrastination. The planning itself had lots of changes though, until the very last moment. Place got changed from Channarayana Durga to Nijagal Betta. Mir joined and Aman dropped. So finally at around 6AM on a Saturday morning (May 2nd 2015), Dipali, Mir, Manohar and I, left Bangalore and headed towards Dabaspet on Tumkur road. 

Soon after Dabaspet, you shall find Kamat hotel on your left. A few meter away from here, you shall see a mud road go left and down beneath a railway track. Exactly opposite to this road is another Kamat restaurant on your right and a Reliance petrol bunk. Anyways, the hill is also visible from the main road. If you are on a car, park it just before crossing the railway track as the road conditions are pathetic. It is not a long walk from there. Bike can go all the way to the foot of the hill. 

We had our breakfast at this not so good Kamat restaurant and parked our car under a tree off Tumkur road and walked to the foot of the hill. There is a proper route upto the summit which follows along the electric poles. 

The hill is nothing like what it seems from the main road. As you get past the deceiving rock that covers the front, you find a whole new world that this place hides. Built by Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar back in the 17th century, the fort gives way to a tricky trail beyond which are the cave temples, one dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other, a dargah. Also, Nijagal Betta is where the epic battle between Hyder Ali and Peshwa Madhavrao took place.

You climb a fleet of stairs and you shall end up at a beautiful cave temple. Behind which is a muslim worship place. 

Here it might get a little tricky. Just adjacent to a small pond you have to climb a rock to reach the summit. The rock has few markings to aid the climb. Once you have climbed the top it takes you to a beautiful summit filled with gigantic rocks forming several shelters. 

All along, we noticed lot of clothes lying around. We suspected that this place would easily be a crime spot. Being the only ones on the summit we worried of safety here. But when a guard came, he told us that this was a place of worship and after taking bath in the sacred pond, the devotees throw their old clothes there. That revelation was a relief to our suspicious minds which had already recreated a crime scene from what was witnessed. 

We spent a good amount of time at the summit. A lot of monkeys seemed to be playing here. But they did not bother us at all because we did not bother them. 

A kite was busy untangling a piece of cloth tied an electric pole. 

We found a good spot beneath big boulders that formed a shelter and lay there for a while chatting about life and dreams. It was a very interesting conversation that we had and the view complemented the emotion and mood. 

At around 11:30 AM, we decided to head back. Took a short detour to explore the temples in ruin. 

By the time we reached the base it was half past noon. We freshen up at the Kamat hotel opposite the hill and then headed back to Bangalore. At Nalapaka, near Rajajaijngagr a tasty North karnantka meal waited for us. 

Bangalore had turned cloudy by then and we witnessed a ferocious hail storm while driving back. 

Nijagal betta is an unexplored place and the quietness and serenity there I can not be matched to any other place that close to Bangalore. This place has so much to offer that a short half day trek would turn out to be a great journey to the past.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Onake Betta aka Nakula Sahadeva Betta

So after the previous failed  attempt to conquer Kunti Betta we, folks from the office decided to attempt it again on another night trek. 13 of us on the night of 24th April, left office at around 8:30 PM in 3 cars. We stopped at a Dabha on Mysore road for dinner. Chatting, laughing and eating, we spent almost more than 1.5 hours there. Next we drove to Pandavpura. Pandavapura is a right deviation 10-15 kilometres after Mandya on Mysore road. You shall see an arch on the right. After you take this right, keep following the road until the railway track. At the track the road turns left. Follow it until you meet a junction of four roads. An arch again on the right could be your landmark. Google map shows a wrong right turn just before this arch. 

Anyways, at around 1AM we reached the base. We took the flight of stairs leading to the kalyani and temples. We followed the route beside the temple but then got deviated and then got lost in the bushes finding a way up. After some struggle, we found a route leading to the summit. The hike was very short. We made ourselves comfortable on top of a huge rock. We tried to catch some sleep. Some did, some just stayed awake till the morning. Around 4 AM another group came. We all cramped in, at the summit. 

As the first light of dawn broke, we saw that the pillar that many bloggers had talked about was on the adjacent hill. We had boarded a wrong hill again. The previous one was called Bheemana betta. Considering nothing named after Nakula and Sahadeva (The last two brothers of Pandava), we decided to name this after them. I later found out that this second hill is called Onake Betta. 

At least we knew now which was Kunti Betta.  As its the only one that remains to be climbed in the vicinity. We had to follow the road next to Kalyani all the way instead of taking that deviation.Thankfully, despite the weather report not a single drop of rain ruined our trek. And it was a beautiful feeling waking up to a magnificent view. Only thing missing was a cup of tea. 

We walked down the route that was instructed in many blogs and ended at the slope near Kalyani.  

We stopped at a local tea stall and had the much needed morning tea. On our way back, we also stopped at Maddur Tiffianys to have some breakfast. There are lots of other options on the way. By 10:30 AM, I was back home. The sleep that followed after an early lunch was the best I had had in days. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Talakadu & Somanathapura

I had been to Somanathapura and Talakadu about 9 years ago. So when my mother requested a trip while my parents were in Bangalore, I thought of revisiting these places. On the 4th of Apr, a saturday morning, around 9AM we left home. I took Mysore road till a little past Maddur until a left deviation to Talakadu was seen. While nearing Talakadu, I decided to take a 15 kms deviation to Somanathapura first. 

The temple was not crowded. There were handful of visiors. It is always a delight to see a Hoysala temple with its star shaped foundation and intricate pillars and sculptors.

While relaxing outside the temple we got into a conversation with a guard who informed us that most silk sarees produced and sold under Rs 8000 are all mix of synthetic and silk. A pure silk cannot be made below that price. He seems to have gathered such an information from the silk board in Mysore. He also requested us to have our lunch at T Narsipura as Thalakadu he feared might not have restaurants and we were already late. So we did that and had lunch at a not so nice restaurant in T Narsipura seeing no other option. 

 At Talakadu we hired a guide for Rs250 who during our kilometre long walk around the sand filled forest educated us on the history - 

"In 1610 it was conquered by the Mysore Rāja under the following circumstances. Tirumala-Rāja, sometimes called Srī Ranga Rāya, the representative of the Vijayanagar family at Seringapatam (Srirangapatna), being afflicted with an incurable disease, came to Talkād for the purpose of offering sacrifices in the temple of Vaidyēsvara. His second wife Alamelamma was left in charge of the Government of Srirangagapattanam ; but she, hearing that her husband was on the point of death, soon after left for Talkād with the object of seeing him before he died, handing over Srirangapattanam and its dependencies to Raja Wodeyar of Mysore, whose dynasty ever since retained them. It appears that Rāja Wodeyar had been desirous of possessing the jewels which was the property of the Rāni, and being unable to obtain them, and eager to seize at any pretext, he levied an army and proceeded against the Rani. Rāni Alamelamma thereupon went to the banks of the Cauvery, and throwing in the jewel, drowned herself opposite Mālangi, at the same time uttering a three-fold curse,-"Let Talakād become sand ; let Mālangi become a whirlpool ; let the Mysore Rājas fail to beget heirs." The latter part continues to effect the royal family."

After that good walk watching five temples submerged in sand but of course not excavated, we returned back to Bangalore.

I choose to drive the Malvalli-Kanakpura route not he way back which seemed better than my not so favourite Mysore road.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Cycling To Pyramid Valley

When many in office have bought a bicycle, it calls for a cycle ride. After a long time, we planned another cycle trip. We chose to ride upto the Pyramid valley. On Saturday March 14th, Mak, Subbu, Allen, Subbiah, Rohit, Tejas and I met near Metro Bazaar on Kanakapura road at around 6 AM. 

The ride was not very stressful. The onward journey was nice and smooth. Its mostly downhill, that means, less tiring. We made one quick stop at the Kaglipura bakery for some tea and bun. Pyramid Valley is off Kanakapura road after Somanahalli cross. Its not easy to miss the big sign boards that take you left off the Kanakapura road. The total ride was around 30kms.

At Pyramid valley, we parked our bicycles, signed the registry and walked towards the canteen. We had our breakfast and headed to the pyramid. The inside of the Pyramid is a empty space for meditation and at the centre is the flight of stairs that go up to  platform which is located at 1/3rd the height and is called the kings chamber. It is believed that the cosmic energy is the most there and is to lead good results with the Meditation. We meditated there for a while and then walked out to the store. Walked near the open space outside. We felt much more relaxed and peaceful in the garden, amongst Nature than inside the pyramid. 

After some juice at the canteen we headed back. Rode our cycles till the main road and some distance on it. It was noon and the sun was too harsh so as usual we decided to take a tempo till Saraki signal and then rode back home. As alway a great one day cycle trip around Bangalore.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Back To India!

On the 8th of March, the alarm on my cellphone rang and I woke up to see the clock show 3 AM. I wondered what was wrong? I had set up the alarm to 4 AM so as to get ready for my 6:30 AM flight. I checked the other clock on the microwave and it showed 3AM as well. But my cellphone would show 4 AM. I switched on the television and it showed 4 AM. I was confused for a while. In my not completely awake state, I even thought of the ghost film I had watched the previous day. It took me a while that we are off the day light saving time. And the time was now 4 AM. I got ready and Rohit dropped me at the airport. My flight to Atlanta was on time. At Atlanta, I did some shopping in a Brookstone store which had some cool innovative electronic gadgets. I spoke to Jonah and KK. With both, I enjoy long conversations. KK and I discussed about our favourite author Bhyrappa and our thoughts on the movie Interstellar. After a long lay over time, I finally boarded my flight to Paris in the evening.

A long uneventful flight ended at Paris airport. It was 8:30 AM on the 9th of March in Paris. I stopped by a shop that sold macrons and bought a pack of them. Some other attractive cookies and chocolates made its way into my bag. At the gate it was announced that my flight was delayed due to some technical reasons. That was when, I got into a conversation with my co-passenger; an old lady who was returning from Houston. She has a daughter living there and her Son lives in UK. We had a good chat about life in the US, UK and India. Like all Bangaloreans we spoke about poor road conditions and traffic in the city. Meanwhile a few other passengers joined in. One was a man in his early 40’s. He was from Mangalore. Another boy from Udupi and another was a North Indian. It was a good discussion we had as we waited for all the technical problems to be solved. After an hours delay, our flight finally took off. 

I was home by 4 AM on March 10th. Like my usual practice, I quickly unpacked and realised that I have returned with loads and loads of gifts. But the most impressive collection I had was that of the food items that I had bought in the US and in Paris. A very good trip had come to an end. Even though I was lost in those moments, I was also excited about the future. I had so many plans and initiatives in mind that were at halt due to this trip. I would slowly start those and these chocolates, cookies and macrons will keep the memories of the trip alive for some more time.

Manitou Incline - Round 2

I was so fascinated with the Incline hike that I wanted to do it one more time before leaving. While casually mentioning this to the manager I work with in the US, he told that he would join us. He does the hike several times a year and can complete it within 45 minutes. On the 7th March, Dilip and I drove to Dave’s house in Manitou Springs. Dave’s house is of Santa Fe style architecture and is located at a picturesque location overlooking the mountains. He tells me that they often see deers and bears. Their  dog Webster, a Gordon Setter is adorable. Webster has a chip implant to track his identity and the house has a invisible dog fence that gives a light shock if he crosses the line. But, Dave says that within a week webster had memorised the boundary and never stepped out of it. « Otherwise, Webster would chase deers visiting our backyard and now we don't have to worry of him getting lost. », he adds. 

We drove near to Dave’s mother in law’s house and parked our car there. It is located at a walkable distance from the incline. The steps were covered with a lot of ice. But climbing up was not that bad after all. 

Dave obviously was much faster than us. He was waiting for me at the top when I finished in an hour and fifteen minutes. It was a great climb. Going down was tough. The Barr trail was bad and so we decided to take the steps. Dilip was still behind, so considering the time, we requested him to wait midway for us. 

The melting ice made the climbing down difficult. One of my colleagues at office Mike, had lent me the chains that go on shoes, which would dig into the ice and make the climb easier. Without those, it would have been difficult to get down. 

It was a great hike and the view was spectacular from the top. While dropping Dave back at his place we spotted a few deers grazing near his house.

A good hike such as this makes you feel fresh, happy and of course hungry. Dilip and I did not want to try any other cuisine but Indian when we were this hungry. So we stopped at « Little Nepal » restaurant and had their Okay tasting but filling buffet lunch. My last day in Colorado Springs had thus come to an exciting and exhilarating end. We met Chung Hee for dinner where she handed me over more banana cake to be carried back home. 

Previous Experience Recorded...Here 

Moonrise From The Garden Of The Gods

One thing I have always done, living in Colorado Springs, is to take a night drive to the Garden of the Gods and park my car near the Balanced rock and climb uphill to view the entire city lit up. It’s my favourite place in the town and I never miss a chance to drive up there when I visit. Every time that I have been there, the moment had been special; an interesting conversation with a Native Indian once and a thoughtful discussion on life with a good friend next time. 

This time while I was there, I met a couple who were waiting for the moon rise. Their moon rise app told us that the time was 7:10 PM and they had already used the GPS to locate the place where we would see it rise. We stood there talking about my visit and my adventures hiking the Pikes peak and in Colorado Springs while waiting for the moon rise. It was a magical moment when finally at the time per the app, the moon rose. I could not capture great pictures without a tripod but here are some snapshots.