Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Coorg Trip -2

Continued From Coorg Trip -1 .....

After that tiring incident we came back to the rooms and crashed on to bed at about 1:00 AM. Next morning I got up at 4:00 AM and my friend complained that the water was unbearably cold. We went down to talk to the watchman but luckily he had already set the boiler ablaze. We were late only by an hour and we checked out of the hotel at 7:00 AM. After a good breakfast we drove directly to Irupu falls. Video clippings of songs and dialogue from latest super hit Kannada movie “Munagru Male” kept us entertained during the three hour journey. Some good conversation with my friends who revealed their stories, their life in village, their dreams and their journey so far, their hobbies, all this I think contributed to make this trip a memorable one.
Irupu falls was a delight. We have to walk about a kilometer from where we park our vehicles. And luckily we could go near the water fall. A bamboo platform built in order to walk up to the falls was crowded with tourists who struggled there to get one splash of water at least. Whenever I stand beneath a water fall, it gives me a very different feeling, very difficult to describe, a feeling may be of cleansing, an experience of washing away; of what? Know not me.

Kavlz, M and I climbed to the top of the water falls, which was an adventure by itself. I recalled my days of childhood when at beach, my cousins and I would climb up the rocks and even have competitions to make it to the top first. In one way or other we are so much attached to the memories of the childhood or the first experience of any act.

Can You Spot Us There?

A small temple there felt like, filled the atmosphere with an unfamiliar but pleasant and recognizable aura of divinity. From here we drove to Nagarahole which is an hour’s drive. The national park has a few safaris arranged; you could also take your own vehicle in but is a little too expensive. So we took the safari organized by the government. The van in which they take us had open doors throughout the tour and the windows had no bars. So that could only mean – no wild animals. And after the tour we realized that it meant deer and more deer. A small band of elephant and a peacock was the only difference. But the feeling of driving inside a real forest cannot be matched. I reminded myself that it’s not important whether we go to some place and expect much from it, it’s how we react there is all that matters. We enjoyed that ride.

Nagarahole National Park

We left Nagarahole national park at around 4:30 pm, back to Bangalore.On the way back, we felt a need to have tea somewhere; the idea of tea and bun sounded appropriate. Once we crossed the forest area we saw a tea shop. A little hurriedly we asked the driver to stop and he I guess was also excited so took an abrupt stop and to add to this someone opened the front door in a hurry, all this came together to result in an accident. The vehicle forced itself beneath a branch of a banyan tree and got stuck there. The carrier on the top got bend and the attachments came off. We took a knife form the tea shop and slightly chopped the branch and then somehow got the vehicle out of it. But the carrier had come off. While this was happening a few other tourists were all excited to watch the fun, they stopped their vehicle and took pictures of the scene through their digital cameras. Probably they are thinking of a post on their blog, I thought. How easy it is to talk about others issue and laugh at others dilemma, is what made me learn that I should never, even unknowingly do such a thing like them.

We had tea and bun there, tasting like heaven, never so as before. We stopped a few miles after, at a cycle shop to fix the carrier. The cycle shop had few cycles for rent. So an idea struck to me to take them around the fields of Hunsur and enjoy the scenery while our vehicle was getting ready. The old man at the shop was too happy to say – “3 rupees for an hour, sir” so 5 of us set off on a ride. We rode along the widely spread fields as they melted away with the setting sun displaying vibrant, fantastic colors on sky and forming a picture perfect scene. Thanks to our friend S for helping the driver with fixing the carrier.

At 7:30 pm we left Hunsur and had our dinner at hotel Kamath at Ramnagar. Reached Bangalore at 12:30 AM and by the time we had dropped all of them and I got down it was 2:00 AM.

The entire trip went as per plan, nothing missed, nothing misjudged but still it is interesting to observe that some things that happen unexpectedly creates bigger impact as fun and laughter that we can re-tell and re-live through the smiles. Misty Hills at Tala Cauvery, Off trail walks, discomfort and fight at hotel spice, the minor accident, the cycle ride, Nagarahole safari full of deer’s, climbing up the water fall at Irupu; It is interesting to notice that sometimes these mixture of events make the trip more enjoyable and something to learn from; probably it maintains a balance somewhere and teaches us more about the power of human behavior towards dealing with every such situation.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Coorg Trip -1

Since this travelogue turned out to be much longer than I intended, I plan to publish it in two parts.

During our usual tea break at office, my colleagues and I came to the consensus that it was time for another trip. The Kaiga memories still haunted us, we still joked about them during our free time and laughed at it but at the same time it was time to experience new things, new fun and adventures. So not wasting any time, I started off with help of my friends, planning a trip to Coorg, a place unanimously chosen; what could be more relaxing in midsummer than going to a hill station? With our past experience with Kaiga trip, I had learnt one thing that when we travel in such big groups, we need better planning. In spite of me being a person enjoying unplanned trips to unknown lands that involve more adventure had to abide to the new rule that a trip with big group needed at least some planning. So we got on to the planning part. We booked a Tempo Traveler for 12 of us traveling, 3 rooms at a hotel in Madikeri and a detailed plan on the places to visit with timings.

On the 25th day of May, 12 of us set off on this tour to the one of most beautiful hill station in India also referred as Scotland of India. 250 km drive from Bangalore is not an easy drive. In spite of leaving office at 3:30PM, we took about 1.5 hours to exit city limits. But we got on track once we hit Mysore road. A deviation to Hunsur and then a stop for dinner at Kushalnagar followed by an hour’s drive brought us to the city of Madikeri. At 12:30 AM we were at the hotel shouting and waking up people around. Of course one cannot expect a pin drop silence from a band of 12 boys. We also got some firing from an old lady in the neighboring room. Hotel Brahamagiri accepts telephone booking and it cost us 700 per room per day. The weekend was crowded with tourists and we had finalized on this after trying 10 other hotels that had absolutely no rooms free even a week before in advance. So if you plan to visit Coorg, make your bookings well in advance.

When the alarm rings at 4:00 am when you have gone to bed only at 1:00 am, it’s not always a good feeling but with the spirit of adventure, such emotions seem trivial. My friend and I took the pain job of waking up guys in other rooms and preparing them to be ready and wake up the next guy. As per the plan we had to be ready by 6:00 AM. I call it a pain job, because one has to deal with interruption of another person’s sleep; which is not always polite. One has to say firm “No” to a call for bed teas at 4:00 AM and statements like “I can’t take bath without hot water.” And “Let me sleep a little more.” :-)So after dealing with all that, we were ready to leave to Tala Cauvery by 6:30 Am only half an hour late than planned which still sounds like perfect timing.

The route from city to Tala Cauvery is amazing, at the early hour of dawn, the site of clouds kissing the mountains calls for a stopover and some photographs. One does not want to just keep driving but wishes to stop for a while and experience the reaction that happens there. One some way or the other wishes to be a part of all that; the mist; the cold breeze; the mountains; the trees; the flowers and all that happens between them.

We reached Bhagamandala after an hour’s drive and had a good breakfast there. The hotel is run by Mangaloreans so I got to speak a little Tulu there (The local language of Mangalore). We then drove up to Tala Cauvery. The cloud had covered the entire place. The river Cauvery originates here. The temple and the surrounding places are being re-constructed and I must say that it’s adding further beauty to the place. It was the best possible weekend getaway, we could have expected; to be on top of a hill, which has just turned more graceful by touch of the mist. The silently moving cloud hit us and turned into water droplets on our body only to make us aware of the temperature difference and that is when I relized that we were obstructing the flow of nature, we were uninvited here. But man’s mind haunts to view every such game of nature; invited or uninvited, intentionally or unintentionally he wishes to interrupt the natural process of nature.

A set of steps take us up a small hill, the view from where is amazing but we could only see mist and more mist. We took an off track to the top, as suggested by some tourists returning back and that turned out to be even more exciting.

The Off Track Walk

On our way back down the hill, we stopped at a shop that sells honey and spices that are grown there. The shop owner, again a Mangalorean, suggested that we climb up the terrace to get a spectacular view. Thanks to him for the advice, we caught some amazing glimpse of the mountains. He also allowed to us roam around his coffee estate.

View From The Terrace
Our next stop was Bhagamandala, which is a sangama of three rivers; Cauvery and it’s too tributaries. River Cauvery is also called as Southern Ganga, one can wash their sins away by taking a dip in the river, they say. Not sure of sins, but I am sure such beliefs can gear up your self confidence. Somehow I feel that these rituals and rites are a form of making a person much stronger from inside yet maintain his human delicacy. The temple here again is under construction. A temple at the foot hills of sky kissing mountains can only make the place more divine and serene. Somehow a temple or any prayer places; a monastery, church or a mosque for that matter appears to be the only thing that goes well with nature and looks like a part of it, blending with its harmony.

We next moved back to the city and had our lunch. Our next destination was Abbey Falls. We have to walk about half a kilometer into a private estate and then arrive at this waterfall. Unfortunately people are not allowed to go near the falls. We can only watch it from the suspension bridge built across it, which of course was unexpectedly crowded. One more person on that bridge could have brought it down crashing. :-)

There wasn’t much water up there but luckily it had rained heavily a few weeks back, the pre-monsoon shower had converted the place into a green delight. The best time, they say to be there is July-Nov.

Abbey Falls

After spending sometime at the falls, disappointed a little that we could not drench ourselves in the water, we take a city tour. A toy train ride near Raja seat, a hike down the hills near Raja seat, an amazing evening view of Coorg from the raja seat made a perfect replacement to the water fall disappointment. Raja seat is the place where the king of Madikeri used to spend his evenings looking down at his beautiful empire.

View From A Place Near Raja Seat
A walk around the fort and a view from there at the prison below is a nice away to spend the evening. A walk by the lake at Omkareshwara temple and experiencing a very serene atmosphere at the temple could have been the only best way to wind up the days adventure in a peacfull manner. The temple is a must see place, since it has a very distinct architecture, rarely found in any other temples. It has an Islamic touch to it, appears more like a mosque at the first glance.

Omkareshwara Temple
Everything went by as per plan but it’s always true that we have to have some unexpected adventures always to laugh at later. We had at that at the end of the day, during dinner. Every restaurant in Madikeri was extremely crowded but finally we found a place in a hotel called Spice near the city bus stand. We managed to arrange a table at the roof top and settled in at about 9:30 PM. People who needed alcohol ordered drinks, rest ordered food….Kashmiri pulav, veg dishes, fish fry etc; starters, main course and what not. But till 11:00 PM all we got was just drinks over drinks and two plates of starters. One of my friends just kept ordering 30-60-30-90 of a drink and considered itself as his starter, main course and dessert. :-)

Another just attached one chair to another and slept off after the tired day. One of my friends Kavlz and I decided to go down and talk to the management. The first talk was polite and I guess thus did not help. After waiting till about 11:30 we all went down and had a big fight with the careless, ignorant management who had kept us waiting for food for almost more than 2 hours. Thanks to Kavlz for leading the group in our fight against the irresponsible management at Hotel Spice, In the next 10 minutes we had all that was in the kitchen. A quick supply of food later, made all of us cheer loudly, even the guys on next table cheered with us.

Continued Here Coorg Trip -2 .....

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wonder La

It was a company organized picnic on 21st of April, 2007; a Saturday. Many of our colleagues Said a "No" for a Saturday and many had found interesting (funny even) reasons not to attend. I found none, thus decided to go for it. :-)
Sometimes when we expect the least, we receive more fun and happiness, probably because that is when we just flow with the moment, accept & enjoy things as it comes without pre-determined objectives or opinions.

After an hour’s wait, S & I finally boarded the company tour bus at town hall, Bangalore. We first drove directly to Bidadi, to the site where our new office is coming up. After surveying the progress of work, we had a very good breakfast there. The excellent quality of food left us with no choice but taste all the 6-7 varieties of items. After this delicious treat we set off to Wonderla only a few minutes’ drive from the office premises.

At Wonderla we all assembled at a multipurpose hall were an external agency had been invited to conduct fun games for us. A nice looking girl, with bright blue and pink colored clothing (to suite the atmosphere) had some fun games ready to get us started. Our team was easily noticed as cheaters, so to keep up the name, we left no chance to cheat in each and every game. Instead of sucking nuts with use of a straw and then dropping it into an empty cup placed at a distance, we took some nuts ready in our mouth to spit them out into the cup. On the way some were swallowed too. :-)
In another game we had to transfer water from one cup to other only with use of our mouth, as the water kept spilling, it also kept filling from other end. :-) So finally, looking at our innovative ideas to cheat we were declared the best cheaters and were given a special prize.

After lunch we were on our way to explore the amusement park.

S, K, C, V and I formed a group and we decided together to finish the dry rides by 3:30 PM and then spend rest of the time at wet rides, After dumping our belongings at the locker room (maintained well) we started on the rides.

First ride was some sort of swing seat, swinging at an axis perpendicular to our seats. It was a good start. Next we rode a small toy train. Looking at the cave structure we expected it to be a nice ride but it was a simple ride which kids too did not bother to take. We could not stop laughing at that ride.

Drop Zone

Next was drop zone, where the seat we sit in, is made to drop from a height. After which we sat in another excellent ride called Maverick. This ride will make you go crazy because it rotates in all possible direction, all angles, and all axes. Don’t miss this ride!

Maverik Ride

Another ride, similar to maverick was like a slow poison, we were made to hang at an angle and slowly the seat rotated in all sorts of angle. It had four arms and each arm had a seat independently rotating in an axis of its own. So we were in awkward position, hanging mid air looking down at the entire setup, some shed and cement ground. The slow ride, squeaking sound of the arms got us even scared for a while and the maintenance guy came and even adjusted some seat before we got down. We joked that he was tightening few bolts. :-)
Next we went to the water rides. First we enjoyed the pool. Then we walked into something called rain disco. Thinking of staying there just for a while, we entered but the total atmosphere could not stop us from blending into the loud music, dim lights, sprinklers and showers with chilled water and disco lights flashing. We danced like mad, releasing all feeling of insecurity, worries and let ourselves flow with the music, least bothering of the surrounding.

After that, we took some water rides; sliding on a twister pipe, following its turns and a coracle ride again on a twisted pipe. Next we enjoyed the artificial waves generated at the pool and we enjoyed our day with a water splash ride.

The day was excellent, if I try looking for the reasons, it might be because all five of us coordinated very well with each other; we planned the events properly and all shared the same spirit. May it be the type of dry rides, rain disco, wet rides, all shared the same level of enthusiasm and fun. Which I think made the trip a great success. Nobody cribbed about a ride or showed varied interests. Team coordination, decisions and enthusiasm made this day a fun filled, never forgetting trip in which I think all of us lived in the moment, then and there.

Please visit Wonder la or any amusement park for that matter, since it allows you to explore and enjoy the fun involved in a moment at that given particular time.