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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Honnemaradu

Honnemaradu is a great place to experience. Situated at Linganmakki dam backwaters, it is only 3kms from the dam. A couple run this program and they have named themselves "The Adventurers". One needs to book well in advance and a group minimum of 12 is a must. The Adventurers have a office at  Rajajinagar, Bangalore where the bookings can be done. At Honnemaradu there are only basic necessities, so one needs to get into a mindset of spending time with nature and not expect a resort.

We reached there at 7:00 AM; Bangalore-Shimoga-Talagoppa-Honnemaradu. Our instructor was Nomito, a middle aged lady. Nomito and her husband while trekking the Western Ghats committed themselves to preserve this forest and hence this concept originated which they later got approved from the Government. They also train villagers to understand forest and different species of flora and fauna . They encourage them to take up forest guide as an occupation. She showed us around the campus consisting of several camp sites, an auditorium where local art forms are practiced and encouraged and a school to educate the villagers.


After breakfast, we headed to the water. Life jackets made it so easy to swim, for a non-swimmer like me. I loved to float in water for hours. Nomito taught us to swim and I enjoyed swimming till an island. Next we were taught paddling with a coracle; which again was very exciting. After a tired morning we had lunch and relaxed in the campsite. I got some time to write my journal, midst the serene atmosphere.


We decided to camp in an island for the night. We packed food, tents and sleeping bags and sailed to the island on our coracles. We pitched tents and hunted for woods in the forest. After sunset we had a very boring campfire with not much fun, I guess all were too tired. So, soon after dinner we went to bed.


Island where we camped for the night

Next morning Seb and I went around the island capturing some pictures. We returned back to main land, had breakfast and then went hiking up a mountain – Called Bheemana Hejje (Footprints of Bheema). The hike was short but very nice. Impressions of large footprints in summit are believed to be that of Bheema. Nomito explained how every tree was special to the villagers who saw them as their ancestors. She also explained how building dams had not only evacuated villages but also separated the villagers from their memories. From the peak, we got a beautiful view of Sharavathi backwaters.

Next, we headed to the water again. I was too tired so I preferred just floating to swimming. We then were taught canoeing. After another short practice round we headed back to campsite and had lunch. After thanking Nomito for this wonderful experience she had provided us, we left Honnemaradu at 3:00PM.


What I liked the most about this camping or concept is its simplicity. You are let to be with nature. Everything else seems to easily blends with nature, but man. Nomito is strict when it comes to discipline and thus sometimes sound like a Hitler. But as you get to know her, and as she unravels the story behind this program, she is would be one of the very interesting persons you would ever have met. I think the discipline is very important in such programs.

One gets to do, all the adventure stuff, like pitching tents in an island, carrying food and bags, paddling coracles which make a self involving experience. Most important of all, it allows you to blend with nature.

Swamy S.L.N.
The Adventurers
142, 69th Cross, 5th Block, Rajajinagar,
Bangalore INDIA 560 010
Phone: 91-80-23305508 or 91-80-23409712
Email: 
adventr.iiaa@aworld.net

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kamalashile

Vasu, P and I decided to go to Kamalashile while I was in Mangalore. Kamalashile is a small village near Sidhapura midst a forest, known for its temple of Durgambha.

We took a bus to sidhapura from Kundapura and then another bus to Kamalashile. The bhatru (Priest) at temple explained to us that it was a udbhav shile (Natural rock formation) and a sacred mud is filled around it and the mud he said would act as medicine. I made a mistake by asking him – Can I have some of this mud? He got suddenly excited and told me that it was not mud but Prasad, a sacred offering of God. For my mistake, I had to hear for a lecture of few minutes. My friends could not stop giggling at me. Well, I could have explained to bhatru that if I had referred to it just as a mud, I would not have asked for it to take home. But from this experience what I learnt was, how I must think before speaking and what difference a slight change in a synonym can make.


Bhatru was kind enough to ask a helper at temple to take us to the cave on top of a hill. A shopkeeper outside told us that he was an official guide to the cave and he would have taken us. He suggested we go walking to witness the scenery. We told the temple boy to join us there. The walk up was too tiring; no wind; burning tar road. Saw a huge tree on the way.

The cave is the mulla sthana (Place of origin of the temple) there are several udbhav moorthi’s of Ashlesha, Lakshmi, Ganapathi. The cave was completely dark inside and it was scary walking in, as there were plenty of bats flying all around us. The boy went deep into the cave and then said – These are Godly bats, they would not touch you, but wild bats, they would drink human blood. Saying so, he switches off the torch light throwing us into absolute darkness. “See, blind people would feel like how it is today.” P was too scared of the wild bat story that he immediately forced the torch onn. :-)



We came back to have a tasty lunch. Everyone at the temple was very kind and would force us to have food and asked us to come with family next time. The ladies who served insisted that we should eat more as we had walked all the way up to cave. Everyone at the temple now knew about us and we had become instantly famous.

We thanked the boy and handed over some money, which he hesitantly took. He did not even look at the amount. He offered us a visiting card and asked us to come again with family. Touched by the niceness of the villagers we returned back; watched a Blacksmith at work while waiting for bus. He had designed the blower himself.


We hitch hiked back on a jeep to Sidhapura; boarded another bus to Udupi. The conductor whom we had never met before asked if our trip to Kamlashile was fine. We were shocked about the fact that we had suddenly become so popular.

The trip was short, yet very interesting and funny. There are several such temples and villages in Dakshina Kannada and udupi district that I myself have not explored. We decided to make such short visits every time while in Mangalore.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Flowers

Bought a new camera, so was all excited about trying out the features. Here are few pictures of flowers around my house in Mangalore.

Mandara Flower



Dasavalla (Hibiscus)







Bombay Mallige (Bomaby Jasmine - I am not sure why it is called so)



Ratnagandhi



Pentas or Star Cluster....Lavander Colour (Thanks to natti)



Mallige (Jasmine)