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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

....Whatever!!!!

A writer’s nightmare is being unable to express his feelings and thoughts. Reasons for it may be many, from lack of words to confusions to Political intervention or lack of freedom. But then there is a writer sitting in every mind, which feels and reacts in form of emotions. There are certain things that are beyond my understanding and I am unclear of how to express them. I have always loved to experiment with life, sometimes openly and sometimes secretly but every time I have realized that I end up where I started, perhaps that’s why they call it a vicious circle. And then I recollect the preaching of the Dharma, perhaps our ancestors knew that our mind is prone to wandering and hence we need to restrict it to daily duties where life goes on similarly for everyone with some drifting within the confined limits. But then one ends up being so bookish and less adventurous. So on either ways –Experimental or duty oriented, you end up at the same point, either after following a circle or without even moving a bit. While writings become difficult, paintings on the other hand has always made the complicated remain complicated and yet served the purpose of letting out. But it’s also interesting to notice how writings and paintings or hobbies get so influenced by new experiences, new friendships and thoughts. If you are unable to follow this, don’t worry, so cant I. :-)

I have had a long day. After giving my scooter for servicing I had my haircut. At the saloon, I heard the news of veteran Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan’s death. The barber became sentimental as the FM played “Nooru Ondu Nenapu” and he told how touched he was by this bad news; the other barber said he had wept uncontrollably at Dr Rajkumar’s death and I sat there touched by how the celebrities touch us common men and also wondering if the barber would quickly finish off my haircut; made two waste trips to Jayanagar only to find shops closed, buildings with broken glass panes which made me realize how stupid sometimes people become in trying to display their ego by hiding their act behind fake reasons such as “mark of respect”. If true respect has to be shown to a person you admire, mourn peacefully.

Its almost 11 and I have seen many movies today of which one I would like to mention is “Rachel getting Married”; Story about a girl returning from a re-habilitation center to her broken family, during the occasion of her sister’s wedding to realize how each one has suffered from one tragic moment of their life – their little brother’s death. Very nicely told but could not help noticing close resemblance to Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” theme and treatment.

Few other movies that I watched recently – “The wrestler” which made me sad at the facts but at the same time the movie was pathetically slow. “Miss Pettigrew lives for a day” is a beautifully made film but with a predictable story line. “Burn after Reading” is a black comedy and is a must watch with unexpected storyline with several twists. “An Unfinished Life” is a simple story about relationships and worth watching for Robert Redford and Morgan freeman.

And as I realize this would be my last post for the year, it’s wonderful to remember 2009 as a great year for some very special memories, great beginnings, new hobbies and lots of travels.

Happy New Year 2010!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Doddamakali

I intended to write something other than traveling this time, something about the happenings; something more personal; about something that I thought or felt but travel does not seem to leave me.

We had a team outing from office to Doddamakali jungle lodges (One of the three in the same belt along river Cauvery- others being Beemeshvari and Galibore). It’s always fun to be out along with our team because I feel that we are a group with lot of likeminded people and that’s what makes it special.

In two tempo travelers we started off to Kanakpura, watching movies and chatting we reached the busy town at around 10:15 AM. We had breakfast at hotel Vasu which was extremely crowded. A villager standing next to me had warnings about the place we were about to visit. He suggested we not swim as many have drowned in the Cauvery and he kept repeating several stories. Kanakpura to Shimshapura and then 3 km of mud road to the resort, we were there at around 11.


After a quick welcome drink and settling some confusion with the authorities who were not informed of our booking, we set off on a trekking around the resort. The place is nice, with some greenery and elegantly flowing river.

Rest of the day after a nice lunch, was spent swimming. I was happy to reuse my learning’s from the Honnemardu trip. Thanks to Nomitha for teaching us to swim with life jackets on.:-) Rented out a bicycle to ride around; played volleyball and cards.


Doddamakali is a nice place but nothing great. It may be better to go there during the season for rafting, otherwise it’s just fine if somebody else is paying the bills. :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Exploring Chitradurga

It’s been a lot of traveling over the past few weeks and when more travels line up…there are more reasons to be happy. :-) A common friend’s wedding reception is what took my friends and me to Hubli. An overnight train journey with lots of talking; early morning hunt for an economical hotel; breakfast number one – tea, kesari bath and amazingly tasty, hot poha; a walk around the hotel; Breakfast number two at cities famous Hotel, Krishna Bhavan – Idly-vada, Poori and tea; bus journey to a wrong address and hunting for the wedding hall which apparently was a mere 3km walk from where we were; a moosumbi juice and then a long walk to the hall; breakfast number three – Poha again and delicious bason ladoo at the reception; meeting all the wonderful relatives of my friend; nice lunch and then…and then?

Well Subbu and I are always okay for more travel so we had planned a detour during our backward journey – Chitradurga. Thanks to our friends Mak and Swamy for their valuable inputs on the city. Our plan was to explore the fort and any other interesting place. So we boarded a bus from Hubli at around 3:00 PM and reach Durga at 9:30 PM. We quickly booked a decent hotel and had dinner at a Kanavali. Kanavali’s are small mess that you will find plenty in these parts of the state which serve great home cooked food such as chapathi, rice, sabji and sambhar. After that we took a short walk to the fort and got informed by the guards that the fort would open at 6:00 AM. We bid goodbye to another friend who had to leave to Bangalore; back to hotel; crash to bed.

Next morning, at around 6:30 AM I took a short walk around the hotel as always to watch the town wakeup. Everything seemed very slow and quite. At 7:30 AM, we were ready to leave to the fort after a very nice breakfast at a nice hotel by name Mysore cafe.

We booked a Government authorized guide for the tour within the fort for Rs 250. The fort was built to have 7 spirals with 7 entrances out of which the first two, now lie as ruins encroached by the city. Huge door hinges, a huge gun powder grinding setup, temples, mutt’s and of course the famous Onake Obava kindi where she killed the Hyder Ali soldiers entering from the cave with her Onake (Masse) not to disturb her husband during his lunch time.



We climbed a huge rock (Thupada Kolla – Pond of ghee) and relaxed at the summit for a while overlooking the town and surrounding landscape.


Back at the fort entrance we met Jyothiraj alias Kothiraj who is known for his free climbing. On Sundays he usually comes to the fort and performs for the visitors. He climbed the walls very quickly and smartly with absolutely no modern equipments but arm strength. Everyone applauded to his skill and he shared his story of struggle and how he still lacks proper aid to buy the necessary equipments for rock climbing. He has traveled around the world but still feels that our country never shows interest in promoting several sports or skills.


We next walked to the Laxmi tiffin room, a very famous and old restaurant in the town where we tasted some amazing masala dosa, kali dosa and extremely refreshing and uniquely tasty tea. We thought of renting out a bicycle but we did not find good cycles and even if would have, renting out to tourists would have been a difficult task. So we took an auto to Chandravalli, which is about 3Kms from the main busstand. A small shrine and a cave is a major highlight. We decided to enter the dark cave with the torch light from the cell phone with reducing battery life. A few minutes and we felt too deep into the cave, but we finished the entire stretch as the cave turns back to the same entrance.


During a walk around the place we met a group of villagers who were partying at the place with hot drinks and open air kitchen set up that was cooking some flesh. They invited us to taste some food and believe me even though I liked their friendliness I have never been so happy to be a vegetarian. The sight of badly cooked chicken and beef made my stomach churn. They requested for a group photo and wanted it mailed to them. After politely declining their request to have mutton Biryani we walked into the forest where we met an old man, a forest guard who was very delighted to see us and gave us the entire mythological importance of the place.

I have heard stories of Bhima, Bakasura and Krishna so many times in my life but believe me never ever was it told, this passionately and interestingly as the old man did. His way of narration was amazing and very expressive with frequent pauses for a laugh or a sigh. “Bandbitlu Kunti vapas Siddapura’ge, illey pakad uru” (So kunti returned back to Siddapura, here, the next village) “Enu odda nodi bheema, bakasura na.” (You must have seen the way Bheema kicked Bakasura) so he went on and on, one story over another and surprisingly both Subbu and I did not try to stop him, we listened to it with lot of interest but then it had to stop at some point, we had to leave. So we thanked the old man and returned back to hotel and packed our bags. After lunch at the kanavali we headed back to Bangalore at around 3:00 and reached the city at 8:30 PM.

The trip was amazing, I think because it incorporated all aspects of a travel; a beautiful place with historical importance; a hike; a taste of local cuisine at towns old and famous restaurants; a good interaction with the locals; unplanned, last minute decisions and most important of all a like-minded company. If I said – “let’s climb the rock” Subbu would start looking for the route and if he said- “Let’s have food” (which he very frequently does. :-)), I asked him to order two plates, whatever it was. :-) All in all a great trip with some true explorations.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Kumara Parvatha Trek - Day 02

I Continue From Here.....


Only thing best to falling asleep in a mountain is to wake up in one. The morning was very pleasant and the wind had subsided. We freshen up quickly, collected enough water that was required for the rest of the journey and wasting no more time, we started off to the peak (At 7:00AM). Our plan for the day was to climb the peak and then descend towards Coorg to a check post at Bidadhalli not later than 3:45PM, because that’s when the only bus leaves from the village to Somwarpet.


The hike up to the peak was fun with several false peaks becoming a point of confusion. First was Bathadarashi, next Kall Gudde, next Shesha parvatha and next Pushpagiri. Wait a minute…we were expecting Kumara Paravatha, right? So why does the peak have a board saying Pushpagiri peak – 0Kms. Anyways…after some exploration at the top, we noticed the Shiva Linga and other small shrines that confirmed that we were at KP. But anyway… the Pushpagiri – KP confusion still exist, well we are happy to convince ourselves that both are names for same peak from either districts.





The last stretch to the peak was a little dangerous with slippery rocks. We relaxed at the peak for a while; a guy from another group had lost his friends and also the way to return. With little food and water we showed him the way back to Bhatra house.




A little disappointment was the mist, due to which we did not get a clear view from the peak. At around 10:40 AM we headed back towards Bidadhalli which was 7Kms from the peak. Climbing down huge slippery rocks that separated the trail was a challenge. Getting down was very easy and fast. In between we met the lost friends of the guy we had met at the peak who by mistake had climbed down the wrong route and were lost too. We told them that they could find their friend in Bhatra house.

We reached Bidadhalli check post at around 2:00 PM. But the next walk of around 5kms to the main road on a paved route was boring and tiring as we had already convinced ourselves that the trek was over. We reached the bus stop at around 3:15 PM and had packed chapatis for lunch. The bus arrived on time and we drove to Somwarpet. A lady (villager) sitting next to me was very curious to know about our adventures and expressed her interest to do the same but she said she was scared.

From Somwarpet we boarded a bus to Kushalnagar where we had dinner at Shanti hotel run by Muslims. Delicious Biryani and special tea filled our stomachs. Next was another bus journey to Mysore and then another to Bangalore.

The trek was amazing and adventurous with many interesting incidents and events. Most of all the group was amazing with everyone in sync with one another. KP is one of the best treks I have been to so far.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kumara Parvatha Trek - Day 01

For a traveler, the destination is never important, but what matters is the journey. What best than a trek could completely define this? So when Subbu and I discussed a plan, Kumara Parvatha was on the top of the list, it was one among the toughest trek in the state, it was interesting because we would take a different route to descend, into a different district. Within few days all was planned and 6 more joined our enthusiasm. We rented sleeping bags and 2 tents from Wildcraft, Marathhali. With our backpacks consisting of 80 chapati’s, 50 Mangalore buns, fruits, biscuits and other personal needs we assembled at Bangalore railway station at 8:30 PM on Nov 13th. The train to Mangalore arrived at 8:55PM, on time. After a few leisure talks we went to sleep, all excited about the day to come.

Early morning, at 5:45 AM, we reached Subramanya. A jeep drive to the temple (12kms for Rs250), hunt for a descent room, negotiating one for Rs225, a quick freshening up, amazingly quick visit to temple which was least crowded at the early hour of dawn and a good breakfast got us ready to start our trek. The distance to the peak is 13kms, Mantappa- 8kms, Bhatra house – 6Kms. I called Bhatru (9448647947) and placed a lunch order for 8.


At 9 AM we started our ascent. Within few minutes we got our first warning, a man running all the way back and all he had to say is – “Leeches, beware of leeches, they are plenty.” Well, all I could think of was this was the best trek to overcome my leech phobia. :-) Back in 8th standard, when I trekked mountain Valikunja near Karkala, I had brought back home swollen leeches and bleeding foot, which left a mental block in me, against the species. But now with few encounters, I am perfectly out of the mental block; my funda- keep walking, don’t stop near damp areas and wear shorts to spot them clearly , in spite of that if you have a bite, come-on it’s just a little blood. :-)

In few more minutes, another group was returning with same warning. But it did not bother us since we had expected leeches anyways and had some snuff along with us to sedate them – Blood or snuff? Who gets to win? :-) On the way, we met several groups. A group of men aged around early 50’s with their big tummies where (physically) spread all over the rocks, drinking alcohol and were fascinated by their recent discovery that without any luggage they could climb easily. Another group had a very jovial person who greeted everyone with a smile and invited us for a chat. We named him CM for his idea to improve the trail with better roads if he would become a chief minister.


Bhatra House

We reached Bhatra house at around 1:00 PM. We had a good refreshing meal. Narayan Bhat, his elder brother and an old lady stay in this house. They have a nice farm, several cows and many relatives in and around Mangalore. :-) They charge Rs50 for a lunch and also arrange breakfast for the next day, if needed. Bhat travels up and down the hill to trade milk in only two hours. They sure are the best example for oasis in the dessert for we trekkers.



After relaxing for a while, we followed a forest guard through a short cut to the forest check post where we paid a trekking fee of Rs115 per head and left home address on several records. The next stretch till Mantapa was very refreshing. For some reason, I always find the below tree-line trek very tiring and suffocating. So once we had crossed the tree-line, for me it was a nice trek with light breeze and drizzle. We reached Mantapa at around 5:00 PM



View Of The Mantapa

Forest dept has done a neat job to maintain the trails, by creating campsites, arranging trash cans and also creating water storage from the streams. But when we reached the campsite, all of them were reserved by other trekkers. So all we were left with was the Mantapa, which is at a height and has room for only one tent. So we decided to pitch one tent and the rest of us decided to sleep in the mantapa. After a quick dinner at 6:00 PM, nothing else to do in the dark, we decided to call it a day. Along with three others, I decided to sleep at the Mantapa. We tied a big plastic sheet to one side of the Mantapa which was tied to a reasonable big piece of stone which held the plastic down to the ground; stored all the bags and covered it with the spare tent and slipped into our sleeping bags. At around 11, heavy wind and drizzle woke us up, bags dropped, tent collapsed, sleeping bags got wet, the stone tied to the plastic flew all the way near our head. The next few hours till dawn had several breaks to check if the heavy wind had blown away the waterproof cover of the tent. With all that excitement and still got some good sleep we woke up to a beautiful dawn.


Continued Here - Kumara Parvatha Trek - Day 02

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sponge!

Virginia Woolf said - “The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” So true this is. Few months back when I went through a similar experience, I had to break free from it through expressing it out as an article. Here is a short read –


Sponge


“A sponge, when squeezed, lets out a gush of water”, a busy person would say with the least possible time and thought involved; a tired employee would see it like sweat pouring out of a tortured body, where as a day dreaming poet might see a river or a natural spring erupt from an invisible source. For someone who may be colour blind (or someone willing to ignore the colour); a depressed perhaps, it may appear like blood from a traumatized soul or for an environmentalist who would love to relate everything to nature and man, even by ignoring the physical states, would call it a pathetic and disgusting act of man to shamelessly extract out natures every available resource from the very core. So, there can be as many different perspectives as the population of humans on this earth, of course considering no two people look , think and feel alike except when they are standing before a mirror (If that is not true and two exactly similar people exist, according to me they should never meet in a lifetime). Some of these are good, several bad, few funny, little ugly or from something very less in sense to some pathetically nonsense; but again either of these, on the basis of your own perspective. What perhaps should be more important is that at times when we are squeezed out like a sponge, all we need to remember is to get back in shape and begin absorbing things that our soul is touched by because at sunset when you are left alone without your gown, all that matters is what “you think” is right. So never allow some external force to make you feel that you are wrong. Even if you budge for few minutes, don’t forget to recollect your confidence because only you who can decide what is wanted and not some opinion formed by a perspective, alien to you and the emotions that the soul has absorbed.

Ajeya.
26-Aug-09

Friday, November 06, 2009

Eventful Weekends!

From Kinnaur we headed to Mumbai to my sister’s house. With enough of travels up north all I wanted to do was relax in the Navi Mumbai apartment for few days. Visited a few relatives and watched “Wake Up Sid”. The movie I thought was good but too many such movies are being made and stories and direction seem repetitive. Both Konkana and Ranbeer are my favorite actors and they were excellent onscreen.



From Mumbai, we headed south to Mangalore. Visited an aunt in Old age home, attended a friend’s wedding and took a bicycle ride to the beach. Back in Bangalore, it was a cleaning day continued with routine.


Mother In Between A Conversation.

"Our House Or His?" :-)

Weekends since return have been extraordinarily busy. Travels to Mangalore twice for weddings of friends; Deepavali celebrations etc. We celebrated Deepavali at home this year, though I am not a big fan of crackers I enjoyed the flat kids burst crackers and realized how outdated I was with respect to the fireworks and did not know the names like – Comet, Animal, Butterflies. :-) I do not encourage polluting the atmosphere with bursting crackers but the happiness on the faces of children is priceless.

On one of the days during Deepavali, My friend Subbu and I went to a function organized by an NGO run by his friend and family, which on this auspicious day donated musical instruments to a group of very talented blind musicians. Many from the group displayed their talents during the event.

Life is going to be more eventful with more travels lined up...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kinnaur - 03

I Continue From Here.....

Day - 04

As I got up the next morning, the site was amazing. The clouds were slowly uncovering the mountains and the view was splendid. After an early breakfast we started our journey back to Sangla.



Beautiful Nako!

Apples Have Arrived

On the way we stopped at Kalpa and Reckong Peo. At Kalpa we visited the temples and monastery and caught some excellent view of the Kinner Kaliash parvath. (Kinnaur’s version of Kailash Parvath) We visited a nice monastery in peo with a big idol of standing Buddha and walked on a narrow road to a temple where the daily procession was in progress.


Kinner Kailash View From Kalpa


Procession At Temple in Peo

We had a great lunch at Recong Peo in a very good restaurants. Finally some good pulkhas and paneer butter masala. After a good and satisfying lunch we drove back to Sangla.

The camp was getting crowded with so many new visitors, Dada’s. One of them from the old men group walked to me and began a conversation. He mentioned to me that the group of friends are classmates from 10th at a boarding school from Rajasthan. Some joined army, some became businessmen and so on but this alumni group meets every year to recollect the fun days. They also do lot of charity work and where the first to reach some remote villages during earthquake at Gujarat. They have a neat website where they publish their updates. It was a very interesting story.

Next morning, we packed our bags and were ready to leave. Few others from the group walked to us and wished us all the best. We thanked all for making our stay memorable and left the amazing valley not willingly.

The drive from Sangla to Chandigarh was long , almost 8 hours, it was boring too. Shimla was crowded and we did not wish to stop there. We reached Chandigarh at around 6:00 PM. Even though the road are wide (8 lanes) and complexes are neat, they all look so same and hence to me boring, may be I should explore other parts of the city to talk more. We had a walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner and I had some good food and excellent lassi.
We left to Mumbai next morning. The trip to mountains was over with some interesting story of nature and inspiring people. I wish to return back to Kinnaur for trekking. I was so tempted to take a detour and explore the mountains rather than driving on a car. So that’s the plan for next time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kinnaur - 02

I Continue From Here.....

Day 03


Next morning we got ready by 7:45 AM and we drove to Chitkul which is the last village on this side of India, past the mountains was Tibet. We took a small walk along a trail that leads to a small chekpost called nagasthi. We did a short walk till the Bassapa river and returned. On the way back Jagir took us to a new hotel at Ruksom. The owner of this hotel is a trekker and during one of his guided trek couple of the foreigner customers had a troubled stay in sangla, hence he leased out some land and built a hotel himself. He was eager to show us around and tell his story.

At Chitkul

Next stop was a fort in Sangla. We had to hike up a small hill which is densely populated. The watchman was out for lunch but returned on time and was extremely nice in his speech. He opened the temple, gave us caps and let us into the Kamakshi temple. A Buddha and Badri temple too is situated in this village.

At Sangla

Most or almost all the tourists were Bengali’s and our Jagir called them – Dada’s. A big group would be seen almost on every place. We returned back to the camp and took a walk to a small village near the camp. Bastri village is very neatly maintained with concrete roads and good drainage system and logos of cleanliness is seen almost everywhere in Kinnaur. Unfortunately a beautiful temple which is a major attraction for this village was closed while we went. But while we were waiting there a friendly lady came an spoke to us and offered some snacks called Muri. We took a walk along the village and a nice gentleman from neighboring village showed us the way back to our camp. We walked through the apple orchids and farmhouses to get back.

Walk Back To Camp

There were some new visitors at the camp, a group of 12 old men lighting up the atmosphere with their fun talks. They seemed like a group of friends from army or something. They read out poems written by one of them and kept playing old Hindi movie songs as they reminisced their past. Some inspiring truth about them I would only know after I return from Nako.

Next morning, we left early after having some excellent paratha’s and curds. Drive to Nako was brilliant; we were literally midst the mountains, at the center and in the middle. Most of the roads are being worked on to widen them so there were some delays. People get only 3 months a year to work after the rains and before the snow hence a lot of quick work of blasting was in process. Nako took us by surprise. It’s one of the most amazing places I have been to. Luckily we got some Maggie here.

Kinner camp at Nako again is situated at a beautiful place overlooking the mountains. After a small nap, we were ready to explore the small village of Nako which I don’t thing housed more than a hundred people. On this day was a major celebration at the village monastery. Their Lama was to arrive in few minutes, hence villagers were dressed traditionally ad stood on either side of the road holding bowls full of dry fruits. We were invited to have tea and busicuits there. After a short walk around the village and the lake we walked back to the camp. The village experience was very special and will be the best of the trip.



Beautiful Nako....Busy People at the Monastery

At camp the care taker is a Nepali boy Sonu who is always smiling and yes always listening to music and singing aloud. It was fun talking to him. He was nice enough to get us hot water jackets for the night which was extremely cold.

Continued Here -  Kinnaru - 03

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kinnaur -01

Day 01

The trip to Himachal surfaced sometime in June or July and I wanted to visit some place which isn’t much traveled by tourists. Shimla and Manali were somewhere last in my list. :-) Kinnaur is the district I came across and soon I began making my plans. From July to almost October is a long time within which so many things happen so the excitement of travel was not as much as it was while planning. (This happens to me always!)

We boarded an early morning flight to Delhi then to Chandigarh on the 26th of September. Glanced through the beautiful streets, complex and houses of Chandigarh, neat but seemed very monotonous. We had a tough time at the bus stop catching a one to Shimla. People stood in queues but no one was at the counter for booking and other buses were unreserved types which kept filling as it arrived. Finally there was one bus and with very difficulty we dragged into it tackling the crowd. The bus journey was supposed to be for maximum of 4 hours but due to the traffic at Kalka (Major Dasara event in a temple) we reached Shimla at 10:00 PM with around 6 hours of tiring drive but Shimla seemed crowded and well lit even at that hour. We boarded an expensive taxi for 2km drive downhill to our hotel.

Shimla

Next morning at 7:30 AM our transportation for rest of the trip arrived, a Toyota innova. Our driver Jagir was a nice gentleman from a village between Shimla and Manali. He kept the drive to Sangla busy with his stories about the hills, apple orchids, landslides etc. We took a small deviation to Sarhan and visited the famous Bheema Kali temple. The temple has two towers, one of which is open for common people but the other is only open for the royal family. In every temple we visited here, we had to cover our head with a cap or some cloth as a mark of respect.



Bheema Kali Temple, Sarahan

The only issue we had during the trip was food. Everywhere the menu was common. Roti, sabji, rice and dal. There was nothing else available. The road to Sangla passes through a dam construction site and the hence are now in poor condition. It was a bumpy ride midst the mountains. Bu the valley where our camp was situated was amazing. When we drove in we had excellent reception from the proprietor himself- Mr humble Dileep. I had book Kinner Camps, a tent house for our stay in Sangla and Nako. The tents where pitched in the valley overlooking the mighty mountains. The music from the Bassapa River flowing very close kept singling all the while. We had a small camp fire along with another family who had driven a i10 from Delhi. Dinner was served with similar menu but a little better tasting food. Even in the dark, the snow capped mountain shined from the top.



Kinner Camps at Sangla Valley

Continued Here -  Kinnaur -02

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coimbatore & Mangalore

During the weekend of Sep18th I had a good travel filled plan to Coimbatore and Mangalore. While in Coimbatore we visited Murugan temple at Pallani. The drive was very nice along the paddy fields and wind mills. We took cable car on the way up to the temple and a winch ride back. The temple was decently crowded as it was a week day.




View From the Top

Winch....

Next day we visited Perur temple which had beautifully stone carved and painted interiors. Our next stop was to Dyana Lingam, a peaceful meditation center at the outskirts of the city. On the way back thanks to P’s grandma I found the “Golden Shower” saplings at a nursery. I had been looking for this for over a year now.

On Saturday we took the train to Mangalore. Next two days was spent in Mangalore with family and relatives. Many relatives came home for a function and it was fun talking to them. Navratri is the best time to be in my home town. Two temples near my house have yakshagana shows all nine nights. I watched yakshagana till around 1:00 AM and recollected several childhood memories of fun involved during this time of the year; took a bicycle ride by the beach which was very refreshing.


Yakshagana....

The weekend was fun with lots of travel and family reunions. I was excited about the Himachal trip soon to come.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mysore & Coorg

On August 17th our Boss St from the US came to Bangalore. He was here for a colleagues wedding in Kerala and stopped to see all of us at Bangalore. On 17th afternoon, my friend Subbu and I started our tour with St. We had worked out a detailed plan for him and assured him that the two of us would guide him through his travel in Karnataka. According to the plan, we left our office at around 12:30 PM and headed to Mysore, on the way had lunch at coffee day near Maddur. St was all amazed by the driving discipline or perhaps lack of it. :-) He was surprised by the motorcycles with around 4 to sometimes 5 passengers. We tried to explain the difference as much philosophically as we could. :-)


We reached Mysore palace at around 3:45 PM and hired a guide to show us around. This was my first trip inside the palace. I had been here a few years back for Dasara but could not make it in at that time. Wonderful wooden carvings, crystal chandeliers, mesmerizing paintings with images following your eyes (A special 3D painting where the eyes of any object or person painted will follow you as you move), lovely art and crafts was a treat to watch. The guide did a descent job to load us with enough information on the Palace and Dasara festival.


We stopped at Jagmohan palace to view some Ravi Verma Paintings. We then drove to St. Philomena’s church which I think is a magnificent structure from late 1800’s. After taking a tour of the church we moved to Cauvery emporium, where he bought some gifts for his family. As per the plan we drove next to Chamundi hills, but it was already dark and the temple was closed. So we had to be satisfied with the night view of Mysore from the hill top. Our next stop was Hotel Wind Flower. St checked in and we waited for him at the Restaurant Olive Garden. The ambience of the resort is amazing and the food was good too. After dinner, Subbu and I left to town and checked into a hotel. It was already 10:30 or something, but still we decided to take a walk around the royal city. Subbu having studied in Mysore had lots of stories and facts to talk about and hence our long walk around the entire palace compound went by with good conversation and what seemed like no time.


Next morning, I got up at around 6:00 and decided to take a walk, something I enjoy doing always when I stay in some new place. I love to watch a city, town or village wake up with its daily chores. Anyways on that day Mysore woke up to not a very pretty sight where I was walking. :-) A few middle aged prostitutes were on a verbal attack mode over a younger one who seemed to ignore the talks but definitely looked disturbed. The fight attracted many onlookers and a waiter from our hotel gave me the information about the whole scene.

At Wind Flower...Mysore

So after that eventful morning, Subbu and I left to Wind flower. St was ready and we drove to Dubare Elephant sanctuary. On the way Subbu and our driver stopped to buy some mushrooms from a villager who had fetched them himself from the forest. A deal was struck at 120/ packet from what started as 300. So that wasn’t a bad deal I guess. Tender coconuts on the way refreshed us and gave St a hint of natural energizers we Indians mostly love.

Dubare Elephant camp was something of a surprise. They had caught a wild elephant few months back and it was caged for 6 months. A mahout would be always beside it to build a rapport with the hostage. Elephant had been named Lambodhara. Mahout Kumar, has another pet too, a parrot but whose wings he has trimmed out of love so that it never leaves him. :-) He spoke to the elephant occasionally and fed bamboo to it which it relished.


Anklets?

Kumar with Lambhodara

A small construction made of Bamboo and dry leaves is a school for the Mahouts kids and a teacher from nearby village comes to educate the students till standard 4th. We took a short walk into the wild and saw two other elephants feasting over the bamboo bushes.

St was very impressed by the camp and I am sure has taken back this among the top memories of India. We next drove in search of Wind flower hotel in Coorg. Subbu’s friend knew this place so we traced the directions given, which passed through slushy, muddy roads, deep into a coffee estate. But the final destination was a beautiful resort though under construction offered splendid view at the woods. I must say it’s a treat to bird watchers like me. I spotted a wood pecker, oriole, Magpie robin and several other birds chirping its way across the resort.

Since the hotel has not opened completely yet, their kitchen perhaps was not set that day but they decided to place an order for us themselves and several dishes landed on our table, including the head chef who came along with his visiting card and told – “If you need any changes to the menu call him. I am Ashok Kumar. “ :-)


After a late lunch we drove to Byllekuppe. There was some major festival going on in the golden temple hence several monks chanted in the main hall which I think created a very spiritual and serene environment in there.



The trip ended there and we headed back to Bangalore. We met two other friends at Bidadi and our team had dinner at SmarKhand on Infantry road which boasts to have some good Afghan style cuisine. Anyways we were not in a mood of eating a lot after one and half days of eat-outs so I thought it was extremely expensive and not worth the price.

It was a nice trip and I enjoyed guiding an American friend around my country. His perspectives were insightful to know ourselves better and also it puts one on a test of how well and beautifully we can present our country to a foreigner. This was a trip to remember for several reasons.