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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) completed 5th year on 17th April 2014. We like to thank all 30+ Organisers and 4850+ members for their support in BASC success.

In 5th year BASC completed 103 (10%) events organised by 26 (18%) Organisers taking 1478 (7%) members. Also 1264 (6%) members joined last year. And you guys won’t believe, total expenditure from all 103 events is Rs.21,98,283! yes 22 lakh rupees!!!

BASC Events list (APR to MAR):
BASC 5th year events.jpg
Top Organisers based on number of events:
We spent Rs.39925 in total with 7 social events:

BASC Member count milestones:

More about BASC @

Keep exploring places, Happy Trekking :)
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Composed by: Ambareesh Karanth

Monday, January 27, 2014

It was another exciting Friday evening and I was all set for an exploratory trek with BASC. With the overwhelming sense of exploration spinning inside my head, I started my experiment to try some new route, right after I left home for our first meeting point Shantala Silk, Majestic. I chose a wrong route and then I was very sure of being the last one to reach the assembly point :D. Felt great to meet some known trekking mates and some new faces with lots of cheers and energy. Few more pickups on the way and we started heading towards the 'mystic’ exploratory trek to lesser known waterfalls of Western Ghats!IMG_5443Ravi, our captain, pulled the trigger for introduction round, which I feel is always one of the funniest moments of any trek. Slowly we all started getting into the comfort zone, with many experiences shared by fellow trekkers and adventurers. Those heavy duty laughter and ragging was ruling the atmosphere gradually and conditioning our minds for more and more fun ahead for two days in the wild!

DAY 1: 25th Jan

We reached a village called Kattina karu in the morning to catch up with our guide who took care of all permissions required for trekking inside a reserve forest in Sharavati Valley, which is constantly under surveillance by the forest rangers. Packing our bags and leaving extra luggage's in the vehicle, we were good to go! Our guide, who spearheaded the trek, was like an ‘alive GPS’ in pursuit to win some kind of Jungle marathon! We could not afford to lose him by slowing down our pace as we had to follow him all the way into the forest. Perhaps ‘Be quick or be dead’ was his mantra that day! We came acrosDSC_0080s a beautiful field and that was an absolutely refreshing take-off spot for the day! Our first halt was a small halli mane on the way. We took rest, refilled water bottles and had little chat with the family about the place and some disciplines of camping in the forest. It was time to get back on trail. The scorching sun started adding bit more fun to the trek ;) and amidst, we sighted some beautiful landscapes which prompted us to have couple of clicks to remember.

We slowly disappeared into the wild and entered the forest to reach Basavana baayi, our first destination of the day. Basavana baayi temple and waterfall. We reached Basavana baayi temple after trekking few miles from the halli mane. There was a statue of Nandi with water coming out from its mouth (Basavana baayi). With few clicks, we left for Basavana baayi waterfall which was very near to the temple. It was a small waterfall, good DSC_0016enough for rejuvenating ourselves and have some fun! After spending some time there, we started our trek to Meghane peak which was the final destination for the day.

The Lunch Point
We followed the jeep track and halted at a village. It was time to fill ourselves with delicious idli, sambhar and cold masala buttermilk (best I ever had!). Other packets of chapathis and chatneypudi was opened up and in a moment we had plenty of options to hog on. With little rest, we packed our backpacks and started marching for the base of the hill.

Meghane Hill Base
The sun was scorching right above our heads which was very tiresome. But for the guide, it was like a pre-marathon warm up session. It was actually a challenge to follow him. Dattatreya could keep up his pace and was leading us. Later the guide realized his alien speed and slowed down a little bit to allow us to catch up with him. The heavy lunch and trekking right after that, was a wrong move! It was a very hot and humid day, which made the trek little tough. Well, that's what made this trek difficult and I had no regrets! Abhilash started feeling sick while climbing up, but after couple of shots of Electrolyte, he was up on his feet again! Finally we made it to a tribal settlement at the Meghane peak by 5.00pm. The place was breathtaking with beetle nut cultivations and lush green fields all around us. Soon we came to know that the sunset point was still way ahead of us and we had not much time. We unloaded our backpacks and carried water bottles few eatables.

The Sunset point
I was skeptical about our timing to reach the sunset point. We started trekking (almost running!) towards the peak. 2 kids from the settlement guided us to the peak and we finally reached IMG_2666well within time, with all juices squeezed out. But finally, that pain was worth the reward! An awesome panoramic view and a very little glance of Arabian sea, made our day . Enjoyed the view for quite some time. Clicking silhouettes has always been my favorite at such locations and we got couple of good shots at the peak. Sun was hiding below the horizon, leaving the sky with colorful hues all around it. The view brought a feeling of contentment in all of us. Perhaps, just to get in this state of mind, we all trekking freaks drag our bums out in the mountains in the weekends and scale it despite all odds! We relaxed for some more time contemplating in the twilight, and headed back towards the camping site.

The camping site
After reaching there, we started unpacking bhelpuri packets and Rekha ji prepared that really well. What a great start to the eve! We all freshened up and started getting ready for the campfire gathering and DSC_0105-2dinner. Few rounds of dumb charades made the atmosphere alive again. Our head cooks of every trek, Vidyasagar ji and Sudhakar ji, prepared delicious Puliyogare and we filled our tummies more than we could ever do ;). And there was an opportunity I wanted to seize to do stargazing. Away from ever growing city pollution and haze that makes it very difficult to enjoy those stars, the sky here was spray painted with beautiful dim and bright stars and numerous constellations. I was submerged in that feeling and just couldn’t keep my eyes off the sky! Sachin, a very talented all rounder (living up to his name ;)), took out his camera and we did some experiments with star trail photography. Couldn’t get our images perfect, so took Google's help to depict the sky as close as possible, at least to complete the story here ;)

DAY 2: 26th Jan
Next day started by breaking the ritual of early morning coffee/ tea. It was the smoking hot soup this time! A different andDSCN4958 yummy way to kick-start the day. We finished our breakfast with bread-jam-cheese and packed our backpacks to start descending towards our next pickup point. The destination was Gudhana Gundi waterfalls. That was a little trek in the dense Jungle with fear of getting lost if one could not stick to the guide’s trail. We crossed small streams on the way and finally reached one of the lesser known waterfalls of Western ghats!

Gudhana Gundi waterfalls
Entry point was a huge beautiful gorge and on our right side was the waterfall. With few clicks near the gorge, I was dying to jump into the waterfall. This was the moment. Few more group snaps and it was time to have some fun in the pool! Ravi gave us enough time to have fun and after finishing our lunch, we headed back towards exit. Few were casually going ahead faster than the guide while being inside the Jungle, and lost their way! It took a while to gather everyone again. The guide was really furious this time :P. Our trek was reaching its end and the feeling of missing the wilderness till the next trek, was creeping in. So, we started the last leg of the event by playing Antakshari in the TT to live every single moment of the day we were left with. DSC_0172 Sachin mesmerized everyone of us with his Carnatic music skills and amazing voice. Ashok and Praveen were well versed with Kannada songs. Everyone was singing aloud in unison. This made two strong teams, with Vidyasagar ji and Sudhakar ji having command over Hindi and Kannada both (with complete lyrics). Commendable! On the way to Bangalore, we halted for a break at around 7.00pm and Madhu suggested a Dosa point around. It was a really delicious Masala Dosa with coconut chutney! Now it was time for Ravi’s feedback session. Everyone shared their views and suggestions to the organizer with more hidden stories about their previous trekking experiences, struggles and tricks to come to this trek. It was a great fun to have this in the end!

This trek, with like minded and easy going souls, was truly fun filled. It was one of the most comfortable and jovial groups I have ever trekked with! As this trek happened to be on 26th Jan, so I would love to call it the ‘Republic Day Exploratory Trek 2014’. Thank you Ravi for organizing this event and thank you everyone for making this an amazing trek to remember for life. Hope to see you in the future events! Stay safe and Keep trekking.

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Written by: Abhishek Guptha
Date: 25th & 26th Jan-2014
Composed by:
Sana Mysore
Event organized by: Raveendra GN

Image Gallery: Datha, Vidya sagar, Sachin Sogal, Abhilash VK, Abhishek Guptha

The Crew: Sudhakar, Abhishek Gupta, madhu KB, Praveen, Abhilash, Vidyasager, Ashok G, Rekha G, Dathatreya S, Sachin Sogal, Karthik K Rao, Raveendra GN.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Get Set Trek!

So, finally I got to meet Bangalore Ascenders! It was so exciting to see my name get shortlisted. Thanks a lot to Rajesh for expanding the team size and accommodating all of us :) I started rehearsing for the trek as the day drew closer, thinking about the things to carry, people I'm going to meet, how to introduce myself and how to get over the initial nervous feeling and start socializing!

1549533_805232806160588_277954243_nThe day of Saturday, 18th Jan 2014, we were off for a night trek to Makalidurga hilltop Shiva temple, lead by Major Rajesh :) The schedule was to assemble in Majestic railway station at 5.30 pm and take the Hindupur bound train at 6.00. I had planned to start from home in Bommanahalli at 3.30 but as usual, got delayed and started at 4.15. I had considering to take my bike but was not sure of the overnight parking facility in Majestic railway station and how safe it was. So decided on taking a bus. But  I hadn't anticipated the route the bus would took - via Shanthi nagar and Double road, looked like a round about way and with inching traffic on a Saturday evening in Bangalore, I barely managed to reach Platform no.8 (Thanks to the SMS from Rajesh) at 5.55 after one hour-and-a-half long journey counting every minute :|

DSC00001 (4) There was a twist in the tale as we were greeted by DK (Ravi Kiran), upcoming Rock star, since Rajesh was going to join us shortly later.

So, after scaling platform No. 8, I joined the team and relaxed a bit. I got to meet other team members Rohit, Anil, Shamanth, Shalini, Chandru and felt myself relaxing, despite my earlier nervousness. Thanks to the warm welcome from BASC friends :)

We were around 18 people, since a few other friends had missed the train, credit to Bangalore traffic that they had to join us later by taking a bus. As the train started from Majestic, we started interacting and found a Visual Design engineer among us, Anil Reddy, with an Oscar for Life of Pi and a passion towards Photography. DSC00033And the Famous five Bengali friends working in Wipro. No sooner that the train crossed Malleswaram station, Shalini did a roll call and brought out snacks from the back-packs, and soon DK initiated dumb-charades the ever-green ice-breaker idea, and the fun started.. With Hindi and English and you-know-what all movie names from Shalini, we had loads of fun and had to be reminded by Rajesh that we have reached the destination!

We reached Maakalidurga station at 8.00, walked out of the station and found the dhaba where we decided to have dinner. We were joined by four other ascenders, who had taken the bus route. Food was delicious, and now we were a team of 25. We had the introduction session, with many first-time-trekkers on the call! With a good mix of members with no-treks to 25+ treks, we started ascending with the full moon accompanying us. I got to befriend Dhamodar, an avid trekker and an Art-of-living enthusiast. Also had a good time with Bhaskar, who just got into his first job at HP and long weekends which came along! We trekked for around one and half hours and reached the plain. We continued chatting, joking and daring the chilling winds. Also, We started collecting fire wood for the camp fire.

DSC00039 We resumed trekking and reached the destination, passing the ruined fort entrance and the small Shiva temple and settled on the tarpaulin sheet brought in by our leader.

We again went on a prowl to collect more fire wood. We had to look out for dry sticks and carry it back to our destination. Camp fire was set alight at 2.00 AM, effort lead by DK, experienced camp firer :) The wind was blowing and the camp fire kept us warm but the smoke kept us busy rubbing our eyes and adjusting ourselves. Channa came up with his packed pulav and offered a bite to all (must have taken all his will power to do this brave act considering the no. of people around :D) The pulav tasted delicious and we had to fight our basic instincts to grab and gorge.

DSC00057 It was 3 AM and the blowing wind got the better of me and I found shelter inside the temple, where few others were already in, Found it amazingly calm and serene, almost heaven like when compared to outside. Many other brave hearts fought the weather and stayed  outside; This includes some of the girls too!

1016336_805233692827166_68952136_n Soon came the wake up call from leader, asking us to packup and get going. Though we pretended not to hear, we had no other option but to wake up. We started our descent by 5.30 AM. It was still dark and no signs of the early morning sun. We got a silhouette of the lake view and the hill ranges ahead of us. I'd have loved to stay back and enjoy the sights. We came across another team climbing up, all set to reach the peak and watch the sunrise.

We reached downhill and walked along the railway tracks with the sun rising on one side and moon setting on the other side at the same time :) Back in station by 7.15, we had a group photo session, with DK climbing on to top of the station board. We had some snacks and fresh vegetables, thanks to Chandru and other team mates. It was settlement time and the trip expense was announced as Rs.35 per head, breaking the previous record of Rs. 40. Kudos to the spirit of BASC!

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We boarded the train at 8.00 AM and after some leg pulling of cool headed Shalini by Shamanth, Sharan, DK, et al, we reached Bangalore Central at 9.35 AM and it was good-bye until next time. Overall a fantastic experience guys :) More than the trek, the fun part was the team!

Few tips:

1. Be better prepared for the cold weather: Carry warm woolen sweaters/jackers with hood, socks, gloves, shoes, etc.
- During the climb, I felt I was over prepared since I started sweating and had to remove all the extra covers and carry it. But, believe me, the same proved insufficient to keep away the blowing wind and chill in the open areas on hilltop :|

2. Be better prepared to sleep in any condition - Sleeping bags/ rubber mats/ bedsheets will be of great of use.
- It is worth the extra weight to carry uphill if you would expect to get atleast a few hours of sleep.

3. Be better prepared to restore energy: Carry extra water, food / biscuit packs / potatoes (serves veg & Non veg alike :) for barbeque / maggie packs with a vessel, etc
- This is one easy way to win hearts :)

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Written by: Alagappan Thiagarajan
Date: January 18th
Composed by: Swetha Padakandla 
Event organized by: Rajesh

Total Cost Incurred {per head}: Rs. 35 (To and Fro) + Rs. 50 (Approx cost of dinner at the dhaba)

Image Gallery: Alagappan, Ravikiran, Sunayana Hazarika, Pradeep

The Crew: Prabhakar G, Damodaran, Manjunath, Ayan Majumder, Shalini Batra, Shamanth Kumar, sagnik Khan, Rama Mendigeri, Abhirup Ghosh, Souveek Roy, Gourab Mitra, Sharana Basavaraj M, Rohit Vardhan, Ashok G, Ravikiran ( DK ), Channappa Sajjanar, Anil Reddy CH, Pradeep R, Alagappan, Chandru, Prakash M, Sunayana H, Twinkle Hazarika, Rajesh, Bhavana

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Well I am not much of a writer but just I have shared the thoughts and the journey from my end so that we can look at it after days and remember the time we spent together.

DSC_0211 Night trek to Bramhagiri was conducted by Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) on 18th January 2014. The moment we all met up in Platform-9 it was one heck of a journey. To start of with, we were in wrong platform with no idea of which train to climb into until BKS called up asked. That’s when we realized we are in wrong platform & ran to platform 8 and got into train. Subratho was supposed to enter in a DDLJ style but could not make it, probably he was not as fast of Kajol, but jokes apart, sorry that he missed it.

DSC_0279 We took out attendance and some informal introductions in the train. The moment we started with dumb charades is when it lit up more. We were so involved that we would have missed the Nandi stop if it was not for Mudassar (of-course he was the organizer). Got down and went on with formal undertaking and introduction while Mudassar was negotiating with Auto. After a long 4 kms auto (since I was in back seat & Jyothsna was continuously saying she was hungry) we finally got down at our trek's starting point. Packed food at nearest cafe and told the owner to be ready with next day's breakfast. By almost 9 we started ascending just when the moon started giving us its light to carry further.

DSC_0043We trekked for almost an hour and half and came to dinner point where we had some nice view of the city and airport. We took photos, had moon light dinner and some more photos before we continue our trek. With my obsession of being in front of the group, I carried on with Mudassar and Preetham. We took wrong right turns searching for the temple; after 5 wrong turns we reached the temple by around 11PM. We explored the surroundings and gathered wood for campfire. After cutting birthday cake we started with individual trek stories, BASC blood camp initiatives and others. After all the fun we tried sleeping for few hours by around 2.30AM. When I opened my eyes at 4.15AM all I can see is a human standing next to door seeing out, got scared. It was Mr. George who apparently could not sleep. Eventually everyone got up and it was cold!! We went for fire and thankfully it was still burning. We spent the next one hours constantly struggling to burn the damp wood and finding that warm air from the fire.

DSC_0117By almost 5.30am we took the stairs for peak and found that it’s even more cold and windy. We all snuggled up behind a rock to avoid the wind where I listened to iPod. It was one of the most amazing moments of this trek. We took group photos and fooled around a bit till 6.30am but sun was still not up. Also thanks to Surabhi's impeccable mobile network service that we confirmed that there are no train back on Sunday. Then we decided it’s time for us to head back, started descending half way through we saw the sun rise, started picking up whatever trash we can find (thanks Preetham for this), lost our way badly and lost track of  other half team. Finally everyone grouped up reached the cafe and probably did more business to that cafe owner than any single day of his life. We took the bus back to Bangalore and this is where I had the best one hour sleep of my life.

Now thinking back thanks to Mudassar for arranging it so nicely without any hiccups and all of you who made it as one of the most memorable trek for me.

Written by: Akash

Image Gallery: Akash

Post- 2

DSC_0188

Here comes the first trek of the year. From the very start the plan was a roller coaster ride. I persuaded my friends (Tiwari and Piyush) to come for a BASC trek and I ended up not making to the list. Later the wait list got cleared and we went for the trek.

DSCN2575As opposed to previous experiences, this time I went from train. We all assembled at platform 9 at around 5:30 PM and suddenly got the news that this is the wrong platform. We rushed to platform 8 and boarded the train. We had great rounds of dumb charades on way to base camp. After reaching a small village we reached the base camp from an Auto (two fully packed autos). Our stomach already started asking for food. We packed some food from hotel and had tea & nariyal-pani. We started climbing at around 9PM.

As we were there for a more special purpose celebration of Tiwari's Birthday, I was hoping that we should reach top before 12AM. Apart from frequent chocolate/biscuit breaks we killed our most of the time in getting ourselves by anyone having the camera. Some people got new names on the trek (for instance - Majnu). In between DSC_0132 we had a break where we enjoyed fried rice and tomato rice. Surbhi enjoyed it more than anyone else as she liked the curry a little more than others.

We reached the night camping site just in time (@ 11:55PM). Piyush and I quickly started assembling the cake we bought with us. We celebrated the birthday there. It was a very unique experience to me at-least, I hope Tiwari also felt the same. Fortunately, the cake came out well and everyone enjoyed, we also had the camp fire going on. Mudassar and Shrinivas  exchanged some BASC programs and Trek stories, which were very interesting. At about 2AM the fire started dying and temperature started dropping. I didn't wanted to sleep as I wanted to make sure that I am up at sunrise. Still we had a small nap in freezing cold.

DSCN2581When I woke I saw George's silhouette at the door right in front of me. We were very happy to see that fire hadn’t died completely so we enjoyed it for some more time. Around 6AM we reached the peak where it was freeze cold. We had to hide behind a rock to avoid the chilly winds. After sometime we had some clicks and then we started descending. While on our way back, we lost track of the correct path which delayed the plan a bit. But overall it was a nice experience.

Written by: Vivek V V

Image Gallery: Vivek V V

Post - 3

DSCN2585 It was a wonderful trek with BASC. Trekking in moonlight has always enthralled me. In short, it's a beautiful memory of playing dumb charades in train with loads of fun, a moonlight dinner over bed of rocks, trekking in the moon-lit trail to the temple, cold windy night, incinerating the remnants of doors and windows from the temple (that we eventually rejoiced as 'Camp fire'), birthday celebration of Ravindra, inspiring/scaring experiences of Mudassar's OG ventures, exploring the camping place with less than 100m visibility etc...

Our struggle to find the way back to the village in the morning mist engulfed us all around, truly added some fun and we ended up doing little exploration in a small over-night trek! It was an icing on the cake.

Thank you guys for making this trek delightful. This will always make me feel exuberant whenever I take a look at that full moon and contemplate about my next moonlight trek to relive every moment! Happy trekking!

pizap.com13959263965331

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Written by: Abhishek

Image Gallery: Abhishek

Composed by: Jithendra B N

Event organized by: Mudassar

Event Date: 18th January 2014

The Crew: Srikanth BK, Preetham G Raj, Devchand, Nishit Desai, Srujan, Shailesh Thakur, Deepika Muthusamy, Abhishek Gupta, Guru Prakash, Akshar Kowlani, Prawin, Surabhi, Sanjay Kumar, Badrinath Padhy, Ravindra Tiwari, Piyush Jain,Vivek V Velankar, Jyothsna, George, Mudassar.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The final 12 out of around 25+ entries from different participants which they took during different events organized by Bangalore Ascenders.
The complete set has been published in,
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.656640624375298.1073741844.118321651540534&type=1
Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bangaloreascenders/sets/72157639775852193/with/11952874504/
Included those in its order,
# 1: Patadakallu
1
Entry Id: clicks2013-23
Image By: Shivakumar S Gowda
Location: Patadakallu
Description about the Image: f/4, 1/1000 sec, ISO-100, Focal length-18mm
Event name in which image was took: Photography Trip to Badami, Aihole & Pattadakallu: BAP-1 on 6th & 7th Jul 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

We didn’t know how much more distance was left to reach Yellapur. It was getting dark and cold. The light just went out so quickly as we were in the forests and winter evening are always short. The roads were the most discouraging part, but we didn’t expect anything better. It would have been better if it wasn’t rolling terrain. It had already been 110kms for the day, first day after all, but my first day ever of riding self-supported with load. Was it a mistake skipping the Dandeli stay and trying to complete two days’ quota in one? As we were about to take one more break we saw the main road, and the sign board too. Yellapur – 4kms!

DSC_4337When I was ten years old, I took my first ever cycling trip. I remember struggling to finish a 25km ride, it took more close to 5 hours to complete. And here I was, a decade later, attempting a 1000+kms self-supported cycling tour across the Western Ghats of Karnataka. This was a dream for me from the time I started cycling. This was on my mind when I was doing the Manali – Leh ride itself. Finally, after pondering about the route for nearly 6 months, I finally decided the route. Dharwad to Madikeri it was, entirely through the ghats. Never did we plan to enter the plains.

The Start!

DSC_4357But that’s how I wanted it to be. And we had started pretty well too. Day one went very well. Just a brief bit of plains starting off from Dharwad and we were inside the dense forests of Dandeli very early, which prompted us to push towards Yellapur that day itself. Now that we had an extra day which we saved, we planned to head to Sathoddi falls, the prettiest waterfall I’ve ever seen. (Un)Luckily it was 25km downhill till the falls, though we enjoyed it, we were thinking about coming back up more often. Sleeping inside the cool, crystal clear water of the falls made me forget all the pain we had yesterday. The backwaters we see on the way to Sathodi must be one of the prettiest too. It was like a huge mirror lying on the ground!

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DSC_4481Uttara Kannada is a less explored district in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Though places are well known, it never gets too crowded. And there is plenty of opportunity to explore. There are innumerable waterfalls in this place! Wildlife too is so much more; we spotted many Langurs and Malabar Squirrels on the way! Though this was a pretty laid back ride, we had to keep going. Heard about couple of new waterfalls nearby but we had to stick to the plan. Magod falls was next on the list. The huge two tier waterfall didn’t disappoint us at all. Many locals told that there isn’t much water but it was more than enough to visit.

DSC_4406 On the way to Magod, we stopped by a Govt School in a small village called Nandolli. We planned to visit schools to bring about awareness regarding the importance of cycling in the future, preserving the Ghats and its precious resources. I spoke to around 110 kids. All were very interested about my bike more than what I was speaking. But they were all responsive and looked like they understood what I told them about. The teachers were also very optimistic and told us that they will promote cycling too. 40 out of 110 kids ride a cycle to school, which is a big number! The kids’ reaction to the whole thing was very humbling. Our very small try to make the world a better place. All their smiles and goodbyes can never be forgotten! :)

Magod to Sirsi

DSC_4589Ride from Magod to Sirsi was beautiful. There was a 15km stretch inside thick forests where we didn’t see a single soul. That was pretty much the case in the entire district. Dense forests, small villages, very few people around, just the way we liked it to be! Our accommodation in Sirsi was arranged by my friend whose parents lived there. That is something which I can never forget. We were treated like heroes, fed plentiful delicious local food, given everything we required. We had just about done 350kms by then and had plenty more to go!

DSC_4611The rest of the ride to Shimoga was through the rolling terrain. It gets irritating to ride but not too taxing on the body. The forest eased and opens up to the country side and plantations. Stage one was over before we knew. We had cycled 450kms in a week and I was counting backwards already. Only 10 more days to go!

Shimoga to Dharmasthala!

DSC_4556Stage II from Shimoga to Dharmasthala was for me the best part of the ride. I had carefully chosen the route as to cover all my favourite places. I’d been dreaming on cycling the Shimoga to Thirthalli route ever since I passed through it last year. Riding next to the Gajnur Dam backwaters inside dense forest was as wonderful as I expected it to be. Thirthalli is a beautiful place. We were welcomed by a gorgeous sun set on the banks of Tunga! I was especially looking forward to spending the night in Mr.Sheshadri Dixit Sir’s house. If you don’t know about him yet, you have to read this. He cycled 50000 kms across many countries in the Sub Continent from 1968 to 1971. His story still inspires me in many ways! Even there, we were pampered so much with lots of delicious food and all the care we could get. They had prepared Jamoon for us! The legend himself took time of his busy schedule and spoke to us. DSC_4587 I really enjoyed when he spoke about not many people understanding the hardships of touring on a cycle. I must say what we were doing was just a warm up ride compared to what he did! Next day morning was the best moment of the ride. It didn’t come when we saw the most beautiful place or completed a certain distance. It happened when Sheshadri Sir’s daughters gifted us a box of Cadbury Celebrations. It was such an awesome gesture! For me, this was the essence of touring. It is not just about the beautiful places we cover. It's the pampering from our hosts, the smiles we bring on those children and the village folk, the shout outs we get, the curious questions we are asked, the food, the people, the culture we see and the love we experience that make this journey special!

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Through Agumbe!

That day supposed to be our first test of climbing on the tour. Kundadri climb was awaiting us enroute Agumbe. The climb was just 4kms but it was insanely steep. With all the luggage on the cycle, it was super hard. If I stopped, I couldn’t start again as my front wheel kept on lifting up due to the incline. The scorching afternoon heat didn’t help us either. Finally, after many many breaks, we reached the top. We could see the Savehaklu backwaters far away, Narasimha Parvatha too on the other side towards Agumbe where we were headed. We decided to stay on top till the evening and the chocolates ended up as our lunch :)

DSC_4809 Agumbe side of Western Ghats must be the least explored part of western ghats in Karnataka. Due to Naxal problems, not many opportunities were there to trek around. I love the town, it has just one road. We were staying in Doddamane, the famous Malgudi Days house. We met a couple from Bangalore who offered to take us to Kundadri again for the sunrise in their car. Getting up at 5.30 after a long day was difficult. So Vishwa dropped out but I was very lucky to witness a superb rise. I always felt Sunrise is better than sunset in Agumbe. Last year too on Narasimha Parvatha we were lucky to get ‘sunrise above the clouds’! That day was supposed to be tough. We were climbing the big ‘Agumbe Ghat’ from the Coast side. We first went down the ghat, enjoyed the downhill like crazy because I knew coming back was going to be kicking ass. We were on our way to Koodlu Theertha falls. It is very secluded and has very bad roads but as usual, it was time for another bath after a long time! I absolutely loved it as we were the only ones around. Crossing the river too was a super experience. Climbing the big ghat was very hyped up. People told us it is very difficult. It is indeed full of hairpin bends but guess what, both of us did the entire climb without a break! May be because we were thinking it was way harder but people coming on vehicles were going crazy seeing us cycle on that route!!

Kudremukh!

DSC_4912 The next day was also going to be long. But I was very excited as we were entering Kudremukh National Park. I love the place. The day was long and hard. We entered the park pretty late so we had to hurry up. It was very late in the night when we reached the Kudremukh trek start point. We were riding in pitch dark, creepy sounding forests with the help of a full moon which gave us insane silhouette effect of the mountains around. We reached K’mukh at 9 in the night. Our host was Jinendra, the guy who drives the jeep till the trekking point of the peak. After a tiring previous day we were feeling very lazy the next day, we had a buffer day but we wanted to go as far as possible. We decided to stop 20 kms before Kottigehara as we found a super place to camp for the night. There is a 2000 acre tea and coffee estate in Kelagur near Kalasa. They have a small tea point, just next to a stream so we found it to be perfect! We slept outside their small shelter, in freezing cold but a super experience. Many nearby villagers who work in the estate welcomed us to their homes saying it was too cold sleeping outside, great gestures again, but we were more than happy with the place. I had a -10 sleeping bag anyway! ;) But I must say that was the coldest night I’ve spent in Southern India.

Descending across Charmadi Ghat!

Next day we were going down all the way. After just 5kms of uphill, we started our descent to Dharmasthala, 50kms down the great Charmadi Ghat. The views were fabulous, the road was newly laid and we were going crazy. I hit 60kmph speed. We were ripping! DSC_4895

We were joined by Narsimha from Dharmasthala for the last leg till Madikeri. The ride to Subrahmanya was uneventful until the last few kilometres until we could see great views of my favourite mountain, Kumara Parvatha. We were essentially taking a big round of Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in stage III. Bisle Ghat was on my mind all through the ride. It was 50kms of uphill ride till Somwarpet. I was very particular about riding here in spite of very bad road conditions and height gain because this part is still not very popular. The road I must say was non-existent but the incline was very manageable for most part. There was a series of uphills as we finished Bisle and the landscape opened up. The road was absolutely deserted entire day and we simply loved it. DSC_4995

The mark of 1000 kms!

Next day we touched the 1000km mark on the way to Madikeri from Kundhalli, a small village where we stayed close to Malhalli falls. Vishwa was very satisfied about reaching this number. 1000 is not a small number and it did feel very satisfying about doing that distance self-supported. DSC_5161 For me, I had already got everything and more of what I expected from this ride. Everything went as planned and we got to see so much more than what we had planned.  We finished of the ride in the best possible fashion by going to Mandalpatti and enjoying its splendid views and returning to Madikeri. We finished with 1067kms. 17 unforgettable days through my beloved Malnad. I didn’t realize the magnitude of what we had done on the tour as I had already started thinking about my rock climbing trip to Badami the very next day. But after spending a month back here in Bangalore, I realise that we indeed cycled so much!

DSC_5193 It might look too formal but it is my duty to name and thank everybody who helped me make this thing happen. Bangalore Ascenders first for giving me an opportunity to organise for them, Sachin from Pedals and Wheels for providing me Panniers and Rack for free, My friends Muggy and Aditya for helping with getting accommodation in their towns, Sheshadri Dixit sir for their help, Girish in MandalPatti and Bee Tee homestay near Kundhalli for charging us so much more lesser than their usual price and finally my riding partner Vishwa for all the help and support throughout the ride.
It was a great experience for me to plan and execute my dream ride. I have so much more respect now for all those people who tour on a cycle, especially all the Himalayan tourers who ride more distance than us in great altitudes. With this, I think you know my next plan. ;) Himalayan self-supported tour. Till then, Happy Cycling :)

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Written by:
Sharath Vishnu
Date: December 7th to 24th, 2013
Composed by: Swetha Padakandla 
Event organized by: Sharath Vishnu

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The Crew: Sharath Vishnu, Vishwa &, Narsimha

Monday, December 23, 2013

IMG_7704When I saw this event on the BASC group, to be honest, I was elated. We are getting a chance to go to Hampi, which in itself is a great place to visit and that too on Bike. It is like a cherry on top of cheese cake. So I registered immediately and luckily got shortlisted.
DSC_5802PROLOGUE
Less than a week after my last trek with BASC, I was itching for a bike ride. I do keep going on solo rides, but riding with a group is a different song altogether. Having ridden before with other trekking groups, I was on the verge of asking one of the senior BASC guys to help me organize one.