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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cycle is a funny machine,

the driver is it’s engine!

Life is like a 10 gear cycle,

Most of us have gears we never use!!

Yet another journey with BASC, yet another journey with Patrick, yet another milestone achieved!

This seems to have become a habit now!

It was during the Ganesh festival weekend that Patrick organized a seemingly incredible 160+ km Cycle ride to Devarayanadurga. I was like, why not, after all I always complain about not getting enough company to accompany me on my occasional weekend cycle rides in and around Bangalore!

DSC_0057_DxOHere goes the description of our Odyssey –

A group of 6 experienced and highly seasoned cyclists assembled near our agreed meeting point, Vivanta by Taj in Yeshwantpur at around 5 in the morning. I started from my home and hurrying through signal-less roads and empty flyovers in Outer Ring road reached the place, a good 10 km away. All had already assembled beforehand there! Hearing the instructions about which directions to be taken(It was basically a straight road along the Tumkur road on NH4 highway and then a small right at Dobbaspete beneath the highway), we started along the Tumkur road in pitch morning darkness, those who had tail and front lights were lucky as they could drive without any worries of occasional potholes near Yeshwantpur.

The cold morning air along with almost zero traffic is a heady feeling and we all whizzed past along the highway. With sign board proclaiming proudly, PUNE- 840km Tumkur 75 km etc, the decreasing kilometers of our destination actually added to our happiness. After riding for around 15 km along flyovers and roads, we reached a toll gate. The journey was pretty uneventful as we all rode at a steady pace - that was when I got a sprain in left leg - yikes!! Good that others waited for me after 5 km near the road as I lagged quite behind. Those 2 minutes or so of rest I had there was like God sent! Recovered enough to continue the journey again. Then as we moved along, the slick city landscape gradually changed to rustic one with lush greenery along both sides of NH-4 combined with typical now-oh-so-familiar Karnataka’s beautiful rocky, boulderish landscape. There was quite a bit of steepness in the roads as we cycled along but the road quality was as clean as a whistle absolutely flat. It was amusing, watching school going kids in autos waving at you. You feel obligated to wave at them back! Old people, curious people used to ask me ’ellinda guru?’ (From where dude?) At they stood like statues when I replied them ’Bangalore’! probably thinking that I have gone insane!

After another 1 and half hour, we reached Dobbaspete, where we pounced upon the delicious Pulav, idlis, vade and chai. Here, we took a right to reach Devarayana Durga which was still 22 km away from that point.

DSC_0088_DxOThe Dobbaspete landscape was even more rustic, with roads getting slightly worse at this point and beginning of hairpin bends.

Quite a number of people travelled by bikes, scooters and cars on that day. Many KSRTC busses also plied on this route.

We reached base of the hill after crossing Uggere village at around 10 : 45 am. Here we had a mini photo session to my joy, as I was just waiting to whisk out my camera and start shooting and of course munching on some snacks!

Then began the arduous task of negotiating hairpin bends for 5km! After a few breaks along the way we finally reached Devarayanadurga temple at the base then later at the top.

Weather Gods were very kind to us as there was not much sun nor rain until then. Rather, cloudy weather was the order of the day. After exploring the hill side a bit; myself, Patrick, and Surya settled to have bhel. The monkeys there were so polite here!

They literally tap your shoulder, make that innocent face and outstretch their right hands. After munching on some, I happily emptied the entire packet in front of them, much to that little kiddo’s delight! Well that’s a reward for politeness I guess :D

DSC_0064_DxOAgain, some photo-session later, we started our journey to Bangalore. Was such a joy going downhill. It started raining then, a pleasant light rain to revitalize you. We then decided to meet at Dobbaspete flyover at around 2:45 in the afternoon for quick snacks as energy would be required till the next stop i.e. the Dhabha! We left at 3:10 and reached dhabha at 3:50 in afternoon, here all of us had sumptuous meal of fried rice, chicken kabab, phulka and what not and started at 4:30. From there Bangalore was around 38km. The same journey seemed a big different and easier then, with the evening light playing tricks on you and traffic adding to a sense of hustle-bustle. After steady cycling for 2 and half hours and crossing 3 tolls, we finally reached Jalahalli. Because of the heavy traffic at evening time we finally reached Bangalore at 7! Patrick had to cycle additional kms to reach K.R Puram, so a total of 170km in a day - phew! This taught all of us that, distance, time and muscles don’t matter during such journeys - will power does!

There, that was the end. These mere words won’t alone describe the joy and sense of accomplishment we all achieved when we reached back Bangalore without any hiccups not to say we slept like babies that night, and some of us (like me) turned into Robots the next day! Such rides give you overnight six packs, calves and quad muscles burn fat not fuel ;) Salute to those muscles that were destroyed and new ones discovered in the process!

Written by: Saurabh

Post – 2

A Bicycle ride to remember:

Devarayanadurga is always the favorite trekking destination for adventure lovers but my good friend and one of the BASC organizer Patrick Sam had something special in mind. I never thought event like Bicycle ride to Devarayanadurga will be held because it is far from Bangalore with more than 150 kms of pedaling. As soon as I saw the event page, I was in dilemma due to the distance need to be covered in one day and is it possible for me to sustain stamina to ride cycle continuously for 15 hrs. Finally, I decided to join the endurance ride to Devarayanadurga.

My Experience:

It was an endurance ride and one day event, so not much of backpacking is required. Prepared small backpack with Electrodes, Glucose, Bananas and Chocolates along with the cycling repair kits.

Woke up at 2:30 AM and started cycling from my home at around 3:15 AM. Patrick decided to start the ride from Yeshwanthpur around 5:00 AM since lot of distance need to be covered in one day and we can return back to Bangalore by night. I started around 3:15 AM from home and thought will reach Yeshwanth pur around 4:30 AM. I reached around 4:20 AM and Patrick joined me in 15 mins. Surya, Prithayan, Mallick and Saurab joined us little later. There were 2 last minute dropouts from the shortlisted people and hence, 6 of us started cycling from Yeshwanthpur.

DSC_0075_DxOAssembling Point: Gurgunte Palya Signal (VIVANTA Taj Hotel, YeshwanthPur).

Our plan was to reach Nelamangala first then Dabaspet and have breakfast at Dabaspet. It was an awesome experience for me while pedaling on Bangalore- Pune National Highway (Tumkur Road, NH-4) due to the wonderful road conditions and weather. Finally, we reached Dabaspet around 7:45 – 8:00 AM. Had breakfast and took half an hour break. Started pedaling again to our destination Devarayanadurga and reached base of Devarayanadurga around 9:45 AM.

Took much need break of 15 mins, had snacks and started pedaling to Devarayanadurga top at 10:00 AM.

It was 5 km ride of uphill and hair pin bends so Patrick thought one and half hrs of time is required to reach top. All of us reached base of temple around 11:30 AM and parked our cycles.

devarStared trek to the Yoga Laxmi Narasimha Temple which was at the top of the hill rock and relaxed here for 2 hrs. My bike computer showed me the count that I had done around 80 Kms of pedaling  for the day till afternoon. I really enjoyed the terrain and weather was another plus point for us so far.

After relaxing, all of us started cycling back to Bangalore at around 1:30 PM. Decided to have lunch at Dabaspet. It was cloudy and drizzling from afternoon. Weather was pleasant and we enjoyed the ride to the fullest on the beautiful monsoon climate.

At 2:30 – 2:45 PM, we reached Dabaspet. All of us were hungry, filled our stomach at small bakery with junk foods and decided to have lunch on the way at dhaba on NH-4. Since most of us were hungry, we had lunch at dhaba and started at 4:00 PM. Our mission was to reach Yeshwanthpur around 6:30 PM. We could see heavy traffic on NH-4. We pedaled to our best, my bike computer showing speed of around 40-45 km/hr, Since there was a huge traffic jam at Peenya, we all reached Yeshwanthpur at 7:00 PM.

Departed to our places and reached home at 8:30 PM after battling Saturday evening traffic :P

DSC01667

Cycling distance: Around 158 kms. (To & fro- Devararyanadurga and Indiranagar).

Cycling route: Yeshwanth Pur –> Nelamangala –> Dabaspet –> Devarayanadurga.

Terrain: Difficult (Day long pedaling with a lot of distance coverage, Hairpin bends and uphill at Devarayanadurga, little off road cycling).

Finally, Super cycling Saturday for me. Started at 3:15 AM in the morning, back at 8:30 PM. Non stop cycling throughout the day and covered nearly 158 Kms. of cycling. My personal best on single day was 120 Kms. (Last year Nandi Hills bicycle ride).

Thanks to Patrick Sam and Bangalore ASCENDers for organizing this endurance ride to Devarayanadurga.

Written by: Gautham Baliga

Join Bangalore ASCENDers @ CLICK HERE

Date: 29th, August, 2014

Composed by: Swetha Padakandla

Event organized by: Patrick Samuel

Expenses per head: 0 Expense (Food expense was at own cost)

Image Gallery: Saurabh Rao

The team : Patrick Sam, Saurab Rao, Surya Vanamali, Rakesh Mallick, Prithayan Barua, Gautham Baliga

Monday, August 11, 2014

I am Vinayak Surve, a Veterinarian from Mumbai. My childhood and teenage life is spent in Sahyadri, Konkan region, Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra. Naturally, I have some experience of crossing hills, rivers, forest and different challenging trails.
10511224_10152300048143806_1838582536680786333_nPreparations:
Thought about going to Kaurava Kunda trek was exciting to me because it was my first trek with experienced trekking group where I was supposed to meet new friends with great interest in trekking. I received an email from Patrick (organizer) and rushed to buy trekking tools and gears like wind jacket, sleeping bag, torch, snacks, etc. Sharing this pre-trekking excitement was great fun with friends, family, colleagues and everyone whom I met during that week.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Not sure how many leeches have bitten me and not sure where and all it attacked. Certainly it was one of my most difficult monsoon treks as of now. The rain, wind, steep ascend and the leeches made it tough, for all my buddies. Did many treks earlier in monsoon, however this was the one where I got leech bites all over my body. You might be thinking introduction itself is started from leeches! Of course during the course of the two days, everyone was more concerned about the leeches.

Nishani Motte / Betta is relatively unknown peak in the range of Bhagamandala (Talacauvery) range, Coorg. The trek distance from the base point Talacauvery is around 14 to 15 kilometers. We can enjoy the 360 degree panorama view, which is wonderful and most beautiful. Layers of the hills covered with clouds and mist is awesome. We can spot the villages, across the Kerala border, if the view is clear.

Our planned trek route was:

1st Day: Talacauvery to Nishani Motte (Betta) – Night Camp at APC

2nd Day: APC – Kurudi – Bhagamandala

27.06.2014

We started our journey with 21trek friends, at 10.45pm from Shanthala Silks, in a mini bus. Many known faces and few were new. This was my first trek with Vinay who organized this event. The journey was pleasant and reached the Bhagamandala around 6 am.

28.06.2014

Before this, I had been at Bhagamandala, thrice. Each time the weather was pleasant, greenery everywhere and had seen the entire range flooded with small falls. The Triveni Sangama was in full flow each time. Unfortunately, this time I was disappointed; understood from a local that, since a week, there was no rain in this range. 

2_Sangama

After getting freshened up in the morning, took Sri Bhagandeshwara Swamy darshanam and headed to have breakfast at a nearby hotel. Packed pulav for lunch and had idly-vada for breakfast. Meantime Vinay purchased the grocery items, for the preparation of the day’s dinner and the next day’s breakfast. Our guide Jayaprakash & his colleague (another forest official) joined us and we finished the necessary formalities for the trek, at the Bhagamandala Forest Office.

11_Temple

The trek starts at Talacauvery, which is 7 km away from Bhagamandala. Talacauvery is the origin place of holy river Cauvery. Decided to take the darshanam and then start the trek. The place was calm with no crowd. 

3_Temple

After the darshanam everyone got prepared to fight the leeches. Read in many blogs and knew the volume of leeches in this region. Wore anti-leech socks which I borrowed from Shanthi Prasad (a trek friend of mine). Journey started around 11 am.

Pace was little fast, found a green snake on the way. The weather slowly turned into misty and pleasant. Hearing the whispering of birds and winds the entire team headed towards Nishani Betta. Due to some difficulties one of the fellow trekker could not to move forward, sent him back to Bhagamandala with one of the guide. I think it was good decision else it was not so easy task to finish this difficult trek.

The forest path becomes more thick with countless leeches. We started to move fast. There was no option unless you run or move fast. Nobody tried to take off the leeches from their body. As soon as you stop and try to take out one leech, there are 10 numbers again attacking you. Rain started to shower on us and we felt the journey became more difficult.

16_Forest

The time was around 2pm when we decided to have lunch. Believe me! We were not able to take lunch properly because of the leeches. Jayaprakash took us near a small stream and had standing lunch. Hardly we spent 20 minutes and again started further journey. The atmosphere became so dark at 3pm. Clouds started to pour merciless on us, more and more. Our backpacks became additional 5 kg heavier, as it got completely wet in the rain. Shoes were filled with water and became heavy. The final stretch of the Nishani Betta was more difficult, which was of around one km. The ascend latitude is almost a 60 degree.  It tested our strength and was more challenging. Reached the peak around 5 pm and the view was so beautiful.

17_Peak

We can view 360 degree of the peak. Few things we can’t express in words. The joy to reaching the peak is one.  The clouds were passing through us; each minute of the weather was varying. Took many group photographs and enjoyed the valley. The mountains were playing hide and seek in the clouds. Every one completely forgot the pain of the leech bite. 

Guide advised to move fast and reach to night camp at Nishani Forest APC (Anti-Poaching Centre). Darkness was slowly covering the entire hill and our target was another 3 to 4 kilometers, in order to reach the camp. Descending path was a more difficult one, one side a deep ridge and we have to be very cautious at every step. Slowly crossed the ridge region and started descending very fast. Each one of us were literally damn tired and waiting to see the glimpse of the camp site.

20_peakReached the APC quarters around 7 pm which had a big room, a small kitchen and bathroom separately. Solar system power was installed and it was comfortable for a night’s halt. A big thanks to forest guards, who kept hot water ready and fire to remove the leeches from our body. It was very sad; however there was no other option, but to put into fire, all the leeches which were scrolling on our body. You can say it as a mass cremation of leeches. Thanks to Vinay & Suresh and team members, who got engaged in the preparation of dinner. Rest one by one took hot water bath. After bath, the feeling was good and it was more relaxing to the body and mind. Delicious Pongal was ready and it filled our tummy. Since the team size was 20 and not enough space was available to accommodate everyone in the room. Thanks to the Forest personnel who accommodated six of us in a home which was very close to APC. Night was chilled and more and more leeches were in our dreams. 

29.06.2014

Initial plan was to trek Kurudi (Kerala part) which was around 22km away from APC. No-one was in favor of trek and the path was not so easy. As per guide, it was more infested by leeches compared to the Nishani region and needed to cross two streams. Considering everyone’s opinion, dropped the plan and decided to head towards Bangalore.

1_ReturnJourneyWe finished our breakfast with snacks which was carried during the trek. Again each one of us prepared to fight with leeches. Understood, need to trek around 5kms on jeep track in which 2km is leech territory. Luckily no one got leech bite this time around! 

Vinay had already called the vehicle to the nearest point. We all boarded it and said good bye to Nishani Betta and headed to Bangalore. Reached Bangalore around 10pm and adieu to each one of our friends, to meet in next trek.

Thanks to BASC [Bangalore Ascenders] and Vinay for giving me an opportunity to be part of this wonderful trek. The team members were so friendly and co-operative. The entire journey was full of joy.  Thanks to each one of the friends.

Written by – Vidya Sagar

Post 2

It had been couple of months since I had been to any trekking events, thanks to my recent job change, I was looking for a good opportunity to get out and be adventurous again. BASC is always my priority choice whenever I want to trek, and very soon I got to know about Nishani Betta/Motte trek organized by Vinay. Hoping to get shortlisted, we (CK & I) immediately registered. After the weekend, we were informed that we were shortlisted and we started our packing right away.

On Friday (27th Jun), 21 of us met at the usual pickup point (Shantala Silks, Majestic) and managed to get some good seats in the bus. Though the initial plan was to start at 10, we started a bit late as Roopashri arrived late. In the course of 2 days, Vinay informed that we should be trekking both Nishani motte & Kurudi. As both are quite hectic, he took our vote into consideration, for the second day trekking. Needless to say, we all wanted to trek to Kurudi.

By 6 in the morning we reached Bhagamandala, a small village in Coorg, which welcomed us with a misty cool climate. After taking permission from Sri Bhagandeshwara Swamy & the forest officer, we visited Tala kaveri and drank the energetic kaveri water. Even though it was not a part of the plan, we climbed the Brahmagiri hill in Talakaveri, as a warm-up for our day long trek.    

1_Talacauvery

Monsoon trek, which gives the joy of pleasant weather, trek while raining, lush greenery, also presents us with the leeches.  These tiny little creatures who hang on the edges of leaves, waiting for its’ prey, literally suck our blood.  Before entering the small gate near the parking lot in Talakaveri (starting point to Nishani Motte), we all resorted to all sorts of anti-leech agents like anti-leech socks, snuff powder, lemon and my secret home-made anti-leech agent.

1_InsideForestWe received a warm welcome from the sun, and very soon spotted a green snake and lots and lots of hungry leeches. I could see leeches looking out for me everywhere, so I was very careful about each and every step I took forward. Just after 4kms of trek, we all started feeling the heat of those monsters. The heat had made us feel hungry and we started bugging for a lunch break just before 1pm. But still we had to stick to the plan, so it was around 2:30 by the time we stopped for lunch. Soon after that, it’s started to rain (Downpour actually) and we felt the real monsoon trek. The path got trickier from there, and I must say, we wouldn’t have reached the place without our forest guide. Nishane betta is not a destination for lone trekkers. We crossed numerous hills, always (desperately) hoping the next one would be the final one.  

4_on_the_way

16_GuavaTree

1_FoggyWeatherFoggy weather welcomed us at Nishani and we were unable to see anyone who is 10 feet away from us.  Ecstatic we were, that we made it to the peak, we woke up the silent honeybees and in a hurry (also with the fear of bee-stings) we managed to click some group snaps. Nishani motte/betta peak is actually a very small place.  We all had just enough space to dump our luggage in some corner and pose for the snaps.  But the view from the peak was breath-taking.  We decided not to stay any longer there, as we had  to reach the base camp before sunset.

18_GrouppicWhen the guide told us to descend, from the narrower side of the hill, we were both excited and tensed if we would ever make it. Our strength was our guide who told us he treks to the place on an average of twice a week (OMG!!!).

Though descending the hill, is more tiresome than the ascend (many of my learning from the trek), hoping that the guide doesn’t ask us to trek another hill, we followed him, for what felt like ages. When we heard a dog barking ahead, without our realization, we doubled up our pace.

The forest base camp, was cozy little guest house, and they were informed about arrival.  Bless them, they had the hot water ready for us.  It was our turn to teach some lesson to leeches the moment we reached there. So we started killing them before we entered the living room (It was also a must, as we looked forward for good sleep, without any more of leech-bites)

10_ridge

Our next big question was about the day 2 and it was time to decide whether to fight tomorrow's battle or turn towards pavilion. Thank god many of them wanted to go back like me. With a hope to see Kurudi next time, we had delicious pongal prepared by our great chef Vinay (with few assistants). Even i contributed in pongal preparation (by adding more turmeric powder as per Suresh's suggestion).  After a happy meal, it was time to sleep.  Few of the leeches who had managed to sneak inside the house, woke up Roopa, Mamatha & Pushpa by midnight.  

Sunday started and so was our packing. And we all bought honey from the near by house (where few of the trekkers had slept the previous night, as the base camp was too small for 20 members).  To reduce the luggage and also to save effort from cooking again, we ate the remaining chapattis, ready to eat packed food. We started our return journey of 5 kilometers, trek to the point where our bus would pick us (needless to mention about anti-leech agents).  The return journey was less tiring, and we passed through a village, which was a welcome change after a day in forest.  By noon, we reached the point where bus was waiting for us, and we started our journey back to Bangalore.

3_ReturnJourney

Special thanks to our organizer, Vinay and co-organizer Suresh. Heartfelt thanks to our guide Jayaprakash, he didn't just guide us but also helped us in all aspects.

Written by – Ashwin Venkatesh & Chandrakala Venkatesh

Post 3

It was the month of June and my college was closed for vacations. A whole month had passed by and all I had done was watch episodes of Doctor Who and go out birding now and then. So when this trek was announced I jumped into action. I had never been on a monsoon trek before and my patience was wearing me thin as I was put on waiting list. Soon there was a dropout and I was in!

On 27th of June I made my way to the starting point in the Majestic. Vidyasagar was already there and all the others started to fill in one by one. We introduced ourselves and not surprisingly I was the youngest member. By 10:30 PM the group of 21 was complete, we hopped on to the minibus and off we went to the land of Kodavas.

3_Sangama

The morning of 28th saw us reach the serene land of Bhagamandala. It would be 9 AM until we got the permission from the Forest officials. We washed up. Shrinidhi Sir and yours truly bathed in the chilling and pure waters of the Triveni Sangama. Soon we made our way to Sri Bhagandeshwara Temple which was built in the Karavali Style. After the darshan we answered the call of our stomachs at a nearby hotel and also packed our lunch for the noon.

3_Talacauvery

4_Talacauvery

5_BrahmagiriWe were drawn to the sacred Talakaveri, the source of river Kaveri. Drinking the pure and holy water we made our way up the Brahmagiri Hill and had our first photo session. After our descent we prepared ourselves mentally. The trek was a moderate one involving 16-18 kilometers of trekking. We packed our bags and readied ourselves for the trek. This included smearing our legs with anti-leeching agents like snuff. We would soon find out that leeches were not perturbed one bit by all the precautions we were taking as they drank our blood away to glory.

15_JeepTrack The trail started off pretty straight and soon it was twisting and turning into the woods. We were accompanied by two forest guards. While Vinay Sir was leading the party, Suresh Sir was sweeping. The path was laden with elephant dung and the guard remarked that it was just a day old. The forest was dense and I had the feeling of being in the cradle of nature. Beautiful cold streams of water running through the trails, refreshing us every now and then and so we moved on. This was my singular most experience with the leeches and the path was laden with tons of them. Soon we found them sticking to our shoes and some already busy feasting on our blood. Those wearing anti-leech socks were more fortunate!

3_InsideForest

After hours of trekking our stomachs were craving for food. The guide made a detour and took us near a fresh stream of water. We were soon gobbling up our packed lunch, pulav and all the other snacks. Filling our bottles with the fresh mountain water, we got back on our journey. The trek was labeled as “Monsoon Trek” and rightly so it started raining. Initially the rain was a delight but when it started pouring, our shoes, clothes got heavy and the ascent became more challenging. The rain was to me the least of worries. 

I was more worried about the leeches which seemed to have increased after the rains and were sucking blood like crazy but we were too distracted by the climb to notice them. Anyway the path tested our grit and determination. The way up was not easy but we were tougher. Enjoying the forest produce (Guavas) on the way we kept climbing.

4_Climb

The climb became very steep for a few hundred meters and I had the feeling that this would be the stepping stone to the Himalayan Trek we all dream of. Ashok was a real motivation to many who were at the back. The view up top was mesmerizing. We were surrounded by hills covered in dense forest through which streams of fresh water ran like the arteries.

The peak itself was a small area where we could stand comfortably. There was a pile of stones flying a flag marking the summit. We had a group photo session and all that was left was to make our way to the base camp. The light was fading and the sun would soon set heralding the night. So we made our descent taking in the view, savoring each moment of the trek. 

8_group By 7 in the evening we arrived at the base camp only to be greeted by ferocious barking of the dogs. We changed, bathed in hot water (that was a great relief),and checked our equipment for leeches. Soon our hosts got a fire going and we warmed ourselves. Vinay and Suresh prepared ‘Pongal’ for dinner and everyone had a nice meal. While most of the group retired for the night at the base camp, six of us retired to bed at the house of a farmer nearby. We slept like stones. The sleep rejuvenated us but many were still tired from the previous day’s arduous events. I was more tired of the bloodthirsty leeches than the trek itself. 

The second day was supposed to be a visit to Kurudi waterfalls. Soon the general opinion emerged and it was decided that we would make our way down and start back for Bangalore. The way down was pretty easy and quick. The path was slippery but nothing more. Once down I was already starting to miss the place. Our ride arrived and we got into the bus. Peering through my window I realized how different this place was and yet very similar.

The ride back was memorable. We had an ‘intro’ session in the bus and got to know each other really well. The time just flew on. We had our lunch in Kushalnagar. After that we enjoyed a matinee show of ‘Ugram’ in the bus. Taking one last break in the evening we were back in Bangalore. One by one we departed, bidding farewell to everyone.

Personally I enjoyed the trek to the last and many thanks to every member of the group , for without you the trek would have been meaningless and not as fun as it was. I only wish and hope that we meet on more treks like this and share many great moments like this in the near future. Many thanks to our organizer Vinay KGS for a wonderful trekking experience. Looking forward to meeting you again.

Written by  - Sameer Desai.

Post 4

Well, what a place, what a trek, what turn of events, what fun, what rain, what fog, what leeches, above all what company. Nothing short of pure fun, pure joy and second to none!

 

the thrill of reaching the peak,

the agony of donating blood to the leeches,

the sad feeling of not encountering any wild tuskers/ wild animals, (or can I call ourselves plain lucky?),

the experience of getting drenched in heavy rain, yet continuing the trek with no place to take cover,

the awesome aroma of the rain soaked landscape

the joyous treat of watching the hide and seek game played between the mountains and the fog.

the shivery experience on facing winds after getting soaked in the rain.

the idea of rejuvenating ourselves by being amidst unmanned lush greenery.

All of the above came as a part of this 2 day event.

Loads of thanks to all the awesome people, who took part in this event, organized/cooked/carried utensils/vegetables/acted as sweepers, helped each others and worked as a team to get stuffs done. It was a journey & an experience to remember, cherish and speak for many more years to come.

It all started with me, opting to register for the 27 June BASC monsoon trek to Nishani Motte. Vinay had opened up the registrations late in the evening at around 8:30pm I guess and I only noticed it, the next day at around 10 30am. I thought I had lost precious time in registering and kept my fingers crossed on whether, I would get shortlisted. But eventually with the team size increased to 21, I found a place, which sounded rather sweet!

Once the list was announced noticed a few familiar faces. Harsha, Suresh, Ashutosh, Ashish, Rakesh and Vinay, I had met them atleast once, during earlier events. Pickup was as usual at 10 30pm at Shantala silks, near Kempegowda Bus Station. Met the rest of the folks over here. Started out a bit late at around 11 : 10 pm.

All the members began interacting with each other, though the introduction happened late into the second day, we felt the need for introduction came only as formality!. There was slight drizzle along Mysore Road as few of them slept, few of them continued with their talk, few of them listened to music on their cell phones. I remember Rakesh occupied the seat next to the driver. That was no seat actually, but a soft cushion which was put on the floor. I guess he did not sleep much during the night's drive and gave good company to the driver. I hope it did not add to any additional fatigue during the next day's trek!.

2_Temple

We reached Bhagamandala around 6 am in the morning. I had a pretty decent sleep. Vinay who sat next to me in the first seat, slept well too. I am guessing most people did. We stopped opposite to the Sri Bhagandeshwara Temple, where we freshened up. Spent some time over there chatting with each other, organizing our bags. Srinidhi and Sameer went ahead and had a dip at the Sangama. 

We then decided to visit Sri Bhagandeshwara temple, after which Aashish suggested a hotel near to the temple, where we completed our morning breakfast. Idli's, Palav, Dosa was available.

1_ClosedShops

Next, it was time to buy some veggies for evening dinner and meeting the forest officer for permission. So started with vegetables. The shop was closed and we had to wait for couple of minutes till the owner came. Onions costed Rs 35 per kilo and tomato costed Rs 30. Meanwhile Suresh had collected 15 packets of pulav from the hotel, these would come in handy as the afternoon lunch. Also Srinidhi and one more person went in search of curry leaves. They could locate the curry tree in a house, adjacent to the temple. So they fetched quite a sum of curry leaves.

Vinay, Rajesh and myself headed to the forest office. The Range Forest Officer Mr Uthappa, was on medical leave, instead we had to meet, Mr Manjunath in order to get required permissions, to trek in the forest. Over here we met our guide for the day Jayprakash. Meanwhile Vinay asked Suresh to come to the forest office premises In few minutes time, we were ready to go.

The trek starts from Talacauvery. So we decided to make a move, not before buying some snuff powder and coconut oil in a local store over there!

At Talacauvery we took sometime to visit the temple dedicated to Goddess Sri Kaveriamma. Luckily over here, I got to fill up couple of my water bottles. Next to the temple was a tank containing stored holy water. Vinay was curious to climb the stairs leading to Brahmagiri. So he along with others hurried climbing the steps. I too followed.  

6_Talacauvery

2_Brahmagiri

1_TrekEntrance

Once back from the temple, we decided to start our trek. So all the bags came out of the van and distribution of the logistics began. Vinay's backpack was very heavy, so was Suresh's courtesy some of the stuffs related to cooking. We had three additional bags, one containing vegetables, next being cooking utensils and one more being the packed lunch to be shared amongst the group.

The 15 packets of food was split into 10 and 5, 10 going into the cooking vessel (contained in the bag) and 5 going in my backpack. I decided to carry the vegetables during the start of the trek. Not sure who carried the bag containing 10 packets of packed lunch + cooking utensils. It sure was very heavy. I only realized midway in the trek, when me and Harsha carried this bag alternatively. I guess it was shared somewhere between, Vinay, Sameer, Ashutosh, Ashish and few others. While the vegetables bag was shared between Srinidhi, Rajesh, Rakesh, Bharat and myself. There was also a tarpaul which was shared between Aashish and Vidya Sagar I guess.

6_JeepTrack

Initial trek of 2-3 kilometers was on a jeep track. Leeches greeted us with a warm welcome, by climbing onto each one of us. There were so many of them, that it was tough to ignore them. Every now and then somebody or the other stopped to pluck those fellows who had climbed on to us.

Leech bites were happening too but there were few lucky one's who had escaped them, courtesy leech socks, snuff powder & oil or dettol or by luck or by God's grace. I was not so lucky, I got leech bite multiple times, since I had not taken any precaution and ventured into their territory just like that, fully unprepared. I guess even Harsha, was unequipped with anti leech stuffs so he too fell prey quickly. I did not see, what precaution Vinay had taken, but he was not stopping for removing the leeches from the shoes nor complaining. Not sure what he was doing so differently! Suresh and Vidya Sagar had taken tough precaution against leeches, but ended up getting bitten on the upper half of their bodies! Suresh on the neck and Vidya sagar just below the neckline.

30_Forest

We had covered some distance when there was slight drizzle, which continued for sometime. The green landscape was just fantastic companion throughout the day's trek. We passed through many such trails which offered us great views of the neighboring hills. We stopped at couple of places when the rain subsided to take pictures, but soon it started to rain again, leaving us with no option but to walk. We had encountered elephant dung, some of them fresh and some of them not so recent. So there was traces of wildlife on the trail after all!. Meanwhile the vegetable bag and the utensils bag had started to switch hands with each one contributing by carrying it for sometime. 

Sometime after 1 30PM we decided to break for lunch, guide showed us a water source so we had lunch close by to that. Luckily there were not much leeches in that area. Refilled our bottles and headed out after 20-25 minutes of break. Meanwhile, Vinay got the news that there was heavy rainfall in Bagamandala. So there was a chance for more rainfall over here too. We asked our guide Jayprakash, about the trail to the peak and what time we could make it to the peak. Jayprakash, told there were couple of ascents to be completed before we could reach the peak. And the forest camp was at a bit more distance from the peak. I was wondering, what would happen if we faced rainfall during this ascent. And believe me it happened. 6_Climb Initially when we started after lunch, it started to rain a little, but soon the rainfall increased. But it was fun.  With shoes filled with water, we were finding it difficult to walk at a brisk pace. Soon we were up against an uphill. After lunch, I had the cooking utensils bag with me, and after sometime, climbing up, I found it difficult to carry the bag, so I handed it to Sameer who was right behind me, after few minutes our guide voluntarily asked to let him carry the cooking utensils bag. There was one more smaller peak to climb, before we could reach Nishani peak. 

The rain had subsided by then, and I was able to take some pictures over here. Meanwhile, our guide went back downwards to get some more luggage from our fellow team members, while I stayed over there. Soon all of us started climbing the second peak and finally we could see Nishani peak. 

At the peak we could see a bunch of stones neatly laid out in a way, capable of acting as a platform for hoisting a flag. We had a group picture over there. Meanwhile our guide showed us which way would lead us to Kurudi as well, as which was Kakabe & Tadiyandamol. There was a bunch of bees which were ready to erupt (at least that's what we thought) which made us to start the descend rather pretty quickly. 

31_PeakIt was bit difficult for sometime, where the path was slippery. But eventually we made it down Nishani peak and now there was some more stretch to walk before we could actually reach the forest camp. We were at the base camp at about 7pm. Soon it turned dark, luckily, the forest camp was a solar powered one. It worked out well. We quickly pulled out the leeches which had either crawled on to us or our baggage. Meanwhile few guys queued to have bath, so that they could get ready for cooking the dinner. Rest all were warming up in front of a small fire in front of the forest camp.

6_Descent

Vinay and Suresh took lead in preparing Pongal, while couple of others helped them by chopping necessary vegetables. Few of the people sat inside the living room, chatting while few others sat in the dark, next to the forest camp, where there was a sit-out. In less than an hour's time dinner was ready. The cooking team had prepared pongal for dinner. It was tasty and satisfying too. Ate till stomach was full.

It was then time to sleep. The forest camp shelter could not accommodate all of the 21 people (plus forest guards). Instead 6 of us slept in the verandah (or living room not sure what it was) of a home, located at a certain distance from the forest camp. It was home to a family who owned couple of acres of estate over there. There was no door and it was accessible to anyone. Vidya Sagar was the first person and I turned out to be the second. There was a small dog which slept along side Vidya Sagar's legs and I am guessing it also acted as the night guard!

1_ForestGuards

Had a pretty nice sleep. Did not wake up till 5 30 AM in the morning, when me and Vidya Sagar came back to the forest camp to freshen up. Soon rest of the guys also got ready. Vinay and Suresh had decided to cook breakfast and chose Poha. I was of the opinion to eat yesterday's pongal which was left over, in quite a good quantity. Finally decision was made to eat the Pongal along with ready to eat stuffs which each one carried. So we can say we saved sometime avoiding to cook and clean the utensils. Meanwhile Vinay had prepared Tea quickly. 

4_ReturnJourney

So we started to get back to Bhagamandala via the jeep track available. Time was around 10 20 AM. We thanked the guards and watchers at the forest camp and bid goodbye to our first day guide Mr Jayaprakash who stayed back at the camp. This time we were accompanied by Mr Ganapathy. Incidentally while conversing with Mr Ganapathy, we came to know that, he had completed 30 years as a Forest Guard. Loads of respect; we thought! Getting down from the jeep track was pretty straight forward. Slight slippery stretches here and there and few leeches and that's it, we were back to civilization. 

Our van made it to the main road in few minutes time. To our surprise there was no place to reverse the vehicle. We had to guide the vehicle almost 3/4 kilometer in reverse. We managed it and then reached Bhagamandala and dropped off our guide and started our return journey to Bangalore.

In the meantime, the introduction session had started. I guess each people knew each other pretty well by now after so much of interaction and team work. One thing I would like to tell about all BASC events. In all the 6-7 events I have participated, I have had the privilege to be part of brilliant team work, ethics, discipline, motivation and so much more.

5_ReturnJourney

We crossed Marcera and then moved to Kushalnagara. At Kushalnagar we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. After lunch few of us ventured out into the town. Harsha and Lavanya brought some chocolates. Rajesh went in search for eucalyptus powder, we found one store selling the same. Over there me and Vinay purchased some dates too. Being the season of Ramzan, we could find multiple varieties of dates spread across different price range! Few of the folks had ordered fruit juice and were at the hotel. Soon we started towards Bangalore. 

On public demand, the Kannada movie Ugram was being played. Many of them watched the movie while few slept, while I took up the seat next to the driver. After couple of hours, we reached Mysore Ring road, where Srinidhi got down as he was travelling to Mysore.

We encountered some drizzle after Mysore towards Srirangapattana, but it too subsided quickly. We reached Maddur where we stopped for evening tea at Maddur Tiffany's next to the petrol bunk. Then it was non stop drive to Bangalore. I got down at Kengeri and bid goodbye to all the members.

With the two days being spent in an awesome way amidst nature with tremendous people, I was all geared up for next days work. I couldn't have asked for more.

Thanks to Vinay for organizing and shortlisting me, Suresh for sweeping and to both of you and others for cooking the evening dinner and tea on the second day. And big round of thanks to rest of all you folks, you guys provided a great company.

Written by - Sandeep Kulkarni

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Date: 28 & 29 June 2014

Expenses per head: Rs 1105/-, includes costs for hired vehicle, trekking fee, guide tips, groceries, miscellaneous, breakfast and packed lunch

Composed by: Sandeep Kulkarni

Event organized by: Vinay KGS

Image Gallery:

Sameer Desai, Roopashri, Rajesh Raju, Sandeep Kulkarni, Vinay KGS, Ashutosh Patel, Lavanya, Rakesh Puttaswamy

The team: Aashish Urs, Rakesh Gowda, Bhavin Thummar, Harsha, Rohith D, Lavanya, Chandrakala, Ashwin, Ashutosh Patel, R Mamatha, Suresh Babu B R, Bharath BS, Sandeep Srinivas Kulkarni, Vidya Sagar, Rajesh K, Ashok G, Roopashri, Vinay, Sameer Desai, Srinidhi, Pushpalatha