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Monday, March 28, 2011

The privilege to get drenched in the first rain of the year at the beautiful backdrop of the waterfall is something you will cherish for your life............not to mention the thrill of diving into crystal clear pools......all this and more at the onset of Summer, woah, what a life!!!!!....

Day 1--The onset:
All set for the Friday 25th night with 20 wandering souls toDSC_1245-2 hit a few waterfalls in the western Ghats. All were in by 10:40 pm, including the bus!!!!!. It was a 21 seater and thanks to the organizers, it had ample amount of leg room, and I am 5' 10" tall, hence I know the value of it :) Started off with a bang and in no time team slipped into deep sleep with a few sudden wake ups due to bad stretches on the Mangalore Highway. No movies no music though, but the team had high spirits. We reached Donigal by 5:00 am where we had a coffee break for a few mins. The cab driver made us reach the start point exactly at 6:15 am. All geared up for the conquer walk to Kannikai waterfall.

Pit Stop 1:
We started off by 6:45 am, and an hour plus of walking, we spotted our first pit stop.
Time to freshen up buddies!!! and of course the time for the morning divine tasks. Tantalizing clear water could not stop IMG_3598-1me and another fellow (kanta) to take a dip also before having hot cup noodles and bread jam for the breakfast. We spent around one a half hour eating and chatting.

Pit Stop 2:
When we started off ba ck it was 9:30 am. Again its a walk which is blessed with greenery around, empty and partially filled water streams along the way until we reached the second pit stop where we are privileged to play in water for more than an hour as the target to reach the falls was to be by 2 pm. The view of shallow water bodies with water slowly flowing through, morning sun rays and surrounding greenery was just mesmerizing. We spent around one and a half hour playing around in water, a few people preferred to sit and enjoy flowing stream, and others clicking photographs. Few guys had the so called 'stream massage'!!!!. We had our lunch here itself.

Destination 1:
Back on track by 12:30 pm, headed to Kannikai Waterfall, our final destination. We were welcomed with route where we had trees fallen across,  detours due to blockage etc, all was just a part of the trek as usual, however, the landscape was changing its colors from green to brown to ashes and again to green dependinP3270318g on the kind of vegetation and probable forest fire. We reached the Waterfall point after a brief steep decent by 1:15 pm. A few clicks, screams and a brief discussion on the camping, its time to get our souls wet in the pool formed by the waterfall!!!. This is the first time in my life that I dared to get into unknown waters, thanks to Prabhakar and Kanta who always been supportive promising to save me if i drown ;) I could swim comfortably across the pool multiple times!!!!!. A few guys namely Reddy, Prabha, Girish tried to do dives, got too close to the falls and stuff, hardcore swimming stuff you know :).....even Sandeep tried to swim with lifejacket on, that's the spirit!!!. The roar of the fall was the best luluby for us to fall asleep for a while before starting off all over again!!!. Till 5:30pm, it was all swimming, diving and photography sessions. There was another team of trekkers who took 11 hours to reach the falls following the stream literally!!!!. They also decided to camp with us.

An evening to remember:
We had nice soup (I had soup with noodles, remixing things is in my blood :), and  it works all the P3260198-2time) courtesy Girish/Prabha/Kanta/Sandeep, and that too two servings for the lucky ones at around 6:30 pm and it started to get darker. We had our camp fire up and water was ready to heat up MTRs again.

The First Rain:
We finished our dinner by 8:00 pm. Just before we could say its time to sleep off, someone pointed that there was a lightening, then it all started. In no time, all of us were under our sleeping mats holding onto our bags and it rained for almost 45 mins heavily. Thanks to the souring heat in the noon that the rocks were literally steaming after the rain and the water got dried off real quick. Most of the people now had wet sleeping bags, wet bags/jackets/pants/tees/socks and a few were just drenched. Somehow, we could gather the things up to sleep, however, the rain god threatened us for a min or so  but no harm done, thank GOD!!!!. All went down by 9:30 pm, and after a few hours, it was spine chilling cold that forced me to get P3270237into my sleeping bag to get a few hours of good sleep. The same thing with a few others too who were precautious. A few people got up in the wee hours to set the camp fire up again and kept it alive till morning too. Thanks to all the team members who did that.

Day 2-- The morning:
It was 5:30 am when I dared to check the time but all were just down!!!. One shout that its 5:30, good morning wishes were exchanged in no time!!. All packed up in no time and we started off by 6:45 am. Its Sunday, after the first rain of the year, a wakeup to see mist at the faraway mountain wishing us good morning!!! Today it was told to be a quick paced trek and the target was to reach the main road by 9:30. However, we had to take a break at the second pit stop to have breakfast and a dip again :), and with all that, it was 10:15 am when we reached the start point.

Ermayee Waterfall:
We started off to the second waterfall - Ermayee Falls. Since all were tired and hugry and the IMG_3974clock was ticking fast, we thought it would be good to have lunch before we hit the second waterfall ( Ermayee waterfall). Ujire was the stop and Hotel Kamadhenu was the place, for 20 bucks , it was a brief meal and Sanjeera, a special sweet which resembles our Kai Holige ( a sweet made up of maida and coconut powder with sugar/jaggery) was quickly gulped by the team and we were off to Ermayee waterfall route. It is hardly 12 kms from Ujire. We had to get assistance of locals to figure out the route. We reached Kaajooru by 1 pm. There went a discussion on whether to hit the falls or to avoid any further complications as we were not sure of the distance from the start point to the falls, but the team spirit overcame all that and a few guys including me started off after getting a few hints from the locals. It was really a short walk crossing a stream and a short forest trail of around 2 kms to reach the falls and let me tell you its worth each breath you took to reach there!!!!. The view was just mind boggling. The fall is a typical two storeyed one with a big pond at the first step which is a rock pond and second one at the base level. I dared again to swim to the bottom of the waterfall and I will be thankful for the people who have taken the snaps of we 5 guys ( me, prabha, reddy, girish and kanta) having gala time at the waterfall base!!!!. It will be too difficult to reach this point in rainy season as you will have to cross a roaring streP3270246am, a small stream as well as a steep decent to reach the fall, probably may have to walk along the stream for a while too :) .

Home sweet Home:
We started off back to Bangalore by 2:45 pm. A few team members who were exploring the capabilit ies of their mobiles for accurate GPS navigation kept the environment alive. We had a coffee break at Donigal and reached Bangalore by 10:00 pm. The only sad part of the trek was Mudassar not keeping well and frequently vomiting whatever he drank / ate. It continued for both the days. Hope he gets well soon. No causalities whatsoever and it was a perfect trek to rejoice!!!!.

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Written by: Raj
Event organized by:
Mudassar and Girish
Image Gallery:
Girish, Naveen, Raj, Chethan, Pradeep

Its past a month and I can still feel the gush of the mighty Hebbe and not so calm Kalahatti in my veins. Yes the terrain reaching up to them is traversed by lots of episodes of chatter, clutter, murmur, screams and peals of laughter which started on Friday 25th at 10.30pm..a la..Majestic. I was a reservation against cancellation member of this vociferous team of 12, lesser known, less prepared and less capable. Ultimately I emerged as the most cared for..:P
Jinu, I applaud you for the way you started breaking the ice amidst the group. Nitin and Meetu replying the most unconventional way that they are serpentines-Ichha Dhari Nag Nagin opened up a host of other introductions..everybody obliged and we kickstarted well. I do not remember the time when we stopped for a cuppa at a roadside hotel..but I remember that I took my chance to have another good look at the motley crowd with whom I had set off to spend the weekend. Here I would add a note..I was little apprehensive towards joining a crowd of whom I do not know anyone..But then I thought I need to start..Click Click went some shots..and we hurriedly packed up again to continue with the rest of the journey.
It was barely 5am at Kalahattigiri..and our event manager had already started hoarding..as if we were supposed to queue up for a parade..Jinu..I wonder where was the whistle on the 1st day..it only made an appearance on the 2nd day to Hebbe..!!! I felt a little chill when I alighted from the TT. It was uneven, dusty and shoddily green here and there. I quickly picked up some snaps, the board reading Kalahatti Falls..yess..now I can boast I went there..We ambled towards the foothills..I was having queer feelings, little streaks of tensions and some high tides and low tides with each cycle of pumping of blood into my heart and this never stopped through out the odyssey..We climbed steadily towards a smaller base of Kalahatti Falls and I was already feeling tired..took mini breaks..Veeru's omnipresent hands pulling me out of every possible down strides and then I felt better. I was already munching on a chocolate bar Kiran had advised and offered me during the walk..Have it..You will get instant energy..I am not a big lover of chocolates..but Kiran..Many Thanks..I needed it.. We freshened up at the first smaller base..everybody enjoyed the rushing falls except me..Alas! I wasnt carrying extra pair of clothing..You all called me so many times to come inside water and I had to stay away from it..Missed it there.. The strides continued with trampling over dry leaves..I was slipping tad bit..soon I realized I do not have the right pair of shoes and it is going to be difficult further. I am glad I could be back to Bangalore with the same pair of shoes. Veeru the saviour never left me alone and thus I could keep up with my expeditions. Some time later we had breakfast guarding each pick towards the mouth from the monkeys. They were springing from one branch to another but we managed to quench our hunger and thirst by ditching them. Jinu and Veeu had by the time disappeared to discover route towards the main base. I have rightly names Veeru as Jungle Boy..he screeched like the monkeys and was as fast as them while crossing the grounds...amazing!! We embarked on the next part of the journey, to the main base of Kalahatti. It was a roller coaster..climbing, holding tree branches for support, guarding against rough bushes and a real tour towards the top. I do not know how many mini breaks I took along this path, but it was worth everytime..I ran short of breath, thanks to my sedentary life style back at Bangalore..promised myself..I would work to keep fit. The murmur of the stream gradually and eventually magnified into the beautiful sound and we knew we have reached Kalahatti. There were huge boulders strewn and one by one all of us resigned to one or the other to savour up some rest and sunlight. We did a lot of photo session over here..I posed a lot and assured myself..it was worth the ascend to view such a picaresque bounty of nature..We experienced leisure at the base with another round of water bath and sun bath. Little did I know that we would pick up the most alien route to descend after this..
If I say most alien route..I can still see so many hands up in consent..slipping, falling, bruising, trembling..we underwent all and it was not only me..Jinu might have posted some pictures of sturdy travellers..but all that is showing up is not true, not at least for the descent from Kalahatti. But we revelled together and covered quite a distance in lesser time, thanks to the uncanny short cuts we took...Then it was a combination of plain walk and some slides that we reached to the starting point. Battered and hungry, we gorged on rice and watery sambar, hankered for a second piece of papad and had the most memorable lunch of our lives, the simplest and humblest way. It was time to bid goodbye to Kalahatti and we were driving to Kemmangundi now. Kemmangundi, the land of the red soil..this is what I heard from my team and after a short journey of less than an hour we arrived at Raj Bhawan where we were booked for the stay. A good round of tea and the next deadline of 5pm for sunset given, we headed to catch up on a little rest in our guest house rooms.
Sunset from Raja's Bhawan was worth every drop of sweat that might have dripped across our faces on that day. I have never witnessed such mesmerising playfulness of colours while sun bids goodbye for the day. Dusk set in and we were suddenly not so tired for the day. I bet the most beautiful set of pictures from the albums of all of us belong to sunset on 26th evening. Kushal pushing the sun towards Srini's mouth, Kushal as statue of liberty, Remo, Srini, Aneesha and the rest of us lapped on every drop of sunset happiness at that moment. Soon after it was dinner time and veg thali seemed to be the best food in the world by then. By the time we had finished, another deadline, next day morning 5.30am, sunrise from Z point. I did not get enough time to curse Jinu on that...rushed and retired to room..luckily could charge my cell and camera for the next day. Nobody could tell at that time if sleeping was important or resting our legs and backs were even more important. No point on debating that.
Jet set 5.30am next dawn, Jinu the human alarm knocked through our doors and we did not want to wake up for sure. Aneesha wasnt feeling all confident to go for it..she was given a dose of apple and there she was ready for the go..Hurriedly we readied up and the morning blanket of clouds was all set to embrace us. Briskly we reached the point to bless ourselves with the sunrise. Had we been even a little late, we would have missed it. For a while it was a hide and seek of the sun and then we finally caught good glimpse of it from different peaks of the Z point. This also consumed little bit more time than might have been thought of. So we returned back to guest house to fill ourselves with breakfast and then head towards Hebbe Falls...our last agenda of the tour.
After a verbal tug of war of starting to walk from there itself or to travel by TT to the farthest point where it can reach, we zeroed in on the latter, of course, I was the major factor voting for it. But could not reap much advantage from it, TT soon huddled and stopped and off we went towards the majestic sight of Hebbe. Through grasslands, burnt ashes, uneven rocky ground, tethering bushes and overhead sun making it difficult by the day we followed the trail lead by Jinu. He seemes to be vanished from time to time..I realized later on it was his usual way to search for a short cut to the ultimate destination. And what discoveries he made while on it!!! I descended in a tumbling fashion, all the while Veeru holding my hand and carrying my bag too. I was feeling as if I belong to a super heavy weight group of human being, forwarding each step was as heavy as the previous one. I wondered..have I expanded so much.......After a stark downhill and a gradual walk..we could hear the flow of the streams..there were 3...studded with small pebbles to moderately sized ones..we rolled up our tracks, folded our sleeves for one more time to wade through the clear water. I guess I was the last person from the team to reach the base of Hebbe. My feet were immensely paining by then, struck by pebbles so many times. So I decided to relax on the boulder lining for a while before plunging into the roaring water of the falls. It was astounding, tall, heavy and gorgeous. So I did not waste much time, quickly took some snaps and dipped myself into the water. I could soon join others in the game of splashing water at each other. Needless to say all handfuls were directed to me for most of the time. I was almost blinded by rushing water. Happy wanderers enjoyed solace in water.
Our return to the TT was the most clamouring one for me. All the while I felt I would collapse. Doses of electral finally helped me to complete the walk back. Climbs seemed to be never ending, common bends also seemed to be rebelling. I kept pushing myself..kept walking..Veeru showed me a distant pole at one point and said it ends there...with measured steps I followed him and thus could finally complete the loop. The smile of a wary but triumphant soldier was smeared on the face of everybody. We were a victorious troupe. We bid goodbye to Hebbe and our TT started to drive back. We had an early dinner at a Dhaba, relished the spicy curries and Naans. Reminisced all that have happened throughout the ridges and grooves of the journey and peacefully consumed the food. Since I had already accepted to do the write up, convoluted thoughts were making appearance in my mind. After a lot of tour and detour, dropping people to their respective locality, I was the 2nd last person left to be dropped at NGV. I felt like a satisfied trotter...brimming with stories to tell to my roommates..famished but still going great guns...Perhaps these 2 days have infused a different grade of power in me. I learnt so much from all you people...Jinu, Aneesha, Kushal, Kiran, Karthikeyan, Veeru, Srini, Sujeevan, Remo, Nitin, Meetu..the strength of sharing and caring and being together...We need this each instant of our lives..Hope to catch up with you all in some or the other sphere of life..Terrific team!

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Written by: Chandreyee
Event organized by:
Jinu John Image Galleries:Sujeevan, Srinivasan, Jinu

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On the occasion of Shivaratri, a team of 14 volunteers from Bangalore had gone to Kollegala Area for Forest Fire Awareness Program. As on Shivaratri, people surrounding Maduvahalli and Hondarabalu, they visit temple on top of Siddeswarabetta and Adani Maramma. So on this day chances of Forest Fire is more. Karantaka Forest Department personals were there in both places to check Forest Fire.
Siddeswara Betta near Kollegala

We started early morning of 2nd March 2011, we reach Kollegala by 10:30AM. We spit ourself in two teams, 3 people went to Siddeswarabetta and other to Adani Maramma temple. Siddeswara Temple is 1.5km climb from Hondarabalu and Adani Maramma Temple is 5km climb.
Adani Maramma Temple near Kollegala

In Adani Maramma temple, many people gather on this day for worship and after that everyone will go back to village by afternoon. We followed them back to village looking for any forest fire or its chances.
In Siddeswarabetta, people will come for the Temple throughout the Day. And also many will be awake in the night. Unfortunately there was Forest fire near Thimmarajapura. With the help of Forest personals, Guruprasad, Harsha & Karthik, could completely set-off the fire after much hard work.

Forest Fire at Thimmarajapura near Kollegala
In the night at Siddeswara Temple premises we showed a old Kannada film and also things about FFA. Whole team did not sleep in the night, and were watching chances of


Forest Fire.
At early morning on 3rd March 2011 we started back to Bangalore, since there was mist, so chances of Forest fire is very less. It was great experience all of us. Those who are willing to participate in the future events, can mail me: ambareeshhs@gmail.com
Please note: There won't be any trek, fun activities or even we wont go to jungles, its just FFA Program. And should speak Kannada fluently.
Few words about FFA:
Forest fires are usually seasonal. They usually start in the dry season and can be prevented by adequate precautions. Fire can be prevented through removal of forest litter all along the forest boundary. This is called "Forest Fire Line". This line used to prevent fire breaking into the forest from one compartment to another. The collected litter was burnt in isolation. The best way to control a forest fire is therefore, to prevent it from spreading. Mainly in India forest fire happens because of human, may it’s accidental or intentional. So to prevent it awareness among villagers should happen.
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Written by: Ambareesh Karanth
Photo Courtesy: Harsha & Jagadeesh