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Monday, April 30, 2012

After giving a thought and some research we (Vinay and Raveedra) selected this trek so as to avoid the hot summer sun. As 75% of the trek is covered under the shade of thick western ghats forest.
Here's a brief write-up about Bandaje trek,
Bandaje Falls has a very nice view, and it is believed to be 700 Mtres above the sea level (though no one has officially measured it). it flows as a single stream, and falls from approximately 400+ metres in between the valleys of Western Ghat. This flows further and joins the river
Netravathi.
vinz

Here is a brief write up from santhosh.
Bandaje Arbi trek-April 2012
I came to know about BASC through Jinu John when we met at Chembra peak in Wayanad back in January 2012. Since then I’ve been planning to trek with BASC. Somehow I couldn’t register on time for the previous treks.
I saw “Bandaje Arbi trekking registration open” in my Facebook newsfeed on a weekend and I immediately filled in the details, transferred the money and applied for registration. My name was shortlisted along with 12 other experienced trekkers.
Trekking Day
The plan was to meet near Shantala Silks, Majestic on Friday night at 10pm, start the TT journey to Ujire and then to Bandaje village from where the trek starts. I reached the pickup point around 9.30, met few other BASC members who are joining me in this trek. We had a small introduction followed by a short conversation about each other’s trekking experiences.
Now we have Vinay and Ravindra as the organizers of the trek, Priyanka, Ganesh, Prashanth, Madhu, Tejaswi, Anurag, Gurva Reddy, Mehul, Harish, Rajesh and me as the team members.
We started the journey around 10.30 pm. The journey was quite comfortable except a small traffic jam in Shiradi Ghats. We reached Ujire town at around 5.00 am. Got freshened up in the public toilets there, had idly, vada & bun for breakfast from a nearby hotel and left to Bandaje village around 7.30 am. Ujire to Bandaje is hardly 12 kms towards Charmadi Ghats section. We had to reach a village called Mundaje and then take a deviation towards Bandaje village. We proceeded towards Mr. Narayana Gowda’s house, a local guide for treks around Charmadi Ghats. He was not available at his residence; we spoke to their family members: they agreed to send a guide with us half way. Since Ravi and Vinay had trekked the place before, they were confident of doing without a guide.
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The trek starts from Narayana Gowda’s and from here we have to pass through 3 more houses, the last one being Babu Nayak’s house from there the actual trekking trail begins. Anurag volunteered to lead the group and Ravi to come at the end. We crossed the 3rd house and few meters ahead we could see a trail going upwards towards left and another going straight down towards another house. We took the trail towards left and started moving upwards since most of the blog on Bandaje say the trek is only about ascending right from the beginning. I had an apprehension that this could be the wrong route, the trail straight down could be the right one and I did express it to Tejaswi. He countered my argument saying the trail straight down leads to an estate.
We started moving upwards by making way and took any passage which looked like a trail. We climbed for more than an hour crossing two dry streams and slippery tracks. We realized we are in the wrong direction when we were almost at the top of the hill. So we lost the track in the very first instance and we were trying to figure out how we go ahead. The techies in the group started suggesting the use of phone GPS, GPRS functions to find out where we are and where we should be heading to. We had a brainstorming session to figure out the way towards falls at the middle of that thick jungle. Ideas kept on pouring in. Some suggested the use of technology, while others suggested to call someone for help or to go back to the place where we started. Nothing materialized. Finally Vinay picked up his phone and called up Mudassar and explained him the situation. He suggested us to go back and reach Babu Nayak’s house
We started climbing down the hill. Descending was very steep and the absence of a proper trail added to our misery. Many of us fell twice or thrice, the costliest one being Mehul’s in which he had an airline fracture in his hand. After many slips and falls, we managed to reach a house where we got directions towards Babu Nayak’s house. We were welcomed at Babu Nayak’s house by a host of 20- 30 young and old people. We spoke to Babu Nayak and found out that the actual trek starts from his house; from here we have a clear path till the grasslands. He said the hill we mistook and climbed is called Shantibetta (lol..we never had shanti there:-P).Apparently many people have done the same mistake and came back to his house in search of the actual trail.
Since we all had a tough task of ascending and descending through a non-existing trail, we decided to refresh ourselves at Nayak’s house before we start the real trek to Bandaje Arbi falls. Nayak’s family offered us black tea which had never tasted better for us. Within few minutes of gulping tea, we were set to conquer Bandaje hills. Mehul backed out due to the injury on his hand, decided to stay back at Nayak’s place.
The trek started around 11.15 am under the thick cover of shola forests. It had rained heavily for the last three days in that region and the trail was infested with lot of leeches. The trail was ascending right from the beginning; there were hundreds of leeches waiting to suck our blood. We could also spot dry elephant dung throughout the trail. Most of us were tired after climbing Shantibetta and this ever ascending trail curtailed our pace.
We reached the stream in an hour and half and took a long break for some food and snacks. We removed our shoes and socks to see number of leeches plunging to our legs .We crossed the stream and continued ascending towards grasslands. Majority of Bandaje trek is under thick shola forests. At a point of time we got bored of it and were craving to see a change in vegetation. The path ahead was tough and ascending through the thick forest cover. After 2 hours of continuous climbing, we could see a ray of light through the passage. YES…we are nearing grasslands. We were so glad to reach grasslands and expressed our happiness by shouting and clicking pictures. A little ahead from the grasslands, we could get a sneak picture of Bandaje Arbi falls like a needle. The view from the grasslands was amazing. We could see the mighty adjacent peaks and also a good view of Kudremukh National Park.
Priyanka, Ganesh, Anurag, Gurva and I reached the grasslands pretty early and were waiting for others to come. In the meanwhile I took a small nap in the grasslands. I woke up after 30 mins to a misty surrounding wherein the visibility is hardly 10 – 20 meters. The time was 3.30 pm and we are already behind the scheduled time. From grasslands, it’s another neat one hour uphill to reach the falls. Anurag and I took the lead and found out the way towards falls with much difficulty. We managed to reach the camping point near falls around 4.30pm. We both went to the falls and spent some time near the tip of the falls. The view from here was breathtaking and said ourselves it’s worth the climb. We couldn’t spent much time there since we had a fear of others losing way. We moved towards the camping point, others have already reached there. We started collecting dry wood for campfire. It was drizzling all over and there was a strong possibility of a heavy rain. Some of us started making the campfire while others started erecting tents with 2 tarpaulin sheets.
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Campfire and tents were almost ready and it’s time to start cooking for 13 people. Since we had less water, Prashanth and I went to the falls to fetch water. He wanted to see the falls; we decided to go towards the tip of the waterfalls. Thanks to his suggestion, we had an awesome sunset view from there; we spent some good time talking about Western Ghats and its priceless beauty. It started getting dark and we decided to go back to the camping spot since people were waiting for us to get water. The dinner was lavish considering the place we were in. We prepared soup as starter followed by Maggie Noodles, MTR Bisibele bath and Tomato rice. Everyone had enough food and its time now to hit the bed. We cleaned up the place and erected the tent properly to fit in 13 people. The surface was full of stones which prevented us from a comfortable sleep. Nevertheless we all had a sound sleep only because of the tiresome day.
 
The plan was to wake up at 6.00am and to leave by 7.30 am which dint happen. We got up around 6.30am, few went to the waterfalls, and other few attended nature’s call. The morning view was different and good; the adjacent peaks were looking great in the sunlight’s reflection. We prepared some Maggie Noodles and soup and had it for breakfast. We packed up and were ready to go around 9.30am. We clicked some self timer group snaps to mark our presence at the hills and started towards Bandaje village. The descending was easy unlike the uphill trek. We crossed the grasslands and entered the shola forests less than an hour and from there to stream in another half an hour. We took a small break at the stream; Priyanka, Ganesh and I started towards Babu Nayak’s house.
The scariest moment of the trek came up in few minutes. Priyanka was leading in front, followed by me and Ganesh at the back. While descending through the jungle, I could see a cobra very next to right leg with its hood on. I could clearly see the lines behind its hood. I couldn’t move forward or backward since Priyanka and Ganesh were at both sides. I jumped towards my left to a relatively steep valley. I broke my bag’s waist belt and a small injury in my legs. Thank god we had a narrow escape.
We reached Babu Nayak’s house in another few minutes. On the way, we met Mehul checking out the trail and clicking pictures. We requested Nayak’s family to prepare some food for us. We helped them in cutting vegetables to make sambar. Within half an hour, we have sambar, red rice, pickle and a jack fruit piece for lunch. They served us without any hesitation and we were happy to have a good lunch after the trek. (“Annadhaadha Sukhibhava” – Let the god bestow happiness to the one who served us food!!!)
Nayak’s family refused to take money for serving us Black tea yesterday and for today’s lunch. Raju forcefully gave 300 bucks to the children at the house and also some biscuits and chocolates. We left Nayak’s house around 2 and moved towards Narayana Gowda’s house where our TT is parked.
The plan was to go to Aramane falls and Anadka falls and dinner at Dharmastala Temple. We went to Anadka falls: the other falls heard to be dry from the localites. We had to trek around 4 kms to reach the falls. Not many were interested in trekking in the hot sun to see the waterfalls. Few of us went to see the falls, while others stayed back near the stream. Anurag and I took bath in the stream, came back and joined others in their conversation. The topic started with ‘Which is the best city Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore or Kolkata?” and went on to politics & corruption. There was no sign of those guys gone to the waterfalls. We decided to go to the main road to have tea. We went to a small shop in the main road and found two local drinks Zaffa and Super Joy - Made in Ujire. We had some snacks along with hot tea. The discussion on various topics continued along side.
We left to Dharmastala around 5.30pm. We had a good dharshan and dinner at the temple and left to Bangalore at 10.30pm.
The organizers have to be appreciated since it’s the first time Vinay and Ravi are organizing a trek from BASC. They took care of all the necessary things right from Transport to food and tents. We all made good friends in two days time. In Toto, a memorable trek with a good bunch of people.
In Toto, a memorable trek with a good bunch of people. Kudos to BASC. Looking forward for the next trek.
 
Thanks to one and all.
YOURS TRULY
SANTHOSH KRISHNAN
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Write up from M.R.S Tejaswi
 
Hey guys,
hope all of you are well... i am not a writer but i will do my best for this write up... well here goes nothing...
Well this was my second trek from BASC and compared to last one it was more lively. our gang of 13 people started with not much sleep from Bangalore on friday night ( thanks to our transportation ), reached Ujire without much difficulty. after our morning routine headed to Bandaje village. and after getting direction from the locals many times finally reached Narayana gowda's home. which is the starting point of our trek.we did some 6 odd kms(3 kms of ascent and descent) of pre-trek to Shanti betta before trekking the actual mountain ( credits goes to Anurag here). when we finally able to find Babu Nayak's home almost all of us were tired and hungry,but we managed to carry on with the trek.
(unfortunately Mehul could not accompany us further from this point onwards).
so our actual trek started at 11.30 if i remember correctly from Babu Nayak's home and after like 100th pit stops from our last coaches ( madhu and raju ) we finally emerged to the grass lands above at 4 pm.
after taking a break for 30 min there( though Anurag, Gurva, Ganesh and Priyanka were way ahead of us ) we started off to summit. a glorious view awaited us further. behold Bandaje Arbi falling from a distance of 700 mts above the sea level into a vast ocean of trees surrounded by peaks and mountains.
one could not keep the track of time watching this sight.we finally reached the peak around 5.30 pm and made our camp there.after some quick photo sessions its time to have dinner. vinay and ravi did a great job in bringing the a portable stove.vinay made a batch of maggi which we gulped like a hungry animals.all were so tired that almost every one fell to sleep instantly on that rugged terrain
(although we could hear some noise made by "wild animals" through out the night :P :D).
in morning had a wonderful soup and a very special maggi called "soupy vegetables atta noddles" ( i think we should get a patent for that name :P).after taking snaps from every angle/direction possible its time to get down. packed all our things and started heading downwards. we reached Babu Nayak's house by 1 pm and even after refusing they cooked a meal for us. we had a nice meal in there home and after thanking them we head back to our transportation.
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it was decided to go to Andaka falls and drop the Shiva rajkumar falls as there was no water.after reaching the destination with some help from the locals we learned that we needed to trek for 6km. hearing this except for 4 of us ( me, vinay, raju and harish) every one else denied to come. so the 4 brave souls( :P ) set out to find this isolated and less known falls. after going through many estate and many small streams we finally reached the falls. the falls is like a beacon in the middle of nowhere. surrounded by huge trees,this falls creates a feeling of some out of the world experience.as it was summer there was little water so that we could go directly below the falls. i was feeling like i was having a water massage therapy :P. we had our bath there and started heading back to our TT.on our way back i remembered that i had left my glasses near the water itself.i decided to go back and get my glasses back. that was one of the most scariest thing i have ever done in my life. a complete silence except for the running water in the middle of the forest all alone, a gust of wind and boom - the silence was broken by rattling of leaves.my heart was in my throat that time. !@#$ that was scary...but i finally managed to find my glasses and ran all the way back to place where these guys were standing :D.
we managed to get hold of a jeep who agreed to ferry 4 of us back to our TT.after that we headed to Dharmasthala temple and had our dinner there. (some in the temple itself and some outside).finally its was time to get back to the same old boring life in Bangalore. reached Bangalore by 5 on monday morning. bid everyone farewell and a promise to stay in touch we took our separate ways not knowing whether our paths will cross again but hoping it just might...
Finally thanks to Vinay and Ravi for organizing this trek. last time i could not finish this trek because of elephants and was very eager to do it. and they did a very good arrangement in every possible way. thank you guys :) as of me... well i did pretty ok... managed to complete the trek with a zero strike rate of leech bites ( one and only in the gang B) )
awaiting for future treks from BASC :)
Cheers,
Tejaswi
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Written by: Santhosh and TejaswiEvent organized by: Vinay and Raveendra
Image Galleries: Vinay, Rajesh, Tejaswi, Madhu

Saturday, April 28, 2012

On the 24th of last month I had gone trekking with the Bangalore Ascender’s to Kumara Parvatha/Pushpagiri. The team members were Girish, Jinu, Prabhakar, Om, Ashok, Pradeep and me. It was my second time with the group. Previously, I had gone with them to Munnar on a cycling trip.
When I told everyone that I was going to KP, most of them told me that it was stupid to attempt the trek at that time since it was still summer and water would not be available near the peak. Also, they said that the trek through the grassy route would be tough in the searing heat. But, the organizers had done their homework well. Girish had called up someone who had been there a few weeks before us and had made sure that our route(from the Somwarpet side) was well sheltered and enjoyable.
All of that preparation paid of well and it was one of the best treks that I had done up until then. All the treks I had gone on were single day treks, which meant that I could return before the end of the day and did not have to carry a lot of stuff with me. But, this time it was different. The route was 25 kms long and it was going to be a 2 day trek with an overnight camping on the top included. I was pretty excited about it as I had never slept outside under a tent before.
We started on Friday night from Bangalore and reached Somwarpet by about 6 in the morning. After freshening up and having breakfast we hired a jeep to take us to the Mallali water falls and later drop us off at the start of the hiking trail. To reach the water falls one has to take a detour from the route connecting Somwarpet and the start of the trail. I was not that enthusiastic about going to the water falls as I thought that it would be relatively subdued because of the time of the year. But, I was proved wrong! The trip and the short walk to the base of the water falls was well-worth the effort.

The water falls was quite a sight to see especially from up close.
Feeling refreshed we all got back into the jeep and set  set off for the Heggademane temple which marked the start of the hiking trail to the peak.
We reached the temple by about 9 and from there we set off for the forest office where we enquired about the conditions near the peak. They said that there had been a lot of rain recently(fortunately) and that there was continuous thunder and lightning at the peak(not-so-fortunately). They suggested that we not stop at the peak and that we continue on to Bhattare-mane on the other side before stopping for the night. They also warned us that the route was heavily leech infested!

Thankfully, after all these warnings they gave us the assurance that there was water available at 2 points along the route and also near the peak. Hearing this was quite a relief to us. So, after all the paper work was over, we set off.
A dog accompanied us for quite a way!
I had come well stocked as far as food was concerned. I had with me lots of mangoes, biscuits, dates and chocolates. Even though I was not really that hungry I kept munching on stuff as I walked with the others under the cool shade of the trees. We stopped for water at a couple of small streams.
Very soon, the leech problem became very severe and all of us started walking at a brisk pace to reduce the number of leeches that we were picking up. After a while I found out that stopping to pick off the leeches on my shoes was a wasteful affair as more were climbing onto my legs than I could pick off in a given time! So, I decided to ignore them and simply walk as fast as I could through the wet thick forest and stop only on dry rocks for water and rest.
The tree cover cast a pale green shadow over everything and the recent rains had put that cool, wet tropical touch on the trail. Walking along it, it was easy to ignore the numerous leeches jostling for space in my shoes and simply get lost in the wild beauty surrounding us.
The initial part of the trail was very easy and I soon got ahead of the others as I was walking at a pretty brisk pace.  Soon, I came to a pretty steep(about 45 degree I guess) rock face and from then on the climb was pretty tough.

While climbing up the rock face which was pretty easy by the way, since it was mostly dry and my Reezig shoes gave me good grip on them, I was wondering how it would be like in the rains.
I could see water channels all over them and thought about how cool it would be to climb it in the rains!
After that, the gradient continued to be high. I was starting to feel tired and had to take a couple of breaks in between. The last 2 kms before the peak seemed to go on forever. Finally, by about 12:45 I broke out of the tree cover and to the stretch of rock just below the peak.
The weather atop the peak had absolutely no relation to the conditions below it. It was alternately misty and clear. Conditions kept varying quite abruptly.
After I got to the top within minutes the mist came up behind me and surrounded me. I decided to walk about and check out the area before the others came. There was a temple atop the peak which was mostly just a big pile of rocks.
Then I sat down and decided that the leeches had had enough fun and decided to split ways with them.
I picked off about 20 leeches from each leg
Then I surveyed my ration and waited for the others. Soon enough I heard shouts from behind a copse and went over and joined the others. It was only about 1:30 and we thought that we were too early in getting to the peak. We didn’t realize then just how wrong we were!
We quickly set about collecting some wood for the fire and found a nice spot behind a bunch of trees where we decided to tie up our tarpaulin sheets.
Then we got some water from a spot just below the peak and made ourselves some hot, tasty soup and  pasta!
We then were wondering about what to do after that when suddenly the sky grew dark and it started drizzling. We quickly got under the tarpaulin sheet that we had tied up and into our sleeping bags. Very soon the rain grew in intensity and the sheet started becoming wet and the weight was causing it to droop and touch our sleeping bags. Also, the water was starting to come in along the edges. As soon as the rain started Prabhakar picked up his sleeping bag and ran over to the bags which we had kept under another tarpaulin sheet and got under that. If it weren’t for that we wouldn’t have had space for all of us! As the night wore on, I snuggled deeper into my bag and stayed there listening to the rain pounding the sheet within inches of my ear and enjoying the warmth and silky comfort of my bag. It was then that I realized just how helpful they can be while trekking.
By 5 in the morning, the damp had managed to creep into my bag near my legs where it was exposed to the rain. It was okay since the rain had stopped by then and we all got out of our sleeping bags and decided to get to the viewpoint and wait for the sun rise for which KP is most famous!
When we got there, the sun’s rays where starting to just illuminate the sea of clouds from below!
We stood there making small talk and trying to contain our excitement as the majestic sight slowly unfolded in front of us. Soon enough, the sun appeared over the horizon and veins of color shot out in all directions…
The clouds parted for a few moments and granted us a peak at the sun!
After sunrise, we packed up our stuff. I then took out my bread, cheese, some prunes and dates that I had with me and made a meal of them. I gave it to the others also as we were all very hungry.
The descent was very easy as we started early and because of the rains the day before.
The descent was a little steep and we made good time.
On the way we had to pass through a “leech forest”. We passed so fast through it that most of us didn’t get bitten at all.
A rock that resembles a primitive human face!
We got down on the side of Kukke Subrahmania. This is the more popular route that most people take. This route is mostly through open grasslands. I thought the trail that we went up by was more enjoyable. Anyway, we soon got to Mantapa, After hanging around for a while we made our way to the forest office. When we got there we saw that there were a lot of guava trees all around the place.
We took a break and just lay about eating them and relaxing in the shade of a shelter near the forest office.
We then made our way to Bhattare Mane where we had a lunch of rice, sambhar, butter milk and pickle. Then we waited for a while until the sun lost its edge and then set off again. We got to Kukke Subrahmnya in record time and booked ourselves a room in a lodge and rested and freshened up there. After that we walked around the temple town and had some tasty snacks at a hotel. Then we got our bus back to Bangalore and had a comfortable journey back home!
It was a pretty cool trip and it was my first time with a group this experienced and passionate about trekking and nature. A big thanks to Girish and the others who managed to make this trip such a grand success!

Event Name: Trek to Kumaraparvatha: KP/5_April-28/29-2012
Original Writeup by: Sabu Paul
Event organized by: Girish
Image Galleries: Jinu, Ashok, Girish, Pradeep, Sabu

Monday, April 16, 2012

This is not the usual one.. especially for those who are older in their knees than what their birth certificates show.  Atleast, it has been the case with my first few treks...where every step I took beyond the first few kms, I had to drag myself, .. my irises had to contract and fixate on the narrow patch where my next step was to fall,  lest I may topple!  Naturally, all the visual delights I meant to enjoy fell far beyond the 'focus'.Thankfully & refreshingly this was different. After all those busy treks where the organizer had to be on my back to keep me going, this one made me (& us) feel like God with all the time in the world for enjoyment! More time and less agenda. 2
We trekked (ahem), camped out (the sleeping bags, campfire stuff), celebrated, cooked a full course meal, bathed in waterfalls, ate guavas and all like starving wolves,  organized frisbee tournaments,  ate snake-skin-textured-table-cloth-like-rotis (this thing must have been patented already - like the tirupathi laddus)!, visited an ancient temple(we didn't bother to ring up the priest though!), some ppl discovered alternate professions for recessions like 'maggie selling',  a few ppl even paired!!:))      Sounds like a perfect recipe, doesn't it? Such an experience produces wonders in the form of memories.  A bunch of seemingly reluctant strangers .. we were, when we boarded the bus @Shantala.  And it was fun, energy and antakshari on the way back... and pure nostalgia for all the days that followed!
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The estate was filled with old trees and the sounds of water in streams and falls could be heard all along. The sight of ettina bhuja never left us. We sighted waterfalls in many places and didn't leave any without bathing. By noon we reached our camping spot. It was a wide patch by a serene tile house  with a small waterfall right beside the house. We made merry in the stream water for hours together. And later frisbee tournaments began.  A part of the team chose to play, a part decided to cook, & a part simply rested.  Now comes the most interesting part - the account of all the delicacies we relished..  Jinu seems to have some mystery recipes. As soon as the cooking session began, ppl gathered around jinu, hoping to catch the details of his highly successful recipes. Ofcourse there were other expert chefs too..  And coming to actual recipes during the elaborate cooking
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sessions, here is the account of all the delicacies:  'sweet' semiya (I mean arguably 'sweet'),   'lemon' tea,    Jinu's miracle  'buy-all-varieties-of-soup-available-in-market-and-mix-them-all'  soup,   'raw mango' maggie, 'snake-skin-textured-table-cloth-like-rotis' (like i said) with achaar and honey , guavas, berries from the estate.... and .... the rock and roll cake for a dessert! phew! By now u must have guessed already that we spent half of the time eating ;) Before we retired, we lit campfire..  cut the cake.. sat around & shared our experiences with BASC.   It was a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday. And BASC which set many thousands in the path of nature exploration and adventure, filled many lives with memories... deserved  such a great tribute.  We rested beneath the open skies, with the sounds of water streams ringing in our ears,  and a backdrop of fireflies blinking in the darkness of woods like stars in the sky! What a sight it was!
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The next day we went trekking into the woods, witnessed several breathtaking views and traces of wild dogs.  Jinu led us to an ancient natural shivalinga shaped rock. We then headed back to the waterfalls and enjoyed the chill waters.  We then bid a good bye to the beautiful campsite & headed back. During the detour, we visited an ancient veerabhadraswamy temple with ettina bhuja in the backdrop which was truly a photographer's delight. On the way back our bus rocked with great music & energy.
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Thanks to Jinu, for creating such an 'awesome' experience.. I know that these words hardly do any justice to the kind of experience we had in the woods for two full days. It is just a humble attempt to put it into words  .. for the records.
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Written by: Sreevalli 
Event organized by: Jinu John
Image Galleries:Sandhya, Prosenjit,