Friday, October 31, 2014

Bheemeshwari White Water Rafting (Mandya - Karnataka)

So, the wait is over. The mystery that I left untold in the last post is, the specialty of Bheemeshwari is - White Water Rafting. There was rain a week before I ventured so I expected the water to be rough. And it was, but not too rough as I expected. Our guide informed that the water had just gone a bit down in last 2 days! Sad!!! At some places water was too soft and it felt like boating. 
Anyways, something better than nothing! There were some rough patches and that really made my day!!! For the first time, it was Ok. Now I know the technique and my next has to be in really rough waters. Anyone wanna take me to Rishikesh???!!!!!!!! 
Rafting at Bheemeshwari is organized only by Jungle Lodges. Even if you're going for camping to private organizers, they have tie up with Jungle Lodges for rafting. Safety is taken care of with helmet and life jacket. There are 3 sizes of rafts that accommodate different group sizes. 
Here of some tips - wear comfortable clothing that dry fast. Shorts are best. Skirts are worst. You could wear waterproof floaters footwear, but my suggestion - go barefoot. Btw, yeah we've put the claim of Samsung S5 that its water resistant into big time test while rafting. Yup, the claim is true!!!


Check the previous post

Dedicated to Venkat & Gang!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bheemeshwari Camping (Mandya - Karnataka)

The major reason for visiting Bangalore - Bheemeshwari... Bheemeshwari is located about 100 km south of Bangalore, just beside Cauvery in the midst of a forest! 
There are 2 locations here. One belonging to the forest dept and one with tourism dept. The tourism dept one is called the Jungle Lodges. The forest dept. one is being used by all private players. 
The day kick started with 2 rope activities. One was channel / river crossing. Well, there wasn't much water in this channel of Cauvery. Nevertheless, the effort was quite much. There was safety with tie up from waist. Even if the hand loses grip, I wasn't gonna fall down. Gloves were given to protect hands. Legs were in a loop to keep the body horizontal. And we were supposed to pull ourselves with the strength of the hands to the other end of the rope and come back. The complete effort was on the biceps. The length would have been about 25m. Errr..... I managed to go but couldn't come back!!!! And at that very moment I pretty much realized how poor my stamina has gotten and well, I hardly have any biceps. Ok, so now I've gotta workout!!! So do half of the gang who also failed half way through.....
The next was to climb a vertical rope. Here the entire effort was on one leg with which the rest of the body was to be pushed upwards. After failing half way in the first task, I was not very sure of myself. But I did a much better job and reached the top. 
After so much effort, any food would have been fine. But the food provided was pretty good with 2 poori, subzi, rice, dal, raita, veg fried rice, papad, pickle etc. For being in the middle of a forest, that food was totally unexpected.
After lazing a bit post lunch, the evening was what the major attraction of the trip was for. What was it? You've gotta wait & watch. That's coming up in the next post.
That night was fantastic. We visited the neighbouring Jungle Lodges and managed to sleep for some time on the net  bed tied at about 25ft from ground, gazing at the stars, feeling the chillness of the wind, with no pollution at all!!! Wild boars were a common sight here, but they seem nice!! I spotted quite a few grazing by. 
Later that night, we had opted for tents instead of concrete structures... The tents were meant for 2 to sleep, but then come on, when you're out with friends, who wants to sleep. The tents were great - water proof and provided with 2 sleeping bags. Chit chatting till post midnight, after we retired for the day, one of our friends, popped his head out of the tent at about 3am only to spot a wild boar next to the tent!!!!!
Next morning, was the time for another mini trek. Since this was in the middle of the forest, this wasn't like Savanadurga. The hill has soil and was rich in vegetation. A dirt track lead to the top of the hill. This was hardly a 1000 ft tall. 
Right atop was a view point that gives the perfect view of the bellowing Cauvery and the rich forest that surrounds....
Here are some tips for this place. Here again the last 20km the road is super pathetic. A jeep would be the best vehicle to drive on this road. Be super careful when eating. Monkeys can come in from nowhere, and take food right out of your plate! If you're staying in tents, better wake up by 6 before the monkeys start jumping on the tents from atop the trees!!! Take good shoes for trekking. Carry cash - there are no atm-s in the middle of the forest. Cell phones do not pick signal here. If you take alcohol at night and get high, there's every chance that you might fall into Cauvery & drown!!!
Come back next week to know what we did in the afternoon - the specialty of Bheemeshwari!!!!!! But before that don't forget to 'like' the newly created FB page dedicated to this blog!

To Get There:
From Mysore: 85km on NH 209 via Malavalli
From Bangalore: 102km on NH 209 via Kanakapura
From Muthathi: 5.5km
While going from Bangalore, the last village you cross would be Muthathi and that's the last point to get any cell phone signal or find a PCO. After that there's a forest dept. check post and then its just forest!

To Stay: 
As said earlier, there are 2 places - Jungle Lodges by Tourism dept and Forest dept's place where all private players use for accommodation. We were dealing with a private organizer and stayed at Forest dept space beside a river, in a tent! Jungle lodges is more sophisticated than this with more room types, shops, parks, children play area etc. Accommodation types incl. tents, loghuts, cottages, tree houses etc. This place also has more rope activities like the ones at Horsley Hills. If you've not been to Horsley, you could take this up. Oh yeah, bathrooms & toilets too are better at Jungle Lodges. The prices vary hugely too. I paid about Rs.2500 and the starting price there is at Rs.4500. 

Dedicated to Venkat & Gang!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Savanadurga Hills (Ramanagara - Karnataka)

Sorry.... I know, I vanished for almost a month from blog-o-sphere.... Well, I'm back now and I'm pretty much tanned.... Here's more of the recent trip to Bangalore and surrounding places. Took suggestions from a couple of bloggers and read a few blog posts and the first place to venture in Banglore turned out to be Savana Durga. I found this place at The Loapers blog. 
8 of us in 2 cars, we left early... We managed to find a nice place to eat in the NICE road and reached the base hill before 10 am. The road was pathetic for about 15km to reach the location. There's a temple there, and to cater to the temple, there are quite a space for parking. 

I enquired a tender coconut seller there, Mr.Gulzar, about which is the Karigudda (black hill) and which is the Biligudda (White hill). Biligudda is supposedly more accessible than Karigudda, which requires permission and rappelling equipment. We headed to the Biligudda through a small dirt track which shares its entrance with the Savanadurga MPCA (Medicinal Plants Conservation Area).
There were arrows painted on the rocks that lead you to the top of the hill. By all means, its a slope-y, rocky, terrain. No shade, no trees, no soil, nothing!!! 
There's a fort atop. Sections of the fort was visible from the base. There were some walls, some pillared mandap-s etc. The fort was supposedly built in 1543 under Vijayanagara Empire. It 1791 it was taken over by British by Lord Cornwallis.

From one side, the hill is almost vertical and perfectly vertical in the top half. One of our friends managed to climb it from that side till half and walked across to join us in the more accessible passage. 
What do you see first in the above pic? The 'Abhay Eesha' graffiti on rock? Spot a little green T-shirt in that expanse of slope-y hill? That's one of our guys. Those letters are 'that' huge!!! I still can't comprehend how could someone climb all that way up and write something larger than human size???

At almost one third, there's a section of the wall in ruins with a mandap behind it. But helps to provide shade. There are quite a lot of people who climb till this point. I thought the view from here was fabulous, but I had more coming up. 
From there further atop was a little pillared mandap which served as a home for an uber friendly dog there! Beside the mandap, the top a portion of the fort wall itself served as the pathway to reach atop. 
There were certain crevices in the rocks that were, well... pretty much comfortable! Till this point a cool drink seller kinda accompanied us hoping to sell some and we didn't disappoint him. 

Further atop there was another point with 2 walled mandaps - a brick one that was pretty much intact and a granite one that was almost in ruins. This place have been used as an accommodation(!) or cooking area (!) for some trekkers!!!! 

Behind this was a small pond created by a water hole. The plants that grew in here and their reflection in the water was beautiful.

A bit higher was another pillared mandap and the slope-y rocks almost came to an end and there were boulders with dirt tracks between them. At that altitude, there were some trees atop. Right atop was a little mandap with a Nandi in it, facing south.

Yup, I had reached the top. 4024 ft. high from ground. The wind was awesome. Cauvery was flowing beside. The view was breathtaking.... Not many reach atop, very few do. When we went, there were none there. When we were leaving, another group of about 5 people reached. I could even sleep there, it felt that peaceful!!!!
I could definitely give you a tip or two. 'When' you venture here, is very important. When its too hot, you'll get dehydrated, when its raining, the wet rocks get slippery and are just deadly... Venture in cooler months, when there isn't rain. Even then take enough water. Wear good shoes - in our gang the ones who wore Reebok Reeflex and Zig Pulse felt the most comfortable! No, its a fact, I'm not endorsing the brand!!! There's a little kiosk type place, where food is available. Well, its actually home cooked food. For better hotels & restaurants you have to reach NICE road. The last 15km of the road is like the crater of the moon - be prepared! Take cash, esp. in smaller denominations - there are no atm-s anywhere in vicinity and for all the tender coconuts, water, cool drinks, tipping, food you've gotta pay in cash!

From Bangalore: 50km via Kengeri

Photo Courtesy: Pics 5 & 10 by Gokul; Last pic by Sundeep.

Dedicated to Venkat & gang!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Settavarai Stonage Rock Art (Villupuram - Tamil Nadu)

Before we go to today's post, first is a news. I just started the FB Page dedicated to this blog. Do lend your support by liking the page!
After wrapping up the 3rd place, here comes the 2nd place... It's called Settavarai. The name of the place made me wonder, coz Setta means Dead in Tamil. But then I came to know it came from Sitthar Varai meaning the hillock of Tamil saint!
This was a rather uphill task. I mean quite literally! From the base its a short walk across a plain from behind the village houses.
Then there's an almost non-existing way to walk uphill. 

Just opposite was this another hill and I loved the way its rocks were placed and the way plants have grown among them!

They route uphill is filled with broken granite and in some places the archaelogical dept has made some ladders attaching boulders!
I think its the natural location of this place that kinda protects it from getting vandalized. Its almost half an hour to 45 mins to climb uphill in that route.
Before reaching atop, we did stop at a location to have something to eat and regain some energy. There atop behind a fence was the rock art! That's Gandhirajan and Veera Raghavan resting for some time. 
The most important drawing here is of this animal. Probably a goat with flames drawn all around it. There's an unidentified object in front of it. My best guess is that its a axe!
Unlike the other 2 places, here are some palm prints. Unusally some palms had 1-2 fingers missing. Gandhirajan's opinion is that, in those days, some people gave fingers are offering to Gods. So these plans may have printed by people who gave such offering.
Some symbols were also there. One was this curvy line, with dots forming straight line. 
Also spotted some fishes.... 
... and some geometrical patterns too. 
3 small boys, from the local village also accompanied us to the hill top. They were so much faster in climbing up and could climb slope-y boulders without any hold or support! I couldn't help but think, if you give training in anything since childhood, that get so easy to do, even the most difficult task! Once again while climbing down, at the same location where we rested earlier, we stopped for a nice group pic. One of those little boys clicked the shot with our camera!
Not just the rock art, here at Settavarai, the location, the trek, the view everything was definitely mind blowing!!!

From Alambadi: On the way from Alambadi to Kilvalai, comes a village called Kandachipuram. There a right turn leads to Kilvalai and a left turn leads to Settavarai. 12 km on that road and a right turn at Kulakkarai Palama St and at about 2 km you'll spot the board of Tamil Nadu Archaelogical Dept.

On Google Maps: 12.167427, 79.259446

Dedicated to K.T.Gandhirajan & Veera Raghavan

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kilvalai Stoneage Rock Art Site (Villupuram - Tamil Nadu)

Reminding once again.... I just started the FB Page dedicated to this blog. Do lend your support by liking the page!
As I said in the last post, here's about Kilvalai. Actually pronounced Kilvazhai in Tamil. It was almost evening by the time we reached there. Yup, we had a little traffic jam in those roads. 
In that little mud tracks, where we were trying to ride our van, we came face to face with this truck filled with sugarcane. After a bit of struggle, a sweet, kind request to the man who was unloading the sugarcanes, finally got the vehicle a bit more to the side, to let our vehicle, pases through and also gifted us a couple of sugar canes!!!

A bike or car could have been taken till the boulders, by in our case, the van had to be parked close to the road and we had to walk up to the boulders, through several rocks, heavy thorns, eucalyptus plantations, etc finally we managed to reach the boulders on which the painting were made. 
There are 2 such boulders and we skipped the first coz the second was more extensive. Very sadly, very very sadly. the paintings here are almost going away. They're very faint. Sharing just a few here! 
One of the painting was this, depicting 3 people. 1 seated on a horse with a sword on the side. 1 more standing beside him. 1 more who looks like he's inviting these 2 people.
Another painting was of 4 people, who appear to be standing on a raft.
Another looked like 5 symbols. May a word and may be that was the script of the language that existed then!

We stood on the boulders, till the sunset, and started our journey back.... Coming up next is the post on the place we went second, the awesome Settavarai - wait n watch!!!

From Alambadi: 10km via Sengamedu, Kandachipuram. A right turn at Kandachipuram, followed by 5km ride with first lead to Melvalai and then Kilvalai. A dirt track on the right, close to a govt., building is our path. 

On Google Maps: 12.036842, 79.340298

Dedicated to K.T.Gandhirajan & Veera Raghavan
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