Saturday, January 24, 2009

NewYear Trip to the "Venice of the East"...

My friend joined me in Alleppey 3 days before the New Year day. We along with my cousin covered the backwaters, beaches and an island called Pathiramanal(meaning "sands of night") which is near Kumarakom in the Vemabanad Lagoon.
We also went to the first eco-tourism site in India called Thenmala, which is famous for its elevated canopy walk through the dense trees and adventure activities.
Here are a few snaps from kodanda's SLR and my Canon SX-10IS.

Our Boat in front...

Yeah..dat's correct, a Lobster!

Lovely Vembanad Lagoon!


An island resort!

The Beach Festival..

Beach festival was quite good this time around compared to last year. This starts from the last few days before the new year's eve to the new year. You can see an ocean of foreigners on the beach, in the town, backwaters etc, etc..It's a great festive atmosphere which thrives during this time.
Lot of programs happen coupled with celebrations during the last week on the beach.

Beach at dusk-colours of sky..

A memorable day for 'em..

An attempt to correct d tilted horizon!

Well..wat to say! this's wat firangs love to do..

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bike ride to the water fall!

It had been 3-4 months since some of us had taken mountain bikes in the office. And were thinking about a trip, mountain biking or otherwise for quite sometime. Finally Nandi Hills was tentatively decided as the destination after a meeting. But, as it was our first kinda long trip we were quite circumspect to say the least. After further discussion came to the conclusion that the first trip should be one within a range of less than 100 km up and down to be realistic, which turned out to be wise later.
So, we'd more than couple of options in Bylau village of Chandrayaan fame near Menchinbele lake which i think is quite an amazing lake surrounded by reserved forest area of Savandurga; where i, manu and one of my friend kodanda had been some time ago for peacock sighting and getting some snaps (had also done a climb n trek on the Savandurga rock-which in turn is the largest monolithic rock in Asia! That climb was one gem of an outing owing to the camping on the rock halfway near the remains of a fort!! will put it a later as a blog). Another was the Sholay village Ramanagaram; and the last one was to the lake near Banarghetta National Park, not the national park though.
After further discussion kunal, chaitanya and myself zeroed in on Banarghetta as it seemed there is a waterfall if you take a diversion from the park and the area is quite good for some biking.
We actually preponed the trip by a week which resulted in some guys unable to join. On the preparations front we got a puncture kit, foot pump, got the bike checked and decided on some common accessories and food items to be brought by each one.
The plan was to assemble @6:30 am IST (Stretchable) in front of Silk Board, which eventually became 07:15 am as some of us had to join from Marthahalli and KR Puram.

We started from there at 07:15 and proceeded towards Banarghetta road. Took the first pit stop in the form of a breakfast break near bilekahalli from a roadside mobile shop. The idli-bhajji was really good and sumptuous. Started from there @ about 5-10 mins before 8 am for the park which was 9 km from there. The National park is the closest one to Bangalore which offers you a safari drive, the reason for it to be crowded on weekends; so, obviously we did not prefer it.
We took about 1 hr to reach the Banarghetta circle, where we had a small pit stop @ 9 am to check one of the cycles which had some problem related to the rear brake; which was due to the seldom usage and also it required a servicing badly. We set it right, and did an enquiry about what lies in and around for us to explore or make the bike trip count.
I went to a nearby shop for the enquiry. The shopkeeper told us the deviation to the right leads you through some kucha roads finally to kanakapura which was strange to know. But as I’d been to a waterfall some years ago in that route, I asked him about its whereabouts.
The conversation was in Kannada and he told me it does lead to a waterfall which is near a temple through the jungle and is around 8 km; and also that it was frequently traversed by elephants, which interested me.
Just then a guy intruded the convo and fired a question, “Sir which country are you people coming from?!” – in Kannada of which the shopkeeper replied with a spontaneous gaali, saying “goobe avvar pakistaninda bartayidare! Kannada mathadthayidare, gothakalva karnatakadavare (Ullu ke patte ye log Pakistan se aa rahe hain! Kannada baat kar rahe hain sunayi nahi deta, ye Karnataka ke hi hain)… you can’t really blame them, as it’s something strange for these guys here to see people on cycles with strange looking helmets on ‘em coming all the way from Bangalore..although it’s quite common in Bangalore (legacy passed on from the firings!).

So, we decided to head down the road for whatever lies in store for us and if time does permit, to visit the national park as well.
As soon as we took the deviation and traversed a few hundred meters, we found a rocky hill with a good looking sloppy descend to try some mountain biking. A bit skeptical though as everyone was kinda rookie, we first did some posing for the snaps to be taken on Smruti’s SLR and then pushed our bikes to the top.

I and Chaitanya tried to break the ice by starting off and descending down through the rocky slope with some care coupled with some adrenaline rush. It really is fun doing a mountain ride through these kinds of uneven rocks, though more challenging ones would need some protective gear as well. Soon everyone was at it, repeatedly doing rides. Though Kunal who was very apprehensive initially because of the saying – “Darr kea age fracture hai!!” and was using all parts of his body except the hands to give him support on the way down, started feeling the thrill and rode many times with Rupak, Smruti and the best of the lot Chaitanya also giving company. Rajesh opted to be the cameraman though.

Immediately we embarked on to the muddy terrain towards the waterfalls clicking few snaps on the way. At this point of time the distance covered from Bangalore silk board was around 17 kms, the max speed was 42 km/hr and the average speed was 13 km/hr – courtesy the cyclocomputer which we had.
We continued till we took a break near a beautiful pond beside a temple, filled and blooming with pink water lilies giving it a lotus kind of aura from far. Sighted a small bird on the lily leaves, which forced us to a few more clicks. Started pedaling ahead feeling that the ride was beginning to be more than worth it.

The next few kilometers were filled with dilapidated roads, kuccha, pukka, very nice tarred roads which were a pleasure to ride on, road under construction – tough to ride on and last but not the least a stretch of road having only big boulders on it which was quite interesting n fun to ride on. To reach the bouldered road we’d to take a deviation towards the right from the road we were in and was in a primitive state. The locals told us to take the road which leads to our destination.

Finally after 7-8 km we reached the temple where in a sumo was parked in. The guy who was at the entrance of the temple told that you gotta go to the waterfall through the temple and that the temple as well as the land around the falls belonged to his grandfather, so we gotta pay and enter. This pissed me off and I’d a verbal duel with him, but finally d guy became normal and we thought let’s go ahead by paying the meager amount. We took our bikes descended down the steps through stones acting as a bridge through the small gushing stream on to the rocks and bushes and at last reached the falls.
Parked the bikes near a stream so that no one could lay their hands on to have some fun, and crossed d stream to reach d falls. The waterfall was good and refreshing to see after a long ride, as a cold shower was the only thing that could refresh us. We finished quite a bit of the food in the form of fruits and chocolates by the time we were there.
We jumped into the water one after another. Had a refreshing n cooling shower and then took the path back to the place where the bikes were parked. Reached the temple took rest for sometime and then started back to the Banarghetta circle. The ride back was quite something, to start with it was good n then came the tough stretch – the under construction road as an uphill which literally screwed n baked us in the scorching sun.

Finally came to the circle, filled the stomach with something solid followed by some rest under a tree near an adjacent abandoned old govt building. Pedaled back to Bangalore and reached by 5-5:30 pm and we called it a day by dispersing to respective places.

All in all a great ride to start with, for the future long rides.