Wednesday, August 17, 2005

What is the purpose of education?

Recently I had been on a cycling expedition to Makalidurga, which is near Ghati Subramanya. Makalidurga is a small village. It also has a small, but beautiful railway station. The place got its name due to a fort which is on a hill nearby.
The fort on top is in ruins, but it is very big in area. The fort must have been built during the rule of Palegars.
As such, as very few people visit the place, the place is quite clean. The fort walls are not dirtied by names inscribed on them everywhere, except for some names which appear to have been etched recently.
The reason why it attracted my attention was, it was done by the so called educated folks. The art work appears to have been done by the 2005 civil batch of Dr. Ambedkar Institute of Technology. It appears as though they had come prepared with paints(of different colours) with an intention to spoil the monument.
I really wonder, how people think that their names will remain eternal by painting it on the monuments. When the monuments themselves are struggling to withstand time.. how can their names remain? Seems like a joke. But it hurts to see the monuments in such a bad shape.
Great men become eternal by their deeds and not by merely inscribing on stone.
The funny part was, when we told some shepherd boys not to allow people to do such activities, I was stunned by their reply. They told, they would never allow any person to spoil the pride of their village. When they saw that I had a camera, they also requested me to take snaps of the inhuman act and publish it in newspapers.
So, who is educated, the Civil’05 Dr.AIT batch students, or the shepherd boys who know the value of these monuments (though they might not have attended schools)?
So, I request all who read this blog to make the Civil’05 Dr. AIT batch famous. Let the whole world know about their heroic deeds.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Kabbinale River Trek (4th and 5th Sept'04)

Narration:Myself and Vasanth.
Review,Editing,Special effects : RK
This is the story of our most successful unsuccessful trek. I am always blamed for organizing surprise trips/treks. Sorrowfully my critics failed to realize the main reason - heap of uncertainity, gifted by our software industry. But still seeing the efforts which went into organizing some well-organized treks v/s the enjoyment and effort v/s the probability of a flop show, I always feel that surprise trips/treks worked better.
Preparation & Planning:It was a long time since our last trek i.e Green Route trek. So I asked my trek-guide Prashant to suggest a tough one. He suggested us to trek to ‘ombattu gudda’ which was on the hasan-chikmagalur border. The trek to start from Gundya in Udupi Dist and pass through the dense forests of western ghats to reach Ombattu gudda. From ombattu gudda a jeep track would take us to hosakere. From there a bus ride to moodigere, mudigere to Bangalore back.
Meanwhile few words about Prashant. I met Prashant for the first time at Air Force Selection Board, Mysore during our 5 day selection process. He is a real enthu guy. He has a big group of friends who are regularly in search of new places for trekking. After that I’ve not met him in person, but he has been continuously the source of good trekking places and a guide for me.This time I decided to give my critics a chance to rest, especially Kaat who had complained about me to Capt. Zabi. So, the bill was circulated well in advance (about 10 days). After lots of harate, inclusions and dropouts finally a team of ombattu decided to go to ombattu gudda on 03-09-2004.
Though the planning started long before, we could not escape the last moment uncertainties. We faced more challenges before the trek than during the trek. After the struggle to get tickets, fight to acquire sleeping bags backed by the punctuality of Naveen L, the final blow was a last minute drop out, sardar. And to the surprise of our punctual team, the bus which was about to leave by 9:50 PM was not to be found till 10:30 PM. Our team of 8, me, rk, vasant, sriram, Naveen L, srinivas, abhishek,anand welcomed this since it would save us from reaching our base location Gundya in odd hours.
Start:Our bus journey was smooth. We had a good sleep often interrupted by the thought of our conductor’s reminders to handover the tickets to seat no.15 before we get down.
Day 1:We reached our base location at 5:30 in the morning. Without wasting much time, we started off trekking. Our only guides were prashant’s document and map, backed by some guidelines. Keeping all our pressures under control we walked for about an hour on the jeep track with the Kabbinale river flowing parallel to our paths. Then we decided to take a break, finish the formalities and have a nice bath in the river. It was here that we started finding mysterious wounds on the legs of our team-mates. At this moment we didn’t know that these were due to leech bites and this was just a beginning to a lasting ( blood-sharing ) relation we had with these creatures for 2 days.
Refreshed by the bath in the cool waters, we continued our trek in search of the fireline where we decided to have our breakfast. All along the path the forest was getting wilder and wilder. We also received a warm welcome by a viper which was carelessly crossing the path. Our path was cut by innumerable streams. With lots of circus (crossing the streams) and some leg pulling sessions we reached a point where the path divided into two. Now, we realized that we had already crossed the fireline. Now, we decided to have our breakfast. To our astonishment we realized that our blood had broken the fasts of many bloody leeches. Almost all of us were bleeding. The most essential commodity was salt. After freeing ourselves from the leeches we walked for some more time and we had our breakfast at around 10 AM.
The path was now wide enough only for one to walk. We came across the kabbinale river cutting our path. The best place to cross the river after some investigation was found by sriram and shek. Meanwhile the other team members freed themselves from the leeches. Crossing the river was an adventure in itself. With all the luggage, shoes in our hands, stumbling, falling and sliding on the slippery rocks, we reached the other bank.
As soon as we crossed the river, we found a path and starting walking along it. Here the path was not much distinct and it was playing hide and seek with us. Suddenly we were unable to find our path further. Our only guide was the map and everything seemed OK according to the map. At this point I felt the seriousness of my mistake of forgetting a compass. Since we were now at the base of a hill, we thought climbing the hill may give us a better picture of our location so that we can get back to the right track. Map supported out thought,or so it seemed.
So, without a second thought, we started climbing the hill. The whole hill was covered by dense forest. The presence of thorny bushes and bamboos added to the complexity of uphill climbing was. Myself, sriram and Anand were leading the uphill climbing and making some sort of way to the other team members. The humidity was killing us. Our look for the alternative was cut short by dead ends and steep downfalls in all directions. Weigth of the food we were carrying kept reminding us of the hunger. Thirst reminded us of empty bottles. Ready to attack from all directions, leeches made sure we never stopped at one place.
We reached the summit finally- wet due to perspiration, dry due to thirst, hunger,. But to our disappointment, the hill had no clear patch on the top to help us find our path. Unloading ourselves on the summit, we decided to camp there, and send some of us in search of the main stream which we were supposed to follow. I, sriram and anand set out in search of the mysterious main stream. Seeing the sun, and calculating the direction we set out in the northwards direction. After some steep sliding through the jungle, we found a small patch of grassland. From there we could see most of the major hills mentioned in the map. The condition of the grassland at some places, the dung gave us a lot of clue to prove that the place was host to elephant herds. Continuing our downhill journey, we met a dried stream, further we could hear some water source.
The whole down hill journey had cost us 30 mins. So, fearing the plight of our worried teammates, we decided to return , even without checking if it was the main stream, which we hoped. Gasping for air and water, we again reached the summit. After a light refreshment, we set out to take our team mates to the supposed main stream.
Now started the real confusion. It was here that I realized how confusing a forest can be. All the directions appeared to be the same. It went on 2-3 times, we would take the team in one direction, then feeling it was not the way we went, we would climb up again. By now, it was past 3, we were all hungry. And the confusion brought down the spirits of many. Some were of the opinion to go back and try to reach gundya by EOD. Some were against it. Finally overcoming all the difference of opinions and after Very Intense Discussion about the route to be followed ,a final decision was taken and we headed towards the North direction approximately to climb down the hill. We somehow had to manage to sneak through the tough terrain and the hill seemed to be sloppier and at one point it was around 80 degree slope.Fortunately all our teammates managed to climb down the hill successfully and reach a stream which was flowing in the valley.It had its tense moments - like when a small rock almost uprooted Shek who had reached out to get back the slipped sleeping bag.
By now everyone was exhausted with energy and we all knew that we are completely lost in that wild jungle. So here we had to apply some common and direction sense and with bit of discussion we all agreed upon that the destiny of the stream we found would be kabbinale river.
We couldn’t dare to take rest or sit for a while b’coz of those leeches, we walked for about 2 hrs along the stream and finally we could see the boisterous water of kabbinale river.
By now it was around past 5 and uncertainity about our location still prevailed. Finding small patch of dry and vacant land , big enough for our gang, was like finding an oasis in desert. We found the tailor made oasis and almost immediately decided to rest there and spend the night there. This is where we encountered our second snake, think it was king cobra, black in color and about 6-7 feets. May be because of our foot steps it rushed away from us and disappeared into bushes in Nick of time.
On river banks, sufficiently away from river could be the best thing on earth for us to spend night. But the next day we heard from localites , that place is not visited by them ! Fear of wild animals like tiger and elephants stop them from going around that place, let alone spend nights! Over overnite stay there almost shocked them.
Preparation for night camp was done : Accumulating dry sticks, getting water from river, getting ourselves rid (as far as possible) of leeches. The agenda for the night was that 2 people would stay away for 2 hrs and turn by turn all would sleep/stay awake. Their activity would be to chat and to keep the fire alive Music of the dark jungle and some food was the company. Their another important responsibility was to shoo away the wild animals by making sounds (hitting the plates with spoon), or so we planned !!
Day 2:
After a strenuous day, naturally we all slept well in the warmth of sleeping bag. Our day started lazily, trying to wake up and trying to wake others. Hesitantly we wore the same stinky clothes, stained with blood. After our morning activities and a quick breakfast, we started off at around 7:30.One thing I can’t forget is the sweet water of Kabbinale River. The river is true to its name. The water is as sweet as sugarcane juice. We all drank water heartily.Our path was all along the river. Ups and downs, rocks, bamboos… oops, by then even my bag had given up. The 150Rs was worth only for 1 ½ days. I had to tie up the bag to my shoulders using towels, this added to the thrill.
The whole path had its excitements and challenges. We had to walk through the bamboo, slide on the fallen trees, climb rocks etc… Etc. We saw some of the beautiful curves of the river as we walked along. As the path became difficult to walk along, we crossed the river and trekked along the right side of the river. We had to face some more challenges. The challenge was to recognize the place where we had crossed the river. Along the river side, full of boulders and rocks, it was not a easy task to recognize the place where we had crossed. As we walked along we started finding clues of human intrusion, like bamboo cut using a sickle, foot prints.
I forgot to mention, we had also found feline foot prints along the riverside. By this time we had also stopped worrying about leeches; RK had become their best friend. Especially after being bitten by mosquitoes in the night, he was in all praises for the leeches, as they would silently suck blood even without our knowledge. No evidence/pain left. And they would silently retire after their job is done.
At around 10:30 we came to a place which according to shek and sriram was the place where we had crossed the river. But, rest of the team members were in doubt. Then our detective shek discovered the IKON sticker of RK’s shoes to convince the rest. I fear what would have happened if RK had not shed those stickers. Probably, we would have to go till the sangama and again trek all along the river to reach gundya. In that case, I doubt if we could reach Bangalore by Monday morning, since river side trek takes horribly long time due to slippery path and rocks.After much discussion and argument, we found a path which we presumed to have used to come till the river. All along the path shek would try to convince the already convinced team showing their shoe-marks that it was the right path. Rest of the trek went smoothly.
We could even find some local villagers by now. We also met a group of shikaris. They had killed a large squirrel which I doubt would not even suffice them for a day’s meal. I really wondered, “the purpose of it’s living” only to fill the stomachs of 2-3 people ? and that too would not last there more than 4-5 hours. This is nature. The weaker ones exist to fulfill the needs of the stronger ones. We were helpless. We silently saw the magnificent animal being taken away. After having a small talk with them, we went to have a bath in the river.
After a hearty bath, we had our lunch on the way near the stream. Also a paper boat race kindled the child in us. We had lots of photo sessions too. By the time we reached Gundya, srinivas was limping due to the bad state of his shoes, shek due to the rolling rock.
Final Phase:By God’s grace we all reached Gundya in full piece by 3:30PM. From there we alighted a bus to Hassan. The whole journey, was spent sleeping. We didn’t even bother to think of the state of our fellow passengers who had to bear with our stinking clothes and shoes. At Hassan, our team minus Vasant alighted a bus to Bangalore. Vasant departed us to meet his sister.We reached Bangalore by 11PM. With the sweet memories of the Kabbinale river trek and a burning desire to go again and reach ‘OMBATTU GUDDA’ we departed to our HOME SWEET HOMES.
And though we did not go where we intended to , this trek gave our mechanical life all the required masala, - we had more adventure, more uncertainities , faced more challenges, did more trek than it would have been possible if we were to trek to original destination. After the strenuous trek, we really learnt to appreciate the luxuries of city life. But, we have also learnt to live without it. And also to enjoy the journey along the path the destiny dictates us rather than we choose.

Click here for photos.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Shravanabelagola (26-Nov-2003)

After our college, it was our first formal outing. 6 of us set out to salute the ultimate symbol of Vairagya.. Bahubali. I had newly bought my camera then and this was a nice opportunity to experiment on it.
We left Bangalore early at about 7am and reached shravanabelagola by around 10am. We all first visited the doddabetta(vindhyagiri) to salute Bahubali.
He holds a very special position in the Jain culture. No other kevalin has a temple. There are temples built for the thirthankaras. But bahubali is considered only as a kevali(one who attained kaivalya). It is undoubtedly because of his sacrifice that he holds such a position. He had the whole world under his feet. The chakra which had conquered the whole world, was standing like a tamed cat beside him. But his eyes were set onto something eternal. All the materialistic pleasures of this world seemed worthless to him. Truly.. even the 57 feet huge structure falls short in symbolizing the great personality.
After that, we visited the chikkabetta(chandragiri), where it is believed that chandragupta maurya spent his last days. The chikkabetta has more than 20 jain basadis on it. After visiting all of them, had lunch in the shade of a boulder. Relaxed for a while and left for bangalore by about 3:30.
The thing we enjoyed the most was sliding on the slide (jaara bandi) formed by smooth rock. Strangely the doddabetta had a small slide and the chikkabetta had a bigger one. The bigger one was more thrilling and exciting. For more photos, click here.

Cycling to Ramanagara

On 19th June, I had been on a cycle expedition to Ramanagara- The hideout of Gabbar Singh. It's about 45 Kms from Bangalore on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway.
Actually this plan was setout by Sandy(Sandeep). I'm a cycling enthusiast and I was excited over this plan. But, the saddest thing was... I couldn't find even a single guy with cycle in our friend-circle.
I was wondering... though India tops the world in terms of cycle sales, why do the people over here look down on cycles? Especially the bangaloreans think they have to ride cycles only till they become old enough to get a 2-wheeler license. And once you are into work, riding a cycle is something like a sin.
But, one thing is for sure. The vehicle of future is The Cycle.
So, on that cool cloudy sunday, we both set out at around 7:45 from Deepanjali Nagar. With not much stops in between we reached Ramanagar at 10:30 am with aching legs and base(thanks to our small and uncomfortable seats). We wasted most of our time in searching for a decent Veg hotel to have our breakfast. Finally after a quick breakfast, we set out on a narrow winding road leading to the Ramagiri betta or the Ramadevara betta popularly known as the Sholay gudda.
We reached there at around 12:00. The rocky hill is surprisingly covered by thick forest. The plants and trees growing even on a handful of mud in between the cracks in rocks give a clear picture of the Struggle for existance. After having a tasty nap under a tree, we climbed on top, visited the temple and headed towards the highest point on the hill. Steps are carved on a dangerously steep, big rock leading to the highest point.
While getting down, we chose not to use the well defined path. It was fun finding our own way crawling beneath the boulders and through the thorny bushes.
It is said that this forest is an habitat for the Sloth bear and Leopard. Due to our bad luck we were not able to find any :( .
Stopping in between for a brief Lunch at Kadumane, we reached Deepanjalinagar(our starting point) at 5:30. I stay nearby, but poor Sandy, he had to cycle may be an hour more through the Bangalore traffic to reach his home in Koramangala.

Click here for photos.

1) Mysore Road and its traffic - both were in their worst condition.
2) A guy travelling in a car, stopping us and enquiring about our trip.
After a brief talk with him, we found out that he is also a great cycling enthusiast who had been to Kanyakumari on Cycle. He was very happy to know about our cycling expedition and encouraged us a lot.
3) Body pains which we enjoy. It makes us feel that we have done something.

Monday, June 27, 2005


This is my first post and my first experiment with blogging.
I work in an IT company and my favourite pastimes are the weekends, which I usually spend trekking or exploring the world around me. My favourite grounds have been the western ghats till now. Hope, I'll upgrade myself soon and will be roaming around the Himalayas in near future.
The western ghats really fascinate me. The same place in different seasons, different places in different seasons, different places in the same season or same place in the same season always reveals something new.
I sometimes get confused whether I'm exploring the world around or am I exploring myself. I would like to mention a famous saying in kannada 'desha suttu athava kosha odu' (Explore the world or read the scriptures). These are the 2 ways to gain knowledge. I would always prefer the first one.
I'm reminded of a saying by Einstein 'Whenever I see the sun, moon and the planets, I always feel that there are many bigger things in life to worry about'. I may not be exact in quoting it, but this is what I always feel whenever I'm in front of the mighty mountains or the vast sea.
Mainly through this site I intend to publish writeups, travelogues and photos of my treks. I hope this will be of use to many a like minded people who intend to worship nature and not to exploit it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

O (26th and 27th Feb 2005)

No one is beat till he quits,
No one is through till he stops,
No matter how often he drops,
A fellow’s not down till he lies
In the dust and refuses to rise.-- Edgar Guest

My previous prominent trek was the unsuccessful attempt to scale the O. While returning from it, I had only one thing in mind ‘I’ll be back’. Due to some reasons, I had to take a break from trekking. Finally the time came this February end.As usual, there were inclusions and deletions in the list till the nth moment. Finally 5 people alighted the 11 PM bus(on 25th Feb); Myself, Nanda (hard core trekker), Sandeep, Vasant and Nischal. This time we made sure not to repeat the mistake of our previous unsuccessful trek to O…. by not carrying a compass.After a bumpy ride with intermittent sleep we reached the Checkpost at around 4:45 AM in the morning. After having a cup of tea at the nearby tea stall, we started. The initial trek included 1.5 kms on the highway. Then we took a path to the right of us just after the bridge across river. We walked for some more time till we came to the edge of the village, from where the jungle starts. Since it was still 5:30, we decided to rest till the sun rises.Again we started at 6:30. The initial trek has a well defined jeep track till the point where we have to cross the river. On our way, we had our bath and breakfast between 7:30 to 8. Our brisk walk made us reach the point where we have to cross the river by about 11am. We refreshed for a while and crossed the river. This time, instead of just blindly following the path, we moved towards the right to find the main stream. After 15-20 mins of walk we found a small stream. Hoping it to be the main stream, we started following it.All through the criss-cross path along the stream, we tried in vain to match our location with that of the locations in Prashant’s trek photos. All along the almost dry stream, we came across several confusing confluences. We just took the path that headed north (approximately). By this time, we found it difficult to locate ourselves exactly on the map. So, we decided to head northwards; whatever may come.We had to cross some (3-4) hills on our way. Some were very steep, and we had to scramble with 4 legs. The humid weather was also showing its might.We managed to have a quick lunch of chapattis and puliyogare at around 2 pm near a small stream (almost dry).Our post lunch trek was mostly through the ridges of mountains. We hardly found any water on our way. Since we were fully exposed to the harsh sun, our water stocks depleted very fast. By 4 pm, we were left out with only 1 ltr of water. From then on, we started to conserve water. Water was given to the needy on quota basis.At around 5 pm, we were in front of a big hill, which we mistook to be one of the o. By this time, we were fully exhausted and dehydrated. With great difficulty, we climbed the hill and planned to rest there for the night.The views from our camping site were awesome. But none of them were in a position to enjoy. As soon as we reached the top, Vasant and Nischal fell fast asleep. Myself, Sandy and Nanda enjoyed the beautiful sunset (with great difficulty).Though we had enough to eat, we decided not to eat, since it would increase the thirst. The moon rise from our camping site was too good. We had to spend the whole night with thirsty throats and empty stomach. Since we had no stock of water, we decided to do a moon light trek early in the morning and cover as much distance as possible before the sun rises.After a good sleep, we started at 5am. But since we encountered some steep drops, we decided to wait till dawn.Only after dawn, we recognized that the hill on which we rested was not O. We could find huge hills double the size of the hill on which we camped in front of us. The hill where we camped was blocking our vision; giving us a false impression that it was the biggest in the surrounding area.After some more blind trek northwards, we also found a short cut (maybe used by cattle) which helped us bypass a big hill. By this time, we were almost dead due to thirst. So, we decided to go in search of water. Luckily I and Nischal found a small dried up stream down below in the trench. There were few small pits where water had clogged. We were not in a position to judge the quality of water. Gulped up as much as possible, ate heartily and collected as much water as possible.The journey further was fully on the bald ridges. Though it was tiresome, we were fully charged after finding water. At around 11 we reached on top of O. From there, we could see the jeep track. We could also see our camping site. The hill on which we camped appeared like a small ant-hill in front of O.The sight from the mighty range made us forget our tiresome journey. After a round of photo session, we headed towards the jeep track.The journey along the never ending jeep track was the most horrible part of the trek. After about 2 hrs we reached the Khodays estate. The security personnel there mistook us for ‘Naxalites’ on seeing us with sticks in hand.There we came to know that there was a bus 2:30 pm. So, we hurried to catch that bus. But on reaching the village, to our bad luck, we found that the bus was on election duty and the next bus would be only at 5:30 pm. We decided to spend our time in the bus shelter. By then, few people came to know about us and about our trek. The words spread from mouth to mouth and people came in groups to see us and talk about our trek.We were dumb folded by the hospitality shown to us by the villagers. One noble man offered lunch to us. We tried to repay him, but he would reject saying that this is all for ‘vishvaasakke’. Finally he asked us to send the photos of his daughter which we had taken, if we were so keen to repay him back.We left his home at around 4pm. As we went towards the bus stand, the villagers tried to make arrangements for our travel by requesting the police officers who were on rounds. But, the police were heading towards some other place. So, the villagers arranged an autorickshaw and also fixed the rate with him before hand.When we were leaving, all the people on the road were wishing good bye to us. We could not believe our eyes. Was such a treatment ever possible in a city like Bangalore?By midnight we reached Bangalore. The trek was over. But what we learnt from it, would remain for ever. Especially, the innocence, straight forwardedness and hospitality of the villagers impressed us a lot. It made us think again and again, where have we lost all these? By now, each one of us had understood the importance of water. No one from our team would ever dare to waste water in his life time.One thing I have to confess… this trek increased the unquenchable thirst for trekking in us.