Saturday, August 29, 2009


This is my third visit to Hampi in the past one year. The place has some charm which makes me go there so often (or is it the Mango Tree?)

A UNESCO world heritage site, these ruins of the Vijayanagar empire are located about 15 kms from Hospet, and on the banks of the river Thungabhadra.

Buses are easily available to Hospet, or even Hampi, from Bangalore. There are train services from Bangalore to Hospet too.

Important places in Hampi:
Virupaksha temple
KaDalekaaLu Ganesha
SaasivekaaLu Ganesha
Lakshmi Narsimha temple
The Queen's bath
Mahanavami Dibba
Stepped tank (inside the Mahanavami Dibba)
The Lotus Mahal and the elephant's stable (inside the Zanana enclosure)
Hazarama temple complex
Prasanna Virupaksha temple
Courtesan street
Mathunga hills
Vitthala temple complex and the stone chariot inside it.
Last, but definitely not the least, the Mango Tree!

There are other important/nice places but I've only listed the ones I remember.

The team: Jitha, Kid, Naveen, Vyasa, Shailendra and yours truly.

Some photos:

The lotus mahal

The stepped tank

Inside the Hazararam temple

The famous stone chariot

The mango tree! What a place to relax..

More photos are here and here.

Thus continues the quest...

Saturday, August 8, 2009


It had been almost two months since I went for a trek (kanoor fort). Damn that Subbu! I was itching to go somewhere for a nice monsoon trek when Tarsh comes up with a trek plan to Nadumale (finally he puts his NOLS training to some good use!!). Without a second thought I jumped in. The team: Subbu, Sirish (yes!), Flavia, Tarsh, Astha, Anand, Shalini, Siddharth, Suresh, Shashi and yours truly!

Before boarding the TT to Bhagamandala (the starting point), we had a hog-athon at Brigade Road, where we hogged on delicious chicken momos (2 plates each) and then bought 2 full baskets of KFC chicken!! (Oh my, the quantity is too mach!) Not content, we even stopped at a dhaba on Mysore road for another round of dinner! :O Bloody eating machines. Let's trek bitches!

Route: Bangalore - Mysore - Hunsur - Madikeri - Bhagamandala.

The starting point.

The trek started from a forest guest house near Bhagamandala and was of constant descent on a jeep track. Almost the entire stretch is a walk in thick forest cover. Only at a few places we were on open grasslands overlooking a valley. Since we had done the trek in monsoon, I can only describe the trek in 4 words: misty misty leechy leechy!

Misty misty!

The first day's halt was at Nadumale forest guest house, which is no longer inhabited. (Why would it be? To even talk to another person, you'll have to walk 12 kms). The guest house is located next to a stream and is a really nice camping spot, if you don't count the leeches! Since it was raining throughout, we didn't stop for lunch and came directly to the camping site at 5:00 pm. Taking a quick dip in the stream, (aah ice cold water, brrrrr!), we gorged on Maggi noodles. Everyone was too lazy for a full-fledged dinner (we were also quite full) and everyone hit the sack as early as 830 pm. Me and Subbu, though, had a discussion on world peace (no, seriously) till 11:00 pm :-).

Hog baby hog!

Our camping spot..

Next morning we started from the place at around 9:30 am. The route from Nadumale to the ending point, Peringom in Kerala, is on a flat jeep track and is about 12 kms. This was a pleasure walk. Once we reached the end point, where our TT was waiting for us, everyone got into another de-leeching mode, while me, Subbu, Sirish and Sid took it as another opportunity for wallowing in the stream close by.

The route back: Peringom - Karike - Bhagamandala - Madikeri (awesome dinner at Hotel East End) - Mysore - Bangalore.

Permission is needed to go to Nadumale. Call up Aranya Bhavan in Madikeri for permission and they'll arrange for a guide (required, the forest is a core elephant territory). Contact number: 08272-228019

Photos are here and here!

Thus continues the quest...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deepadakallu and JenkalguDDa!

Three times before have we set out from Blore to reach this peak. Twice it was thwarted by an enigma of a peak called Ombattugudda. The third time we lost our way and found ourselves on top of a new peak called SubbichenDguDDa.

This time we got another opportunity, as we had completed Amedikallu on Saturday itself. This time, instead of starting from the Lakshmi-Saraswathi estate, we decided to try out some other route to get to the peak. Last week from the top of SubbichenDguDDa, we had seen a temple very closeby and also a neat-looking path to Deepadakallu from there. The temple, named by us as "Duplicate Bhairapura" back then, is in fact Bettada Bhairaveshwara temple.

How to get there? Bangalore - Sakleshpur(right turn towards Mudigere) - Hanbal - Maragunda - Bhairaveshwara temple.

Walk a little on the same road from the temple and you will reach a place where you will see two peaks in front of you. Dipadakallu on the right side (with a large stone on top, can't miss it) and on the left hand side, higher than any other peak in it's vicinity... the JenkalguDDa.

As Subbu says, if a peak is visible, half your conquest is done. Continuing on the same road, we got to a place where there were multiple paths. After a heated discussion, we decided to take an obscure looking path which looked like leading directly to the Dipadakallu, but passed through a forest. And oh boy, did we do a good thing or what!? When we got to the other side of the forest, we realized we saved more than an hour of walk by taking the obscure looking path. From thereon, it was hardly half an hour's walk to the peak of Dipadakallu. Unsurprisingly, all along the way, we could see EttinaBhuja (yes, another profile) and we reached the peak from the temple in about 1.5 hours.

The final climb to Dipadakallu..

The Dipadakallu peak..

As it has been with our recent treks in the region, we were welcomed to the peak by a cool breeze and misty weather. On top of Dipadakallu is a stone structure. If you haven't climbed up this one, you haven't peaked Dipadakallu :-). "Intelligent-looking" Mahesha, as usual, pointed at an arbit jeep track and called the nearest peak Ombattugudda. On one side we could see EttinaBhuja, another side SubbichenDguDDa and on another side, very close to us, was the JenkalguDDa, which looked high and majestic in front of us. Five of us from the group, Subbu, Mahesha, Jagga, Sand and yours truly, decided to check out JenkalguDDa while the others, decided to by-pass it and started heading towards the temple.

The climb to JenkalguDDa!

The climb to JenkalguDDa from Dipadakallu hardly takes 45 minutes but the last few minutes of the climb is very steep, to the point of slippery. As if to make up for the steep incline to get to the peak, the top is a flat land and has a small stone for a shrine. There is a belief among locals that if you drop a coin here, the coin appears on top of Mulliangiri and vice versa. From the top, we could see Dipadakallu, EttinaBhuja and Amedikallu, all in a single line!

The first few minutes of our stay at the top was very peaceful with only the gusts of wind on our faces to interrupt the sound of silence. But, slowly and gradually, almost stealthily, we were swarmed by honey bees! It was then that we realized why the peak is called so!! But before the bees gathered in large numbers or could attack us, we started our descent on the other face of the peak, which would lead us directly to the temple, instead of going back to Dipadakallu.

Before we could get to the temple, we had to cross a small strip of thick, and I mean thick forest. There was a round-about path which could take us to a jeep track on the other side of the forest, and since we were descending, we could see the jeep track. Adventurous as we are, it was unanimously decided that we take a short cut into the jungle and come out on the other side. Needless to say, we lost our way and took about an hour to wade through the thorny thickets of just about 100 meters. When we came out on the other side, we got a little disoriented, and ended up taking a route which was longer by about 3 kms! Finally, we got to the temple at 1730 hours where our TT was waiting for us to take us back to Bangalore...

Photos of the trek are here.

Thus continues the quest...

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I have been wanting to go to Amedikallu for quite some time now. In fact, in the good old days when Moch was around, we had made several plans. But we never ended up going there, for whatever reasons. Buoyed by our last weekend's trek to Ettinabhuja and subbichendgudda, when the weather was good for treks, we decided to give Amedikal a shot on the weekend of 18-19th April.

The team: Subbu, Sirish (yes!), Flavia, Mahesha, Jagga, Sand, Adithya, Balaji and yours truly!

Amedikallu, as quite a few blogs have claimed, is considered one of the toughest climbs in Karnataka.. But is it? Read on!

There are two trekking routes to Amedikallu. The first one is from Neria estate which is relatively easier. But the estate owners supposedly donot let trekkers go through the estate these days. The second one is from Shishila which is tougher. We, needless to say, opted for the second route.
Bangalore - Hassan - Gundya - Kokkada - Shishila.

We considered going to Amedikallu without a guide, with just a GPS for assistance. But we realized that without a guide, it would be difficult for us to return on the same day, knowing our fearsome reputation of getting lost during treks! Not returning on the same day in no big deal, we were ready to spend the night on the peak, but the unavailability of water along the way bothered us. If you go along the path, there is no water source right from the beginning till the peak. But there is a water source near the base of the peak where only a guide can take you to. So we went to Gokhale's place looking for a guide. (At Shishila, anybody will guide you to his place). He immediately arranged for a guide called Chennappa, although it is advisable to call him in advance and book for a guide (contact number: 08251-269246). We soon reached Kandechhar, which is the starting point of the trek.

Amedikallu from a distance!

Take a left turn on a narrow trail from Kandechhar and you are on your way! Again, without someone telling you, it is impossible to figure this narrow trail. The walk to Amedikal peak is one of continuous ascent and the first break you get from this monotony is only after about 2 hours of climb in the forest. Once you complete this stretch, you get a magnificient view of Amedikallu in front of you, and what awaits you next! The left side of the peak has three rocks neatly arranged to look like a stove. The main peak, at the center, looks like the outer shell of a turtle (ame = turtle, dikkel = tulu word for stove). The climb from this point to the peak is steep. But to get to a water source, we took a left turn just before the ascent. Ten minutes into the jungle, we came across a stream where we refreshed and had our packed lunch.

The climb from this point is steep and is without any forest cover and with good pace, can be done in about 1.5 hours. There are plenty of rocks en route, sitting on which you can enjoy the views all around. All along this path, we got to see the other side of EttinaBhuja (we now have 360 degree profile shots of it). Also, thanks to the showers a few days back, the entire stretch was green. To get to the main peak, we had to cross a thick forest and come out on the other side. But there is a clear trail to follow. After checking out few view points on the right side of the peak, we reached the main peak at about 1630 hours. And I must say, it isn't as tough as it is made out to be. In fact, it is nothing compared to the ordeal we went through on our way to OmbattuguDDa. Amedikallu is amongst the highest peaks in it's surroundings and we could see EttinaBhuja, Minchukallu, ShinganiguDDa and other peaks. Conspicuous by it's absence was the OmbattuguDDa. The "intelligent-looking" Mahesha has this habit of spotting any arbit jeep track and calling the nearest peak OmbattuguDDa, randomly. Here too he didn't let go of an opportunity when he spotted a jeep track.

The team at the top...

After spending a good 45 minutes at the peak, we started the descent. By the time it was dark, we had reached the forest cover from where we had got the first glimpse of the peak during our ascent. The descent from this point to the road was done in darkness and was the most boring part of the trek. The descent took us so long that it seemed like a journey to the center of the earth. Finally when we reached the road, it was around 2030 hours, where our TT was waiting for us.

Some useful info:
Although considered a tough trek, the whole stretch (up and down) can be done in a single day. I would call it a moderately tough trek.

Contact number of Gokhale: 08251-269246.

Guide charge is around 200 per day. But since Amedikallu is considered a two day trek, you may have to pay 400 as guide charges.

Photos of the trek are here.

Thus continues the quest...

Sunday, April 12, 2009


As in the previous post, I am writing this blog in the present tense. Don't ask me why.

We have finished EttinaBhuja yesterday and we intend to conquer Deepadakallu and JenkalGudda today. We have had two unsuccessful plans to conquer these twin peaks (here and here). Both of them were thwarted by an enigma of a peak called Ombattugudda.

After EttinaBhuja yesterday we came to Mudigere for overnight halt. Today we are fresh and ready to go. We have enough time on our hands to conquer both the peaks. Also, we are not tired (as what had happened after Ombattugudda-1).

We have our breakfast at Mudigere and leave for Lakshmi Saraswathi estate (Hoskere), which is the starting point of the trek. Everytime we have come to this estate, the workers here have recognised us. Hope they don't get irritated by our frequent visits to the place. We reach the estate at 1100 hours and find nobody at the estate. Everyone has gone off to work. We are already running late and we don't know where to start from within the estate! Me and Subbu scout around a little and find a carpenter who is overjoyed to see someone come and talk to him. He tells us that we need to take the left turn (going down) just before the estate workers' house where will cross a stream. So we head in that direction. We also have in mind the piece of advice Mithun has given us: "There is a highway to the peak!".

The jeep track which didn't let us take the right route.

Look. We do know that there can't be a 4 lane highway or even a jeep track till the peak. But somehow none of us are willing to take any deviation from the jeep track which is stretching in front of us in a very winding and inviting manner! After a certain point, we are constantly moving in the opposite direction of the peak and somehow none of us is stong-willed enough to move away from the jeep track. So we keep on going until everyone of us agrees what we know for quite some time now - yep, we are lost, we have headed in the wrong direction. Now now, what's a trek without a little "getting-lost" business? Meandering in the forest not knowing what to do, we come across a mango tree, the ground beneath which is strewn with ripe mangoes! So what if we are lost?! We indulge ourselves like kids and after about half an hour, standing right below the mango tree, Jitha comes up with this gem: "Where is the mango tree btws?!"


Getting to a clear patch of land, we spot a peak to our right side, which looks steep and inviting. It's already 3 in the afternoon and it looks like we have a fat chance of getting to Dipadakallu. So what? We'll get to the top of this arbit peak, get a sense of direction and head back.. simple! Anyways, we haven't heard the mention of this peak anywhere and we decide to name it... SubbichenDguDDa!

On top of SubbichenDguDDa

We get to the peak of SubbichenDguDDa and we get a magnificient view of the surroundings. We spot Dipadakallu which is about 3 kms off from this place. We also realize where we went wrong in our mission to get to Dipadakallu. We also get to see EttinaBhuja and Amedikallu. Conspicuous by it's absence is the OmbattuGudda. We also, surprisingly, spot the temple of Bhairapura just below the peak! The temple, as we saw yesterday, is very close to EttinaBhuja, which, now, is in a completely different direction! In utter disbelief, we look at Ettinabhuja in one direction and Bhairapura-like temple in the other direction which are, atleast, 10 kms apart. Then we realize this is some other similar-looking temple and we name the place "duplicate Bhairapura" (thank God we are not chemists stumbling upon new compounds every now and then).

Getting down SubbichenDguDDa

We have missed Dipadakallu again. Damn it! How can one simple peak evade us on three successive attempts? Anyways, we get down the peak and get back to the estate well past sunset. We reach the estate and see a strange phenomenon: all the fireflies around us are flashing simultaneously in a burst! Have never seen this phenomenon and we are quite fascinated by it. This phenomenon is called "phase synchronization". Read more on it here.

The photos are here.

Thus continues the quest...