Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ratnagiri - The Ruined Fort

This trek to Ratnagiri was organised by YHAI (Youth Hostel Association of India). It was Neeta who asked me whether I would be interested to join this trek with her.

According to the plan by YHAi we all met up at KSTRC bus stand from where we were supposed to catch a bus which goes to Madhugiri. After a brief introduction of everyone we caught the last bus to Madhugiri. Madhugiri is just 3 to 4 hours from Bangalore but due to heavy traffic in Bangalore we reached there in the mid nyt at around 2 AM. YHAI group had already arranged for the accomdation over night. We went to the house where we were supposed to take rest until morning. As the sky was so clear with stars shining all around, we felt like sleeping on the terrace. First, we thought there is no staircase, so climbed from the window and reached the terrace. Most of them tried the same when at last one found the staircase from behind and came through there.

Nobody could sleep as it was very chill night with the stars smiling at us. After an hour or so, we realized that it is not possible to sleep there as the weather turned to be truly cold and it did not let us to sleep. So we came back to the house below and slept there for few more hours. Early morning we got ready to move to our trekking spot which was Ratnagiri. We had thatte idli and kesaribath for breakfast with a truly hot cup of coffee. We left the house and went on to catch the bus to Ratnagiri. As we were waiting, the tempo traveler's insisted to take a ride in tempo and reach Ratnagiri. Chandru sir thought its a gud idea and hence all got into the tempo. It was great ride having fun and chatting all the way to Ratnagiri.

We reached Ratnagiri very early as it was just more than 40 minutes of the way. We could see the hilly fort from a long distance itself. We got down from the tempo and headed towards the Ratnagiri village. As this is the border of Andhra Pardesh, most of the people were speaking in Telugu. We took the path that leads to the Ratnagiri fort. We crossed the village filled with small huts and houses which looks like it had been built very long back. Few children started walking along with us and it was gr8 talking to them on the way. Started trekking towards the fort. Children were curious to know why have we come from so long to walk towards the fort as it means nothing to them. It was quite difficult to explain them what is the value of the fort. As we walked up the hill, we could see the village from there and many other hills which were next to it. Every place looked quite old and worth. With lots of clicks from each camera we went ahead.
We reached the top when it was too sunny as it was afternoon.

We saw so many historical things that I hardly remember any names [Wink] It was time for us to come back. With so many shots, posing here and there we climbed down the hill. We reached back to the village in no time as getting down is much easier. We had a quick lunch in the village under the shade of a huge tree. We also could eat fresh groundnuts in the village as people there grow it in their fields. We took the tempo in which we came in the morning and headed towards Madhugiri. It was nearly in the evening when we reached Madhugiri. Most of us wanted to climb the hill which was in Madhugiri as well but there was no time left as we ought to reach back Bangalore before late night.

We went to the same house where we had slept the other night. Packed the bags, freshed up and left the house to catch the bus back to Bangalore. As most of the buses were full, we had no choice than going via different route this time. We went through Tumkur and took another bus from there. It was nearly 10'o clock when we reached Bangalore. Leaving the historical place behind we started our way back to our respective homes. Back to office the next day, with only memories of the previous day with those pics to keep the experience still alive.

About YHAI: YHAI (Youth Hostel Association of India) is a trusted non profit organization. For more information regarding the organization, you can check the web site YHAI, India. They usually conduct trekking programme from time to time. You can also join the YHAI group for the latest updates regarding the trekking programmes they conduct at Yahoo Groups.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I came through the community called "Bangalore Trekkers' where there was a thread related to Backpacking. As I badly wanted to get away from the Bangalore life for few days, this was a way.

Karthik who was planning for Dudhsagar trek in the month of August is the organizer of Nisarga. I included myself in this trek and went along with them.
Departure was on Friday night from the Yeshwantpur, Bangalore railway station. We crossed Tumkur, Hubli, Dharwad and at last reached Castle Rock station at around 10'clock the next morning i.e 9th of August.

We had upma in the station and started heading towards the DudhSagar Falls at around 10.30. Carrying the heavy backpack with the sleeping bags and tents, we started to move on the track. We came across so many streams, bridges, more than 10 tunnels. It was drizzling but not raining heavily. Walking and walking we were getting tired. Every now and then we used to take breaks, munch the bread or some tit bits, taking photos of wonderful scenery, streams and trains which were passing by, as well as wave to the people travelling in train. As we were completely exhausted we were waiting when we will reach our destination. We could hear Karthik saying still one more hour to go. But it passed more than 3 to 4 hours but still no DudhSagar turned up. We crossed Karnataka border and stepped into Goa.

At around 5.30 we stopped at one place where there was a small empty hut. Karthik prepared Spicy Beaten Rice mix. He served us all in a plate with pickle. We were so tired that we ate it completely. A passer by said that the falls is just around half an hour more. Everyone were too lazy too start the trek again but still we had to. We all started again with ufffs of sounds... Suddenly it started raining heavily that we couldnt walk any further. The DudSagar station was just around the corner. So we al ran there to take the shelter. The station was really a very small place. The station master said that the falls is just 10 mins from there and we need to cross the last tunnel there.. We also came to know that due to landslide the trains are not passing by. We dumped our bags in the railway station itself leaving few guys there as they were not feeling well to come along with us. It was already 6.30 by then. We took our cameras and started to walk again in the rain. We crossed the last tunnel.

We were just near to the falls that we could hear the voice. First we thought there must be some train coming so we moved away from the track and went on. But no train turned up instead we could hear the tremondous falls. We reached the falls at last! We were on the bridge which is basically where the train passes usually. We were all stuck up seeing the falls as it was a marvellous sight. The falls didnt look like a simple one. As the name itself it was like Dudh(Milk). We were completely wet now both due to rain as well as the falls. That doesnt mean that we stepped into the falls. We never did that. There was actually no way for us to go and enter the falls. It was the heavy breeze which made falls water pour out everywhere. There was a small house right next to the falls on the left side. And another on the right side which was a bit far ahead. We planned to spend our night there near the falls than in the railway station. So we went back to the station and got our bags. We again reached the same spot.

We went to the house to put up our tents and spend our night there. Unfortunately, the house was completely filled with water. We started getting worried about the perfect place to put up the tent. Then we went to the next one which was right side of the falls but across the bridge. It was more like a tree house. Guys started working to put the tents right. We all were completely tired by then and waiting to take rest. When the tents were put up we just went inside and never dared to come out as it was warm inside. Nobody was hungry or may be nobody wanted to be hungry. Just ate the remaining bread and dozed off. Not sure whether everybody slept coz I could hear many shouting and whimpering that their tents were flying due to heavy breeze. I was worried whether I myself would fly of.. Even the sheet which was put upon our tent flew and we got completely wet. We put it straight and again tried to sleep. This time we were not getting sleep coz we were completely wet. We could hear some engines passing by and a train passing by too. May be some of them came in my dreams.

Morning when I woke up I could hear shouts and yells asking us to wake up. We were frightened as whats happening. When we came out from our tents and saw the falls. We coudnt believe our eyes as of now the bridge was covered up completely by the falls. I had never seen such a heartbreaking falls. We were still wet and we had no idea what is going to happen the next moment. Few guys went to the station back to enquire about the available trains as they were no trains passing by due to the landslides. We had no idea whether we would reach Bangalore by Monday morning. Still, we were too exited to think about the later happenings. We were busy taking snaps. Preparing coffee. Eating the remaining tit bits. The guys returned back with the news that due to another landslide the trains are still delayed. Then came so many plans as of what to do next. Few ideas were like walk back to the castle rock and board a train from there. If not, go to the next station ahead and reach Goa. Though there were lots of ideas pouring out, we had not idea that what we are going to do.

Anyhow, we packed our bags and started moving ahead. Hoping to reach back to Bangalore the next day. We came across two more tunnels which were close by and then we saw many workers clearing the pathway of track. May be that was the place where the landslide ocurred though am not sure about it. We could see DudhSagar from that place in a better view. It was truely astonishing this time. After all this DudhSagar excitement over we started to think about our way back to Bangalore. In between the workers there was a guy from railway department with whom Karthik asked more details about when they might get the train back. He said that there is a train which is going to pass by any moment which is heading back. So we thought we can reach Castle rock atleast. So the guy said that he will help and he stopped the train and we got into it. There were so many compartments that was empty so we got into one of them. We threw all our bags and tents in one place. We were supposed to pass the same falls again. So we waited eagerly for the last view of the falls. The falls appeared again and we again got completely wet when the falls water entered inside the train.

Later, we passed DudhSagar station and all the place that we had come through walking in just around little time. Just around 20 minutes, we reached the Castle Rock station. Few guys went to enquire whether we will be able to board the same train or wait for the other. The person who helped us was also there. He said he will take care and asked us to reach bangalore in the same train. Well, I remember his name. He was Mr. Aadesh Sharma, the person who helped us to reach Bangalore at the earliest. We waved him good bye and went on in the same train. We enjoyed talking and sharing our experience happened till now. Played Anthakshari. There was a family who were travelling from Goa to Bangalore. We started talking to them and shared our whole experience with them. There were two kids with whom we enjoyed the most. Time passed by. We crossed Hubli, Dharwad and Tumkur. At last, reached Bangalore by around 11'o clock in the night. Back to home and back to our routine life. Waved good bye to all our trek mates and hoping that we would go again for another adventure soon.

The great adventure that I had and moreover very dangerous coz we were sleeping next to the falls. The only means of transportation was train. Nothing else. Truely superb experience. Cheers to all the people who made it true and lively!!!

Further addition: Our trek to DudhSagar on 9th and 10th of August, 2008 was the best ever! Truely mindblowing with totally 16 people. i.e Karthik, Shiva, Madhukar, Shilpa, Rajesh, Saravana, Madhu karuthedath, Rashmi, Prabhu, Prasanna, Jagadish, MadhuGopal, Peter, Pranjal, Srikanth.... and at last myself..!
Karthik on the lead, Shiva as his assistant, three madhu's, three girls and many others.. totally a heap of trekkers had an amazing time during the monsoon.

Pics from Jagadish; Pranjal; Prasanna; Madhu kutty.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trek to Onake Abbi Falls

In the early days of the year 2006 during my second year of college, we friends trekked to Onake Abbi Falls. Onake Abbi Falls which is in Agumbe, often referred to as the Cheerapunji of South India.

It was one of my friend who suggested to visit this falls as it is near to her house. As it was my first trek, I was not sure what all I need to carry. I left my house wearing salwar with a bag of things what I felt necessary.
We were more than 20 people in which most of them thought of meeting at Manipal Tiger Circle.
We took a bus which goes to Shimoga via agumbe route and were supposed to get down in Someshwara which is at the foot of Agumbe ghats. It took nearly more than an hour when we reached someshwara. Our friend was already waiting near the bus stop. We first went to her house, met her parents and then bought few eatable things from a shop. Her parents had already packed pulav for all of us. There were two guides who are actually known person to that friend of mine were carrying the pulav and some extra water bottles.

We started our trek at around 11 AM. Firstly, the way was like we had to pass in between the village and then it was a small path leading to the forest. The path finally turned into a rough way were we started climbing the hill. As it was climbing we were completely exhausted in just 20 minutes and were continuosly asking the guides how far we need to walk further. The guides were only telling just a little more. It was more than 1 hour that we started trekking and as we were freshers in trekking all were feeling it difficult to continue walking.
The guide was giving few information regarding the place. But I could hardly hear him as I was myself feeling difficult in walking that too wearing a salwar. The path turned to a hilly steep which made us walk using sticks so that we will get the grip when climbing.

It was said that since 2005, Naxalite, activity has been observed near Agumbe. Most of them were worried including me thinking if Naxalites turn up infront of us what shall we do? With a pinch of fear we moved on. Whenever we hear some stream sound, we used to be exited thinking that we reached the falls but the guide used to disppoint us telling that it is just a stream somewhere down and we will reach the falls in little time. One of my friend started making pranks to me telling that after I reach back from this trek I need to call up his parents and tell that he will not be coming back as he cant walk back all the way down so he has planned to stay there itself. I was getting worried whether I will reach back?

After lot of huffs and uffffs, we finally reached some rocky area where we could see the falls in the distance. We came to know that falls in the just above the rocks and started jumping and climbing the rocks. After another 10 to 15 minutes we reached the falls and we were happy to see the falls after a lot of effort. It nearly took us 2 and half hours to reach this falls from someshwara. As most of us were not used to this trekking, it looked like we had a hard time struggling our way upto the falls.

As the name tells "Onake" means a pounding stick which is used to pound grains in villages. The falls looked like a thin stick falling from up above. Two guys already plunged into the water and were yelling at us to come and join them. In no time, all of them were enjoying the cool water. How much ever you struggle in the journey towards falls, you will forget it once you get into the water.

After a while we realized that we did not have our lunch. Soon all of them came out of the water and started unpacking all the eatables that we had got. Everything was empty in just few minutes. Nobody wanted to go back. We thought to have a last dip in the water again. So spent another 1 hour in the water. Then we started walking back to our return point.

This time it was easy to get back as we were walking down and not climbing like before. We were skidding down sitting as its was kind of slipper downwards. Hmmm, so u can imagine about what is the status of our dresses. ;) It just took 2 hours coming back as it was quite easy. We reached our someshwara before dark. After relaxing in our friends house, we set back to our respective homes.

We took a bus returning back from Shimoga which goes to Udupi. Few of them got down with me in Manipal. Then? Ahhh, well.. Heading towards my house I was feeling so tired with leg pains. I was ready to get scoldings from my mom for my dirty salwar. And guess what? My mom didn't scold me. She asked me to wash those clothes. :(

Other places to see: The nearby waterfalls are Barkana falls, Jogigundi falls and kudlu theertha falls.

Sitanadi Nisarga Dhama (Sitanadi Nature Camp) near Hebri can accommodate 30 tourists. Karnataka is promoting adventure activities in this region in future including parasailing and waterrafting.