Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Brahmagiri Trek

Starting Point: Bangalore
Places Visited: Iruppu Falls, Narimela betta, Pakshipatalam, Brahmagiri, Thirunelli Temple
Dates:26th - 28th December '08
Distance: 700kms (Each Both ways)
Conveyance: Bus
Approx Cost:Rs.700 per head (for a group of thirteen )
Album Links: My album and PV's album

Bangalore (- Mysore -) Gonikoppa - Srimangala - Iruppu Falls - Narimela betta / Forest Guest house (- Pakshipatalam -) Brahmagiri - Thirunelli Temple - Kutta - Gonikoppa (- Mysore -) Bangalore

A thoroughly enjoyable trip, this one. One, thanks to Vyshant's meticulous preparation and two, the trip was more than just trekking... We cooked our own food in style!

We were 13 in all. Maybe it was not just a co-incidence that we chose to be 13 in total. How does it even matter?! We left late on a Friday night from Bangalore's Satellite Bus station on Mysore Road by the 11:45pm bus to Gonikoppa. We reached before the break of dawn, at 4:45am the next day, after touching Mysore at 2:15am. Pretty fast for a Karnataka sarige, you must admit. The details of the journey aren't all too entertaining. So I'll just tell you what you'd need to know when planning your own trek.

The Plan
Brahmagiri is one among the several mountains of Narimela betta. The ideal thing to do is to stay in the forest guest house on the top overnight and leave early the next morning for Brahmagiri. The best time of the year to visit Brahmagiri would be October-November, when the grass is still green, yet not too wild to hamper your fun. Plus leeches wouldn't be an issue. Around December (which is when we went) the grass is dry and brown and the mountains backs appear burnt and listless. As for the guest house, you need to take permission from the forest dept office in Srimanagala (which is en route the way from Gonikoppa to Iruppu). After much haggling the price per head for an overnight stays came to around Rs.350. We felt robbed, but then it sounded saner than sleeping in the open. After scaling Brahmagiri, we planned to climb down the back, which would bring us to Thirunelli temple, in the Wayanad district of Kerala. And then a couple of buses and we had to be back in Bangalore the same night

Iruppu Falls
Located 20kms from Srimangala, Iruppu Falls definitely isn't anything to die for. Just another of those innumerable falls you'd see in the bosom of a mountain range. Its popularity can be attributed to lack of any 'competition'. Privacy by the way, isn't something that is discussed here. So if you intend to have a soothing time sitting under a waterfall, all by yourself, look elsewhere. The fortune that you forgo at the forest dept earns you a guide. He'll take you all the way to the top. Our Mr.Guide was a shy chap who had the patience to wait for you even if you decided to ascend upside down, on your arms. The guest house is a steady, steep ascent of 4kms all the way from Iruppu. It took us just about 2 hours to cover the same.

Pakshipatalam or Munikkal Caves
Since we reached the guest house by noon on day one, we decided to go see the caves the same day. Its 3kms away and the walk is nothing but leisurely. The caves by themselves give you the feeling of being an ant wandering through a bottle of gooseberries. Umpteen boulders and menhirs lying deceivingly still. Its just about the place right place to spend that evening you have to spare on Narimela betta.
A point worth mentioning is how clearly the border between Kerala and Kanataka has been demarcated. As you walk through the hills, you can clearly see the furrow like border running from the back of one hillock onto the face of another. Look at this picture closely, you'll notice it yourself.

The forest guest house
The first thing that strikes you when you see this guest house is how it was built. Who carried all the construction material to that place - the cement, the stones, the steel and everything else. Definitely worth a thought. I'm still pondering for an answer other than the obvious.

Anyway. the guest house nothing atypical. It very well meets you expectations of a government maintained building (quite literally) seated in the middle of a forest. Its unkempt yet spacious. The wonderful part is they don't serve you food and it does not have a kitchen! They do have a place to cook although. We made the most of this opportunity, preparing lip smacking puliyogare and curry for dinner and the hallowed vegetable upma for breakfast. They say even a dry rope tastes good when you're tummies are on fire. But its a fact that there was enough experience in the group to cook a hearty meal. We did in fact leave the guest house the next day happy and satisfied.

And yes. There are a couple of streams flowing by. One for the use of each of your extremities! And again, a little experience (of living in the wild) helps here too.
Don't you forget to catch the sunrise early in the morning. That's a bonus for the early birds of the group.

Brahmagiri is a good two and a half hours from the guest house. Its again a leisurely walk. Well, almost. Because just when you think you're almost there, you're in for a surprise. Unlike any of the other mountains you would have seen, Brahmagiri has a very steep incline for the last 200 odd meters. Its a steady sharp 30ยบ incline. That makes the last 30mins really strenuous. Not much for a seasoned climber. But back breaking for the anyone else. All the effort only makes scaling the peak even more rewarding.After spending an hour on the top, we got down the other side leisurely. Takes you another 2 hours to get to Thirunelli temple. The temptation to bathe in the mellifluous stream flowing by the temple is irresistible. Why should one resist anyway!?

Changing buses at 'Thet Road', Kutta and finally Mysore we made it back to Bangalore by 12:00am on Sunday night. Getting home at that ungodly hour from Majestic was an adventure in itself. I was in bed at 2:30am and in office that day by 10:00am. Talk about Monday morning blues!

In case you have anything to share, or queries let me hear it in the comments. I'd love to hear from you. Cheers.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Hide and Seek

Holes in the Google chat invisibility cloak..
..maybe you have an alternate explanation!?

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Mobile thefts and Bangalore

I honestly don't get any kicks out of writing on this topic, but its just appalling how mobile phone thievery is perpetrated in the city! Five of my friends (myself included )have been at the receiving end of this menial act. On one side, the police force refuses to take this seriously. They flatly refuse to accept FIRs reporting a stolen cell phone! And on the other hand these scallywags thrive, with nothing to fear.

The modus operandi is simple. Just flick the handset from the unsuspecting commuter who's all focused on boarding a crowded bus. With all the pushing and pulling around, one completely fails to sense anyone putting his hand into ones pant pocket. No wonder I lost my handset out of the front pocket of my jeans! What's really disconcerting is how flagrantly the act is carried out. My friend and I have both lost our cell phones in Marathalli at around 8:00pm. So when I just payed attention today evening at 8:00pm while passing by Marathalli bus stop, I was shocked to see the audacity with which a guy was going about this act!

He's not this stereotyped construction worker who is unkempt and dishevelled, smelling like a soaked onion. At least not this one. He was this very well dressed young man in his late 20s whose appearance gave me the impression that we was earning around 20k a month for a white collared job. As my bus pulled into the Marathalli bus stand, he made a move on his victim, whom he had clearly chosen well in advance. As the crowd rushed towards the opening door of the BMTC bus, he quitely slid his hands into the middle of this ball of men. Unfortunately for him however, he did not succeed. My heart was already beating like a bass drum playing the concluding note for a march past. I was cold all over. And I continued to watch, my mouth wide open. Not be undone, he picked up another victim and moved in for the kill. He stepped close to the guy after checking him out and slowly slid his hand into the side pocket of his pant, getting into the bus in the meantime. I'm not sure what really happened thereafter but the victim-to-be had an angry word with him. This guy just shrugged and mumbled something, none of which I could catch as I was seated three rows away from the bus door. Our villian then made a quick exit from the bus by asking if the bus went to Whitefield, and thus pretending to have gotten into the wrong bus. And he made a clean getaway, without any success that is. Or was it!!?? [I'm suddenly having second thoughts, and how I hate it]

All along I was a silent spectator. I was sitting there, waiting to howl out at the victim if the thief would have succeded. How pathetic; as only now I realize that he could already have. And have decieved me a second time.

I just want to conclude that having read this post, please be extremely careful when boarding or alighting a BMTC bus when its crowded. The best thing would be to hold onto your phone and maybe just keep listening to some music off it. Atleast do so much as to keep your hands in your pocket. Believe me, you really don't want to get into my shoes.