[21 July to 22 Oct 2006] Sunnyvale, California, USA
[31Mar to 3 Apr 2006] Madikeri trip
This is what I call the come-let's-go-trip (requires bare minimum planning, if at all) to Madikeri. Click here for details.
[14 Feb to 22 Feb 2006] Shirdi-Ajanta-Ellora trip
The long pending trip to Shirdi finally happenned in Feb. Click here for details.
[30 Dec 2005 to 2 Jan 2006] Hampi Express trip
Hampi Express trip snaps
The new year 2006 began very well with the Hampi Express. Click here for details.
[16 to 19 July 05] Walkathon: Murdeshwar - Kundapur - Maruvanthe
Kashi and me were planning on a visit to Murdeshwar town since a couple of months. And finally we managed to go there last weekend. Click here for details.
[24 to 27 Mar 05] Journey through the Nilgiris: Ooty
We finally decided on Ooty in 2 cars (Zen and Indica) with 8 people together. After work, we went straight to Vinay's place and chilled out upto nearly 8pm. Started off with a Ganesha-sloka from Morning Raaga (I must say that the music was an integral part of this trip - considering we spent most of time riding through the serene Nilgiris).
On the way to Ooty, we had face many check-posts and once, it became a bit anxious with the cops doing a thorough search of our car for liquor (the other car had gone ahead). They acted as if we were a bunch of college kids on the way to masti - but they were disappointed to see our hp IDs.
We took a shortcut from Mysore to Ooty (which reduced the distance by almost 60 kms) bu then there was a catch here - the final check-point would allow traffic to pass only between 6am to 8pm. There we were - sleeping in our cars near this check-post at 4.30am - with no sign of any other humans. AFter a while, somebody knowcked the window and we see a pile of vehicles behind us - they somehow managed to get the gate opened. When we reached Ooty, it was chilling - we rushed to the hotel, brushed and hogged like mad at a nearby hotel - the food was excellent! Before we knew, we slept for the next few hours.
Lesson1: Don't postpone your lunch in Ooty. We literally went into most of the hotels to find food at 3.30pm - but we were disappointed. Finally, we managed to get into a mallu hotel with nice food. Then, it was all Botanical garden and shopping until we hit the sack.
We covered Connor on day 2 - Lamb's Rock, Dolphin's Nose and the fantastic train trip back to Ooty (though there was a scene we created with the Station Master for the huge anamoly in the ticket price). More shopping, more food and more sleep.
Day 3 was unforgettable - simply for the drive through the various colors of the nature - we covered roads lined up with the Nilgiri trees standing tall and straight, Bamboo strips, tea plantations spreading wide and far and above - every where you looked around, cottages/homes which looked like they were placed in step-by-step fashion through the slopes of the hills, raw forests - on the way back to Bangalore via Pykara falls, Gundalur, Bandipur, MadhuMalai and Mysore.
This trip was all about the journey - an experience to cherish for the life!
Click here for the snaps.
Yerkaad or Ooty or Goa [Planning for 24 to 27 Mar 05]I have not been outdoors since Kerala (see below) in Dec 04 and getting very edgy about it!
However, there is a ray of hope for next week - it is very rare in our industry that we get official holidays and we seem to be getting it in next week on Good Friday and Easter (if we get more lucky). It will be to Yerkaad in Tamil Nadu or Goa if there is a holiday on Easter as well!
[10 to 16 Dec 04] Kerala TripShashi, Kiran, Raghu (my brother) and me visited God's Own Country - Kerala...which I must say was true. It was a perfectly planned trip & we never got lost though none of us even remotely knew local language Malayalam. The cost of the entire trip came upto not more than about Rs. 2,500 - though it would be lesser for Kiran since he did not join us to Cochin. Someday, will give you more details of this fantastic trip...ah I almost forgot, just after about 10 days of this trip, the tsunami stuck the whole of southern coastal India. It still gives me a cold chill when I think of Vivekananda Rock Memorial where over 500 tourists had been left stranded for more than 3 days...the same place we had been 10 days before...
[19 to 21 Nov 04] Horsley HillsThis is a little known hill station which is about 30 kms from Madanapalli (in Andra Pradesh) which is in turn about 200 kms from Bangalore. Our team at HP went there to get out of the city noise and buildings.
[31 Jan 04] Trip from Digital - To TalakaaduThis was a company-sponsored trip with the Australian clients (not sure what they enjoyed about the dirty water and scorching Sun). It was a very poorly planned trip to begin with, but turned out to be a bit of an adventure for some of us when one of the cab drivers discovered very late that the keys to the cab was with another driver who had left long time back with the clients back to town.
We had to drive to a nearby town and get a mechanic who managed to get the steering mechanism broken after a very long time in the dark (it was about 8pm, all the tourists had left and there was network coverage for phones, basically - no sign of civilization).
In the meantime, we started of with gully cricket with a good measure of football - and had a ball!
[23 to 26 Jan 04] Trekking: Sringeri to AgumbeI had been to a great trekking from Sringeri to Agumbe(25 kms) last Friday night(23 Jan) & came back on Monday morning(26 Jan).
5 of us(classmates from UVCE) - me, Shashi, Karthik, Kiran, Manjesh had been there. The most adventurous part was to get on the 9pm bus(at the Bangalore Bus Station) to Sringeri on Friday night. I came to know that I would go only at around 6pm on Friday. We managed to reach the bus stand at 9.05pm!
Reached Sringeri at 6.30 & we visited the serene temple - you feel like you want to be left alone there - just to enjoy the cool, quiet morning.
After breakfast, caught a bus to Kigga(10 kms). From there, we began the actual trek to Narasimha Parvata(6 kms). We got on top of a hill & got lost..you cant see what's ahead - the forest is so thick. We tried to follow different directions, but at the end we were going around in circles. To our rescue, a forest watcher heard our desparate calls & then guided us through the next 2 hours to our 1st target. There, we dropped dead under a tree on cool rocks for 30 mins. We had some lunch and at 12.30pm, we hiked up on top of our target!
Our second target was to reach a village Mallandur(10 kms). The watchers told us carefully all the tiny paths, turns, tracks, directions, dos & donts. It seemed like they were fully confident that we would get lost in the jungle! We could make out by the instructions they gave us on how to survive in case we do.
We started out fine, reached waypoint(points on the way to target) 1. We had to go around a deep valley to reach on top of our 2nd waypoint(we were burning under the 2pm Sun). To reach our 3rd waypoint, we had to go down through a dense forest region - there was no way, & we couldn't go back at this stage. We got in, every now & then we would have a council on the direction & easiest path. 2 of us(including me) acted smart(later on, we realized it was foolish) & started following an steep valley downwards.
Then all of us joined in, realized we were well & truly lost inside a thick jungle after 2 hours. We were desparate, exhausted, panicky, afraid for our lives. No sign of a clearing, all signs of footprints of cheetah & bears. It was 4.30pm & it was pitch dark, silence all around. We stopped for a serious council. Made some calculations. Decided we had to go to our left. Headed straight to left, aggressively, clearing the thick foliage with sticks, not caring for hollow blocks of wood, thorny creepers & each step that could be result in a land slide.
After 30 mins of this, it was like finding diamonds when we saw sunlight, and then a clearing! And then we reached our waypoint 3. Luckily, we ran into another batch of trekkers from Agumbe, which had reached here with almost similar incidents of getting lost. We decided we would stay with them - they were professionally equipped with tents, food, etc. We were dead tired(it's an understatement), they gave us some hot tea & the setting Sun was a beauty! They prepared food for themselves(we were asleep by that time). The constellations & shooting stars in the crystal-clear sky put us to a long sleep in the forest...they had a watch on the camp through out the night by turns around a camp-fire.
Next morning(Sunday), we had some tea after refreshing at a small stream of pure water nearby. This day was almost perfect - in the sense, we did not get lost until around 1pm. At this point, we had nothing to eat. And we excited at the sign of civilization - an agarbatti pack, sound of a distant hen & a man. We rested for some time, then 2 dogs came around, followed by a woman. She almost misguided us to a different village, but we were saved by a man called Ganesh, as though the Lord himself! He guided us to the village. In the middle, we dropped into a pond of clear natural water for almost an hour. The only thing we now wanted in our lives was food. That we had in Agumbe, where we reached by an autorikshaw from Mallandur(4 kms).
After hearty & tasty lunch, we settled in front of a temple & slept like dead horses until 5pm for 2 hours. Then we ordered the nearby hotel guy to deliver us some tea. The final destination was the Agumbe Sunset Point - we walked for 3 kms & enjoyed the rich & wide range of colours on display by the Sun until 6.30pm. Back to town for dinner. Boarded the 8pm bus to Bangalore to reach next morning at 5.30am.
I wouldn't say these were the happiest moments of my life - because there were lots of scary, tiresome hours. But definately one of the most unforgettables!