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Goecha La – A trek to remember

7 Jun
    After covering the Himalayas of Kashmir, Uttarkhand and Himachal, our natural progression was to cover the Himalayas from the North-Eastern part of India. Tintin dug-in and found the Goecha-La trek suitable for our schedule. An 8-day trek across one of the most naturally gifted and beautiful places on earth – The mighty Himalayas. What better way to use 8 of the 12 allotted leaves per year?? 🙂
    Monks the usual culprit in being the first guy to sign-up and drop out of the trek. The last time, it was for Leh and this time he wanted to compensate for that and go-to Leh instead of joining us for this trek. One can’t blame him though, but, he would be missing a trek with 10 of his friends. Tintin, Manja, Blank, MoMS, sk (formerly kaddi), ppr(me), Sen, Adarsh, Nagi and Boyz were among the final list of trekkers in a group of 24 who signed up for the May 19-May 28 batch of Indiahikes. Since 6 of us were working in the same organization, leaves required a bit of haggling and finally, we booked our flights, trains, arranged for local transports and on May 17th we were ready to leave but without my camera, which I forgot to pack at the last minute after charging the batteries overnight. It just proves that being too careful can be hazardous too.. 😛
17 May 2012
Day 1:  Its time to roll.. 🙂
Bangalore to Kolkotta

    We took the 5:40pm Indigo flight to Kolkotta (my god!! what a humid city) and then a 45-minute taxi ride costing Rs.180 to NJP station. It is advisable to have your food at a hotel en-route to the station. There are no good restaurants close to the station and even after 1 hour of frantic searching, we had to be content with just the station-provided food. We then caught the 10:55pm Padatik express to New Jalpaiguri(NJP) close to Siliguri in West Bengal. Adarsh was the only guy who had to be content with a RAC seat instead of a berth in the train. That’s the punishment for booking late.. 😀
18 May 2012
Day 2: A day wasted.
NJP to Gangtok Singtam – 120km drive – 6 hours

    We arrived at NJP around 9am the following day. Our plan was to reach Gangtok, a 6 hour drive from NJP, spend the night visiting the famous boulevard and the early next morning visiting the palace, ride in the rope-way and visit the Rumtek monastery. About 4 hours into the journey, we arrived at Ranipool, 15km out of Gangtok, where got stuck in a traffic jam for 2 hours, caused due to a road-block setup by the Sikkim-Manipal University students. Based on the suggestions from localites who said that in the previous instance the road-block eventually cleared only at 10pm late in the night, we turned back to a Singtam, a small town about 30kms from Gangtok. We found a good hotel at Rs.1200 per room (a bit costly… but people were tired and were in no mood to negotiate) and had a sumptuous meal with MoMS throwing a tantrum about spilling food on the ground.. 😛 One suggestion is the Lychee fruit found on these parts, is a must have. Also, one should try to buy jersey’s of various football teams costing mere Rs.250 (including the shorts).

Onboard the Padatik express heading to NJP

@NJP station

View of Singtam town

19 May 2012

Day 3: Journey to the base camp
Singtam to Yuksom – 110km drive – 5 hour
    Our destination for the day was Yuksom, the base-camp for the trek. Our first stop was at Rabong, where we had some of best paranthas and momos. The town also hosted the first sight-seeing spot in two days – a small monastery. Our next stop, was at the famous town of Tashiding which hosts one of the most beautiful and sacred monasteries one can find – Tashiding Monastery. Mt.Kanchenjunga in the backdrop, greenery all around, serene atmosphere. Just the right ingredients to let ones spiritual desires run free. Among all things, the Buddhists have a superb skill at finding the SPOT for constructing a monastery. 🙂 We arrived at the former capital of Sikkim -Yuksom around 5pm. Lying around 5600ft, Yuksom is a small town with tourism and trekking being the major source of income for the local populace. By 11pm, we had packed for the trek and  raring to start the next day.

Teesta river
Tashding monastery
Our stay at Yuksom

20 May 2012

Day 4: Start of the trek-  A day to cross the bridges and the attack of mini-mosquitoes
Yuksom to Sachen – 3 hours
Altitude gain: 7,151 ft – 5,600 ft = 1551 ft
    We began the day by taking permission for the trek from the police station which requires us to submit an ID proof with photocopies and doing a final bit of shopping and re-packing. By 10am, we were all set to leave. Amit Pandey and Preetham were the representatives from Indiahikes. Pemtuk, a 36-year old localite who looks like a 20 year old was our trek guide and Kamal the actual 20-year old was the co-guide.

    The initial part of the trek is through the village and half an hour into the trek, with a small climb and gradual descent we arrive at first bridge over Pha Khola. On crossing the bridge, the trail is through thick forest and an hours journey takes us to the second bridge over Tshushay Khola. The view of the river and the bridge is a beauty in itself. Again the journey continues through the forest, with a small cement bridge – Mentogang Khola signalling the arrival of the first camp. The camp-site is about 15 minutes from here-on and present in a small clearing to the right of the trail, with the kitchen hut to the left, which has easy access to water. The area surrounding the kitchen left a lots to be desired. Hope Indiahikes takes care of cleaning up the area. Also, one thing is easily noticable, the mini-mosquitoes. My god are they in millions!! They are hard to be noticed on the skin until they bite and they outnumber us aleast 1 to 10000.. 😛 So the only way to protect oneself is to wear long-sleeve T-shirt, apply mustard oil (suggested by Pemtuk) or use mosquito repellant. As the temperature dips the insects are no where to be found. So, just bear the brunt during the 3 hours of sunlight. 🙂

First view of the terrain at the start of the trek

Bridge over Pha Khola

Our camp at Sachen

21 May 2012

Day 5: MoMS’ tryst with his twisted ankle
Sachen to Bhakim to Tshokha – 4 hours
Altitude gain:  9,689 ft  – 7,151 ft = 2538 ft

    The day has a steep climb to Bhakim. So, there were some streching excersies early in the morning. MoMS, the ever-hungry-man, wanted to enquire about breakfast and while walking towards the kitchen in a hawai-chappal, twisted his ankle. 😀 wah! He hobbled around for a few minutes complaining about pain and then was ready for the trek in a flash. Ever-hungry, incomplete statements during talk and quick healing – now we were begining to doubt if he was human. 😛 By 8:30am, we were good to go. The start of the trek is literally a walk in the park. No steep climbs or descents. About 30 minutes into the journey we come to face with a very steep descent which lasts about 15 minutes heading straight to the huge bridge over Prek adorned with prayer flags. This marked the begining of the huge climb we were facing for the day. This part of the trek is again through the forest but though the climb is tiring, the cool air doesn’t let one buckle down to tiredness. An hour into the climb we arrived at Bhakim lying at 8636 ft (an ascent of 1500ft in 1 hour), which has a teashop with one of the most amazing views of the valley below. It is noteworthy that mobile coverage is available at Bhakim. We settled here close to an hour, while MoMS restarted his complain about the ankle. By now it started to swell and he was unable to even walk on plain ground. A painkiller, few quick-relief spray shots and an ankle-brace was all it took for him to get back to his feet and continue the walk towards Tshoka. This won him a few hearts but only a few know the truth that all that was drama to grab the sympathy and attention!!

    A small climb of 45minutes takes us to Tshoka, which has one of the better campsites we have been to in all the treks. The camp is at the hill top with the view of the valley on one side and the view of snow covered Mt Pandim on the other. 🙂 By the end of the day, everybody had a doubt that MoMS was faking his ankle sprain because for the second time in the trek he ended up in the group finishing first. Though the girls in the trek saw MoMS as a hero. The attention seeker got the attention he craves. 😛 We visited the local monastery close to a pond and ended the day with a Karaoke session singing songs from various languages including Kannada, Marathi, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English.

Bridge over Prek

MoMS with the twisted ankle

Tshokha monastery

22 May 2012
Day 6: Super-serene climb amidst Rhododendrons
Tshokha to Phedang to Dzongri = 5 hours
Altitude gain:  12,981 ft – 9,689 ft = 3292 ft

    The D-day of climbing. According to the guide, completion of this day’s trek in good shape implies that the GoechaLa trek is majorly done. We began the day in similar fashion with streching excercises. By 9am, we were ready to confront the climb. The trek begins with a gradual ascent, with wooden logs added as steps enroute, to protect the trekkers from the slush in-case it rains, as the entire path is pretty muddy. One begins to notice a lot of Rhododendron blossoms in different hues of red, yellow, white, purple and pink enroute. A trek of an hour and half takes us to Phedang which stands at 12,068 ft. The camp was looking like a set from a movie with beautiful Rhododendron flowers on almost all the trees and the mist covering the entire camp. We had a break of about 30 minutes where we also took a 5 minute path taking us away from Dzongri and towards Kockchurang, to fill up our water with ice-cold water.

    We restarted the second major climb of the day with the path covered entire with Rhododendron trees on either sides. It is the most beautiful part of trek and looked truly a like a “stairway to heaven” or rather “pathway to heaven”. Then the path evens out before a steep climb along the ridge where we can see a lot of prayer flags put up. We didnt spot any shrine near-by in the mist. From here on, the path descends gradually towards Dzongri with Pandim, Khabru and Kanchenjunga range visible as one comes closer to the camp site which lies amidst the grasslands. This was the trek day which I enjoyed the most. Alone with nature for a major part of the journey – nobody in sight ahead or behind during the trek. Not a care in the world, the colorful birds chirping away, the beautiful Rhododendron flowers, the mist and the trek path. Wow! Just reliving this part is refreshing. It was a good day to trek… 🙂

Trail heading towards Phedang

@Phedang

Walk through the Rhododendrons to Dzongri

Last stretch of the trek to Dzongri

23 May 2012

Day 7: First sunrise view of Kanchenjunga range
Part 1: Dzongri to Dzongri top and back to Dzongri  =  1 and 1/2 hour
Altitude gain:   13,676 ft  – 12,981 ft = 695 ft

Part 2: Dzongri to Kokchurang  to Thansing = 4 hours
Altitude gain:  12,894 ft – 12,981 ft = -87 ft

    This day was divided into two parts. The first one targetting the sunrise at Kanchenjunga veiw from Dzongri top. And the second part ofcourse the travel to next camp at Thansing. Pemtuk awoke us at 4:30 am so that the 30minute steep climb is covered before the sunrise. Trekking without bags, a majority of the 24 people decided to go and a tiring 45 minutes later we were at the top insight of one of the superb sunrises ever. Dzongri top holds a 360 degree view of the valley, along with the view of Pandim, Khabru and Kanchenjunga range. The snow plume that emerged out of the snow clad peak when the first sun rays hit the mountain will always stay in our memory. The rays of the sun were distinct as if photoshopped for us right in front of our eyes. Wish one of us had a DSLR or a good camera to capture the moment. But we did have good photographers if not cameras in tintin, manja and blank who clicked away happily at the amazing sunrise. After an hours stay at the peak, we descended and found that mist and clouds began to cover up the whole view and a small almost circular rainbow was visible ahead of us with the sun exact behind us. This caused our shadows to be cast at the center of the rainbow. Looked surreal to say the least. But these two views just “made our day” irrespective of what the trek had instore for us.

    Early in the morning, before the start of the trek, we were made aware that one of our co-trekkers, Sandeep had some breathing trouble even after regular use of diamox since the start of the trek. So, the Indiahikes representatives – Preetham and Amit, decided to wait for a day at Dzongri, to confirm if he gets better and in the worst scenario, travel back with him to Yuksom to get medical help. So, the rest 23 of us were left with just 2 guides along with a few helpers, mule-men and yak-men. But the days journey was supposedly very easy and the major part of the trek was gradual ascent and descent of small hillocks holding meadows. Two hours into the trek, with the gang moving slow as the mist might misdirect trekkers at the end, as the path is not clearly defined, we arrived at a steep descent point. 20 minutes into the descent we arrived at Kokchurang (12,096 ft) lying adjacent to the river Rathong Chu which joins Rangeet river, which in-turn finally joins River Teesta. The view at the camp is one more highlight at the trek. On crossing a few wooden bridges across the river, the final climb begins with the walk along small boulders on the hill which takes about an hour and half leading straight into the grasslands at Thansing, lying amidst the mighty hills in all directions.

Sunrise view from Dzongri point

Our shadow forming at the center of the rainbow due to sun lying directly behind us

Trek path to Kokchurang

wild yak

Rathong Chu river @Kokchurang

24 May 2012

Day 8: Penultimate day of the climb and visit to Samiti – the mesmerizing lake.
Part 1: Thansing to Lamuney =  2 hours
Altitude gain: 13,600 ft – 12,894 ft = 706 ft

Part 2: Lamuney to Samiti Lake and back to Lamuney = 1 and 1/2 hour
Altitude gain: 14,100 ft – 13,600 ft = 500 ft

    This day’s trek is as much about preparing for the next day, as much for acclimatization to handle the higher altitudes. So our next camp at Lamuney lay just across the valley so much so that the campsite visible to the trained naked eye from the hill nearby. A slow start to the day and a lazy couple of hours trek through the valley following a river, took us to the military camp close lamuney. Our camp lay about 10 mins from the military camp – the only one we saw during the entire trek. The walk is on flat ground most of the way with a very slight ascent. Most of us were preoccupied with the challenge facing us the of the next day. We dumped our luggage and left to Samiti lake allowing for the porters to arrive with our tents and setup the camp and prepare our lunch.Our gear changed from here-on, ready to adjust to the harsher and colder climate by wearing two layers of clothes and started using our gloves even at 1pm. An hours climb along the steep and barren hill took us to blue-colored Samiti lake lying in the midst of hills. Our visit to Pangong-Tso was the highlight of the trip to Leh and similarly this lake with its serene and mesmerizing beauty though on a smaller scale was a sight to behold. This just proved a saying “Less is More”. 🙂 We spent close to an hour at this spiritual lake for the Buddhists, making a pradakshina (a full-circle) of the lake before making the return journey to Lamuney, for the much needed rest as the BIG day of the trek was finally upon us.


Trek following the river path to Lamuney

Military camp @ Lamuney
Blue watered Samiti lake




25 May 2012
Day 9: The D-day of the trek. Time for some fist pumping.. 🙂
Part 1: Lamuney to Goecha La and back to Lamuneyvia Samiti Lake   = 10 hours
Altitude gain:  16,000 ft – 13,600 ft = 2400 ft

Part 2: Lamuney to Thansing = 1 and 1/2 hour

    The D-day had arrived. We were woken up at 1:30am when the first batch of trekkers started moving towards View point 1. Wearing multiple layers of clothing and only carrying things that was necessary, we prepared ourselves in the dark. A small delay cost us precious time and we were only ready to leave by 2:45am, a good 30 minutes late. Walking in the dark with our torches was very slow and some of us were very worried that we would miss the much expected sunrise. But by 3:30am, the brightness increased and so did our pace. The climb is steep at most places and it is advisable to take small breaks inorder to acclimatise oneself to such high altitude. We arrived at View point 1 just as the sunrise happened. It was a big relief for entire gang of 22 except1 person who didnot make the days journey. We had finally completed the major part of the trek and were insight of the Kanchenjunga range at sunrise. The beauty of the Himalayas in full glory was in our sight. 🙂

    People returning to Lamuney decided to rest and then move back with Kamal while, Pemtuk led us towards View point  2. The journey is a very steep descent of 300 meters taking us straight into Zemathang which has a desert/barren landscape. One can enjoy this part of the 30 minute trek. Then begins the 700 meter ascent towards View point 2. 14 of us headed towards the summit. One can enjoy superb views of the range even during the the entire trek. After two hours of the journey since View point 1, I was out of energy. One should praise Sen and blank for continuing even with literally zero energy while I stopped 20 minutes short of the summit due to the cold causing a nose block making breathing tough. A 20 minute push might have taken the count of people to a record 13 in one batch. But sadly that could not be. Though, in hindsight, that was a wise decision as Pemtuk had adviced me not to trek the last part with a cold. As usual sk, MoMS, tintin, boyz and nagi were in the batch completing first which showed their good fitness.. 🙂 We returned back to Lamuney as 12 heroes conquering Viewpoint 2 with me and Shantala, one of the other trekker just falling short of the final hurdle. No matter, it was worth a try, as major views of Kanchenjunga were seen en-route. Resting a couple of hours after lunch, we made the return journey to camp Thansing. It was another good day of trekking, which tested the physical as-well-as mental fitness of each and every one of us. 

View of Sunrise upon Kanchenjunga range from View point 1

@view point 1

Cold desert at Zemathang

Goecha Lake

View of Samiti lake enroute to Lamuney from Goecha La

Samiti Lake

26 May 2012

Day 10: Return journey – Its blackout time.
Thansing to Phedang to Tshokha = 6 hours
    Since the trek was as good as done, most of the people were already thinking about a good nights sleep on their own bed at home or home-cooked meal or even a chicken biryani from a specific restaurant in one case… 😛 During the descent to Tshokha, we took the same path along the boulders and rough terrain heading down straight into Kokchurang and enjoying the view. But from here on the path is different, as we head towards Phedang instead of Dzongri via an alternate route. The terrain is simple but not usable by mules and yaks, which took the route through Dzongri to reach Phedang. About 30 minutes after Kokchurang , my health got the better of me and I blacked out. With the help of Raghu(doctor), Ram, Gandhiji (the veteran 60-year old trekker) and several of the gang (manja, bl, MoMS, sen, boyz and nagi) through constant ORS and glucose water helped me out. Pemtuk with the help of Komal and 3 of their helpers literally carried me to Tshokha. This just shows that one should not ignore minor signs and indications our body provides after having very less water and food since the previous day. I was lucky enough that there were people to help in the time of need. A small suggestion is to keep oneself fit for such a huge trek and make sure one has lots of water each day.

@Thansing campsite

Rhododendron in full bloom

View of Tshoka town

27 May 2012

Day 11: Back to civilization –  A Blitz to the end of the trek
Tshokha to Sachen to Bhakim to Yuksom = 3 and 1/2 hours
    With my health showing minor improvement but still having weakness, the same trend continued. Pemtuk and co just ran a marathon helping me out, with MoMS, sk, Boyz and tintin making a beeline to help if there is trouble. We met Amit and Preetham at the bridge soon after crossing Sachen. With minor breaks, the total journey was cut short to a mere 3 and 1/2 hours, which usually takes about 6 hours. I will forever be indebted for the help these people made. On completion of the trek, me and MoMS went to the Yuksom Government hospital for a checkup, only to find dehydration and weakness as the root cause for me and MoMS leg was just a sprain. All in all, a good report to take back. After our lunch at 5pm, we held a small ceremony to thank the guides for their help, all along the 8 days of the trek, before heading out to Yuksom town to gobble up some local food/drink. It was a trek which tested the physical and mental boundaries of every one of us. Few of us like boyz and sk excelled at it while a few like MoMS got the attention they deserved :P, while in common many of us got what we came for – 8 days in the cradle of mother nature with not a worry in the world… 🙂

Pemtuk and co entertaining us with a song and dance at the appreciation ceremony

The 24 trekkers upon completion

28 May 2012

Day 12: The long return journey and a trip to Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir
Yuksom to NJP = 8 hours
    Adarsh was the first guy to leave, as he booked a flight from Bagodara to Bangalore. So, the gang reduced to 9 members and after a few goodbyes to other trekkers, we left towards NJP with some time to kill inbetween. The Shiva temple at Legship also known as Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir is renowned and we spent close to an hour in the temple premises, built on the banks of the river Rangeet, which has to be crossed via a metal-bridge. Our next stop was at Jorethang where ATM’s are available. We were running short of cash and this was the town where we had planned to have our lunch and do a bit of shopping. But as luck would turn out, all the 3 ATM’s in the town were dysfunctional and the nearest ATM was at Siliguri a good 3 hour drive away. So, we dropped all our plans and moved to Siliguri to withdraw money, pay the driver Rs.4000 for the day before he dropped us at the Railway station, a good 3 hours before the departure of our train – Padatik express at 9pm. A few went ahead and visited the market buying the famous Darjeeling Tea, arriving just in time to have some edible but tasteless food at the station before departing to Kolkotta.

Ymmuy momos for breakfast

Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir @Legship

29 May 2012
Day 13: Sweat and hurry in the “City of Joy”
Kolkotta to Bangalore


    The last day of the trip had finally arrived. At Rs.500 per taxi for two of them, we were taken to Howrah bridge, Vidyasagar bridge and then dropped us off at Victoria memorial. After the trek, these concrete structures are not much to look at. A 10km journey costing 1000 bucks in 2 taxis. And a road side shop selling nimbu-sherbet gobble Rs.25 per small matka. Talk about “shavara” (getting cheated) in the morning.  (that’s my personal opinion). I suggest people to move such visits before the trek. Even at 9am, it felt very humid. Since the memorial/museum only opened at 10am, we had a good hour to kill in the park in-front of the memorial. By the time everybody gave a fast tour of the museum, we were running late to catch the 2:10pm flight. To add to the delay, KKR -the newly crowned champions of IPL decided to take out the victory parade on the same route and we had to scramble among thousands of cheering fans to catch the metro train from Rabindra Sadan to Dum Dum station. A few last minute sweet eatery purchases was done before taxi’s costing Rs.150 took us the airport just 5 minutes in-advance to the 45 minute criteria for domestic flights. The flight departed at 2:10pm to Bangalore from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. A frantic end to a memorable trek/trip – A trek to remember for many reasons. 🙂

Victoria Memorial

Pics link:
https://picasaweb.google.com/112114250378515450499/GoechalaTrekSikkim#
https://picasaweb.google.com/104803450757964777769/SikkimGoechaLa#
https://picasaweb.google.com/102062402845384099827/GoechelaTrek?locked=true&feat=email

THE GANG OF TEN:
From L to R:

  1. MoMS – Got what he deserved. I mean the “attention”.
  2. ppr(me) – no comments 😛
  3. Adarsh – once in a lifetime trek for him.
  4. Sk – finished first everyday of the trek. Though he might claim otherwise.
  5. Tintin – best all-rounder. Always in the first batch and a good photographer. Only he can do that.
  6. Sen – My trek partner, matching my pace during majority of the trek days.  🙂
  7. Blank – Modern Shri Krishna for obvious reasons.
  8. Nagi – Fell in love with the trek on the 6th day. Thankfully! I was afraid he might complain that this was a poor trek.. 😛
  9. Boyz – The best trekker. He could compete with the guides and match their pace!
  10. Manja – Our best photographer.
the gang of 10 @ Yuksom before the start of the trek
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Kaiwara – Bheema Bhakasura Betta & Kailasa parvatha

6 May
    6 of us – monks, raghu, finny, Ummi, skm, ppr(me) – on 4 bikes decided to visit Kawiara, the temple town with mythological significance, situated in Chintamani district, about 75kms from Bangalore. We met at the Tin factory near K.R.Puram at 7am and took the fly-over heading towards Hoskote along the SH75. A 20 minute ride took us to Hoskote, and just after the toll booth near the Government Hospital, there is a deviation to the left heading towards Chinatamani. Another 30 minute ride, covering 25km of straight SH82 Chintamani Mani road (some one must have had an easy time designing this route because there are few little curves to be handled), and we arrived at the H-cross (intersection of Chintamani Main road and Kolar-Chikballapur road). One can find super-soft Thatte idlis here for breakfast. After the H-cross, the road deteriorates and is under construction for almost the entire 16km ride. The arch leading towards the town appears to the left near the Kaiwara cross and a 3km ride leads one straight to the temple complex.

Entrance to Bheema-Bhakasura Betta


    One can park their vehicles at the complex for free of cost. Our first item in the itenary was climbing the Bheema-Bhakasura betta situated opposite to the temple complex. According to Mahabharatha, this was the place where the battle took place between Bheema and Bhakasura. A small trek of 40 minutes along the stone steps with a good tree cover leads to the peak where one can find paintings of the fight between the two on the boulders. Along the trek path you can visit the Chamundeshwari temple, Hanuman temple and Lakshmana teertha. Lakshmana teertha has significance from the Ramayana. The water source is believed to have been created by Lakshmana to quench Mother Sita’s thirst by cracking the hill open. The view at the top is good.

mural depicting the Bheema-Bhakasura fight at the peak

Amar-narayanaswamy temple

    On climbing down, we visited the Amar-narayanaswamy temple. The ashram is build under the name of Narayanappa also fondly called Kaiwara Thathayya. We then rode upto Kailasha giri situated about 7kms from the temple complex with the roads not in good shape. The hill is famous for its cave temples and meditation hall inside the man-made caves. Upon completion, we rode back 6kms to Vaikunta along the route to Kaiwara. This place is famous for Yoganarasimha Swamy temple and Gavi Amarnarayanaswamy temple which is present in a natural cave on the hill. From there, we rode back to Bangalore by 2pm, completing a mini-trek and small ride combo which is our target for all single day trips.

Enroute to Kailasha parvatha
Cave temples at the Kailasha parvatha

Stone arrangements for blessing

Gavi Amarnarayanaswamy temple
Points to be noted:
1. Route: Yelahanka-K.R.Puram-Hoskote-H cross- Kaiwara and back.
2. Bike distance: 170kms
3. Time taken for trek: 40 minute climb.
4. Difficulty: Very easy.
Pics links:

Kudremukha – A trek through the land of Iron ore

7 Mar
    Lying at a height of 1894 meters, in the dense Western Ghats of Chikmagalur district, Kudremukha ( literal meaning in the local dialect Kannada – face of a horse) is the second highest peak in Karnataka for trekkers to conquer. Kudremukha is home to the famous KIOCL (Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd). This particular trek was lying in the back of our mind for about 2 years now. The only reason why we were avoiding it was the hassles involved in getting the permissions for the trek from the Forest office due to fact that Kudremukha is a sanctuary to both the tigers and the Naxals. Our summer trek for this year, Ombathu Gudda, had to abandoned (again!! wth!!) due to permission problems and when Monks found a contact point, Sathish, for Kudremukha trek, through “prashant’s blog”, we jumped at the chance and booked the trek for the 1st weekend of March.
    Seven of us – Tintin, monks, MoMS, skm, Ummi, Raghu and ppr(me) boarded the 10:46pm Bangalore-Horanadu bus to KaLasa, which is about 20kms from the base of the peak. On arriving at KaLasa at 6am, we took the local bus to BaLegal, which is a 15km ride taking about 30minutes. At the bus stand, our guide had sent the jeep to take us along the 6km muddy trail to Mullodi village. We had a sumptuous breakfast of Idlis, packed our lunch at the stay and started the trek at 9:15am. Permissions for overnight stay in the forest range is not given. Hence, the trek has to be completed in a single day. The initial part of the trek is along a dusty path with small uphill and downhill movement. After 30 minutes, we reach the first stream with super cool water. One noteworthy point about this trek is that, no one has to worry about drinking water, as there are plenty of streams all along the trek path. Being a summer trek, one need not worry about leeches too but that is superseded by the scorching sun, which makes sure to sap the energy out of us inch by inch. MoMS, monks and skm never even bothered to get a cap for a summer trek. Way to go guys!! Hope you love the new tan + sun burn combination!! 😀

First view of the entire forest range

Picture taken at the first stream
    The trek continues into grasslands with huge valleys to the right side of the trek giving beautiful views for photo-enthusiasts. Then, we enter into thick forest cover which has a small stream running through it and again the process repeats three times (grasslands and forest) with several uphill struggles, making sure to catch our breaths after each steep climb. Controlled forest fire had cleared out major parts of the grassland and at some places the entire greenery of the grasslands is replaced by the black charred remains. Even as we trekked, we could see smoke rising around the trek path in the nearby peaks. Naxal area + forest fire + tiger reserve = now we know why the trek permission is so hard to get!! After trekking close to 8kms, one can find the sign displaying 1.5km from the peak. From here on, the trek becomes easier and almost flat-land walk with the final few hundred meters of uphill climb. At 1:15pm, we were at the peak. Standing on top of a peak taller than any other in the surrounding peaks has its advantages. The views are superb and at such high altitude, the sun does not seem much of a worry, as the cool breeze, fog and clouds take care of us – Its the gift/reprieve from the peak for the tired bodies 🙂
One of my favorite pics..

View from about 2kms from the peak

Thats “model” MoMS posing.. 😛

Cloud cover at the peak
    After a 30 minute break at the peak for picture clicking and MoMS doing a lot of posing :P, the guide took us to a small water fall close to the dilapidated church, which is about 0.5km deviation from the trek path, that can be reached after a 10minute walk down the route from the peak. Here, we rested on a huge boulder and had our lunch right next to the stream, which on moving a few feet changed to a mini water-fall. The view was beautiful with a stream, surrounding forest cover, a water fall, a gang of friends and to cap it all – food for the hungry souls! 🙂 By 2-45pm, we began the descent at a faster pace again through the scorching sun. By the time we covered half the distance, tiredness took over and the descent became much slower. At 5pm, we were back at the stay, dropped our luggage and headed straight to the small falls near the stay. Majority among us took a dip in the cold waters and on return were treated to a plate full of hot chilli bajjis. Curse you chappars! x-( for gobbling every one of the bajjis even before me and skm could lay our hands on one!!! 😛 Played UNO till late in the night with MoMS, monks and tintin pulling a trick or two on the rest of us (one of these days guys!! some one is gonna smack you people right across the head!! waiting eagerly for that to happen 😀 ) And finally, slept on the allocated mats in the verandah.
A dilapidated church close to the peak

Our lunch spot

Skeleton of a dried leaf preserved in water.

Controlled forest fire right next to the trek path
    Our second day our initial plan was to cover the Kurinjal peak. But, when Sathish mentioned that the trek fee of Rs.275 per head had to payed all over again to cover the second peak, we were confused whether to go ahead with the not-so-famous 6km trek along a jeep track. Rs.500 for the guide + Rs.400 per head for the 4 time meal and stay + Rs.450 for the jeep each time + Rs.275 for the Forest office permission took the tally to a whooping Rs.1000 per head for a single day and that too, without including the travel charges. The trek was becoming way too costly for our liking. So, we decided to drop the plan and instead visit the Hanumanagundi falls about 30kms from Kudremukha. 
Hanumangundi falls
Horanadu Annapoorneshwari temple

    We took the 10am local transport, which took about 1 hour through the ghat-section. At Rs.20 per head, one can gain entry into the falls, which stands 22m tall. Even during the summer, one can find lots of water gushing out. Swimming is banned at the stream near the falls, so we trekked the small path to the top of the falls instead. We left the fall in the nick of time when a school tour consisting of about 100 kids swamped the place.. 🙂 The security officer at the falls informed us that there were not many places to visit. So, we decided that it was better to head to Horanadu instead. We took a 1 & 1/2 hour drive to KaLasa, had a BIG meal and arrived at the temple town of Horanadu – the home to the famous Shri Annapoorneshwari temple. Had rest, visited the temple twice and returned home by the 9:45pm Horanadu-Bangalore bus. A costly trek but this might be the peak punishing us for not trekking it from the past two years even when we wanted to do it… 😛
The seven trekkers

Summary:
  1. Trek distance: 21kms from Sathish’s home in Mullodi to the peak and back
  2. Cost per head: Rs.800 for the bus tickets and Rs.275 for permission + Rs.400 for the stay + Rs.500 for guide irrespective of the number of trekkers+ Rs.100 for local transportation bringing the sum to Rs.2000 per head
  3. Time taken for trek: 8 hours -> 4 hour climb and 3 hour return. Single day
  4. Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
  5. Contact info of guide – Sathish
    • Mobile: 9481074530
    • Land line: 08263249595

Pics link:

Downtown Chicago – Willis tower and Millenium Park

19 Jan

    Ducking the onsite travel from my company had been a success for three years. But finally, it was time to give-in and finally did agree to go. My trip was scheduled by 4:25am(IST) Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi and then to Chicago. By the time we landed in Chicago, there was a snow blizzard and after waiting for 6 hours, found my flight to Madison cancelled. The American Airlines booked a hotel for the passengers and even that hotel dumped me after waiting for 2 hours at the airport entrance for the taxi and finally when I call the hotel for the umpteenth time, they confirm that I cannot be taken in as the driver who was supposed to pick me up did not turn-up. I waited for another 10 hours at the Chicago airport, finally totaling to 18.5 hours for the flight to Madison to take off. What a bad start to the trip. I of all people agree for travel!! and its not going according to expectation… 😛 Finally, arrived fully tired at 11am at Madison. But this tiredness did not crop up to hold me back, when four of us (me and my three colleagues -Chandru – Madison Green card holder.. :P, Rohit and Seshu) decided to visit downtown Chicago the very next day.. 😛

    We started at 2:30pm on 14th Jan 2012, in the afternoon after the snowfall had subsided. A 2.5 hour  drive, traveling 238kms took us to Chicago (yes you read it right!! average speed of 95kmph and there was never rash driving!!! i couldn’t believe it). The difference in drive in Bangalore and Chicago is very simple. Chicago – Organized and Bangalore – Organized Chaos. 😛 The drive through 8-laned highway with views of snow filled fields, snow covered roof tops, barren trees on either side of the road and mild sun beating down is beautiful. My first tryst with such a ride and I loved it. 🙂

    Our first destination was the 108 story, 1,451 foot tall Willis tower, famously known as the Sears tower. With $17 ticket and an hours wait in the queue, you get to ride a big elevator all the way to the 103rd floor and move into the the Sears Tower observation deck, called the Skydeck. The night view of Chicago is beautiful with the street lights, High rises and teeni-tiny car lights visible from so high above. I especially liked the retractable glass balconies which are basically glass extensions which supports 5 tonnes of weight protruding out of the 103rd floor. The only thing that separates us and a 103 floor fall is the 2 inch super reinforced glass sheet. It scared the shit out of some people. I saw so many people scared to move onto the balcony and even if they did, were looking upwards and Rohit was one of them. Each person will have their fears. Now we know which one is Rohit’s… 🙂

View of Chicago city from 103rd floor (skydeck) of Willis tower
View from reinforced glass balcony of the skydeck

    Our next stop was the the 24.5-acre Millennium Park at Michigan avenue between Randolph and Monroe Streets. It is renowned for its Big Jelly bean model and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion where musical concerts are held. When we exited the Willis tower, it was 8:30pm and with clothing as if we were roaming around Bangalore or any tropical city, it was turning out to be pretty difficult. Our worst fear was that we will lose our senses… 😛 We joked about it and covered the major parts of the Park in a couple of hours. Had french fries for dinner (no veg food in McD’s).. 😀 and returned back to Madison at 1am in the morning.

Jelly bean at Millennium park

But one simple conclusion: No matter where you visit and how good the place is… You always wish you were back home… Organized chaos of Bangalore is better than the Organized loneliness elsewhere…. 😛
I SHALL RETURN!!! x-D

Link to pics:
https://picasaweb.google.com/100919899222671268664/ChicagoSearsTowerAndMilleniumPark

MakaLidurga trek – Ending 2011 with a trek.

5 Jan

    After a 3 month sabbatical, it was time to restart the trekking experience. Almost everybody have plans for partying or trips to start a new year. But our gang is unique. We welcome the new year by lying around in the home lazily  as usual.. 😛 We wanted to finish 2011 with a small trek and zeroed in on MakaLidurga, a small hill near Doddaballapur close to Ghati Subramanya. Standing at 1350m, MakaLidurga is a small trekking spot and has a Shiva temple at the top along with a dilapidated fort.
MakaLidurga hill – our trekking destination for the day
    Seven of us Manja, Skm, Ummi, Monks, Blank, Manish and me (ppr) were supposed to meet at my home in Yelahanka at 7:30am. Thanks to monks, who arrived 2 hours late, we were only able to leave by 10am.. 😀 We travelled for an hour along the Yelahanka-Doddaballapur road (SH9) with the initial 20minutes being four-lane and then changing to two-lane road and then found ourselves at the MakaLidurga railway station. We parked our bikes at the employee quarters and walked along the railway track to the base of the hill. This took about an hours walk. One suggestion here is that if you don’t want to trek along the railway line, you move ahead along the SH9 for another 1km and there is a small mud road leading to the base of the hill. One can park their vehicles there and then begin the trek.
At makalidurga station. L to R: blank, monks, manja, skm, ummi and manish


Trek along the railway line to the base of MakaLidurga

    We began the ascent at 11am. The trek is amidst a heap of boulders thrown about with an easy path to climb. The view of the hill-range is beautiful and the weather was ultimate for trekking – No searing sun and mild cool breeze blowing across the hills. The path we took initially gave a view of the railway line and SH9. After the initial climb of 15minutes, we cross over to the other side of the hill which gives a view of the lake at the bottom of the hill and finished the climb all the way to the top. This way, we got to view two different sides of the hill during the trek which is not the case in most of the small treks. Took a couple of breaks and reached the fort at the top in an hour. The top most point of the fort had a small mound with soft dried grass. We spent half an hour time there having the 360 degree view around us. We explored the small but sturdy fort, visited the Shiva temple and gobbled up the snacks. 
View from the top
SH9 and MakaLidurga station visible from this side of the hill

    By 2pm, we were ready to leave and the climb down was a lot easier. On reaching the base of the hill, we found a pathway leading to the railway station parallel to the existing railway line (this path is for the new railway line). I suggest people trekking the track route to use this path, as the majority of the walk is on the single railway line and its quite risky to use, with so many trains running around. 
Framed monks 😛

    At 4pm, we took our bikes and headed to Ghati Subramanya temple. We travelled about 500m from the railway station back towards Yelahanka where there is a deviation towards Ghati. A 3km ride took us to the parking lot near the temple. We had a good darshan and had lots of snacks including “special” Bhel puri.. (Please don’t ask me what was so special about that.. 😛 ). The ride back had a lot of traffic probably due to many people heading towards the city for new year and reached home by 6pm. A smooth ride, beautiful weather and a mini trek to finish of 2011  – the year of good treks and trips. It was really a wonderful year for trips.. 🙂
the 7 trekkers – Monks, manja, me, blank, Ummi, skm and Manish (L to R)
Points to be noted:
1. Route: Yelahanka-Doddaballapur-MakaLidurga-Ghati Subramanya temple- and back.
2. Bike distance: 90kms
3. Time taken for trek: 1 hour climb and 1 hour climb down and two hours trek along the track.
4. Difficulty: Easy.
Pics links:

Ladakh – A Ride across the bikers paradise on Earth

14 Sep
    Every individual has dreams – Dreams of achieving things, Dreams of following their passion, Dreams of places to visit. One of mine (in a list as big as it could get) is to drive across Ladakh. When Monks(shashi) started with the initial plan about 3 months before the journey, I knew I was going. This meant two birds in one shot – Ride for multiple days and visiting the heaven for bikers. Tintin started planning for the trip. As has been the norm in our trips these past few months, there were multiple drop outs and to top it all, even the original planner Monks dropped out (curses to u Monks.. u had the most stable bike in the gang!!!). Finally Nithin (Tintin), Vineeth (MoMS), Pradeep (sk), Senthil and ppr(me) were ready to go and when we couriered our 3 bikes (2 Pulsar 180cc – mine and tintin’s and 1 hero honda hunk – Senthil’s) on 16 Aug 2011 from Bangalore to Jammu through Gati couriers, we knew it was the point of no return – Our bikes have gone. So, we have to go. 🙂
Day 1: Gentlemen its time to go!!!
Sunday, 28th Aug 2011 – Bangalore to Delhi to Jammu
    Knowing that Rohtang pass is one of the toughest passes to ride across, the plan was to avoid it in the first phase of the ride and instead go via the Jammu route to Leh. Even though this a longer route, the roads are superb and scenic beauty of Kashmir valley is one to behold. Since, tintin had his exams till the 27th of Aug, we planned our flights to Delhi on Sunday the 28th Aug 2011. The 5 of us were ready with 3 saddle bags and two trek bags at the BIAL to catch the 10:35am JetLite flight to Delhi. By 2pm, we were out of the Delhi airport and we had 8 hours to kill before the train to Jammu. So we planned to visit the Humayun’s tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Nizamuddin railway station with an entry is Rs 10 for Indians and Rs.250!!! for foreigners. Why is there such a huge difference in pricing? After all, they too are here to watch the same place.. Its not as if they are being shown the same place though a better view/position… The monument in itself is beautiful Persian architecture, but inside the monument, it literally stinks. Renovation on the outside itself is not sufficient, the government has to make sure that the money goes into cleanup inside as well. By 4pm, we were out and decided to visit India Gate, which is a memorial for the Indian soldiers who died in World War I. It is also one of the main centers of agitation for IAC(India Against Corruption) and their crusade in Delhi other than the RamLila maidan. It was the same day Anna was breaking his fast after the government approved to table the Jan Lokpal bill to the standing committee. So, there was a sense of celebratory mood around India gate. Tens of thousands of people wearing Gandhi topi and waving India flags were shouting slogans and dancing to the tune of a band. We dont know if the majority of the people assembled there understood the version of the bill, but still they were dancing away happily hoping it was for a good cause. The traffic policemen had a hard time controlling the tempo’s and omni’s with their loud-patriotic songs on their speakers, honking away to the joy of the people around India gate… Had food in Andra Mess and reached The Delhi Sarai Rohila station to catch the 10:15 Duranto train to Jammu Tawi.
Humayun’s tomb

India Gate

Day 2: Ride through the tunnels… 🙂

Monday, 29th Aug 2011 – Jammu to Srinagar. 304km – 9 hour ride.
    The First Day of bike ride… 🙂 We arrived at the Jammu station at 7:30am and took an auto to travel the 10km to Gati office in Shiv market. We got our bikes delivered and used the petrol we carried in bottles as the courier guys dry out the petrol tank before transporting. By the time we had the first taste of paranthas in this trip and were geared up with the saddle bags on our bikes and gloves, arm, leg guards to protect ourselves from any untoward bike incidents it was 11:45am. Senthil and sk in the hunk, Myself and MoMS in my pulsar and tintin alone in his pulsar along with MoMS’s and sk’s bags was the way we were gonna ride in the trip. We drove through to the hill station called as “Patni Top” about a 100km ride – One of the closest places to Jammu that experiences snow fall. The roads are superb at most places. We had a wonderful first view of the Kashmir valley from Titanic point. Then we rode through the most amazing 2.5km “Jawahar tunnel“, dug through a mountain of Pir Panjal range between Banihal and Qazigund. It is  guarded on both sides by Indian army and photography is strictly prohibited. Seriously, it was one of the high-points of this bike trip… The ride through the beautiful tunnel. Now the second high of the day: The “Green Tunnel” – On the way from Ananthnag to Srinagar there is a small town called Bijbihara. Here, a natural tunnel about 2 Kms is made by poplar trees on either side of the road. It barely allows sunlight inside and the ride along this stretch is absolutely amazing to say the least. We reached Srinagar by 8:30pm and booked a house boat (H.B – MoMS wink-wink :D) in Dal lake at the cost of 3.6K for the night including dinner for the night and the breakfast the next day. Titanic view point, Jawahar tunnel and Green tunnel – Triple delight on the first day!! Good day in office…. 🙂
First view of the Kashmir valley
Green tunnel

En-route to Srinagar
Day 3: Zoji la here we come.
Tuesday, 30th Aug 2011 – Srinagar to Drass. 150km – 6.5 hour ride.
    The package in the house boat include a shikara or boat ride in the Dal lake. By 8:30am we rode in a small boat and within the first minute of the ride we were being pestered to buy ice-creams. Then came the ornaments, the Saffron flower stigmas called Kumkumpoovu, traditional Kashmir attire photos and the list goes on…. For an hour and half the ride was through the force-sellers and were happy when we arrived back to the House boat with sk being the only victim buying 12gms of Kumkumpoovu. Then we had Jin-Ho Choi, a Korean, whom we befriended in the House Boat, singing English country music songs for us. By the time we left it was again guess what!! 11:45am…. No matter what distance we were to do for the day, we were able start the first two days at the exact same time… 😛
     We hit the beautiful Sonmarg valley en-route with a slight drizzle and a beautiful river. The roads are not much to boast about but still we travelled at decent pace. Then came the Zoji La or the Zoji Pass, 9km from Sonmarg and a vital link between Kashmir and Ladakh. At 11,575 ft, it is the second highest pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway. The roads are pretty rough to handle with steep elevation at places, no tarmac and a rock ridden ride. We took quite sometime to clear the stretch. Once we cleared the pass, the roads became bearable to ride and by 6:15pm we arrived at Dras – the second coldest inhabited place on earth. The Tiger hills is clearly visible from the town. The rooms in “Hotel city view” are cheap at 500 for 5 people and the food is decent. We went to visit the Dras war memorial and found that the entry was prohibited for the day, as an officer of the Indian army was there to commemorate the memorial. So we turned back. The next day was Ramzan and this Muslim dominated region was in festive spirit with prayers running all through the night.

Route leading to Zoji La



Day 4: The day of double puncture.
Wednesday, 31th Aug 2011 – Drass to kargil to Lomayuru. 162km – 12.5 hour ride.
    By 7am, we were ready to leave as we had to cover the entire stretch to Leh which comes upto 290kms. A 7km ride led us back to the Dras war memorial. The designated person showed us around and explained the happenings of the 1999 Kargil war with the Tiger hills, Tololing and Pt.4875 – the three major points clearly visible in the backdrop of the memorial. We bought our souvenir T-shirts and were really moved by the number of soldiers who laid down their lives to protect our borders. As the saying in the wall of the memorial goes: “These soldiers gave up their today for your tomorrow“!! We salute you brave sons/daughters of mother India. On crossing Kargil, we found that none of the hotels that were open on Ramzan day served veg food, so we decided to continue and try our luck ahead. About 15km before the Mulbek town we had our first puncture of the trip. Senthil’s bike had a rear tyre puncture and to top it off, he had no tool kit. Our pulsar tool kit spanner didn’t match and we were in a fix. So, after struggling for 1 hour, we decide to remove the luggage from tintin’s bike. Senthil travelled alone and sk along with MoMS carried their travel bags along with Senthil’s saddle bag till Mulbek to find a puncture shop. It took another 1.5 hours to change the tube as the back tyre nut was so tight that it took three people including MoMS(who is a giant by the way) to remove it and replace the tube. From here on, an hours ride took us to Fotu la, at 13,479 ft, it is the highest in the Srinagar-Leh highway. Along the way, we can notice the greenery of the Kashmiri valley dissappearing to give way to the barren hills Ladakh landscape. To add more trouble to our day, Senthil’s rear tyre went bust once again. We were 25kms away from Lomayaru and we decide to repeat the process of Senthil riding alone. He rode at 10kmph which made our journey arduously slow. Finally, at 7:30pm, we were in Lomayuru, the Buddhist town. We took a couple of clean rooms in “Moonlight Restaurant” and enquired about bike repairs. To our disappointment, the owner said there were only puncture shops in the town which were closed at this time and it was better to take the bike to Leh to get it repaired and check for Rim/tyre damage after the 40km ride on a punctured tyre. It was decided that we shall take the bike to Leh through a small truck and get it repaired the next day but at the cost of losing the buffer day. Bad luck. But we cannot except a bike trip even without a small incident… So, after our first taste of Ladakh local cuisine, still in good spirits, we went to sleep like logs. It was a tiring day.
Dras war memorial

@Fotu La
Day 5: Bike service day.
Thursday, 1st Sep 2011 – Lomayuru to Leh. 138km – 4 hour ride.
    We were informed that the mini van will be available around 10am. So, we had time to kill and visited the Lomayuru monastery and had our breakfast of puris… 🙂 The van cost Rs.3000 to travel that distance. And to make proper utilization, we dumped all our luggage (by all luggage, i mean even MoMS!!! 😀 ) in the van. The roads were blocked by the BRO for road widening for a few minutes and finally we were let through. The roads are absolutely marvellous. We also find the sangam of zanskar and Indus in a small town called Nimmu before we reach Leh. About 50 km before Leh, we reach the Magnetic hills which is said to defy gravity and pull the vehicle upward. But it is just an optical illusion and we too tried our hand on our bikes. Not very exciting to be honest. We finally reached Leh at 2pm and spent the next 30minutes searching ATM and garage shops. Finally we zeroed in on the garage and checked Senthil’s bike meanwhile tintin and sk booked a hotel for us to stay and also visited the DC office to get the “Inner-Line Permit” required for the travel to cross the check posts at several locations across Leh as we border two “friendly” neighbours. Finally, we tweaked our bikes too to make sure it doesn’t trouble us in the days ahead. By 6pm, we were free and visited the Shanti Stupa, a Buddhist stupa which holds the relics of the Buddha at its base. Situated on a hilltop, it also provides a good Panoramic view of the entire city. Our search to visit Leh palace was a disaster as we roamed around in the dark for an hour to finally give up and reach our rooms in “Shanti Palace” costing 1600 for a double room.
Lomayuru Gompa

Nimmu town

Shanti Stupa in Leh
Day 6: Khardung la baby!!!!!
Friday, 2nd Sep 2011 – Leh to Nubra valley. 132km – 7 hour ride.
    By 9:30am, we had left our luggage behind in the hotel (as we were returning back to Leh the next day) to start our BIG ride. We were going to cross Khardung La – the highest motorable road in the world, standing at 18380 ft. After a 40km steep uphill ride, of which, the roads deteriorate after South Pulu, we were finally there…. The zenith of motorbike riding. It is as of now, officially atleast, the highest point till which one can take his bike in the world. Felt absolutely happy with the feat. But along the way, we found about 50 girls trying to conquer the Khardung pass on their cycles. All I can say is “Bravo”!!! You need absolute determination along with physical capability to achieve such a feat. We took T-shirts as Souvenir and posed for a lot of pics. Had hot black tea at the restaurant in the top and after a stop totalling 30minutes, started our ride down to Nubra valley. MoMS had the first effect of AMS(Acute Mountain Sickness) due to the low air pressure at high altitudes. Then it got to me as well. After a 10minute ride down, I decided to sit pillion in Senthil’s bike and Sk rode my bike. We stopped at North Pulu for our lunch. MoMS puked out water… Good that we hadn’t had breakfast….:P Then the ride became easier with good roads and downhill ride. We crossed Khardung village. Here I took my bike back and sk instead rode Senthil’s bike. A 43km ride took us to Khalsar village. Here there is a deviation to the left which takes us to Dikshit and Hunder and going straight would lead us to the model village Sumur. Our plan was to halt at Hunder for the night. So after riding for 23km we reached Dikshit and a further 7km led us to Hunder renowned for its sand dunes. The gradual change from barren hills landscape to that of sand dunes, after crossing Khalsar, is quite beautiful and one to watch out for. The Shyok River can be seen all along the route. We found a hotel “Olgog guest house” charging 800 for the 5 of us. We then went for a ride on Double humped or Bactrian camel in the well conserved sand dunes for 15minutes costing Rs.150 per head. Then we sat on the dunes to watch a peaceful sunset and then retired back to the room.
@Khardung La

Nubra valley

Double humped camel ride in Hunder
Day 7: Back to Leh.
Saturday, 3rd Sep 2011 – Hunder to Sumur to Leh. 172km – 9 hour ride.
    We started early next morning, as we had to cover Sumur along the way. We visited the Dikshit Gompa. Then took ourselves all the way till Khalsar before taking the deviation towards Sumur. Visited the monastery and started the ride back to Khardung la. By the time we reached Khardung village it started raining heavily and we stopped to have our brunch. Once the rain abated by 1pm, we left to North Pulu and there I was affected by AMS again. Got severe head ache. This time SK took the reins and rode to Khardung la. About 5km before the pass, the rain had created a huge slush on the road and the BRO were doing there best to make the pass accessible once again. I got down from the bike and started to walk across the slush and in about a minute i was totally stuck in the middle of the slush which was about 1ft. The BRO employee helped me and MoMS out to walk across and we waited for about 1.5 hours for the road to be cleared by the time which it even started snowing. Head ache + ride in the slush + a bit of fear + snow = great combination to screw up one’s mind… 😛 Finally they let the vehicles pass and we never even thought about stopping at the Khardung La top this time around. The ride after that was again easy on reaching South Pulu. Downhill ride and good roads again. We reached Leh back at 6:30pm.
Dikshit gompa

Gompa in Sumur

En-route to Leh
Day 8: Flop ride day: Bad bike day 2 + Bad health day… Another ultimate combo… 😛
Sunday, 4th Sep 2011 – Leh to Zingral and back. 190km – 9 hour ride.
    For the first time in the trip, the first thought that came to my mind as soon as i woke up was “I need to get back home!!”. My body was aching like hell and I was running a slight fever and I didn’t have a clear head. I told MoMS straight that they should leave me and go ahead with the trip. After 10 minutes of blunt “No” for an answer, I decided to go ahead but as a pillion for the entire day. Bad start to the day. By 8:30am, we checked out of our rooms and left to the route taking us towards Chang La. A 15km drive took us to Shey palace which isn’t much to boast about and then took an hours drive along good roads to Karu where we had our breakfast. Karu is the junction of deviation towards Chang La and ultimately to Pangong Tso while the other road leads to Manali. The route is pretty good with not so steep curves but Senthil’s bike decided to behave like a TVS 50 and grunt ahead even for small inclinations. On reaching Shakti, we were absolutely certain that something was wrong with the bike when I, who was riding pillion, had to get down and walk short distances to allow the bike some breathing and climb time. The bad day just had turned worse. So, we returned back to Karu to find a garage and the guy took 2.5 hours to clean the carburetor, airfilter completely and even changed the spark plug. We decided to go ahead with the plan of reaching Pangong Tso the same day as the roads were supposed to be ultimate. The second time around, the bike started moving a bit smooth and the by the time we reached Zingral which is 13km before Chang La, the bike sputtered to a stop uphill. We decided it was too risky to take a bike across the pass which might not climb back tomorrow as the towns after the pass were not renowned for a garage. We rode back the entire way to Leh, to not take any chances with the garage in Karu, only to find it closed for the day. The worse had just turned to worst. It was an end to a pathetic day of riding and hardship, with no distance achieved and a precious day lost. But we were finally able to visit the Leh palace… 🙂
Shey Palace

Enroute to Chang La

Leh Palace
Day 9: Reattempt to conquer Chang La
Monday, 5th Sep 2011 – Leh to Lukung (Pangong Tso). 155km – 6 hour ride.
    Now the other 4 decided not to wake me up until the bike got serviced completely. Which was a good move; considering that, I got the required rest and was rejuvenated and ready to go ahead with the ride. By 10:50am, Tintin and Senthil had serviced their bikes. I was back to my riding position and since we had taken pics en-route the previous day we literally ran non-stop from Leh to Chang La, the third highest motorable road in the world standing at 17586ft. Both the bikes were looking in good condition, which was a positive as  tintin’s bike too gave a hint of problem during the previous day climb. It was the best climb we had during the entire trip with no hiccups or stops. From here it is a 41Km ride to Thangste which has restaurants and we had our lunch at 3:30pm there, before travelling a further 34kms to reach Lukung crossing the “Pagal naala” literally meaning “The Crazy Stream”. Lukung lies in the edge of the banks of the 134 km long endorheic lake (is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other bodies of water such as rivers or oceans – thanks to wiki 🙂 ) Pangong Tso. About 2/3rd’s of the lake belongs to Tibet. By 5pm, we were in the shores of the lake and clicking hundreds of pics with our bikes. The sunset changed the colour of the lake from aqua blue to dark blue to green to ultimately black. After all the bad luck the previous day, it turned out to be a good day to ride and awesome place to stay. We stayed in “Martsemik camping at Eco huts” costing 1300 for two huts; a bit on the higher side though. This was also the night, when the dreaded addiction started – UNO had stuck and it had two more new victims – sk and Senthil to its bag. uhahaha!! 😛
We played with the torches even when the camp people pulled the plug out of the diesel generator…. 🙂

@Chang La

My beauty at Pangong Tso

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Day 10: The most beautiful sun rise and then the Start of the return journey.
Tuesday, 6th Sep 2011 – Lukung (Pangong Tso) to Rumtse. 165km – 6 hour ride. 
    Woke up at 6am to watch one of the best sun rises at the lake side. Now I am confused between Ethina Buja, Kumara parvatha and Pangong Tso sunrises as to which is the best. I Might never be able to decide for all we know. Its a good confusion to have though… 🙂
    Tintin was courting the idea of riding all the way to Tso Moriri the same day, in-order to make up for the day lost on Sunday. Majority voted against it, as we had the biggest challenge of riding ahead through the Rohtang pass and we didn’t want to tire ourselves out before the main event. Also, the ride to Tso Moriri and back required us to carry petrol in cans as there are no petrol pumps en-route. Ultimately democracy prevailed and the idea was dropped (All hail democracy!!). After the sunrise, we rested for an hour and then packed slowly as to speak in a serious note, we didn’t want to the place. It was beauty beyond anything we can imagine for people living in other parts. I was in love with the place and the sun rise. The change in colour of the water from black to golden to green to dark blue to aqua blue will stay etched in my mind’s eye forever. These are the memories for which we spend our money to travel long and hard. I was really happy to have witnessed such amazing beauty.. 🙂 Tintin and Senthil decided to go ahead a few kms ahead towards Spangmik to take a few more pics. The sadness had set in that we are leaving the place and I told MoMS that I will be heading back home directly from Leh for the second time in this trip. Gradually, I decided to go ahead with the ride to complete the journey. Had breakfast of noodles in the army camp close to the bank and bought a T-shirt as souvenir. The ride back to Karu was uneventful and nonstop again. My bike was showing signs of trouble similar to Senthil’s but not to the extreme. So, we cleaned the bike’s carburetor at the Karu garage before going all the way to Rumtse instead of the intended Upshi stay thus cutting the next day’s journey lesser by 35kms. By 5:30pm, we arrived at the homestay at a cheap rate of 100 per person. Now here’s something interesting…. We met a Canadian lady, who stayed with us in the home stay. She had travelled all the way from Canada to New Zealand to Australia through East Asia to Pakistan and now in India and she intended to carry on through Turkey into Europe in her cycle. Now we can make two inferences from this. This lady is passionate to the level of addiction in cycling. And most importantly, she must be having a pretty good pay package to cover such a huge trip. So, quoting this example we can claim for a good pay rise this coming year… 😛 
Day2 of UNO addiction continued into the night before sleeping hard for the big day ahead. A 254km ride through the passes.

My fav moment of the trip – Sun rise at Pangong Tso

Day 11: Long ride day in pretty good roads.
Wednesday, 7th Sep 2011 – Rumtse to Jispa. 254km – 11.5 hour ride. 
    We awoke at 6am to begin the big day. Starting early was the best way to begin a big ride day and we did just that. By 7:15am, we were ready with our bikes packed. A 32km ride took us to Tanglang La at a height of 17582ft is the second highest motorable pass in the world. The roads were under repair, so ride was pretty slow. The descent from Tanglang la leads us straight into the More plains which is 40km plain area of mud roads, flanked by mountain ranges on both sides which indirectly means, it is a heaven for dirt biking. On covering half the plains, sk wanted to ride and gave him the bike. This was the first instance in the trip where there was a request from the other side with the last 3 instances being due to AMS twice and bad health day…. 😛 By 12pm, we reached Pang and had our lunch which turned out to be costlier than even some of the cities we visited in this trip. Then it was turn to cross the two passes Lachulung La and Naki La and cover the beautiful Gata loops-Upper and Gata-loops lower end. The scenery by this time had changed back to the eye pleasing green hilltops to which we had become so accustomed to all these years(thanks to the western ghats!!). By 4:30, we were in Sarchu and we were coming to the end of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and entiring Himachal Pradesh. I forced sk to give me the bike back… I couldn’t bear to see other people drive in those beautiful roads and its scary like hell to sit pillion in the Ghats trusting the other rider’s driving skills for your life…. All hail MoMS for his record of 100% ride in pillion position for 12 days!!!! 😀 On crossing Sarchu by about 20kms, we found dark clouds hovering in the proximity of the hilltop nearby. I feared a snow storm and suggested that we turn back to Sarchu but all others were in favor of moving ahead to Jispa which is 85kms from Sarchu (To hell with democracy!!! when u lose… :P). We crossed Barlacha La and reached Zingzing bar at a pretty decent pace. A localite there, to my relief said that the chances of snow storm was pretty less. This cooled me down a bit… One of the most dreaded things for me is to ride in a snow storm… never been in one but its pretty scary… 😛 Finally arrived through superb roads to Jispa crossing Darchu by 6:45pm. The home stay where we decided to settle for the night had no display boards. They charged Rs.700 for two rooms with a guarantee of hot water which never materialized.. 🙂 So no bath for the 2nd consecutive day… we were stinking literally!!!! 😀 
@Tanglang La

Day 12: Hardest day of bike ride.
Thursday, 8th Sep 2011 – Jispa to Manali. 134km – 6 hour ride. 
    The pre-finale day of bike riding and the toughest yet was to be faced. We were ready, but not raring to go.. 😛 The initial journey is pretty good with decent roads in most of the places… The scenery and beauty of Himachal was in its full glory all along 74kms ride through the small towns till we reach Rohtang pass. The roads again turn bad during the final part of the climb and MoMS and his negative comments began (again!!)… “Is this it?? I was expecting much more from Rohtang pass”. 20 minutes had passed since he commented when we found the first signs of slush filled road. At first, we continued to ride together and then each of the pillion riders got down to walk while the riders tried to maneuver through 1/2 a feet of slush while trucks and tourist vehicals were stopped to prevent from movement to and fro. After half-an-hour of struggle it became almost impossible to ride. The next 3kms took 2 hours to maneuver through, with suggestions and help from multiple stranded passengers. After struggling through the next 1km we found a camp conducting Paragliding. At Rs.600 per head for a 3minute jump, it was a short ride but for a first timer it was quite sufficient. We parked our bikes and jumped from the top of the cliff along with the pilot/maneuverer. It provided a good relief after a painstaking ride during the past 3 hours. We climbed back to the cliff and had our food at “Fouji Dhaba” – an interesting name.. 🙂 Meanwhile the vehicles which were trying to climb the Rohtang were returning back to try their luck the next day. Hard Luck!!.  It was good planning of tintin to shift the Rohtang for the return journey thus making sure we covered the hardest part of the ride the last. It then started raining in the Ghats reducing the visibility to less than 5meters. The drive was painfully slow to avoid colliding with incoming vehicles. We reached around 6pm and stayed at the “Rohtang view” hotel in the outskirts of the city for 400 per room for the night. We finally took a bath after 3 riding days!! Lucky… thankfully we weren’t travelling by public transport else we would have been kicked out for offending the senses… 😛

Rohtang pass slush

Thats me paragliding… 🙂

Day 13: The last bike ride day and the case of “Crazy insane nutcase maniac driver”!!
Friday, 9th Sep 2011 – Manali to Mandi. 110km – 3 hour ride.  And then to Chandigarh
    The final day of bike riding began late. We got up-and-running only by 11am. A three hour ride to Mandi covers Kulu, along with the second 2.809km double-laned tunnel(near Aut) of our ride in NH21. Again it felt awesome to be a part of and experience good engineering. We couriered our bikes through Gati back to Bangalore at the cost of 4211 for transportation including packing. We booked a Bolero from the taxi stand for Rs.3400 for us to be dropped in Chandigarh. Now when the driver started the drive, we the front seaters immediately knew we were not going to survive the trip. This Foul-mouthed maniac drove like a maniac too… He had no sense of care but had absolute control of the car (I think so!! hopefully!!). If I counted correctly atleast 8 people should have been killed including a dog, a horse, our own driver and tintin who was sitting right behind the driver at multiple incidents. Along with that atleast 10 other drivers were foul-mouthed by him. We wanted a peaceful ride and we never got that till we reached Chandigarh after a 6 hour drive through bad roads, worse traffic and worst driving. This was also a day when we didn’t have any food… 😛 The drive itself was sufficient to keep our brains occupied. I am not talking about our 12 day ride but about the cab ride to Chandigarh!! It will last a lifetime for sure…. 😛 We were taken to a Rajhans hotel in area 52 for the night. 
P.S: UNO had continued through since we started playing in Pangong Tso…. 😀

Manali view from hotel
2.809km Aut tunnel
Day 14: Two faced Chandigarh
Saturday, 10th Sep 2011 – Rock garden, Rose garden in Chandigarh
    The hotel didn’t provide bedsheets, neither a mat nor a towel. One of the rooms given to us was stinking. To avoid all this me and MoMS went in search of better hotels near the ISBT bus stand only to find that the other hotels were in far worse condition. So, we decided that the only sensible thing that could be done was to get out of the rooms and roam around the city till night fall. Before that, we played the most boring 3 games of Rummy ever possible in the history of the game, with not even 1 person showing even the faintest sign of interest in the game. We then visited the 12 acre Rock garden designed by Nek Chand and then the 40 acre Rose garden. We then took a long walk across the city. This is when we observed the second face of the city. The area 52 in which we were staying was the worst area in the entire city with water logging, slush, bad planning and even worse conditions. But the other sectors were magnificent to say the least. 6 lane roads everywhere, huge footpaths with huge green cover, lush greenery and cycle tracks all along the road. This is when we came to know why Chandigarh is called the most planned city in India. I would love to stay there but never visit it for a trip because there is nothing worth seeing. The rock garden is a waste of space according to me… (Absolutely personal opinion!!) and well there is nothing else to see in the city when you remove that. We had a big dinner before retiring back to the stinking rooms for the night.

Day 15: All good things come to an end
Saturday, 10th Sep 2011 – Chandigarh to Delhi to Bangalore
    We caught the 7:33am  Janshathabdi to reach Delhi at 2pm. Reached airport 4 hours before the scheduled departure. Even the security guard didn’t allow us in saying “Itni Jaldi andar jake kya karoge saab”… 😛 We read novels which we had carried for the entire trip without even opening them once properly, to kill time. Finally caught the 7:10pm JetLite flight back to Bangalore to reach home at 10:45pm.
A memorable, once in a life time trip. A dream fulfilled. 2 weeks of life spent wisely !! 🙂
L to R: ppr(me), MoMS, Tintin, sk and Senthil
Things to be taken for the trip:
1. Saddle bags / Backpacks : Ones which can be easily fastened to bikes. Small back-bags for camera etc easy to wear while riding. 
3. Bungee chord and nylon ropes
4. Raincoat/Rain jackets 100% waterproof ones.
5. Riding jacket, gloves and helmets . Gloves,helmets for pillion riders. 
6. 1/2 pair Thermal inner wear and 5-6 pairs of normal inner wear. 1/2 Shorts
7. Good sturdy shoes and 1 pair rubber/foam slippers. 4-5 pairs of socks woolen/cotton. 
8. Knee and elbow guards (optional).
9. 3-4 pants (get 1-2 quick-dry track pants and remaining 1-2 jeans), 5-6 shirts/t-shirts.
10. Toiletries.
11. Huge plastic covers to cover the luggage during the rides. 
12. Medical kit including Diamox tablets.
13. Bike spare parts (tubes, clutch cables, brake cables, etc)
14. Bike Original Documents (Insurance, license, RC book, emission certificate)
15. Camera
16. Puncture and bike tool Kit 
17. Air Pump – leg powered pump
18. Sleeping bag (optional)
19. Torch.
Highlights of the trip:
1. Kashmir valley view at Titanic point.
2. Ride through Jawahar tunnel, Green tunnel en-route to Kashmir and Aut tunnel in Himachal pradesh
3. Clearing the Zoji La, Fotu La, Khardung La, Chang La and Tanglang La passes.
4. Sunrise at Pangong Tso…. Best of the trip… 🙂
5. Senthil’s bike giving 2 torture days… 😀
6. UNO games and the tauting/tricks.. 
7. Visit to the Dras war memorial 
8. Chappars tintin, sk, MoMS and Senthil for making this a memorable trip and
9. Finally, most important of all, The 12 amazing riding days in my very own beauty Pulsar 180cc though all kinds of road and weather -A Ride across the biker’s paradise on Earth —- Priceless…  🙂
Summary:
1. Distance travelled in bike – 304km + 150km + 162km + 138km + 132km + 172km + 190km + 155km + 165km + 254km + 134km + 110km = 2066km
2. Cost per person including flight charges and bike courier to and fro charges = 27000
3. Ride Route: Jammu-Srinagar-Dras-Kargil-Mulbek-Lomayuru-Leh-Hunder-Sumur-Leh-Pangong Tso-Rumtse-Jispa-Manali-Mandi
4. A Big thanks to BMC Touring forum for helping us out during the planning of this bike trip.
5. A Bigger thanks to Himank, Vijayak and Beacon divisions of the BRO -Border Roads Organization for keeping our border roads in good shape and the roads along the passes… well passable!! 🙂
6. And the biggest thanks to the 4 chappars who were brave enough to accompany me and make this trip a memorable one!! 😀
Route maps:



Pics link:

https://picasaweb.google.com/109474193633253188080/Pics_Jammu_Leh_Manali_280811110911?authkey=Gv1sRgCIPPjpXc8tvc0QE

Siddara Betta – Trek as a meditation… :)

1 Aug
    Siddara Betta, as the name implies, “Hill of Saints” (in Kannada) is renowned for numerous the Hindu sadhus and their meditations. Thus the name. But currently there are very few of the sadhus/saints left in the hill. Siddara betta fulfills the likes of different genre of people and hence quite famous among a variety of people – 
1) Pilgrimage to the temple of Lord Siddalingeshwara(Shiva) inside a cave – families and the old/religious kind.
2) Cave exploration – adventure seekers.
3) Trek to the top of the hill with a visit to the sadhu dhyana sthana – regular trekkers and photographers.
    After the deflated count to Madhugiri for a single day bike ride+trek trip and to add to that tintin’s MBA admission reducing the count even further, I assumed that the chances of going for such a trip was done with. But then again, the word “assumption” has proved to be wrong for me multiple times… 🙂 As I found out, 7 people  – Manja, skm, Ummi, blank, Raghu, Finny and me(ppr) – many first and second timers on bike trips on 5 bikes were eager for this trip and to top it all, it was “blank” who started the trip idea – The very same blank who cringed at the idea of a bike ride and who refused to join us on any of the bike trips. Indeed, it is a big turn around… 😛 We zeroed in on Siddara betta as we had this trip in the back of our head from a long time. 
The ride:
    At 7:30 am, on a fine Saturday morning of 30 July, 2011, the 7 of us met at Yeshwantpur railway station. We rode along the superb Tumkur road till our first break at The Kamat just before Dobbaspete to have our breakfast. We continued our journey totalling 40kms and took a deviation to the right at Dobbaspete and followed SH3 for the 35kms to reach Korategere. We stopped at a small lake where we can take our bikes all the way to the shore and took ample pics. The road turns to the worse on reaching Koratege and the ride is slower until we reach Birdena halli by travelling another 7kms. Here we take a left at a huge arch directing towards the hill. The ride from here is again good for 11kms to reach the base of the hill.
the 5 bikes (all red)
Super roads and my loyal bike.. 🙂
The trek to the temple:
    By 10:30 am, we parked our bikes in-front of the Shaneshwara swamy temple at the base of the hill. The 3km path is pretty easy, with steps carved all the way upto the temple entrance, thus making sure that, the Pilgrims ranging right from kids to the old do not find the trek intimidating. This means one simple conclusion, this trek is not the like the usual treks where we find ourselves amidst nature with no one else for company – Just peaceful and serene surroundings… The crowds throng the temple in quite large numbers considering that a trek of just 1 hour is required to reach the premises. This means there are shops close to the cave temple serving lunch too.. The temple itself is a small hollow/crevice in the hill which is home to Lord Siddalingeshwara. The kalyani in temple premises is said to hold medicinal value. There are lots of monkeys in and around the cave temple. So, watch out for your bags and eatables.
steps carved in stone

trek path

Lord Siddalingeshwara
Naga, Ganesha, Basava and Hanumantha(this ones looks life like)… 🙂
The caves:
    The main attraction of this trip is the cave exploration. There are several shopkeepers who also act as a guide in the caves for Rs.15 per person. It is almost impossible to navigate along the caves without a guide. So, we went along with a guide crawling, climbing, wriggling through the crevices and holes between rocks and boulders that form these wonderful caves. The guide was pretty good with him explaining the significance of the place and showing us the different spots of interest. Cave exploration is one of the many items to be done in my long list of items. And I must say the experience had us craving for more. By, 12:30am we we out near the temple entrance again. 
Room of the swamyji

Eyes of Iron-man(this 1’s made of stone though) 😛

Our guide helping others crawl through the crevices
The climb to the top:
    We had to cover another 1km along the path available to the right of the temple, to reach the hill top, which is a flat barren boulder providing an amazing 360 degree – panoramic view of the beautiful hills and surroundings. The weather was too good with an occasional drizzle of 30 to 40 seconds and return back to the cloudy cool Bangalore (though in this case Tumkur) is renowned for.. 😛 There are a couple of rooms made of stone available at the top along with a Shiva Linga temple. We spent close to 45minutes at the top exploring and photographing the pond, the rooms, clicking lots of pics of the unobstructed 360 degree view.. Also it note-worthy that 15min into climb, there is a small pathway leading away from the hill top, this leads us to Tapasvi mandira where sadhus used to meditate and also has a small pool of water close to it. We go trekking to enjoy nature along the way and not just to reach the destination alone… “the path is more important than the destination in itself” has always been the way for the trekkers. But if the view at the destination is worth climbing for, then it is an added incentive. 🙂

View of one of the two stone rooms at the top

Pond at the hill top

Climb down

Tapasvi mandira
40 minutes of nerves and tension:
    We climbed down to the temple premises and took back our shoes from the store where we had kept for safe keeping. Once ready and started the climb down, I checked my pockets to confirm if I had the bike key and alas it wasn’t there… 😦 The peace and enjoyment which we had in the trek went out of my mind in an instant. Then the nerves took over and started fearing the worst: 
1) If I have lost the bike key then, the bike has to remain here near the temple and we have to return to Bangalore to get the spare key back the next day and hope no one has hijacked the bike.
2) The second option, if we have to break the lock open, I had all the documents inside the bike so we had to give a complaint in the near-by police station for that to happen.
3) And finally the worst option which brought out the worst possible feelings: If I have forgotten the key in the bike then GOD save me and hope no one has seen the key in the last 3 hours… 😦
    Skm and me went back up the hill, to check if I had dropped the key, when I took my phone out to check for signal to call home. Ummi and blank went into the caves to check if I had dropped it when I took Skm’s camera out, which he had passed when he had to crawl through a crevice. Manja, Raghu and finny went down the hill to check if i had left the key in the bike. Frantic searching at the top and in the caves was to prove a waste of time and after 40 minutes, we got a call from Raghu/Finny saying that I had left the key in the bike. I am such an irresponsible guy right??? 😛 Seriously, I am lucky to be still having my beloved red-Pulsar 180 of close to 3 years and nearing 32000kms with innumerable rides… I will never repeat that mistake again. We learn the responsibilities from the mistakes we make and I hope it is absolutely true in my case this time… 🙂 Wah-re-wah! i have become a philosopher too.. 😀
View from the hilltop

View from the hilltop


Return journey:
    By the time all this hungama got over and we started our return journey, it was 3:30pm. We had our lunch at Korategere and then we made another mistake. The leading pack of bikers Finny, Blank and me missed the turn towards Dobbaspete and moved 7kms in the direction of Tumkur driving along one of the really bad roads. I advice bike manufacturers to go for Suspension regression testing along this route… 😛 I waited to confirm if others had made the same error to find Skm following us to inform the mistake. But by that time, finny had gone all the way and joined the NH4. So we followed him and wasted 10kms of journey along horrible roads and finally met Manja and Raghu back at Kamat. By the time we reached home it was 7pm. So, a 12 hour trip having bike ride + trek + cave exploration + a bit of adventure + tension + relief + friends = a weekend well spent… 🙂
Points to be noted:
1. Bike distance: 230kms
2. Route: Bangalore-Dobbaspete-Korategere-Birdena halli-Siddara Betta- and back.
3. Trek distance: 3kms to the temple + 1km to the hilltop = totalling 8kms
4. Time taken for trek: 1 hour climb to the temple premises. 45 minutes for cave exploration. 20 minutes to the hill top and 1 hour to climb down.
5. Difficulty: Easy
6. Unlike other treks, not many precautions are required. Just carry a water bottle. That should be good enough.
Pics Link: