Bramhagiri — A trek 5 years in the making

Bramhagiri a mountain nestled in the Bramhagiri wildlife sanctuary has been on my radar ever since I started trekking couple of years ago. In spite of climbing numerous peaks over the years this is one peak which has been eluding me for a long time. Numerous attempts to scale the peak have been proved unsuccessful either due to lack to company or due to other factors. I had decided to summit the peak this year as the wait was becoming increasingly frustrating.

For the opening trek of 2012 I had asked kiran to check if we could get permission to climb bramhagiri. Kiran who had been to the peak told me it can be done in a day as the climb to the peak is towards the end, and the grasslands provide an easy walk. The forest dept have also hiked the prices for trekking and one needs to pay Rs 500 for the guide excluding the permission fee of Rs 200. If one needs to stay in the narimale guest house the fee has been hiked to Rs 1500 for 2 ppl which is rather expensive. All these factors made us to consider doing the trek in a day.

Kiran took care of calling the forest dept in srimangala and checking for the permission and booking the tickets. A few calls to the regulars(Prashant, Mohan,Hemanth) and couple others (Sabreesh, Krishna, Ramchandra),the team was formed for the trek.  We met up at the satellite bus stand and after the customary introductions, we headed off to gonikoppal.  A good night sleep and we reached gonikoppal at 4.30 in the morning. We had to catch a connecting bus to srimangala and then head to the forest dept office to get the permission. The next bus to srimanagala was at 5 and we spent some time relaxing near the bus stand while having a cup of tea to beat the chill. We boarded a bus which we thought was heading to srimangala was actually on its way to Bangalore!!. We got down near the turning and the conductor told us the bus to srimangala would be arriving shortly.Pulling each other’s leg and cracking some jokes we whiled our time and soon the bus arrived. An hour’s journey took us to srimangala which we reached by 6. Since the forest dept would open only by 9 we slept for a couple of hours at the bus stand before freshning up. After filling our stomachs at the local hotel we took a jeep to the forest dept office and completed the formalities. The guide for the trek would be present at irrupu falls.

Reaching irrupu we submitted the permission letter at the counter and found the guide who was already waiting for us. A brief photosession and we were about to start the trek when we recieved a shocker saying a one day trek would only take us till the narimale guest house. If we were to reach the peak we have to halt at the guest house which means we need to cough up extra cash, which we werent ready to do. We assured the forest gaurd that we were regular trekkers and it is possible to do the trek in a day.

Entrance to Bramhagiri WLS

The trek to bramhagiri peak starts from irrpu falls and the total distance is 9kms from the falls. Mohan, Kiran and myself were ahead with the guide while the rest were taking it easy. The guide who was appointed, kept saying we wont be able to reach the peak if we slow and he wont be responsible if we were late. Taking a short cut we reached the trail and kept walking at a brisk pace. The route is initially uphill till the guest house and is an easy walk in the grassland for few more kms before the final climb from the base till the top which is about 70 degrees. Mohan and I were at the front while kiran, krishna and others were behind. Krishna who had bought a new SLR recently was busy taking photos much to the dismay of the guide.

Trail to Narimale FRH

A couple of breaks and we reached the first grassland from where we could see greenery everywhere. A few snaps and we were heading to the rest house. Our plan initially was to have a good break at the rest house before sumiting the peak and for that we had to move fast.

Distant Mountains

Kiran had caught up with us by then, while the others were far behind. The guide was getting more and more cranky and when we stopped for the next break, he told us he wont be able to come any further than the guest house. His main concern was the slow pace and the numerous trails enroute to the peak from the guest house where anyone can get lost. He cited numerous incidents where people have wandered off trail and landed up in kerala. Kiran and mohan tried reasoning with him, however he wasnt willing to budge. While mohan went ahead with the guide to ease the situation, kiran and I waited for the others to catch up. We told them if we r to reach the peak, the pace has to increase and photo stops would have to come down.  Since I was eager to reach the peak, Prashant told that the faster ppl would move ahead, while the others would come at their pace and they would not be sad if they didn’t reach the peak.

With the agreement reached we headed off to the the rest house which was a km away. The guide who had reached the guest house with mohan kept complaining to the other group as to how he was forced to come all the way to the peak! inspite of his insistence on not coming. When we reached the guest house, everyone was told the same thing, increase the pace in order to reach the peak. Dropping our bags at the guest house we headed off. With no luggage except for couple of bottles of water and food in a bag, our pace increased. The scenery also changed as we moved ahead. There was greenery everywhere. Taking a few photos we moved along.

Lush Greenary

The guide would look back every now and then to ensure no one would wander off as there are a few trails which leads to kerala. We met another group who had stayed the day before in the guest house and the guide who was with them also tried to de-motivate us by saying the peak can’t be climbed in a day. Seeing in comrade our guide also began the rant which he started earlier. This was getting a bit tiresome and we just continued on our way. Soon we had the peak in our sights and the guide showed us the border between karnataka and kerala

No Man’s Land

Soon we could see the peak from the close range and this made us walk even faster.


The final ascent was one of the difficult parts of the entire trek. The loose gravel made it difficult to climb and the steepness meant more breaks. Slipping and trying to maintain our balance we continued on our way. The scenary however compensated for the tireness and kept us moving

The climb and the scenary

It was quater past 1 by the time everyone reached the peak. A small photo session to celebrate and we had our lunch atop the peak.

The gang atop the peak

Spending an hour at the peak, we headed back. Descent was a little tricky and everyone were careful not to go down face first!. A slow descent which took us an hour,we met up with the guide and headed back to the FRH which took us an hour or so. A short break and it was back to the base. As it was only a descent on the way down, we reached irrpu falls by 5 thus proving to the guide it was possible to do the trek in a day.

Since the majority of them had to come back to bangalore the next day, it was decided we would catch the bus from gonikoppa. We reached gonikoppa around 7 and back to bangalore in the wee hours the next day thus concluding a long pending trek

Snaps can be found here


NE-GQ Tour: Pink City — Jaipur

Jaipur was the last city and the last place to be visited in our trip. Jaipur was one of the first planned cities in India which was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh.

History of Jaipur from wikipedia

In ancient time Jaipur regioncomes under Matsya Kingdom . Modern Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who ruled from 1699–1744 and initially his capital was Amber, which lies at a distance of 11 km from Jaipur. He felt the need of shifting his capital city with the increase in population and growing scarcity of water. The King consulted several books on architecture and architects before making the layout of Jaipur. Finally under the architectural guidance of Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, (initially an accounts-clerk in the Amber treasury and later promoted to the office of Chief Architect by the King) Jaipur came into existence on the classical basis of principles of Vastu Shastra and similar classical treatise.

In 1876, when the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted pink to welcome him during the regime of Sawai Ram Singh.

Our tour began by paying a visit to the hawa mahal. The palace complete with mirrors which was used by the queen’s to watch the processions and other activities during the time of festivities

Hawa Mahal

Note: Entry inside the hawa mahal is restricted to general public as the place is turned into a police HQ.

A short stop for couple of snaps and we were of to Jantar Mantar an astronomical observatory built by Maharajah Jai Singh II.

The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars’ location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides.

A detailed explanation of each instrument was given by the guide along a sample demo of a few.

Instruments @Jantar Mantar

The guide also mentioned that since jaipur is famous for astronnomy and astrology, the astrology final exams are conducted here in jantar mantar. We spent some time exploring all the instruments and taking photos before leaving the place. The next place on the list was the city palace. The palace is still occupied by the current king of jaipur and there are two types of tickets. A normal ticket will let one see the museum which houses paintings of all the kings and the durbar hall etc. The grandeour tour which costs Rs 2000 allows one to go inside the royal palace. Tickets for cameras cost extra. We just got the tickets for the museum. The museum contains a huge collection of things used by the kings and queen’s of jaipur. From the clothes they used to wear to the other things they used daily everything is on display here. Apart from the clothes large size photos of the kings are also on display. Since we had’nt got the tickets for photography no snaps could be taken.

Amer fort was thenext to be be visited. The fort is located atop a hill and is outside the city. A short drive from jaipur saw us reach the fort. We passed Jal Mahal on the way, however we didnt stop there as we planning to spend some time while returning back.

One can either drive all the way to the top or choose to ride an elephant.

Amer Fort

We chose to drive to the top, and the driver took us through a few back roads before reaching the back side of the fort.

Passing through the long courtyard, we proceeded towards the main entrance.

Fort Courtyard as seen from top of the palaceThe palace has seperate chambers for each queen and there is a common area where the king used to meet his queens and spend time with them. The watch towers above the place was guarded, when the king was present. Since they were at an elevated place and quite far away, privacy was ensured.

Meeting Place

A large man made lake is present at the back of the palace. This was built by Raja Man Singh who had built the palace. The lake was built for the purpose of entertainment. The lake present among mountains looks very pictuersque when seen from the top of the fort


The palace insides are covered in beautiful paintings. Restoration work was going on in a few places to get the palace back to its old glory

Palace Inside

I wanted to take the photo of the fort from the road, had asked the driver to stop the car after going out of the fort. After roaming the fort we headed out. A quick stop for a few shots of the fort from the road and we headed out to Jal Mahal

Amer Fort

Jal Mahal is a palace built in the middle of the man singh lake. The palace used to be in use during the kings era however now its in ruins. he lake eco system is a favorite home of a number of migratory and resident birds. The Mansagar Dam is situated on the eastern side of the lake and provides a good vantage point for viewing the lake and the valley. There are plans to turn the palace into a resort.

Jal Mahal

Evening was spent shopping. Our flight to Bangalore was booked for the next day, thus ending a wonderful 15 day trip.

Snaps can be found here

NE-GQ Tour: Agra: Day 2 — Wah Taj

A trip to the Golden Quadrilateral is not complete without paying a visit to the Taj, the monument of love built by Shah Jahan for his wife mumtaz.

A chilly morning welcomed us as we prepared to visit the taj mahal. The guide had come to along with the driver and we set of. Tickets were purchased and since the place is considered sacred, shoes are not allowed inside. Rs 20 etc will get us white covers which can be worn on top of the shoes when we enter inside the taj mahal. The south entrance was a km from where we had parked the car and it was nice walking in the chilly morning. The sun was just rising and the entire place was covered in mist giving the place a mystical feel.

Early Morning Sunrise

The taj is present just beyond the main entrance. The guide explained about the gate, the inscriptions on the walls are from the holy kuran. There are 16 mini domes each representing one year of completion. It had taken the workers 16 years to build the monument.

Entrance to the Taj

The sun which was visible briefly was again covered by clouds. The entire place looked like it was covered in a white sheet. Only the dome of the taj was visible. There were already a few people present there and everyone were admiring the place of nature

Taj covered in mist

We waited for a while for the mist to clear, which didnt happen. The guide in the meantime was explaining about the marble being used to build.  He also mentioned that the taj is symmetrical from all sides. The marble used to build the taj has come from various places.

With the mist still not clearing, we took a walk around the taj. The other two buildings, the mosque and the guesthouse built on the opposite sites of the taj were also covered in mist.

Misty buildings

The guide then took us inside the taj where shah jahan and mumtaz are buried. The actual graves are present deep within the mausoleum where the public is not allowed entry. A pair of fake graves are present on top which the public can see. The inside of the tomb is covered in the same marble and has the holy quran engraved on them. Since photography is not allowed inside, no photos could be taken. A tour inside and we went to the other sections. A couple of snaps of the engravings and we were out of the complex, hoping for the mist would be cleared so we could see the taj in all its glory

Engravings inside the taj

The mist was beginning to clear and we could see the taj and other buildings fully. We waited for some more time for the mist to fully clear. Finally we could see the Taj in all its glory. As the place was getting crowded, we went to the back to take a few snaps

Mist free monuments

Back view of the Taj

It was time to head back to the front and we could see the crowd had gotten bigger. With more and more people posing getting a clear picture was tricky, also we had to go back as we had another 4-5 hr drive to jaipur after visiting fathepur sikhri.

A few more snaps of the monument and we left the place bidding goodbye to the monument of love.


A hot cuppa and we went back to the car and to the hotel to pick up our stuff. The next destination we headed was the deserted city of Fathehpur  Sikhri.

Lying some 40 kms from Agra is the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, the short lived capital of Akbar. Legend has it that Akbar visited Sikri to consult the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti, who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. When the prophecy came true, Akbar built his new capital here.

The city contains many the summer and winter palaces built for Jodha Bhai.

Summer and Winter Palaces

Apart from the palaces for the queen , the fortified city also contains the panch mahal a 5 storied building for the king and queen to enjoy. There are also a pillar which has all the religions engraved in the Diwan i Khas also called the Hall of Private Audience where the king used to have secret meetings with his advisors

Panch Mahal and Diwan i Khas

One Pillar for all Religions

We completed the tour and headed to Buland Darwaza which is the highest  gate in Asia. This is also the entrance to Sikhri which has the mortal remains of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti.

Buland Darwaza and Dargha Salim Chisthi

There is a general belief that if you pray in the dargha all your wishes will be fulfilled. One needs to tie a chord inside a dargha and put a holy cloth on the coffin.  Since the guide who had come with us had told us so much about this me and my wife decided to go ahead with it.

The size of the cloth varies from a small to large which will cover the entire coffin. When we asked for the smallest sized cloth the maulah charged us Rs 2000. The price varies depending on the size of the cloth one selects.  Hearing the price I was shocked at the price and refused to pay, as the place is a considered sacred and I hadnt expected people to hoodwink tourists by selling these sort of things for such high prices. The guide again tried to convince us to buy the cloth saying all our wishes would come true for which I again refused. We just went inside the dargha to pay our respects to the saints and headed out.

With the tour of the deserted city complete, we headed back to the car and started the drive to jaipur. A short break for lunch and we continued our drive. Reached jaipur by evening and checked into the hotel.

NE-GQ Tour: Agra: Day 1 — Agra Fort

It would be an early start as we had a long drive to agra.  After breakfast we hit the road. Passing through the early morning traffic we were cruising along. As usual I asked the driver if there was any places on the way, the driver told me Mathura the birth place of Lord Krishna could be covered if possible.  The temple at mathura would close by 1 pm and if we were to go to the temple, we need to be there atleast an hour before. He also told us it would be a deviation from the normal route and we need to be in agra by 2 if we have to see the agra fort which is quite big and would take time to see. Also the fort would close at 5.30.

With so many variables to consider we decided to continue on the same route and depending on traffic, we would head to mathura if time permits. Heavy traffic on the highway meant slow progress and we had to skip mathura. Needless to say my wife was unhappy.

A short stop for verifying permits at UP border and we were cruising along. Reached the hotel around 2.30. The driver told us he would come to pick us up at 4 to go for the agra fort. Relaxed for an hour and got ready to go to the fort.

Apart from the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is another tourist attraction in Agra.

Agra Fort

The fort is built along the yamuna river and stretches almost 2.5 km. It consists of a wall built in red sandstone and several buildings inside. Visitors are welcomed by a huge entrance. Walking through the large passageway one can see a entrance to the Jahangiri palace on the right.

Jahangiri Palace Entrance

The interior of the fort has huge palace and other buildings present within it. As with the passageway the courtyard of the palace is also huge. The palace contains multiple levels which can be accessed via small but steep steps. One needs to be careful while climbing the steps as there is no electricity.

Huge Corridors

Apart from the huge courtyard, there are other buildings like Khas Mahal which is made of white marble,  Moti Masjid. There is also a big garden in front of Khas Mahal which can be used by the tourists.

Khas Mahal with other buildings

One can see the back view of the  Taj Mahal from the top of Jahangiri Palace.The inside of the palace contains a large garden which is well maintained.

Taj Mahal

Few monuments are however in a dilapidated state. A couple of rounds inside the fort to ensure that we havent missed any part of the fort and the palaces, we exited the fort through the huge exit

Fort Exit

It took us couple of hours to cover the entire fort. It was sundown by the time we exited the fort. We headed to the hotel. An early visit to the Taj Mahal was scheduled the next day

NE-GQ Tour: Delhi — Day 2: Temples, Memorials and Tombs — Part 2

The driver had told us he would be coming late as there were less places to cover the second day. A relaxed start saw us head to humayun’s tomb first. Though this was not in the iternary , I had asked the driver to take us to the place. A couple of schools had taken the kids for a sightseeing tour, and as usual there was a huge rush.

Humayun’s tomb is one of the important tourist attraction for people visiting delhi. The monument was built in the memory of humayun. This is one of the first garden tomb made in India. This is one of the finest mughal architectures in the country.

The entry to the Humayun’s Tomb is through a long axial processional track. On the way, there are gateways, which offer a glimpse of the tomb. The tomb is octagonal in shape and placed over a platform with colonnades, under which there are numerous graves of lesser known people and can be ascribed to various nobles and workers of Humayun’s period. A great central chamber has four offsets, double storeyed in height and with arcade on their facades. Their openings closed with perforated screens. Three emphatic arches dominate each side, the central one being the highest. The central room contains the cenotaph of the emperor Humayun. and his queen Bega begum. The tomb is crowned by 42.5 m high colossal double dome.

Way to Humayun’s Tomb

Passing through the long corridor one can see the huge entrance to the tomb

Entrance to the tomb

Renovation work is going on to restore the tomb to its former glory.

Humayun’s Tomb

One can see a clear view of Jama Masjid and Qutab Minar. A bird’s eye view from the roof would show you many ruined tombs and ancient structures belonging to various nobles.With the sun beating down, we spent some time at the top taking photos before goin down

Humayun’s Tomb another view

The front entrance to the tomb was crowded with people, however the back side was relatively empty. A short walk around the tomb, a couple of photos and we went back.

Humayun’s Tomb in Monochrome

Back Portion of the tomb

The next destination we headed to was the Red Fort which is another world heritage site. Though I had visited it during our stopover in june. The heat and our heavy rucksacks meant we couldnt get to see the inside of the fort.

Red Fort

Tickets cost Rs 25 which includes a visiting the museum as well which is present inside the fort. Passing through the mandatory security checks we headed inside the fort. I was suprised to see a busy market place inside the fort. One can purchase various items for reasonable prices.

Market inside the fort

Passing through the market area we reached the main complex which contains Moti Majsid, Zafar Mahal etc

Map of Red Fort Complex

The moti majsid , mumtaz mahal amd khas mahal are all adjacent to each other. We went about visiting each monument and clicking a few snaps. Renovation work is going on for a few buildings.

With a large no of tourists present we couldnt spend much time at the complex. Snapping a few pics of the monuments we made our way to the museum which has some the weapons and armored clothing used by the mughals and photos of the World Wars.

Monuments within Red Fort

The museum houses an impressive collection of weapons, clothing and other items from the mughal era. It also has a photo of various medals and a miniature naval fleet used in world war. One can see how the weapons used by the mughals to fight.


It was time to head back after completing the red fort tour. The driver then took us to akshardham. After the terror strike, security has been beefed up at the place and as usual no camera and mobile phones are allowed. Lot of security personnel are present around the place. Passing through the mandatory checks we went inside the temple. The entire temple and the surroundings can take a couple of hours to visit.

The garden has statues of Rama, Sita , warriors like Maharana Pratap, visionaries such as Aryabhatta amongst others. The huge temple has idols of Rama and Sita, Hanuman are present. The interior of the temple is made out of pure marble. The other attractions of the complex are three exhibition halls spaced around two huge ponds, where one is a venue for light-and-sound show. The three halls are “Sahajanand Darshan”, “Neelkanth Darsdhan” and “Sanskruti Vihar”. “Sahajanand Darshan” is where life of Swaminarayan is displayed through robotic shows, while “Neelkanth Darsdhan” has a huge I-Max theatre screening movie based on the life of the Lord. Another amazing presentation is “Sanskruti Vihar” with 12-minute boat ride experience of India’s glorious heritage.

Couple of hours were spent exploring the temple after which we broke for lunch at the food court present within the temple premises before exiting.

No visit to delhi is complete without paying a visit to Rajghat. This would be the last place to visit as we would be driving to agra the next day. Paying our respects to gandhi we went back to the hotel concluding a wonderful time in delhi

NE-GQ Tour: Delhi — Day 1: Temples, Memorials and Tombs — Part 1

With the north east completed we headed to delhi for the next leg of our tour. The kingfisher flight I had booked was rescheduled for an early departure. Checked with the kingfisher office only to find that the flight had been rescheduled for afternoon. I had asked the office people to intimate me if the flight had got rescheduled again, ,which luckily didnt happen.

A 5 hr flight saw us land in delhi around 8 at night. An hours drive in traffic and we were at the hotel.  The golden quadrilateral leg of our tour would begin the next day.  Since we had an entire day, I had asked the driver to come a little late. We started with a short stop at saravana bhavan for breakfast before heading of to lakshminarayan temple.

Lakshminarayan or the birla temple as it is called is dedicated to goddess lakshmi. The construction of the temple was started in 1933 and completed in 1939. The temple was built by Baldeo Das Birla of Birla family and hence it is known as Birla temple. The maintainence of the temple is done by the birla family

Lakshminarayan temple

The main shrine is dedicated to lakshmi and narayan. There are also smaller shrines dedicated to hanuman, ganesha and shiva and buddha. Due to security concerns cameras and mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple. One need to deposit them in the safety lockers present in the entrance before going to the temple.

Spending sometime at the temple visiting the shrines we then headed to India Gate. A big crowd was already present by the time we went there. During my roopkund trek, we had a day to roam around delhi, however due to the heat we could just visit Red Fort and Qutub Minar. Now with the weather being favorable, and having more time we could cover all the important tourist places.

First Look at India Gate

India Gate is constructed as a memorial and was built in the memory of 90,00 soldiers who laid down their lives during world war I. It was constructed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and was built in 1931. The monument also contains the Amar Jawan Jyoti or the flame of the immortal warrior.

There were photographers present there offering to take photos from various angles for a fee. We went closer to the gate and took a few more snaps. As this is one of the important landmarks and monuments, tight security is present around it.

India Gate

We spent some time at the gate before going back to the car. A quick look at the parliament house and a stop for a few minutes in front of rashtrapathi bhavan for a couple of snaps we were of to the next location

Rasthrapathi Bhavan

The next place we visited was Indira Gandhi Memorial.

Indira Gandhi Memorial

The place is a museum housing countless photos and things of  Indira Gandhi. The museum provides a insight into the life of the late prime minister. One can see photos of her in various avatars. Honarary titles and medals awarded to her are also some of her achievements and failures. The museum built within Indira Gandhi’s house also has a section dedicated to Rajiv Gandhi.  The place also contains the spot where Ms Gandhi was assassinated by her bodygaurds.

The memorial is a worth a visit as one can get an glimpse into the life of Indira Gandhi.

Inside the Indira Gandhi Memorial

Indira Gandhi Memorial

Qutub minar the world heritage site was next in the iternary. As expected there was a huge crowd to see the monument built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak.This is one of the largest minarets in India.

Qutub Minar

The place was like an oven when I visited in june. The cooler weather made the visit this time more enjoyable. The place was given a major makeover and huge photos of other world heritage sites were put on display. A quick glance at the photos and we were off to see the minar.  There was a guide explaining the history to a group of foreigners and we spent a couple of minutes listening to it before moving on.  While my wife was looking around the complex I could experiment by taking photos from various angles.

Qutub Minar in various angles



The qutub minar complex also contains the tomb of illtumush.Spending some more time at the complex we went back.


It was already afternoon by the time we came out of qutub minar. The driver then took us to Delhi Haat an authorized govt handicraft ans cloth showroom. There are various handicrafts displayed there. Quills, sarees and other clothes are also present at the same place. Since the place is run by govt, prices are fixed and bargaining is not possible.

Couple of hours were spent shopping there and we broke for lunch.

Post lunch we visited lotus mahal which is a Bahai House of worship.The building is built in the shape of a lotus as the bahai believe the lotus symbolizes purity. The building is a meditation chamber.

Lotus Mahal

The walls of the building contains the teachings of bahai. There’s  also a pond surrounding the building


As the place is a meditation place one needs to maintain slience inside. Groups are formed by the people standing outside and they are let inside the building. We spent sometime meditating inside before going back. The place remainded me of the Pyramid Valley in Kanakapura which is built for the same purpose.

Lotus mahal was the last place for the day and we headed back to the hotel thus concluding a exciting day of outing

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