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Hampta Pass – Day 3: Jwara to Balu ka Gera

Today would be a relatively short day as there was not much of altitude to gain. We were greeted with a clear sky and after a light warm up and a customary group snap we started the climb to Balu ka Gera.

Group Snap

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Lovit was not feeling very well and decided to head back as he didnt want to take a chance with his health. Bhuvanesh his cousin also decided to accompany him back to manali and promised he would complete the trek next june. We were down to 15 as we started our climb.

The ascent was gradual throughout and we were progressing at a good pace with occassional breaks in between. Within an hour of climbing we left jwara behind.

The valleys opened up and we could get much better views of the mountains in the background. With photos being clicked regularly we continued the trek.

Mountains and Valleys

The terrain leveled after a while and we had a smooth walk for few more kms. Myself and 3 others were at the front and Ravi told us to slow down as were going quite fast. We soon reached Chottu Balu Ka Gera which had a Dhaba.It was time for another break and we waited for rest of the group to join. Having tea and relaxing we spent some time there before the final climb to Balu and Gera which was still couple of hours away.

The ascent was still gradual and soon we could see our destination. Tents were already pitched up.

The final part of the trek was over huge boulders and we had to be careful not to loose our balance. Jumping over boulders we reached the campsite well ahead of time.

As we were relaxing the clouds gathered and soon it began to rain. Taking shelter in the dinning tent we spent the remaining time playing dumb sharats and chitchatting while waiting for the rain the stop.

The ground had again become wet and slushy and once the rain stopped we went outside and continued to play few more games which Ravi had organized.

Soon it was time for dinner and we slept early as we had to summit hampta pass the next day and a steep decent to Shea Goru the next day

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Roopkund Day 6: Roopkund

We woke up early morning only to find it still raining. It took a couple more hours for the rain to stop before we could start the climb to roopkund.

The staff from indiahikes were ahead and were cutting steps in the ice with others following them. We were told to place to foot exactly where they had placed theirs in order to avaoid slipping.

On the way to roopkund

The climb was slow as everyone were wary about not slipping. The higher we climbed the more snow we could see.

Miles and Miles of snow

It began to drizzle in between, however with no shelter anywhere we continued the climb,with breaks in between.

The climb was proceeding smoothly when all of  a sudden nutty slipped and slid down a long way. Though it looked great he was up on his feet and and was climbing already.

Nutty Sliding Down

He was given a huge applause when he rejoined us as it looked a bit scary from where we were.  Another couple of hours of climbing and we finally reached roopkund lake. Everyone were glad to have reached the lake and there was celebrations all round.

Roopkund Lake

Everyone were busy with taking snaps and soon it was time to headback as we had reached roopkund at 10.30. After bidding goodbye to the lake.

The gang at the lake

The descent was even more more tricky than climbing up as we were told to dig in our heels first before keeping the rest of the foot. We had to tread carefully else it was again a downhill journey for us. Arun for some reason was slipping continously as he couldnt maintain his balance on the ice.

Finally after seeing arun slip and slide quite a few times, lokesh began yelling at arun asking him to concentrate on walking and not to let his mind wander.

There were a couple of descents where everyone got to slid down the ice and it was kind a fun doing it.

We reached baguwasa by lunch time and we had to pack our bags to get back to Bedni. There was still a long way to go. The rain had started again and after lunch it was time to head back to bedni. A few of us started while the rest of group were still packing.

The wind was blowing very hard by the time we reached kalu vinayak and after a short stop it was a downhill descent all the way. It was raining intermittently as we continued the downhill journey.

The rain had stopped for sometime and when the mist cleared we could see the bugyal’s in all its glory. The vast expanse of greenary in front of our eyes ws mind blowing. Quickly snapped a couple of snaps before the mist could cover the place again

The bugyals in all its glory

We still had a long way to go and myself and srusthi who were walking together had to pick up the pace as we had to reach the camp before nightfall. With the rain continuing, we could finally pick our pace after reaching the fork in the road. A few more hours of walking and we could see bedni kund.

However we didnt know how to reach the kund. After shouting a couple of times, we found a IH staff running towards us. We followed him and he showed us the route to get to the kund.  He asked us if anyone else had gone ahead of us as the path would go all the way to ali bugyal and its quite easy to get lost here. We replied in negative and headed to the kund. It was already 7.30 by the time we reached the camp. Benji, Suhas and few others and few others had already reached and were relaxing. It could another hour for the rest of them to arrive.

Everyone were too tired to even move out of their tents and as a result dinner was served in the tents itself. It was a welcome relief hitting the sleeping bags after a hard day of trekking.

The trek would come to and end tomorrow as we would go to wan and then back to loharjung via cabs

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Nandi Hills – Random Shots

Having nothing to do on sunday afternoon, I headed to nandi hills located 70 kms from bangalore for a sunset shoot. I thought of also testing  the new polarizing filter I had purchased the previous day.

As usual the weather turning bad towards evening, I decided to head back, as the sun was covered by clouds, thus ending the sunset. With thunder and lightning starting, I headed back, after taking a few shots as I didnt want to get caught in the rain

The snaps are shown below

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Ettinabhuja Revisited

Shishla Kudi Gudda AKA Ettinabhuja (shoulder of an ox) is a popular trekking spot in karnataka which attracts trekkers.

This peak can be accessed from shishila or from bhirapura. The 9 km trek from shishla takes about 5 to 6 hrs for an average trekker. The distance from bhirapura is much shorter and can be done in an hour or two

I had first been to ettinabhuja in june just on the onset of monsoon along with my friends shasi , prahalad and prashant. With incessent rains and mist throughout the trek , we were unable to see the peak until the very end.

First Look at ettinabhuja during monsoon

When my friend Ina told me she and a few others were going to ettinabhuja in nov I wasnt able to confirm my participation as I was scheduled to fly to malaysia in nov. However things didnt materialize n my visit got postponed.  Luckily for me 2 of the people who had to go had dropped out. When I was asked if I was interested in joining for the trek I immediately agreed as one ticket was left and another ticket was cancelled

With the place set 9 ppl met at majestic bus stand on 21st nov at 9.30 and boarded the bus to dharmastala. The team for the trek (Ina , Girish, Dhimoy, Sandeep, Amit, Chirag, Vishak ,Rutuja and yours truely :))

After a peaceful overnight journey we reached dharmastala at 7 in the morning. The weather was however looking omnious as dark clouds were hovering over our heads ready to open up at any instant

Early morning in dharmastala


The bus to shishla was ready which we immediately boarded. As we proceeded to shishla we kept an eye out on the weather which began to clear which gave us some relief.

Chengappa our guide was waiting for us at shishila bus stand. After embarking from the bus we proceeded to gohkale’s house which would be our base camp. We were told that it was raining for the past 2 days and we could expect rain even on sat. We had decided if it would rain then we would be doing some other peak instead of ettinabuja. Keeping this flexibility in mind we proceeded further

After finishing our morning abulations and having a heavy breakfast we embraked on the quest to conquer ettinabhuja with the sky clearing up.

Guys getting ready for the trek

Sandeep all set and ready for trek

After checking our belongings , we started towards the peak with hope that it would rain

Ettinabhuja as seen from afar

We followed chengappa as he led the way. The initial walk was on the banks of river kapila which we had to cross. The river was in full flow when we had visited in june, however now the current was much less and we could cross it easily

River Kapila

We began our foray into the forest and soon we met our companions for the trek leeches which would accompany us till the top.  After a short walk on the flat land , the climb began.

We began climbing at a steady pace and after a while we took a small break. The climb got steeper and taking frequent breaks we moved ahead. After a couple of hours of walking we reached the first grassland from where we could see the peak more clearly. Though the peak looked quite close, there was still lot of distance to cover, luckily for us the sun was still shining and we were able to cover good ground

Peak seen from grassland

Proceeding further we reached the second grassland , with grass as tall as us , dhimoy and myself cimbed a rock and we could see dark clouds had gathered and it was looking ominous. By this time the others had also reached the grassland and we moved forward.

Lunch was taken and after a short rest we began the final ascent. We reached the final grassland from where the we could see the peak standing in front of us majestically .

This was the place where I saw the peak for the first time when we went in june

After a short photosession we proceeded further. Since we cannot climb the peak directly we have to circle the peak to reach the top. By the time we reached the peak it was 4.45 in the evening.

Gang at top of ettinabhuja

Chengappa was of the opinion that we should climb the peak tomorrow as it could rain anytime and we had to get to the bhirapura temple situated a couple of kms below. As we were resting , chengappa met a local and got the permission to stay in the temple

We left ettinabhuja at 5.30 promising to return the next day and headed to bhirapura temple. As we left the peak we saw the weather had changed dramtically with grey clouds gathering from no where.

Bhirapura temple beckoned us at 5.45, which would be our halting place for the night.

The place was already covered in mist we could hear thunder at a distance accompanied by lightning

Bhirapura Temple covered in mist

A misty evening

Campfire was up and after a hot cuppa we were relaxing when we could feel the raindrops and within no time the rain began to fall.

The rain continued for some more time and later after stopping we began the campfire again and got the RTE’s out. Dinner was soon finished and it time to hit the couch.

10 ppl sleeping along with heavy rucksacks was a tight affair we maanged to make ourseleves comfortable. However the place being too small a few of the guys went to sleep outside by the fire praying it would rain again in the night.

After spending the night in the temple we got up early morning to find the mist still present. As we were getting ready to ascend the peak the sun began to come out of the clouds. The weather cleared up and we began to ascend the peak. With clear weather the peak looked amazing and we began to walk faster to reach the peak

We reached the peak from where we could see the hump.

The Ox’s Shoulder

Clicking some snaps we proceeded for the final phase of ascending the steep stretch to reach the top. The lush green mountains on the either side was a treat for our eyes and with the our cameras clicking we proceeded

After spending some time on top we bid adeiu to ettinabhuja n began our descent to shishla via the same way. While going down the group was split into 3 with dhimoy, sandeep and rutuja leading the way , me , amit, chirag and vishak in the middle and ina, girish and chengappa bringing the rear

Decent was fast with the sun beating down. As I was in the middle we were proceeding a bit slowly, and some how we lost our way :).  We managed to stumble upon a turtle which was equally lost :).

Lost Turtle

We found the trail after searching for a few min and we soon reached the river. After reaching the pickup point me, chirag,amit and viskah called the jeep and rested for a while. The others joined us and we headed back to gohkale’s house.

After a belly filling lunch and seista we headed to shishileshwara temple to spend some time there. Later we boarded the jeep back to dharmastala.

Munching on ice creams and dosas we whiled away the time before heading back to bangalore

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Snaps can be found here

Coorg-Gaalibeedu Tour

I would firstly like to apologize to everyone for posting this post so late :).

Though I had been to coorg either on trips or treks , the place always seems to invite me again and again. This time I went with my friend as he hadnt seen golden temple and we were keen on visiting some less visited places in coorg. After  some research my friend came up with a place called gaalibeedu. This place was near to the talathmane circuit which was used by YHAI for their coorg national treks.

With the usual bookings done we left for madikeri for a 1 day visit on 5th sept. The rainy season was not yet over and it was still raining intermitently. We reached coorg at 6 in the morning, only to find ourselves caught in the rain. We hired a auto to a nearby lodge where we could freshen up before heading out.

Our first stop was the golden temple. The rain had just stopped and left to kushalnagar by bus. After reaching kushalnagar we hired a auto to reach the golden temple.

Golden Temple Complex

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This place has one of the largest buddhist temples in south india and also home for large number of tibetian refugees. The temple contains status of buddha along with his disciples. Once we entered the complex we found the people sitting for prayer. After clicking a few snaps and spending time there, we went back to madikeri.

Buddha N Disciples

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Post lunch we headed to gaalibeedu. A small village with pristine scenary. We got down there and took a stroll in the streets. There was a heritage resorts which we payed a visit. Upon inquiring the rates we found they charge 8000 per couple. Though the resort is well maintained , we left the rates were too high.

Greenary in Gaalibeedu

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We continued our walk through the greenary. After sometime we decided to head back to the city. Hiring an auto we reached our lodge. Evening was spent strolling in the streets of coorg before heading back to bangalore

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Snaps can be found here

The weekend that was almost ruined

With a 3 day long weekend , I was in no mood to stay at home. I had completed lepakshi on saturday and was happy with the performance of the swift.Got back thinking of the long drive for the next 2 days. Smsed by friend asking him to be ready by 7 the next day so that i could pick him up and dozed off for an hour.

Things began to take a turn for the worse when i got up. I had recieved a sms from my friend saying he wont be able to come as he was going for the mullayanagiri-bababundangiri ridge walk. Just what I did not want as dad would not allow me to solo drive in the car.

With one guy stuck in office and a few others not interested to come I decided to go alone.

Things took a turn for the worse later on when dad forced me to stay in the house to attend an important function which i wasnt keen on attending. I was planning on leaving bangalore at 6 or 6.30 in the morning as I had planned to cover bluff, talkad,somanthpur and srirangaptna before heading to mysore. The next day being vijayadashmi and with most of the people in mysore for the procession and festivities, I was thinking of driving down to pandavapura-> KRPET->Kikkeri and govindhalli to see a few hoysala temples which was built in the helebid style.

This plan was defanitely not going to work and I was thinking of an alternate one. My bro further gave me a scare by saying the clutch on his pulsar was not functioning properly. I decided to take a risk as driving on my splendor was out of the question.

Sunday arrived and I was still in the house rather than being on the road. After finishing the function I was it was already 2.30. Finally tanking up the pulsar fully I left bangalore at 3 in the afternoon.

My first pit stop was at kanva dam. Saw a few people playing in the river. Took a few snaps of the backwaters and zipped off towards mysore.

Kanva Dam Backwaters

View from kanva Dam

Took a small break at maddur cofee day. Reached mysore at 7 at night. I was amazed to see the rush as vijayadashami was the next day. I managed to drive down to my grandma’s house.

After a quick cuppa i headed out to the mysore palace which was lit up like a christmas tree :). A gaint pandal was erected and they were broadcasting yedurappa’s speech. Took a few shots of the palace in all its glory from a few different angles before heading back home.

Palace

Side view of palace

Next day  left home early as i had to cover a few places. Had a smooth ride till bannur. After bannur there are no roads except in patches until u reach bluff. My long ardeous ride had just began. Reached somanthpur and 8.

I found that they open the temple only at 9. With nothing to do , i got chatting with a retired wing commander who had come there with his family as incidentally was on the same route as mine. He was boastful about his bicycle rides and treks which he used to do.

The authorities opened the temple around 8.50. After a photoshoot i left for talkad around 9.30. My back and the bike’s suspension were getting a real work out driving on those roads :).

Somanthpur Temple

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Carvings in somanthpur temple

Carvings

There was a lake just a few meters from somanthpur temple which provided a good scenic location.  I left the places taking a few snaps of the lake

Lake near somanthpur temple

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Driving another 30 kms, i reached talkad around 11. Hired a guide to show me around. Explored talkad for an hour and after taking photos, left the place at 12 in the afternoon.

Talkad Temple

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My final destination was gangan chuki and bharachuki falls popularly called as bluff. It was another bone rattling 40 kms drive till I reached bypass road from maddur which goes through malavalli to MM Hills and chamarajnagar . Reached gaganchuki falls around 1.30. After spending some time and taking snaps , I left for bharachuki falls after munching a few snacks as i hadnt eaten anything since my morning breakfast.

Gaganchukki Falls

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Bharchukki Falls

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The 13 kms drive was through good roads and i was made the most of it by clocking speeds of 90 kms. After a photo session , left for bangalore. It was already 2.30 by the time i left. Dark grey clouds began to appear on the horizon and i didnt want to get drenched. The rain started to fall heavily as I was driving towards malavalli. Had a take shelter at a bus stand. The rain dance continued for another hour , as i had to stop quite a few times so that i dont get drenched too much in rain. Contiuning on this road I reached the mysore-bangalore highway at 4. I was suprised to see it had not rained in this part of town. The road was absolutely dry.

With less traffic I reached ramangaram and had my “lunch”. Proceeding further I reached home at 7 thus ending an interesting trip.Hoping to cover srirangapatna and pandavapura route some other day

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Snaps  can be found here

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