Sunday, January 17, 2016

Solo Bike Trip

Ever since I bought my Royal Enfield 500CC bike, I wanted to try out a solo ride. I didn't really plan for the trip nor I prepared for the trip. The idea was to just ride for 6 days and experience some exotic places. Early morning I just took my backpack and started heading towards Megharavalli. My friend Kishan's parents stay there and I called up Kishan saying I would come to his house by evening. First few Kms of riding was a bit difficult, it was a long weekend and getting out of Bangalore was an horrible experience, long ques on all toll booths and heavy traffic on high ways. Cars speeding at high speeds were giving a bit of scare to begin with, but once I exited from NH4 and started towards Shimoga, I felt like I was driving alone on empty roads.I have driven in this road multiple times but riding a bike I felt like I was getting to see new things all along. I got to explore some huge lakes, was wondering how our ancestors valued so much for water and built such amazing things on the other hand with so much of technology we could create wonders but we are only using it for more and more destruction.  

Once I reached Tiptur, I called up my uncle Madhav in Shimoga to say I would join them for lunch and I just have an hour. It was nice to meet the entire family and have a good lunch. As always aunty was all curious about my trip and was asking how  come no one stops me from doing such things.The ride from Shimoga towards Thirthahalli was amazing, especially after raising the dam height one can see river Tunga on one side of the road and thick forest on the other side. This was one of the best rides of the trip. I could feel the fresh air, curvy roads were adding to the fun of riding. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Most of the time the weather was cool making it even more pleasant.

Reached Megharavalli around 4 and from here Kishan picked me up to his house on the banks of the back water around 5-6kms from the main road.Since Kishan is my neighbour in Bangalore I know almost every body in person in their house. It was the time of harvest and every member in the family were very busy, inspite of this I don't have words to explain the hospitality. Even though I had plans to start again next day, I decided to spend some time with the family and extended the stay by a day.
Day 2 early morning myself and Kishan we headed towards the backwater, beautiful place felt like i can spend the entire day sitting in front of the river. I just sat on a rock and closed my eyes to enjoy the calmness and feel the cool breeze, after few minuets I could hear hissing sound from below and I felt a bit uncomfortable and the hissing sound got stronger. I got up from the rock and moved a couple of meters aside and sat again. After around 15min when I opened my eyes I could see a snake which had come out of the rock I was sitting earlier and was standing tall and watching me. We observed each other for few minutes then slowly I tried to reach to my camera to take a snap but bad luck, I guess it felt uncomfortable and went back inside. It was an amazing experience, the view still comes to my mind.

After an heavy breakfast we headed towards Kavale durga fort which is around 15kms from Kishan's house. Its a nice fort but since its pretty much in the interiors of the forest not much is known about it other than the locals and the archaeological department.I wanted to go back to the river again in the evening to watch the sunset but we were late and missed on that part. Next day morning again I went to the back waters to spend some more time also with a hope to see the snake again but no luck.

 After one more wonderful breakfast I took leave from an amazing family and wanted to explore the route from Thirtahalli to Dharwad. This stretch is kind of driving from the southern part of western ghats in Karnataka to northen part of western ghats in Karnataka, so you can imagine beautiful lonely roads, full of forests all along, very little or no traffic, beautiful roads. On day one from Bangalore I had around 400+kms ride and on the third day I made around 350+ kms. I finally reached Dharwad around 3.30 pm and booked a room in a budget hotel. I was bit tiered and also I had skipped my lunch. So now I decided to park my bike and take a walk. That day in Dharwad probably I walked around 10+kms trying out Dharwad peda, kunda and other delicacies, finally I found a Khanavali and ended up having a wonderful dinner.

Next day I started very early from Dharwad and decided to head towards Badami. The land scape changed drastically from thick forests to open fields and straight roads. Driving on straight roads for hours together is kind of boring but the birds in the fields and the open agricultural lands and multiple man made lakes in every village kept me interested all along. I reached Badami around 9am, booked a budget hotel again and dropped my luggage and started again towards Aihole and Pattadkallu.

Couple of mistakes I was not aware of the distance of these 2 places from Badami, I thought it to be around 40 kms to and fro but it turned out to be 80+ kms and no petrol bunks in between other than Badami. In between I got lost for couple of Kms. Also hoping these places to be near by, I didn't wear jacket, helmet there by breaking the basic rule I had set for my self and I paid for it with excess dust all over the body and heavy sun burns. I felt bad at the destruction of these beautiful monuments. Also I could see extreme poverty, framers over here are not as healthy as the ones on the western ghats. Agriculture is mainly dependent on rains. I could see most of the villages have a tank bund which is the main source of water. By end of day I was really tiered of the excess heat and dust of the area. I went to a Khanavali and awesome Jowar roti food for just 40 Rs.  Its my belief that when we travel we need to try out the local food that is what the best food you get the area. While I was enjoying my food a farmer and a lady came down for dinner as well but they were short of 20 Rs they wanted to go out without having food, I felt bad that the people who grow and feed us go hungry in this country, was wondering how the value of money in paper form can be more than the food itself. I asked the hotel owner to feed them and I will pay for them. But they had lots of self respect I guess they paid what ever they had and I only had to pay 20 Rs. Felt good when the lady thanked just by looking at me without saying a word.

I only had 2 more days left and around 550 Kms to travel. I had a thumb rule during the travel that I would start early and drive till 4 pm in the evening and would camp where ever I am. Would enjoy everything on the way, if I find anything interesting then change of plans. Found bike riding would give lot of space compared to car to explore around, like one of the funny thing was from Gadag I was driving towards Haveri and on the way one of the farmer suggested a short cut to reduce 30+kms and god it was scary, my only worry was what if my bike got punctured? I was totally unprepared, some might call it madness especially with a 13 Kg backpack on my back I had no backup plans if my bike broke down. But my belief was when it happens let me see how it turns out to be, it would have been an experience to remember. But luckily till the end 1515 Kms total distance travelled in 6 days the bike was in perfect shape.

I believe every body should travel alone once in a while to get some space and spend time with one self. It was an awesome experience in Bangalore all I feel like doing in day is going to office work and coming back, but each day here I felt like I had unlimited time was driving around 300+Kms, walking around 10kms, stopping around and experiencing interesting places and having awesome food at very economical price. You get to learn so much about people, their lifestyle and would start valuing what we have more and more.

Friday, January 15, 2016

H*God Falls

Rakesh Holla had been the source of information for many of my trips to hidden treasures in Karnataka, but this was all the special one because we had never met before and it was an opportunity to meet in person. I spoke to couple of my friends and we decided to join Rakesh and his team at Honnavar during the peak season of monsoon for exploring close to 4 waterfalls.

Right from where we freshen up, food, stay, guide, local travel everything was taken care by Rakesh, probably this was one of the treks where in everything was planned to the minutest of the details and with great care. This would go down as a trek where in we were fed with abundant food all along, i don't remember any of my treks where in I had so much food especially of such great taste. I don't remember eating so much jack fruit in 2 days time, every house we visited we were given jack fruit.
We dropped our backpacks in a house owned by one of the relatives of our guide and started the journey towards H*god falls after having a heavy breakfast.

The walk from the house was around 1hr not very difficult, but it was raining continuously and it was very slippery. Had to cross couple of man made bridges across the streams which are the sole source of connectivity for people leaving in this part of the world during monsoons. Monsoons of westren ghats has always been very special, the thick ever green forests come to full life during monsoon. People who have experienced these virgin forests know what the feel is like.

The falls is around 8 stages is what I heard, right from the beginning we could see the huge falls from a distance. During the monsoon it is very difficult to reach to all the stages of the falls. We managed to visit I guess around 5 stages. It was very slippery and risky though one mistake can be very costly one.And we did manage to create a dangerous situation, every body got into water and were enjoying and 4 of us were trying to climb to next stages which were very tricky and risky in the process a big rock got dislocated and the loose soil and moved towards the people sitting down. Because of the sound of water fall no one could hear us shouting and they never realized what happened until the rock stopped. It brushed one of my friend on his back, but was a miracle that nothing happened to any body. We managed to see the beautiful fall up to around 5 stages, the last 3 stages were inaccessible
After an heavy lunch provided by Yashashree, we decided to explore a new falls. Since it was the peak on monsoon, the trails were all covered and we were walking with great difficulty. We had seen the water fall from a distance and were heading in the direction. We would hear the water gushing with high speeds as we approached nearer to the falls, but the forest was so thick that we couldn't get a view of the waterfall even after spending quite a significant time. Finally we had to make a choice to explore it next time because the light started fading in the evening and we had to come out of the forest area before night hits. It was a tough decision being so close yet couldn't get to see the falls. There is always a next time.

I am writing this blog after almost 6 months, I don't remember much now. Also some of the pics might be from some of my friends I would like to give credit to these people Hemanth, Rakesh, Arun, Prashanth . The best I could remember was walking almost close to 30+ kms through numerous streams, thick forests, slippery rocks, small snakes and leaches to explore around 3 falls, getting close to 4th one which we couldn't really see from a close distance through. It was a great trip meeting new people, talking to new people and experiencing the hospitality of the unknown people.