Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Honey Valley Trip

Honey valley is a private estate located at kabbinakadu village about 25 kms from Virajpet town, in coorg district. The estate is spread over 75 acres of coffee, cardamom and pepper plantations.

Well this was also a long planned trip, for which i had booked a 10 bed dorm. Since many from the group backed down from joining the trip, we five viz Ranjith (myself), Anil, Leela, Shiva and Amit ended up starting the trip on a saturday early morning.

Route : Bangalore - Srirangapatna - Raganthittu bird sanctuay - Hunsur - (take left after 5 kms from Hunsur) - Gonikoppa - Virajpet (continue on madikere road after virajpet for 4 kms and take a left turn immediately after a bridge) - travel 19 kms exactly to reach Kabbinakadu.

Kabbinakadu is only a small tin shed busstop, where ur vehicles need to be parked. A further 3 km uphill ride takes you to the Honey Valley Estate. This 3 kms can be done only on a 4 x 4 wheel jeep or similar vehicle as the route is steep and non existent.

By the time we reached Kabbinakadu, the jeep was waiting to pick us. We were welcomed at the estate by a phirang "Jack", who was vey cordial. He has setteled along with the Chengappa family and has become part of their family. Jack explained to us that there are many trekking trails, all of which starts from a dry pond 1 km further up the estate.
After having lunch, we embarked on a beautiful trek, on an unknown route, aided by a map handed to us by Jack. After a 1 km trek, we reached the dry pond, from which almost all trekking trails start. Since we had decided to take the route to the top of the RIDGE, we set out in this path. Well it was basically a cattle path, with thick forests to our right and little plain land to our left. We were greeted by beautiful views of the faraway hills, almost draped in thick mass of mist or clouds.

At this juncture let me introduce you to our little companion for the trek "Dineshan"(well i gave him this name) a cute little dog, who had followed us from the estate house. We all wished that he could talk, since a lot of questions were in our minds abt the route and its difficulty. If ever this doggy could talk I would have bombarded him with numerous questions abt the vicinity. The climb continued until we reached a big boulder. Insted of continuing on the contour along the hill, we decided to walk up the hill to reach the summit. A futher 1 km walk didnot take us to the summit. We started wondering whether to continue or trace our route back, as Leela was apprehensive of we getting lost. We did decide to walk back, without reaching the summit. But the keeda inside Lord Shiva always tickles him to do crazy things. He didnot get down along with us, but walked further up the hill in search of the summit, assuring us that he will soon join us at the big boulder.

After 10 mins we recieve a call on Amit's mobile, Shiva on the other end screaming for us to climb the hill further and that he has found a waterfalls. We were all exited and immediately ran up the hill. Wow! what a scenery it was, picture perfect, a large waterfalls, roaring from a cliff abt 2 kms in front of us. We had reached the top of the hill, and could see lot of hills 360 degrees around us, partly covered in mist.

After spending quality time, staring at the waterfalls and playing witha beautiful snail, we headed back down the hill as it was getting dark. We reached the big boulder which i mentioned earlier and took the left path contouring the hill. But after walking some distance, Shiva sggested that the path seems to be going upwards, and we have to get down the hill. Getting down we could see only dense forest ahead and no path.

At this spot fear started creeping our minds, we started debating abt the route, preparing ourselves to stay back in the forest for the night. None of us panicked and tried to think abt the route. We decided to trace our route back to the cattle path which we had left earlier. Further walking for 1 km brought us to the dry pond. Sun had sunk by this time, and we were a relaxed lot to have reached back.

Dinner was good, and we met the Chengappa couple, Suresh and Susheela. They are one of the nicest people i have talked to. Suresh uncle was glad that we had trekked a lot and very enthusiatically drew us a map of the route to a waterfalls that was inside their new estate. This walk to the estate was to be done the next day morning. He also told us that the waterfalls we had sighted on top of the hill was called "Nilakandi" waterfalls.

After a sound sleep, all were up early morning for the walk to the waterfalls, it was called. "Chingara of Honey Valley". We could reach the base of the waterfalls, and had a nice time getting massaged by the downpour. Anil had a nice time clicking snaps of butterflies which were posing for him.

Our next sojourn was to the Chelavara peak and Chelavara waterfalls, abt 10 kms away from Honey Valley. It was a wild jeep ride of ten kms all through coffee estates and forest. Chelavara peak also can be reached, through Cheyandaney.
Back from Chelavara we munched our lunch of spicy chicken curry. Bid goodbye to Suresh, Ganesh the jeep driver and returned to Bangalore.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Athirapally Waterfalls and Valparai, Heaven isn't it.

One more long journey covering 1200 kms in two days. Well this trip was actually to attend one of Shiva's colleagues wedding in Palghat. Irony being I never met this person who is getting married, but travelling 600 kms to attend her wedding. Well the marriage was only an excuse.

We started in Shiva's Swift, Friday night, route - Bangalore - Maddur - Shivanasamudra - Kollegala - Satyamangala - Coimbatore - Palghat, basically NH 209. Well the roads untill Yelandur after ChamarajaNagar are horrible, thanks to the rich Karnataka Government. Roads inside TamilNadu are awesome, no potholes even on village roads we travelled.

One we were nearing Satyamangala forests, we could sight lots of Elephants, mostly grazing on bamboo shoots along roadside.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kalavaara Halli Betta hike

Well after lots of deliberation and many fone calls, this long planned trip to Kalavaara halli betta (skandagiri) happened. We 9 ppl viz Lord Shiva, Anil, Leela, Ranji (myself), Rashmi, Rajini, Amith, Madhu and Ramakrishna started at 3:00 early morning, wondering even are we going to reach this place. Our vahanas, one Swift and a Maruti 800. Reached the foothill by 4:00. Pitch dark, nothing to be seen ahead, and then we started debating whether to venture out, or look for a guide. By the time I and Pachi were looking for a guide, our daring Madhu had alraedy, lead the pack, making his own way along the rock ridden path. Look at the route map to reach Kalavaara halli betta.

All was well and lots of adrenaline flowing, we moved forward, shouting AGE BADO. Tha path was steep at quite a few places. Lots of rock and slush, which we had to negotiate using the single torch we had. After traversing a small hill, we were on another, which had steps carved out for a short distance. A local guide from nearby village caught up with us, to help us reach the top. A group which had started along with us, had moved ahead, while few of us were busy taking short rests, cursing how much we had to tread more. Lots of encouragement, from Lord Shiva, saw myself and Rajini catching up with the group.

........ Tired Souls.............................................................................................................. Invisible Background
Our first pit stop was mid way for refuelling on a slant rock face. We munched on a box of sweets, which was picked up lying at Anil's house. Further climb, brought us to a place where vegetation was dense, and the view mesmerising. Though sun was trying to peek at us throught the clouds, a dense mist covered the whole place. There was also a VHP flag hoisted on plain land, very near to the summit.
On reaching the summit, we were surprised to see a lot of other gangs, who were already enjoing their stay.Visibility was very low due to the mist, and extended to only few meters. After a photo session, we were eying to get on top of a small mantapa which was in ruins. Another 4 member gang were on the mantap, sipping beer, which Rashmi thought was Mirinda cans and she was eying those cans.

Most probably this gang could not bear the cold and hence climbed down the mantap. We very eagerly, jumped to get on the mantapa. Once we settled on the roof, the process of shivering and chitchat started. The sense of hunger also started creeping my brain. If not for the girls, who were sensible enough to bring along bread, jam and butter, we would have had cramps in our stomachs.
Well there were one liners fom Ramakrishna and Madhu as usual, which the whole gang enjoys. Lots of persuasion could not get Madhu to read his Urdu news, which he does with such ease and granduer, making one wonder whether this guy belongs to an arabic nation.

We also had among us a rare species of animal, may be a cross between a human and a horse, which can even sleep while standing. Please refer to the picture.

The clouds, started clearing by 8:00 am, and we had a great view of the adjoining Nandi hills, and the plain lands below. After decidng to climb down the hill, we stumbled upon a well laid, stone formation, which we renamed, as the STONE HENGES of Kalavara halli betta. Then all of us made to the top of these stone pillars.
The walk down hill became adventurous, as we lost path, and were heading in a completely different direction, than the one we had used to climb up. There was no visible clear path, and we had to make path through steep rocks and bushes of thorns.

With little struggle we did reach the road, but realised we were about 2 kms away from the place we had parked our cars.

Well a totally refreshing and fulfilling hike it was. Our timing was perfect, the views beautiful, along with the nerve breaking cold. Had we been even an hour late we would have missed the cold, clouds and the mist. Getting down with the hot sun would have also wrecked all of us.