Sunday, May 18, 2008

May rain

First rain of this summer
Soaked earth and leaves and the green smiles
Dark clouds,
fading light and hope

It rained
before the last drop evaporated
before the last hope disappeared
last ray of life went into darkness

It rained
settling the dust
caressing the lonely soul

Rain drops came
touching and flowing through the naked skin
nobody ever could touch

It rained
quintessential May rain

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cherish best of Western Ghats: Ballalrayana Durg to Bandaje Arbi

It was a steady 200 meter cliff, the roaring sound of the Bandaje fall was interoducing me to the wildness lay in front of me, it was really a mesmerizing and breathe taking view. I was blank and was feeling much lighter, certainly it was more than what i promised myself.
Ballalrayana Durg to Bandaje waterfall trek is considered to be one of the toughest treks in Karnataka. With more and more people getting interest in trekking, many of the tough trekking spots have become picnic spot, so me and Santanu decided to go to some place where still there is serenity and challenging trails. We worked out a plan to go to Bandaje, after Ashok’s unsuccessful attempt to complete the trek because of a novice group, what we needed a group comprising of fit and supportive people. Kiran as we expected was ready to join, Ashok knew the route and wanted to finish the unaccomplished job. Rm, Pradipta too sounded pretty willing, it was 6 but then our unexpected group member Satyavir joind us. So we were seven. This trek needed lots of web searching to find the trek route. Bandaje Arbi is challenging trek because of its wildness and chances of getting lost inside the rain forest. There were many people who couldn’t complete the trek. After a long chat we decided to climb up from Sunkasale to Ballalrayana durg and from there Bandaje Arbi falls. Not many venture into that as I guess the trek to Ujjire to Bandaje is more adventurous. This trek had to be adventurous as we decided against a guided trek and trek routes were all mis-leading. We bought the essential stuff, a compass. We just knew the direction of the places So we decided to leave from here on 25th of April. KSRTC Rajhamsa does not travel via Sunkasale, but other express buses do travel by that road. We decided to take the Rajhamsa to Horonadu, and we had to stop at a place called Kottigahar, its about 300 km from Bangalore. We reached Kempegouda bus station on time but the bus was late, eventually we found both bus and us were looking for each other for almost 30 min. the Bus was schedule to start at 22:25 hrs but started an hour late. We reached Kottigahara early morning 5. There are two ways to travel to Sunkasale, either by bus or by any small vehicle. Its around 19 km from Kottgahara. We hired a Maruti van. The road headed towards Kalasa, we had to take the right hand turn from Kottigahara. After about 7 km there is a v turn on that road which travels towards Sunkasale. The trek actually doesn’t start from Sunkasale, there is an estate called Kari khan estate from where actual walk starts. From Sunkasale there is a jeep trail which takes you to the estate, it comes just after the telecom office, we stopped at the place where the tar road ends, and started our two day adventure. The BR Durg appears on the left side of the road, the hill looks beautiful with thick early morning mist covering the hill top. The walls of the fort were visible from far our first destination. We reached the Ori khan estate to find few estate staffs from Rajasthan. We refreshed ourselves there and learnt from them that there are couple of trails can take us up there, one which takes less time but it was through that dense dangerous forest and the other one which starts just before the estate takes a longer but defined route, we preferred to take the first one as it would have saved our time. The forest was extremely thick and rain made the leach concentration irritably high, this trail went by the side of a wall appeared to me the same fort wall, the trail is defined here. By the time we reached the small stream, after an hour walk, all of us were panicked by the leaches, and badly attacked too; we stood still. The defined trail ends there!!! We didn’t know where to move. The forest was so thick it was literally impossible to move ahead, but our group had all daredevils. Me and Satyaveer moved way up and tried to make our way through the dense forest, but it was difficult. Fortunately we could see the grassland and Satyaveer wanted to check it out, I was following him but realized soon after it would be tough when I saw myself not able to reach the ground and a snake making its way below the rotten trunks. I wanted to call Satayaveer back but he found his way up and reached the grass land. All of us followed. It was quite a scary stretch, but all of us could reach there safely thanks to Satya. Once in the grass land we walked up to the walls of the fort and we could find the trail. All of us were exhausted but the picturesque landscape acted as an energizer. Weather was excellent. The place we reached wasn’t the main fort, so we started walking towards the west to reach the top most location. We walked towards the west and kept an eye on the main fort, it was 11:30 by then. After crossing some distance you can see that there is a man made ridge which travels along the trail. This can be seen from very far and from Bandaje this is the landmark one can follow to reach BR Durg. We stopped at a place to have our breakfast cum lunch. Ashok and Satyaveer went to look for the trail which will take us to the waterfall. We had our lunch with sandwiches and oranges and fruit juices. Once we are done few of us went to see the fort. The remnant of the fort is quite beautiful although almost non existent, but you can get a splendid panoramic landscape view from the top. After a long photo session we decided to move towards our next destination. The green hill tops with patches of forests were really captivating; the serenity of the landscape just isolated us from the outer world.
Ballalrayana Du
rg to Bandaje fall has a clear trail except the last one and half kilometer, but the tough job is to find the trail. We just knew we have to walk towards south from the BR Durg. Thanks to Ashok and Satyaveer we found the trail and we started our trekking towards the south. The weather was cloudy, and I had a feeling that probably beauty of Scotland will get heavy competition from this place. Many places I just stopped to absorb myself with this awesome environment. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the most picturesque landscape I have a chance to see. Nothing can match Western ghats. Its too powerful and seductive. Although there were few bifurcated trails entering inside the forests we avoided all of them. There was a rocky place and the clear trail disappeared. So we rested on that top after almost one hour of walk. We were just recollecting what we experienced. Ashok and Satyaveer mentioned this was the specific reason for their second attempt. After a brief stint on the top we had complete climb down towards the south. There were no signs of trails. It was rocky grassland and a steep descend. We headed towards the valley as Ashok and Satyavir recognize the places. We were nearing the Bandaje arbi. We could hear the noise from the waterfall, and our pace increased. We reached the Bandaje river, threw our rucksacks and ran towards the cliff. I was dumb stuck by the beauty; water was running down the hill for almost 150 meters just a perpendicular cliff and the whole region was surrounded by big hill covered with thick rain forest. The clouds were moving slowly and all of us for a moment were silent to hear the noise and quench the thirst. I just couldn’t move back, it was almost 3 and we decided to put up the tents before the sun sets. After the camping was done we took bath in the ice chilled water as the tiredness gripped us. It was a wild place, although Santanu carried a kerosene stove we decided to put on the wood fire for cooking. It was a constant effort from Rm Ashok which set the natural furnace burning. Our exotic diner started with noodles and taste was added through the lemon bought by Satyavir. Kiran as usual put things in places before we proceed through the diner process. It was an awesome evening. Not too cold, we could hear only the sounds from Cricket and the water fall. With this music on we finished our diner and resigned for the day. It was a very hard day. I didn’t expect such resilience from all of us. We were all fortunate that none of us became the slowest moving species controlling the trek. The constant noise from the waterfall kept me awake through the whole night. Truly it was a memorable night. Morning broke with thick mist stopping the sunrays penetrating the green valley. The river was really inviting and we plunged inside the water to have a second bath within 12 hrs. After a leisurely breakfast we started our second day’s trek. Ashok and Stayaveer were the guides as the way down was not easy if you don’t know the direction. We crossed the river and had a very steep climb which took us to the ridge of the side hill of the Bandage river we climbed down as we wanted to capture the falls, again I ran out of adjective to describe the beauty. The fall was thin, but still it was a real beauty. We were fortunate enough to come to this place. After a short stay we started walking down. There was a small water body which we crossed and came in front of the forest. We needed to find the entry point as we already had a bad experience while climbing up. The entry point was on the extreme right, there was a small rock marking the entry. One could see the water fall from here. We entered inside the wild ghat forest and the next 3 hr horror movie began. Once we were through some distance, the leaches in millions started attacking, it was horrible, salt and deodorant were so frequently used that our initial plan to stay together inside the jungle disappeared. We were literally on the run, we just could see the trail and walked fast, and it was a tough trail with many twists and turns and covered with the thick forest. It was one of thickest I have encountered. We knew all of us were in bad shape because of the leaches. The only advantage was the train was defined so we didn’t need to stop, Rm has a bad time as she slipped once. After more than an hour walk we reached the Bandaje river and got a chance to catch our breathe. Exhaustion was seen on our face, but not so much, with badly attacked m, Satyavir and Pradipta, we stayed at the river bed for almost an hour. It was almost 2 in the afternoon when we started descending again. This train was enjoyable as leaches were much less and forest was not so scary. We reached the bottom of the hill as Ashok said there will be 3 houses on the way, She was overjoyed to see the first one, her ecstasy became agony as she twisted her ankle. It was evident that it’s a bad bruise, and we were almos a good 2 km away from Bandaje, se showed extreme determination and traveled the distance without further trouble we reached Bandaje. We talked with Mr. Narayan Gowda who owns a quite a huge farming land, he was kind enough to arrange a jeep for us which would take us to Dhramsthala, via ujjire. We started traveling back to at 4 pm. Dharmasthala is around 30 km from Bandaje. We went to the main bus stand and caught an express bus at 6 pm which took us back to Bnnagalore at 3 in the morning. The journey back was extremely thrilling in the chadmadi ghats, but that’s a story itself. While coming back all in our group were having a tired face but there was a glee which said mission well accomplished! This was undoubtedly on of the best treks I ever made to. Extremely supportive and athletic group surely added to the flavour.

Approximate expense: Rs. 800/- per head