January 30, 2011

Moonlight to Sunrise...!!

The mission of the travel was to witness sunrise, which has been a  rarity off late. To accompolish this feat we left Bengaluru well past midnight and headed to Skandagiri. Situated in Chikballarpur, this trekking site is quite popular with the Bengalureans and is well known for its night trekking. It was deserted drive all the way till the base point.    

We were in for a surprise as a large crowd had already gathered  to experience night trekking in the chilly climate. As a precautionry measure I had a couple of layers of sweaters to escape the cold. There were a few unauthorised guides who wanted to help us but we decided to go without them. With a small torchlight to guide us, we rumbled on through the unknown paths in the pitch-darkness of the night. The only option for us was to follow the crowd and we just did the same and reached the top after 3 hours of treacherous trekking. On reaching the top we were greeted by a huge crowd who were ready with their SLRs and tripods to capture the first rays of the day. Skandagiri is also the place where you can walk through the clouds as they float very low during certain months of the year. However we were not lucky enough as we chose the wrong time of the year (end of January) to trek. With more than an hour left for the golden rays to spread across the horizon, we made a fire with a few sticks available there and made ourselves warm and comfortable. Refreshments in the form of omelets and tea were easily available at the top of the hill and we happily relished the tasty eggs.

After a long wait the horizon changed colours and we could see glimpses of the crimson shade spreading all over. Slowly but steadily the darkness of the night gave way to beautiful shades of gold, yellow and orange. As the cameras went clicking all over the place and the trekkers posed for their silhouette shots, the lovely bright sun showed up from above the clouds and the small hills. With the lovely moon and the twinkling stars disappearing and the sun spreading its rays all over welcoming a bright morning, it was time for us to trek all the way down.


As we walked down we were quite alarmed to find the crooked narrow path through which we trekked the previous night without knowing where the next step was leading to. It got hotter as we went down and each layer of sweater on my body came off one by one. After a morning tea at the base of the hills we were off to Bengaluru for a well needed sleep and rest.

Signing Note: A blend of moonlight trek and colourful sunrise is absolutely enchanting...!!

Route: Bengaluru- Chikballarpur- Skandagiri
Distance: 75 Kms 

January 25, 2011

Rays of Blessing...!!

 This photo was taken near Jog Falls in the Western ghats, Karnataka. October 2010.

January 18, 2011

Bekal- A Fort by the Sea...!!

A fort that owes a lot to the film Bombay is the Bekal Fort. The fort rose to limelight after a beautiful song in the film was shot exclusively at this very fort. A dilapidated look that it bore then has been transformed into a marvellous piece of history. The fort, located in the northern part of Kerala has undergone a lot of beautification and is quite well maintained by the authorities.


During my last visit to Mangalore, I chanced upon an opportunity to visit this very famous fort. Jutting out and staring at the gorgeous Arabian sea, this fort was built originally for defence and was controlled by many rulers including Tipu Sultan and the Britishers. The inside of the fort has been well maintained with spread out garden area and wide walkways. The views from the fort are exceptional as it gives a panoramic view of the fishing boats floating far off and also of the numerous coconut trees swaying to the tunes of the gentle breeze.

There are numerous peep holes in the fort through which I had some amazing views of the clear blue waters. Most of the external part of the fort is facing the Arabian sea and this makes the waves splash onto this massive citadel. The Bekal Fort spreads itself out into the sea and one can go down the steps onto the beach. Even though Bekal beach remains small and unexplored, I enjoyed a memorable evening with the timid tides, running crabs and a mesmerising sunset.

One of the less explored places of Kerala, Bekal Fort has been receiving a lot of travelers off late and is an ideal option for an offbeat destination. The other places which can be clubbed along with Bekal fort are Kappil beach and Valiyaparamba backwaters.

Signing Note: The massive fort, the splashing waves and the blue waters almost made me sing "UYIRE UYIRE"...!!
Route: Bangalore- Hassan- Mangalore- Kasargod- Bekal
Distance: 415 Kms

January 12, 2011

Mahabalipuram- Sun, Sea and Stones...!!

My first visit to Chennai ended up being a trip to Mahabalipuram via Chennai. To be more precise I hardly visited any place in Chennai and instead covered the whole of Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram, earlier known as Mamallapuram was supposedly the port town of the Pallava kingdom. It is known for its amazing sculptures and marvellous temples.

 A lovely drive down the East Coast Road took us to the hot and humid Mahabalipuram. Being a weekend, there were swarms of tourists at this World Heritage site. Mahabalipuram is famous for its stone carvings and sculptures which were carved centuries ago. The most famous and the must visit ones amongst them are the shore temple, Arjuna's Penance and the Five Rathas. The shore temple is a beautiful piece of art located close to the sea. Over the years it has undergone a lot of wear and tear and the sea has eaten into many parts of it. However it still holds a charm which attracts many tourists. Arjuna's Penance depicts a scene from the Mahabarata and the Five Rathas are dedicated to the five Pandava brothers. Cave temples are the other attractions and they display a lot of history through the lovely carvings around it.

After a lot of walks, climbs and photoshoots we explored a bit of Mahabalipuram and found many shops selling stone carvings, souviniers, artifacts etc. We also found many sculptors chiselling different types of stones into lovely sculptures.

After that it was time for some fun and we headed to the beachfor a dip in the Bay of Bengal. The beach looked deserted with very few people around. We however had no qualms about that and waded into the waters. After a few minutes of splashing and playing, we were advised by two life guards to not venture into the waters as the tides were pretty strong. That was indeed a disappointing end to an otherwise lovely trip.

The government and the UNESCO has taken many measures to preserve the fabulous sculptures and temples of Mahabalipuram. A lot of it has been taken away by the cyclones, tsunamis and the sea itself. Keen travellers ought to visit this heritage site before the Bay of Bengal gobbles it up completely.

Signing Note: Sit besides the sea and chisel away to glory.

Route: Chennai- Mahabalipuram
Distance- 56 Kms. 

January 4, 2011

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