Walk with the Mountains

22nd Dec 2017, 5 pm:

Somewhere between Kurangini and Kolukkumalai,

The Mist had started settling down on the route. We were in the middle of a strenuous long ascent, winding hairpin curves as the destination refused to arrive. I cursed inwardly at my choice of the backpack as it was slowing me down, draining my energy levels. I could feel my heart beating rapidly as the exhaustion made my walk robotic, trying to cover as much as distance possible without stopping. There is a thing about the mountains. It’s never really possible to tell the accurate time based on the environment. So when we thought it was getting dark, It was in reality just 5 pm. Getting stuck in the forest, trekking in the torchlight was never an option. One of my friends was chugging along at full tilt and we were all repeatedly asking her the whereabouts whether the trail led to a clearing. The walk through the hairpin bends of the forest although tiring, makes your trekking soul a free bird released into the wild admiring the beauty of the jungle.

An hour ago:

We 14 of us had set out towards the highest tea plantation in the world, Kolukkumalai. As you make the ascent, you are surrounded by the stunning picturesque ranges of mountains. The zig-zag path is clearly visible and it is as if the mountains are ever on the move. The nature of this trail is of unspeakable beauty in every sense. The 10th person finally reached the Onti Mara (the midpoint of the trek). We had just finished having our packed lunch. Now we had a dilemma. Whether to wait for the remaining 4 people to catch up and proceed as a whole group or to get divided as it would not be fair on the whole group to trudge through the forests late into the night. We chose the latter option. It would have taken more than an hour to have lunch and leave the place. We still had roughly 50% of the trek left. The light was already fading and the rest 9 of us had set off at a blistering pace. Continue reading

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A Place Lost in Time!

Bengaluru saw a record rainfall this year. On a rainy night, we set out for Gandikota and Belum Caves. The combination of incessant rainfall and a Friday night was enough to make us anxious about the infamous traffic situation in the city during a rainy day. For once we predicted our destiny right.

We boarded the APSRTC Super Luxury bus to Jammalamadagu at 9 pm. After running a complete circle for searching the bus, we came to know that the buses are identified by their route number instead of the registration number. While most people visit Gandikota by their personal or a hired transport, we chose public transport- not that we had a better choice.

APSRTC runs 2 buses to Jammalamadagu. One at 7pm and the other at 9pm. We chose the 9pm one as we did not want to be cooling our heels in the bus station upon arrival. Gandikota is about 15kms from Jammalamadagu and we were confident about finding some form of transport from there.

Rewinding back to Friday 9pm, the bus started after an agonizing delay of 20 minutes. By the time we passed Hebbal it was already past 11pm. “We” here refers to 4 people. I have long stopped caring how many people make the trip. I feel my trips are liberated from a parameter named “count of people”. Anyways we settled into a fitful sleep in the luxury(last row) seats of the bus, hoping to catch a few hours of shut-eye.

We arrived at Jammalamadagu at 5am. The APTDC website said the ETA was 6am but we arrived a good hour early. For once we were thankful to Bengaluru jams or else we would be slapping mosquitoes in the bus stand from 3am. Surprise! Surprise! We were greeted by waterlogging here too. Looked like the rains had preceded our arrival. We got an RTC bus to Gandikota at 5.15am.

After a couple of brief halts, we were rolling towards Gandikota- the Grand Canyon of India. Yes, you heard it right! The vast lands were fresh from the supposedly overnight’s rain. It had a very scenic background with several streams flowing by the wayside. The dry land had completely transformed.
Early morning scenes!
Rain! Rain! never go away!

Are these the wetlands? This is Kadapa district transformed.


We arrived at Gandikota at 6am. A couple of small lakes were overflowing across the road. With windmills in the distance working their way ever so slowly against the gentle morning breeze and the lush green backdrop, it was a sight to behold. We immediately proceeded to Haritha resort- a network of hotels operated by APTDC. You need to book in advance in case you plan to stay here. We did not plan on staying back hence we just freshened up. We were provided with excellent breakfast. It is said that the sunrise here is amazing across the gorge, so is the sunset. Since it was cloudy and we took a wee bit of more time to get ready, we gave it a pass. After a sumptuous breakfast, we started exploring the Gandikota fort.

Inside the fort, there is a small village and tourism is their main source of income. We get light refreshments there and also some valuable knowledge about the history as well from the localities. We did not inquire about any guides but I’m sure they would have been more than happy to show us around. The clouds had parted to give way to the morning sun and the signs were ominous. We were in Kadapa district which is known for searing temperatures all year around. We had a friend who knew Telugu and communicating with the locals was easier. But knowing Kannada is also a distinct advantage as Kannada and Telugu are known as distant cousins. Our initial destination was the Jamia Masjid. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. The Big tank was overflowing much like the other lakes in the vicinity.
This is the Big Tank overflowing!

The Masjid surroundings.

Nice Click- Self-appreciation.

Jamia Masjid-in all its glory.

We then proceeded towards our most awaited spot- the Grand Canyon of India. Here the Pennar river cuts through the jagged cliffs. We wanted a host of good photographs at the place where everyone has a picture by default. It was a stark reminder as to how small and insignificant we are compared to “Nature”.
Here it is- The River Pennar flows majestically.

The lush bright countryside.

After spending a good amount of time, we proceeded towards the incredibly photogenic spot, Madhavaraya temple. I just let my thoughts flow free as I took in the marvels of the historical delights that this place had to offer. This place was just Lost to Time. Later we came to know that Gandikota had been sanctioned around 200 crores for its development by the government. The place has great tourism potential and hopefully, the locals have a better life as well.
Madhavaraya temple gopuram.

A place truly Lost to Time


The return bus to Jammalamadagu leaves at 10am followed by another one at 1pm from Gandikota. The other options are the rare autos. Since we came out at 11am we managed to catch an auto that had just dropped by another set of tourists and was on its way back. The sun was now over our heads bathing us in its heat. We caught a bus to Kolimigundla and from there to Belum. To our utter dismay, the rain held sway over here too, causing the caves to closed due to waterlogging. From there it was a long journey back to Bangalore through Tadapatri and Anantapur.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by very heavy midnight downpour back in Bengaluru. Although I managed to get an Ola auto, my adventures did not end there. A car collided with our auto and the belligerent auto driver mounted a spirited chase and managed to corner the car. In the end, they struck a deal and I was finally dropped off at 12.45am.

A perfectly executed trip was slightly marred by the closure of Belum Caves. But the weather is not in our hands. To me, travel is not only a hobby but an emotion that is almost inexplicable. It teaches one the larger perspectives of life.

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For the benefit of my readers, most of whom I assume are travel enthusiasts like me, I am sharing a slightly detailed itinerary of this beautiful experience called Gandikota – The Grand Canyon of India.


A big shout-out to Miss Ashwini Shenoy for masterfully editing this post without which it would be strewn with errors. She blogs here:


Monsoon is HERE

Leech bites are like battle scars(light humour) which warriors get in a war. Leech bites are an irritation frankly speaking but they are an integral part of the monsoon trek in the Western Ghats. I had got three cool meaty bites upon closer inspection. 
5:30am
I woke up to the pattering sound of rains. Everyone was in deep slumber, as they say, one gets excellent sleep early into the morning. We were a group of 21 on a fast trek to Tadiyandamol organized by Bangalore Trekking Club (BTC). It is the highest peak in Kodagu district, the third highest in Karnataka. It majestically rises to an altitude of 1748m above sea level. My sleep was very fitful as I tried to experiment with all kinds of angles. I was glad that it was raining since Karnataka is reeling under severe successive droughts. Monsoon treks are special due to several reasons- the monsoon experience itself, the fantastic views of clouds rising from the mountains and the leeches obviously.
We began our trek after a sumptuous breakfast. The beauty of going on treks with clubs such as BTC is that all like-minded people congregate and is also a totally non-profit trekking organization. Our initial part of the trek was on a broken tar road. The surrounding views were picture perfect with towering green beasts aka trees lining up both the sides. We could also see a vibrant display of several colored leaves as well. It’s the season of celebration of nature’s beauty, a carnival for the sing-a-song birds and finally a visual treat of nature’s beauty for all of us.
The stunning view!
The towering green beasts aka trees 😉

After walking for a good amount of distance and passing through few monsoon streams we came across a stunning clearing from where we could see the lengths and depths of the valley. We were told to enjoy this view as in the upcoming trek route the clarity of the view could be obscured. It was like the rain was being intermittently switched on and off. All of the 21 people were keeping up the pace with the team including a leader and sweeper. Leeches were going about their business but there few as the trail was pretty straightforward and not dense. As we started the actual ascent there were signposts displaying the distance, also we came across tiny beautiful flowers spread across the grasslands with raindrops clinging onto them. We finally came across a clearing which meant that 75% of the trek had been completed. The weather changes pretty quickly over here, having said that within a few moments it started pouring, the heaviest we had come across since morning. The following forest route became a tiered waterfall. Each part of the trek has its own magic. The grassland hike gives the mesmerizing views while the forest walks are a different terrain themselves. We had to climb up and up with rain streams rushing down our path. Finally, we reached the Tadiyandamol peak with absolutely no respite from the angry rains. We had a short stay at the top managing to take some pictures with all of us soaked to the hilt. After the descent, it was leech removal time. The trek was very well organized by BTC and my 2-year long wait for Tadiyandamol was finally satisfied.
Tiny passing waterfall. Monsoon streams. Monsoon is HERE.

Trees shrouded in mist. Will upgrade my cam.

The path we took. Nature at peace with itself.

The flowers. Not an expert with the names.

The beautiful forest trek route.

The Scented Gulmohar

Flashback :

The clock strikes noon and we rush out of the hall. The exams have ended and the much-awaited summer vacation has begun. I cannot exactly recollect the date but it must be after the season of spring had set in. Bengaluru also was known as the Garden City of India was decked up in a flowery maze with wide varieties such as Gulmohars, Raintree etc. Those were the days when I used to celebrate the end of another academic year and the beginning of our days of freedom rather than the onset of spring season. I used to scowl at the rain gods who used to intermittently threaten with brief spells of rain. 
Present day:
The evening climate has freshened up after a brief shower of rain. A much-needed respite from the searing afternoon heat. Bengaluru has been drastically turned into a concrete jungle with little thought being put into the aftereffects. The South part of the city is one of the core residential areas due to which there is substantial tree cover being retained. The main roads are covered by the canopy of trees from both the sides, reminiscent of the old times. It is that time of the year when the deciduous trees shed their leaves and fresh tender ones take their place. It is also the time when the trees are decorated and wear a festive look- referring to the flowers in full bloom.

Tranquility 🙂

A seller sells his wares the colorful way.

My humble yet reliable ride.

Another view of the vibrant shopping market.

      Although a weekday, the evenings are ever colorful in Namma Jayanagara. Bustling with shoppers, the place radiates a sense of vibrancy replete with colorful hues. As another vibrant evening draws to an end, I have to drop off a friend who stays in the further southern part of the city. As I move away from the core areas of the shopping complex into the residential areas, a sense of tranquillity descends upon us. I slow down as I take in the fresh aroma of the freshness of the earth along with the scent of the flowery blossoms. Gulmohars have their own distinct aroma, also one of the prominent species along the city roads. The Scented Gulmohar– an ode to one of the most prominent trees of Namma Bengaluru. I need not describe the aroma of rainfall. But after a hot summer day, the cooling effect is another feeling.
        Bengaluru is beautiful, a city for the future but dogged by poor planning for expansion purposes. Let us make a pledge to put an effort to restore the grand city to its old glory. 

The Sounds of the Forest

@ 1890m above sea level, we are being blasted by torrential downpour along with heavy gusts of wind as we try to devour our packed lunch after a moderately challenging 5 hour trek to the Kudremukha peak. The surrounding views are fully shrouded in thick mist and there is an eerie silence except for the rustling of our raincoats in the bellowing rain and wind.
       When the rain died down eventually, I dropped my makeshift raincoat and reached to get my food packet. Within seconds, the wind again whipped up, splattering rain onto our faces. I was chilled to the bone in a matter of few seconds.
       Kuduremukha is a mountain range and name of a peak located in Chikkamagaluru , in Karnataka. The name Kuduremukha literally means ‘horse-face’ (in the Kannada language) and refers to a particular picturesque view of a side of the mountain that resembles a horse’s face. It was also referred to as ‘Samseparvata’, historically since it was approached from Samse village. Kuduremukh is Karnataka’s 3rd highest peak after Mullayangiri and Baba Budangiri.
        5 hours before we started our ascent to conquer the third highest peak in Karnataka. This was a trek with a group known as Bangalore Adventurers. Going on a trek with like-minded yet unknown people was going to be a unique experience. With the South Western Monsoon having picked up, the downpour which had started ever since we entered the foothills hardly ever gave up. This was my first official monsoon trek, monsoon and life in these parts are interlinked with each other. There is an entrance fees of Rs. 450/- per head and no overnight camping is allowed. So the total trek distance is of 20 -22kms back and forth on a single day. 
         We were a group of 13, led by guide Arun who stays at a place called Mullodi near Samse. At 7.30 we left his humble abode and trudged along the hilly slopes ready to be bitten by the blood thirsty leeches. They were expectantly thriving and we made rapid progress as we strove to avoid being stuck at the same spot thus avoid giving the leeches’ sufficient time to be on friendly terms with our legs. The first stretch of the trek was the wet forest floor where there was no hope of sunlight having a glimpse at all. After the first stretch we were really exposed to the downpour which came down on us like a battering ram. 
         As we reached a clearing, our guide beckoned us to come over swiftly and the early group was lucky enough to sight a bear. We also could watch the sambar deer and the Indian bison upon the great mountains far away from us, as we progressed further we could see couple of more herds on the move.
         It was a fascinating sight to watch them moving in a tight formation along the mountain passes. As we gained height we could make out the Kudremukha mountain range offers. The folded, layered fluorescent green mountains playing hide and seek with the floating clouds makes us tantalisingly high on the nature’s tremendous display of raw beauty. A few feet away, my fellow trek mates melt away into the hanging clouds with the leeches always on the lookout for its share of pie. Some of pictures uploaded here hardly do justice to the view actually described. Yet they say the photographs are like footprints. Presenting some of the breathtaking photos captured through my phone. 
Pure magic !!

This is where the Green Gods reside. 

The view of KUDREMUKHA ranges

Another one of the addictive pics which makes it a must go Monsoon treks.

Imagine closing your eyes and surrounded by this beauty. The silence !!

Path through the forest. !!

A very rare moment when the clouds decided to rest 🙂
The Sounds of the Forest brings a whole new dimension to this trek. The rustling of the wet forest floor, call of the sambar deer, the gushing of the streams in their full glory(we had to cross around 15-16 of them) and of course the belting rain and the howling wind makes this route a trekker’s delight. SO who’s joining me this monsoon 2017 !!! 

The view with a Heart

      The backwaters hummed along the pitch of our voices as the ripples on the waters reminisced us of the typical sea waves. The wind was refreshing as it strove to cleanse us from the ever increasingly polluted city weather. The evening was beautiful but the setting sun decided to hide among the scattered clouds which denied us the perfect sunset. The neatly laid stone floor beneath our feet was a testament to the skill of the artisans and this temple was known to be submerged and subsequently restored slab by slab. We were at the Venugopal Swamy temple on the banks of KRS backwaters, Mysore. Having a large built-up area and also being a very photogenic spot, we indulged in some creative photography.  With the sun setting and this being only an intermediate destination, we resumed our journey towards Wayanad.

Venugopal Swamy temple

The KRS backwaters in the far background.
      The Scorpio whistled through the dark highways with no stop-overs in between barring for dinner and as we crossed into Kerala few people had warned us about running into wild elephants on the stretch of Tholpetty wildlife sanctuary. We finally reached our guest house at around the stroke of midnight which worked out to be incredibly economical thanks to our friend Karthik. 
      The following morning was a very pleasant one and and we decided to head towards Chembra Peak which is renowned for a lake at the top with the shape of a heart. Yes literally and this being the monsoon season we were in for an enriching experience. Having haggled with the jeep fellows to take us to the starting point of the trek, we had to pay the trekking charges (Rs.750/-) per head including the guide charges. We started the ascent against a cloudy backdrop but we backed ourselves to get back down before it started to pour. The trek was a real stroll in the park for us having trekked on far arduous routes but being at a height of nearly around 2050 metres and also being the tallest peak in Wayanad district we enjoyed the climb.

View of the Tea Gardens

Rain is in the air!!

The view with a Heart 🙂

So picturesque 

Iruppu !!

         The monsoon had draped the Western Ghats in carpets of green and the sight of clouds kissing the far away mountains, exponentially multiplied the grandeur of nature. The tiny trek was not the one for someone seeking a arduous and an adrenaline seeking one. It was not about the trek but the opportunity to interact with nature at its own background. It is believed that water in the heart shaped lake at the Chembra peak never dries up. Set amidst the green mountains, the pictures below indicates my description of the same. The rain clouds looked threatening but we had an ideal descent. The next significant place was the Iruppu Falls where we experienced a torrential monsoon downpour which was a leech heaven as well. The Iruppu being a cascading waterfall was all in its glory and made a classic wallpaper picture. With its thundering sound in the peak of monsoon all elements of nature were in play as we soaked in the refreshing environment of monsoon in the Western Ghats. #SaveWesternGhats 
  

Into The Abyss

Oct 2nd – 2.30am
Damn, I’m too jumpy about the alarm.
4.45am-  Seriously?  Swearing once again, I pulled over my blanket. 
5.45am- Finally it’s about time and I feel surprisingly fresh. Why not, given the fact that I literally snapped my neck over 2 false alarms. It’s time to “dress to impress” as I feel over-prepared of meeting my time to target of at 6.30am.
          Surprise surprise it has rained all night and it is still raining! Perfect weather for an outing I would say, considering we got roasted just a week back at Shivgange and reading on my darkness meter shot through the roof. Overconfidence makes one lazy said once, a punctual man as I finally took leave at 6.50am.
          As I stepped out into the falling rain, the crisp chilled morning air made me nostalgic about the old Bengaluru weather. The otherwise unkempt streets looked as if they had been washed by a housemaid. The large pools of standing water were a grim remainder of the city’s infrastructure but today I cast those thoughts away as I soaked in the pattering rain and the dark clouds was an omen of the things to come although I was pretty sure that the sun would come out with vengeance later on in the day.
          11 of us had planned to visit Anthargange in Kolar about 70kms from Bangalore. The starting point was deemed to be Tin Factory near KR Puram. After a very reluctant breakfast we all boarded the very infamously known red KSRTC bus. Amid a lot of chattering we didn’t fail to notice the lovely vegetable farms, the vibrantly colourful flower fields, the rocky landscape coming into view as well as the cat and mouse played out between the sun and clouds. After trying to win an already lost argument with the auto drivers, we reached the Anthargange temple base at 10.30am. Well this is also known as ‘Kashi of the South’ and we were immediately greeted by an army of monkeys and were trying to get hold of our backpacks but with a secure defense mechanism we sent them away scurrying.
           The temple itself did not ignite much interest but the steps leading to the temple along with the surroundings were a photographer’s delight. The path continued from a well defined set of steps to a disentangled random array of boulders. The crowd looked thin despite being a public holiday and yes the climate was surrealy cool. As we gained in altitude, the view of the highway was enchanting as it ploughed through the settlements dotted on its either side. The peak as it stands cannot be called as one and if it is referred to as a place at a higher altitude would be more appropriate. As we sat contemplating our next destination we saw another group of 6 trudging through the fields led by a self proclaimed guide- a young boy studying in 5th grade. He willingly agreed to take us to remains of a fort adjoining another hillock. 
             It was another short climb and I snapped several photospheres and panoramas. The stark dry landscape against the scattered cloud structures threw some fascinating pictures. There are seven towns around this range and there are several KSRTC buses at fixed timings. Finally we started our descent in pursuit of the most spoken about thing in Anthargange- cave exploration. It was first time for most of them and after witnessing the initial way, I knew that this would be one amazing experience. We barely had enough room to nuzzle in and once we managed to get ourselves in the view was eerily dark with sunlight playing peeping Tom. The flashlight of our camera came in handy as we all helped each other, with one going as far to suggest what angle and as to how should we position ourselves in order to sneak in through. Sheer drops, rolling slides were the order of the day as we absorbed the cooling effect that recharged our batteries. Special mention has to be made of Siddesh, our ‘chotu’ guide. His energy and enthusiasm was second to none as he merrily held sway over 3 groups. The thought of exploring more caves was enchanting but we decided to take leave in view of the fading light. The cave exploration was indeed a trip deep down Into The Abyss. The sky was lit up by the setting sun’s colours on the way back giving an enthralling end to a satisfying day. 
South Kashi. Google Stylized pic.

Steps leading upto the temple.

On the way UP.

Scene out of a painting.

Vegetation

A view of the highway.

A view from the remains of the fort.

Anthargange caves

A panoramic view 🙂

A Tale of Twists and Turns

Starting Point: Almora.
The joyride began exactly at 7am on a windy morning from a height of 1861 metres. Now the reason I call this as a joyride is the fact that we meander through the beautiful ghat roads with breathtaking vistas of the valley and the pine forests. Terraced gardens enriched the beauty and with captivating deep plunges into the valley, the drivers here live their lives on a knife’s edge everyday.
        I am hooked on to the beauty of the nature’s bounty bestowed upon this blessed land as we continue to turn and twist through the roads with several heart stopping moments. The Koshi river flows serenely dried out at several places due to summer. Come monsoon and it will be transformed into a raging magical beauty.
         I’m furiously snapping photographs on my Nexus 5 and one photograph shows the trucks parked by the wayside. It is unseemingly beautiful against the backdrop of the stunning mountains and a lunging sheer drop on the other side. 


I am pleasantly surprised by a little prodding on my other side. I find a little gal who was studying minutes before and now drifting in sleep. I’m myself overcome with a feeling of slipping into the dream world but am determined to take in the full view and I fantasize as to how it might appear in winter under the blanket of snow.
        We reached Nainital at around 10am and after  a thoroughly a mesmerizing day we  boarded a bus to Delhi exactly 12 hours later.  Without any delay I checked on the route and to my joy we still had to cover 30kms of ghats route until Haldwani. You might be wondering whether I am flogging a dead horse by forcing you with mindless twists and turns along the road. But no, this is where it goes one notch up. The ghat roads had been seamlessly lit up by the misty glow of the full moon. The mountains strike a poignant pose against a near cloudless sky with several streaks of clouds being lit up by the husky spreads of the Golden coloured moon.

           Ah a sight it was, with the indomitable mountains against the magnificent skyline. Sadly I do not have any photographs of these precious moments. I have always believed that climbing the Ghats is always a pleasure to watch rather than the free-wheeling downhill joyride although both have their own beautiful moments. 

Note: Only The first two photographs are taken during the journey. The next day were taken in the previous evening. 🙂
Phone credits : My very own Nexus 5 😛

A Dance Diary

           The clock struck 7 in the evening as we sat in expectation of the much awaited DJ night around a bonfire in the surreal settings of green surroundings at a resort near Nagarhole. It was a corporate outing and the day so far had lived up-to its grandeur in terms of the quality of the events. 
The pathway looks eerily beautiful 🙂

The arrangement.
          After a round of snacks and hot coffee we made our way to the dance floor albeit a concrete and a multi-purpose one. The lights were dazzling to blind and the bonfire was meticulously arranged. What is it a party without the drinks to go with it ? As the big shots started arriving, a spark was thrown and the bonfire was up and running. 
                                                               
The Unlit Bonfire 😀

Party Abhi to shuru hui hai !!
           The night began on a spiritual note with a melodious song in reminiscence of Lord Ganapa. The Head of the Department then declared “Let the party Begin” with a magnanimous toast. The drinks started flowing like water and we hit the dance floor with a bagful of dance until death moves(not literally). Few of them showed their expert moves and few others’ tapanguchi steps got resounding shouts of approval. Rain briefly threatened to play the role of a party pooper but eventually cleared out. A rain dance would have been extraordinary but open-air DJ proved to be a limitation. Overall it was an excellent day and an extraordinary evening. !! 
Fire Lights Dance….. 🙂 😉
            

An Evening with Myself

It is that time of the year when the library witnesses grab a seat competition at 8am in the morning. The auto drivers otherwise playing NFS are swatting flies and the pubs are a no-go. Yes, its exam time in Manipal. The pre-monsoon showers have brought life back to the nature and the climate is truly heavenly. I start my day @ 8am and the far surroundings are enveloped in a thick layer of mist. It is drizzling lightly as I look up to the overcast sky and the I feel like singing Teri Meri Kahani Baarishon ka paani line form the song Teri Meri Kahani. The little guy inside me starts quivering with excitement and just wants to burst with joy. Dance in the rain and soak in the mist is what he says. @4am, the climate seems to have preserved its state with the falling rain ever so persistent. The little guy is adamant about letting him take over. The walk to my room and then to the bus-stand in the rain with my music was one to remember. 
            The clock struck 6pm when I boarded a bus to Udupi. Udupi is a lovely little town which still wears a traditional look due to the narrow alleys and also owing to the powerful presence of the infamous 8 mutts. Ratha Beedi is a circular road surrounded by temples. I first bought photo frame of a deity for which  mom was after me like holding a belan. Today I thought of visiting the Sode Waadiraaja Mutt but in the middle, magical aroma from the snacks at Mitra Samaj at Udupi pulled me of my course. I immediately barged inside and without a moment’s hesitation ordered a Masala Dosa and a hot cup of coffee. The perfect snack for the perfect climate. After settling in, did I realize that I was supposed to be visiting the temple. But when I was about to finish the Masala Dosa I could not resist a plate of steaming hot Goli Bajjis. 
            I came out like a junkie high on marijuana. Next I went to to the Sode Waadiraaja Mutt and the thing about mutts is that the interiors are in a state similar to that of 50 years before. I soak in the interior architecture and after a spiritually uplifting experience I emerge onto the streets and find myself in a totally different scene. The Ratha Beedi is lit up by an arc of chariot lights. I always wanted to witness the chariot pulling procession and as luck would have it, I witness the very same. A huge chariot is turning across the radius of the street with a large hemispherical dome and a hexagonal body adorned with bright lights, having been draped with images of Lord Krishna. Along with that are 2 mini chariots which are illuminated with a dazzle of golden hue. As the main chariot approaches pulled by devotees chanting Govinda Govinda the stage is set-up for the extra effects. The firecrackers and flowerpots go off. Camphor lights are set alight on the path and the temple elephant joins in the procession. 

              An overenthusiastic photographer is shouted at by the mahout. Yeah humans always see the entertainment side of the nature but there are quite a few trying to create a difference. But the balance is held precariously. I finally take leave having seen quite a few activities in a day.  The freedom one has with oneself is totally unconquerable. We need to give time to ourselves to ask some uncomfortable questions or to just do things your way no doubts raised. Be yourself, don’t give a damn. !!