Tuesday, January 27, 2009

V6 Trek - Unforgettable 3 days of my life!!! (24th Jan 09 to 26th Jan 09)

Being a member of CTC(Chennai Trekking Club) for more than year, i never got an opportunity to trek with the club as the destinations were bit far from Hyderabad. And then while browsing through the CTC google group i saw a new trek detail for Venkatagiri Hills trek which was close to Tirupati and almost on the parallel hills to Tirmula. So after few phone conversations with Peter and checking on other details i was all set to go for this trek, my first with CTC.

Checked with Chandrasekhar (chandu for short, a friend of mine) and he too wanted to be part of the same. We discussed few stuff we needed to carry and then I made a call to Peter to confirm on few aspects which I was not clear about. Booked my tickets for onwards and return journey and with Chandu buying the sleeping bags we were almost good to go and pretty much excited. D day arrived and I headed to the railway station. My train was at 8:05PM from Kachiguda and I was to get down at Renigunta and meet the CTC group from Chennai and all of us were to go together to the start point of the trek. I reached the station pretty early and waited for Chandu to show up. The railway station seemed unusually crowded and I at first didn’t understand the reason. Then checking at the train schedules I saw the B’lore express was delayed by an hour and so was my train and crowd from both of the trains were stranded on the station with nothing to do. Chandu arrived soon and we kept waiting for the announcement for the train. 8:05PM departure became 8:30PM and then 8:45PM and in the end the train came and moved off at 10:30PM. I was running way behind schedule and was hopeful that my train would make up for the lost time and reach renigunta on time and I would not be a reason for the entire CTC group to wait for me. Woke up pretty early after a comfortable sleep and TTE gave me the news that the train would reach Renigunta only at 9:30AM. That was almost 1.5hrs delay from the time we had agreed to meet the CTC group. Few phone calls with Peter and then it was decided that there would be 2 bikers who would wait for us and the rest of the group would leave for the starting point of the trek.


Our train arrived at renigunta station at 9:30AM and Chandu and I rushed out to meet the bikers who had been waiting for us for an hour atleast. Ranganathan and Kathernath waved at us the moment they saw and soon we were off on their bikes to the starting point of the trek which was 7 kms off-road to a village called Madhavaram Podu. There were two more bikers waiting for us to guide us (thanks a ton to Peter) and we were fast enough to catch the rest of the gang. We arrived at a spot where everyone parked their vehicles and soon the ration for 3 days of trek was distributed to all. In all the commotion I noticed Peter busily rushing and giving instructions and I went introduce myself. He was the only one in the group I knew from before (limited to Orkut and GTalk). Chandu and I picked up our food which included a packet of thepla, a pear and apple, a water bottle, Maggie packet, Glucon C and D packet and a Cookie combo (Bourbons and Good day Chocó). With the empty cartons tucked inside the cars and no garbage outside the group was all set to start the trek. I felt at this time a small intro or instruction would given to all but it didn’t and we were off. Peter led the group enabled with his GPS and a walkie talkie. There was another piece with the sweeper who ensured no one is left behind. After trekking for 30min Peter realized at a point on the way we had taken a wrong turn and we had to go back 500mtrs. The terrain we were walking was something which I had never imagined or seen. We were actually following a river, if you could call that a river. A complete dry bed of most treacherous rocks I had ever seen. The sun was also not helping the trekkers. Peter was handling this terrain as if it was his living room, walking at brisk pace and I felt even if I jogged I wouldn’t keep pace with him. I overheard people calling him the Mougli of the Jungle. After a while I noticed that that the bag which I thought just an hour ago to be a light weighted stuff suddenly felt as if laden with rocks. The sun was showing it affects and I was feeling thirsty and tired. The sweepers behind were shouting every now and then asking the group to move on and fill the gaps. After a while I caught up with another tired soul (Biju) and we decided we could not take a step forward without resting for a while. After a 15 min breather under a tree shade, we were more relaxed and made a move ahead. The path ahead was no different and we were continuously walking on a dry river bed. After a while we saw small pools of water appearing, a signal that water was up ahead. I had noticed that the water actually was running underground and some points use to surface and then go beneath again. So you would never know up ahead whether you would find water or not. After walking for some distance I heard joyful shouting and scream and for sure knew we had reached a river in full flow, as so it was. A small opening in the stream where the water was as crystal clear as it could get. By the time I reached the place everyone was already in the water enjoying to the core. I didn’t even care to change and jumped into the water with jeans and tees. And what a wonderful time we had. The water was very cold even with the Sun at its full force. After half an hour bathe, came out and by that time people were munching their snacks. Done with the food, Peter gave the command to the platoon to move forward.


And we kept on walking, on and on and on…….All the way the surrounding were something which I had never experienced. Beautiful mountains all round and the stream flowing between them and all the 58 trekkers following the stream. The idea was the reach a waterfall called Paradise Falls, discovered by Peter and others in a trek before this one. But the group was big and the movement was a bit slow. The organizers kept on shouting “Move on”, “Close the gaps” and though tired many like me kept on moving. We then waded through water at many spots to cross over and kept going forward till we reached a place where the water was too deep for us to go through the other end. We were now surrounded by huge 300 to 400 mts mountains and in the front the stream which we so deep that we couldn’t cross it. Peter and few others swam to the other end to check if there is a way out and some of us took a quick snack and breather. After some time the decision was made to climb one of the mountains next to us. Now that was not something I was expecting to be frank. I was tired and was hoping Peter would declare the place where we were as the camping place for the night. It was 2-3 hours before the light was to fade out. We all started to move slowly and soon noticed that by the time we reached at the start of the mountain (a 300mtrs almost a 70+% incline) peter was almost at the top. Slowly a trail of trekkers followed him and soon it felt like an ants going up an anthill. After climbing for an hour, looking down was bit scary. We were at a place where the only place to take a grip was some loose rocks and grass and the occasional cry from someone at the top to watch out for falling rocks did scare. Naresh who was ahead of me got stuck not able to find way up and I took the lead from him and showed the rest of the group the way. Soon after 2 hrs of climb managed to reach on the top with Ashish guiding others from the top, where there were 7-8 trekkers who had reached before me. I simply collapsed to the ground complete exhausted. Soon it was getting dark and the sun was slowly finding place behind the mountains. After a while all the trekkers came up with the help of our very own Peter who had again went back to help others climb up.


With all the trekkers resting for a while, the torch lights were out (chandu had just got one for both of us, a pakka marwadi quality) and we were finding hard to navigate through the thick thorny bushes and the ground full of rocks. After walking for almost an hour, Peter finalized the place for the night camp and all the trekkers immediately started marking their territories and cleaning the place for a night cap. First time in my like I was about to sleep in the jungle, in the open and in a sleeping bag. Chandu and I took some time to remove the rocks around and spread down our sleeping bags. In the meanwhile a camp fire was lit and people started singing and game of UNO also started. I was too tired to move around decided to sleep early. Had a quick dinner of thepla’s and crept into my sleeping bag. It was just around 8 and the sleeping bad already showed signs of wetness from the dew. The sky was clear and chandu and I tried to identify the constellations we remembered from school as the stars which hide in the city from pollution were here visible in full force. Soon feel asleep with occasional breaks in sleep from snoring trekkers who could even scare the animals around.


Day 2


I was the first one to wake up next morning and looking around saw colorful sleeping bags all around me. Chandu soon woke up and we started discussing the heavy dew which had complete made our lives under the bags tough. After freshening up, saw the camp fire up again (was put out last night to avoid any forest fires) and people surrounding the same drying their wet clothes, socks and shoes. I too went near the group as was feeling a bit clod myself, even though I had a jacket and some gloves which had helped keep me lil warm in the night. After a while the entire camp was up and after packing we all set off following Peter. We cut through some thorny bushes and were climbing down to the river. After half an hour walking through rocks and thorns I started feeling a ting of pain on my left knee. Tried ignoring the pain but didn’t seem working. Soon we reached the river and my pain also was at its peek. We continued the trek and slowly I was starting to fall behind the group. After a while noticed that the group had halted at a place where a very beautiful pool of water was waiting for all the swimmers. Almost the entire group was in the water by now. Kather and Ranga helped me reach the resting place and gave me a pain reliever cream. Resting for a while I was too tempted to sit down and decided to have a dip myself. After swimming around for half an hour most of us came out and had a good breakfast (cookies and pear). Soon the group was all set to move again and the pain in the knee now started killing me. Limping and groaning in pain I tried my level best to keep up with the group but in vain. Indira offered some pain killers which seemed too weak for the pain and it refused to go. I was in such a bad shape that soon the sweepers in the group came up and one of them (Vikram) offered to carry by 10+ kg back pack for me. I didn’t want to give up so easily but with some advice from the others gave my pack to him. I couldn’t thank him enough for that. In the treacherous trek, with his own backpack someone offering to carry mine was something which was something I can never forget. It was almost afternoon and soon limping around and falling I managed to catch up with the group who had halted for lunch. After lunch, Vikram still continued to carry my backpack. We had earlier moved away from the stream and the water with us bit scarce. We were planning to climb up the mountain and climb down to reach the river again. After some really tough climbing (for a first time injured trekker like me) we reached the top of another mountain with a beautiful view of the valley. It was almost nearing evening and the sun was setting down behind a group of mountains far away. We found a nice open area where Peter decided we should camp as it was getting dark. We camped and then because we had less water, Peter and some volunteers decided to go down the mountain to the river to get water for the entire camp. Again a team spirit display which was simply something can’t be taken away from the excellent CTC group. The rest of us started cleaning the place to place our sleeping bags. Saurabh found a wonderful spot and soon Chandu, Saurabh, Mavi, Biju, Apoorv and me set up our bags and cleaned the place. The surprising part was this area had mobile network and everyone was calling home explaining their whereabouts. After I too followed the group and let my wife know I was still holding off in the jungle, I played from Rang De Basanti Songs on the mobile which kept the group going. We decided to have a lil camp fire of our own and soon set up a wonderful fire. It was dark now and we were now recollecting the 2 days of trek and almost each one of us was compelty exhausted and very tired. We just wanted to know where Peter and some of the other trekkers had the energy from to do a trek like this. And for them it seemed a moderate trek and for us it felt as if Nana Patekar was training us like in movie Prahar. We were joking around that if we found a villager or a road we would hitch hike and run away. Even the ladies, Saujanya and Suneela seemed to be searching all around for some method to reach the city (all in good humor). By now the camp fire was up and running and it was the best camp fire around (there were 3 burning around). We had a round of intros and soon were chit chatting about our lives, the jungle, life and even the money counting system at Tirupati Temple. Soon we heard that Peter and gang were climbing up and needed some sign to show where our camp was. The bonfire where we sat was the closest to the edge of the mountain and more wood was pumped into the fire to make it shine bright for the trekkers to sight us. Meanwhile the food was being prepared at the kitchen fire for the entire group. The trekkers arrived with Water for all and there was a huge cheer and applause for them. They did deserve that and much more for taking the effort and pain to get water for all. Kudos to the guys!!! After some light dinner, the bonfire we had lit became the best fire around and soon the entire camp was near it and we had some fun, photo sessions and lot of chatter around it. Soon all of us retired to bed (sleeping bags which were half wet from dew again). Saurabh and me though tired were not able to sleep and kept chatting while some of the groups had started the UNO game again. Earlier, Praveen, Ranga/Kather and Indira had helped me with pain killers and sprays for my knee pain. After a while counting the numerous stars all of us dozed off.


Day 3


The night proved to be much chiller than the previous night and it was evident in more wet sleeping blanket and the bon fire which was ideally to be put off in the night still burning and most of the trekkers had made good use of that by sleeping next to it and using the warmth to help fight the cold. I was again one of the first few to wake up and attended my knee immediately. It kind of felt ok and pained only when I was climbing down and was not in great pain while climbing. Soon the entire camp was up and Peter had a small meet of all the trekkers and it was decided that we were still very far from the Paradise Water Falls and we would need to return back to the city as we would not be able to make it to the falls. Now the point lay wherein Peter was not sure about the water sources up ahead in the trail back home. So it was decided that few would go down as last evening and would get the water for the rest of the group to ensure that we have some water on the return trail. With mostly the same group as last evening and few extra editions(Peter had told the group that down near the stream lay a beautiful small water area where you could dive from 20ft into the water. So with the rest (around 30) still on the mountain, we decided to explore the area a bit. My camera got an opportunity to come out of the bag and I was able to take some group pics. Some songs and cries of “CHAMPA” echoing in the valley by Singhal and me we were having a nice time. We were getting time to relax and were using this to the best use. After the while when the sun started beating down on us real hard we returned to base camp and everyone around had already found a shade under small trees and were having a nap. People were caught in small conversations and some were trying to weigh the various options to eat for breakfast. The morning exploration did make many of us really hungry and we decided to cook Maggie for all present. We collected the packets and soon made the Maggie and everyone had just enough to subside the hunger. Now many of us were eyeing the soup packets and wanted to finish that off and complete our breakfast. Many of us had very little to eat in the night due to some mix up and were really hungry. And soon even the soup was done. With still no sight of Peter and group we just gathered near a tree and had some fun with Biju drugging Praveen and Mavi literally displaying his excellent photography skill on poor lil flowers. It was almost past 12 when the group arrived with water. The camp now had just enough water for a bottle each for the trekkers. Now we were hitting back at the road and with normal trek we were estimated to take at least 6 hrs to reach the nearest road from where we could hitch hike to the place where the vehicles were parked.


Soon all the trekkers were ready and by the time we left the camp it was 2 in the afternoon. I was almost certain that only a miracle could help me catch my train at 8 from renigunta. The pain in the knee was hitting me real hard though I had the pain killer sprays and tablets. We had a huge decent from the mountain I was struggling from the start itself. After a while with each step I was biting my self to forget the pain. Soon the sweepers caught up and gave me a lending hand. Pavan, Karthik, Bhagat, Palani kept on helping me cross each and every boulder. Even with their help I found it very tough to walk. Slowly I tried everything possible to forget the pain and catch up with the group. Karthick kept on encouraging me and pavan and palani continuously supported me. Viki again took the burden of my heavy backpack and Bastein also helped me with my sleeping bag. The area around this part of the trek was again a beautiful setting, with a stream and some really serene and calm settings in the woods. We were earlier thinking that we would not have water anywhere nearby but this bump into a stream allowed the trekkers to go gulp extra water and not worry about the rationing of it. After a while we had a short break and looking at the watch and nowhere close to the civilization I had a feeling I would no way be able to catch my train. Most part of this jungle we were in now had loads of bamboo trees and most of them crushed or broken, which raised some doubts in the minds. Continuing the trek, Peter and gang saw from fresh elephant dung which confirmed our earlier doubts. Peter gave the group rest while he tried to figure out the best way out of the jungle away from the wild elephants. After 10 min he asked the group to follow him and we had hardly gone for 15 min that Peter realized the new route didn’t seem to work and we had to cross the path of the elephants to reach the highway. Now this part we found a Jeep road, probably used by forest ranger to patrol in the forest and the best way out for us was to follow the same. It was just past 5 and it was already starting to get dark. Peter advised the group to avoid speaking or making noise and also the torch lights should be on the ground and no clicking of pics or use of flashes incase we spot wildlife. With most of us unsure as to how long we further need to trek we followed the jeep trail. Soon it was dark enough for the torch lights to be out. Now the one torch chandu had got was drained out of life and we were trying to follow someone who could guide us. Lavanya came to my rescue here. With me finding it very difficult to walk with the pain and the trail full of uneven and treacherous ground she was of great help. She continuously pointed out to sharp, moving rocks and places with thorns. We were trying our best to keep up with the group. Everyone had the fear of wild elephants and was almost running instead of a trek and somehow so was me.


Time ticked by and with still no signs of highway I noticed the time was 8 and I had missed my train back to Hyderabad. I was mentally in all the tension trying to figure out how I would reach back home. We had some unscheduled stops for people in the group to catch up with leaders and everyone by now was dead tired. Almost at 9 we saw some lights far ahead and that gave us some energy. We kept on walking/running and almost at 11 is when we first saw the highway. To tell all frankly this seemed the most beautiful sight at that moment. The trucks, the people, the highway, the civilization. Tired and very sleepy we had to cross 2 railway tracks at an incline to reach the highway. On reaching the road I was almost tempted to kiss the tar. Peter told the group that up ahead there was a Dhaba and we would have our dinner there. Soon few trucks were stopped and in groups we reached the dhaba. The smell of good food and people around was a sight I will never forget. Freshened up fast and dug into some hot roti’s and chole and dal. A nice smoke after wards and we were starting to talk about the 3days. And man, what a trek it was. People could still feel the calm, dark and eerie jungle they had just left behind. After the dinner, it was almost 1am now, chandu and me along with abhilash, decide to hitch hike to the nearest town (chittor) and get a bus to Hyderabad. Bidding goodbye to some great and new found friends we were lucky to get a bus directly to Kurnool which has just enough seats for all of us. Boarded the same and were so tired that the rickety bus didn’t deter us from a sound sleep. Woke up in Kurnool and immediately found a bus for Hyderabad. Reached Hyderabad in the noon and was home and telling my wife about the almost fairy tale adventure I had been through. But the story doesn’t end here, next morning when I woke up and logged into gtalk, saw kather and that’s when the entire story came to limelight. After we had left, Peter and others who had their vehicles parked near the jungle went to pick them up. And they found some forest office and Police waiting for them. It so happened that seeing the vehicles someone had raised an alarm and no one knew whom they belonged to. This was also widely published in the local newspapers. After a long ordeal, the forest offices released the group with a fine of Rs1000/- each. Chandu and I being part of the trek transferred the amount to the club as it was our responsibility too being a member of the trek.


In the end, some unforgettable moments, pain, joy, fun and scary moments, this trek is something which was a super moment of my life. Doctor had diagnosed later that I had tore a muscle in the knee and needed some good rest for couple of months. Never did I imagine or think I would be part of such an adventure. The group CTC was so helpful and united that being a member made me so very proud. Made so many wonderful friends in just 3 days. Thanks Peter and others for giving us this opportunity to be part of V6.

Pics: http://picasaweb.google.co.in/raghuveer79/V6CTCJan09#

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Some Worthy Stolen Lines...........

जिन्दगी ये किस मोड पे ले आयी है ,
ना मा, बाप, बहन , ना यहा कोई भाई है .
हर लडकी का है Boy Friend, हर लडके ने Girl Friend पायी है ,
चंद दिनो के है ये रिश्ते , फिर वही रुसवायी है .

घर जाना Home Sickness कहलाता है ,
पर Girl Friend से मिलने को टाईम रोज मिल जाता है .
दो दिन से नही पुछा मां की तबीयत का हाल ,
Girl Friend से पल - पल की खबर पायी है,
जिन्दगी ये किस मोड पे ले आयी है …..

कभी खुली हवा मे घुमते थे ,
अब AC की आदत लगायी है .
धुप हमसे सहन नही होती ,
हर कोई देता यही दुहाई है .

मेहनत के काम हम करते नही ,
इसीलिये Gym जाने की नौबत आयी है .
McDonalds, PizaaHut जाने लगे,
दाल- रोटी तो मुश्कील से खायी है .
जिन्दगी ये किस मोड पे ले आयी है …..

Work Relation हमने बडाये ,
पर दोस्तो की संख्या घटायी है .
Professional ने की है तरक्की ,
Social ने मुंह की खायी है.
जिन्दगी ये किस मोड पे ले आयी

Vizag Ride - 22nd March 2008

With the ride planed and the members confirmed (6) I had a feeling it wud be fun with these many members. But as the D day arrived, Pramod and me where the only one’s ready to hit the highway. We decided to do the ride inspite of others asking us to stay back or make a shorter ride. We didn’t wanna deter from this just because some people had some priorities and didn’t come (no offence guys).4:15 Paradise was where the ride started. It was bit cloudy and we were just hoping it doesn’t pour down on us. As we crusied along, the truck wala’s as usual made several attempts to run us down or blind us with the high beam. Luckily we took shelter behind a Qualis and then shifted to a Aveo (quails was too slow) to guide us until it dawned. With the first light we made our first pit stop and breakfast and tea and where back on the road. We reached Vijayawada pretty soon comparatively (10:00AM). It was supposedly our second pit stop but as we were going well we decided to keep on going and take a break only when we felt really tired. We were quite sure with the kind of smooth road from Vijayawada to Vizag we wud reach the place much early than we had anticipated. But the nature had different plans. The moment we crossed Vijayawada it started pouring and we had to rush to a rice mill for shelter. It was 11:00am now and we waited there for an hour or so before the rain became drizzle and we decided to venture out again. Hardly driving for another half hour that it again started pouring and we were now in a reliance petrol station asking for details for food and shelter. The attendant informed us that around 40kms there was a A1 plaza. So as soon as the rain halted we again set up determined to reach the A1 place and take a good break. And it happened again, and again, and again. The moment we started the rain also seemed to take a cue to start. After N number of attempts and being completely drenched to core in rain we reached a place which the attendant had termed as A1 plaza, in actual was a just a Dhabha next to the reliance petrol station. Resting there for a while and finishing our lunch we decided to proceed further as the dhabha was stinky. And as usual the rain followed us. Now things were out of control and never had felt so wet!!! We found a bus stand after a while and then took shelter there and dried our stuff. And whoa….the SUN shone and everything suddenly changed. We headed out again and the view was awesome. The fields looked greener than green after the rain and the breeze from the field was too much to refrain from changing profession and start singing JAI JAWAN, JAI KISAN.We took a diversion from yelamanchili, a short cut to go to the NTPC guest house (17 kms from vizag) the place where we would be staying. The route took by winding roads through several villages will hills all over. Switching off the headlights of our bikes and riding our bikes in the dark with the moon overhead was one hellava experience. We reached the guest house and checked in to a decent A/C room. After having dinner at ICH (Indian Coffee House) we retired for the night praying that the next day brings some sunshine to the city.The next day luckily for us was bit sunny and we decided to explore a beach around 10kms from where we were staying. Equipped with the swimming trunks and towels we hit the beach. It was good beach populated with only the fishermen and no tourist as such. After some fun time in the water playing diving catches with a makeshift cricket ball, we met up with some kids of the clove nearby who kept on questioning us about our bikes and selves. Once through with that we went back to our rooms for a shower and then some lunch. Now we were ready to hit the city. We zoomed our way through the city to Rishikonda for a round of drinks at a resort there. It was right on the cliff, with the sea beside and a beautiful evening coming in. after couple of beers we went to the RK beach area with a packet of Mirchi Bajji;s to compliment the evening. Well vizag has changed quite a bit for a period. The crowd was huge, with parking almost next to impossible and the place reminded me of necklace road on Sunday or marina beach in Chennai. Jam Packet I guess would be the correct word to spell the same. Having spent some time out these we drove back to the guest house (40kms) for the nightcap.We had planned for Aruku, Ananthagiri Hills and Paderu for day 3, but the rains unleashed on the city of ports in the morning, making us cancel the plan. We were left in the room browsing though the stupid box (TV). We decided to make the best use of the situation and caught up on some table tennis and caroms at the recreation room. Once done with that we went to a pump house of the company where water is taken from the sea and refined and used for the turbines for electricity generation. After some high level permissions the security allowed us inside and we had a good view of the sea from the pump house. We then spent some time near the place clicking away to glory the sea when rain was hitting it hard. Soon the rain turned to a drizzle and as soon as the drizzle faded away we went back to our room. Changing quickly we decided to head to the city malls to buy proper rain coats for our return journey as the jerkins we had hardly were good enough to provide any safety from the rain. We didn’t take our bikes for the fear of rain and us getting soaked again, for the fear of losing the last set of dry clothes. We did our bit of shopping and then returned back to the room and headed straight for the recreation room this time to catch up on a snooker game. Done with that we had dinner and planned to start back to Hyderabad early next day.We started 4:30am in the morning and it was quite a while until light appeared, though we were thankful that it was not raining. The ride till Vijayawada went off pretty smooth and we covered lot many kms with minimal breaks. We just didn’t wanna risk in waiting and allowing the rain to catch up with us. Infact from Vijayawada until surayapet we were literally stretching ourselves to the extremes. We took our lunch break at the AP tourism plaza and a deserved rest to our behinds. And then were back on the saddles to hyderabad. We reached home sweet home in exactly 12 hrs from the time we started and 1402 kms in total both ways felt as an acheivement. Looking back at the ride, we did have a feeling of missing the group, but at the same loved each and every moment of the ride from the start to end. Looking forward to crossing bigger distances and hurdles.

Hampi Trip - 15th August 2008

I was in a situation wherein the biker in me was forcing me to care a damn about the results and go for a ride, and the other side of me forcing me to get the bike RC and then go for ride. Thats me, raghuveer 1 week before the Hampi ride. I had lost my Bike RC sometime back and though i tried the legal way of getting it done, nothing seemed to work. Then i caught hold of a agent and he kept me coming back to him like i was running behind a lawyer in a civil court. The day before the ride the agent told me that he would not be able to give the RC on time(before i was to leave for the ride) and would take few more days. I had to take a decision. Hampi, for some reasons had always been a ride which i wanted to do and was postponing for some reasons or the other. And then, no matter what i decided that i would go ahead...if cops check....i would weave a story or follow the good ol' system of "money" treats for them. I went and filled Rs 500/- worth petrol and then had the pollution check done(which had also expired a month ago). I was all set to go.We were to start on 15th Aug early morning 3:00AM. After a hectic day at work i reached home at around 11:45PM and then couldnt actually sleep. Switched on the TV and watched Netra Raghuraman win the Khatro ke khiladi show and then went to bed at 2AM. It had been just an hour when my alarm screemed in my ears and i woke up to start off for the ride. Packed my stuff, called Vikas(collegue at office you was my pillon) to make sure he is ready. I picked him up and reached the meeting point at around 3:30AM and Saurabh joined me there. Folks please dont mistake but saurabh had not come for the ride but just to see us off. Pramod, Deepu, Abinash(Nash) and Priya(accompanying Nash) also joined us and we had a quick tea and deepak was the lucky person to hone the role of a cashier for this trip. Handed him 500 bucks per each person and waited for Phani to join us. Phani, of late has been one of the most regular riders and its great to see him have so much passion for the same and participation too. He was actually working and came direct from work and managed to steal 2 days of leave for this trip too. Since Phani was getting delayed we moved on slowly with Pramod staying behind to wait for phani and both of them were to catch up with us on the way.Soon we were moving along well on our bikes(Nash &Priya, Deepak and Vikas & me). It was drizzling a bit and we decided to continue as it didnt bother us much. we had hardly gone a few kms that we noticed a huge traffic jam ahead of us(the b'lore highway is under construction, 4 lane, so one stupid truckker created a mess. After wasting almost 30-40 min on a road which shud have taken 15 min we somehow managed to wade through the traffic and halted for a tea once we escaped from the jam area. After tea, we started towards mehboodnagar and a small village after that was our breakfast point. I realized in all that commotion my ear ring had fallen off. Now i was prepared to get some sound beatings after returning back home. It also gave us a chance to witness a flag hoisting cermony(15th Aug). we then headed off towards raichur and once we crossed that i started to doze off on the bike(mind u i was the one driving). I stopped to wash my face and deepak offered red bull. Energized with the energy drinks we moved ahead and reached sindhanur for lunch. The place was more of a Bar than a restaurant. Strange enough on a dry day, it was running packed. We managed a different section and then a good meal. I dozed off for a power nap and woke up soon to drive ahead. Vikas, Phani and me stopped in between for some break(near manvi) and then moved on and all the riders met again at Ganagwati. We checked with a cop for the best way to reach hampi, but were not interested to follow the route he gave us. Meanwhile in all this riding from morning, adi, one of the ave riders had started off a day in advance for hampi and had booked rooms for all of us. He kept on messaging and checking on us from time to time.The ride from raichur till gangawati was very good and i must comment that KA govt does maintain the state highways of atleast this part pretty well. The traffic was also minimal so it helped. The road from gangawati to few kms before hospet is something which i wud not froget for a long long time. It was the most beautiful and lovely roads to drive. With curves and passages through rocky hills and sunflower fields all round with lots of greenry around the place as a biker u cud ask for nothing more in life. Once we crossed that area, which was for around 20-30kms, the nightmare started. First the roads all of the sudden from Katrina kaif look alike turned into an ugly, pimpled vamp. and then the tungabadtra dam flood gates were open and people had flocked from the entire karnataka state to see that(atleast it felt that way seeing the huge crowd and the almost 3-4kms of the traffic jam created because of that). after struggling thru the same we somehow managed to complete again a journey of 10-15 min in 40 min of dust, pollution, honks and maddening crowd. Hampi was another 20 odd kms and i was struggling to drive because of the tiredness. Soon we reached hampi and adi was waiting for us to guide us in.. The security didint allow us to go in with the bikes and asked to park in public parking and take the bike later to our guest house. We walked to the decent enough rooms(thanks to adi for booking these for us). The place had no mobile conectivity so no one to call and tel our safe reaching news. We shared our experience for the day and then after tea(which was literally too much to drink, felt like almost 300ml...) we freshned up and went to pick up our bikes. We then went for a ride among the ruins except Nash who decided to go back to guest house and catch some sleep(we went to small town nearby to pick beer actually). It was almost a full moon and we swicthed off the lights of the bike and rode in a straight line, it gave an errie feeling at the same time was thrilling. we picked up some beer and on the return pramod took some snaps of the bike in the dark with parking light on. I didnt even know my vehcile had parking lights, it was a enlightment session to me.We headed to the guest house and then started the drinks session with "cheers" to many more rides. Done with that we chit chatted we went for a walk near the river and noticed that the mobile signals were on full here. called our families and were ready to hit the sacks. A refreshing sleep and woke up next day(sat 16th aug) around 8. Came to know from pramod that Nash had left to hyderabad because Priya was not keeping well.Some more buckets of tea(trust me felt for the first time the term cup of tea should be changed in hampi and renamed as bucket of tea) we started for Daroji Bear Sanctuary. We had almost reached the place when a sign board showed that the sanctuary was open from 1 in the afternoon and we had almost 1.5 hrs spare. So we hit a field nearby and started our picture session. we moved on and saw one more beautiful spot with sunflower beds and we again had a small picture session. Done with that we reached the sanctuary and after making 25 bucks a person we went to the watch tower. The way it works out here is visitors stand on a 2 storey watch tower and the forest officials put some food for the bear in the sactuary area near the tower and the bear come for the food. We waited some good 1 hr before we sighted 2 bears. and then after some time it was the whole family which came for lunch. we sighted some peacocks and bear enjoyin food together and then we headed back to guest house. by now each one of us very hungry and we visited a roof top restaura called CHILLOUT. After chilling there for some time and long waiting for the food to arrive, we ventured out and went to the almost flooded river bank. Pramod and Deepu decided to visit the temple, and the rest of us went back to the guest house. In the evening Vikas and me went out to see some of the ruins and returned back and soon pramod and deepu arrived with some booze for the group. few more drinks and food and i was all set to sleep as vikas, phani and me were returning back whereas pramod, deepu and adi decided to spend an extra day at hampi.I woke up at 3AM and woke others. We were all set to start by 4 and then headed towards kampli which would be a shorter route (60kms less) to gangawati than going via hospet. but as luck wud have it, the bridge near kampli was flooded and we had to return back to hampi and take the hospet route. we wasted 1 gud hour because of this(damn that local guy, who suggested this to us). Also had share of scares, wherein i went into a pothole with the bike but due the speed (100kmph) i managed to come out of it unhurt and safe. Also phani broke his legguard, my chain gave me a scare and the indicator lamp on my fuel tank went off because of the speed breakers. we reached raichur soon with a petrol fill in my bike at manvi and had breakfast there. My bike for this tour gave me a milage of 36-39 and i was not really happy abt it. guess the reason cud be i was with a pillon or i might have put up a lot of weight from the last time i went on ride. We took minimal stops and reached hyderabad by 2 in the afternoon. It was an amazing ride for sure. and a great place to visit. i was able to acomplish a long awaited dream of visiting the place. though for the start i hated the place(the traffic jams took a toll on my brain and thinking) , day 2 actually changed the complete picture. i wud probably visit this place again this time for more number of days. Awesome ride and experince for sure!!!
Link for pics

Papikondalu Trip - 26th Nov 2008

A long time wish was about to come true. I was about to visit a place which for a long time was in my TO SEE list but I never did serious attempts to visit the place due to several reasons but this time when a fellow biker tempted me to ride to the place rather than take the normal human way to reach(trains) I gave in. The place is PAPIKONDALU(saying goes that the place was earlier called PAPIDIKONDALU, and meant the divide in the human hair and river Godavari, one of the oldest rivers in India cuts through many mountains in a similar fashion). We had 5 riders including me who were ready for trip and one of riders uncle was to join us midway and guide us for the entire trip as he had been to these places quite a number of times. With the preparation all done for the ride(I borrowed a leather jacket from a friend to give the ride and me more rugged look) I was all set to embark on a adventure of a life time and a feeling within seemed to say something was sure coming my way!!!Day 1: After coming back from work previous day I had hard time trying to catch some sleep and had hardly slept for 4 hours that my alarm which was set for 3:30AM set off. Got off the bed and after a strong coffee prepared by granny got ready to go to “Paradise Café” the meeting point for our club for every ride. One of the riders though was catching with us few kms away a place which was nearer to his home. There were 4 riders who started off from the meeting point and on a chilled winter morning the leather jacket and thick hand gloves were sure doing a great job in saving me from the cold weather. Some time later the 5th rider joined us and we were cruising along well on the highway where the traffic was very minimal.We had now ridden for some time now and I was riding at the 3rd position with PV (one of the new rider) and Pramod (a seasoned rider and close friend) in front of me. Phani and Manoj (the two other riders) were right behind me. I guess we were doing almost 100kmph continuously and had covered lot of distance. Right ahead of me I saw a huge signboard stating the road ahead was accident zone and cautioning the riders to drive slowly. I am sure many of us who see such signs hardly or never follow it. And we were no different and didn’t slow down. Then came a big curve on the road and all of the sudden I saw a huge cloud of dust in front of me. One of the riders had a fall and had skidded off the road. I was shocked (this happened to be the first major accident for the club in the 2 years of riding). I quickly stopped by bike and rushed to the spot to see who was involved in the fall and to help him out. It was PV and his inexperience at handling the bike seemed to have caused the accident. Luckily he was not hurt except few bruises, but his bike did suffer some damage. The side mirror was broken and his handle had slight bend. Phani tested the bike to see if it was in a ride able condition and the idea was to catch hold of some mechanic in the next big town and get this thing repaired. We had a quick 10 min halt near a small town and had some tea and gave PV enough time to relax and get out of the shock of the accident. He sure seemed a tough rider and wanted to continue even after the accident.We reached Warangal soon after and went to a bike mechanic who said he could repair the bike but would need 3-4 hours to do so. Time was precious to us and PV decided he was comfortable enough to continue with the ride and slight bent in his handle. So we decided to carry on with the ride and looked ahead for a good place to catch up on some breakfast as all the early morning exciting sure made was feel hungry. After few kms we found a good place to eat and while were finishing the same came another of the shocks wherein on the riders started feeling sick and wanted to return back. He had caught cold and was having slight fever. We discussed and then asked him to return back to base (his home) so that the fever doesn’t increase much and he can take some medication. We were now 4 riders and took off after breakfast more energized. Pramod’s uncle (who was to guide us through the entire tour) was to join us a village near Warangal (a town around 150kms) from Hyderabad. We actually missed the place and later realized that we had gone further ahead. Pramod and Phani decided to go back and pick him up. PV and I decided to stay and catch up on some photography meanwhile. While we clicked to glory Phani called me and asked PV and me to rush to the place where Pramod and he were headed out. I could make out from his voice the place where they were sure a hot spot of else Phani wouldn’t sound so excited. We went through a real torturous road and for a moment I was sure spellbound. The sight ahead of me was something which I saw in SFO and is called the golden gate and here in front of me lay a replica though on a much smaller scale of the golden gate bridge(this place is called Lakkavaram). Once again all the cameras were out and we went on filling up more spaces in the memory of the cameras. Done with the sightseeing we headed out and after driving long hours and minimal breaks (smoke and water) we reached Bhadrachalam. The place is one the highest regarded Hindu God Rama temple town and witnesses lot of pilgrims’ frequenting the town. After a sumptuous lunch we headed out to another places called Seluru where we were to halt for the night. The ride was around 100kms and for the first 70kms we did feel pity for the bike which was braving heavy vehicles on the road and loads and loads of potholes. It was hardly 5 in the evening and we were driving through dense forest and noticed that light did fade out fast in places like this. Soon it was pitch dark and we were all in the hurt to reach the guest house where our accommodation was arranged for the night.After checking in the guest house we freshened up and took a walk across the place. This place was called seleru and has a hydel power generation unit of APGENCO. A quick dinner and all of us were back to the room for a night cap. We had cards with us and PV taught us a new game called 28 and after several rounds we decided to call it a day as next morning we had big plans.Day 2: We woke up around 5 in the morning and by the time all of us were ready the time was around 7:30AM. The view around the guest house the morning was awesome. All around there was huge hills and greenery which I had seldom seen. The clouds were passing through the top of the high hills and it was a fantastic view. We started our ride to reach a small village called Munduru where a mechanized boat was come and pick us up and take us to a 3 hours ride on river Godavari and halt at a place right on the river bed. The travel to the place was 130kms from where we were now and almost 70kms of this was Ghats road (roads passing through high altitude, generally hills and mountains with lots of steep curves). While riding every thing that come in sight looked so beautiful. I have been to US a couple of times and had once this chance to visit the Yosemite national parks. Until this day I always felt that was the best park I had seen and the greenery too. But this place could give Yosemite a run for the money. Every inch of this place was so beautiful that I kept wondering if this place existed in real or was I still sleeping and dreaming of such a place. We had reached this place in the night so didn’t notice all this beauty around. Also the roads though narrow, were well maintained for this part and had passed through the thick woods and it felt great ripping the bike on these roads. After few halts at some scenic places for photo sessions we were all set to tackle the Ghat roads. Though I have driven on such kind of roads number of times and am accustomed to these driving conditions this one definitely proved a challenge. The distance and the steep curves not only take a toll on one but also on the poor machine with extreme usage of breaks and constant shifts of gear. We took a halt at a waterfall and trekked almost 500 meters to reach to the same. The trek was dangerous and steep and I was foolish enough to do this on my riding boots. I decided to always carry 2 sets of shoes to be on the safer side and not risk getting caught in such a situation again. After some lovely photo sessions we moved on to yet another spot close by where we discovered a camping site. The place was well maintained and was operated by Govt. Of Andhra Pradesh and it gave wonderful employment opportunities for the poor tribal’s in the area. The camp could easily accommodate 20 people at one time and was right next to the little stream offering a very beautiful setting. After admiring the same for some time we headed out again and took our lunch break at a place called Marridipili. We had the best lunch out here (the trek sure did sap out all the energy and we ride through the ghats seemed to make us more hungry). We located a group of school girls playing in a park nearby and we did some candid shots of them. We were getting late as the ferry was suppose to pick us up from the village at about 3PM and we had quite some distance to cover and didn’t have much time. We were now driving faster than the usual speed and the roads for some extent did help us in doing that. At some places the forest cover was so dense that it blocked the sunlight completely and we had to switch on our bike headlights. An amazing drive through the forest I must say. After picking up couple of beers for the night and few smoke breaks we reached a place called Devipatnam and the village around 4 in the evening where we needed to be was around 9kms from here. The road from this point almost made me feel as if I was dirt biking and not driving a cruiser. After finishing off with the bumpy road we reached our destination and parked our bikes in the good care of one of the villager whom we requested for the same.With all the enthu we went near the river bed expecting the ferry to come and pick us up and take us on a wonderful tour on the river. Came another shock and few fishermen who were idling around told us that we were late and the ferry it seems had come and left. So we had missed it!!!The few fishermen present over there commented that they had a mechanized fishing boat at their docs and they could take us to the spot we wanted to go and bring us back too. Realizing that we could not contact the boatmen whom we had spoken to earlier we decided to go ahead and engage the fishing boat instead. The boat was not available and would be coming after a short while so we decided to explore an island nearby and one of the fishermen gave dropped us there. We had done few photo sessions and noticed that it was getting dark and there was still no sign of the village mechanized boat. We returned to the shore and were planning as to what next we could do incase we don’t get this boat too when someone heard the roar of the engine and whoa…at a distance our boat was coming. After discussing and agreeing for the fare we boarded and by now the entire area was pitch dark. The boat was a small rowing boat converted to a mechanized boat and could just about handle us. With literally no lights on the boat except the 4 pencil cell torchlight with the boatman we could not see even each other. The boat was on its way and we were glad that we could at least start off. This part of my life is called “hanging by the edge of cliff”. With no lights or proper mechanism to see through the darkness we were completely depending upon the instinct of the boatmen to guide the boat to the correct destination. The ride was a 3 hour ride and seeing the blanket of clouds move over us was just about getting prepared for some rain. Fishermen in the area go out in the river in the evening ad spread their nets and come back in the morning to get their catch. At almost every 15 min we found these fishermen at the river bed, using simple torches to guide the boats moving in the night about the location of their nets and the boats would follow them and not tangle into the nets. Meanwhile at one of the regular river beds after repeated signals from my boatman, no signal came from the river bed about a possible location of fishing net. That’s when part 2 of the adventure on river actually kicked off. One of the fishing nets got tangled to our boat and even after repeated attempts we were not able to come out of the same. In a desperate attempt, my boatman went beneath the water and cut loose the net and it took him almost 30 min to do so. The whole episode actually was a bit terrifying with the boatman in the river, the boat swaying and in the middle of a river we are not sure what we would do if the boat overturns and my swimming skills were limited to a pool where I always knew I was safe! Nevertheless once the freeing the boat from the fishing net episode, we reached our destinationThe night stay was arranged to us in a cottage, which was right off the river bed and a camp fire provided on request. Done with our dinner, we sat by the camp fire for some drinks and light music. A slight drizzle and then it started pouring and we had to rush in for a nightcap. It was around 5:30 in the morning when Pramod woke me up asking me to join him outside the cottage. Drowsily I sat up and followed him. For a moment I just stood still trying to realize what I saw in front of my eyes was a sequence of my dream or was I seeing things in real. The cottage where we had slept was at a slight elevation and at a little distance I saw around 20 huts all of the same design. The run was rising and the sky had turned into a slightest gold color. I could see the river passing through huge mountains and early birds adding a perfect touch to the scene. It was so calm and beautiful that for all I could for next half hour do was to gaze at this scenic beauty. After sipping in some ho coffee we were all set to take out our cams and go clicking. We had a wonderful photo session and after a breakfast which was as wonderful as the dinner we took back to the village where we had come from. We were now able to see the route which we came a night before and every scene and sight on the way simply amazed us. So much of natural beauty was something which I had experienced only for a couple of times in my lifetime and both of these were abroad. Though I had known of such scenic locations in India, I had never imagined it to be such a wonderful experience.There was one thing which I noticed among all these wonderful things that infact saddened me a bit. With hundreds of boats passing through this river every month people have been behaving careless and have made every attempt to dirty the place with plastic to the core. The river was infact digesting this crap by the human, but I fear the saturation would come soon if nothing is done about the same. And once that stage comes, this beautiful place on the earth would be completely destroyed and future generations would not even know what existed in this place. We as a group decided that we would at least make an attempt to create awareness of such a mess and do every bit possible to actually reduce the same. And we need to start on the same we need to act fast as each and every day passing is a ticking time bomb, except for a fact that we do not know the time the nature has set to explode!!!After a wonderful 3 hours ride we reached shore and went into the village to collect our bikes around 11am. The boatman was generous and invited all of us for a cup of tea at his home. After the tea and making payments for the ride we were back on the bikes riding our way back to the guest house at seleru. The plan was to reach seleru around 3 in the afternoon and then hit bhadrachalam for a night halt (around 100kms from seleru). We rode back at a pretty good pace and after a while reached Mardipilli where we decided to stop for lunch. PV wanted to return reach Bhadrachalam before night fall and he carried on his own. We didn’t want to hurry and miss out on this once in a lifetime chance to enjoy the nature to the core. With leisure we drove back to seleru and Pramod’s uncle took us to a wonderful waterfall near our guest house. The waterfall it seems was used for a film shooting and we had a jolly good time swimming around and exploring the area. Done with the same we returned to the guest house and started for Bhadrachalam. After some heavy to complete remote traffic condition Phani and me reached Bhadrachalam first and we waited for almost an hour before Pramod and his uncle turned up. We went to the Temple cottage office and after some sweet talk with the attendant were able to get room for us to spend the night. With the driving and sight seeing we all were so tired that we retired to bed immediately and the plan was to wake up early next morning around 3AM to go to the temple.Day 3: The alarm rang but not a muscle in my body realized the same. Around 5 was when I woke and decided we need to start early. We got ready soon and went to the temple, only to come across that it was only after an hour or so that we would be allowed to go inside. We decided to carry on with the journey and returned to our rooms. After a quick breakfast we were riding along for a while and we dropped Pramod’s uncle at a bus stop close to his place. We got some fuel for the vehicles and then rode like mad till we reached an area called Pakhal. This is a wild life sanctuary and the drive through the forest was amazing. With almost zero traffic and excellent roads we were ripping our bikes to the extreme. We halted near a lake for a photo session and after spending some time there reached Warangal around noon. Pramod wanted to spend some time resting there and then go to Hyderabad. Phani and I decided we would want to head direct to home and then only rest. Bidding goodbye to Pramod we were on our way and drove like crazy until we were certain that our backs would break from the pain of driving for continuous hours. We took a small break and soon reached the outskirts of the city and at a common point Phani and me went to our homes. After reaching home, the Odometer read 1155kms for the entire trip starting and ending at my home. There were few losses from the trip. PV lost the cover of my table tripod and which resulted in a component of the tripod falling off from my pocket. I had a blue light fixed beneath the engine of the bike and it broke when I drove through a pothole. Overall the trip was one of the best trips I had till date and I enjoyed the same to the core. Every moment and every location I saw made me love the nature more and more and also wonder how many such places existed in my country and the zeal to discover such places on a regular basis.