Monday, July 23, 2012

Cycling Madikeri -Mandalpati - Chilehole dam



            After trek to Mandalpatti couple of months back , again got a chance to visit this place. Same organizers - CAM.It was long . Tried booking for cycling during June slot , but got listed only in Waiting list. So moved the reservation to July for three people - Myself , Angamuthu and Musthafa. Going to ride cycle after atleast 9-10 years ...Unfortunately the week before the trip, i had fever and cold.Was evaluating if i should take this trip in the middle of monsoon with this fever and cold. But risked a bit and proceeded with the trip. CAM provides support vehicles following you all the time and if at all fever escalates, i could hop on to the support vehicle. 

Started off Friday night and reached the homestay in Madikeri @ 5 PM . Tried to get a quick nap after that , but that didn't work out. Took bath and got ready by 6 AM. After having breakfast picked the cycles. I was allotted a RockRider basic model. This proved good enough till the end.



From Mandalpati CAM Cycling


      Initial part of the ride was a breeze for 11 km. It was downhill and we rested mostly for taking photos. It was slightly drizzling and the climate was quite enjoyable. Rivers and bridges came across our path. "All was well" till mandalpati base.



From Mandalpati CAM Cycling




From Mandalpati CAM Cycling
        Next was climb to the peak . A 11 KM strech , mostly uphill. Rain too climbed up , from drizzling to showers. I didnt want to risk my camera ( have spoilt a Nikon DSLR in a monsoon trek couple of years ago ) and hence left it with the support vehicle. There were 2 support vehicles guiding us and ready to pick in case of any breakdown. Removed the wind sheeters and moved to tshirt & tracksuite - pretty good combination to enjoy the monsoon. During this stretch almost 60% of path we had to push the vehicle due to steep slope. Reached the peak at around 12PM. Strong winds and hence heavy rains awaited us there along with heavy mist. Visibility was not more than 10 meters. It was quite nice to feel the clouds moving around you at high speeds. Start back from peak in 15 mins. Down hill ride was easy , but requires concentration as the terrain was mostly rugged roads. Rain water gets collected in the pits to give false sense of flat surface. Driving down one could easly accelerate to 30-35 kms speed at slopes , which is higly dangerous as brakes are undependable during rainy conditions.Easily one could be thrown out of cycle had he missed judging a pothole. Luckily my brakes didnt fail but eventualy worn out ,which i had to replace the next day. My cycle didnt have shock absorbers and controlling them in rugged terrain at high speeds gave lot of point to palm and fingers. Lesson learnt - wear a cycling glove. By the time we reached the mandalpati base ,we ( half of the batch) were asked to take a short route to homestay as we were running out of time. Most of 19 kms in this stretch was proper roads but steep in slope and so we had to walk pushing the byke. Showers also increased in strength adding to our problems. Finally reached the campsite at around 6 PM. 

   Haah what a day !!! 50 Kms ride in non stop showers for 12 hours. 

Whatever may be the case, whoever may be the organizer ,these events never fails to introduce interesting people.Nice people.Nice place.Nice climate. 
Was something missing ?? Yea ordered Red wine and made the dinner eventful.

Next day woke up at 5:30 AM. Got freshed up , packed our bags. Checked the cycles,changed the brakepads and started off after having the breakfast.Today rain was bit less as we moved from hills towards flat lands. Road was not that steep and mostly was down hill. Started from our homestay in Madikeri a, traveled though Makandur , Madapur, Suntigope towards chiklehole resorvoir.



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      I was in among the last batch of riders to reach the destination .By this time final rounds of lunch was being served.Rather than lunch i wanted a dip.I checked if anyone was taking bath in the dam but could
n't find anyone anywhere near the water. Only 30 mins to pack off. I had to choose lunch or bath. Decided to take a dip and checked with driver from the support vehicle on where i could take a bath.He showed me a narrow path. First thought of having a dip alone as no one was accompanying me. On entering the water changed my mind and stayed long. Slowly people started trickling down towards water. Only now one fellow commented that the locals  mentioned about the presence crocodiles in this dam. But by this time there 10-15 people taking bath. After 30 mins of refreshing bath , had lunch , packed and started off to bangalore...



From Mandalpati CAM Cycling







More photos in the album

Mandalpati CAM Cycling

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Trek Kotte Abbe Mandalpatti Kalur

              This trek was the first organized by TAM ,sister concern of CAM.Myself and Hari decided to opt for it.Couple of his friends were also interested in it.We had most of the gear needed for trekking .Started on Friday night (Mar2) from Bangalore. Even though you ride a ultra delux bus , if you are in the last seat ,even the GOD cant save you , leave alone the driver.Though the road was not that bad , it was filled wiht potholes to wake me up every half and hour.We started at around 11 at night from Bangalroe and reached a place called Makkandur at 5 PM. We had freshen up at a home stay there.Nice place and friendly people.I tried to get some sleep but couldn't.Took bath and had early breakfast and packed lunch too by 7 AM. We need to carry only the things needed for this day's trek. A jeep would carry the rest to the base camp. Since there were 4 of us , we took 2 bags with us and left the rest for the jeep to carry.We need to travel to the base of hill by a KSRTC bus.This journey was around 30 mins. Nice view all along the way.Very light habitated localities.Last stop was Kotte-Abbi.Our trek starts now.At the start place there was a beatutiful little falls.Due to timing constraints were couldn't take a plunge.It was a percursor of things we were about to encounter in thi trek.
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
There were couple of volunteers and a guide. Both the volunteers carried walkie talkie for communicating among themselves.I had a couple of them too . We synced into their channels so that we can in touch even if were lost.It was the first time i am using it in realistic manner and it was working fine. First section of the trek was bit confusing . There were no single path we can follow. After few hiccups , we got on the trail.We saw a green snake on the first section of trek,which was through dense forest.
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
The climb was bit steep here. Both Periya and Lavanya were new to trekking and this was their first ever trek for them. So we picked up their backpack too ,to ease their work. Entire trek was filled with sections having ample shade and sections where we were directly under the sun. Both this sections were alternatively placed so that you dont worn out in sun for long. There were also occasional streams crossing the trekking path. A splash of cold water from the stream would refresh you in no time.Had lunch around 12 PM near by the stream.
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
Since we were not that hungry we took only half of lunch we carried and decided to take the rest after couple of hours . After lunch there was one section of around 3-4 KMs on dusty mud road with no shades. Crossed this not-so-charming section by induling in a story telling session (of some recent tamil movie) by Lavanya .Beleive me ,not all are good at story telling. But it seems she was an expert in it and it kept us walking without complaining about the mud road.
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
After around a hour on this patch entered the shady patches again . It was around for hour or so . At the end of this patch we hit the jeep track which takes to the mandalpati peak. We finished of the rest of lunch before hitting this road. The volunteer that back wasn't quite happy about us delaying the trek :) . We quickly finished of the lunch and hit the roads and soon joined the rest of the gang. Though we were walking on the road this patch of trek was very nice with deep valleys on one side and hills on the other side.
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
Most the of vegetation had dried up and it looked beautiful in soft brown color. There were some other groups also talking this path in two wheelers and in jeeps.After a around 90 mins we reached forest office at mandalpatti - the peak at this area. After resting for around 30 mins we started to trek down towards Kalur , where our camp was supposed to made. It was mostly down trek and the path was marked by markers all along the way. There were few houses at the bottom of the hills. Since it was the last section we have covered almost 15 KM in hill , there was a long gap between people. Since the path was tricky we had to wait for the next one behind to appear from the woods to show them the way. After this though we walked on the plains it was bit confusing to reach the camp spot. if we didnt keep sight of someone ahead of us , we could easily lose track.It was getting darker too. Finally reached the camp site at 5:30 or so. The site was beautiful and stream was mesmerising in this background.Though the stream was wide, it lacked depth to take a plunge. bit disappointing .
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
But found the place where it was deepest (no more than a feet) and dipped the body in that crystal clear water.It was completly refreshing. Pitched our tents and had dinner. Later that night decided to have camp fire. Cross the stream and ventured into village in darkness and took collected firewood . Had some games during campfire.After the camp fire spent some time near the stream.Could have taken some snaps if i were carrying my tripod.
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
Next day was a half day trek. Same the pervious day with patches with shade and sun shine in alternative pattern. Started around 8 AM and reached the final spot at 12 AM after ample rest all along the way.
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
At times the path was quite confusing and people had to wait for the people behind to give them the direction or make signs like this .
From Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek
The bus was waiting for us. Had lunch there and started towards Bangalore with memories of a wonderful weekend.


Album link 
Kalur-Mandalpatti-Trek

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter Camp at Kothi (Manali)

    I was introduced to Indiahikes when some of my friends took a Himalayan trek through it. While browsing their site got interested about a winter camp and immediately finalized on trying it out. 6 of us , 3 each from bangalore and chennai grouped up together. Plan was to take flights to and from Delhi and take overnight bus travel to/from manali. 


    We reached manali at around 8 AM and it didnt look like a important tourist destination in India.Main town was filthy.We had to get ready by 12 PM and need to find a  place to rest till then and refresh ourself. Took a hotel room near the busstand for 4 hours (Rs500).Only one person was able to take bath in hot water. Others had to be satisfied with freezing water. Temperature should be be < 5 degree Celsius . Every thing in the room ,  right from blankets to wooden chairs were chill. Called up Aarthi for reporting and she asked us to come to a junction from where cab will take us to camp site. Started around 12 PM that day. The camp site was at Kothi . It was on the way to Rohtang pass . All through the road there were shops which were closed or had very thin attendance .Could infer that tourist inflow was very minimal at this point of the year. 


    Once out of manali commercial town ,view was beautiful. Both sides of the road and even the road in some places were covered with blankets of snow.Its a first time i am encountering snow of this magnitude. We were even worried if we could cope up with it. Aarthi mentioned that it was one of the coldest winters in recent times.Learnt that till 2 days back the road was closed for traffic and the previous batch of wintercamp was canceled due to bad weather.Feeling lucky :).


    After 20 mins of drive we reached a spot in kothi till which jeep can ferry us. From there camp site was 1.5 KM or so in walk.But the catch is that its uphill walk in fresh snow with all the luggage.Since we were all set from the hotel it was easy to proceed.  After around 20-30 mins of walk through snow covered landscape we reached the campsite. During this walk the surrounding view changed from being beautiful to being mesmerising.This is the paradise where we will stay for the next seven days.
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )


   On arrival we were given a 'warm' welcome. Yes hot tea awaited us.For the next 6-7 days hot tea became part of our staple diet. We were shown the dormitory.It was neat and arranged well. Since we arrived ahead of others , we picked the beds of our choice .There was a tandoor which we learnt was used to burn wood to keep the room warm.We picked the beds around the tandoor. After a long journey by bus on the previous night and after a stressing walk in a cold weather natural tendency was to hit the beds for a nap. Slowly people trickled one by one and we mutual introduction happened.  Associating names to faces was diffucult for atleast 24 hours.
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )




     It was almost evening when everyone has settled down. That evening we had a short walk in snow to get used to the climate and get to know the method of walking in snow. Snow was around 2-3 feets high on average.First person leading in front has to make the way. Its bit of a hard job. He had to press the snow hardly so that other can walk easily on that path. It was for around 30 minutes in one direction and it become dark on returning. Food was simple , fresh & hot and we simply loved it. I didnt hear anyone complaining about the food. 


       Next day we had a half day trek up hill.Sun was bright and climate was clear. We had a nice walk.Up hill trek should have taken around 1.5-2 hours .
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )

From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )
It was a slow walk interleaved by sufficient stops to rest and have fun.While comming down we had even more fun as we slided down steep slopes. Unfortunately Hari lost his point and shoot camera during one of the long slides. We couldnt get a clue of where it would have dropped and where to search.Down hill was hardly 30 mins and we were back at camp site for a late lunch.
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )


      After resting for couple of hours we had to check the array of shoes and slides and pick the one which suit us more. We picked and labelled them.That day over dinner had a introduction of each of participants. Though many were form IT ,it was good mix with doctors , businessman , voice over artist etc. By this time all the people in our dormitory had got mingled well. Myself , Dinesh , Hari , Arun , Manoj , Nazir , Adithi , Deepu , Sandeep , Jihar . Cinema was the most important theme but was not limited only to that.I still remember few sms read out by Adithi and Deepu. We also spend much of time playing cards inspire of chilling weather driving us to bed .Learnt few new card games too. 




 Next day we started skyiing training right infront of the cottage . This place was geographically well placed for training but was bit small for 20+ people training simultaneously.One of my friend who had been to this camp in previous years had mentioned that then they had to carry their boots and skis to another place and train there .Luckily we were saved from the extra time to be spent in travelling. First day at skiing was filled with innumerous 'fall-downs' , 'cleaning the shoes for snow' & 're-fit of skis' .I was too time consuming that i tried more hard not to loose balance alteast to avoid this process.Towards the end of first day i could get balance.


    Next couple of days conditioned improved and at the final day of training i could manage without falling even for one time.But i couldn't master the turning on both direction as few did. I could do turning only in one direction confidently.
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )




 Last day at the camp we had a day long trek to solang valley.There were two options there. Either stay there and take adventure sports or trek more to temple. We skipped adventure sports as it was bit costly being a tourist place and decided to towards the temple.
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )

From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )
It was around 2 KM from solang valley and there were hardly anyone apart from us on this stretch. I was surprised to see a family with a little kid (probably aged 2 ) also taking this path towards the temple. On reaching the temple we were served tea as prasadam :). The temple was completely covered with snow and were asked to remove our shoes for proceed to the temple. Most of us stayed back , but a more adventurous gang (4/5 people) remove the shoes ,had polythene covers over the socks and proceeded to the lingam. This trek wasn't a complete trek as for most parts we walked through habitable places apart from the stretch from the solang valley to the temple.We returned just in time for dusk but decided to halt at a place some 1 KM from the cottage, so that we could cover the last stretch in dark. It was nice experience to walk in dark .Later that day had the sendoff party with specialy sourced chicken . 


    Next day packed stuff and left the cottage at around 10 AM after bunch of photographs and exchange of phone nos and email ids.
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )
We were dropped at manali at around 1 PM and our bus was supposed to start at 4:30.Another must see natural wonder at manali is the hot spring or sulphur springs. They are formed by volcanic activity underground and it was GOD sent one for locals to get cheap hot water. After a bit of confusion we decided to take the bath at the hot spring. Remember that we haven't taken bath at all throught the camp :). There were couple of places having hot springs. A temple near the town center had one which was publicly used. So we (10 of us) decided to go to a place where we can have hot spring bath in a hotel.It was located some 8KM from manali and we hired a tempo (charnges Rs600). Unfortuanatly on reaching the hotel , we found that there is only one bath room having hot spring and also have to wait for 1 hour (till 2:30 PM)  to get it opened. Hotel charges Rs100 per person. Luckily there was also a public pool adjacent that hotel. I checked that and it was clean enough.Four of us decided to take bath here.
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )
Other six decided the wait for the hotel to open and take bath.For those of us at the public pool there was no time restriction and i almost took bath for almost 30 mins.Boarded the bus at 4:30 PM towards Delhi . We had a nice sleep , thanks to the hot water bath , that we skipped even dinner at the motel. 




Thanks to Indiahikes and the Hosts of this winter (Romie, Aarthi and and their son Aryan and they team )  and very enthusiastic gang which accompanied us. It was a memorable trip. 
From Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )
Rest of photos can be viewed at
Winter Camp & Ski training at Kothi ( Manali )