Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maribetta (Bananthi Mari Betta)

A unique pattern i have observed in trekking is the fact that majority of them seem to be from IT or other technical domains. This observation is from the blogs i have read (which could be only because only IT guys are into blogs !!) but also from the groups we have met while trekking at different places. Considering that probably less than 1% Indians work in technical field, it is fairly surprising to encounter so many guys and girls from tech field while trekking.

So maribetta was different trek in the sense it was biggest group among the treks we had done till then, included girls for first time and included some who just wanted to know what this craze called trekking was all about :) . We were planning on a bike trip for a long time and to combine it with trekking is the most ideal way to spend a day !! Due to diversity of the gang interested this time, we decided to search for a smaller trek and after going through numerous blogs, we finalized upon mari betta.

Mari Betta is a small mountain near kanakapura that has a durga temple at the peak(hence the name) . The peak is not that high compared to other popular trekking spots around bangalore but the way to the top is fairly thorny and confusing at places. Datta who was supposed to come till previous day fell ill and had to cancel at last moment and as a result srikanth had to ride alone (which he was extremely happy with - please ask him why) on his fairly new discover. So it was 11 of us - me, akshaya, bharath, harini, keerthy, keerthana, kiran, padmini, pavan, sharath and srikanth on 6 bikes !!. Lots of new guys with only 4 of us having trekked often before.

New Characters:

Lots of them this time(Not sure if i even have good close up pics of them ..so my antici
patory apologies to them)

Keerthana: VTU gold medallist in 2007 ( I should get a treat for that !!) and part of our gang from first sem. Extremely level-headed and practical except when she is with her boyfriend(who later became her husband - I guess treat cancelled). Has lots of varied interests.

Padmini: Another old(!!) member of our group. Her favorite hobby is just to pester others about what they did interesting recently(what and all can a person
do ??) . A decent trekker though she hasn't done it often. Easy going and very good listener.

Bharath Raj (aka BD
): Gadget guru with lots of free T-shirts(courtesy his brother and dad). Surprisingly good trekker. Can talk for hours about nothing, so a good company on trips :) - whenever he decided to make an appearance that is.

Sharath(aka sherry): Impersonates everyone from Raj Kumar to our HOD. Crazy about and extremely good at cricket. Purchases mobiles as often i as buy shirts(or may be even more frequently)..and finally hates trekking like anything :) (He came to this trek just to be with someone mentioned above ;))

Kiran: His looks totally belies his enthusiasm for physical activities. Even his first bad experience at this smaller trek didnt deter him from trekking KP later. Hardly loses temper and extremely good at making people sleep by his real-life stories (unintentional of course).

Harini: Has an extremely annoying but interesting habit of changing rapidly and totally shocking rest of us. Loves trekking and is very good at it. Easily matches most of the guys in her stamina levels. Was initially hyper-sensitive and later became hyper-active(She claims she is mature now :) )

Akshaya: Another person who probably dislikes thought of trekking :) . Avid blogger and a radical.

Uff..coming to actual trek now.

The Trek:

Date: Jan 26, 2007 (yep republic day)

Time: 7 am

Everyone except srikanth assembled at keerthy's house(which more or less is our standard assembling spot). Everyone turned up on time except me and we left around 7.30 after i got couple of uncomplimentary looks for new hair style(it was bad ..) . Srikanth joined us at konankunte cross.

The kanakapura road is fairly decent stretch and was fairly pleasant to ride the bikes. The highlight of the bike ride was Harini's really unnatural pillion position(tilting 30 degrees to the right while the bike was going straight !!) and yet managing not to fall in the entire trip. Wish we could have taken pics of that. We reached Kanakapura in an hour and had breakfast. Maribetta was supposed to be only 4-5 km from kanakapura road. But when asked people around, hardly anyone seemed to have heard of it and got lots of confusing responses. Finally one of them mentioned that it is popular more as Banantha Mari and not as maribetta. After that it wasn't that difficult to find the starting point. There are few houses before it and we parked our vehicles in one of the houses.

9.30 am.

Started trek. Initially there is large stretch of mud road from where we can get a view of 2 mountains with a valley in between. We started towards the valley from the right side. After climbing for few minutes we reached what looked like a dead end with a very steep mountain wall in front us. Keerthy went ahead
with finding a way up the mountain with total disregard as to how others will climb it even if he could manage it. After climbing few feet and forcing us to take a pic of his dare-devilry, he literally slid downwards without much traction from the mountain. Me and Pavan also wanted to pose for pics so climbed few feet as well. Eventually we figured out that this was wrong way and came down.

11 am.

Same position as we were before and now we started moving towards the left mountain that appears smaller. I climbed one small stretch and reached the peak and again came back down due to
lack of further route. Temperature was fairly high already and the newcomers ' enthusiasm was dropping at exponential rate. We found few school kids who had holiday due to republic day who were going to the durga temple at peak. They helped us with the route and we were ideally supposed to go through the valley and not through the mountain at all !!. From the position we were, it took some deviation to reach the valley with the path filled with thorny bushes and some steep rocks and constant climbing as well as going down. Few of them especially padmini and kiran got major treatment from the thorns.

The kids were confident however and so we followed them. After 30 odd minutes of pu
shing Kiran and Akshaya (courtesy keerthy :) ) , they weren't willing to come up further. Added with this Sharath's acrophobia, they decided they had enough. Though padmini and keerthana were still in condition to continue with trekking, they decided to assist the rest in going down than coming up. So we split up into 2 groups - Sharath, Keerthana, Padmini, Akshaya and Kiran going down and rest of us following the kids up. ( The guys going down had their own share of adventures including getting frightened out of their skin by a snake and getting scraped by thorns all around).

1.30 pm

After about an hour of moderate trekking in hot sun, we reached the durga temple. After contemplating whether to continue trek further to the higher peak(the taller mountain on the right side) , we opted out of the option due to time constraints and the fact few of friends were waiting down. So just had the packed lunch. Few went into the temple and after some rest, we decided to get down. Now having taken more than half day primarily to wrong routes, we weren't really sure how long it takes to go down.
Since the kids were still with us, they pointed the direct route through valley down (which were supposed to use to come up as well) and due to now-acquired habit of running more or less while coming down, just trekked down at rapid pace.

3.30 pm.

Harini stunned us during the entire climb and descent with her 0% complaining and never slowing us either way. Bharath was good for his first trek with us as well. The descent took around 30-40 minutes at best. The path was lovely with mostly trees all through giving a feeling of walking through a jungle. We were at the house with the bikes around 4 am and heard the interesting adventures from the guys who had come d
own earlier. In a way it looked like they had more fun than us as we didn't really have that great views from the peak.

So spoke for a while, got on our bikes and left. Reached bangalore fairly early than what we had planned.

Route to Maribetta:

1. From Bangalore, take the Kanakapura Road and go to Kanakapura around 45 Km from Banashankari.
2. From Kanakapura, take the road towards Ramanagara(Mysore).
3. You should find this after 5-6 km. Better to ask people around for starting point of the trek.

Total Distance: 50 km from Bangalore.

Better To Know:

1. Better to go via bikes/cars. Of course buses can be availed till kanakapura and since this place is fairly close to kanakapura, one can hire autos till destination.
2. Need to pack food as nothing was available near the temple.
3. Mobile network was available.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Yaana(aka Yana) & Jog Falls

Yaana is situated in the evergreen forests of the Sahyadri Range of Mountains. It is known for two gigantic rock formations of a height of 90 meters and 120 meters respectively called "Mohini Shikhara" and "Bhairaveshwara Shikhara".It is a fairly popular place for trekking/visiting. All people like us saw some pics on the internet and were enamoured by the twin towers and decided to go there only to return rather disappointed - more of it later..

This is probably our first multi-day trekking trip and was not in our plans at all. One of our lecturers (actually our favorite !!) was getting married in Shimoga and we decided to go along to the wedding and jog falls as most of us had never been to it. With Yana being close by it looked like it would be perfect.
We had new additions to our group as well.

New Character:
Sudhindra(aka Su): His josh for trekking can be obtained from the fact that he never came back trekking in any our future trips :). Extremely jovial and sporty and a poet as well. His combats with avinash are the best to watch.

The Trip:

Date and Time: May 2006 9.30 pm

Day 1:

Took the bus from Majestic to Sirsi. Nothing special on this bus ride(compared to our previous journey to talakadu) except avinash who kept sleeping on one old
guy's shoulder. The road was pretty good on the whole and most guys got few hours of sleep at least (except me the poor soul who can't sleep in the bus :( ). We reached Sirsi early morning around 6 am. There is a bus that leaves from Sirsi to Kumta at 7 am. We caught the bus and got off at Vaddi Cross. There is a path from here to Yana that is motorable for some distance but not completely. It is exactly 12 km from here and there are milestones as well as boards that indicate the distance regularly. We started walking with full enthu as it was still only 8 and the path was almost through a forest kind of region with lots of trees around.

Now though we were all from Computer Science dept, we were still far from being net-savvy. No eat, sleep and breathe internet(a state which we eventually reached). So we had not done enough research about this place(other than seeing 1-2 pics) and what we knew from someone' some friend had went to this place some time back etc kind of stories and all of us thought we will be starting trekking( as in climbing up and not on flat surface) soon and continued walking. It was frantic pace and sun was not yet burning us, so in an hour we covered 6 km and took few pics here and there. Still there was no sign of any climb at all. Each sighting of a mountain was welcomed by the gang with anticipation that we were going to ascend that(though they didnt actually match the pics we had seen). But ended in dissapointed. After a while motorable road ended and we had to follow a small walkable path.

After exactly 2 hours after we started, we finally saw the 2 shikaras. They were visible from a distance and it was awesome. Pavan and Datta went full on with photography while me, keerthy and srikanth were in awe as to how we were going to trek this mountain as it looked fairly vertical !! We thought it was worth the long walk we had ..We reached the base of the mountain and there were quite a lot of tourists many of whom had hired jeeps and tempos to come here instead of hiking like us. That is where it hit us. Much to our chagrin, we got to know that this was the destination and the end of trek not the beginning as we had hoped. Without nothing else to do and totally disapointed, we just looked around the mountains and few caves that were there and took lots of pics. After some break and lunch, we were left with option of walking back and catch a mini-bus to Kumta. With no enthusiasm left and moderately tired we decided to catch the bus that was supposed to come to Yana.

We waited - asked someone - waited again - continued this cycle for some time as no bus was coming and there was no fixed bus stand there as such ..it was really hot and we walked further in the hope of atleast hiring a jeep in the nearby village. The path was made of hot red soil. By 2 everyone was sapped out and just laid on some grassfield and couple of guys even slept off. Me and avinash(who surprisingly had the best stamina left) went looking for a jeep and after knocking multiple doors eventually got a person who was ready to take us the main road where bus comes. He was asking for 800 for 13-14 Km ..I totally left it to gupta to bargain who did a tremendous job considering how tired we were and we paid 600. It was a rocky ride on one of worst roads possible and we reached main road from where we took an open tempo to Kumta. Finally there was some breeze and it was a cool ride in more sense than one. We reached kumta and took bus to Shimoga and driver was dead fast at times even there was some ghat section to cross. Slept in a hotel that night totally exhausted.

Day 2:

Hoping for a better day, we got up next day and went to the marriage for which had come in the first place. It was a nice place and our lecturer was looking seriously beautiful in her traditional attire. Had awesome food and left for Jog Falls. It took couple of hours from Shimoga to Jog again crossing Sagara which we kept crossing to and fro and reached by 3 pm.

Now we knew it was May and summer and were not expecting tons of water there. But when i was actually staring at Jog Mountains, i actually asked my friend if we need to walk further to reach jog as i could see only mountains in front of me !! Eventually one of guys asked me to focus on supposed Rocket falls and i could see a thin stream that resembled more of someone pissing from top of mountain than any falls i have seen. After Yana, this was double whammy ..With nothing to do and more than 3-4 hours left, we decided to go down. So we finally Trekked !! it was nice steep path to the bottom and we went directly under one of falls as there was hardly any force and not much danger. Spent some nice time and started steep climb up. Sudhindra who till now thought trekking was a synonym to walking had his most difficult time and refused to climb after a while and it required all of gupta's swearing in telugu to push Su to reach the top again. We emptied one shop of all his lime-sodas and the event is memorable still for Gupta getting high on 'Shoda'

Some guys took bath in some public bathhouses while rest waited and we eventually boarded the Ksrtc bus which we had booked at 7.30 pm and reached bangalore next day morning.

And ya it was Sudhindra's birthday the previous day and he ll never forget Jog falls.

Overall somewhat dissapointing trip though the Yana Shikaras are an impressive sight to see.

Route to Yana:

1. From Bangalore take the bus to Sirsi - around 430 km
2. From Sirsi, you ll get buses to Kumta that pass through vaddi cross - 40 km from Sirsi
3. Get off at Vaddi Cross and walk to Yana - 12 km

Alternative option would be to take bus to Kumta and take a jeep directly to Yana to skip the hiking part.

Distance to Yana: 480 km from Bangalore.

Better to Know:

1. At Yana, there are no hotels/shops etc. So it is necessary to carry food.
2. Unless the road has improved in last couple of years which is unlikely, it will be difficult to reach Yana on a private vehicle like car.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Talakadu is a small town on the banks of river Cauvery in Mandya. As usual it is famous for its temple known as Lord Kirti Narayana temple or Vaideshwara temple.The place is inundated with sand which apparantly has its origin on a woman's curse(there are scientific explanations of course). Talakadu wasn't the most exciting of places that i have visited but i remember this trip more for events during the journey rather than the actual destination. Talakadu didnt excite the entire gang either - so only me, keerthy, srikanth and datta went ahead with the plan.
Due to previous bike trips we were still enthusiastic about bike trip, but keerthy was planning to go to Kollegal directly from Talakadu, so we decided to go in bus( again and again we make this mistake !!)

The Trip

Date and Time: February 2006 8 am

We met at Banashankari Bus stand and took the bus to Malavalli via Kanakapura. Bus was crowded as usual and it took around 2 hours to reach Malavalli. Next was the difficult part of finding the bus to Talakadu. Enquiring around and walking for some time resulted in us reaching a junction where apparantly few buses and sand lorries come. Sand lorries might offer lift for some money it seems. So we waited in hot sun - all we saw was policemen taking bribes from some lorries( I guess sand mining is illegal). Waiting for Bus

Finally an overcrowded bus came - by overcrowded i mean really overcrowded. Entire bus was filled and we had to climb on top of bus and it was crowded on top too..it was fairly interesting to travel on top of bus with every swerve the bus makes shaking some of your confidence in the driver. Honestly it takes great driving skills to drive with 50 people on top of bus on some usual semi-tarred and semi-mud village roads. After an hour or so we reached near talakadu and had to take an auto to the final destination.

Reached the spot around 12. It was really hot. But there were hundreds of people playing in the Cauvery river. Water was varying from knee level to sometimes chest level. We could cross the river - around 100 yards wide after lot of trepidation as me and srikanth didnt know swimming then. We reached the other end and hoped keerthy would take the pic(he refused to cross the river and instead offered to take our pics). But he was so busy ogling that he totally forgot us and from 100 yards he couldnt hear us either. On the right side is the culprit who didnt take our pics

After playing in water, decided to go look at the sand dunes around the temples. There are many temples and most were half-covered by sand. Another rumour(or myth) we heard from locals was that every 12 years, the temples would be completely uncovered and cycle would repeat. The sand was really awesome and we played like kids there for long time doing all sorts of jumps and dives onto sand(See the pics for Keerthy-Srikanth's Matrix style parallel dive pics) Keerthy and Srikanth

Yours Truly

Evening came, had to again figure out how to go home. On keerthy's advice we decided to go to Kollegal as there were lot of buses from Kollegal to Bangalore and keerthy anyway was going there. So took a jeep till a place( i think it was Harale). The driver was totally drunk and was driving over humps as he wished. We were really pissed off and i was really tempted to take the driver's seat. Finally we reached the destination and took the bus to Kollegal. The conductor gave us mini-heart attack by telling that last Kollegal-Bangalore bus was around 8 and the bus we were on might not reach on time. But fortunately the bus to Bangalore goes in opposite direction, so he actually stopped the bus and let us the board the opposite bus going towards bangalore(except keerthy who continued to kollegal). We were really tired, sat on steps of bus and called up home that we ll be reaching in couple of hours.

But day didnt end so easily. Few kilometres before Mandya, the bus stopped for some time. There were many vehicles in front of us and no one was clear about what happened except that there was some riots happening. Since no one else in the bus seemed interested at all and were sleeping mostly, me datta and srikanth decided to investigate. After walking for almost 1 km of vehicles, we reached the centre of action. There were atleast 50 odd people with full gear - i mean with long sticks and torches shouting and arguing. What happened was that a KSRTC bus hit a sugarcane truck going in opposite direction. Though there were no casualities, sugarcane truck with most of sugarcane was kind of destroyed and all the villagers to whom this belonged wanted immediate money and totally stopped the traffic. And they did look dangerous !!. So we made our way back to bus and told the driver this. Since we were also in KSRTC bus, he was kind of scared. So we suggested going back and taking a long route. He actually listened to us and after further consultation with conductor turned back(which was also difficult due to no of vehicles behind us) - He was a real pro in driving ..We took some inner route to Mandya and from there took Mysore-Bangalore highway to reach Bangalore without further events. Uff ..we reached Bangalore after 12 pm and slept over at datta's place as me and srikanth didnt have any enthu to find a bus to our homes.


1. From Bangalore take the kanakapura road to go to Kanakapura - around 50 km
2. Continue further to Malavalli - around 40 km. Till here the roads are good.
3. From Malavalli take the road towards Kollegal.
4. After 10-15 km take a deviation to right towards talakadu. There are few signboards. The roads were pretty bad from hereon.
5. Destination can be reached in about 20 km

Distance: 130 km from Bangalore

Better to Know:

1. Buses are pretty irregular. So better to take private transport. If bus is the only option, there are only 2 options - Take the bus to Malavalli and then take a bus to talakadu or take a bus to kollegal and take a bus or hire a jeep to talakadu.
2. There are many roadside shops for snacks and beverages.
3. Cell phone signal was available couple of years back so it should be better now.
4. It was hot even though summer hadn't officially started.