Friday, March 30, 2012

Exploring new waterfalls

28-29 January 2012

The title might give you a feeling that I did something great!! “Explore” is a misnomer in this context as there is no place in India (or at least in South India) which is left unexplored. The survey people know nook and cranny of the forest and so are the people involved in hydro electricity and sometimes forest department. Local know the forest well. And people from mining, timber mafia and poaching know the forests better than anybody else!! It is only the city dwellers like us who live oblivious of many places around us!! But the fun in going to such “unexplored” place is that they are serene and offers solitude.

Roads on the way

I never thought that I could go out of Bengaluru on that weekend. I was not at Home for last five weekends and for the past 15 days I was not even in the town. But due to few developments I was supposed to be alone in the Home during weekend. And then I saw a mail from Sampath on waterfalls exploration. The decision was easy to make!!

On the Saturday morning six of us (I, Srikanth, Ram, Prajwal, Prakash and his cousin) were standing in front a village school in Western Ghats.  The school was closed few years ago for the simple reason that there were no children in the village!! Truth is that the village is devoid of young people. Everyone has migrated to the most happening towns and cities. The old people have no choice but to continue living in their “Janma” and “Karma” bhoomi.

We met our guide Rajanna who is ready to show the way to waterfalls. The first surprise is that he himself has not seen the falls!! Well, that’s an interesting start.

The trek started from the main road of the village and quickly entered into forest. The track was used long back for timber transport and remains could be easily seen. Most of the journey was downward as we had to get down into a valley. We reached grassland and then started our final descent into the valley. The forests were thick at this part of the jungle and the path was very steep. At the base of the valley was a stream flowing by. We walked along the stream for some time and we then suddenly reached falls!! As none of us had seen the place, the appearance of the falls was sudden and surprise.

The nice part of the falls was a pool formed at its base. All of us were in water within few minutes!! Rajanna decided to stay out and prepare food. While I, Prakash and Srikanth were enjoying in the pool, other decided to climb to the top of the falls. We were the first ones from “Civilization” to reach this falls and hence excitement was evident. When the time came to name the falls, Rajanna took the lead and named the beauty as “Hebbara Abbi”.

A steep climb back took up to the grasslands. Here we waited for sun to set. Tried out various techniques to capture the falling sun!!

Back in village, we sensed that people were eager to know more about us.
“Who are these people?”
“Are they Naxals or people from KPCL trying to submerge the lives of people?
“Are they connected to timber mafia guys”?

Rajanna's house

The questions may sound funny but it was hard for villagers to believe that we have come just to enjoy the nature. They had only seen people from cities coming into forest for looting. So, it is understandable for them to grow suspicious of genuine people.

Next day say us climbing down the valley again but for a different falls. This time the walk was bit longer but mostly along the stream. At one place I found myself removing shoes and walking barefoot. I hate walking on slippery rocks and this was not an exception. On the way we found a small waterfall.

The waterfall was very similar to the one we saw on the previous day but this had even better and safe pool to get into. Rajanna claimed that the waterfall was in his property!! “How can one own land inside evergreen forest?” But he does have right over the area. I think it was transferred long ago!! We name the waterfall as “Rajanna falls”.

I was observing variation in the water levels in the falls. That was strange!! Ram and Prajwal who had climbed to the top of the falls were effectively blocking the water flowing down. The stream before falling passed through a narrow path between two rocks and one could easily obstruct the falls. Click on the video to see the effect.

Returning back, Rajanna took us a direct path which was extremely steep but took us back to the village in no time!!

It is always a nice experience to visit offbeat places. I also got information about 2 more falls in the region!! Hopefully I will visit that beautiful place again.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gujarat last day: Porbandar

31st December 2011

Today would be our last day in Gujarat. We had to go back to Veraval and catch the train to Ahmedabad. As we had already seen most of the places in Dwaraka on previous day, we had lot of time to be spared.

The first stop was at the lake where I saw lot of migratory birds. I do not know the name of the lake but it was an excellent place for bird watching. Even my daughter enjoyed the place a lot and she was roaming around the place. Few birds that we saw were Northern Pintail, Western reef egret, Black winged stilt etc.

On the way we visited few Temples that have some religious significance.

Inside Mahatma Gandhi's Home

At around noon we reached the town of Porbander. Being the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, it is a well known place to everyone. Like others, we first went to the Gandhi ashram there. The place where Gandhi was born is now a well preserved monument. It was an experience to see a house that was several centuries old!! The house had several rooms but they were all very small.

Mahatma Gandhi's birth place

Another place of interest is Sudama Temple. Sudama who hailed from Porbandar was friend of Lord Krishna.

It was 2PM by the time we finished our visit to these places. Knowing our interest in Gujarati food, the driver took us to an authentic Gujarati restaurant that served meals. The good was amazingly great and the price very reasonable.

Another place that we wanted to visit was Madhavpur. We had seen a nice and long beach just next to the road. Here the road runs next to the beach for more than 2 kms. At 4PM in the afternoon there were very few people. We spent more than an hour playing in the beach.

We reached Veraval at 6PM. We had our evening snacks at a good roadside restaurant and also packed stuff for dinner (Scared of eating railway food!!). Overnight journey brought us to Ahmedabad where we had to catch the flight to Bengaluru.

Final words
There was lot of uncertainties before starting this trip. Unlike other trips I could not plan much. And all three of us were not in good health at that point of time.  But finally everything fell into place and ended up in a neatly executed trip!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gujarat day 7: Dwaraka

30, 31st December 2011

Continued from Gir.

Today would be the longest day in our Gujarat trip. We were getting back to religious circuit. Te destination was Dwaraka about 230km from Gir. The taxi arrives promptly at 10AM and in few minutes we depart from Sasan Gir. Most of the journey between Gir and Dwaraka is along the coast. At places like Madhavpur the road passes next to the sea. The most visible structures during the journey are omnipresent wind mills. They are in thousands all along the road.

The major town on the way is Porbander. We had our lunch on a good road side restaurant. The scenery changes a bit after Porbander. We see several lakes and rivers. Many of them are home to the migratory birds. I mentally take a note of these places so that I could ask the driver to stop while returning back.

We reach Dwaraka at about 3:30PM. First task was to check in to the hotel and drop our bags. This was done in a jiffy and very soon we were on our way to Bet Dwaraka.

Sea Gulls at Bet Dwaraka

Bet Dwaraka is a small island 30km away from Dwaraka. It was here that the capital of Sri Krishna was submerged. The recent explorations in the sea have revealed the presence of a trading city. Since the ruined city is under the water there is a proposal for a under the sea museum. But I have no clue on its progress.

Nageshwar Temple

On the way to Bet Dwaraka is Nageshwar, one of the twelve Jyothirlingas. The Temple looks very modern. There is also a huge statue of Shiva next to the Temple. Behind the Temple is a small lake. Since there was long queue in the Temple, we decide not to enter and spend some time near the Shiva statue and the lake. After some time we notice dwindling queue and quickly we join it. Within few minutes we finish the darshan!!

We then head towards Bet Dwaraka. It is already 5:30PM and we have to take a boat to reach the island. Driver says that we need not hurry and can come back at any time. The situation at the jetty was difficult. We see lot of people who are trying to get into a boat. The boat is overloaded but still people are pouring into it. The boatman is not still satisfied with the numbers and is trying hard to push more people. There is no sign of life jackets in the boat. Seeing this, my wife says that she is not ready to get into such overloaded boats. I myself was not comfortable on travelling on such conditions. We patiently wait hoping for situation to turn better.

People continuously come in and now I look for alternatives. I find some private boats ready to ferry us to the island. The rates are much higher than the normal ones.  I generally not like to blow the money but then there are exceptions especially when it concerns to safety. We make a deal with a private boat. Things move quickly then and within no time we are in the sea!! The sun was already setting down. The place is filled with sea gulls. It looks like the place has good number of fishes for gulls.

It takes about 20 minutes to reach Bet Dwaraka. Looking at the crowded Jetty we congratulated ourselves for choosing a private boat. Boatman promises to wait while we enter into Bet Dwaraka. The narrow roads are filled with shops selling souvenirs, toys and pooja items. The Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna is old and small. One has to be careful about religious frauds. They have a simple strategy. Install fear in the minds of gullible people by saying that they need to perform some religious rites and extract as much money as possible.

It was fully dark when we come back to Jetty. But it does deter boat drivers who are very well experienced in such scenarios. Back on the mainland, we go to a nearby hotel to have some snacks. Our driver is surprised by our quick arrival.

Returning back we take a direct road to Dwaraka. On the way is the town Mithapur famous for TATA chemicals factory.

Back in Dwaraka, we head to Dwarakish Temple. Architecturally, this is a great Temple. The Temple is in the heart of the town and just next to river Gomati.

Until now we had not tasted authentic Gujarati food. Our driver takes us to a hotel and we have a great dinner. We then decide to have only Gujarati food in our remaining trip!

Our long day ended at 10PM.

The sea at Dwaraka is rocky. It is hard to get into water but the views compensate for it. A well maintained beach side must be visited.

We also paid a short visit to Rukmini Temple on outskirts of Dwaraka. It is a small Temple with good architecture. The crowds seen in Dwarakissh Temple were missing here.

We were almost done with our Gujarat journey. A small part was remaining for the last day!!