Thursday, December 29, 2016

Different views of Udaipur lakes

Udaipur is known as “city of lakes” due to the large number of lakes in and around the city. These lakes built during the times of Mewar rulers are interconnected to each other to form lake system something that our modern governments struggle to manage (I can tell this for Bengaluru, my current home town). Of these lakes, Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar are the main tourist attraction in Udaipur. The photo below shows the two lakes captured in one frame from Monsoon Palace.

Views of Fateh Sagar lake(left) and Pichola(Right) from Monsoon Palace

The view of Lake Palace in night. It is constructed on an island in Lake Pichola. It was once a summer palace but now it is run as hotel by Taj group. 

The Lake Palace photo taken in day light. This is the photo that most people recognise for Udaipur.

Udaipur city palace, though less gander than its Jaipur counterpart provides good view of the city and Pichola Lake. It is hard to avoid Lake Palace!!

The view of Monsoon Palace on top of a hill during boat ride in Lake Pichola. Monsoon Palace is a good place for watching sunset in Udaipur. Boat ride is possible from City Palace to Jagmandir (Another island with expensive restaurants).

Fateh Sagar is another beautiful lake in Udaipur. Situated on the outskirts of Udaipur, it is a picnic spot with some adventure water sports activity. You can get a good view of the lake from Moti Magri, the memorial for Rajput hero Maharana Pratap. 

Having taken view of the lake from City Palace, it is not fair on my part not to take the photo of the palace from lake!! This one is taken from Jagmandir island.

These were some of the views I managed to capture during my stay in Udaipur. I am sure that there are many more places with better views. Do let me know of those good locations for viewing the lakes.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Trek to Udaya Parvatha

Our day two in Shishila was to trek to the peak of Udaya parvatha. With a good sleep in the night (though very cold!!) at Gopu Gokhale’s place, we were all charged up when Angara, out guide arrived. Our plan was to walk to the Shishila temple and start our trekking. But apparently some forest department people were in the vicinity of the temple and hence we were asked to take an auto to avoid any attention. The rules of the department are hazy and left to the interpretation of officials and hence it was safe not to get into their path!!

Amedikallu as seen from Udaya Parvatha

Unlike previous day climb of Shingani Gudda, climb to Udaya Parvatha was continuously steep. The trail was also not clear and once Angara even lost the trail. Being a local, he was able to quickly join the correct path.

Ettina Bhuja view
The route passed though bamboo forest that harboured deadly ticks. The effects were known after a day!! Due to the steep ascent, the gain of altitude was quick and we realised it when we came out of the forest to grassland. The scenery was opening up!! Shingani Betta, the hill that we climbed on previous day was clearly visible.

Shingani Gudda (at the center)
The climb was still steep on grasslands but luckily the grass was short. We crossed a “flag” which would have been put up by locals. Very soon, we were on the top.

Udaya Parvatha
What a scenery!! The entire valley covering Shishila village and the surrounding hills were clearly visible. Udaya Parvatha being at the center of these hills provides a 360 degree stunning view. We never expected it to be so good. The absence of haze also provided clear views.

Amediakkallu and Ettina Bhuja
We walked to another hill that had few tress providing us with some shade to rest. An hour was spent just relaxing and looking at the surroundings. A total solitude!!

View of the valley
There are sometimes when you do not expect a lot but end with with a pleasant surprise. Udaya Parvatha was definitely one of those surprises. A complete satisfaction.

Friday, December 23, 2016

An amazing trek to Shingani Gudda

It was a long time since I did a good trek in western ghats. The situation was similar for Subbu and Krishna. Finding a good trekking place the days is also a challenging task as many places in Karnataka are out of bounds for trekkers. Finally, we zeroed in on couple of hills near Shishila. Shisila was a place we used as a base for our earlier treks to Ettina Bhuja and Amedikallu. I called up Gopu Gokhale in Shushila to make necessary arrangements for the trek.

View from Shingani Gudda
We were supposed to get down at Kokkada, few km before Dharmasthala. But all three of us were deep in sleep and did not realise when the bus passed Kokkada!! We laughed at ourselves for that when we got down at Dharmasthala as we had to go back in another bus. From Kokkada, we hired an auto rickshaw to reach Shishila. We freshened up at Gopu Gokale’s house and had a very good breakfast.

Resting at Gopu Gokahle's house
We were contemplating whether to take a guide or not but finally decided to hire a guide. Balakrishna, a localite was our guide.

Balakrishna, our guide
The initial part of the trek involved walking in the forest with gradual climb. After about 45 minutes, we reached a stream that formed a small waterfall. A huge tree had fallen on the path and it took some effort for us to cross it. Though we were not tired, the beauty of the place demanded some time from us.

The small stream
After a good amount of rest, we started walking again. The climb got steeper but more importantly the trail was not present. Balakrishna had to make path in order to proceed further. This was a peak not many people climbed and it looked like we were the first ones attempting in this season, at least on the route we were trekking. This was something we really liked. Without the guide it was impossible to find the route and hence we congratulated ourselves for taking right decision!!

Making way through dense undergrowth
At some point in the trek, we also passed through an abandoned jeep track. It was used 30 years ago for carrying timber and now the forests had almost taken over.  The climb was continuous in this stretch. After about trekking for 2 hours in the forest, we came to the grassland which was Shingani Gudda. Almost the entire trek was inside forest. The grass was taller than us and it was very tricky to wade through them. But it did not take long to reach the top of the peak.

Tall grass!!
From Shingani Gudda, the panoramic view of western ghats was clearly seen. It provided commanding views of Amedikallu, Ettina Bhuja, Minchukallu and Jenukallu, the hills that we had climbed before. Many hills from Shiradi ghat was also seen.

Final stretch to the top
We spent a long time on the peak just enjoying the solitude and beauty of the views. As the day got hotter, we climbed down the hill. Lunch was at the stream. By late noon we were back at Gopu Gokhale’s house. Evening was spent at Shishileshwara temple admiring the fishes in the stream. We had one more hill to climb on the next day.

View from the top

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Top 6 places I visited in New York

The first impression of New York was not encouraging. The crowd, rude people and bad driving skills did not give good feeling. But during my short stay in New York, my opinions were changed. New York indeed was a vibrant city with its good and bad parts. Amazing public transport (especially the subway), skyscrapers and gardens (30% of New York is filled with gardens!!). I almost spent every possible minute in New York walking around!!

For a traveller, New York has lot to offer. During my short stint, I managed to visit 6 places that I had in mind.

Empire state building
This was the first place we visited after checking in to the hotel. Constructed in 1931, it is one of the iconic building in New York. It is astonishing to know that it was constructed in just 13 months!! Visitor is allowed to access observation deck at 82nd, 86th and 102nd floor. It is on 86th floor where we can get clear views as the other 2 floors are completely enclosed. 

It was the tallest building in the world when it was constructed and held its position for 40 years before the original World Trade Centre was built. 

Times Square
Famous for its huge billboards and advertisements, the best time to visit Times Square is undoubtedly after sunset. The sight of those massive billboards will boost your energy!! For me, it was a great place to just sit, relax and watch the surroundings.

World trade centre
In the place of the twin towers, now stands one world trade centre, memorial and a museum, one world trade centre being the highest building in New York. 

The one world trade centre building. It is modern and very tall!!

The memorial where the names of all victims of 9/11 is inscribed. 

The subway station at world trade centre. Looks very different from other dull stations of New York!! True, New York subway stations looks dull and dirty though the system is very effective.

Statue of liberty
The most iconic structure in New York. It is situated on an island and so it is a must to take a ferry to reach this place. One option is to take the cruise ( directly to island. Tickets to crown gets filled up several months in advance. Other option is to take a cruise from pier 16 that takes through several sights of New York including Statue of Liberty. The third option is to take free State Island ferry which is not oriented towards tourists. We took the second option as the queue to the island was longer and we had little time to spare. Beware of the scams once to exit out of South ferry station.

The brooklyn bridge seen from the cruise.

The skyline of New York and Jersey.

Central park
Situated at the heart of Manhattan, this park is 4 km long and 0.8 km wide. It has several landscape gardens, fields and lakes. A great place to walk.

New York skyline view

New York skyline is visible from many places. I chose to see it from New Jersey side at Hoboken. The place was deserted but the views were excellent!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Yoga Narasimha temple, Baggavalli

Yoga Narasimha temple at Baggavalli was the second Hoysala temple we visited on the way to my native place. It was about 2PM when we reached Baggavalli village, which was about 15 km from Birur. It seemed to be an odd time to visit the temple and I expected it to be closed.

But surprisingly the temple was open and the priest was performing puja when we entered. He said that he would have closed the door in another 10 minutes. Great timing!!

Since the temple is also used as a place of worship, it is in a better shape. The idol of Yoga Narasimha was intact and beautiful!! 

The temple was built in 13th century. It has some good sculptures on the walls that are still in a good shape. Notable among them were Vishnu and Lakshmi and Narasimha sculptures.

I took a long time to look at the temple. In the meantime, Tanu was very much charged up and went round the temple many times!! 

Baggavalli is about 15 km from Tarikeri and Birur.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Back to history at Gummanayaka fort

Gummanayaka fort was an accidental find while looking at the google maps. Very little information was available on internet about the place. The place looked nice and I added to my backlog.

View from the temple on the fort

Last week, when our grand trekking plans fell apart, me, Subbu and Girish looked for some places for a day trek near Bengaluru. I then remembered this little known place which when put across the table was immediately accepted by everyone.

Fort seen from the base
The drive to Gummanayaka fort would have been uneventful. But as we were driving on the village road after Bagepalli, at a turn a two wheeler guy came at a very high speed from the opposite direction and lost his control. He would have directly rammed to our car but a bike in front of us took the hit. The impact was heavy and the guy fell just couple of feet in front my car. We were totally shocked to react. The guy seemed motionless. The two people who were hit had minor bruises and managed to get up. They were so agitated that they started hurling invectives on the unconscious person who was riding bike carelessly. Questions were running in my head like “what should we do?”, “call an ambulance?”, “What if he is dead?”. After couple of minutes, the guy showed signs of waking up. By then locals had come and started taking control of the situation. We decided to proceed further. I do not understand why people drive so carelessly putting their and others life at risk.

View from the fort on the way to Gummanayakana palya

The Gummanayakanapalya village looked backward and uninteresting. We parked at an empty place near an old temple. It would have been centuries old but the villagers had turned into a cowshed.

The village was a mix of Kannada and Telugu speaking people. They understood that we were looking for the fort and showed us the direction. The entrance of the fort gave clear indication about its condition. It looked like the structure could fall apart any time!!

The wall of the fort and also on the temple had some erotic sculptures. Something that is not a regular feature in other forts.

The fort had buildings with Indo Islamic art. It might be the construction after the fall of Vijaynagar empire. The villagers had also converted some of the land into fields. There is absolutely no maintenance in the fort.

We met a very old woman on the way. She was explaining about the history of the fort. But unfortunately she only spoke Telugu, the language which we could understand only with subtitles!! I took a video of her. Hopefully will get it translated from my friends!!

The climb to the fort was not at all difficult as the steps were present most of the places. One thing we noticed was the precariously placed(?) rocks. Some of these rocks were supported by stones while few were almost ready to slide down. We thought of testing but could not muster courage to do so!!

On the way to the top was a temple. It was a nice place to sit and view the surroundings. Interesting to see solar panels on the top of the temple!!

The last gate before we reached the top. As it started raining, we spent a long time in the gate discussing about various things. It was a long time since we had trekked together.

The top was a rocky area where the traces of quarrying was present. It would have been for the construction of the fort. The rocky protrusion on the top was interesting. We also saw a very deep well at the central portion of the fort.

The views from the top was good. As expected!!

View of Gummanayakana palya and the road leading to it. 

After spending a good amount of time, we got down from the fort. On the way back, we had a quick look at the Kalyani.


Gummanayakana Palya is about 130 km from Bengaluru. From Bagepalli on Hyderabad road, take a turn towards Chelur.  The fort is said to be contracted in 13th century by the “palegara” of the area, Gumma Nayaka who was under the control of Vijaynagar. After the fall of Vijaynagar, the control of the fort changed many times but today it is in decay and total negligence.