Saturday, July 30, 2016

Few hours in Marin headlands, California

During my recent trip to San Francisco, I got an opportunity to meet few of my old friends. Vivek, close friend and room mate during my bachelor days was staying in Bay area. My stay was just for a week and could not find time to meet during weekdays due to busy schedules. Luckily, my flight was at late Saturday afternoon which gave us an opportunity for a quick meet.

Golden gate bridge
After discussing about the probable places that we can visit in that short period of time, we decided to head to Marin headlands, north of golden gate bridge. The area was known to be very scenic and I was excited.

Golden gate bridge and San Francisco skyline
After crossing golden gate bridge, we took the hilly road that overlooks Golden gate bridge. Unfortunately, we could not stop as the parking lots at the vista points was full!! We proceeded further to reach point bonita lighthouse. Thanks to great weather, the place looked like heaven.

At Bonita lighthouse
We roamed and drove around that area for some time. The scenery was awesome!! It was a pity that we did not had much time to enjoy this place as I had to head to airport to catch my flight. Vivek told that it would require a day or two to explore that area. He was already preparing the plan for our next trip!! We had not seen each other for last 11 years. Hope the next meet will not be so long.

While returning back, we went to a small town of Sausolito to have lunch and took highway 101 south to head to San Francisco airport.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Trek to BKT waterfalls

Visit to this waterfalls was in pipeline for a long time but I kept postponing it due to various reasons each time. When the first rains of the monsoon arrived this year, I made a plan to visit this falls during a weekend. Subbu and two of this friends joined me.

In order to trek to this waterfall, we had to reach the village at its base which was about 25 km from the nearest town. We took an auto to cover this distance. The last five km was on mud road and being rainy season there were stretches with slush. Our auto got struck at couple of places. We had a round of warmup exercise by pushing the auto!! Sharath, our auto driver was a cool person who did not bother much about these hardships. 

The waterfall made its appearance as we reached the village. Sharath had some relatives/friends in the village and he would spend time till we returned back from waterfall. As we started walking in the village, I felt that we were seeing one of the best places in Karnataka. The huge mountains of western ghats were towering in front of us with the majestic BKT waterfalls. This against the backdrop of the village was an amazing scene to watch. 

To reach the base of the falls, we had to walk through the forest. The path was surprisingly clear though we had to take several detours to avoid crossing huge dead trees. A village dog had decided to accompany us.

On the way we spotted a viper. Being scared of snakes, I would have moved away from that place as soon as possible. But ended up taking a photo thanks to my friends. Not a great shot as I was scared while taking the snap!! Being rainy season leaches were plenty. Our walk was non stop with occasional checks on our legs for leeches. 

We had walked for 45 minutes and were near the falls. The path was steeper and slippery. The last 15 minutes of walk was arduous but the tiredness was all gone as the waterfall made its appearance suddenly. What a sight!!

The falls direction changed based on the wind direction and speed. 

We could see the village from where we climbed and its surroundings. Amazing place!! Spent a long time enjoying the beauty.

The return was slower as the path was slippery. Realised that the dog had returned back while we spent our time in waterfalls!! We had our lunch at the temple in the village with waterfall in the background. As we departed the village, we had complete satisfaction and fulfilment. It was one of the best waterfall trek I had.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A beautiful place called Markandeya hill

The first view of this hill did not impress Chaya and Tanu. “It looks ordinary”, both of them said. Well, neither did I had much expectation from this place. But such places always give a surprise.

As we reached the base of the hill, we had two options. One was to climb the neatly laid steps and the second option was to drive up the hill. We chose the latter as we had climbed Antaragange that morning and were not in a mood for another walk.

View from the temple
The climb to the hill was little more than a kilometre through a series of hair pin bends. At the top was a microwave station. No soul was present and we drove further to the temple. Here we felt the beauty of this place. There was so much of space amidst beautiful scenery and a nice temple stood in front of us. The only trace of human being was in the form of a scooter which I thought belonged to the priest. It is not a frequent situation to get a place for yourself. So we fully enjoyed the situation.

The temple dedicated to Markandeya is a very old structure that belongs to 15th century. The gopura was constructed recently. The complex is home to several temples. 

Tanu trying her skills in tree climbing!!
In general, a good place to see if one is visiting Kolar.

Markandeya hill is along Kolar Malur road. A deviation at Vokkaleri village will take you to the top of the hill. It is about 15 km from Kolar.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

A weekend trek to Antaragange

While driving to Kolar from Bengaluru you will see a range of hill on your left side. It is called as Shathasrunga mountain range. Antaragange is situated in this range. There is a temple with a pond in the mountain. The pond gets its water from an underground source which is channeled through the mouth of Basava statue.

I felt that this place would be a nice spot to trek with my family. They prefer short day hikes and Antaragange looked perfect.

We started our journey early in the day to escape Bengaluru traffic and also to complete the trek before lunch. The journey was uneventful and we had our breakfast in a hotel outskirts of Bengaluru. It was 9:30AM when we reached the base of Antaragange which is about 3km from Kolar town. Parking was not an issue as there was ample space at the entrance. 

Antaragange entrance
From the entrance, it was an easy climb of 10-15 minutes to the temple. Steps were neatly laid out till the temple. As we entered the temple, a troop of monkeys welcomed us. They are nuisance in the area and one need to be careful with their food stuff.

Steps leading to the temple
The temple has a small pond which had turned dirty. People went to the statue of the basava and took water. A devotional song was being played in a loud speaker confirming the religious significance of the place. The place was beautiful and we spent some time there.

Antaragange temple and pond
Most people return back as they mainly come for the temple. To see the caves which is the second attraction of Antaragange, we need to climb further. The path starts behind the temple and goes up continuously. It is rough as there are no properly laid steps but there was no difficulty in following the route. As we climbed up, the scenery got better. Kolar town could be clearly seen from the path. The route was mainly rocky intercepted by some bushes and short trees.

As we neared the top of the hill there was a flat area. People who come in the night pitch tents there. The path further continues to the village at the top of the mountain but we took a detour to the caves.

Rocky path after temple
It is required to have a guide to explore the caves as it is difficult to navigate inside the cave. Village kids act as guides here charging around 100-200 rupees. A village kid, Purushottam had approached us at the temple asking to take him as a guide and we had agreed. Now as we stood in front of the cave, it was clear that I would be the only person entering the cave along with Purushottam. Chaya who had just recovered from hand fracture felt that she cannot manage with the support of only one hand and Tanu who do does like cave took this as an opportunity to back off.

Tanu preferring to sit and relax than exploring the cave
The cave was indeed difficult to navigate. Without guide, it was easy to get lost in the labyrinth of rocks. At many times, I felt that my body may not get into the narrow path!! At many places it was pitch dark and Purushottam helped to proceed further. It was a great experience!!

It was a long time since we had trekked together. Antaragange was a good place for family.

Chaya and Tanu posing for camera

It takes about an hour to the cave from the parking lot. Take enough water as the only source of water on the route is at the temple. Do take help of guides to explore the cave. One can also visit the village on the top of the mountain. There are several place to explore on the top. Also, a road connects Kolar to these villages. 

This place is also home to many species of butterflies.