Friday, 29 July 2011

Rock Climbing Series – 2 : Kabbaldurga

Kabbaldurga, Pyramid Valley and Quad Biking

Kabbaldurga is one of the little known trekking destinations just outside Bangalore and could be a great challenge for trekking and rock climbing enthusiasts. Kabbal durga derives its name from the temple of Goddess Kabbalamma which is frequented by people from the nearby villages. There is a very old temple on the top and because its difficult to climb the hill, a temple is built at the base of the hill so that people can take the blessing of the Goddess.
The road to Kabbaldurga is very scenic with many small hillocks and clean lakes on the way. The condition of the road is also very good. Vehicles have to be parked at the Kabbalamma temple premises and the temple is usually crowded with devotees. We asked the route to climb the hills by the locals and had to walk for 1 km before starting the ascent. A narrow path with lot of trees and bushes welcomed us and the trek was very light initially with some old stone structures on the way probably built by the rulers of some ancient dynasty. As we proceeded, we came across a huge monolith with no trees nearby. It looked scary to climb but we gathered enough courage and started climbing the steps carved out of the rock. A gentle breeze at regular intervals was very soothing. At a few places the rock became too steep that it is very difficult to climb if we don't have a good grip on our shoes. The local villagers were climbing bare-footed though effortlessly overtaking us. After a few encounters with huge boulders and giving extra load on our leg muscles, we managed to reach the summit of the hill. It took a total of 90 mins to reach the top of the hill. We have a small temple on the top, which according to the priest, was built by the Cholas. Just opposite to the temple we saw the ruins of some old structure. Couldn't make out what the structure was but somewhat looked like a stable where they used to keep horses. The view from the top of the hill is terrific with a panoramic view of all the villages nearby. The agricultural fields looked like paintings and would have inspired any poet. After admiring the beauty of nature we decided to start our descent as it had become cloudy and could be risky to climb down in the rains. We reached the base of the hill in around 45 mins and the descent was not tiring. We had our lunch at a small eatery near the Kabbalamma temple and left the place with loads of pictures and memories.
 On the way to Kabbaldurga Serene Lake On the way to KabbaldurgaKabbalamma temple Old Structure on the trekking route  Through the jungle Old structuresKabbaldurga   Kabbaldurga KabbaldurgaKabbaldurga Kabbaldurga   Kabbaldurga Kabbaldurga KabbaldurgaKabbaldurga Inside the Ancient temple Kabbaldurga Kabbaldurga Kabbaldurga Kabbaldurga Kabbaldurga Lunch and tea On the way back
How to reach: Head towards Kanakapura Road, Cross Kanakapura town to reach Sathanur. At Sathaur, turn right towards Kabbaldurga. It is around 8 kms from Sathanur and around 80kms from Bangalore City.
By public transport: Plenty of buses to ply from Bangalore to Kanakapura and Kanakapura to Kabbaldurga.
Best time to visit: Better to avoid rains and mid-summer for trekking and rock climbing. Ideal would be around June before monsoons and after August to December.
Around Kabbaldurga:
Pyramid Valley: Nearby we can visit Pyramid Valley which is an excellent place for meditation and has been voted as one of the seven wonders of Bangalore. Its known to be the largest Pyramid in India for meditation and is an ideal getaway from the daily routine and meditate in peace. It also features a museum where we can purchase all kinds of material on meditation and spirituality.
How to reach: From Bangalore, head towards Kanakapura road, there are frequent sign boards indicating directions to Pyramid Valley. Look out for one board indicating left turn to the valley.
Pyramid ValleyPyramid Valley Pyramid Valley Pyramid Valley 
Dirt Mania Quad Biking: For all speed lovers we have a Quad biking track on the way back to Bangalore near Kaggalipura. ATVs are available in 200CC and 300CC and have a 700CC machine for professionals. It has ATVs with 5 gears and even the gearless ones are available. Its a nice experience and has to be tried once.
How to reach: From Bangalore, head towards Kanakapura road, after APS college of Engineering we come across a dry lake bed, take the immediate right turn after crossing the dry lake. Dirt Mania is around 1 km from there.
Dirt Mania Dirt Mania Dirt Mania Dirt Mania

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Monday, 25 July 2011

Sikkim: Mesmerising Beauty of the Himalayas

Sikkim: Mesmerising Beauty of the Himalayas…

Trip Details:
I always wanted to travel to Sikkim, a small and beautiful state in the North-Eastern India. Finally got a chance in April 2011. After doing a lot of research, we finalized an itinerary which would suit our budget and time which looks as below:
1) Day 0: Half-day in office, boarded a flight from Bangalore to Kolkata at 18:00 hrs. Reached Kolkata airport at 20:30 hrs. Hired a pre-paid taxi from Kolkata airport to Sealdah railway station. At 23:00 hrs boarded Padatik express to New Jalpaiguri from Sealdah.
2) Day 1: Reached NJP Station at around 10:30 hrs.. Hired a jeep to Gangtok. Reached Gangtok by around 14:00 hrs and checked into Hotel Karlo. It was a nice hotel with excellent staff. We rested for the remaining part of the day as we were supposed to travel to North Sikkim the following day.
3) Day 2: After obtaining all the necessary permits for North Sikkim, we left Gangtok at around 11:00 hrs in a Maxx vehicle. We got a taste of the horrible road condition in the first 1 hr of our trip. But the scenic beauty made us forget all discomfort of travel. In around 1 hr we reached the entrance to North Sikkim area. The first point we visited was Seven Sister falls. It looked great as the water falls in seven stages. After spending some time at the falls and buying some snacks there to munch on the way, we proceeded. The beauty of nature kept getting better as we were travelling and we were unable to shut our eyes even for a moment. The river Teesta kept following us all the way which was crystal clear and was a treat to watch. We took a break for lunch at a small eatery called Hotel Kunghlo. The food served was pure vegetarian and was very good. We proceeded after lunch and reached a few bigger towns on the way like Singhik and Mangan. Our driver said that we can view Kanchenjunga clearly from Singhik but because of heavy clouds and fog we were unable to get a glimpse. Further in the evening we came across several waterfalls and rapids and it looked great. Finally we reached our final destination of the day, Lachen. It was freezing cold in Lachen and we stayed in a small hotel there. Lachen is a very small village and have only basic facilities in all hotels. So we can't expect heaters in the hotels and power cuts throughout the day is very common. After having dinner we crashed to sleep as we were supposed to start at 5am the next morning.
4) Day 3: Woke up very early in the morning at Lachen and after a hot cup of tea, we started towards Gurudongmar Lake which is one of the highest lakes in Sikkim at 17000 feet. The sun rises very early in the North east and it was a treat looking at the morning sun kissing the snow covered Himalayan mountains. The route was very scenic with Yaks grazing in the fields and it was pretty cold in the morning. Our driver stopped at Thangu for breakfast. We had bread/butter/jam for breakfast and got our papers verified at the checkpost. We proceeded further and the landscape suddenly changed and it looked like a cold desert with no trees around and clear blue skies. The scenery drastically changed once we reached Gurudongmar lake at around 08:30 hrs. It was a total out of the world look and we were completely awestruck at the beauty of nature. The lake stood calm and more than 70% of the lake was completely frozen. The snow covered mountains at the backdrop added to the beauty of the place. We got down to the base of the river and took some water in our palms. The water was freezing cold. We even dared to walk on the frozen part of the lake and it was a great experience which we had never seen. After enjoying at the place for a while we decided to bid goodbye to this amazing place. We came back to Lachen for lunch and then departed towards Lachung where we had booked a hotel. Again the journey was terrific with lot of waterfalls and snow covered mountains made us click lot of pictures. We reached Lachung in the evening and were looking forward to the next day's plan.
5) Day 4: Early morning view from our hotel in Lachung was picture perfect. After breakfast, we started towards Yumthang valley which is called the Valley of flowers as it is full of flowers in summers. Yumthang welcomed us with lovely sunshine and greenery with a stream of river Teesta flowing which looked like Paradise. We spent some quality time at Yumthang and then proceeded towards Zero Point, further up the hills. As we approached Zero Point, we could see snow all around us and from the top we could only see roads cutting through white snow. We reached Zero Point at around 9am and played with snow there for a long time. It was a wonderful experience. We then started our return journey towards Lachung, visitng hot spring on the way. We rested in our room at Lachung for sometime and after lunch we left Lachung towards Gangtok with some great memories of North Sikkim. We reached Gangtok later in the evening and checked into our hotel.
6) Day 5: We visited the Geological Meuseum, Rumtek Monastrey, Institute of Tibetology and the ropeway in the morning and went for a walk to MG road in Gangtok. We had yummy Momos and Veg rolls at MG Road in the evening and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
7) Day 6: Our plan was to visit the Tsomgo Lake and Baba mandir near Nathu La pass. We started early in the morning to obtain all necessary permit for these places. Because of the road repair work we had to wade through a traffic jam on the way but was cleared quickly. We reached the Baba Mandir at around 11:30 and it was freezing cold so we had to pull all our warm clothing. We also get jackets, gloves, and shoes for rent at Tsomgo Lake. After paying respects to Baba Harbhajan Singh, we proceeded back towards the lake, enroute we stopped at a place to play with snow which was fun. We reached Tsomgo Lake at around 14:00 hrs. We clicked a few pics of the Lake and took some pics on the Himalayan Yak as well. We decided to have our lunch at Tsomgo Lake as it was late afternoon. We decided to wind up for the day at around 15:15 hrs. The evening drive became scary as it became very foggy and the visibilty decreased considerably. Enroute was Kyongnosla waterfalls which was totally invisible due to the fog. We managed to reach Gangtok safely by around 16:30 hrs.
8) Day 7: Our final day in Gangtok, we checked out of our hotel in the morning towards NJP station. On the way we decided to go for river rafting at Teesta. Our cab driver patiently waited for us to complete our rafting and we had lot of fun in the water though there were very few rapids. We reached NJP station in the evening and boarded Saraighat express to Howrah at 20:00 hrs. We reached Howrah at 06:30 hrs and after breakfast we decided to visit the Howrah Bridge as we had a gap of 4 hours before the departure of our train to Bangalore. This concluded our trip to Sikkim which was very interesting and memorable.
How to reach: Direct flights from Delhi and Kolkata available to Bagdogra, the nearest airport. Nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri. Jeeps can be hired from Siliguri to reach Gangtok. 

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