Category Archives: Hill Trek

Exploring South Goa-Part-5-The Rough Trek to The Private Secret Beach-Cola

This is a series on exploring South Goa keeping Agonda as the base. Part-1 talks about arriving at the village of Agonda, Part-2 talks about ‘The Space’ and RajBaga Beach. Part-3  talks about the little village of Sadolxem (where a scene from the Bollywood Movie ‘Dear Zindagi’ was filmed) and Galjibaga. In Part 4, we explored the nearby Cabo-De Rama Fort. In Part-5 we explore the secret private beach of Cola hidden in by the hills in South Goa.

Eavesdropping on Trails

I was mixing the butter and jam on either sides of my bread toast, when I heard a conversation, that Cola Beach was nearby. I proceeded to ask them if it was walkable from here. The staff of Manveer’s kitchen got into a conversation on some trails from here. The first trail they spoke about was a forest trail to Butterfly Island (which could have leapoards for company) and it seemed like a day long trip. I anyway did not have so much time. I had a train to catch back to Mangalore at 4 pm, and my window was a 2 hour window when Nandu would go to sleep post the heavy brunch. The other option was to trek to Cola Beach, but the challenge was to get past a swelling lagoon at high tide to the other side, and trek from there. Option 2 sounded better, but the challenge was in mapping my legs properly across the swelling sea-meeting-lagoon place as high tide was fast approaching.

Crossing over at high tide [South Goa-India]
Crossing over at high tide [South Goa-India]
Crossing the Sea-Lagoon at while the high tide swells

I took one of the staff for company to the point near the sea meeting the lagoon, after Nandu fell asleep with my mother. I needed the staff to make sure, I was able to pick the right angle to walk in the water, and I had some help just incase the water level went too high. The locals know this place and the right path across 2 landmasses based on the time of the day [and the tide]. I had to diagonally walk with my camera bag on the top of my head, which also had my phone. I only wore my swimming trunks and had a towel on my head to give the camera bag some more height above the water. Its scary to try this alone, and its advisable to do it in the lowest of tides and not during the high tide OR get the help of a local to know how to cross the path.

The little beach at the end after the Agonda Lagoon has a series of steps, that are tough to spot. Its a very dry part of the forest that needs you to patiently trek up for about 10 minutes. You will see Chattai Beach huts on your left as the jungle path merges with a dry plateau on the top of the hill.

Forest roads to reach a plateau on top [South Goa-India]
Forest roads to reach a plateau on top [South Goa-India]
Leaving behind Agonda

Agonda Beach’s huts and Manveer’s kitchen were small midgets as seen from the top. I proceeded to dry myself and find the path to Cola.

 

 

30 minutes later, I leave behind Agonda Beach from the forest leading to Cola [South Goa-India]
As I keep walking along, I am not quite sure on the route to be taken. These are not roads, but just mud paths on a mountain. I follow my instructions to the tee, by keeping an eye out on the directional west, where the sea has to be there.  I wander for about 15 minutes, which feels like 45 because I dont carrry a water bottle, and its very warm at this time of the day, burning my skin. It feels like a binary chart where I encounter 2 paths and I take the one I think feels right, with the hope that I can trace my path back like in the fable ‘Hansel and Gretel’

After 20 minutes, the sights are still the same [South Goa-India]
After 20 minutes, the sights are still the same [South Goa-India]
The Trek to Nowhere

The arid landscape can make you doubt your path taken, and it feels uncomfortable since there are no humans on this path. Atleast if there was a dog, I can trust it and follow it. I was wondering if this was the problem of city dwellers that we need re-affirmation and clear directions when we are in an exploration mode. The locals who stay here, somehow find their path without too much of fuss. Their estimate of ‘half-hour’ can be very different for people not from this place.

Searing heat, Mud Paths and wild outgrowth on a trek! [South Goa-India]
Searing heat, Mud Paths and wild outgrowth on a trek! [South Goa-India]
After a lot of binary decisions on which path to take, I felt the need for drinking water. I had none, and there was no shop around for the limited horizon that I could see. I was trying to see, if some music or sounds of humans talking could help lead me, but I found no one for company. I gave myself another 15 minutes, before I will wind up this exploration, and go back to the hotel for lunch.

Left or Right? No signs or humans here [Agonda to Cola Trek-South Goa-India]
Left or Right? No signs or humans here [Agonda to Cola Trek-South Goa-India]
In about 10 minutes, I found the plateau giving way to views of the sea. I was happy that the sea was around. In the distance, I saw what seemed like a Maruti 800. I went closer and found out that vehicles including autos manage to come uptil this place for dropping guests who stay on Cola Beach. The guests have to trek their way down to finding paradise. I found a car with a bottle of water, and I literally felt the water going down my parched throat right inside my body. I was viewing that in slow motion, as the water rejuvenated every strand of my food pipe right into my burgeoning belly.

Finally signs of the sea start to come in [South Goa-India]
Finally signs of the sea start to come in [South Goa-India]
I figured out from the taxi driver, that I need not have laboured so much with the high tide, as there was another walking path into the forest from Agonda Beach. Google Maps also points to that path, but Agonda having very little Airtel signals meant that I was not really using my phone in this place.

The alternate route from Agonda to Cola by Walk [South Goa-India]
The alternate route from Agonda to Cola by Walk [South Goa-India]
Paradise Found- Cola Beach

Fe Fi Fo Fum- Is that a Beach? [Cola Village-South Goa-India]
Fe Fi Fo Fum- Is that a Beach? [Cola Village-South Goa-India]
As soon as I saw the beach from above, there was excitement brewing up in my body. The wind from the sea on the hill top, the colour of the sea that was stretching the hazy horizon, and the anticipation of being part of paradise, made me take in the sights and feel happy for having made the little trek. The sea and I have our conversations, and I was ready for yet another patch of sand seen differently.

Cola felt like Paradise. The Paradise that stalks you on Facebook and Travel magazines, seductively drawing you by its palms and waterbodies. As a photographer-traveller, this sight of a patch of sand that would qualify as a badly moulded quadrilateral having water on its either long sides, surrounded by the green palms slanting in the distance. The trees were leaning and wanting to stretch out to you, welcoming you to the place. You wonder many things at that very moment. You see yourself in the fresh water lagoon, as a respite from the searing sun, you see yourself frolicking by the Arabian sea, as each wave brings with it an energy that you willingly surrender to as it pushes you to the coast. You are not there yet, but mentally you are already in the water. The body craves for being in sync with the mind, and I rush, pacing my steps down the hill faster.

First Visions of Cola Beach- Paradise Found [South Goa-India]
First Visions of Cola Beach- Paradise Found [South Goa-India]
A clearer vision of the beauty of Cola Beach from the hills [South Goa-India]
A clearer vision of the beauty of Cola Beach from the hills [South Goa-India]
A small beach shack on the hill in Cola Beach [South Goa-India]
A small beach shack on the hill in Cola Beach [South Goa-India]
I spot a beautiful shack, as I make my way down, and I pause a bit to feel what kind of a view that would be to wake up to. In off-season this patch of paradise could be lesser than the money I pay in surge-pricing on my Uber commute for a week. I mentally make the math and make a note to come back here in that precise cottage. Desire has a strange way to come back later in your life!

I leave you with some images of the beach, the lagoon that runs deep into the woods. I was not able to click any more inside the resort as its a private resort, and most day-trippers are rudely turned away by the staff of the resort. The scenes inside the resort as the lagoon meanders its way is even more beautiful, but sadly its a view that only people who opt to stay here can have. But till then, have a look at a slice of paradise.

Pick Your Blues in Cola [South Goa-India]
Pick Your Blues in Cola [South Goa-India]
I feel like jumping right into the lagoon! [Cola beach in South Goa-India]
I feel like jumping right into the lagoon! [Cola beach in South Goa-India]

The thin patch of sand between the sea and the lagoon at Cola Beach [South Goa-India]
The thin patch of sand between the sea and the lagoon at Cola Beach [South Goa-India]
Canoeing in the meandering lagoons of Cola [South Goa-India]
Canoeing in the meandering lagoons of Cola [South Goa-India]

The meandering lagoon at Cola Beach [South Goa-India]
The meandering lagoon at Cola Beach [South Goa-India]

The beautiful Cola Village with the lagoon running deep inside the village [South Goa-India]
The beautiful Cola Village with the lagoon running deep inside the village [South Goa-India]
As they say 'Its better in Goa'- View of the Cola Lagoon in South Goa[India]
As they say ‘Its better in Goa’- View of the Cola Lagoon in South Goa[India]
Just the right place to sway in a hammock to the afternoon breeze [Cola Village in South Goa-India]
Just the right place to sway in a hammock to the afternoon breeze [Cola Village in South Goa-India]

Staying in Cola Beach

Cola Beach has a few beach huts facing the sea, on the hill. The two most noted ones are Cola Beach Resort and Blue Lagoon Resort. Most prices are above 6000 INR a night. It’s seen as a place for couples who come here to mate in the anonymity that a few places like this in Goa can offer. If you are looking for private stretches of sand to sunbathe or to just lie down without being troubled by hawkers or gawkers, this is the place to be. While Goa has seen lesser nude beaches since the 60’s, this place could allow you to not worry about inhibitions of buttoning up, since outsiders are not allowed inside the resort with their prying cameras.

The Dwarka Eco Beach Resort is a good option to stay, apart from the Blue Lagoon Resort and the Cola Beach Resort (which also has exclusive tented properties). You can rest of the smaller properties on Cola here

Do keep in mind that unless you are staying here, you cannot have access by the sides of the palms inside the resort area. The folks here who run these huts are haughty and rude, and it can leave behind a trace of anger in paradise. I hear that this area has a lot of insects at night, but this is paradise so there are some compromises to be made.

Getting to Cola Beach

If you are coming from north Goa or Panjim or Majorda, all roads converge at Assolna and then to Betul, where you pass the Mayfair resort and you stop at Khola/Cola Village. Its a bumpy kilometre of walking from there after leaving your Car/Bike at the village in some of the open spaces there. Its necessary to have fit people in your group, otherwise it might be tough to get here. The trek by itself is not very steep, but its more exertion than a normal city walk in the plains.

If you are coming from Agonda, Palolem or even more south Goa, you need to come to the lagoon near Agonda to Cola’s hill top where you keep your vehicles and come down in a mountain trek to the beach, like I did

Other Media on Cola Beach

Sankara Subramaniam talks about how one jump from the little sandbar could take you either in the lagoon or the Arabian Sea.

Rachel Jones, from the popular blog ‘Hippie in Heels’ talks about her experience as a digital nomad, who heard about snakes in the vicinity, and also the fact that Wifi and Air conditioning are non-working entities, which can kind of put a huge road block for digital nomads looking to work from a location.

A blogger mentions that day-trippers can see the place, by opting for the INR 300 per hour paddling in the canoe. I wish I had known that.

 

#TheBeachTrail2017- Part-IV-Discovering Angthong and Songkaran in Koh Tao

The Beach’ was a Danny Boyle movie based on a novel by Alex Garland set in the late 90’s in Thailand around discovering a secret beach. They follow a trail on Thailand’s south east coast along the gulf of Thailand.Seeking the same backpacker spirit of enquiry and awe for people and nature, we are trying to explore that trail to inspire people to take this journey through our tales and also the iconic movie ‘The Beach’. This is the fourth and final post in the series. Click here for Part-0, Part-1, Part-2Part-3

Once we had folded up our all night vigil at the Full Moon Party (Watch this video to see how it went), we had a van waiting to transport us back to the sea. Back to the blissfulness of staring at the vast expanse of the sea, but this time, we would see a lot more islands jutting out, and infact 42 of them surrounding the Angthong Marine National Park. Each of those 42 islands resemble a virgin paradise, with limestone cliffs, white sands on the periphery and lagoons around some of them.

The 42 islands of the Angthong Marine National Park
The 42 islands of the Angthong Marine National Park
Sailing in the Gulf of Thailand
Sailing in the Gulf of Thailand

It’s fascinating to be on this trip, since its like a slice out of your dreams as you keep staring at the wonders around you, and the wonders beneath you, as your little ferry’s motor slowly switches off  signifying that its time for some snorkelling!

While you snorkel under the surface of the water, a whole new world opens up. It seems very peaceful, and is interrupted only by the humans swimming besides me. Every time a human swam beside me, a whole new series of bubbles would impair my vision of this perfect life with the beautiful colours of the aqua marine world. If I ever get to be God, I would maybe create a world a-new that would just be so colourful and beautiful. As I settled into that thought, it occurred to me that we are humans for a reason and our world is chaotic, since its an option that we humans have. You could either be in the peaceful underwater world but be ready to be eaten any time of the day. Every day survived, is every day lived. You could be a human, live in a complex and chaotic world, without being worried about being eaten, but its a slow death in the concrete jungles of life, where you spend a life time trying to just commute and earn your bread, let alone eating. Such is life!

Our next spot was the Angthong Marine National Park, which has a steep jungle hike on the hill, that opens up beautiful panoramic vistas of the 42 islands. It was searing heat that we had to climb up the hill, and being a tropical place we were sweating heavily in the climb up.

A walk too far? Climbing on the hill trail in Angthong
A walk too far? Climbing on the hill trail in Angthong

There are resting points every 100 metres for you to contemplate if you have the energies to get up to the next point. If you cant quite climb up any further, each of these resting points make for great selfie spots for the young -at-heart. There are totally around 6 such points The entire ascend takes about an hour for people who are not used to any physical activity.This park has basic tented accommodations and a bungalow with 2 rooms. If you have time, you should probably camp here.

Tenting and Camping at Angthong Marine Park
Tenting and Camping at Angthong Marine Park

It’s a beautiful feeling trying to stay here, away from the crowded paradises of Ko-Samui, Ko Tao and Ko Phangan. You may need to bring some ready-to-eat foods, and cans of water, as there may not be too many resources if you plan to stay here for a day or two.  Adjoining the park/island are beautiful beaches that have coral reefs around them, making it hot beds for snorkelling. Inside the park is a beatiful green-emerald lake that is believed to have an underground connection to the sea, which probably still does not explain how does it get its greens.

At the base of the hills, Vikram perched himself to help himself with a couple of soft drink cans to beat the heat. These soft drinks are given on the boat, as part of your boat charges.There is also a little pool of water which people can use on themselves to freshen up with a mug, right after the sweaty trek and trail.

Chilling by the Bay at Angthong Marine Park-Thailand
Chilling by the Bay at Angthong Marine Park-Thailand

After our day out at Angthong, we got back to our boat, having a minimal Watermelon lunch by a cove/island. The speedboat has a way it cuts across the sea, and you need to hold on to dear life if you are sitting like us on the front deck. In choppy weather, be aware of finding a seat inside the closed door of the speedboats, as you are likely to rupture a muscle or two. It works well for the Thai Tourism industry as they would have sold you a tour on a speed boat and a Thai massage in the evening, to work on your body sores.

Watermelons and Noodles for Lunch
Watermelons and Noodles for Lunch

Our hostel, wore a deserted look. Haad-Rin had morphed into a sleepy town over night, after the full-moon party. We chose to hit bed early so that we had more energy leading up to playing Songkaran over the next 3 days. Since there were lesser people in our hostel, we ended up getting closer to the air-conditioner and slept like a log, before I woke up to alert the rest that our ‘Songthaew’ was waiting for us to be dropped to the port. Our next ferry trip was to Koh Tao, to celebrate Songkaran by a beach town, before we would take a train to Bangkok to continue the Thai New Year celebrations.

We had to board the ‘Songserm’ ferry operator’s morning ferry, and these were air conditioned seats, and we were glad to pick up some snooze time in the A.C. It was a short ferry ride of about an hour from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao, before we got off. Usually there is confusion between the staff on what luggages to offload, and while we were searching for our luggage, we noticed that it had already been offloaded and it stayed abandoned in a corner. So much so for safety!

We move our luggage, and find a cafe to spend the rest of the day, since we have our ferry to Chumphon from Koh Tao only at 3 pm and its about 9 am in the morning. Most of the cafe’s near the port are expensive, and I really don’t need their Wifi to spend the day. We spot a quiet cafe a little distance away from the port, and keep our luggage there, and Vikram decides that he wants to maybe rest by the beach, that adorns the cafe’s outer fringes. We then decide to find a cheaper breakfast place, and no better place on the little island than these Banana pancake shops.

Breakfast over Nutella Pancakes in Koh Tao
Breakfast over Nutella Pancakes in Koh Tao

I help myself to a couple of Banana pancakes, with Mango, Nutella and Peanut butter. It goes down, melting and warming the inner tubes of my food pipe, letting the stomach know that energy is arriving. As we wrap up our breakfast, a sudden jet of water is thrown in by an expat, that made my vest completely wet. He was spraying all over taking giant steps on the road, and there was a huge tanker coming with local people who had bigger guns. The games needed to start, to welcoming the new year!

Let the games begin! Songkaran in Koh Tao
Let the games begin! Songkaran in Koh Tao

We boarded a little van, that said that the festival was being celebrated in a grander manner at Sairee Beach in Koh-Tao, and off we went with little cash, a Go Pro and an iPhone in boot. The next couple of hours were spent like a child, trying to stave off requests from people who wanted to spray water on us, forming secret guerilla groups to target unsuspecting people and having water from 4 directions, which would stop when the person smiled and walked away.

 

That feeling when you get suddenly hit by a wave of ice chill water
That feeling when you get suddenly hit by a wave of ice chill water

 

Firing water on people from an open jeep in Koh Tao celebrating Songkaran
Firing water on people from an open jeep in Koh Tao celebrating Songkaran

 

Boarding the train at Chumphon

After all the celebrations in Koh Tao, as we proceeded to Koh Tao’s port, we were leaving behind memories of an amazing trail, and the only part missing as in the movie ‘The Beach’ was the train ride, which was up next. A train ride to Bangkok from Chumphon(The closest railway line from Koh Tao).  #TheBeachTrail2017 was a wrap! Thanks Thailand for all the memories!

If you want to watch what happened between the photos, do watch the 4th episode of our #TheBeachTrail2017 documentary

 

G E T T I N G   T H E R E 

Look out for cheap flights to Bangkok which starts at about 10,000 INR from Chennai to Bangkok. From Bangkok you could directly fly to Koh Samui through Bangkok Airways, but since its a private airport, fares are usually high. You could alternatively fly to Surat Thani from Bangkok, which has direct connections from the airport to the pier and to Koh Phangan/Ko Samui.You could take the train from Bangkok (Hualamphong Station) to Chumphon or Surat Thani, and head to the respective piers in those cities to catch a ferry to Koh Phangan . Alternatively you could fly to Bangkok, and book a Lomprayah Bus + Ferry ticket directly from Bangkok to Koh Phangan

Of Protecting Landscapes in a Forest

Have you ever thought about protecting and conserving nature, while you peer through your train window? Every new route unearthed means more green cover sacrificed and more animals displaced from their natural homes.

While Indian Railways help mankind transcend time and distances, it often comes at the cost of slicing through the heartland of where animals live in sync with nature. Add to it the railway hooter that rings while the train chugs through. How would it feel if your neighbor made a path through your house and made noise every time he used that path. It must be tough on the animals to find new homes constantly and having their environments being tampered with by mankind. Also the beauty of a landscape suffers, with an industrial flavour to the place, with the original landscape and green covers being affected.

Industrial Infrastructure Altering Landscapes in India-2
Industrial Infrastructure Altering Landscapes in India-2

Or so they that technology is making the world flat. That’s what Friedman and Nandan Nilekani say of Technology. It probably applies to the mountains that are made plateaus through railway line work, cutting through the homes of animals and landscapes. Seeing Industrial infrastructure is good, but we should try our best to preserve the beauty of landscapes and make the focus on increasing green cover for every edit we make to nature. Sounds like a deal?

Industrial Infrastructure Altering Landscapes in India-1
Industrial Infrastructure Altering Landscapes in India-1

Every time a tunnel is dug in India, it also uproots much of our animals and green cover. I wish we are able to help re create more green cover in a creative way so as to not displace landscapes through industrial infrastructure. This is about preserving existing nature and environment by having trains run only at specific times so that animals/environment is minimally affected, and we impose heavy fines on passengers from a train throwing plastic/waste in the fragile ecosystem that we have built trains and tunnels through

Industrial Infrastructure Altering Landscapes in India-3
Industrial Infrastructure Altering Landscapes in India-3

It just occurred to me, that as a traveller, I usually wonder why do people throw stuff when they know that this may never get cleaned. Would they do the same to their garden and pretend that plastics don’t exist? Why are trails littered with waste, tissues, plastic and food items. All it takes while hiking in these woods is to carry a huge plastic bag, and place your dump inside it and wait till you reach civilisation to put this in a garbage bin.

Industrial Infrastructure Altering Landscapes in India-4
Industrial Infrastructure Altering Landscapes in India-4

All of these photos are from a trip done in the monsoons at Goa’s Bhagwan Mahavir National Park, which is home to the beautiful trek in the woods to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls.

Travel Postcards #7

This edition of the Travel Postcard features Cola Beach in Goa.

“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”

Kola Beach(Goa) from above
Kola Beach(Goa) from above

Travel is about exploring and finding vistas. Sometimes you dont get a cookie, and at times you get a great surge of blood running through your veins, when you see a picturesque background. This was on the 1st of January 2017, when I decided to cross a little lagoon, holding my camera bag above my head, and hoping I dont drown. A little hill trek, a barren mud track trek with no directions and then to find this view from the hill! I was exploring Cola Beach on a trek from Agonda Beach, and this view totally made the hike worth it. I had put my son to sleep in the afternoon, and got a couple of hours to trek to a nearby place. Cola seemed like fun to do, and I ended up on the trek with some great visuals. That is the next series of articles coming up on KatchuTravels this February.

You can check earlier editions of the Travel Postcards right here

#TravellerStories-02- Off Missed Sunrises and Other Stories!

Let’s meet Arnav Mathur who is second on this series called  #TravellerStories. He’s a traveller from New Delhi (who is passionate about going green and sustainability) who blogs at Eat,Travel,Live and Repeat. He works as aSocial Media Coordinator and Content Writer at JustWravel Pvt Ltd. In this episode, we throw a few questions at him and find out what he likes and doesn’t. Since this is an experiment, feel free to comment and help us out with interesting questions for the next set of travellers to be featured.

Arnav Mathur

 

Why the need for such a series like TravellerStoriesXX? We hear so many travel stories, but we’d be able to appreciate the travel stories at a relative level, only when these same questions are put to people at different place, we’d probably have a sense of awe towards how geography and history places a bias on our thinking. So these are nice postcards that you want to quickly rummage through, over an evening snack. Yes, just meant over tea and biscuits.

A) Where are you from and what do you do for a living?

I am from Delhi but have spent all my life in different towns of India as my father is in the army.I have stayed in places like Wellington and MHOW which are like alien cities to people living in metro cities. I am a Civil Engineer by profession passionate about Green Buildings and Sustainability. I have been freelancing for a travel company and travel blogging and am enjoying every bit of it.

B) What’s the most cliched thing that outsiders say or feel about your city/country?

Indian food is spicy and unhealthy.

Well not all Indian food items are spicy and unhealthy, their is a healthier less fat, sugarless option for all sweets available these days.Of course, some Indian food is spicy, but we never cook too spicy items at home and usually ask for a medium spicy alternative of a dish while ordering in restaurants. The street food of India is hygenic if taken from a decent looking populated vendor.

C) What’s that one dish travellers should try out at your city and where?

It would definitely have to be the Tandoori Momos and the Vodka Momos. I heard their names for the first time in my life when I moved to Delhi a year back, and have become a momo addict ever since.Tandoori Momos are available in Hunger Strike, Amar Colony and the Vodka Momos in Queens Boulevard, Amar Colony.Read more here

D) Reg exploring places outside your city, which is your favourite place (and why) and send us a photo with you in it

My favorite city till now would have to be McLoedganj, Himachal Pradesh without any doubt. It was my first trip after relocating to Delhi, India and it spearheaded the urge to travel and explore. It was the perfect catalyst for my Wanderlust. It was a weekend trip after 3 months of hectic job so all we did inMcLoedganj was Eat, Sleep, Relax and Repeat. The place is so welcoming to travelers with so many cafes offering cuisines from around the world and free wifi in all the cafes. I had my life’s best Pizza till now in Carpediem, McLoedganj, so yeah!  McLoedganj is my favorite place till now and will always hold a special place in my heart.

E) What is the craziest thing you have ever done while travelling?

During my trek to Chandrashila Summit in May 2016, it was made clear by our Team Leader the importance of time hence we started early morning at 3 AM for the final summit trek.After walking for nearly 2 hours we reached a spot, where we were told our destination was not that far.While others were still to resume the walking, I took some giant steps and took a good 500 m lead which eventually led to a 1 km lead.When I reached Tunganath Temple, I was crazy enough to halt for 20 min for no rhyme and reason.As a result I reached the summit at sharp 6 AM but missed the sunrise by a mere 15 min. That’s when I realized the importance of time on the hills.I definitely should have been crazier to not take a halt at all and instead just kept moving forward.

Arnav Mathur missing his sunrise
Arnav Mathur missing his sunrise

 

 

If you would like to be featured and tell your stories that may be of interest to the traveller community, do write in to us at Kartik@katchutravels.com

Travel Postcards-02

Today’s Photo series features the iconic Vithala Temple and the Anjanadri Hill Temple, from Hampi( Karnataka) in India. Now go get your tea, and read on!

“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”

Panoramic View of the Vitthala Temple
Panoramic View of the Vitthala Temple
View from Anjanadri Hill-Hampi
View from Anjanadri Hill-Hampi

The first photo was taken in Hampi, over the side of the Tunghabadra river, that houses the Vithala temple. The whole place has a ‘What If’ feel. What if, this whole empire was not razed down to ruins? What if, this place was teeming with people? I would love for it to be captured or shown via Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality when you wear a headset and strut through the town. Hampi is basically yesterday’s empire frozen to today’s times. Its interesting to see how the temple was the centre of most activities. There was a place for trade, outside the temple with a stable for horses, and a rest place for travellers to bathe. Today all that stands are ruins of a kingdom that once was the envy of many. The boulders and rocks, add the extra charm to the modern day rustic Hampi, especially during the golden hour sun-light.

I took the help of a local guide called Basava, who took me to the top of a hill, that gave me this near panoramic view of the Vithala temple. I call it near panoramic, since this was shot on an 18 mm focal length, on a cropped sensor SLR. I wish I had my Tokina 11-16 lens on this trip. It would have made for a little more surreal imagery of the Vithala Temple

The second photo was taken on the top of Anjanadri Hill, which is the birthplace of the Indian deity-Hanuman. These places at the top of a hill during sunrise or sunset. Hampi seen from above, is probably the way it was ordained to be. The soft greenery that adorns the rough landscape, shows you how contrast can make a great scene.

Have you been here to Hampi? Which is your favourite place? Do mention in the comments below! Do watch this space for a longer post on these places!

 

 

Quick Bangalore Getaways- Conquering Makalidurga- Part II

Makalidurga is a great rail and hill trek, and can be classified as a quick 2 hour getaway from Bangalore for light trekkers, with an option to camp out at the top of the hill.

This article continues from Part-1 We walked along the track till the sign-board of 54/400. This is the point when you turn left and start climbing the mountain to start the actual ascent part of the trek. There is no best time as such to trek. We did this early i the morning at 6 am, after sleeping the night at a pyol of a house, next to the railway station. You could do this trek in a day.

Rail Trek to Makalidurga
Railway Tracks near Makalidurga

As we started the ascent, we were not quite able to find the exact route to the top of the hill. We were content with a little trek, and wanted to soak in the views of the this little hill just doing trainspottting. Waiting for the train seemed fun from the time, the twilight gave way to the morning sun.

Makalidurga Fort Trek
Trainspotting from a Hill!

Usually trains from Sathya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam, and Hyderabad, find their way through this route before stopping at Yelahanka railway station.

Rail Trek from Makalidurga
Trainspotting!

The train seemed to be the only real attraction to look at from this height apart from the peace and calm one expects to find at this height and isolation. I was told that there would be views of Gudamagere lake nearby, but that is something we did not find during our trek. A blogger however recalls the views of the lake from the top. That’s something for our next trip, where we spend more time trying to find the right directions to go to the top.

 

Or maybe, it was summer, there were very little of green growth of leaves, or water bodies around.

View from Makalidurga Rail Trek
Dry Summer!

 

We found a dilapitated structure on a plateau, which was amok with monkeys. It almost felt like we were unwelcome visitors to their part of the kingdom. A monkey was nibbling around the remnants of a Nandini Curd packet

Monkeys of Makalidurga
Monkey’s breakfast!

 

And then the monkey discovered it has company but by that time, it has devoured the contents of the packet dry.

Monkeys of Makalidurga
Sorry Mate, No Breakfast for you!

There was even a nice pool we discovered. Maybe if we came in the monsoons, this place could be fun, if we camp for a couple of days here.

Makalidurga Hill Trek to a Pool
Private Pool, but where are the humans?

The pool over looked a little house, and a small shrine. I did not see any humans at that spot though. The place looked very serene and simple, and I thought, I should now trek back down and maybe savour the morning breeze for a little snooze.

Makalidurga Hill Trek
Peace by the Pool

 

On the way back, I found a good rock to peacefully take a 10 minute nap, and then we proceeded back to the place where we had parked the car.

Makalidurga Hill Trek by the Railway Trek
Extra Peace by the hill

 

After earmarking the place, and a resolve to come back better prepared, we decided to leave back to the city and the trip with some tea and coffee, at the nearest sign of civilization.

Rail Trek to Makalidurga
Morning Chai!

Quick Bangalore Getaways- Conquering Makalidurga- Part I

I have always dreamt of going to a fantasy world, and returning in time to the normal world. Usually dreams are the only way to do that, but leaving that to the probability of how well my day went previously makes it tough even for fantasy dreams. So I was researching, if I could get off from Bangalore at 10 pm, drive to some place within a 75 kilometre radius, and then get home by 10 am to live the usual routine life. Such a place existed. Welcome to MakaliDurga.

 

WikiPedia says  the following about this little village.

Makalidurga is a hill fort situated near the village of the same name. It is 60 km north of Bangalore and 10 km after Doddaballapura on the way to gauribidanur. The fort at the summit has an old temple of Shiva with Nandi and in legend Markandeya Rishi performed penance here.

Makalidurga Fort stands at the top of a huge granite hillock, huddled up amidst the chains of hills, formed like a valley close to Ghati Subramanya, a well-known pilgrimage center. It has a fort on top, at the height of 1,117mts.

It has become one of the trekking destination for adventurers. Many people go for night trek to this place

Our trip started from Hebbal, and we took the road to Makalidurga, after a stop at a CCD in between. The hills were no where in sight. We only saw the expanded Bangalore city, until Yelahanka and then all of a sudden civilisation ended. We saw pitch dark roads, and no 2G signals, which meant Google Maps on a dying iPhone would not show us where we were. We trusted our gut and took a road to go a little further, when we hit civilisation in the form of a railway crossing at Dodaballapur.

 

 

Rail Trek to Makalidurga
A national train whizzes past at a railway crossing!

By the time, we hit the next railway crossing, there was no civilization around. It was just us, the three of us. A goods train passed our way to relieve us from the loneliness of spending time by the railway track.

 

Railtrek to Makalidurga
Goods Train Whizzing Past

We decided to wait for some day light to go up on the trek, since none of us had done research to go on the trail to the fort. We went back to a house near the railway station and slept on the floor, and kept an alarm to be woken up 4 hours later. We woke up, and took the car and parked it on a open grassland, near the railway track, and decided we would trek from there. A couple of other cars present, indicated that maybe we had spotted the right place to begin the trek.

 

Rail Trek to MakaliDurga
Parking SPot

 

More coming- Read Part 2 of ‘Conquering Makalidurga’