Tuesday, September 19, 2006

On to Shivansamudra (Bluff) - Ganganachukki, Bharachukki

The extra-curricular activites club in office decided to organize a one-day trip to Shivanasamudra last Saturday.
The day dawned,cold and cloudy. Perfect weather for an outing. Too much sun just drains out the energy!
We were supposed to leave at 6.30AM from office but by the time everyone arrived, it was 7.30. And we still had people to pick up on the way. Finally we hit Mysore Road at around 8.30 and chugged along the smooth road. The final count was 27 people including family and friends. The 28-seater bus was just about filled to the brim. Though we found the seats a bit uncomfy in the beginning, we soon relaxed and started enjoying the journey. The bus had a surprisingly good speaker system. Usually, on buses, you find speakers either too high on treble which jars the eardrums or too low on volume which is again ueless! Here it was just great. Almost Bose-quality sound I should say (I could almost hear "give me blood, I'll give you freedom" ringing in my ears! Ok, ok...sorry for the PJ. For those who didn't get it, try connecting the quote and Bose :-p).
There was quite a bit of holiday traffic going towards Mysore so the speed was not great. And our bus wasn't going anywhere near 60kmph. Felt like Narain Kartikeyan in a Jordan against the Ferraris and Renaults.
Stopped for breakfast at Kamat Lokaruchi adjoining Janapada Loka at Ramanagaram. I guess people go from Bangalore to just have breakfast out there. It was more crowded than any of our Darshinis out here. After settling down, we had some yummy dosas and idli-vadas.
We also packed lunch from there in a humongous tiffin carrier. They charged a deposit of 1500 for the carrier. Wonder if it was made of silver or platinum ;-)

After driving through roads right out of the moon with its craters (that would give Koramangala roads a complex), we reached Shivnasamudra at around 1230. That was 4 hours from Bangalore including the 1.5 hour Kamat break.
Here let me give some trivia on Shivanasamudra itself. It was here that the first hydro-electric station in India was built by the great Sir M.Visverwarayya. It was the hydel power from Shivanasamudra (also called Bluff) that lit the first electric bulb in India at the K R Market in Bangalore!! And way back in 1905!! How many knew that??
Bluff comprises of 2 falls - Gaganachukki and Bharachukki. Cauvery divides itself into 2 arms and each of the arms fall into a gorge creating these two spectacular falls. Gaganachukki is the larger, voluminous one where one cannot get into the water (lots of lives have been lost there trying to be adventurous). When one comes from Malavalli, there is a deviation which says Shivansamudra/Gaganachukki. This will take you to the hydro-electric station and the viewpoint from which one can see the falls from the opposite side. Instead of taking this left, go further about 10kms, and then after passing a bridge, you will get another deviation that takes you to the head of Gaganachukki near a dargah. There are steps from near the dargah which lead right to the head of the falls.
1KM further down from the dargah, Bharachukki is the smaller, wider one which falls in a U-shape breaking into different small falls. You need to climb down about 900 steps to reach the base of the falls.Here, there are lots of places where one can sit right under the water.

We passed the dargah and went directly to the Bharachukki falls. After getting down the steps, we reached the base of the falls. No sooner we reached there, the water was too alluring and everyone strode off in a line to enjoy the falls. After changing into water wear (whatever that means :-D), we were all under the falls feeling the hard jet of water on our backs and ears. Was ultimate refreshing! The government should actually advertise this as a natural massage unit. Am sure it will be a hit. (Actually was quite surprised at the government apathy towards most tourist destinations in Karnataka. There is not one hotel/rest house/shops nearby and if one does not carry food and other essentials, it is quite painful!)
Shilu discovered a route by which one could go behind the waterfall, under a ledge, into a cave like enclosure. That was an awesome place to sit and enjoy the falls standing on the ledge and watching the water fall from behind over your head.

There were the customary snaps and videos that were shot. We played long into the afternoon and by the time we climbed the steps back to where the bus was parked, we were damn tired, and hungry to boot! After refreshing ourselves with coconut water and cucumber slices, we went to Gaganachukki near the dargah and had a great view of the majestic falls!

Even though the water was less, it was a breathtaking sight nonetheless! By now, people were restless with hunger. We drove to a meadow with lots of coconut and plantain trees where we had our lunch. The lunch tasted delicious and was consumed ravenously by all.

Finally, we were back on our way to Bangalore after an enjoyable time. We played some dumb charades and antakshari and before long, we were back in Bangalore!

There are 2 routes to Shivansamudra - the shorter but bumpier Kanakapura Road route or the slightly longer but excellent Mysore Road route. We took the Mysore road route. The road progressively become sbad after Malavalli, though.
From Bangalore, get on to Mysore Road. Drive past Bidadi, Ramnagaram and Maddur. Take the left fork at Maddur and proceed onto Malavalli. From here, take the road that goes to Kollegal. About 30km into it, you will find signboards annoouncing Shivanasamudra. Take the left if you wat to see the hydroelectric station and a far frontal view of Gaganachukki. Else, keep going straight for about 10km, cross the Forbes bridge, and then take the deviation that takes you to the dargah. From here, you can either decide to go to Gaganachukki or to Bharachukki which are just 1km apart.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lunar Eclipse shots

We had a partial lunar eclipse (about 20%) in Bangalore. Sat up through the whole thing on mt terrace trying to capture it on my S1 IS. Interesting effort, it was. Put the camera on intervalometer and took shots every 1 minute. It was damn, damn difficult without a tripod to adjust the angle of the camera to click the pics. Used everything from keys to camera case to coins to get the right angle. Decided my next major buy will be a tripod for the camera.
Here is the result of my effort. USed Picasa and Gimp together to get the composite picture. The bigger moon on top is just for effect ;-)

Click on the picture to get a bigger image.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Are you a geek?

Been taking some online quizzes lately. And they give output to paste it on any webpage. So here goes...

My computer geek score is greater than 71% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Weekend Trip - Hogenakkal Falls

Vinay is one of our colleagues who had come down from the US to work in the Bangalore office for the past 8 months. Now he was going back to the US. Since we were a close band of friends, we decided we should go on an outing last Sunday, which incidentally was his birthday as well.
After much deliberations, we zeroed in on Hoganekkal Falls, touted as India's own Niagara. So early morning at about 5 AM, we were off to the redezvous point at Silk Board junction. 7 of us comfortably seated in 2 cars - a Corsa and a WagonR. The route decided after much googling was Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Hoganekkal (though later we found that this wasn't the shortest or ideal route).
After zipping along the 4 lane highway and crossing into Tamil Nadu, we stopped for breakfast at Saravana Bhavan at the entrance to Hosur. The name sprang thoughts of yummy dosas and pongal as expected froma Saravan Bhavan chain. But sadly, this one surely did not belong to that chain as the food was just about okay.

After filling our stomachs, we were again back on the smooth road listening to cool techno musicon the Corsa. After Krishnagiri, the 4-lane heaven ended abruptly and from then on, it was a slow journey on a two lane highway lined with slow moving trucks and Schumi-competing autos. Not to forget the forlorn two-wheelrs carrying just about the whole joint families that live around Krishnagiri. Each bike easily had about 4 passengers on it balancing precariously and often getting off the road into the gravel when any huge truck passed by. The road got progressively bad till Dharmapuri but the Corsa took the potholes well. The WagonR was not that lucky and a particularly nasty pothole put a really bad dent on its alloy wheels.
Luckily, there was a Maruti garage nearby where they re-did the wheel. This put us back by an hour and by the time we reached Hoganekkal it was almost 12. That was about 5 hours of driving, almost nonstop.

Hogenakkal is on the Karnataka-TN border where the Cauvery falls almost 150 feet with such force that it gives rise to much mist! Hence the name - Hoge means smoke and Kal means rocks in Kannada.
The first thing that we realised when we landed there was the heat. It was baking hot and the rocks all around weren't helping the cause any little bit! Any spray of water coming towards us was instatly lapped up by the dry skin.
We walked around the bathing ghats where men were getting massaged all over the place and women were selling freshly caught (?) fish, fried in some deep red sauce!! Almost every local there seems to have taken up massaging as a profession and one could see people getting thumped and fisted in different ritualistic moves. Most of the sights were too funny.

We then got to know that to see the main falls, we need to get onto coracles (round boats made of cane with tar smeared all over the bottom of it). At Rs100 per head, we set off in 2 coracles. The first stop was at a place from where we could see about 5-6 falls together from the top of the rocks. The songs from Roja were supposedly shot out here.

It was a beautiful sight to see so much water gushing all round. After clicking the mandatory pics and doing some adventurous descents to the base of the rocks, we were off again to see the main falls. One the way, we saw the ultimate in selling strategy - mobile shops on coracles selling everything from biscuits to soft drinks to fried fish!

The main falls was too good though. It was worth all the deep tan that we got coracle-ing under the harsh sun. Water gushing from about 5-6 points to about 100 feet deep. It truly lived upto its name - Hogenakkal - the smoking rocks! The spray of mist was like manna from above under the intense heat of the sun. The lens of the cameras kept getting clouded by all the spray around. We found a nice vantage point to sit and take pictures right at the tip of the cliff overlooking the falls. One false step and it would have been chapter closed! Treading carefully, and continuously warned by the boatmen not to venture too close to the edge, we took lots of pics.

After that, it was back to the starting point. The boatman too us through some mini rapids in the Cauvery which was a thrilling experience. Then we decided to head back and have lunch at some big town. On the way we decided to have all the snacks that we had with us for lunch under a shady tree.
Coming back, we luckily caught sight of signboard which turned out to be a shorter route to Bangalore - almost shaving off 35-40km. We were back in Bangalore by sundown and caught the sunset view near Electronic City. The amber colored sky was a sight to behold! Got some good shots of the sunset from the car. We were back in office, all tanned and tired, but satisfied with the journey.

Loved this pic - Water droplets close-up

Since, it was Vinay's birthday as well, he treated us at a funky Italian place called Fiorano's near office. The food was extremely good, but tasted all the more so to us hungry travellers.

Here are some direction pointers to Hogenakkal if you decide to go there. There are multiple routes one can take.

Route 1: Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Kaveripattinam-Dharmapuri-Hoganekkal ~ 170KM: The road starts off a 4 lane express highway which continues all the way to Krishnagiri. After this it turns into a single road with 2 lanes. After Kaveripattinam, the road turns pretty bad with huge potholes springing up from nowhere. From Dharmapuri, take a right and 46km onwards to Hogenakkal.

Route 2: Bangalore-Hosur-Rayakottai-Hogenakkal ~ 140KM: This is the route we can back on. At Hosur, you need to be on the flyover and take a right turn immediately onto Rayakottai. The road is 2-lane all the way, but generally good. Also, its been recently tarred in most places which made it a smoother drive altogether.

For snaps, go to my Flickr page

Also read Vinay's blog for another write-up on the same trip.