PAYANIGA

Travel Blog by Prashanth M

Monsoon Magic: A Monologue

August 6, 2014 by Prashanth | 4 Comments

PAYANIGA - Monsoon Magic: A MonologueIt was still dark when I woke up early in the morning. It took me a while to realize it wasn’t the alarm that woke me up, but the constant pitter-patter of the rain outside. I got up, finished the morning chores, went out the main door into the portico, pulled a chair and settled in. The vast canvas of greenery along with clouds and rain was in front of me, a cool breeze and few rain drops falling on my face as I looked on. Everything looked like a dream. Especially for someone who is not a morning person & who needs multiple alarms to wake up it certainly appeared to be a beautiful dream. I was woken up from the dreamy state when a friend came out the door and joined me in the portico. It was certainly not a dream, but the monsoon weaving its magic all around us. Few minutes passed, some more friends joined us on the portico. After few minutes of talking, one by one became silent soaking in the magic around us yearning for a hot cup of coffee/tea.

PAYANIGA - Monsoon Magic: A MonologueWhile we waited for a hot cup of coffee, my mind wandered back in time to previous day’s journey. Our first day’s ride started from the outskirts of Mandya after gulping down idlies with some super spicy chutney. A perfect weather to be on the saddle – overcast sky, wonderful breeze and not so crowded roads. While the speed demons sped ahead in full speed, I settled into my usual slow pace along with few more slow riders like me. It wasn’t long and the regular questions started from the people on the road – ‘Where are you going?’, ‘Where are you coming from?’, ‘Is it a race?’, ‘You are number 18. Why are you slow?’ and so on. While the questions never seemed to slow down, the constant cheering & waving from the kids got added too. Couple of school going kids on their cycles saw me and started to race along. I did a mock chase and let them win till they stopped at their school. They had the widest grin on their faces with a sense of achievement. As I moved on, it was time for the bullock carts loaded with sugarcane to share the road with us – a common sight in Mandya region. After a bit of hesitation and passing few bullock carts, I slowed down near one of them and asked for a small piece of sugarcane. The guy was happy that I asked, he dug in and handed me a full sugarcane – I settled for half a length. After the usual talks I bid him good-bye and continued with the sugarcane in one hand. The next half an hour was much slower thanks to one-handed riding & chomping on the sugarcane.

PAYANIGA - Monsoon Magic: A MonologueThough there were short breaks the first longer break was at Jakkanahalli cross, few kilometers short of Melukote. While at 30KMs mark (and another 50 to call it day 1), we started getting information that the leading pack was already at Shravanabelugola (almost 80% of distance covered by them). After gulping down few bananas, dry fruits and another long break at Melukote cross, the journey resumed. Post Melkote, the terrain changed drastically. Roads got narrower, traffic became almost nil, temperature reduced and soon it was plenty of trees & greenery all around. To top it off, the much awaited rain welcomed us. The light drizzle though intermittent was more than enough to refuel the energy levels. It was rolling terrain all along – after multiple short breaks, I was finally caught up by the support vehicle on the outskirts of Shravanabelugola as we were running short of time. A short drive to the lunch point – Kamath on NH48 and after heavy lunch I settled cozily in the bus and drifted off to a dreamland. When I came out of the stupor, heavy rain welcomed us & there we were at our place of stay for the night. With a sumptuous dinner and a bit of rain watching, it was time to call it a day.

PAYANIGA - Monsoon Magic: A MonologueThe rain that we missed the first day decided to keep us company for the rest of our stay at the home stay. As it dawned, the magic began to unwind around us. Sipping hot cups of coffee one after the other, we waited for the rain to slow down so that we could start our ride for day 2. Two more hours of waiting and gulping down local cuisine breakfast, the rain slowed down a bit. The day’s journey was a bumpy ride on the jeeps back to the main road for us to start on our steeds. While we were about to start the ride on the bridge across the fully flowing Hemavathi river, it started to rain as if to  wish us safe journey. From the outskirts of Hanabalu near Sakaleshpur we zoomed towards Belur via Jannapura. Compared to previous day, the road condition was better and were relatively empty. Last night’s rain plus the greenery of western ghats made the ride very enjoyable. Except for one long climb, the route was pretty easy. Just after Belur, I had to stop thanks to slight pain in the left knee. I got into the bus while most of the riders rode all the way to the end point – outskirts of Hassan. Two days of fun riding in monsoon was aptly ended with a joyful journey comprising playing antakshari all the way to Bangalore.

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Cycling from Bhagamandala to Bekal Fort

September 24, 2013 by Prashanth | 26 Comments

Around this time last year, I went on a weekend ride from Bhagamandala to Bekal fort along the green route of Western ghats. With rainy season around, we were in for a treat all along the ride. Here are few photos from the ride —

Green, rain and empty roads

Green, rain and empty roads

Only fellow riders and mountains for the company

Only fellow riders and mountains for the company

And water falls on the road side, and their ear soothing sound all along

And water falls on the road side, and their ear soothing sound all along

More falls, small and big

More falls, small and big

Some more, and I lost count of the falls I saw on the way

Some more, and I lost count of the falls I saw on the way

After all the down hill road, it is not fair if we don't have some climbing

After all the down hill road, it is not fair if we don’t have some climbing

Overcast and green at Bekal fort

Overcast and green at Bekal fort

A break on the banks of river Payaswini

A break on the banks of river Payaswini

A wobbly ride on hanging bridge across river Payaswini

A wobbly ride on hanging bridge across river Payaswini

Here is a short video I made while riding on the hanging bridge, check it out :)

From the top of Barkana falls

June 5, 2013 by Prashanth | 14 Comments

As it happens with every trek, the initial excited talks and chit-chat had slowly died down. We had been trekking for more than an hour and the Sun was raising steadily. The long canopy provided us the much-needed shade along the trek. Narasimha Parvatha, that’s where we were hiking. Climbing from Mallandur (Agumbe side), our plan was to reach the Narasimha Parvatha peak, and then get down to Kigga on the other side (near Sringeri) the same day.

PAYANIGA - From the top of Barkana falls

We had formed a beeline along the path, following the person in front. Only noise around were of rustling & crunching as we walked on the dry leaves and bird calls around us & someone among us trying to imitate once in a while. That’s when we heard the noise – water flowing in the wilderness. We were happy that we could take a break and spend some time by the stream. Within no time our guide was mobbed by us and there was only one demand – take us to the water. His response made us double happy as it was not just a stream, but a water fall. It was not just any water fall, but Barkana falls.

PAYANIGA - From the top of Barkana falls

PAYANIGA - From the top of Barkana falls

Barkana falls is one of the top ten water falls of India in terms of heights. It is even bigger than the mighty Jog falls by 20 feet with a total height of 850 feet or 259 meters. Our speed doubled, excitement grew as the sound of water increased as we neared the falls. Out of blue appeared a stream flowing below the green canopy. We were confused as there was no waterfalls but just a stream. Our guide understood our confusion and pointed towards the far end which looked like a big window giving view to the mountains on the other side. We were more confused and it took us some more time to realise that we were on top of the Barkana falls and not the base. We hopped over the stones, waded along the water to reach the cliff and a beautiful view which words cannot describe welcomed us. It was overwhelming that we were standing on top of one of the top ten waterfalls in India and the view down was dizzying and certainly it’s not the place for the people with acrophobia.

PAYANIGA - From the top of Barkana falls

Though I’ve visited Jog falls and enjoyed the view from the top of the falls, view from top of Barkana falls beats the view from Jog falls hands down. The access to the view from top of Barkana falls is along the stream where the green canopy gives very small window to enjoy the view. Probably this different point of view makes the view much more special. After spending an hour or so, a quick-lunch and a bit of resting, we reluctantly started from the place. Now that I’ve had a view from the top of Barkana, next visit is to get a glimpse and possibly a dip under the same awesome water fall.

Landscapes of Narasimha Parvatha

April 13, 2013 by Prashanth | 3 Comments

I went on a trek after a long time, back to the beautiful western ghats. It was good to be back to the mountains after a long break. Though I have trekked in quite a few mountains of Western ghats, Narasimha parvatha was totally different. Almost three foourth of the hiking was in the shade below the giant trees and then we were let out into the bald grass lands and the blue sky. Here are few of those shots.

PAYANIGA - Landscapes of Narasimha Parvatha

PAYANIGA - Landscapes of Narasimha Parvatha

PAYANIGA - Landscapes of Narasimha Parvatha

PAYANIGA - Landscapes of Narasimha Parvatha

PAYANIGA - Landscapes of Narasimha Parvatha

PAYANIGA - Landscapes of Narasimha Parvatha