Thursday, February 09, 2006

Railway Track Trekking

This is my account of the KAAL DHAMAAL trip we had in May, 2005. Well to start from, I guess I start from where this thing came from. The awesome duo of Vijay and Harsha came to my place on Monday. They talked about trip to Sakleshpur on weekend. I said Ok and even Nikhil (Pasari) was ready for it. Then there is no news about it. It just out of mind of everyone I guess. Now fast forward to Friday, when we had the seminar. After giving my seminar I went back and asked Syed Nasrulla about the trip. He said he does not know. Wow! I said. Then he gave the bombshell. He was going to Pondycherry. Whoo I said. Why the heck not to Sakleshpur I asked. This fellows says since no one is ready he will go alone to Pondycherry but if some were ready then it would be possible to go to Sakleshpur. Next step was to get those who are ready. We instantly got 5 names. I asked others also but the reasons ranged from short notice of (Syed Wasimuddin said about 2 weeks), Internals (Believe guys this is from the guy who you can never believe would do this thing) to other problem (monthly included).




and me- Saurabh

moved on. We went to Majestic, took a private bus and reached the place a few km after Sakleshpur. It was 4:30 am. Believe me, it was 4:30 in the morning (you can say it night also). It was pitch black with just the half moon showing some way. Ya ya there were those trucks and buses which passed by us. We asked a guy how far was the place where the track is to start. He said it was 3Km away. So we started walking along the highway. Syed had no job so he started telling the story of Kaal-

Ya that recent movie in town. Champion Syed tries his best to make the recitation as scary as possible. I guess he succeeded when Paccha was scared to hell when Syed just held his leg. After walking for some time we saw a hotel. We stopped there to ask for directions. Just then from inside came a dog. You know what can happen next. But this dog dude was really huge. Bigger than those which bit Harsha at IISc for sure. This one was more like wolf than dog.

During this walk we saw the sun rising. It was one of the most amazing scenes one could ever see. The light shining from atop the hill tops partly covered with clouds was just too good to miss. I guess you can never see that kind of view that easily.

After walking for around an hour we reached the starting point of our trek, Donigal. Well it was an old railway station defunct since years. The track was there but the train was missing. So we first had some of the bread that Harsha had got and moved on

We started the trek walking on the old railway track. The surprised guy here was Ravi Gupta. He was amused as people call this trek and not railway track.

So he coined this amazing new term ‘Railway Trek’. It was all cool as we walked the path in the wee hours of the day. It was the coolest time of the day. After a walk for an hour or so met a few people who were laying the new train tracks. They told that there was a river close by and so we walked to that place.

Well to describe it, it was a stream. The water level was a few cm. We got rid of our shoes and waded into the water. Whoosh water was so cold. Like its just been melded out of ice. It felt pleasant. We all sat on the rocks with feet cooling off in the water. After half an hour or so, we decided to move on. But before that we rested on the lust green grass by the banks. Just then we saw some 4-5 people coming with choppers (not of US-EN). I was scared. For a moment I thought these were Naxalites. As you know we have heard a lot about it and moments ago Syed was talking about that. They came from the other bank of the stream and simply moved on crossing us. I was relieved. They turned out to be honey collectors. I guess same was on others minds too. After this we started our walk on the railway lines. We heard from people that railway track is going to be up and buzzing with trains in a year or so. I thought good we came now.

Next big thing to happen was a railway bridge.

It was a fairly long one with a deep valley below and it was the only way to get to the other side. So we had no other option. The bridge was an old one [refer above pic]. It had the log wooden plank in between to support the rails and no side bars to hold on to while crossing. It was terrifying at first sight as it was around 200-250 m in length. Pretty long walk I must say. It was dead dangerous to look at for all of us especially when looking down in the valley. After picking up all my inner strength I decided to walk it. Taking a step at a time with the heart pounding and adrenaline rushing through my blood stream I started taking on the challenge. It was cool and when I reached the middle I decided that it would be just useless if I did not look what was all around the bridge.

Oh God it was too good to see. The lust green valley, the green top trees. It was just awesome. After enjoying the nature for a few moments I decided to move on. The first step now was terrifying.

Anyway I got it and finally crossed the bridge.

Afterwards we asked some people out there how far we had to go. They said around 12 Km and there are 15 small and big bridges as well and some 8 tunnels. Ravi using his excellent Kannada Communication Skills asked if the bridge we had just crossed was chikka or dodda (small or big). The guy replied ‘chikka’!!!!

It was just plain walk looking the excellent view of nature we had. I must say the work is going at a hectic pace. Most probably in a year the train would start. It would be fabulous to go even on a train in this route. As that guy had told, there indeed were a lot of bridges. Some of them were really small. Say 20-50 m in length. But Ravi smarty avoided most of them as they had way to go from the sides thought they were a longer route. After traveling some distance we came across the tunnels.

Some of these were small as under 100m while the biggest one was nearly 600m long. The walls of the tunnels were filled with graffiti.

These ranged from declaration of love to pronouncing that they were here. Some graphics too covered the wall.

The tunnels had a cool chilling wind blowing at the mouth of it.

It provided a lot to relief from the sun which had started burning bright (Though most of the path was covered with trees). But we had a problem here.

Some of the tunnels were pitch black after we entered them. It was not walkable once we covered ¼ of the tunnel and we had JUST ONE TORCH. Thanks to me.

But the torch too was not bright enough... Smart thing, we decided to hold on to each other and Syed holding the torch moved forward. Then there was the next scary thing, the bats. The tunnels were the homes to the bats. They had clung to the wall of the tunnels which were rocky. They made a horrifically frightening sound. Plus they were flying around. We were scared of the thought of being bit by them. Most of all Harsha who had already got 4 injections, thanks to the dogs of IISc. But somehow we managed to smaller one of around 250m. The bigger test was yet to come, the one nearly 600m long. We entered it and as we entered the ‘No Light Zone’ we again held on to each other. We started walking slowly to cross the tunnel. Soon we heard noise of some engine. It was not very soothing. Suddenly came the thought that they may be blowing the tunnel with dynamite or something. But having no choice and seeing no one or any sign that there was going to be a blast we carried on. Near the half way mark we saw a tractor. It was a relief as there was plenty of light thanks to the tractor. There were people laying the new broad gauge track. So the next half was crossed easily as there were these tractors coming and going, giving us enough photons to walk easily.

It was pleasing to see the daylight back from that dark and treacherous tunnel.

After we came out from there, there was this beautiful bridge above a lovely deep valley.

The beauty of the bridge was that it was curved. It reminded me of the one in ‘Chaiya Chaiya’ song. It was so beautiful that for once I forgot that I was to cross it. This was a tricky situation. A curved bridge with no hand rails. Amazing. But we moved on to cross it. After walking close to the middle of the bridge I looked around. It was by far the most scenic view of the valley and hills I had seen. After this I had a lot of experience in crossing these bridges so I walked about without much trouble.

The next big thing to happen was the most horrible thing that could ever happen. We were in front of a bridge which was being repaired. This one had no one attending it and there was no throughway. The bigger challenge was that it was really big. I guess as long as around 300m. We started walking the bridge thinking it to be of the usual type. But this had iron beams instead of wooden planks to give support to the rails. The most unusual thing was that the beams were not fixed properly and the bridge wobbled. Taking all our guts we held on the rails and started moving in that direction. It seemed easy. But there was a catch.

I saw that after a short distance there were no rails. I was shocked at the very thought. I was the man in front. So we reached the end of the rail somehow.

Next what?? Syed suggested we now hold on to the beams and move. This was a tough task but after some real trouble, we made it across to the other side. We were now totally exuberant about crossing the bridge.

After this there was nothing much of an excitement except for the slopes which were covered with nets to check erosion.

We continued our trek and finally reached Erakumari, the end of our destination. There we asked someone about the way to the highway. He told us to follow the jungle trail. It was a steep decent down. But it was very exciting to do such a thing. Better than the one we do for out college sometimes. But Paccha wanted to go to the nearest stream and enjoy there for sometime before we could move forward. But everyone was against him and he had no choice but to come with us to the highway. I must say here Paccha had a great luck. He asked for a stream and he got it as we walked on the trail to the highway. Seeing the stream we decided that we must take a bath here before moving on.

So first Paccha, then me followed by Syed and Ravi jumped into the water. Harsha did not. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. He somehow kept out of the water.

Much coaxing by us did not help. After an hour inside the water we decided to move on. This time Harsha was leading the way. At a few distance there was a bifurcation in the trail, one leading to left and other as you said it right. Our leader Harsha took the left trail. I all along having doubts even telling them but with no response followed the leader. After walking for nearly half an hour we met a man who told that we were the wrong way. The way to highway was left. So we had to go all the way back and then we got on the right way. Finally we reached a place where we could see the highway. The only thing separating us from the highway was the river. But there were these huge rocks over which we stepped and crossed the river. Finally we were there.

We asked for lift from a truck, which we got. We all got and sat in it. Harsha was in a great position. It seemed as if the gear handle of the truck was coming from inside his that place. Anyway the truck was very uncomfortable and Harsha almost puked there. So we got down at Upenangadi, a small town. We had our dinner there and waited for the bus to take us to Bangalore. By now our legs were totally worn-out. They were aching and we were barely able to move. Somehow we were doing something. There was a KSRTC RajHamsa
but it was totally packed so the only option left was to go to Mangalore and get any bus. Sadly by the time we reached there it was late, the buses had left.

There was one private bus. We booked 5 tickets for it.

Bad luck prevailed and when the bus came it had just 2 seats left. We started hunting for a lodge. There were 2 lodges nearby but they were full. Left with no option we decided to pass the night sitting on the bench at the Bus Stand. Morning we left and reached Bangalore. Safe but I can’t say sound. All of us had cramps in the legs and moving around was difficult to say the least.

After all the Dhamaaka I must say the journey way back was Kaal. Said all that the high point of the trip was that Paccha did the entire trip only in “Chappals”. Not just that he was the only one who was totally fit when we reached Bangalore. Guess who the worst hit was. I will give you Rs 9. I believe this was the trip and trek of a life time and I am sure after a few months noone will be able to do and experience what we did.

Thank You Friends for this trip of a lifetime

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cement Road in Bangalore

Having seen the pathetic condition of roads in bangalore right now it seems that cement roads are the best option. But is it something new. Certainly not and especially for Bangalore. Bangalore Municipal body had made cement road in a certain stretch of bangalore way back in 1950s. But the only proof of it is the plaque that still hangs there. The cement on the road is definitely not there. The plaque reads that there was this road which was made cemented. This road is the one near Majestic Bus stand. The crossing from where KSRTC buses enter into the bus stand. I am sorry I don't remember the name as of now. But its there for all to see.
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Friday, January 20, 2006

The World Most Daring Job

What can we think of as the daring job. Well you can think of miners, pilots, army and people even call programmers job as a health hazard. But what I saw blew my thought and beliefs. It is tea vendoring.

Let me start with how I came to meet this fellow. I was studying in Bangalore at that time and had been to Chennai to meet my cousins there. It am not sure right now whether it was on the way to Chennai or on the way back. But I took this train to my destination. It was a rather busy season and I was traveling without reservation in the unreserved coach. These coaches are disconnected so there is no way that you can go from one coach to the other.

The train was traveling at a healthy speed and it was pretty dark by now. Then suddenly we find that the doors of the coach that were closed started banging. There was this fellow hanging out of the train and trying to get in. This young fellow had actually done a stunt which in Hollywood require days of preparation. On realizing the door was opened and then he came in with his big container. Most of us in the coach were dumbstuck with the effort or foolishness of the tea vendor. He had this big container and another bag with plastic cups. And he was perfectly calm. People asked him why did u do like that. His reply, "I need to sell tea and coffee". Man I was totally shocked and I did buy his coffee for Rs.5/- only.

Never in my life I could have believed that had I not seen that with my own eyes. When we travel we come across a lot of things like these. I would keep blogging about events and people like these. Hope you guys like it.

What is this Blog all about

I keep on traveling all around India and make a lot of trips. In these trip I have come across and will keep on coming across amazing people or events. These make you think. I would be telling these kinds of incidents from my life for you all to ponder over.