March 30, 2014

The Gods Of Meluha !!!!!!

The below post are my personal views and are not meant to hurt anyone's sentiments. After reading this if anyone is offended , I apologize for the same in advance.Majority of my blog posts are non controversial, but I dont think the same applies to this :).

Yet another disclaimer is that this blog post is no way a review of the "Immortals of Meluha" trilogy written by Amish Tripaty, even though this post agrees to a great extent with which the whole background premise of the book is based upon. The basic premise in those 3 books is that it considers the religious figures of the Hindu religion to be ordinary people who do some extraordinary stuff and get immortalized as gods. But since these 3 books are written in the present age we know that much of the stuff is made up and are fictitious in nature. But what about those religious books (not specific to Hinduism in here) which have been written eons back ???? Do we consider them to be fictitious or the actual account of things which have happened ???

Does it make sense that a fictitious book which exaggerates things done by a person in order to glorify him be considered as a religious book, 2-3 millennium down the line. It is kinda similiar to a Superman comics which might be discovered in year 4040 AD and whatever intelligent organisms present at that time might assume that such a person actually existed.

But still I was not convinced as to why they wrote such intricate details , rituals etc related to a particular religion. hence MBA gyaan to the rescue :) . Ladies and gentlemen, let me present theory X and theory Y of employee motivation. Theory X says that employees are like little kids who need to be constantly monitored, guided in the proper direction. By default employees tend to avoid work and need external motivation to do it. This theory is basically based on the carrot and stick approach, wherein it is preached that if you do good you will get some incentives and on the other hand if you do bad you will get punishment. On the other hand Theory Y assumes that the employees are mature adults and believes in empowering them to do their work and not in micromanagement.It believes that employees want to do work and make their life meaningful with lots of achievements. They are self motivated to achieve things in their life.

So my assumption is that in the ancient times very few people were educated to know what is right and what is wrong. Hence those few educated ones came up with these easy sort of guidelines which later on became religious texts wherein its clearly mentioned that if you do good you will go to heaven, else the demons of hell will be waiting to fry you in boiling oil :P. This was like theory X I have mentioned above.  Further these texts might have been written based on the scientific knowledge of those days. Since science is constantly evolving, chances are that the scientific data of the ancient times might just be a superstition of today. But in today's modern times, the majority of the people are educated enough to reason and one would assume that those people know what is right and what is wrong. But that is the truth only to some extent. One would assume that Theory Y in religion would be great in today times. But again that is not entirely true. Consider my example, even though I was educated long back,  I started reasoning and challenging the status quo only from the past 4-5 years. And if I assume myself belonging to the cream of Indian society , what about those who dont belong to that , but still "educated" in the Indian education systerm, wherein a person is expected to remember things rather than reason ???...For them it would be an outright blasphemy to not believe in religion, especially from their family and society.

So what is the need of the hour ????? The need of the hour is that the religious texts should be updated to the modern times and not just being stuck in the ancient era. For example many texts say that doing good should be a selfless act and which will ultimately lead to moksha. But I have some contrasting views, I do good things to others because I feel good after that. I am infact greedy for that feeling and not doing it so that I might go to heaven or attain moksha.

Hence in a traditional sense I am an atheist and thankfully my parents are cool about it, even though they are staunch believers. I dont believe in any religion or the gods from those religions. I still go to temples, but I am more enchanted with the temple architecture(older the better !!!!!) rather than visiting to get blessed.  But that doesnt mean I dont believe in the concept of God. For me God is something which enables our existence in this world. So Gravity is God, a river is God, mountains are God, sun is God. Ofcourse in Hinduism some of these things are also considered as Gods , but that is where the similarity ends. My concept of considering a thing as God is to bestow the respect it deserves and preserving it for the future generations and not in the concept of praying to get blessed. So that is one of the primary reason why I get a spiritual connect whenever I am up in the mountains, up close and personal with my creator. In one of my earlier blogs I had come up with a slogan that "Nature is my God and trekking is my pilgrimage !!!!" and I believe in that wholeheartedly.

But again I dont criticize those people who religiously follow a traditional God. Because religion gives peace of mind to a lot of people and I respect that up till the point where it doesnt affect others in a negative way (read the extremists). Religion is a personal thing and shouldn't be forced on anyone. A person especially the educated lot should reason with themselves and follow the thing which they truly believe in. With that it is easy to get moksha in the present life itself and not wait till eternity!!!!!

March 18, 2014

Pushing My Boundaries: A Saga Of Cycling 210 kms !!!!!

"Why in the world do you want to cycle 200+ kms ????? "
"Because cycling 100kms is so ordinary and every tom, dick and harry can do it :P."

That pretty much is my cheesy answer whenever I encounter the above question, and believe me I encountered this question a lot, before the ride and during the ride especially from the villagers. This plan of riding 200km was in offing from a long time since I rode 150kms up and down to Nandi hills , way back in 2011. When I started cycling again in my adult life, 100km cycling seemed tough and 200km cycling seemed totally impossible, hence it was more of a psychological barrier. But instead of doing it solo I had come across this concept of randonneuring where a group of cyclists try to complete distances such as 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km, 1000km within a predetermined fixed time and with no external aid , hence forcing the riders to be totally self sufficient. Unfortunately from a long time I wasnt able to participate in this, since most of the brevet events would be conducted on Saturdays and with my Saturdays busy with my MBA classes, I had no option but to wait for the right time to attempt this.

A long Q of cyclists in front of an ATM in Hosur

Making Some New Friends
So fate had assigned March 8th 2014 as the day when I would be attempting my first brevet (a randonneuring event is called so). Initially me and Shashi were planning to do this together, but with an emergency at home, he had to drop out. The brevet was to begin at 6 am and everyone who wanted to qualify had to complete the 210 km of cycling in 13.5 hrs. The route was  Sarjapur Road(Bangalore)->  Bommasandra-> Hosur-> Malur-> Bangarpet ->Kolar ->Hoskote- >Chiktirupathi ->Sarjapur -> Sarajpur Road(Bangalore). Since I had never ridden such a distance , I was apprehensive as to whether I should ride my bike to the starting point and back, which would have increase the count to 240km !!!!!. Finally pessimism prevailed and I decided to take the bike in my brothers car to the starting point. The ride started exactly at 6 am with around 75 people attempting it. I arrived a bit late and by the time I finished the formalities it was already 6.15am, wasting 15 mins of precious time already. Anyway started the ride and caught up with my first fellow cyclist : Kumar from Chennai, who had specially come to Bangalore to ride in this brevet.

Some Bad Roads
Even though we were provided with the Que sheet, we missed the first ever turn towards Bommasandra and overshot it by around 2 km, before it actually dawned upon us that we might have missed it completely. Took a U turn and returned back to the cross. We knew that for every mistake we commit now, we would have to suffer its consequences in the latter part of the day. However this route was great, tree lined, very minimal traffic and I was riding at a good pace. There was a difference in the strategy I adopted on this day , wherein I cycled at a comfortable pace and not overexerting myself , which is what I usually do on my routine 40km weekend rides. Reached the national highway and for the first time I cycled out of Karnataka and into Tamil Nadu while I reached Hosur. In process got separated from Kumar and in Hosur we had to collect an ATM slip to show the organizers the proof of entering. After this rode solo for the remainder of the day, interacting with fellow cyclists every now and then.  Unfortunately there was a huge Q of cyclists in front of the ATM and by the time it was my turn the ATM crashed. Anyway took a selfie snap for proof and soon enough was back on the road. A lot of cyclists took a stop here to have their breakfast, but I was of the opinion that I should keep on cycling and cover good distance before the sun becomes too hot and for the other belief that having a heavy breakfast would just bloat me and slow me down. Hence for the entire day I survived on chikkies, snickers, electral water, biscuits, tender coconut which I used to have at regular intervals.  Even had a Thumbs Up for the sugar and caffeine content when I really needed it in the blazing afternoon heat !!!!!!

A First: A selfie while riding a bike

The route was actually great. It was filled with rolling ups and downs and was a great route for cycling. Reached Malur and then took a right towards Bangarpet. The route from Malur to Bangarpet was simply awesome , being newly paved and with minimal traffic. The advantages of attempting a brevet just a month before the Lok Sabha elections :P. Ofcourse there were some bad patches too. Reached Bangarpet exactly at noon , went to the ICICI bank for the proof of entering and while I was at it, had a chat with a lot of curious onlookers and answering their never-ending questions. Initially they would think that I might be some alien and start conversing in broken English, but when I reply back in Kannada they would be mildly surprised :P. One roadside mechanic even went to the extent of calling me "The next Armstrong !!!!!", and it was my turn to be mildly surprised with his knowledge, leaving alone the controversy surrounding him.

Kolar to Hoskote Highway
The afternoon ride was especially painful and once I hit the treeless Kolar to Hoskote route the going was tough and slow in the blazing heat. All the problems of long distance cycling started to creep in, saddle sores wherein I had to constantly adjust my bum on the seat. Sore neck because of my semi-aero position. In order to counter this sore neck problem I came up with a new but a much riskier type of riding. Since the Kolar to Hoskote highway was a National Highway with 4 lanes, it did have a continuous white line running along its shoulder. So my strategy was to scan the next 200m of the road and then put my face down and just cycle ensuring that I am cycling in parallel to this white line :P.  Hence this provided some respite from the pain. Reached Emerald Isle Resort and with a quick snap thanks to fellow randonneur Mohan, was back on the road towards Chikkatirupathi. At this point the odometer was showing 155km and this was the farthest I had ridden in a day beating my Nandi hills ride. The ride through this country road was pleasant with some cloud cover and tree line. Reached Chikkatirupathi at around 5pm and met the father-son-attempting-brevets-together duo of Sanath and Manoj. I still had 26km to go in around 2.5 hrs. It now looked just like a formality to be completed. Was just hoping that I wouldn't get a flat during the ride and thankfully didnt get any.

Odometer 155: The farthest I have traveled ever
But after this I took a lot of breaks because of exhaustion. The going was slow, but I was sure that I would be able to finish within the designated time. Hit the congested Sarjapur town and then final sprint towards the end point.  As soon as I entered the Bangalore city limits there was an another headache of weekend traffic waiting for me. The stop and go traffic was a bit irritating especially when you have ridden 200+ km since early morning. Reached the end point at 6.45 pm, taking 12.5 hrs for the ride , but officially 12 hrs 45 mins since the start time is taken as 6 am. Had a great sense of achievement, but with a very bad case of saddle sores :P. During the drive back home had a hard time of keeping my eyes open due to exhaustion and somehow reached home safe and without any incidents. Surprisingly the next day I didnt have any body aches even after my body endured such a feat, however I had got a really bad case of sore throat thanks to riding all day in the sun and gulping cold water at every possible instance.

Now the wait starts for my brevet medal to arrive from Paris which usually takes around 6-8 months. So with a 200+ under my belt, whats next ??? A 300 brevet probably, but again not immediately and definitely not in a MTB. Have to upgrade to a road bike which obviously would take some time :). But till then I would be satisfied with my new title.... "Hell Yeah, I am a Randonneur !!!!!!"

[Shaky Cam Video of the Ride]

Trip 'O' Meter : 210 + 3 (getting lost :P) = 213 km
Time Taken -> 12 hrs 35 mins

Career Stats:
200's------------------------------>1 (213)
100's ----------------------------->3 (107, 150, 104)
50's ------------------------------>7 (70,55,86,91,55,81,57)

February 14, 2014

"How to Piss off Cyclists ???" , Vodafone Cycling Marathon Style !!!!!!

Since I was recuperating from a running injury I couldn't attend the Auroville Marathon in Pondicherry which I had been planning from some time. Hence instead of staying at home, sulk over my bad luck and plan for next years marathon I came across this cycling marathon conducted in Bangalore itself. I registered myself at the last moment since I was not sure how this event would be in its first edition. Its usually the case that whenever an event is conducted for the very first time, it would be conducted in the worst possible manner. And I was not wrong with my prediction. Even though I enjoyed the actual event of cycling so called 40kms, but all the logistics accompanying it was poorly planned.

Registered just 5 days prior to the race. There were 4 categories, Passion Ride(40 km), Green Ride (20km) and Fun ride (10km) for amateurs and Champion ride (60km) for professionals who were registered with the Cycling Federation of India. Since the maximum distance I could take part was Passion ride I registered for it. Even before the race day there was a lot of confusion. First an announcement saying that Passion ride will have a cutoff of 90 mins. Now majority of those registered for Passion ride were flabbergasted, since riding at that speed was close to impossible for the majority ie 40 kms in 90 mins  with average of 27 km/hr.  After a lot of complains in FB they finally changed the cutoff to 105 mins. But the funny part was that the actual circuit was not 40kms as they had advertised, but around 35.5 kms. The next blunder was that they sent a mail to everyone saying that BIB distribution would start at the venue of Kanteerva stadium from 5th  Feb onwards, but when many people landed at the venue they started saying that it would begin from 6th Feb. And all attempts to contact they via email or phone for any queries were greeted with automated messages about a callback soon (which never came back) or the mail being replied 3 days after sending it, making it totally irrelevant. Some people who made it on the right day would be welcomed with a statement that they have run out of timing chips and they can collect it on the race day and when they show up on the race day to collect they were literally shooed away. Hence with this track record the Vodafone organizers managed to piss off a lot of cyclists including me. Luckily I didnt face any problems collecting my BIB and timing chip.

Our Passion ride was the first event on a clear blue Sunday morning of 9th Feb 2014. Hence had to report before the designated flag off time of 6.30 am. Landed at the venue at around 5.50 am and was greeted by huge cycling crowd at the venue. There were close to 1,300 people competing in the Passion ride. But another gross point was that the venue was void of any lighting at this early morning hours. Close to 2k people were struggling to move from place to place and all the lights were turned off... I was like WTF !!!!!... this was the height of incompetence. Anyway at around 6.40am we were let into the road via a very narrow gate. As the count down started everyone started to ring their cycle bell including me, which was music to the ears and sounded very beautiful. Soon enough we started the race. With the lap being around 4.5km, at any point during the race one would encounter crowd on the road and cannot expect a calm stretch at all. Even then the actual race was quite fun. Weaving in and out of cycle-traffic overtaking slower riders, competing with other riders who can challenge you was quite enjoyable. With this sort of an event one could easily imagine what would a vehicle free city look like, with only cyclists and pedestrians on the road.

The Pros: Best in the country

Since the elevation profile of this route (which starts from Kanteerva Stadium, to Kasturba road, to Chinnaswamy stadium and back to Vittal mallya road) was pretty flat, people were able to maintain good speed which was quite thrilling. And there were 3 very sharp turns in this circuit which people including me were belting with full speed. Ofcourse with this amount of crowd and speed , there were bound to be a lot of accidents happening. Especially with the newbies who had a hard time riding in a crowd. And even though there were lots of ambulances,  whenever a rider was injured they were nowhere to be seen even for the first aid. Anyway I finished my ride on a high with a final sprint, with an average of 31kmph which is my best for such a distance(this is after considering the actual distance measured with GPS and confirmed by other riders. If I take 40km distance average is 35kmph :P ) Soon after that the Champion ride with the professionals started and I didn't wait to see the results, but when I saw their videos they were just whooshing by.  Overall both the Passion and Champion riders had a decent experience. But participants from the Green Ride and Fun ride where really shortchanged. Instead of the promised 20km and 10 km respectively , they were made to go around the stadium even after paying the required fee. And to add salt to their wounds they even allowed vehicular traffic on the routes which were earlier blocked for the other 2 rides. Therefore these rides had even more accidents due to overcrowding. And to top it all there were no refreshments provided to the participants which is usually provided for such a sporting event.

Anyway as mentioned earlier all the logistics surrounding the event were pathetic, and with all probability I wouldn't compete again next year. And if it falls on the same weekend as the Auroville Marathon, then "No chance at all!!!!" :)


Race Pos. TAG Lap1 Lap2 Lap3 Lap4 Lap5 Lap6 Lap7 Lap8

Net Time
Passion Ride 143 1512 00:06:21 00:14:48 00:23:32 00:32:18 00:41:12 00:50:12 00:59:19 01:08:21


Official Distance : 40km
Actual Distance : 35.4km
Average Speed(with actual distance) :  31 km/hr
Top Speed : 42 km/hr

Lap Splits :
Lap 1: 6.21 mins
Lap 2: 8.27 mins
Lap 3: 8.44 mins
Lap 4: 8.46 mins
Lap 5: 8.54 mins
Lap 6: 9.00 mins
Lap 7: 9.07 mins
Lap 8: 9.02 mins

Total Distance Travelled : 35.4 + 11* 2 (my ride to and from the venue)= 57.4 km

100's ----------------------------->3 (107, 150, 104)
50's ------------------------------>7 (70,55,86,91,55,81,57)

Images Courtesy : HighOnMarathon

February 8, 2014

Kuari Pass TreK: The Winter Has Finally Come !!!!!!!

"The Winter is Coming !!!!" is one of the most often repeated phrase in the HBO series "Game Of Thrones". And this they have been repeating for the past 3 seasons and still there are no signs of the so called fierce winter on screen. But this fierce winter made an appearance off the screen, over majority of the Northern Hemisphere. Countries like US and Europe were literally freezing with around -20C temperatures thanks to the arctic polar vortex hovering above and on the other hand North India reeling under one of its fiercest winter it has witnessed in the recent times. With such a backdrop we were to undertake our first ever Himalayan Winter trek. With 2 summer Himalayan treks under our belt we were looking for something different this time and winter trek was the obvious answer to that.

Devprayag: Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi to form THE GANGA
View from Auli
By the afternoon of  January 10th 2014, we(shashi, SK, manju, harsha, senthil, vineeth, manju sr, rajkumar and myself) were all set for the trip. Just then got automated calls from the Indigo call center informing that our 5pm Delhi flight was delayed. Our adventure were to begin even before our trip was officially thrown open :P.  Since we had already booked our taxis to the airport we went ahead as previously scheduled. Got a mild surprise when the OLA cab arrived with a transgender behind the wheels. First time I came face to face with a transgender making a honest living. Thumbs up to OLA cabs for this initiative.

With Mt. Dronagiri in the Background
A Rustic village home
Reached the airport then started the endless wait for our flight. Later we came to know the comedy of the situation. Eventhough our Delhi flight was in Bangalore airport, our pilot was stuck up in Mumbai airport thanks to the new terminal inauguration by our beloved PM ;). Hence passengers from 2 flights were made to wait endlessly, those from our flight and the ones who were returning back to Mumbai in the same flight in which our pilot was supposed to come to Bangalore :D. People got impatient and they started arguing with the Indigo crew and finally we got our flight ready to fly at 7.30 pm. But this also meant that we were going to miss our connecting 10pm train to Haridwar, which surprisingly was on time :). This phenomenon happened during the entire duration of the trip. The means of transport we would be traveling would always be delayed and the connecting train would always be on time :P.

A Partially frozen stream
Called our Trek The Himalayas organizer (Rakesh Pant) and he organized 2 Innova taxis to take us to Haridwar. This also meant that our economy trip suddenly got upgraded to luxury status :P.  To add salt to our wounds the flight journey was bad with cramped seating thanks to 2 loud kids in the row behind us which meant we couldn't sleep nor push back our seats. Anyway reached Delhi airport at around 10.30pm and thankfully it was free of any fog formation yet. Synced up with the taxi drivers and then a very event-less ride to Haridwar. Had dinner enroute at a dhabha at 2am in the night !!!!!! :P

Camp at Chitrakana

Reached Haridwar at 5am much ahead of the train we missed :P. The temperature was dropping at each instance we were moving nearer to the Himalayas. Changed cabs in here, met the other trek mates and then started again the boring  day long 250 km drive to Auli, our trek base camp. The routes enroute was damaged to a great extent thanks to the June 2013 Uttarakhand floods. Because of the same Uttarakhand is right now witnessing a very lean tourist season, which is one of the chief contributors to its economy. Even the famous restaurants like the Chotiwalas in Rishikesh were having a handful of tourists in them. Hopefully things would improve soon. One of the vehicles soon developed a snag and without much  surprise we were delayed again :P. But thanks to this we were to witness a great view of Chamoli town at night from the highway. Reached Auli close to 9pm and with the help of  near full moon we were able to see our first snow capped peak of the trip. Auli was literally freezing and surprisingly Auli was much colder than at any point of the trek, even though we climbed to much higher altitudes in the wilderness. Even with room heaters on and very thick chadars we had a very disturbed sleep.

Camp at Tali

On the morning of Jan 12th we started the trek to Kauri pass. Everyone took a shower, the luxury of which wouldn't be available for the next 4 days. Even though the temperatures at Auli was near freezing and it being projected as a ski resort, it was totally void of any snowfall this season. But on the other hand the views we get from this place of the snow capped peaks are simply awesome, reminiscent of the views we were expected to get during the course of the trek. We drove down to Tapovan from where our trek would begin. The entire trek route was dotted with sun kissed grasslands , rustic villages and with the backdrop of Mt Dronagiri. Further our guide showed us a flat hill which according to legend was from where Hanuman cut the Sanjeevani mountain in order to save Laxman. And becoz of this a village on the foothills of this mountain got really pissed and have not worshiped Hanuman from generations !!!!! :P.

By afternoon we reached the camping spot for the day which was Chitrakana which provided some great views. From here onwards starts the snow fields which were a constant companion for the next 3 days of the trek. After having our lunch we went in search of logs for our bonfire in order to save us from the cold. This activity became unexpectedly thrilling when we as a group got a huge dead tree trunk and got it down from the mountain, rolling it downhill and running and jumping along with it :P. Once the bonfire was on we spent time around it playing dumb charades and singing around it. We had a love-hate relationship with these bonfires... too near and it becomes too hot, too far and you will feel terribly cold, hence we had to be at the optimum distance and as expected those spots had the highest demand.Nights were cold, but with 3 people stuffed in each tent and each provided with sleeping bags and thermal inners, it was quite comfortable.

Our Destination Kuari Pass in Sight
The second day we had to travel through the dense Oak forests with snow lying on the ground. Narnia land is what I could think of... truly magical !!!!. This is exactly the reason for coming for a winter trek, where you encounter snow in middle of forests and not just in high altitude grasslands which is the norm in summer. Soon enough everyone were involved in snow fights, making snowman, skiing and what not. But on this day Rajkumar on his first Himalayan trek ran out of steam and had a hard time keeping up. Ironically he was racing ahead along with the mules the previous day and pretty much was abusing us for not keeping up the speed :D. Finally we reached our camp site name Tali top which would be our camp site for the next 2 days. It was in the midst of a heavy forest and even-though it was void of any views there was a sense of coziness in this place. Spent the remainder of the day playing some endurance games and without much surprise I fared badly in them :P. The night was even more magical with the moonlight getting reflected from the snow laden forest to give that soft eerie glow :).


The entire duration of the trek we were made to follow the 6-7-8 rule. Getting woken up at 6am with a bed tea, going out to finish our morning work , a simple job which becomes a bit complex with the biting cold :P. Have breakfast at 7,  start packing and leave the campsite at 8. On the third day was when we would summit the Kauri Pass (at 13990 ft above sea level). With Rajkumar completely steamed out he decided to return back to Auli. With 4 layers of clothing to protect we started the ascent with the initial section being via forest and then via bugyals ie open grasslands where one would get some great views of the snow clad mountains. But at some sections it was snowed out to such an extent that there was nearly 2 ft of snow for us to wade through, hence making the climb making somewhat an effort with all that resistance. At some places there would a layer of ice formed on the path instead of snow and these were the most dangerous sections where one would get no such grip from their shoes. Slowly we neared our destination along with the Indiahikes team who where on an exploratory trek to this place.  We crossed the spot which is known generally as the Kuari Pass and moved further to the actual Kuari Pass. But just as we were nearing the pass, we saw that a concrete bridge build by the authorities to cross a steep section had been destroyed by an avalanche. And any alternate route was totally iced out making it a dangerous affair without any cramp-ons. Hence we decided to climb a peak which was next to the Kuari pass and supposedly 100ft taller than the pass.

We retraced our path a bit and then started the final assault to our destination. The view from the top was simply great. We even went topless in the biting cold to celebrate,  a tradition we started during the Goechala Trek days :P. Except for Rajkumar, the remaining 8 of us managed to reach the top. After spending close to half an hour we started the descent back. But during this an old running knee injury raised its ugly head out of nowhere. So the return back to the camp was a bit painful with my knee pain making it a bit uncomfortable. Reached the camp exhausted with almost 7 hrs of trek and were greeted with hot onion pakoras and steaming tea. These small luxuries at the right time make life all the more enjoyable :P.  Since majority of us were tired we were soon off to bed after our dinner. It pretty much snowed all night. But one weird thing about snowfall is that when it snows the temperature would be way above the freezing point, but the moment it stops the temperature drops drastically below the freezing point. Something new I learned about weather :P.

Walking over a frozen lake
Dangerous Section: Narrow Path, Steep Drop, Iced out slippery track
The next day was the last day of the trek. With just 4 days of actual trekking this is our shortest Himalayan trek. We were to return to Auli via a different route through Gorson Bugyal. Even though it was d last day of trekking it was packed with adventure. First crossing of a frozen lake, then walking through narrow ledges with steep drops and slippery icy surfaces, then crossing very deep snowed out areas and finally the violent snow-fight with the fellow trek mates :P. For the first time we got the view of Mt. Nanda Devi, India's tallest peak entirely within its boundary and second overall after Mt. Kanchenjunga. Here the snow was of different kind. The top surface would be a layer of brittle and hard ice and when one steps through it, it breaks and sucks ones leg through the soft and powdery snow. Again it was an effort walking through this. As we reached gorson bugyal the snow started to thin out and when we reached the tree line the snow had totally disappeared. Further when we reached Auli, there was no sign of snow in this Ski resort. Reached back to our guest house, had a hot shower, rested a bit, played a bit and pretty much relaxed the remainder of the day.  But soon enough we were to encounter Auli's first snowfall of the season. I suppose the snow followed us to Auli :P. It pretty much snowed the entire night. With that I guess the Ski season in Auli is going to open officially.

Mt. Nanda Devi

The next day was again the boring day long journey back to Rishikesh. Just before boarding our cabs, 3 of us (Me, manju, shashi) had some some nasty fall with the slippery ice formation on the roads. I had infact fallen around half a dozen times during this trip :P.  Reached Rishikesh by nightfall and booked rooms in Hotel Ganga adjacent to Trek The Himalayas office and also Jumpin Heights office from where we were planning to bungy jump the next day. For dinner we went to the New Chotiwala's which is situated across the Ganges and a subsidiary of the original one. The restaurant was sparsely populated, but we had a great dinner thanks to Shashi and SK for treating us :).  Majority of the next day went for bungy jumping. Except for Harsha and Manju SR everyone did it.  5 of us did it in the morning and SK and Senthil did it in the afternoon after seeing our videos :P. The jump location is about 1 hr drive from Rishikesh and they have a shuttle service from their office to the place. More details of the jump here . After the jump we went to the original Chotiwala across the river for our brunch and did some shopping along with it. By  4pm we were all set to catch the train to Jhansi from Haridwar , with 9 of us plus the luggage stuffed into a single auto :P.

Gorson Bugyal
We reached the station on time, but again our train was delayed. Finally it arrived almost 4 hrs late and overnight it managed a delay of 6 hrs behind schedule. Now we were really tensed up,  since we had to catch our train to Bangalore from Jhansi and the time difference between the two trains were exactly 6 hrs. Thankfully the second train got delayed by 10 mins and we were able to catch it. We thanked our lucky stars since it would have been a real headache if we missed our train back to Bangalore. The next 32 hrs we spent watching movies, playing cards in endless loop and catching up on sleep. Reached back to Bangalore on 19th Jan at around 8pm. Shared a taxi back to our homes.

Since we started our Himalayan affair in 2010 we have made sure we had an regular yearly visit, except for the year 2013. Hence the first thing we did in 2014 was to restart our "pilgrimage". Of all the places I have visited so far I have not found any place more serene and majestic than the Himalayas. Its like an addiction and something which pulls us year on year to conquer more and more peaks, trails and passes. With this being my 4th Himalayan trip, I still havnt had enough of these mountains......... पिक्चर अभी बहुत बहकी है मेरे दोस्त !!!!! :)

< Video Collection >

Group Snap with Certificates

Trek Details --->
Total Trek Distance--> 35kms
Difficulty Level --->Moderate (thanks to heavy snow, else without it its an easy and much shorter trek)
Total Cost Per Head --> 23k (inclusive of transportation, food, bungy and stay)

Trek Organizer ------>

Snaps Link ------>

January 20, 2014

Bungy : A Jump To Remember

Here is the video of my bungy jump @ Rishikesh. Probably the scariest thing I have done in my life. My bucketlist has some extreme adventure items listed in them and this along with sky diving garner the majority of the scare quotient. Even though I was not scared when I registered for the jump, I got really nervous when I started walking across the bridge Jumpin Heights has build exclusively for this sport. When you see 275 feet of straight drop, even the strongest hearts has some afterthoughts.

With the bungee chord strapped to my ankle and a backup chord connected to my torso I was let to the edge of the bridge. I dont think I have ever experienced my heart beating faster than at that particular moment. As advised by the jump masters I jumped within the count of 3 and without thinking much, which according to them would make matter worse. But the initial freefall was one of the scariest part , falling freely to your death. I guess that's the nearest thing I have experienced to dying :P.  Overall it was a great experience and probably I would remember that freefall till the end of my days :D. I just wanted to experience this sport atleast once and with all probability would not do it again. :).

Anyway Jumpin Heights has some great safety procedures in place. So I recommend this place for those interested to experience this sport here in India, even though their charges are on the pricier side.