March 23, 2011

Fort Madhugiri : An Impregnable Maze

With so many multi day bike trips under our belt it was time to return back to the basics, i.e. single day bike rides from which it all began and it was nearly a year since I had one. The destination this time was Madhugiri Fort in Tumkur District, touted as the second largest monolith in Asia and having a climb considered to be a bit difficult. As always with bike rides there were innumerable dropouts and finally we were left with a headcount of just 3 (Jenny, Prasanna and Me), but that didnt deter us and we went with the plan.

First View
Got up pretty early as compared to saturday(19 Mar 2011) morning standards and gave wake up calls to others. Left home at around 6.40 am and moved towards Tumkur Road via NICE ring road. Waited for the fellow bikers at Tumkur road and by around 7.30 am everyone had arrived and we were on our way to Fort Madhugiri. Initial ride was along the 4 lane Tumkur Highway (NH4) a not so enjoyable means for biking, but having no other alternates we were forced to take this route. Had breakfast in one of the Kamat's on NH4 but the service left a lot be desired.

Guard Of Honour
Similar to our initial rides we did almost zero research on this place or the ride, hence had no clue about this place.Not that we wanted to be surprised by this place but no one had enough time to do proper research. All that we knew that we were to take a diversion from Tumkur and head towards Madhugiri. But as we reached Dobbaspet there was diversion marked towards Madhugiri and since we were raring to enter a 2 lane highway, we were in it in no time.

Water Tanks

The initial part of this stretch (SH-3) was really good and I expected the same all the way to Madhugiri. But as we started to get nearer to our destination the roads too started going downhill with the worst section just outside the Madhugiri town. Enroute we came across innumerable lakes filled with clean deep blue water and we couldnt resist riding to its banks and enjoy the view and while returning back from one such lake Prasanna lost control of his bike on a kuccha road and had a fall along with Jenny who was riding pillion with him. Prasanna got some bruises in his leg and this pretty much satisfied his requirement of one accident per bike trip :P. Jokes apart having endured so many falls while biking and  still he is game for biking. This is a sign of a true biker,  if not of his biking skills :P.

Multilayered Defence: Layer No 5,6,7 and 8 visible

As we approached nearer to the town the entire landscape is covered by boulders and one that dominates and captures your entire attention is the humongous monolith. Truly majestic and  intimidating at the same time. Reached the foot of this giant , parked our bikes changed into trek gear and we were all set to conquer this mountain. Long back I had read about the deceptive nature of this fort, and people climbing for the first time will have no idea whats in store for them. Perhaps this was what the original builders had in mind.

The Squeeze
The history of the fort has some of the big names associated with it, like the Ganga dynasty, Vijayanagar Empire, HyderAli-Tipu Sultan, the British and finally the Mysore Wodeyars and I was wondering how the fort changed hand so many times , with the majority of the times it being annexed by force, since I had never seen a fort which had a better defensive structure than this one. Overall there are a total of 10 defensive rings thrown around the mountain and at no time are all the rings visible. So when you start expecting the end is near, one by one the defensive rings start appearing. Imagine the frustration the enemy soldiers would have to endure while climbing, not just physical exhaustion but mental frustration. A prime example of psychological warfare :P.

We started the climb at around 10.45 am , and the initial section has some well layed steps and we expected the same till the end. But within the short distance start the actual means of traveling to the top, a small box shaped step etched into the boulders to give the much needed grip for the legs. And at most of the places the elevation was in tune of 50-65 degrees. But of late ASI has introduced iron grills for support for most of the route which makes climbing this hill not much of an effort even though it looks scary. The weather was surprisingly pleasant for a mid-march afternoon accompanied by heavy winds which increased in intensity as we gained altitude.

Fort No 10: The Final

Inside Barracks
There are a lot of nooks and crannies to be explored in this fort and we went at our own pace absorbing every little detail. And the fact that there were very few people who were game for climbing this mammoth gave us more or less the sense of isolation even though the town is just at the feet of this mountain. There are no guides, or shops anywhere near the monolith making it a completely noncommercial destination.

When we started climbing we thought that this trek can be completed within an hour , but as described earlier the climb was never ending. And we took nearly 2 hrs to reach the top , where a depleted temple complex is situated and behind it are some well preserved buildings which resembled like barracks. Also the view from the top is very good, with the landscape dotted with much smaller mountains, fields, lakes and the town below.. picture perfect. The only complain is that there is a lot of graffiti on the fort walls, "Mr A Loves Ms. B"... what is the point of  damaging our heritage like this, as if the love is made immortal by such cheap acts.

Nithin Anand Baba :D
After spending time exploring the ruins we returned back and had our packed lunch en route. The downhill was done at a fast pace since there was nothing to explore and we reached back to the base at 1.45 pm , taking a total of 3hrs for the entire trek. Had a refreshing drink at a petty shop, a mocktail of mosambi and pineapple juice, an awesome combo. Soon after this we left the town and started towards Bangalore. Just a few kms from Madhugiri we were stopped in middle of the road by a few stick wielding villagers , and they demanded money on pretext of some tradition and festival on this particular day. Even though they were adamant they were quite respectful at the same time and having no other option we paid up(10 bucks) considering that we were outnumbered 1:6 :P. The much bigger vehicles such as bus and cars didnt even bother to stop at this human roadblock. As mentioned earlier we bikers are more exposed to the elements of nature.

Flower On Rocks

The ride back was good (Nelamangala Corridor Rocks :) ) and reached home again via NICE road at 4.45 pm making it a short and sweet trip , a long time since we had one amid all those heavy weight touring.

Self Shadow Portrait

Ride Details :

Trip 'O' Meter -> 232 kms
Total Cost Per Head -> 400 bucks

Trek Details : (Thanks to my new GPS enabled droid)

Total Distance --> 2.7kms (up and down)
Total Elevation Climbed --> 444 m
Difficulty Level ---> Easy (for seasoned trekkers)
Total Time Taken --> 3hrs (1 hr 43 mins for the trek, remaining for relaxing, photography, exploration and lunch)

Snaps Link :

Route Map

March 8, 2011

An Addiction Named Facebook

 First there was Orkut, the undisputed pioneer and leader among social networking sites. It dominated the college life of our generation,  to such an extent that everyone was literally obsessed with it. Sending requests to friends and unknown people (especially if of opposite sex :P) and increasing the count so as to have more friends than your best friend :P. Scrapping (unusual word :P) with all sort of crap. All this hoopla made the creators of Orkut to think that they were invincible, but a dark horse was brooding somewhere, making itself stronger in places where Orkut was weak and just when Orkut was contemplating what hit them they were pushed to oblivion , soon to be forgotten by everyone.

 From the ashes emerged the new face of social networking, "Facebook" the pet project of Mark Zuckerberg. It matched the craze that orkut generated if not more, and within a few months most of the Orkuters had switched camps to Facebook. This is one of the prime example how even the undisputed market leader can be easily dethroned by capitalizing on a single idea. It has come to a situation where people who dont have an FB account are ridiculed and they have no option but to jump on the bandwagon, as it happened to one of my friends. You literally are an outcast if you are not in FB and we thought society pressure and social networking are worlds apart. As on January 2011 there are a staggering 600 million facebook users, nearly 1/10th of the entire human population making it probably the most powerful tool in the entire human history.

Sometimes the term "social networking" used seems like a misnomer, with some people having the friend count in excess of the thousand mark. But the basic question is does a person interact with everyone in that list or is it just a number. Well technically speaking most of our facebook accounts go against the "Dunbar's Number" which limits the social relationships a person can have to a number 150. Theoretically that means in my case I don't interact with 25 of my friends in facebook(present count is 175), but practically speaking it is the inverse of that, I interact on a regular basis a max of 25 people and the remaining fall in group with whom we exchange occasional birthday wishes and nothing more , call me socially demented :P. Thankfully  "Dunbars Number" doesn't restrict the number of photos or video posted by others which we can checkout, else would surely miss the daily dose of laughs I get from them  :P. All these attractions makes FB the undisputed time killer especially if you have nothing better to do, an addiction of sorts, already given a scientific name "Facebook Addiction Disorder" and quite soon there might be clubs like "Facebook Anonymous" and irony will be when they use Facebook to interact with each other :D :D. Like this one. As goes the saying " Everything in excess is opposed to nature" it would be quite wise to keep the FB usage under control.

In recent times Facebook has not just been a means to expand our social circle but also a tool to bring revolutions in middle east countries ruled by brutal dictators since eternity. As it is known, the now immensely effective and famous "Jasmine Revolution" has its roots tracing back to this networking site. One after the other governments began to fall, while others shuddered in their cozy palatial homes. Even the shock waves were felt in countries as far as China, which famously crushed a similar revolution in the 80's. Soon school kids will start reading these stuff in their curriculum and facebook(along with other networking sites) will be written into the pages of history, to be remembered by generations to come after this.

To capitalize on this craze and to ride the wave, a different set of smart people decided to make the "unofficial" biography of "Facebook" , a largely fictionalized account and look how it turned out to be , a super hit movie and an Oscar nomination , would the same happened if a movie on Orkut is released now ????!!!!!. An idea and its timing are like pillars of a bridge , if we get one thing wrong the entire structure collapses.

On the other hand there has been lot of reports that people have started to use "Facebook" instead of blogging. Of course the exposure is considerably more in Facebook, but will it really enchant people like me who like to write lengthy articles and take considerable time in  doing so, and the answer is 'not even in my dreams'. The best option (as I do ;) ) would be to employ the services of both, giving exposure to the blog articles using facebook , an ultimate symbiosis :P. Like all things in this world there will be an end to Facebook too and it will be replaced by something which is better , but the only question is "when???".

Paintball : Game On

Rival Teams Posing Together :P
Basically I am not a resort person, I do mind a lot paying through my nose and enjoy the shoddy facilities which tries to simulate jungle surrounding and providing luxury at the same time, not my cup of tea. But when an opportunity emerged in terms of a team outing(1/3/11) I was all set since I was not paying from my pocket therefore had nothing to loose. The thing which excited me the most in this resort was Paintball, which was in my wish-list from a very long time but never got an opportunity so far. The destination was Blue Moon Retreat just off Kanakpura road, quite near to my home hence didnt miss the opportunity to ride my cycle on this wonderful tree lined highway (15 kms one way distance).

Our Strike Force- Me In the Centre
Apart from paintball the facilities offered here are rafting in a lake (which is not that exciting), outdoor games like cricket, volleyball, badminton and indoor games like pool table and table tennis. Food was below average (corporate price 950 bucks).

Finally after exhausting all the other facilities we reached the Paintball arena. After an initial briefing we were let into the arena with a full face helmet and a protective jacket and with 4 against 4 teams.The arena is packed with lot of bunkers to duck and fire. Once the game started was an awesome adrenaline rush. Ducking - firing, jumping from one bunker to another to get a better strategic position with bullets (paintballs) whizzing past our ears. It was as though playing Counterstrike in person :). After this I got an opportunity to enter the ring again thanks to some female colleagues who refused to get down and dirty in the arena :P. Totally in both the games got 2 perfect victims , whom I caught unawares and pumped a lot of paintballs into them.. Call me a sadist :P. Also I got a hit to my fingers which pained like hell.

 In Action :)
But the sad thing about this is it gets over very quickly just lasting for 15 mins each game, would be really awesome if it lasts for an hour or so, with full of strategic maneuvers. Overall I am now addicted to this form of sport, Game On :).

Snaps Courtesy : Rupayan Dutta

March 1, 2011

The Count Of Monte Cristo

"Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold" 
                         --Pierre Ambroise Francois Choderios de LaClos (1741-1803)

This is one of the more popular quotes I have heard about revenge & vengeance, but so far hadnt really seen an awesome illustration, until of course after reading this book.  Having already seen the movie I was less interested to read the book even though experience has already taught that movies are no match for the books. Finally decided to read it and there was no looking back or repenting.

Story begins with Edmond Dantes, a straight forward youth, who is loved by almost everyone including the love of his life : Mercedes. But even the most kind hearted people would have made enemies in some direct and indirect means and there comes into picture 3 characters Danglars, Fernand, Caderousse who primarily plot for his downfall. On the day of his wedding he is arrested on false charges of being a traitor and sent to a high security prison, a place reserved for the high ranking political prisoners and who literally have no hopes to return back to the civilized world. Dantes is left to rot in those dungeons in middle of nowhere. Initial days of hope is followed by days of despair where he even thinks of taking off his life and finally days of vengeance. The state of mind of the prisoner in those circumstances are illustrated in a very authentic and eerie manner. 

In those dark period of his life he comes across a certain Abbie Faria, a mentor , a priest , a fellow prisoner to Dantes, who comes to him quite accidentely by digging a escape tunnel in a wrong direction and leading to his cell.  Abbie Faria takes Dantes under his wings and they join forces to escape the prison together.Also the priest tells Dantes of an enormous treasure hidden in the island of Monte Cristo to be claimed by whoever escapes from that place.  But unfortunately due to his old age the priest passes away, leaving Dantes all alone to escape. The manner in which he escapes the prison is really spectacular, freedom after 14 long years. The world which he expected to be is not the same, a lot has changed and people have moved on,  with his enemies becoming rich and powerful. 

From here onwards he starts planning to have his vengeance not just by killing his enemies but making them suffer in the worst possible way. With the power of money and influence he secretly infiltrates into the life of his enemies as a different person, as The Count Of Monte Cristo. As goes the saying that the closest one's can inflict maximum pain than any enemy can. He wants to have his satisfaction and we get to see the man transformed from a straight foward and honest youth to a cunning, cold and calculating person.

Overall a great book and since it is termed as a classic I was satisfied with my expectations. But one thing which really got my nerve was the term "honour" (where they are even ready to die in order to avenge a silly insult :D), followed extensively by all the characters. This is something which people of this age dont identify with and hence it gets a bit irritating :P. But apart from that it can be termed as the ultimate epic of love and vengeance. A must read for fiction buffs.

P.S. The 2002 Movie with the same name is not even comparable with the book. They have even altered the story to such an extent that  it almost feels like watching any other revenge movie.

P.S. 2 : My 50th Post... Half Century :D :D :D 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...