December 30, 2012

Siddarabetta TreK : An Abode of Caves, Hermits and Temples

Sept 2011: The last bike tour I had , to one of the best biking destinations in India....LADAKH !!!!!!!!
Now after a 15 month gap got an opportunity to go for yet another bike trip and this gap might seem endless for a regular biker. But that's the way it is. End of the day I was content that I was able to have atleast one bike trip for the year 2012.

Initial Climb

On a lazy and chilly sunday morning of Dec 23 morning, 3 of us (SK, Shashi and Myself) decided for a bike ride, a short trek and cave exploration. Regrouped with everyone at the Nice Road-Tumkur road junction and it was smooth ride on this NH4. Had a breakfast stopover at Kamath near Dobbaspet and were mildly surprised by around 100 high end bikes parked in front of the hotel. "Woah!!!! did I miss something???, 15 months of temp retirement and the biker population has shot up". But not surprisingly it was a bikers meet, hence the concentration of bikes of all ages and power. Spotted a gorgeous Yamaha RD 350, among the gleaming bikes.

A water source inside the caves.

Negotiating a difficult section

After Dobbaspet it was a diversion towards Koratgere and this 2 lane road had a love and hate relation with us. At many places it was smooth, with awesome curves , a delight for bikers , but on the other hand it was potholed beyond imagination. Reached Koratgere and soon after exiting the town we get the final left deviation towards Siddarabetta. This part was recently tarred, hence no comments :). Reached the base of the hill, parked our bikes and started the trek along these pilgrim frequented route. Also note that many localites near the base advice not to wear footwear, but no one will stop you and near the top there is a shoe stand just before entering the temple.

The trek directly came to business, with continuous steps we started to sweat within no time. The normal pilgrims had a tough time climbing up. But just when you start to think that this is getting interesting the trek leads to the entrance of the temple. Time taken is just under 1 hr to reach this spot. Left our shoes at the shoe stand and it was time for some cave exploration. Seeing us no one would assume us to be pilgrims and within no time a guide offered to take us for cave exploration. Hence off we started. The cave exploration was quite adventurous, crawling in total darkness, bending our body so as to squeeze ourselves through a narrow opening. At some places it was difficult to negotiate the huge boulders, getting down using 2 parallel adjacent boulders for support :P. Also the guide showed some spots frequented by hermits @ night. These places were so difficult to crawl into , but on the other hand provided absolute silence and void of any sunlight. A perfect meditating spot I suppose. But one thing what surprised is that there are no signs of any creepy crawlies inside this damp place, not even bats.... interesting.

Group Snap

From the temple it was a 20 min climb to the top of the hill and in process we got lost. But we ended in a very good spot hence just rested in this place for some time, reached the top which had a pretty good view of boulder filled mountains everywhere and it was time to return back. Since I am a big time sucker for quick downhill climbs we climbed down from the top within 30 mins. Took the bikes, taking the same route we came in and reached home at around 4pm.

Trek Details --->
Total Trek Distance--> 3 + 3 km
Difficulty Level --->Easy
Total Cost Per Head -->750
Trip 'O' Meter ---> 230 km

View from the top

View Larger Map

December 18, 2012

Marathon Mania: 42.2 Kms @ Bengaluru Midnight Marathon

Thinking of a hypothetical situation I might face in the future, when I am being interviewed by a reporter (I am being optimistic about becoming a famous person in the future :P), which might go with a question like

"What was the toughest moment faced by you ???"

Of-course I have many and probably would face a lot more of them in the future, but my only answer would be
"Running and finishing my first marathon @ Bengaluru Midnight Marathon in 2012"

Bcoz nothing inspires people more than something which is elusive. And in my opinion nothing can be more elusive and glamorous than running a full marathon, with minimal financial investment. In fact a full marathon is a total different character than a half marathon apart from the distance. Its in full marathon that you start along with the everyone, and you struggle to reach the midpoint and suddenly the majority of those "half marathoners" are celebrating. God damn it !!!!!, I still have half of the distance left and 3/4th of the pain to endure. Running from "midnight to dawn" sounds very impressive, but running a marathon is one of those cases where you get f**ked up real-real-real bad , but still in the end you are overjoyed. It is the one where running after the 20km mark is pure unadulterated torture, without even a hint of pleasure, but people still do it and so did I. Why did I do it then?

- Bcoz not everyone can do it. 91 registered for BMM2012, 59 completed it, compared to 360 odd half marathoners, which makes it an exclusive club year on year.
- Bcoz I thought I could do it (hopefully !!!), with some decent training and torture endurance.
- Bcoz it was No.1 in my bucket list and financial investment required was almost negligible.
- Bcoz I wanted to prove a point to my mom that vegetarians can complete marathons :P.

Hence registered for the event as soon as it opened, so that I dont have any afterthoughts. Thank god for that, bcoz 1 month leading to the event I was riddled with injuries and I was not even sure of completing even half of the distance. Marketing Phenomenon "sunk cost effect" came into picture and I landed at the venue to recover as much money as possible of the 1k paid for the registration.

@Starting Line
The even started sharp @ midnight and off we went on the streets of Whitefield. The path had some decent gradients and loop of 4.2km length. So a full marathoner had to finish off 10 loops to complete his quota of 42.2km. Initial part of the run looked and felt like a normal marathon, eventhough at an unearthly hour there were a lot of other runners accompanying yourself. The entire pathway was lit up and there was ample security provided by the Bangalore Police (hats off to those guys who were there till the end :) ). The aid centers were placed at sufficient distance and were stocked decently. The initial 21.1km went like a breeze. I maintained a good momentum and finished it off in around 2 hr 20 mins.

From then onwards started the torture, both mentally and physically. Suddenly the circuit seemed a lot more desolate. Now it had come to a situation where I couldnt even see a single fellow runner, leave alone the 10-15 runners accompanying me in the previous laps. The temperature was dropping very quickly. I presume it was around 10-11 C with the windchill. The support staff were shivering, since they didn have the luxury of keeping the body warm like we did with all that running. Steam was accompanied by every breath. But thankfully was wearing a winter-friendly running jersey hence didnt feel that much chill due to my own sweat. But my legs were not so lucky. My calf muscles started to seize up, upto a point where it was difficult to even walk. But in the back of my head I knew that the moment I stopped, my entire body and not just my legs would seize up , which would ultimately  throw me out of the race. Therefore even with legs in such a condition I made a conscious effort of brisk walking till the legs felt OK and I could resume running. Hence started alternating between running and brisk walking whenever legs would seize up. The deadline for the marathon was 6am, so I had to finish it before that no matter what.

Before: @ around 5km mark
After : @ around 25km mark

Somehow when the clock was close to striking 5.30 am , I was staring down the finish line. Suddenly all of a sudden I had the urge to sprint towards the finish line and so did I. And not surprisingly the calf muscles again seized up, but surprisingly I didnt stop. The final push towards the finish line didnt seem right with anything other than a final farewell sprint. Jumped and shouted with joy at the finish line, which was keenly observed by fellow marathoners who had just finished theirs and which was followed by a smile in their faces. They understood :).  Within few moments of photo session saw the sun rising from the east. At that time it dawned on me that I had run from midnight till dawn.

The drive back home was another story, having a tough time keeping myself awake after a sleepless, hectic night. Somehow reached home and it was time for the much needed sleep. This was followed by 2 days of stiff muscles and joints, walking without bending legs raising everyone's curiosity at my workplace :P. In the end my marathon was powered by 8-9 bananas, 1 orange, 1 energy bar, 1 snickers bar, 2 Gatorade bottles, 2 bottles of ORS and lots of water, apart from the carb-loading done the previous 2 days. I lost close to 3.5Kgs when measured just before the race and after it !!!!!  Even though the timing of 5.29 hrs (my GPS gave a timing of 5.25 hrs :P) is nothing to boast about,  the fact that I completed, what I started makes it all the more satisfying. End of this , I learnt one important thing about myself "I am not a quitter !!!!" :).


Bib Number: 10
Rank: 47/59
Gender: Male
Gender Rank: 42/54
Net Time: 05:29:05

Split@1.9Km: 00:10:54
Split@4.2Km: 00:24:25
Split@6.1Km: 00:36:07
Split@8.4Km: 00:50:42
Split@10.9Km: 01:03:10
Split@12.6Km: 01:18:42
Split@14.9Km: 01:32:55
Split@16.8Km: 01:50:32
Split@18.7Km: 02:06:11
Split@21Km: 02:24:37
Split@22.9Km: 02:40:29
Split@25.2Km: 02:59:49
Split@27.1Km: 03:16:53
Split@29.4Km: 03:38:26
Split@31.3Km: 03:55:35
Split@33.6Km: 04:16:13
Split@35.5Km: 04:33:46
Split@37.8Km: 04:53:24
Split@39.7Km: 05:10:36
Net Time:               05:29:05
Gross Time: 05:29:12

December 12, 2012

An Outing to the Blue Mountains

 "Lets go to Hyderabad!!!!"
"How many days does that require????"
"3 days minimum"
"Naah !!! We are short on leaves, lets go to a 2 day destination"
"Ok, how about Ooty"
"Naah, I heard it is not so good nowadays"
"Ok, how about Waynad??"
"Naah, there are only mountains and lakes over there"

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah........ (goes on for about 30 mins....)

"Uffff, too many constraints everywhere. Fine, lets go to Ooty itself"
"Finally. Ok"

After a frantic search for a family outing destination , we finally ended up going to Ooty against most of our wishes since for other destinations there was one or the other constraint involved. This was my 3rd trip to this Queen of Hill stations (looks like there are a lot of such Queens in India), the first as a kid in 1994, the second in an adventurous bike ride in 2009 and now it being a laid back vacation.

Opum Gangnam Styllleee !!!!
We left Bangalore in the wee hours of 1st Dec 2012. Ride along the Bangalore Mysore highway has become so routine, we might as well ride blindfolded :P.  Had breakfast at Kamat near to Ramanagara, our usual stopover on this highway. Reached Mysore , took the awesome ring road towards Ooty. Ride along this six lane ring road with not even a single vehicle was awesome :). But the joy was shortlived and the Ring Road abruptly ended and we entered a so called maze to find our way towards Ooty. The drive was eventless and in Bandipur we had some wild life sightings in terms of deers, peacocks and so on. Nothing spectacular in short.

After Madumalai we came to the crossroads, one leading to the famous and steep 36 hairpin bend route and the other normal bus route. Anyway we decided to take the bus route since I had remembered it to be very good if not the shortest . But presently it is in a bad state, littered with potholes. But the views started to get good. At one point we were surrounded by dense eucalyptus trees and it was here we decided to take a break. After we stopped it hit upon me this was the exact spot where I had stopped while returning back all wet, dirty and freezing during the 2009 trip. NOSTALGIA :).

My brother had already booked rooms in a resort name Delightz Inn on top of Tiger Hill, based upon trip advisor reviews. Even though finding this place is a bit difficult with it being around 4 kms from the city center, the views from this place is the best even when compared to some of the tourist frequented attractions of Ooty such as the lake, botanical park etc. But ya this comes at a price and only those with a private vehicle of their own wouldn't have a problem of reaching it. There is absolute calmness around this place which was surprising since Ooty is notorious for being an overly commercial hill station.

Delightz Inn
View from the resort
Our first destination in Ooty was the Botanical Garden. And boy it was such a huge disappointment. There were hardly any blooming flowers and probably this had got to do with the season. Anyway we spent some time in this place since the weather was very good, chilly infact and it was also sunny at the same time. So you get that cozy feeling :).  After this we went to the Boat house and took a relaxed boat ride in the overly commercialized lake till nightfall. Next it was the hunt for homemade chocolates of Ooty, and since I have a soft spot for them I was the one leading the charge to find the best place to get some. In the end we got some, everyone loved it and the next day we were back to the same shop to buy some more. You cant get enough of chocolates :). By this time the temperature had dropped to single digits and out came the thick woolens. Somehow I feel that Ooty in non-peak season is a decent place where one can just chill out. When we returned back to our resort there was death silence, as if I was on some trek. Absolutely loved that !!!!!

View from Doddabetta
The next day our first destination was to the Dottabetta peak. Standing at 2637m this is the highest peak in the Nilgiris and surprisingly it also has a "motor-able" road till the top. Before we started we had a good breakfast at the resort, soaking in the morning sun , with the weather being chilly. The drive to the peak is dotted with pine forests and after a half an hour drive in a not so good road we reached the place. Similiar to other tourists destinations of Ooty, I didnt expect much, but at this place I just said "Woahhh !!!!!!". There was clear blue sky and a layer of cloud below , covering everything in sight. A mindblowing view indeed.

family pic
 After this we had drive to Conoor, again went to the not so impressive Sims park and since it was already afternoon we didn expect any good views from Kottanad View point etc. So decided to start the return journey back to Bangalore. Were able to witness a wild herd of elephants in the Bandipur forest which was the highlight of the return journey. Hence even after expecting nothing spectacular from this Ooty trip, we were still amazed , the resort, doddabetta, chocolates, bandipur and so on :).

October 21, 2012

Family Trek To Tirumala

A visit to Tirumala was in offering since quite some time. Thanks to my busy schedule we finally decided to go on a free sunday ie 30 Sept 2012. Plan was to drive to tirupathi, trek the hill via Srivari Mettu, have darshan and return back on the same day. But when you have tirupathi darshan in plan nothing can be predicted. We started very early in the morning at 4 am and after a drive in reasonably good roads reached Tirupathi at around 9.20 am (Bangalore->Hoskote>Chittoor>Chandragiri>Srivari Mettu). Parked our car near the entrance of the steps and hence started the climb of 2300 steps, which is sheltered for most part of the journey protecting the devotees from the elements of nature.  For seasoned trekkers this climb is just a piece of cake , but for others it might be a bit difficult, but supposedly this is easier than the other footpath to the top.

There were toilets and watering points at regular intervals , hence in short the infrastructure provided for such a climb is fantastic. The reason we decided to climb rather than directly driving to the top is that people who take the footpath get higher preference than people who come for regular darshans. We took a total of around 2.5hr to cover the distance. There are couple of check points enroute. At the first checkpoint they give the tickets with the persons photo and when you reach around the 2100 step you have a stamping guard who puts a seal on the ticket confirming the climb.

 After reaching the top it started to rain very heavily , hence we had to wait for a bit. Since we were not sure how much time it would take to have darshan we decided to have our lunch and then proceeded to join the line which was specific to people who had taken the footpath. But from what we could see the line was humongous, snaking through a park in a circuitous way. Thanks to the cloud covering our 3hr wait in the open sun didnt seem like that much of an effort, but after that we lost patience and decided to return. According to our prediction we were atleast 6-7hrs away from the darshan and we couldnt go with that considering that we had to drive back to Bangalore on the same day. Actually we had decided on a wrong day. The previous week was Brahmotsava where darshan is not allowed, hence the "sea of humanity" is amplified during this weekend.

Also I felt that this place is commercialized to the core. 50 buck darshan,  350 buck darshan, 1000 buck darshan etc, and the more you pay up the faster you would have darshan. Even the prasadham distribution is not spared. Hmmm, why that parity when people say God treats everyone equal. Anyway after this day I have decided  to avoid going to Tirupathi. Took an hr long taxi from the temple to our parking point which cost us 1.5k. Were back to Bangalore at around 11pm after a long tiring day.

View Larger Map

Trek Details --->
Total Trek Distance--> 3 kms (2300 steps)
Difficulty Level ---> Easy (for seasoned trekkers).

September 23, 2012

Marathon Mania : KTM 2012

Kaveri Trail Marathon or KTM is self proclaimed as the toughest trail marathon in the country by the organizers, as put up in their website. Being a bit of a pessimist in my general outlook I suppose it can be termed as one of the toughest trail marathon in the country. Toughest or otherwise this did push me to the wall. Running under a relentless sun with very limited tree cover , in a uneven stone filled trail , my calf muscles were crying with pain within no time. I have a goal of completing at-least one full marathon this year and had been training for it on/off over the past couple of months. I even had a crazy idea of competing in the full marathon category of KTM 2012 , but having never competed in a category other than 10k I was a bit apprehensive (thankfully my pessimist outlook came to the rescue !!!!!! :P) of directly jumping to 42.2k. Hence decided to go with an intermediate goal of completing at least one half marathon before I graduate to the next level.

Harsha, Reddy, Prasad and Suresh
KTM is usually organized in the vicinity of Ranganthittu Bird Santuary, and this year too there was no exception to that. Since the run starts very early in the morning (HM @ 6.45am), people from Blore either have a choice of leaving Blore at around 2.30-3 am to reach the venue or stay overnight at Srirangapatna to have a more relaxed sleep. Initially Harish and I had decided for a bike ride to the venue on the race day itself, but by the turn of events I got registered and Harish did not. Then started my search for some company and this ended when I came to know Harsha and his friends (Reddy, Prasad, Suresh) were planning to travel the previous day and had a free seat in their car. Hence I jumped in at this opportunity. We left Blore in the evening and had planned a different route to reach Srirangapatna since there was a bandh call in Mandya town. But seeing the traffic density moving towards Mandya we decided to try our luck , since there was very less chances of Bandh continueing after sunset, and so was the case. Reached Srirangapatnam and booked a room near to the venue. The rooms were just ok , but these guys were enjoying a sudden peak season thanks to the marathon. More or less all the rooms here and elsewhere too were booked by KTM participants :P.


The run started exactly at 6.45 am. Weather at this time was pleasant. The trail runs along a cauvery river canal and its pretty much a run along a kuchha , stone filled path. This path has very few trees providing the very crucial shade for a runner. The total length of the trail is 10.55kms , that meant HM participants had to run along this path and return on the same to complete 21.1 kms. FM participants had to complete 2 rounds of the path to complete their quota of 42.2 km. There were aid stations loaded with water, electrol, salted groundnuts, bananas, salted potato chips etc roughly every 2 kms. The initial run was slow trying to overtake a lot of slower runners in a narrow trail, but somehow overtaking others gives a big motivational boost. Thanks to the uneven surface the calf muscle started to pain within the first km. Ran more or less nonstop for the first leg of the 10.55km, which was accompanied by pleasant weather. The entire path is very picture-some with it running along a canal and surrounded by water filled green paddy fields, but the shade along the trail is negligible exposing the runners to direct sun. The elevation profile change is also minimal for the entire trail.

The return journey was where the actual struggle started. The sun was up in the sky , bright and shining and with no protection the stamina started to deplete rapidly. I could run continuously till I reached the 15km mark and after that it was a combination of running and fast walking for the next 6 kilometers. Hence took almost 1 hr 16 min to cover the second half of the journey as against 1 hr 2 min for the first half. On the other hand it was fun, where runners themselves try to motivate other runners they come face to face with in the absence of any cheering crowd. Was more or less exhausted until I saw the finish line , when all of sudden I was motivated to sprint the final 100m to have raised arm photo finish (dont know whether this was captured by any volunteer photographers). Legs became stiff just 5 mins after the run. Had to stretch like crazy for every 5 mins in order to avoid the stiffness. Relaxed a bit in a nearby canal dipping my aching feet as I waited for the rest of the gang to complete the race.

With Finishers Medal
Hence in this way completed the "toughest" trail half marathon in the country. The calf muscles were paining for the rest of the day , apart from that didnt have any post race problems. This gave me confidence to graduate to next level. Aiming right now for Bangalore Midnight Marathon in December. What is my motivation to run???, becoz now I can and later on I might not :P. Need to loose a couple of kg's and get more running mileage in the next 3 months in order to complete within my target time of 4hrs. Full marathon , here I come :).


Bib Number: 21426
Rank: 224/675
Gender: Male
Category : Open
Category Rank: 185/498
Split@10.55Km: 01:02:28
Net Time: 02:18:16

Cardiotrainer Stats

September 9, 2012

Dudhsagar TreK, With Goa Under Monsoon Onslaught !!!!!

"With a puny torch to fight against the ever-conquering darkness surrounding us, we traverse the pitch black railway tunnel no.7. With alert ears to hear any trains approaching the tunnel so that we don't become a mongrel killed and splattered by the behemoth train, having endured one such hair raising experience a couple of hrs back in a tunnel similar to this. The ears are the only functional navigational system in these tunnels , but the strong howling winds blowing through the tunnels is not making matters better. The feet is aching beyond limits thanks to walking 14 kms on those loose stones covering the railway track. We had just crossed the Dudhsagar Railway station and supposedly are very close to the elusive Dudhsagar falls. The eerie sound of the howling wind is broken every now and then by water seeping through the tunnel roof and  falling on our already rain drenched body. We still push on with our body because we know the end is near. The tunnel ends and within a couple of moments later we hear a mighty roar. Is that a train ????!!!! Not sure about it we approach it cautiously. And BEHOLD !!!!!!, we get the first view of the majestic Dudhsagar Falls flowing in its full glory. Being the 5th tallest falls in India, falling from the height of 310 mts (taller than Jog falls), this was not one of those to be taken lightly. As we approach near the falls ,the might of the falls is displayed in the separate ecosystem it has created in its immediate surroundings which included constant mist and rain. We stand in the middle of railway bridge built during the British era and get splattered by the rain drops within no time. Awestruck we cant keep our eyes off the fantabulous DUDHSAGAR" . This is how the highlight of the monsoon trip to Goa can be described in one breath.

Blore to Londa - Rani Chennamma Exp

Boohoo, back to school in such weather :'(

With my quarter break and PPR's last week in India we had plans of going for one last trip, so that Ppr's journey in India would end with a bang , and what better than a trip to Goa. But the season was wrong according to conservatives, citing the monsoons resulting in comparatively lesser crowd. But we were not one of those to be deterred and planned a monsoon trek to Dudhsagar Falls along with the trip. Planning started some time before and at one time we were having close to 14-15 individuals interested to come, but we cited  logistic problems and turned down a lot of them. In the end after a lot of additions and deletions we had 11 guys (Naga,PPR, Praveen, Harsha, Vikas, Sandeep, Manju, Umesh, Ranjan, Ravi and Myself). This was 3rd trip to Goa, but my first in monsoons which was a totally different experience.

@Castlerock: The starting point of the trek

The day of departure on Aug 31 arrived and even here in B'lore it was raining cats and dogs. Had a close call , almost missing the train (Rani Chenamma Express) after somehow making it just in time to catch it. The overnight journey was event-less and we landed in the Londa junction at around 7.30 am the next day. We had 1 hr before the Chennai-Vasco would arrive and take us to Castlerock, the starting point of the trek. Had our breakfast and by this time Ppr was feeling feverish and he decided to take a train directly to Dudhsagar falls from Londa in the same train and get down at Dudhsagar falls. Ravi decided to accompany Ppr and the remaining 9 of us decided to trek the 14 kms to the falls. By this time it had started to rain and this continued relentlessly for the entire duration of the trek, sans some breaks in between. Boarded the train to Castlerock which was late by around an hour and after a 1 hr journey we landed in Castlerock station. The Castlerock station was buzzing with trekkers all prepared to go to the Dudhsagar falls either by walk or a taking a ride till the Dudhsagar Station. Hence started our trek along the railway track. As expected the color green was the most dominant color one could see in any direction one looked at. There are a total of 7 train tunnels(of considerable length) to be covered before one gets to reach the falls. It was raining at regular intervals. One common question I came across were "Wasn't there shit on the track ????" considering the Indian railways is worlds largest open toilet .....and the answer to that is "Yup they were ... but too few and too far for anyone to gross out".

Entering Goa

Soon enough the route was engulfed in mist and we encountered the first train on the track. It was a magical experience with the headlamps of the train piercing through the mist filled surrounding as if a fire demon breathing fire. Soon enough our first tunnel came into view. This was around 200 m long and we had fun traversing through it. Then came the second, which was the longest at around 450m and almost halfway through the tunnel , heard a trains horn and then it dawned on me that I was cornered by this fire demon in the dark, wet and dirty dungeon. I was alone at the moment with Harsha and Manju almost 100 m behind me. Directly went to the wall of the tunnel, checked the ground for any slithering reptiles and then held my body against the wall. Slowly the train entered the tunnel, lights blazing and with the shrill horn. Initially I was nervous since I couldn't make out whether I had sufficient gap, bcoz of the fact that I couldn't see outline of the train in the darkness thanks to all the glare from the trains headlight. Soon enough the train passed me with almost 50-60cm between me and the train, and the vibration and the sound inside the tunnel was amplified to such a magnitude that you start fearing for your life. Almost halfway when this long goods train passed me I could see light entering the end of the tunnel, but suddenly I couldn't see it no more. "F**K !!!!! F**K !!!!! F**K !!!!!", I swore, instantly assuming that whatever was entering the tunnel was too big and I would be hit surely by this extra large load. Panicking, I waited for the inevitable, but soon enough the end came which was nothing but the huge black smoke generated by the rear engines :P which in-turn had blocked the light. Thoroughly blackened up by this smoke and shaken up I exited the tunnel :).

  {Me Cornered by the train in a tunnel}

At 7 km mark from Castlerock is the Caranzol station. From here its another 7 kms to Dudhsagar falls. We encountered a lot of mini falls and had some great views of the Braganza ghats. Soon enough reached the Dudhsagar station , which had some eatables on sale provided by some clever entrepreneur cashing on the sudden surge of trekkers to this place. At this point a tunnel separates the falls and the station. Soon enough we were in-front of the majestic waterfalls. By this time PPR and Ravi had stopped at the falls for 1.5 hrs and had left for Kulem in a goods train. Me and Harsha decided to hike further almost a km towards Kulem to get full view of the falls and so did we. The weather now was clear and the view was AWESOME.

[Dudhsagar Falls - Up Close and Personal]

Hole in the tunnel :P

Zoom to the railway bridge over the Dudhsagar falls

Spent some time in here and it was time to return back. Initial plan was to hitch a ride till Kulem in some goods/passenger train, but when we reached the station the Railway Police were not allowing trekkers on goods trains citing security and there was just one train on that day which was moving back to Castlerock. Having no option we waited for that train. Since Dudhsagar is not an official passenger stop for trains, there are no tickets issued. After waiting impatiently for an hour and half the train finally arrived. The train approached with great speed and we assumed that this is not gonna stop in here, but finally thanks to our luck the train did stopped. Else there is no other means of getting to this place other than on foot. And nearly 50-60 trekkers jumped on the train and non of them had any tickets :P. Traveled ticket-less till Londa junction which was an adventure in itself since this being the first time :).

[Full view of the falls]
Fire Demon Approaching :)
Reached Londa, took a cab to Mullem and from here booked another taxi to take us all the way to our booked accommodation near Baga beach. Ppr and Ravi had already reached the place. We reached Baga beach area at around midnight and were surprisingly caught up in a traffic jam , thanks to the proximity of the Tito's disco nearby. Got to see some gorgeous girls (Indian, not much foreigners in this season) in some jaw dropping outfits going towards the disco. We on the other hand were not interested to pay huge bucks to get a stag entry into Tito's. Reached our accommodation "Villa Emmanuel", which is right beside the Baga beach. Retired soon enough for the day since we were tired to the core.

Totally Deserted Senquerim Beach

Waiting for the catch

Aguoda Fort

Baga Beach At Night

The next 2 days we were to enjoy sightseeing in Goa and "just chill". We hired activa scooters for 175/day, the dealers of which are found in plenty. We covered places like Aguda fort, Sinquerim Beach (which was totally deserted) in the first half of the day and Ppr surprised us all by booking a ticket back to Bangalore citing his bad health (which I found to be highly suspicious :P ), cutting short his trip. Played in the Baga Beach in the evening sun. After nightfall went to Calangute beach to just chill out by the beach side and by midnight again went to Baga beach which was teaming with activity even at this unearthly hour.


Group Snap - Ppr

DCH Spot
View From The Spot
The next day we went to Vagator beach and Chapora fort. Enroute had breakfast at some pure vegetarian restaurant where normal south Indian dishes were served after a gap of 1.5 hr. It was pretty much the same story in all the vegetarian restaurants we went to. We would be the only customers in there and once we place our order the food preparation starts from scratch. Atleast we were content that we were getting fresh food. To reach the Chapora fort one has to take a mini-hike of around 15 mins. The sea-facing fort made famous by the movie Dil Chahta Hai provides some awesome views. Had a lot of snaps with shirt and without shirts :P. Next destination was Anjuna beach and after spending some time in here it was curtains on the Goa trip. Returned back to our accommodation returned our bikes, took a bus to Panjim bus stand and from Panjim bus stand took multi-axle Volvo (leg space is still as bad as the normal Volvos :( ) back to Bangalore and reached here at around 7.30 am the next day.

Anjuna Beach
This was a unique trek for me since I had never trekked on a railway track dotted with dark tunnels and surrounded by absolute greenery. Finally in this way the last trip with PPR ended (incompletely of-course). Our ''x-cel" man  has been a constant companion in our travels across India for the past 4 years, from the more tame sightseeing trips to the totally outrageous "Balls to the Wall" trips. All the best to you maga and we will miss you. Just remember we have a pact for Manasarovar trek sometime down the line :).

Trek Details --->
Total Trek Distance--> 14 + 2 kms
Difficulty Level --->Moderate (thanks to the path of loose stones, else the gradient is not an issue)
Total Cost Per Head --> 3k (inclusive of transportation, food and stay)

Accomodation details ------>

Snaps Link ------>

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