Saturday, November 21, 2009

Of Treks and Rolls-Royce .

This post is a general writing. It is not related, in particular, to any of the adventures from GHAC. It is merely an observation that has taken the form of an article, an interesting one though.

Thank you, Jagan GVS, for the write-up.

So read on what jagan has to say about roll-royce and treks. You see any connection? Well, you just might.........

A trek is similar to Rolls-Royce, not that I know much about cars but something about why a Rolls-Royce should cost so much more than a Ford car. The answer is not far from your guess: It is simply because there are so many more of the Ford cars than Rolls-Royce!

Ask again, why are there so few treks? Seven out of every ten people I invited to a trek during college days had a counter proposal; to help them clean their rooms for a tidy sum of money!

After all, one must be nuts to pay so much and torture their legs and backs. If you don’t trust me try asking your neighbour to join you for a trek to a remote jungle where one needs to walk about 10-20kms and feast on sandwiches and fruits just for a day or two! I can’t blame people who don’t invite me on weekends or for coffee.

You have a right to question the idiosyncrasies of my comparison; so many people do treks after all, aren’t there so many treks too? My answer is that there are fewer treks in comparison with other affordable means of outing: tours, pleasure trips and pilgrimages.

Given that there are always going to be fewer people willing to willingly commit the blunder of volunteering for a trek, there are fewer businesses which can make great profits out of a trek. Imagine someone making a fortune by serving food in the remote foot hills and wilderness as opposed to pilgrimage centres which witness thousands of footfalls.

You might want to call my notions daft and propose to increase the number of people per trek and reduce the fixed portion of the cost. I would urge you to differentiate between ‘bringing treks to the masses’ and ‘amassing people on treks’. Here is the silver lining: more and more pilgrims are visiting Amarnath (most of them on foot) and would you need a guess as to why the ice-linga is shrinking every year? The lord of the holy wilderness seems to be seeking an escape sooner as the devotees increase year on year.

There is always going to be a cost, there are no free lunches in the universe and trekking is no exception. I can hear you swearing off, and I would be worried if you dint!

Some might press me on how the commercial trekking organisations can take more than 35 people on treks which involve camping for days. And, some more, might ask as to how does it matter at all?

a) We need to consider the Eco-foot print a very large group generates, any large becomes tough to manage in terms of the restraint and discipline needed to keep the habitat intact for the flora and fauna to continue the life in an un-interrupted sense.

b) The large number of foot falls, and the extent of habitat damage due to the occupation of land for camping, cooking, bathing and defecating.

Then how do commercial trekking organisations manage?

Let’s understand why commercial trekking clubs need so many people. They have a fixed target of getting a certain amount of X Rs to cover their profit margins. You could spread this cost on 15 people as well but the cost per person goes up. This is the issue at hand; we are NOT willing to pay what could be good environmentally. We may prefer to opt for lower MATERIAL costs, ignoring the impact that a huge gathering has on the environment.

The answer from Economics to the dwindling fisheries worldwide is simple – nobody pays anything to go fish in the oceans, so fishing happened beyond the sustainable ecological levels (whaling for instance).

Habitats are Common Resources. We are not taxed for fishing, only for profits on fishing. Similarly, we are not taxed for trekking in any manner. Only commercial trekking organisations have to pay, and I wonder how many really do.

Allow me to share as to what happened at Mallelateertham, 160kms from here. My first visit to the place was in 1999, and the canopy was so dense that the ground underneath used to be dimly lit even at noon. I used to organise treks in groups of 10 once in 3 months to the few places around Srisailam. By 2003, there were people camping in large groups for days and almost living there. They were good people who wanted to be one with nature for a while but soon, the 100 feet long mango trees, the lush canopy was all but lost. Ignorance about the impact of their actions turned good people into decimators of the habitat. The last I visited the place was in 2004 when I took Diyanat and some friends; the place seemed like the bombed out town of Guernica which now only exists in Picasso’s painting.

A trek is a matter of quality; it is not a conquest but a pilgrimage into the nature. If you loved the blossoms you would know not to sever the blooming buds. The Buddha is not the summit of the mountain but every step regardless of the summit. It is to delicately step into the nature and experience the sublime with minimal disturbance to ‘what it once was’.

In my very limited opinion organisers and members of GHAC identify and empathise with the above sentiments, by and large, if not square and even.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hyderabad 10k Run & Half Marathon

Hyderabad 10K Run and Half Marathon (21.1 KM) will be held for the 7th time on November 22nd  2009 on the Necklace Road starting from 6.30 a.m. The half marathon race too be will be held simultaneously and will begin at 5.30 a.m.

The Hyderabad 10k Run is a foundation born out of passion for the city with a vision to make Hyderabad one of the finest cities in the world and a mission to involve every single Hyderabadi in this drive.

What: 10K Run & Half Marathon (21.1 KM):
When: 22 November 2009
Where: Venue:People's Plaza, Necklace Road

*10KRun(10KM)starting time:6:30AM
*10KRun Reporting time: 6:00 AM
* Half Marathon(21.1 KM) starting time: 5:30 AM
* Half Marathon Reporting time: 5:00 AM

Both events are open to all categories with assurance of support services all along the route. The event which also attracts handsome Rs. 15 lakh prize money is also likely to feature some runners from Ethiopia. Actors Anushka and Arjun are the brand ambassadors for the event

All GHAC members are encouraged to participate in the 10 K run. Please register yourself either online or offline by paying Rs 50 (BIB only) or Rs 150 (BIB+T-Shirt) and collect your kit from the 10k run organisers directly

Online Registrations:

Offline Registration:
Offline Registrations can be done any of the following locations
All Apollo Pharmacies
MPM Mall Abids
Prasad Imax
Ofen , B-Hills, Road No.10
All Dinaz's Fitness Studio
Medwin Hospital
Hyderabad Central
Pantaloons Begumpet
Gopichand Academy Gachibowli

Note: Please carry a valid ID card to register and collect your BIB

10k Run Route Details:

* Starting Point: People's Plaza, Necklace Road
* Sanjeevaiah Park
* Sailing Club
* Tank Bund
* Ambedkar Statue
* Secretariat
* Finish Point: People's Plaza, Necklace Road

Route Maps:
* Google Map click here
* Directional Map click here

Half Marathon Route Map Route Details:

* Starting Point: People's Plaza, Necklace Road
* Sanjeevaiah Park
* Sailing Club
* Tank Bund
* Basheer bagh
* Abids
* Nampally
* Charminar
* Nampally
* Abids
* Basheer bagh
* Ambedkar Statue
* Secretariat
* Finish Point: People's Plaza, Necklace Road

Route Maps:
* Google Map click here
* Directional Map click here

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kondaveedu Fort and Guthikonda Caves Trek - Guntur

This write-up, on Kondaveedu Fort and Guthikonda Caves Trek - Guntur, is forwarded by Pavithra Joshi. The write-up is also on her blog -

Thank you for the blog, Pavithra.

If you have traveled with GHAC and want to post an article on the travel in this space, then send your articles or blogs to or send the link of the site where you have posted the article. We will post your write-up as a blog in our blog site with credits to you and provide the link to the original article site.

So, GHAC Adventurer - Pavithra Joshi, on her trek in Guntur. Read on.......

It's been a whole week since we went on this fabulous journey, but I'm pretty sure its memories are still fresh in the minds of the 19 people who got together as a group, became fast friends and hopefully will remain so :)

It started off at the Secunderabad Railway station on a Friday night. I reached way ahead of time, since I left for the place directly from office. I was ditched by my +1 just that morning (Nitin you have no idea what you missed!). One by one the trekkers started coming in, some familiar faces and most new ones. The train was conveniently late for those strictly following INDIAN Standard Time (:P), but nevertheless that gave us some extra time for introductions. After getting acquainted with one another we got on the train to Guntur.

When you put a group of fun loving people together in the bogie of a train, you should learn never to put a crappy, almost insane TC in the same one! (Lots of respect to those guys, but seriously the kids just wanted to have some fun!) We survived through that, caught a little sleep and reached Guntur a little ahead of schedule.

Our next stop was Phirangipuram, whose streets are lined up with churches. The place is apparently the earliest centre of Roman Catholicism in Andhra (Wiki rocks :D). The breakfast we had there was absolutely indescribable! I don't think any of us will ever forget those delicious dosas and idlis :) Most of us would probably walk back for some more of those! The organizers had some talks with the local Police and finally got permission for us to stay back at the fort for the night. We then headed over to Narsaraopeta, our starting point of the trek.

The trek itself was comparatively less tiring. We got to the top in what I estimate is 2 hours, clicking LOTS of pics on our way up ;) The base camp set up was in an amazing place, ruins below and an open roof above (Perfect setting for a candlelight dinner maybe, if you wanna carry a table up there ;)). The most noticeable thing on the trek: the monkey menace! We set out to explore the rest of the peaks, food and water in hand. In all our excitement to climb up one of the difficult terrains, we didn't consider the safety of the food too seriously. And by the time we got back, half the stuff was stolen by those less evolved ancestors of ours!

After all of us climbed down was the first moment of panic of the trek. We could see the base camp and noticed a couple of people heading towards it. Half of us ran back to protect our oh-so-precious belongings! Then it was decided that some of us would stay back while the rest could explore the other places. But it turned out that everyone opted to (some were forced to ;)) stay back and rest. And the sleep I had that afternoon was one of the best ever, even though I had to sleep on that rocky ground with just one flimsy bedspread between the floor and me ;)

At around 4 PM the group was split into three. One group went down the fort to Narsaraopeta and consequently to Phirangipuram to make arrangements for our dinner and some life-saving water! (Eternally grateful to this group :)). Another team of two stayed back at base camp to watch over the belongings. The third (lucky) group got to explore one of the peaks :) The climb up was great as usual, more pics and an amazing view of the sunset! We reached base camp around half an hour before group one, had an early dinner around 7 PM and got to the roof after a round of some AWESOME jokes (pun intended!) by a certain Doc on the trek :P

Then came our second moment of panic. The area surrounding the fort is supposed to be famous for Naxalite activities. Lots of talking was heard. We were totally helpless, as we had no idea whether it was the good guys or the bad ones approaching us, and we would probably have been in trouble either way! After that cooled down started the heart-to-heart session as some would call it :) It's stupefying to see how people start relating to each other's life by just listening to their stories! One of the best things of meeting new people is to know that you're not the only ones going through rough patches, and talking about it to someone, anyone for that matter, makes you feel better :)

The next morning started out great! An early morning alarm to wake up and start that day's plan was paused by this amazing event that we experienced. Just out of nowhere a huge cloud arose and started moving towards us! The feeling is incredible. See it for yourself!

After we got down, we had our first meal for the day and headed back to Phirangipuram. From there we made our way to Macharla. We were lucky enough to meet a man on the bus who turned out was from the ashram at the Guthikonda caves. At Macharla we picked up some vegetables for our noon's meal and headed up to the caves in what I can describe as one of the most awesome rides I've had! An open top auto, one of those in which furniture and goats are transported :D

Once we got there we put all our luggages in a room and headed for the caves. And this experience I guess I'll never have again, unless I go back to the same place! The caves were breathtaking (literally too, with meager amount of Oxygen :P). The mini lakes in there had stunningly clear water, holy dips in which gave all of us super powers :P (Guess mine is writing excruciatingly long blogs :D). After getting back was another round of deep, refreshing sleep for most of us! We then started back to Guntur, refueled on the way and finally headed back to Hyderabad, carrying with us two whole days of absolutely awesome memories :)