Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Masinagudi Trek August -2009

It started out as a meetup invite to all members to participate in one more of their enthusiastic trips which are fast becoming known as the adventure group tours!! The trek was to Masinagudi (kudi?we are still not sure!!). To the uninitiated, it is somewhere deep in the Bandipur reserve forests in South India.

Most of us RSVP-ed without a second thought- honestly though, after numerous jungle trips and tiger views in the likes of Corbett, chila, ranthambor ,Sariska, bandhavgarh, and other animal sightings some years earlier in Bandipur, madhumalai, and periyar, I was personally dithering a little…thanx to manisha (but OF COURSE) I too RSVPed quickly! (We all know now, how her enthusiasm rubs off)….And am I glad I did!!! 

Soon, and not surprisingly, the trek trip was fully booked and had a waitlist of over a few multiples of ten….hyderabad seemed to be full of trekking enthusiasts!!! Rejoicing at our quick action and being ‘in’, feeling a trifle pitiful for those not ‘in’, we started preparing in right earnest….but let truth be told, it was not before we had actually paid up that we realized we were ‘IN’ and had to build up our stamina, pile up our luggage into the smallest bags possible, start the power walk in the gym, weight train ourselves, prepare kids for the break mothers/fathers would take (for those with kids!) besides all other mundane preparations that go into leaving home, and town for a long weekend…

The group was a young lot, all professionals, most from IT and related fields…and apparently all really really keeeen to ‘get away’ from it all. These ‘young people’…some even in their forties and fifties, decided to test their mettle against the pachyderm-ous Nagarhole-Mudumalai-Bandipur-Wayanad contiguous forest range covering the Your browser may not support display of this image. three states of Karnataka, Your browser may not support display of this image. Tamil Nadu and Your browser may not support display of this image. Kerala . I MUST add here that it was heartening to note that there were seven very enthu women in the group!

It was Maria who took the cake – literally…she celebrated her 50th Birthday on this trip!! And then we were joined by Diyanat’s extended family, and met the youngest member any adventure trek has seen on this meetup- Razzak! All of 12 years old and a 6th grader from NASR.. Vow…what a range, from 12 year old razzak to the 53 year old Ranjan!! And there was no lack of the bubbly(not the alchoholic variety) !! the adrenalin rush took care that all remained on a high throughout!! 
The forests, one was told, are seemingly endless- spread well over 10000 square kms, as they merge one into another . The only difference at times is in their names…madhumalai, bandipur, nagarhole,wynad,……and so on…We, the group, left Hyderabad on August 13th evening by the KSRTC Bus, via Bangalore to reach Mysore at about 9 am on 14th. Rajan decided that breakfast was a while away yet, and quickly put us all on the smaller swaraj mazda which was to reach us to Masinagudi by 2 pm. It was in the small bus that all the group got to introduce ourselves to each other. It was also here that Maria announced it was her Birthday…and we all sang ‘happy bday…’ to her!

She promised to get a cake for all of us- dunno why she thought it would be possible in the jungle though. Now most of us are sure she was pulling a fast one on us, and meant the pachyderm-dung cake that we found aplenty throught that eventful Saturday ..up the mountain and down the mountain, ….i am sure I heard comments about how Maria would not be able to ‘cut’ one, or how the other dung-pile-cake was softer and so would be easier to ‘cut’… yuckee!!!

We took a small detour and went up to the 700 year old Himavad Gopala swamy temple located on a high point in the bandipur hills. The view around was beautiful, with little trekking trails leading out in every direction. It was coincidentally Janmashtmi ! We enjoyed the beautiful lush greenery for sometime, before heading for our destination.

And then we reached Masinagudi, (with all tamil-knowing people insisting it was ‘Kudi’, not ‘gudi’…even expaining what the word meant…)…I am following the official government of India signage and staying with the ‘gudi’… As we neared our yet unknown place of stay, Rajan started jumping in his seat…’red car…red car’ he cried, one hand frantically pointing at a red care parked inside what looked like a farmhouse with a coconut grove…yea, so?? Well…apparently he recognized it as Ali's car, and declared we had reached our destination. Sure enough, as the bus rolled into ‘whispering windows’, there were the four other members of the trek waiting for us…Ali, javed, gauhar and little Razzak….we said our hellos and promptly the ‘girls’ rushed to occupy the first room visible from where we stood…all seven into one.

We discovered there were only four rooms and 24 of us…so there was little choice. Honestly though, it was a much grander place of stay than any of us had envisaged…in fact to some it was a little disappointing that we were not in more rustic surroundings. Most, however, I am sure were happy to be in a clean, hygienic, safe place to stay- what with tiled bathrooms with hot water (promised, not delivered though…) fresh food, lovely verandahs to sit-out in, and a bonfire to boot!!! Deep inside we city born n bred people are creatures of comfort and rarely will the majority be happy to face creature discomforts!! We all loved the place, which, the landlord Suresh, and his wife Padmini told us, was a new construction, barely 3 months old!!

They had decided to convert their ancestral home into a resort . While waiting for business to pick up, they come down from Ooty, where they live, to tend to the place every weekend or so. They were personally taking care of all the service, food, cleaning, with the help of the retainer copule who doubled up as the security personnel at night. In the day they helped Padmini cook our meals!! 
We were treated to hot lunch, fresh from the makeshift functional kitchen, cooked by Padmini herself, who also runs a school in Ooty which has a strength of over 400 children. Suresh is a farmer, he says, and plants vegetables at his farm in Ooty while also taking care of this resort they are building up. We also heard the sad news about how a French lady was killed by a angry pachyderm mamma afraid that the tourist was getting too close to her calf for comfort. Apparently the incident had sent shock waves across the forest and administrative systems, and now access to the forests was blocked…we would not be able to trek to the areas as planned earlier..but,
Soon after Suresh escorted us out of the resort and straight into a jungle, where within minutes we came upon the banks of the moyar river. It was a dam up ahead, and elephants were known to cross the river at all hours..we took pictures and went ankle deep into the water which was absolutely cold and refreshing.. Suresh then got us into a jeep and a maruti van…yes, all piled in and falling out too….and took us some way away where he said we could ‘get into the water’…it was now late afternoon.. Pick-ily some people rolled up trousers, left their shoes and cameras on the mud bank, and ventured into the cool welcoming stream, jumping over rocks, and plonking themselves onto those right in the centre…the tennis ball appeared from somewhere, and they all wanted to ‘play ball’…

and then, sundar fell right into the water… it was a signal for the guys to jump in…they had just started to freak out, when they decided to be courageous!! Suddenly they all started splashing water over the ladies sitting pretty in the centre of the stream…there was no where to run…the damsels gave in…they were all in the water, and what chaos ensued…total water play and fun…suresh watched from afar, slightly bemused!
He then declared it was time to come out of the water…all obeyed,and yelped as the cold hit them, soaked to the skin as they were. Quickly everyone spread out to the golf course looking greens around, and the tennis ball appeared again. The game of catch was a remedy perhaps to dry out as quickly as possible,since no one had a change of clothes handy......
We returned to the resort for a welcome hot tea and coffee. Thereafter, a night safari was planned. Once again we were bundled into jeeps and the van, and off we went into the dark jungle night, al excited and maybe just a little apprehensive…would we meet the nocturnal crawlers? You bet we did…..but not of the animal variety.. mostly of the man made machine variety…they were all over the jungle on the roads leading through it..honking , purring, their throttles and screeches certainly scaring away any animals that may possibly have been around. These trucks cars, tractors, lorries with their constant honking and harsh lights put paid to any hopes we may have had of viewing wildlife. But then lady luck took pity on us…and we saw them herded along the highway, sheltering their young ones, and waiting for a break in traffic, so they could cross over!! They dined on the grass and green trees as they waited…and we all watched in awe. The pachyderms in all their glory in the wild, and just a few feet away from us. It was humbling in a way to be upclose with these huge creatures patiently waiting in the dark. I have been upclose with elephants with their houdas ferrying tourists up to the Amer fort in Jaipur numerous times, but this was a different feeling altogether….
We returned to the resort , and were delighted to find a bonfire ready and ablaze! We huddled around chatting, laughing and joking, till it was time for dinner. It was pack up time, thereafter…we were to leave for THE TREK early next morning!

The morning turned out to be a drizzly one! Clouds hung low over the high hills around the resort, and the effect was picture post card perfect…most of us could not stop clicking pictures, trying to capture the all the beauty digitally!!
I sneaked out of my room early looking for hot water and salt…the throat and nose were succumbing to infection, and I had no intention of staying away from the TREK because of some bad bacteria attacking my nasal passage and olfactory system…nor did I intend to make this public knowledge…what if they decided not to take me along, or some such thing?? Padmini was a sweetheart. she heated cups of water for me on demand, even if it disturbed her workflow in the vary makeshift litchen! The gargling worked! 
We all were ready, breakfasted, and lunch backpacked. And then it was time for the Flag hoisting and the National Anthem. It was August 15th , 2009!

Vibha distributed homemade laddoos to all at the end of the anthem, and we all went trigger happy again…clicking pictures.
The guides who were to accompany us- ram , lakshman, and Mahesh – were all set, and with last minute instructions from Suresh to all, we set off.
Within 3 minutes out of the resort some of us huffed and puffed, rebalanced our baggage, and were off again thru a village , and then into the forest… gradually our chatter decreased and noise levels went down, as the silence of the jungle began to enfold us..yet for the likes of the throat-chakra enabled people (read manisha, naren….) there had to be constant shhhh-shhh –ing by the guides…
We came upon skeletons of animals probably killed by tigers a few days earlier…

click- happy went some of the group, getting close up shots of the cow vertebrae, till they had to be pushed to carry on and not stop and break up the group… it is easy to get lost in a jungle, and always advisable to keep close to each other.. we kept up the pace in a single file since the bushes left little scope for more than one or two persons to walk abreast. After about 7 kms of walking and sighting barely a deer, we reached the high hills and the deep valley. The river was somewhere down there. After another picture session, where we spied elephants bathing far below, and looking no larger than small black points on our camera screens, we all started the climb down..
What a downer….i fell trying to find a foothold to begin with…and lost a lot of my confidence. It was still high up in the mountain, and we still had a looooooong way to go before we reached the river.

It took us 2 hours of struggling, slipping along the grass, holding the tufts, avoiding the small snakes and insects, slipping on the pebbles on the slope, encouraging each other, laughing, despairing at the distance from the top to the valley below, before we finally landed there. Just about 500 feet from the bottom of the valley we stopped dead. The elephant herd we had watched bathing from high above, was now on its way up the hill….thankfully it was moving away from us. Silently we watched them move away, before proceeding on our way.
Ahh …the cool water again. It was our turn after the elephants… Immediately the shoes were off, and all were knee deep in the water.

It felt heavenly. Some bathed , some just dangled their feet, and of course, everyone took pictures, and then some more!!!
Food glorious food , with requisite spoons and the like was passed around soon after. Everyone sat around, ate, and then there was more picture clicking….
It was time to start back soon after. The day had been cloudy and night would fall quickly in the jungle and the valley. What shook some of us however was the realization that it was now time to climb the mountain we had just come down!! There was no other way…no easy way out but up!! We all did not take it too well..i think I ranted and raved to myself …maybe even to the guides! But good natured guys that they were…they just smiled and declared…’bas thoda hi hai madam’….
This slope that we were up against now, was very user-unfriendly!! Though a little while ago, it had not seemed so to the elephants who had climbed up and gone ahead!! Unlike our imagined slopes where there always seems a pathway zigzagging along the mountainside, there was none…or was it there and we did not see it?? Amateurs that we were, the hurry was to climb up fast and in a straight line from the bottom facing the top..

in retrospect, probably taking small zigzagging paths would have been a lot easier. But we were rattled , not finding footholds easily, holding onto grass roots-(thank god for the thick elephant grass , which took out weight as we hoisted ourselves up), and some of us moaning that we would never make it ( me included)….then there were the bravehearts – Maria being one….who took the path less traveled along the mountain side, and came up just 200 yards from the elephants!!! What foolhardiness, it seems now…..but back there in the wilderness, it seemed to be bravery of some sort..
Thanks to all the young men out there, and to the guides, I could make it to the top! Huh!! All the drinking water the group had was over by now, and we licked the glucon D powder Vibha the doc handed out! It helped us stay alive for the next two hours.!!
We brisk walked through the forest , and the guides decided to take a new route!! What fun…with the night falling, 7 kms to go, rain threatening to come down, and infighting happens amongst those who need to show us the way out…But some how the group remained lighthearted. The throat-chakra gang was at it again and had to be physically separated!! They yapped more and walked less otherwise!!!! 
And then we saw the ‘tower’!!! what a wave of relief!! The ‘tower’ was next to the resort and so now we were just about to walk out of the forest, ….or so it seemed!! But why were the guides walking away from the tower?? it took a while before we figured out that they were avoiding meeting any forest officials, as there was a warning against going into the jungle!! The ‘ tower’ was a joke for quite a while thereafter!! 
We rejoiced at our successful return to the resort. Padmini passed around hot tea and coffee…ranjan taught everyone how to pat themselves on the back, and followed up with yoga and some spiritual discussion. All hankered for a hot hot bath. It was relax-time thereafter for a longish two hours, where Ali put on some lovely old bollywood numbers on his car stereo…

We all sang along, and talked away in the mellow evening..Some however had not had enough of walking…they went off to the village to buy ‘fruits’!!
The bonfire came with an addition this time. There was a bar-b- que on. By 9 pm the chicken and paneer were on the grill…and then Ranjan suggested ‘patthhar ka ghosht’…so a stone slab was located. Suresh and Padmini have a new dish to master now!!!
Post dinner, no one wanted to sleep. Everyone went chatter, chatter, chatter!! Good and raunchy jokes, poking fun at each other, story telling and generally bonding went on late into the night…or shall I say well into the early next morning…early enough that when some decided to sleep, the maid had come in to start preparing the breakfast!!

A lovely cool cloudy morning again, and we enjoyed our morning cuppas…and then demanded some more again!
A filling poorie and sabji meal later, we said goodbye to our hosts, exchanged business cards, telephone numbers, email ids, and this time a trifle gloomily left on our trip back home.
However it was not over yet. We went upto Ooty, and then on to Pykarra falls. 

Beautiful sight, but too many half dressed people bathing! Not so beautiful, of course! The place was rather crowded. We all enjoyed the carrots ooty is famous for, and some of us bought loads of them., only to be followed by cows!! Roasted corn and juice later, we were on our way again, but not before some of us had some monkey experience - komal lost her pack of chips to the redfaced guy…we heard her scared scream a long way away!!

It was picture clicking time all the way thru the jungle till we emerged on the highway to against time because our bus to Hyderabad was at 4 pm. But we made it, and collapsed in the bus! The driver seemed pretty pleased to see us again, and had a huge smile on his face! Yes, it was the same guy who had got us on 13th to Mysore in the same bus!!

Back home now, as I sit and retrace the journey over the last few days, I reaffirm to myself that life is like a river that flows ahead and never turns back once it has passed onto another destination. Also that people show their true spirit – of love, of courage, of kindness, of support, of togetherness when and if given half a chance. There is only need to provide the platform, to give them that chance. And above all, we need to respect nature in its every form, to love it, to appreciate it, to revel in its awesomeness…

Kudos to Diyanat, and Rajan, for all the effort ! Thanks a ton guys!!
And to all who were there….lets do it one more time…!!!hip hip…hoorrayyyyy!
P.S:This blog is entirely contributed by Rachana Gupta. She is a professional writer and recent addition into our HAC community...HAC team sincerely thanks her for the contribution

Masinakudi - Call of the wild

Fellow Trekker -Ranga Rao of the group created his own blog to pen down his unique experience of this wild journey !!!

Here is where you get to read this gentle man ->

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Masanagudi Jungle Trek

When the wild calls, you answer, simple…at least for the 24 who went on the masanagudi jungle trek. For the rest who wanted to but couldn’t, it was call waiting. For those who answered, it was an event that would stay with them for ever….they would be glad that they answered.
Well, once we all were gathered, intros over and desperately trying to remember the names of the members we were meeting for the first time and wondering whether the masked co passengers were just being careful or should we be worrying; it was time to move. Sudhanshu was still stuck somewhere in traffic, but after many phone calls and laughs at the confusion, we managed to pick him up enroute. The Volvo bus journey was all right; we managed to disturb others in the bus with our enthusiasm. The journey to Mysore was over with some bonding, chatting and sleepless night for some.
Day One

Shift over to Swaraj Mazda, we all started to go visit the temple at Gopalagiribetta. After the green countryside from Bangalore onwards, time had come for some climbing. Narrow country roads, small clean villages and beautiful sunflower and marigold farms greeted us.
The temple at the top of the hills was quaint and quite. Legend has it that there is a lake close to this Sri Venkateshwara swamy temple that has magical properties, so much so that we no longer spot crows in that area because they have turned into swans.
Well, stories aside, the rolling green hills give a fantastic panoramic view of the nilgiris yonder…a fantastic photo shoot opportunity, which none missed.

After an almost missed darshan (the curtain was drawn, did not see the idolL), loads of pics and stories heard; we made our way to Masanagudi.
The ride was through the lush green thick jungles of Madhumalai and Bandipur…all part of the same forest reserve…what’s in a name….We tried to keep a look out for animals, but being the wrong time of the day (animals generally come out during the early morning and late evening hours) and here we were in the middle of the day. But I guess, call us lucky, we spotted a few deer….in all their glory….shiny spots, antlers et al.

Monkeys were aplenty, much to everyone’s sense of humor…..trying to see who is related to whom?? Just when we were about to give up on seeing any elephants, we spotted a lone tusker a few feet inside the forests. Now that’s what I call a treat for the eye!!!!
As we approached the place where we were told we would be put, I was taken aback. Here I was expecting a rustic ‘in the middle of the jungle’ set of cottages with maybe no electricity and quite prepared for the most ‘away from civilization’ experience; and there it was…something else altogether. A very cute semi modern farmhouse with all luxuries yet so far removed from the ruckus and noise. Coconut trees surrounded it, the river flowed just close by, and you could see it from the hammock that was in the gardens. Well the hammock was one place you could find me…swinging away, watching the play of light passing through the coconut leaves, enjoying the cool breeze and of course sharing words and laughs of who ever passed my way.

After a nice hot decent lunch (some sumptuous fried fish from the river among other things) through which we heard some local news that changed our trek plans (the death of a French lady while elephant spotting), we were briefed on the agenda of the rest of our time. I really did not pay too much attention, wanted the surprise element intact.
A short walk (read cross the road and I am there) away was the river, meandering at its own pace, dragging with it the leaves of the bamboo plants surrounding it, reflecting the blue green hills and whiffs of white clouds on its calm surfaces. Again made for more photo ops.

A quick feet-soak in its cold waters left us asking for more, which was promised in the form of a small brook a little way away. Pilling into an Omni car, stuffing ourselves into an open jeep left us with no option but to also hang onto the rails of the jeep, which was enjoyed by few…almost that a fight broke as to who will hang outside the jeep..:).
The little brook was inviting enough till we landed inside it…ice cold waters welcomed us as well all the friends who were merrily soaking the dry ones.

After a robust game of playing with a tennis ball in the waters, we stepped out most unwilling….but to continue the game elsewhere…a fantastic green meadow encircled with trees.

With evening approaching, being cold and wet, promises of hot tea/coffee got us back in a jiffy.
A night safari was planned for all of us, for which instructions were aplenty, but all for our own safety. Now was no pilling…only eight in an open jeep, some snug and warm in jackets, some wontedly feeling the cold air, but all very eager and forcibly quite. Apparently the animals are quite used to the whrooming, honking, rattling vehicles speeding along the roads with full lights on, but are sensitive to human voices. A peek on the backside of the jeep gives you the best experience of being in the jungles at night…. winding roads, dark, mysterious, maybe dangerous and definitely scary. The driver has a way of driving zig zag that allows you to see the animals in his head light if they happen to be next to the roads. And we were again lucky…saw elephants in twos and threes and fours…. unperturbed by the noise of the vehicle but will panic at the flash of the camera…. munching away at the tall elephant grass by the roadside.
The bison were a little deeper…you had to look carefully to spot them…and we did!!! You see these animals in their natural habitat so up close and are awed by their size and regality….so much so that you loose your voice, eyes pop out and makes you think that you are so small and vulnerable in this kind of jungle.
A hot dinne awaited us back at the farmhouse
along with a bonfire…made for the perfect night in the jungles. Much bonding, laughing and dancing later, we all headed for a night’s rest for we had to be fresh for THE trek the next morning.

Day Two
Morning found us all eager and ready, drizzle and all. Some made a quick trip to the river side only to find that the gates to the dam had been opened sometime during the night that left very little water now exposing the bushes and undergrowth. Not a very scenic sight, unfortunately.
We had a poignant flag hoisting ceremony, some homemade laddoos to celebrate being Indian and 62 years of freedom.

Set out on the trek well prepared, things and instructions in place. A short walk through the village got us to the forest. Following a trail for some time, pushing the shrubbery and branches out of the way (because they crowd on the way, or rather, the trail was cut through them), trying to avoid the small rocks, bushes, thorns et al on the way, trying to keep quite so as not to scare the animals away, we managed to soak in all the senses of the jungles. The quite, the dampness, green smells, flowers, skeleton remains, dew stuck in cobwebs, dried trees, fried trees, moss, ferns …everything that can be noticed while keeping your balance and being on track. You don’t want to get lost in the jungle!!!!
Now my idea of a jungle trek was cross-country types, not on trails…and my prayers were answered. We started the decent into the valley…making out way around shrubs, small and big trees, tall elephant grass and occasional rocks. Its not funny going down a steep mountain slipping and sliding, grasping the grass roots for your dear life…some of us grasped the hands of who ever lended it at the right time…and many did. Lessons learnt…teamwork it is …all the way!!!

A short stop halfway down the mountain (3700 feet above sea level), we heard yet again “hey lachoo” “ oye lachuu”…some calls that the guides were making between themselves. Maybe was a secret call on sighting an elephant…coz immediately we stopped at a cliff edge and were pointed out in to the deep valley under us. We strained our eyes to see but could only make out muddy coffee colored water in a thick green jungle-ed gorge. Then we noticed some black spots and were told that they were elephants on their daily splash. We then got out our binoculars and zoom cameras to see them clearly and they are a sight o see.

Such bulky creatures can be quite playful in water. After they had moved along we too did, only to encounter them a few minutes later…luckily going uphill, far away and in the opposite direction on the slope facing us. Again what amazes me is the way these creatures can mange to walk on such steep slopes, with nothing to grip by, where as we had only two feet, small body and hands to grasp at trees stumps and tall grass. But then they were in their natural habitat and we weren’t.

Soon after a seemingly long trip down the mountain slope, we reached the river and its icy cold muddy waters. But after putting our feet and body through ordeal, cold water was bliss, muddy or not. Soaking our poor feet and then splashing and playing gave us all the much-needed relaxation time to unwind and fill our tummies. Also gave people ample photo ops too.
The trek back was another story altogether. If coming down was something, going up a slope with almost nothing but grass to hold on in an almost straight incline is something else. Some sensibly went up the easy zig zag way as instructed by the guides and some made their own paths. And some like me hung onto experts to lead me along the right way…. easy or not…just up and out of the gorge. A push here, a prod there, helping hands, encouraging words, sips of water shared, a couple of breaks to give the elephants enough time to get away from us (we did not want to chance upon them during grazing time…we were almost close, some saw them but held back for fear of our safety) and much later we were at the top. Or so I thought. But I was wrong….we still had a long way to go, cross the top of the mountain to get to the village.Almost 3 kms of walk through the jungle was pending, evening

was fast approaching, and we were rushed by the guides for we did not want to be still in the jungle in the dark when elephants come out along with other wildlife. A small disagreement amongst the guides on taking the south road or the west road ensued, much to everyone’s amusement. With enough pushing and separating talkative team mates (read me and Naren, specially), we were making slow progress according to the guides. To add to his worries, it started drizzling. Not to make all of us happy, though. We were hot, sweaty, tired and so ready for a cool off, but no such luck. Soon it was clear and we quickly managed to reach the village before it became dark. While going thought the village we saw so many coconut trees and when asked the villagers could nit give us any to drink the juice from because there wasn’t any one to pluck them. Theses guys depend on people from other villages to pluck these coconuts….coconuts coconuts every where not a drop of water to drink..:(
Good hot tea and coffee greeted us at the farmhouse. A quick back patting and meditation session (by Ranjan) got everyone relaxed, happy and proud at our achievements. Some scrambled for a hot shower to get rid of the tiredness. Some were lucky, some weren’t. Had to do with cold showers all the time..:(
Some of us settled for a quite evening with friens with some good soothing hindi songs for company. The fidgety types decided it was too bland, decided to take a small walk to the village. Managed to buy some fruits for everyone, chocolates and stuff to take home too. All in all a culture trip into the local life…small village, one lane along which the trade happens and tourists are catered to.
On reaching back, we were greeted by a nice warm bar-b-que with paneer and chicken smells tantalizing us. After much trail and error, shifting cooking patterns, inputs from all and sundry, ready hands to work….the stuff was ready and gobbled up faster than it could be made ready.
More dancing, chatting, joking and frolicking later, we realized that it was past mid night. But many still wanted to make the most of the ‘last night here’. Naren plugged up the camera onto the TV and we had a showoff all the pics taken till then…comments, laughs, revisiting the good times spent, most were ready to sleep off the tiredness. A few managed to keep awake the entire night and had to get to sleep as soon as the maid came over just at sunrise.
Day Three

With a packed day planned ahead, we made hurry with the fantastic poori-sabzi breakfast. After many byes and heavy hearts we said our farewell to Suresh and Padmini, our hosts.
Ooty is just 29 kms from Masanagudi…. that takes almost an hour and a half to go…complete with 37 hairpin bends, dizzying roads, scenic beauty wherever the eye turns, deciduous trees giving way to elculeptis tress which in turn giving way to tea gardens and lovely flowers by the roadside and outside quaint hilly houses or rather cottages.

A quick stop over at a roadside shop filled up everyone’s baggages with spices and teas to take back home. Happy with the unexpected shopping, we were all set to go to the Paikara falls.

Passing through the lanes of Ooty, meadows of wild horses, small water bodies; we made our way to the falls. Quite a crowd greeted us, but not to be left behind, we made our way down hill …ooohhing and ouching our way.

What greeted us was raw beauty…water over rocks and boulders making its merry way and gurgling away on its course…tall fir trees falling over themselves to get near the water’s edge…. trying to beat the grass in some hidden race. And to mar it all were half naked banyan-lungi clad portly guys having a bath and washing their clothes. I had such a difficult time to cut them out of my sight to be able to soak in the beauty…. because they were just about everywhere. Quite a disappointment!!!
After another round of shopping, this time for the famous small sweet deep orange colored carrots, sweet corns, fresh fruit juices, avocado puree, some hot tea for who preferred it. ….we had to be rushed back, trying to hide our eatables from the monkeys who were lying in wait by the side of the roads for unsuspecting human to snatch from. I had to surrender my apple to one such notorious guy and poor Komal had a good fright when another guy (could be the same, for all I know) snatched a chips pack from her hand…enough for her to scream out which we could hear quite far away at the bus. Lesson learnt…never keep edible food items visible to monkeys.
The ride back to Mysore was not as vocal, enthusiastic as lively as the trip from there. The ride through the forest reserve did not get us out of our seats for a look out for animals, many stole quick naps and others kept one eye on the watch for the time…. we were running a little late than schedule…. thanks to the roads of Karnataka. Managed to reach the bus stand just in time, event he bus driver and conductors were relived at our arrival…. they too had the same surprised look at seeing us as we had on seeing them…they were the ones who brought us…same bus too!!!
A longish bus journey found most of us sleeping like dead wood, tired, no longer bothering to find a comfy place to sleep in. morning brought us closer to Hyderabad with great plans to meet up very soon to exchange pictures and rehash memories and laugh yet again at al our endeavors.
After all this what should say, do I say, should I say??? But going by my notorious image…I will…;)
A memorable trip that brought people from all walks of life together to do something all of us had a common interest in. We had doctors, engineers, IT professionals, lawyers, architects, students, and of course the likes of me and Rachna…writers. The age group was as old as 11 years and as young as 52 years…so ultimately it was that age did not matter…it was what was in the heart and going by the enthusiasm of the entire group…I can surely say we were a very young-at-heart crowd. We take back with us fantastic memories, cherished bonds, lessons learnt, growing as individuals who now can face the world with more confidence than before because we have achieved something we had aimed for.

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world.... Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” - Patanjali, Indian philosophy
P.S: This blog is contributed entirely by Manisha - professional writer and active member of HAC..HAC Team sincerely thanks her for contribution...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tower Construction blunder on Maula Ali Hill - Hyderabad

The Moula Ali Dargah is one of the 11 heritage sites identified by"Heritage conservation committee" of HUDA. this hill rock has a history of 400 years and is a spiritual place for one and all, off late some construction is taking place on the top of the hill, I have been frequenting the hill since childhood and witnessed the human encroachment all around the hill but never saw any construction happening on the top of the hill except the white wash.

over the past 4 months I first saw the markings laid out which i thought was for a room, then the rock was chipped, this was done in a very slow manner and on 02 August metal rods were digged for construction of a radio tower by the cyberabad police, and now the work is going on nonstop and probably in a week we will have a 100 feet tower overshadowing the culture and heritage of 400 years, following this other government and private gsm and cdma operators may also add their towers and spoil the heritage and sanctity of the site.

This was also reported in the hindu online newspaper


construction in full swing

The Hyderabad City despite having a culture and history of 400 years could not be added as a world heritage city, this is mainly due to lack off initiative and concern from the state government. This construction of tower is hurting the sentiments of people who frequent to the place for their spiritual needs, and is a mark of disrespect to this sacred site

on inquiring with the care takers of the dargah if they objected to the construction, they said the WAKF board has given police the permission to construct the tower, but the site comes under heritage conversation committee and WAKF board cannot issue permission on behalf of HCC

pics of the hill in the old days and the present days, this shows the pillage and plunder all across the hill and now on the top

old picture 1900

Latest Picture

old painting of Maulali

present day maulali