Thursday, February 25, 2010

Night Camp - Vikarabad

Twenty One people, headed to ananthgiri hills for a night camp. What followed was a good time and a good time which was dominated by singers!

Ananthgiri hills is around 80 kms from hyderabad and offers a good place for camping. We found one such place for setting up our camp. From here, a good view of vikarabad could be had. The twilight brought out some good views of the place but we were late, as usual and we had to get to work!

6 cars with 21 people reached the place around 6 in the evening. People got out of the car and got down to work, realizing that the fading sun would offer light only for sometime. So, the girls took care of the cooking department while the guys took care of setting up the tents and collecting firewoods. Few knew how to set a tent and i was not one of them, sad. but the better part? i learnt something about it! There was no light, how could we continue our work? The cars came to the rescue.

What's cooking?
The girls were quick in getting everything ready, that was required for their cooking. Few got down to cut/peel the vegetables while others were sorting ingredients out. Few guys volunteered to hold the torch and throw light! With all the hard work, finally there was rice, dal and a curry, waiting to be served.
One person was busy piercing chicken into the sticks. The chicken-pierced-sticks were handed out to guys and were asked to roast it over the fire, which was created.

After the meal was prepared, a quick round of introduction was done around the campfire. Then, it was time to eat. There was light shower, accompanied by a gushing wind, when we commenced our food. Few of us had to rush to save the tents, which were not grounded. The water drops were for a little time. Post dinner, it was singing all the way. 3 teams were formed and a good number of songs played. Well into the night, the singing carried on and at some point it was decided that the group will go out for a night walk. A good walk and the singing began....again! We found a place downhill which offered a beautiful view of the lit city far away with the starry sky. The moon with its beautiful crescent was a watch. We sat down and people sang few good numbers. One of them suggested complete silence and enjoy the view. I liked this part. A sense, which is hard to describe, set in. Imagine in a surrounding - A cool breeze hitting your face, on a place which had a picturesque view, under the star-filled-sky. So, that was it! It was time and we decided to return. The singing went on! and when we reached back it was time to play cards. A good time with cards. I learnt something, for i knew nothing about playing cards.

What's with the toothpaste?
The maha-idea of one/two of the members, to apply toothpaste on the face of sleeping humans. I'm sure they had a lot of fun doing so and in the process being 'called' by a person on whose face they tried to apply. The best part was the explanation of what 'actually' people thought that paste was [LOL as i think of it!]

The next day, we had a short walk to catch the first rays of sunlight but unfortunately we couldn't see as the clouds has blocked the view. So, had to return, slightly disappointed. We reached our base, packed stuff and left the place with a pretty long ride back home, with of course, fun memories placed in the brain!

Thank you Ranjitha, for all the cooking and Anitha, Shraddha for supporting the cooking department. Thank you monty, srikanth, prasanna and nataraj for holding the torchlight for sooo long and assisting the chefs!
Thank you, shwetha, for the wonderful chicken [i think the left over marination paste was applied on someone's face! oh no. he thought so!!!]
Thank you everyone for the humor and fun.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Save Our Tigers.

According to the recent survey of India it is noted that the population of tigers in India have reduced to  1,411 from 40,000 (last century). Tigers are facing major population loss and extinction and are killed for sport, skins & body parts. There are only about 3,500 tigers left around the world out of which 1,411 are from India.

The main cause of the decline of Tigers is  poaching for tigers fur, bones and other tiger products and loss of their natural habitat due to changing climate and human activities like logging, farming and encroachment of forests area's.

To know more about how to save the Tiger please visit

You can assist in "Save Our Tigers" by speaking up about it to your family, friends, colleagues, posting Online and blogging about it.

You can also donate money to NGOs working for the cause, like WWF-India at

If we fail to act today the  future generation may read about Tigers and know about them as extinguished animals.

Take the step now and show your concern  - join the  ROAR -

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thumburu Valley Trek.

Deepika Ratan shares her experience on the THUMBURU VALLEY trek. Thank you Deepika for the writing. It's descriptive and as mentioned by you - It's your perception. We appreciate you time and writing.

So, in Deepika's own words.....

To describe the trek in simple words is seriously cumbersome but to start with ……WOW!!!! what a trek!!!! what a group to be with!!!! The 2 days passed just like a beautiful breeze….nature was at its best… of strangers became friends….all the differences were shunned…..few falls, many helping hands and lots and lots of masti, mazak and laughter!!!...

The train was scheduled at 6.30pm and we were asked to report by 6.30pm…and everyone was on time. The first person I came across was swapna…a lean figured, highly spirited and flamboyant person!!!by the end of the trek I realized that she is caring too…u were rocking swapnaJ

Next to come were Mr.ranjan sood!!!frankly speaking my first impression was”will he be able to do it?” but I had to take my words back!!coz of all he was the most charged person on the trek..always leading from the front, inspiring us by his narrations, beautifully posing for our cameras………truly a magnanimous personality…I was completely spellbound by his intellect and charm!!! ranjanji U R THE BEST …!!!

And then the “youngest of all” girl…sruti stepped in…cute,bubbly and yes! adorable too….

by now the train was on its wheels….everyone settled …aur ab baari hai aliji ki…initially I was little bit intimidated by him….coz he is “the organizer”…but let me tell u .. he is the coolest person one could have ever met!!!when he opens his humour ka pitara…laughter riot breaks out…and u cannot help..but find urselves rolling on the floor!!!....a specialist in leg pulling, his humor lingers like smell and whenever you recall …I bet u smile!!:) jokes apart he is a lively and lovely human being…and of course a great Organizer….

by now the train was at its full speed and the roller coaster ride started!!we played dumb charades and our acting skills popped out…Here we met our fantastic 4…shiva,anusha,niranjana and sunder…2 beautiful couples,apni duniya mein mast and a great company to have!!!during the game we met almost all the members…and WE HAD A BLAST!!!!.kittu earned the title “expressive guy”,swapna proved to be an expert in English movies,”dim dim” shiva struggled through “gupt” and sunder beautifully enacted “born free”…(sorry guys I couldn’t remember completely!!!)….and finally it was time to bed!!

Next day morning around 6.30am we got down at tirupati and had nice hot dosas…soon we were joined by other groups from banglore and tirupati… and also our annadata for xt few hrs ….Mr.balu and his team of cooks…. …and then finally we left for tirumala by bus….the hills covered by lush green forest,the Upin roads cutting through them,the fog filling the spaces between the hills, the sun’s rays making its way through it…aah!!!!were breathtakingly beautiful and divine… from tirumala we took a bus to papavinasanam which was our both starting and ending point.we had our breakfast againJthis time idlis….after buying bottles we were given final instructions and then our trek started…..

Once into the jungle some of our’s animal instincts were out!!!few climbed gooseberry trees and few echoed tarzan shoutsJ (srinivas by reddy was perfectly mimicking it….)we halted for introductory session..and there we had the opportunity to know each other…here we met an another inspiring and interesting person..Mr.nagesh…..who is married to trekking and star gazing…his age and enthusiasm easily outruns even an youngster’s vigour!!!.....after a brief intro…we continued our trek…..and on the way we were greeted by red sandlers,varied flora and fauna ,high hills,deep gorges ,water streams,high lying rocks and songs of birds!!!!our first encounter with water made us go crazy!!!walking parallel to the gorge, descending down the hill we finally reached the stream!!!!everyone hurriedly opened their shoes and got into the water…..we had a nice pedicure in the cool waterJ….the sight was spectacular and the feel was incredibly soothing!!!refreshments,chess,photography,playing with water…time literally swung between our childhood and present….aah!!!!b-e-a-utiful!!!but we had to make a move….now that was the toughest part for me…to climb up the rocks…I was panting and perspiring but on the whole a great learning experience…(I seriously need to do more treks..)..all credits to my bro and karthik-the missile guy…for the next few hours he was our(my bro and me) guide….few conversations with him I realized him to be smart,unique and ofcourse a wonderful helping hand!!......finally we made it to the top to descend again…it was almost evening and slowly chalte,chalte we reached our base camp!!!and guess what???the only thing we could have asked for….food was ready and hot served…sambar,rasam,pakodi…..hmm just mouthwatering!!!all thanks to baalugaru and his phenomenal team!!!!

Our rest place..a huge cave called makkamamba cave …one has to see it to believe its grandeur!!! enormously beautiful, profoundly spacious and miraculously elegant!!! we got rid off our backpacks and headed towards a water pool…once into the water…..jaadoo….all the pains and strains were gone!!!!guess the water had a healing touch….though not everyone went into the water,most of them were present enjoying the humour filling the air!!!!it was getting darker…so had to leave the pool and by the time we reached the cave…garma garam chai ki pyali was waiting!!!just imagine…..tired body—cool water bath----hot tea…can anything match this combo….damn it!!!no!!

By the time everyone was fresh ..the campfire was lit…the warmth,the natkhat jokesJ…srikanth’s beautiful melody….aah!!!we had a raw fun!!!next …dinner time…pooris,laddu,bajjis…!!!another brilliant stroke by balugaru and co..!!!

It seems it was an auspicious full moon day and the moon was several thousands of kms closer to earth….looking through the dark trees…peeping and posing the moon was magnificently stunning….ranjanji started with “yeh chaand sa roshan chehra” and soon shammi kappor joined us in our songs!!!a great way to end our hectic day!!!

We had to wakeup by 6.00am coz we had a train to catch at 5.00pm…everyone were on their foot…packing bags,enjoying the sunrise….truly a wonderful morning!!!all our senses were refreshed!!!after tea we were led to the exact thumburu valley spot…..a striking canyon rising approximately 200m high with flowing water and centuries old rocks…believed to be the abode of many rishis….right from its entrance to it dead end every inch of it was mesmerizing…a testimony to god’s patience!!!absolutely brilliant making,unmatched by any of man’s best creations!!!few enjoyed the waterfalls and few in the small pools..there were 1 or 2 temples showcasing our rich traditions… little tussles with kittu,my slip,superstitious stone arrangements and the humour attached to it are all memorable…

soon we reached our base camp…had breakfast with salads,bread,jam,and upma……our trek resumed and bidding goodbye to the cave started our 2nd day trek….

Second day trek was more musical!!!kishore da,rafi saab..accompanied us…”chalte chalte,hum hain rahi pyaar ke,kadam kadam badhaye ja,chal chal mere haathi”…and other wonderful songs reverberated through the jungle!!!of all I was the lone slowcoach!!!but thanks to the team they waited at every halt and encouraged me….cheers to the group!!!and that’s the spirit of GHAC!!!a special mention must be made of srikanth …he involved me in talks and the walk was easier!!!he was not only a good singer but also probably sincere and a fun loving guy!!!next ranjanji was with me and finally I could make it to the end…a brief halt and we all posed for a group pic… we headed towards our last destination…there again we found few temples,pandits ,singing sadhu and lunch!!!and what a desert!!!

Finally we had to start and bid adieu to the fascinating valley !!!15 minutes on and we were at the papavinasanam dam….though our hearts were wishing for more the trek came to an end!!!every good thing must come to an end!!!buses took us from papavinasanam to tirumala and then to tirupati…thankfully we were ahead of our schedule and had refreshments at a nearby hotel..sitting in the train we recalled all the funny moments which again brought smiles on our faces…..night and morning were as usual punctual and by 7.ooa.m on feb1st we were in Hyderabad!!everyone said goodbye of course with heavy hearts and satisfied minds…. hoping to see each other in some other trek!!!sincerely it was an amazing trek!!!thanx to GHAC and its members for making the trek possible !!not an exaggeration but the organization was absolutely flawless….right from booking,food,services,etc…everything was well organized….

a point to be specifically mentioned is that out of the 21 members 17 were first timers and all of them showed their mighty spirits….kudos to each and everyone ….and my hearty regards to all those whom I couldn’t mention.what ever I have presented hear is solely my perception and holds no biases!!!

Once again I thank GHAC for organizing such a wonderful trek…and giving me a chance to share my experiences!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A look back at Gandikota trek.

Thank you Kranthi for the short write up on gandikota travel.

From the awesome two day trek to gandikota. This trek was a physically challenging and emotionally satisfying one. The location is a mix of Hampi and the Grand Canyon..

The locals tell us that not many people come there for camping. Infact, the first question that any villager asked us was.. "Did you come here for film shooting ?" :)

so in a way diyanat and GHAC have unearthed a great location... we even got interviewed by ABN news :)

  • Sleepless night in in a train with a philosphical discussion on objectivism.
  • Hanging behind autos filled with luggage and people.
  • Glorious Gandikota fort in a gorgeous natural scenery.
  • Filling drinking water from an age old walk-through well..
  • Carrying backpacks, rope, tent, fire wood, rice, vegetables, utensils, stove and a tray of eggs...
  • Deciding to climb down a 30 metre high wall using a knotted rope... only to find out a secret passage through the 10 metre thick wall...
  • Too many cooks spoil the soup... but one head-cook and lot of helpers can make yummy rice, dal and curry on fire wood... and omlettes on a chotu cylinder..
  • Group of five singers... classical, bollywood and western... singing all the way...
  • Sentry duty in the night... the most beautiful night sky ever... lots of shooting stars and wishes to come true.
  • The wake-up call... "Guys... wakeup and packup" :)
  • Gorging down on recooked rice, crumbled bread with cheese spread and raw tomatoes for breakfast.
  • Exploring the gandikota fort... Penna river flowing between 200m high mountain walls.. Grand Canyon of India.
  • Exhausting rock climbing through thorny bushes... lots of bruises and thorns as souvenirs.
  • Getting interviewed by ABN news.
  • Checking out a temple, mosque and a granary built in 13th century.
  • Back to childhood... sucking ice candies, munching nallis and playing gilli danda
  • Lunching on scrambled eggs.. 2 packets of maggi for 18 people.. and some fresh coconut.
  • Bus ride to mylavaram dam sitting on the backseat singing aloud "mere angane me tumhara kya kaam hai".
  • Splashing in the river water and watching the sunset.
  • Converting the railway waiting room into a dining hall.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Interesting Information on Gandikota fort.

The information published on gandikota in this post has been sent by VijayPavan. Thank you very much vijay, for the information you have provided.

I did visit Gandikota several times before while practicing as architect in Hyderabad. Me along with a team of architects explored the place five years ago as part of a project to develop tourism related facilities (includes adventure) under APTDC. The project was pushed by the then CM Dr.YSR. I led the team under the supervision of principal conservation architect of Kshetra Architects, Hyderabad. Our job was to identify and document the components for tourism in the Gandikota fort and village and prepare guidelines for the same. Based on our report only further development took place and is still continuing now (The newly built accommodation facilities out side the fort).

The place has great significance in terms of geology (quartzite stone in sedimentary form & Gorge), archaeology, architecture (Vijayanagara and Quli qutb style), sculpture, irrigation (earthen pipes connecting several water bodies - built 500 years ago), culture, language ...etc.
Taking advantage of the gorge on three sides fort wall was constructed on other was almost unconquerable. First layer of construction was in 12th century.. exact date was..... Jan 9th, 1123 AD by Architects Gurikandlu and Arikandlu of certain cheif Kakaraja. (This info was authentified by some documents provided by Govt...) Incidentally the resurrection of the place was also started exactly on the same day after 800 years i.e., Jan 9th, 2005 by the visit of two other architects (Me and principal architect of Kshetra)... ...We came to know about this coincidence only later during our research. ;-)
After 12th century many kings and their reigns showed interest towards the place right from Western Chalukyans to Vijayanagara kings (Sri Krishna deva raya) to Hyderabadi muslim rulers (Quli qutbs) to Tippu sultan to British. The reasons for not knowing this could be attributed to the remote location and Gandikota was never a primary capital, it was most of the time a secondary or a tertiary one.

The entire fort wall has a perimeter of five miles (makes it one of the largest forts in India) and the length of the gorge is about 4km and depth upto 700 feet at certain locations. Few villagers have ancestral links to the original occupiers of the fort. The language, dialect and the kind of dresses they wear bear the original footprint of the place. Villagers have a very distinctive style of sports and games (typical to Rayalaseema) which can be witnessed during annual ritual happens after Ugadi every year. The names to the several places within the fort (Veerabhadra banam, Rama banam, Soodigundu) give an idea about linguistics development in the region.

Along with two big temples and masjid, there are many structures unexplored on the site. There are few secret paths to the valley through caves, one of them can be observed near the western edge of the fort. There were many interesting ways in which the people used to catch leopards and other animals moving around. You could even see now, some of those traps built with stones.

Another village Kottalapalle, southwest to Gandikota offers a breathtaking view of the fort and the surroundings. The banks of Penna in the environs of Gandikota were excavated long ago by Britishers and ASI, only to find out that there was human habitation in the region even during Paleolithic ages. My apologies if the info I gave here is like bits and pieces. It has been long since I read and wrote about the place.Each time I visit the place I end up identifying some new edge of the fort with the help of villagers. I feel there is definitely some mystic about the place in terms of the positioning of structures and the silent valley. There is still a lot to unearth about the place. 1960's Telugu movie title "Gandikota Rahasyam" reinforces this belief.... :-))

ASI employees there in the site have few pictures and maps. They and villagers are quite helpful to guide throughout and offer insightful & hilarious (sometimes not authentic) info.

We thought of conducting an exhibition at Hyderabad with the pictures of the place but back tracked later only to prevent misuse of the place till the Govt. facilitates the tourist's requirements there. Any way, I am happy to share this now!