Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My GHAC trip for Paragliding in Kamshet

 Paragliding at Kamshet with GHAC
Did you ever want to fly like a bird? The idea of soaring in the sky always gave me the thrill and one of the dreams that I nurtured since my childhood. So, when GHAC gave me the opportunity to learn Paragliding, there was no way I could miss it. One evening, the GHAC group set off from Paradise Fire Station in Hyderabad to Pune by bus, along with our organizer Jamila Kapasi, who is an avid traveler. We reached Pune early next morning and set off on a local train to Kamshet (45 km from Pune). The vehicle of Indus Paragliding was waiting outside the station and took us to the training base – our home for the next 2 days. The ‘Base’ includes accommodation for staff, students and guests – secluded from the main town, thus avoiding the noise of the city and giving you peace and calm during the entire training duration. There was also a beautiful lake in front of the cottages and it was a beautiful sight.

View from the cottage top

After freshening up, we completed the registration process over breakfast with our instructors Yogi (nicknamed “The flying Yogi”, for his dedication to Paragliding for more than ten years) and Pankaj. After breakfast, we were shown an introductory video on paragliding and the equipment used in the sport. After that, we had a theory session along with a brief summary of the course contents and the plan for the next 2 days. After lunch, we headed to a secluded spot for our first practical training class. Pankaj Sir gave us an introduction to the paraglider’s wing or canopy, fitting of the harness and checking of safety gears.

GHAC team understanding the canopy and its intricacies

We were then asked to practice inflation and deflation of the glide, forward / Alpine launch method along with the packing and unpacking of the bag which contained the equipment. It was a daunting task that required a lot of effort but was able to manage it over a period of time. It was interesting to learn the positions “A”, “B”, “C” & “D” and their significance in the sport. After a few hours of practice, we returned to the base by dusk. We spend the evening discussing the learnings of the day.
Day 2 began early as we got ready and left the institute by 6:30 am for flight practice. We went to Shinde hill which we climbed partially for “hops” (low level flights). We had to gear up and then jump from the cliff, fly and land in the ground below. It was an amazing experience flying in the air even though it was for a few seconds. I remembered being totally scared during the first hop but Yogi Sir patiently guided us through the walkie-talkie and helped us navigate properly. I was almost about to land in a bush of thorns but narrowly managed to escape. The difficult task was to collect the canopy and to climb back the hill with the heavy load in hand – I struggled to manage that. All of us got the chance to fly at least three hops. We also learned how to turn in the air and the landing procedure. It was funny to watch most people landing on their back, though you are supposed to land on your feet. All our flights were recorded on video for viewing later in the day.
My first hop

After 3 to 4 hours of practice, we returned to the institute tired and excited. We all took quick showers and sat down hungrily for lunch. Here I would like to mention that the staff at the institute was amazing cooks and the home cooked meal was delicious every time. Post lunch, we sat near the lake and enjoyed ourselves. In the evening, Pankaj Sir showed us the videos of our individual flights and explained the errors that we made. It was thrilling to see us flying and as predicted, all of us could see how scared (and therefore stiff) we were during the first flight. Some of the videos were really funny to watch as sometimes we were all doing exactly opposite to what the instruction provided (confusing the positions “A”, “B”, “C” & “D” respectively). The excitement in the room was fun and contagious. Yogi Sir and Pankaj Sir made us practice the positions again at the institute in a simulated glider. I can never forget this day and waiting for some more equally thrilling experience tomorrow.
 Practicing different positions in the simulated glider

Day 3 also began early and like earlier days, we went to Shinde Hill for today’s flight session. We were faced with disappointment as there was a heavy mist and hence no wind. Pankaj Sir told us that we cannot fly unless there is wind, so we all started praying. Today is our last day in Kamshet, and we don’t want to miss the opportunity of flying today – Yesterday’s experience actually increased our appetite and we were all hungry for more flights.
Team GHAC on the way to Shinde Hill with the heavy bag carrying the canopy, harness etc. 

To while away the time, we did some time pass activities including all of us dancing to Gangnam style. The guys also did some mock action and fight scenes which we enjoyed. The group was extremely energetic and fun and it actually made the experience even more memorable. After an hour, the mist lifted and wind started to blow. We quickly geared up and this time climbed the top of the hill for a better flight position. We all flew one after another. What an amazing and unforgettable experience that was!! My first flight today was more than a minute as I covered a lot of height and distance. Everyone was scared below that I would lose the walkie-talkie coverage but Yogi Sir guided me beautifully. We all are totally grateful to him for giving us the most memorable moments of our lives. While I was trying to land during my second flight, there was a group of buffalos walking underneath and I was scared that I might land either on top of them or in their midst. Everyone kept teasing me about that later; however, again I had a narrow escape. Today, some local boys helped carry our bags in return for a few bucks. The energy and enthusiasm of those boys was amazing. They even helped fill up our bottles when we ran out of water. The boys were constantly running up and down the hill carrying bags for each of us.
All good things come to an end and soon our time to fly got over. It was time for us to return to our institute proudly carrying out the log books and the certification that we completed the elementary course in Paragliding J Thank you GHAC for giving me this opportunity to fulfil my dream – An unforgettable experience of my life!! Would like to come back for the next level courses as well J

My Flight 

Team GHAC celebrating successful completion of Elementary Paragliding course

Over all it was a wonderful experience and I am looking forward to more activities with GHAC, if you would like to participate in GHAC adventure activities then visit the GHAC site to find more details.

About Author:
 Ipsita Mukherjee: Like the name of my blog-(Wanderlust-My travel diary), I love travelling and capturing images of the places I travel through my trusted camera. Given a chance I would love to travel 365 days of the year, however, my job in the corporate industry does not give me that luxury. I work as a Training Manager in a BPO. I have decided to start writing about my travels and share my experiences with others. My intention is to inspire people to travel

disclaimer: The views expressed in the post are of the author and not necessarily represent GHAC. If you would like to write for GHAC blog please check the contribution guidelines.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

India Clean Sweep - Pics from South India

India Clean Sweep Report

Compiled report of the India Clean Sweep for which GHAC was the Hyderabad Partner.

Zone-wise volunteer strength

Zone-wise segregation (#big bags)

Photo/media links:


Tirunelveli - Nellai Nature Club

Hyderabad - Great Hyderabad Adventure Club

Vizag - 
Mother Earth Environmental Consciousness Society (MEECONS)

Trichy - Thaneer

Coimbatore - Umesh

Kanyakumari - Socio Economic Development Association (SEDA)

Tuticorin - Pearl City Nature Society, National Troopers for Conservation of Nature



Mime show @ Eliot Beach - Bharathi Scouts group





Broken Bridge

Besant Nagar




Neelankarai North

Neelankarai South

Prarthana Drive in




The Yellow bag

read the detailed report at

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Birding Near Peerancheru Lake APPA Junction

Birdwatching with GHAC near PBEL city

As the city develops more and more water bodies are getting under pressure from encroachment and silting. We at GHAC Nature regularly organize bird watching trips with  our members to various places in and outside city. A few days ago we visited the Peerancheru lake near APPA Junction for a early morning birdwatching session. I have been visiting Peerancheru Lake earlier many times as the last few years a lot of development has happened around the Peerancheru lake so the birds are used to humans, giving a good opportunity to  observe them.

We reached the lake around 6:30 in the morning and climbed down the lake bank opposite to PBEL city. It was appalling to see all kind of garbage thrown around by people and also a Ganesha Idol from the earlier Ganapati festival lying on the bank.
A Ganesha Idol on the lake bank: Pic by Raj Kumar Chabra

This is the irony of our society, once the festival is over we through the idols of the Gods in the lakes and not only pollute the waters, but also are not bothered about the very idols that we worshipped. Any ways our trip was about bird watching and after planning to come again specially to clean the lake we started looking for the birds. Initially we could not see any birds and were very disappointed. But soon the birds started making a comeback, after realizing we mean no harm to them.

First to show were some common pigeons, who were enjoying the water on a  hot day by dipping their beaks in water and occasionally even stepping in shallow waters near a rock.
Pigeons were the first to arrive

The pigeons were soon followed by Little Egrets, Bee eater, Indian Robin, white browed wagtail, grey heron, little egret, pond heron, painted stork, ashy prinia, rock dove, little ringed plover, river tern, stilt, common swallow. As more birds became visible the members became silent as to not scare away the birds and started talking in hush tones and sign language.
As we became silent, suddenly we could hear the bird sounds from every bush, tree and from the water where now the birds were looking for food without a worry in the world.

Egrets and Grey Herons : All want the same spot/ Pic by Santosh Kumar
A Purple sunbird was checking some flowers for nectar, an Oriental Magpie was slowly moving towards water, took a sip and flew away. The egrets were not happy to see a Grey Heron and showed their displeasure by making some threatening sounds. But the Grey Heron double the size of the egrets, did not even bothered and was more focused on challenging a cormorant for right to stand on a rock.
Grey Heron Challenges a Cormorant/ Santosh Kumar
A Red Wattled Lapwing was circling above us, making noises, only later we realized that there was a nest somewhere close by.

A Red Wattled Lapwing was circling above us: Pic by Santosh

In the rocks nearby we found some Peninsular Rock Agama, basking in the sun some little frogs trying to blend with the drying mud on the lake bank.

An Agama Enjoying Sun/ Santosh Kumar
A Female Sunbird, looking for nectar

As the sun was getting hotter we decided to call it a day but not before we all posed for this group shot

GHAC Nature birdwatchers at Peerancheru Lake

If you would like to join a GHAC Nature event like Bird Watching, Nature Walk etc. then you can join our meetup group to be informed of future events.

About the Author: Prasad Np is a volunteer for GHAC Nature you can check his travel and wildlife articles and pictures on his blog desi Traveler
Pictures: The pictures were clicked by various GHAC members as mentioned above. We want to thank them for sharing the pictures clicked by them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Maredumilli Trek – In the lap of Nature

Maredumilli – In the lap of Nature

Maredumilli is a small town in East Godavari district, approx. 81 km from Rajahmundry. In July 2013, I accompanied GHAC group of 20+ members along with organizers Rajani & Farida to this beautiful place. We started our journey from Secunderabad station and reached Rajahmundry early next morning. 

GHAC Team ready to board the train

We boarded a hired bus from the station and started on our journey. After stopping for a refreshing breakfast of idly, dosa along with amazing filter coffee, our bus meandered through the beautiful roads and the scenic beauty on both sides captured our attention. The monsoon season had rendered the countryside lush green and there were several small waterfalls gushing throughout the way. The undulating hilly terrain, silvery streams cascading down the rocks and the overcast sky made the entire journey mysterious and endearing.

Just one of the path we took

We reached the Eco-tourism resort Vana Vihari around 11 am. This is a community maintained resort in an excellent location with tall trees and big campus that provides different types of accommodation at very affordable rates. All the girls checked into one dormitory while the boys huddled in another. We quickly showered, changed and started for our hike around the forest. First we went to see the coffee and pepper plantations. It was a great learning experience as I had never been to a coffee plantation earlier. We enjoyed every minute of the cool atmosphere and the greenery around.  Another interesting watch were the different kinds of insects and moths that are huddled at one place – they don’t even fly away when you go close to click photos.

Wild Fruits

After that we went to visit the Jungle Star Camp Site which provides a unique opportunity to stay overnight in the deep woods of unexplored Eastern Ghats. The Jungle Star Camp site is located adjoining the Valamuru River with the stream on 3 sides overlooking the Vali-Sugriva Konda which is believed to be the battle ground of Vali - Sugriva during the Ramayana period. The remarkable variation of the Battleground with the presence of grass land, encircled by forests on the other hillocks makes it really an interesting place to be. Few of the group members decided to stay in the tents; however, since girls are not allowed due to security reasons, I couldn’t plan to be part of the adventure. However, we did light a camp fire and huddled around it for some time.


We returned to our resort by dusk and enjoyed the evening with a game of tambola and debating the plan for the next day. Finally, it was decided that we would go to Amruta Dhara – a waterfall approximately 16 km from our resort. This would require 10 km of trek to and fro from the area and then from the Main road you need to climb down around 150 meters in Jungle and climbing up on return may be little strenuous for some. This would ensure that we return to our resort and then have enough time to visit the Rampa Falls as well. The plan was strenuous; however, GHAC adventurers were all game for it. Isn't that the spirit of GHAC all about!!

The night ended with a delicious dinner of  Araku tribal bamboo chicken - Marinated chicken is kept inside hollow bamboo piece and burnt in an open area. The smoky chicken taste was awesome.
Preparing  Bamboo Chicken


Next day started with heavy downpour and no water in the rooms, due to which we could only start by 6:30 am. There was a heavy mist when we started. The group got divided into smaller groups of two’s or three’s walking at their own pace. The scenery was beautiful – lush green environment, mists all around and occasional showers. The terrain was uphill and muddy, however, the beauty of the surroundings made it easier.

Misty Mornings

With canopies of semi evergreen trees that drape the path everywhere you walk and with undulating terrain, which forms part of the Eastern Ghats, it sure makes your heart flutter with joy and brings a smile on your face when the sun plays peek-a-boo non-stop all through the day and sprinkles its incredible crepuscular rays (God’s rays) on you and giving out an impression of a panorama painted by God. The landscape is so breathtakingly beautiful that it chokes you up with emotion and that you’d wish you could etch it in your heart forever.
After we reached the spot for the waterfall, we had to climb down about 100 steps with side barricade supports. Although the path is very slippery and the forest around very dense, it is a must see as it is very good with water coming in from two different points. The falls is maintained by the local tribes. We spend some good time at the falls – clicking photographs, taking bath while some members of the group also climbed to the top of the falls along with the guide. They came back triumphant to tell us how beautiful it looks from above.

A Small stream in the woods

Soon it was time to leave this beautiful place though none of us really wanted to go back. We climbed up, panting and then started walking back to our resort. By this time, the rain had stopped and it was all sunny and hot. However, all of us enjoyed the walk, sharing the experience and talking excitedly about the future plans.
Our short stay at Maredumilli came to an end. We reached the resort on time for lunch and then we packed our bags to go to Rampa Falls which is nearly 36 km from Maredumilli (26 km to Rampachodavaram towards Rajahmundry and around 10 km on a Kutcha road to Rampa falls). All of us were exhausted by our morning adventure and were fast asleep during the entire bus journey. As soon as our bus reached, we were greeted by a heavy shower which stopped us from getting out of the bus. However, the shower stopped pretty soon and we walked around 10 min to reach the falls. This falls is equally beautiful and we spent some good time enjoying the water and trying to enter the caverns around.  It is truly a worth seeing waterfalls as there is no crowd at all and the water here tastes sweet.

GHAC Women Hikers: Ipshita, Saroja, Rajani and Farida 

It soon started raining again and we had to rush back to our bus and go back to Rajahmundry carrying with us the experience of a beautiful day that can provide the warmth of solitude.

In the end, I would say that this is one of the best places to visit if you are a nature lover and wants to experience local tribal lifestyle

Author and Photographer

Ipsita Mukherjee: Like the name of my blog-(Wanderlust-My travel diary), I love travelling and capturing images of the places I travel through my trusted camera. Given a chance I would love to travel 365 days of the year, however, my job in the corporate industry does not give me that luxury. I work as a Training Manager in a BPO. I have decided to start writing about my travels and share my experiences with others. My intention is to inspire people to travel

disclaimer: The views expressed in the post are of the author and not necessarily represent GHAC. If you would like to write for GHAC blog please check the contribution guidelines.