Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Trek!

Ok, I finally get around to doing this. In my defense, I have had a pretty full week so far and there are still one and half days left of it (well, three and half if you count the weekends). I still have to type in my second story that has been lying around in my notebook for some time now and publish it and start on my third story (perhaps even work on the story I started in delhi).
But all that later and let me tell you what I did the last time I got a couple of days off, ie, last weekend.
I got off early friday evening as the call (which sucks the evenings of my life) was cancelled! Yippee! I could take an easly bus to get to Honnemardu. Before you start wondering why that particular place, let me answer it for you. It is all because of this doctor in Bangalore who took this picture and this one. The picures as you can see are simply great. Well, he does take great pics. Anyway, I loved the pics so much that I decided to go there. Plus, I got to know that to get there, you might have to walk 14 kms (or take a taxi). I wanted to go trekking anyway and the result was that I packed my bag super-fast and was at Majestic by 7.30 PM.
Honnemardu is near Shimoga town and the more famous Jog Falls. It is also a place which is very near the place, Ambikanagar, where we (me and my sis) spent some summers at my doddappa'a home. That place was a small settlement in he jungle and my doddappa worked as an engineer in the dam nearby. I have some pleasant memories of that place and some unpleasant ones too. I did not go as far Ambikanagar(that I reserve for another day) but I did get to Talaguppa at 4.30 AM saturday morning after a comfortable eight and a half four journey from Bangalore.
Talaguppa is a small village some 90 kilometers from Shimoga and 19 kms from Sagar. It is from here that you start walking to Honnemarudu. And walk, I did.
It was 4.30 AM and I was a little apprehensive as I was in a alien village with noone in sight. Which direction was I supposed to take? I could hardly pick one and start walking because that had a possibility of not leading me where I wanted to go! I walked a few paces and there was someone about. Asked him. "Go straight and then take a left at the next circle and then take another left at a sign which says Hiremane." I thank my Dad for his Kannada lessons which enable me to read kannada signs. Ok. I go straight but I come to a fork in the road. Hmmm.. which one is "straight"? I feel like the nameless Samurai in Yojimbo, played exceptionally by the legendary Toshiro Mifune, who in the beginning of the movie encounters a fork in the road and decides on the path pointed to by the stick he throws up in the air. I was not aimless and though I very much wanted to emulate him, I could not have done that. :( So, here I waited for a while for another good samitarian to pass by to whom I could I ask the question. Presently, I get my wish and I move on...
Thanks to my kannada skills, I manage to find the turn that I am supposed to take and from here it is apparently 10 Kms away. Well, I was of course aided my the sign in English which read "Indian Institute of Adventure Applications, Honnemarudu" with an arrow that helpfully pointed out the way. Finally, I find an umambiguous sign that tells me where to go in this thinly populated place (or at least a place of late risers). I take it as a sign from God. Oh! I forgot! I do not believe in Him.
The road is a tar road and some of the scenes I saw are this, this, and this. It soon gives way to a mud road protected from the rain by stones embedded in it which finally gives way to a simple dust track.
The soil was red and was a delight to the eyes in the morning light. There were many beautiful sights along the way and I have tried to capture some of them, especially this beautiful flower that I saw along the way. I was shooting at f/5.6, 15 and I was afraid for the outcome on two counts - one because shooting at 15 increases the chance of a camera shake and two because f/5.6 means a very short dof which means that if I do not focus perfectly, the flower would be out of focus. I had to wait till I got the prints to see how it came out (damn you! DSLR-owners!).
Beautiful flowers, lovely sights, interesting villagers, etc, etc, later I finally get a view that stunned me when I first saw it. When I saw this, I instantly knew that I would love this place (not that I was not already in love with the place but this view promised the 'paradise' that Moses promised the Hebrews and made them walk around in the desert for 40 years and well, I had walked for like four hours). It was with this shot that my roll ended and from this point on I used a BW film (pro film that costed me Rs. 238) that is still in development, which means that you fine folks (my adorable readers) will have to wait till tomorrow to see the pictures of the rest of the place tomorrow!
As I continued walking, I was keeping an eye out for the IIAA (with whom you were acquainted earlier) base camp that is supposed to be around here. I nearly missed it but for the alertness of its inhabitants. They asked all sorts of questions and offered me tea. Here in this serene atmosphere where the temperature does not seem to rise above 35 degrees and where there is always a cool breeze emanaing from the lake, I think I found an idea of the place I want to live in. There is no use for electricity or for mosquito coils. Life as a farmer is hard work and not a very rewarding at that too. I do not plan to farm but I do plan to live in such a place one day. In the company of unbridled nature, it is a paradise unfathomable to the city-lovers.
One of the kids brought a twig that had a big, beautiful butterfly stuck on it. For a while, I thought that it was dead but it looked like an about-to-burst over-pregnant mother that was stuck on the twig in the hope that it would be an ideal place to lay its eggs. Got a couple of pics of the insect. Wow! I have been here for a few minutes and I was already discovering new things!
They offered food and said that the first boat ride was free. I denied the boat ride as I am very apprehensive of these small boats but then the water was very calm and it did not look like a dangerous thing to do to go out in a boat. After talking to them for a few minutes, I went outdoors to the rim of the lake. It was a beautiful sight. Since it was May, the water had receded but that was a good thing as a lot of interesting, otherwise submerged things were visible (wait for the pictures).
I walked along the banks which was made difficult by the rocky terrain and slippery sands. I got around to a some rocks that were shaded from the sun by the branches of some trees. Tired from the four hour walk, I slept for a couple of hours here.
Yawn! Lovely place to sleep. Now the Sun beckons me out of my sleep and enjoy the afternoon. It is always best to shoot pictures in the evening or morning light. so, I wait by the banks for the sun to wear out and go to sleep. It is a lazy afternoon dotted by occasional raids of my bag for a bit of the chocolate cake.
Got to know Mohan, the little kid that brought the butterfly around. asked me a lot of questions about my tripod. Pretty smart kid! He told me not to litter the place! I was like, "Wow!" gave him the rest of my chocolate cake and he brought be some pakodas!
A lot of people came and went. A group of college-guys came and made a lot of noise. I was a little pissed at them for breaking the tranquility of the place. But 'Boys would be boys', I suppose.
The evening came and I clicked more pictures. It was just so beautiful and I kinda rued the fact that I loaded a BW roll in the camera. Perhaps, it would have been better if I had used a colour film. Only tomorrow will tell.
The light quickly fades after the sun sets and I am left groping in the dark for a good place to sleep. The wind it quite brisk and I struggle to find a place that will shade me from the chilly breeze. Having found one, I spread my bedsheet and sleep on the earth (which was what I had planned). After a few hours of tossing and turning and dreaming of alien abductions and sadistic, nocturnal creatures rising out of the lake, I fall asleep because I am too tired to walk back to Talguppa at this time of the night.
Contrary to my expectations, I slept very well and when I woke up, it was 6 AM. Took a few more pictures and started back. Wanted to reach Talguppa before the sun came up and it became hot.
I made it back to Taluguppa in two and half hours! Perhaps, The lesser walk time was because of the fact that I did not take frequent breaks to photograph the surroundings like I did on the day before and the fact that I knew the way back without any assistance from passer-bys.
Then took a bus back to Bangalore.
*The End*


pseudonym said...

seems very interesting, how far is it from bangalore? does onehave to carry food/water or can get there?

MadHat said...

you get food and water over there. but you do need to caary a water bottle along.

pseudonym said...

u didnt answer my first ques :) btw u coming to the movies this weekend?

MadHat said...

hmm... "eight and half hour bus journey"
If that doesnt answer you, 370 kms (I think)
and Yes!

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sLuT said...

the trip seems to have put your spirits up. the writing isn't as dark as usual - if I didn't know you better, I had say you are almost exuberant!

see you in delhi next week.

slut said...

stupid google reader thought this was your latest post - and I did not check the date either! Turns out this was two years ago! Which puts an interesting spin on my comments - you obviously were a lot more 'upbeat' then, being new to the 'real' world and all...

Madhat said...

my fault really, I updated the labels on these posts (for a reason) and it turned up on the feeds. I have to do something about that. Till I do, the labelling is on a hold.

Madhat said...

hmm... I have to write about my gokurna trip and new york. perhaps, then you would think I am upbeat again!

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