Exploring Karnataka – Kolar District

So that happened. To be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me to wake up at 4.30 am. But wake up I did, after about 10 min of trying to come up with a legitimate reason to give up the whole idea of heading to Kolar at the crack of dawn.

Yes, Kolar – the destination for the day, primarily chosen for its proximity to Bangalore. My friend and I set off from Majestic at around 7.30am from Platform 3. The buses are frequent and cost around INR 70.00. We reached Kolar bus stand by around 9.00-ish and that’s when the story started.

We found an auto from the bus stand that was willing to take us to the nearby Kolaramma Temple for INR 30.00 (TBH, it is just within walking distance. We opted for auto because we were a bit late and were not sure how long the temple will be open) Incidentally, while planning the trip, I tried, in vain, to find out the timing of the temple. Even now, I have no accurate idea of the timings – it was open till 10.00am on a Sunday is all I can say. The Kolaramma Temple was quaint. Small, but quaint. It took us barely 15-20 mins to see the entire place. It is also pretty famous and draws huge crowds on certain days, an inference I made from all the crowd control measures found inside. It wouldn’t eat up much of your time. After the temple visit, we realised that we are pretty hungry and set out to find a place to take breakfast. After roaming around the entire town, which is pretty small and old school, we ended up at the hotel in the bus stand. And let me forewarn you – Don’t eat from there! The food sucks. Which is why we ended up setting off to Anatara Gange in a semi-hungry state.

Kolaramma Temple
Kolaramma Temple
Inside the Kolaramma Temple
Inside the Kolaramma Temple

Antara Gange is a range of mountains that you first get a glimpse of when you enter the district of Kolar via bus. It is around 4km from the Kolar bus stand – it should cost you around INR 50 to go there – beware of auto drivers just outside the bus stand who’d charge you INR 70-100 stating that they’ll have to ‘return empty’! We had asked a vendor inside the bus stand how much the autos charge you normally, so when the first auto bhaiyya said 100 bucks, we knew better than to take it.

The steps that lead up to the Ganesh temple, Antara Gange, Kolar
The steps that lead up to the Ganesh temple, Antara Gange, Kolar

Now the Antara Gange mountains can be climbed in 2 phases – first there is a series of steps that take you to a temple that is built at the slope of the mountain. The deity is Ganesha and the temple had a decent number of devotees offering prayers when we reached. Now the climb is pretty steep with around 100-200 steps, but no worries – you’ll be escorted by hordes of monkeys throughout. Once you reach the top, the real trek begins. Climb the rocks and you’ll find a narrow path covered with trees and bushes – once you pass through the “portal” (as I like to call it) the mountains beckons. The trail is pretty straightforward – most of the stones even have rough steps carved on them!

The climb up from the Antara Ganga Ganesha temple
The climb up from the Antara Ganga Ganesha temple

We climbed our way to the top of a mountain where we found a bunch of trekkers with a young local boy acting as a guide – apparently, they were in pursuit of the famed Antara Gange caves. Since it was 12.00-ish by then and hot like hell, the breakfast-deprived duo (aka us) decided not to join the team. We found a cosy spot by a tree at the top and rested for a good half hour, gushing about Wild, Reese Witherspoon and the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and enjoying the view, after which we had an uneventful trek downhill. Autos were readily available at the base of the mountain (INR 50) to the bus stand from where we took a bus to Bangalore.

And the view from the top. Worth the climb, don't you agree?
And the view from the top. Worth the climb, don’t you agree?

All this took just half a day. I was back in my room by 4.00pm.

P.S: You could also try visiting KGF (Kolar Gold Field), the Kotilingeshwar Temple and Someshwara Temple, situated around 35 km from the Kolar town (nearest railway station is the Bangarapet). Frankly, we were too exhausted from the lack of sleep and food to head out there. Antara Gange also offers considerably challenging cave exploration treks which could be undertaken at night – moderately dangerous, yet worth the effort, I’m told! Btw, don’t forget to carry plenty of water when you set out for the trek!

P.P.S: In case you are planning a trip to the place and need any info, please feel free to post your query in the comments. The primary reason I decided to document the trip is the lack of detailed info about the place – you know, the kinda of things that actually help you plan the trip, especially if you are a geographically challenged newbie like me. 🙂

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Blog Addiction!

Recently, a few of my friends asked me to recommend a few blogs, probably since I gush about “that post..!” every other day or so. Not just that, they seemed rather curious as to how I got into this habit of waking up and checking my WordPress reader quite like how I check ‘The Hindu” and ‘Mathrubhumi’.

Alright then, I’ll wait till you’re done laughing.

Done? Okay. So like I was saying, try as I might, I can’t recollect the day I got addicted to reading blogs. It’s kinda like some of those friendships we have – the one where neither of you can remember how (or when) you started hitting off. All you know is that one day you woke up… and bam! You were best friends. Now before I go off topic again as I am prone to (but you know that already!), I’d love to share with ya’ll some of those blogs that has kept me up quite a few nights and still has me craving for more.

  1. SHE in China: I’ve written about this blog many a time simply because it is THE best one that I’ve ever read. Jonna Wibelius (yeah, it took me a few days to get that right too), the Swedish author of Seen, Heard and Experienced in China has this amazing style of writing – though the blog is basically about her life and experiences in China, her readers often get a glimpse of life in Sweden and Australia (arguably two of her fav places) as well. Usually travel blogs include long explanations on the wonders of the Forbidden City or the story behind the Great Wall of China. But Jonna wrote about actual life there – about the cost of living, the process of apartment hunting, finding a gym, snippets of conversations with taxiwallas and her attempts of learning Mandarin among other.
  1. The Shooting Star: Another fav travel blog. Yup, I’m a bit obsessed with those. The Shooting Star is written by Shivya Nath, who describes herself as (and I quote) “Just a girl who travels”. That she does and how! To travel solo and “live with the White Thai tribe in a remote Vietnamese village, hitch-hike along Turkey’s Black Sea coast, swim with black-tip sharks on Malaysia’s east coast, spend a night in the highest inhabited village of the Himalayas” among many other memorable moments – not everyone’s cuppa tea. Apart from the mind-blowing pictures and Shivya’s very visual style of writing, the reason I adore TSS is how every trip she writes about is easily replicable by you and me (provided you have the will.) And as I’ve personally taken her advice many a time while booking a holiday, I’d say that Shivya knows what she is writing about.
  1. A Quest On Overdrive: Now now…how does one write about one’s own? Well, to be brutally honest, the only reason I started reading this one was ‘coz it was written by my former English teacher (Erm…actually she has never taught me in the conventional way, but that isn’t pertinent to the story). The first few posts I read didn’t mean all that much to me…don’t get me wrong – I liked what I was reading, but it was more of an ‘in awe’ kinda like. And then, to quote Hazel Grace, “As I read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
  1. Freebird: Now this one was recommended to me by one of the kindred spirits. I remember reading the very first post and rolling on the bed, doubling up with laughter. Tongue-in-the-cheek takes on current political scenarios, movies, trends…you name it, Alka Gurha has it. Occasionally, I have been surprised by a few nostalgic posts as well (Remembering Enid Blyton). Considering that she is a regular contributor for the Gurgaon Times, her sharp wits and list of accolades shouldn’t surprise you.
  1. Ashish Shakya: Now this one you might have heard of. Ashish Shakya is…well, he is a humour columnist for the Hindustan Times, co-writer on ‘The Week That Wasn’t with Cyrus Broacha’ on CNN-IBN and a stand-up comic. His ‘About me’ describes him as “Too lazy to type out full sentences.” I. Adore. His. Posts. Never politically correct, they make me laugh, think and laugh some more. That level of sarcasm – it’s a gift, I tell you.

 

So that’s a few of my favourite blogs. Any good ones that has caught your fancy lately? If so, do drop the link, will ya?

Happy reading!

Goodbye Gujarat

“Why does one person need so many cloths?? How many t-shirts and salwar could one person wear in a span of 3months?? What in the world was I thinking when I bought all this stuff?? How the hell was I going to get all this stuff across 5 states?!”

These were just a few questions that were going through my mind as I sat in front of a suitcase that was looking increasingly puny in comparison with all the stuff that is supposed to go inside it. So I decided to do what many a genius has done time and again when faced with such daunting tasks. I decided to procrastinate.

See the thing is, I am moving out from Gandhinagar in less than a week. Wow… hurts quite a bit to think about it! In a little over than 3 months, this place has become as much a home as is possible. So many memories…walking down the memory lane, I am jotting down some of the most vivid memories I have of this place.

  1. Wandering through Manek Chowk

Manek Chowk is a street food bazaar which opens at around 10.00pm every night. Known for the mouth-watering variety of food it offers, it is the perfect place to have the BEST dosa you’ve ever had (I’m a South Indian. So when I say The Best, I mean it), lip-smacking pav bhajis, kulfi with raita, faludas, hot jalebis, and reasonably good pani puris among other delicacies. Key in the 1980s Bollywood music streaming in from speakers to experience life in North India at its best.

Street Food at Manek Chowk (Photo Courtesy: www.ahmedabadgiftshop.com)
Street Food at Manek Chowk (Photo Courtesy: http://www.ahmedabadgiftshop.com)
  1. The day of hailstorm

This is truly an unforgettable experience. A few friends and I had set out to visit the Adalaj Stepwell as few kilometers away from Infocity. It was a very hot and cloudy day and we were expecting (or rather hoping) for a strong drizzle at most. Imagine our surprise when the sun who had been playing peek-a-boo barely a second ago, suddenly disappeared and wind strong enough to overturn roadside carts and uproot age-old trees appeared. Initially we waited a while, hoping it would abate as abruptly as it started. And then it started to rain with such ferocity that we wondered if this was a replay of the 2001 earthquake. Somehow we managed to find an autorickshaw. It took us a moment to realise that half the ferocity of the rain was because it wasn’t raindrops that was drenching us – it was sharp, pebble-sized pieces of ice! My first hailstorm! And then, as if it were a Bollywood movie, the rickshaw broke down. How we got back to the hostel with our wits intact still eludes me but once we did, it made a hell of a story!

Caught in the hailstorm (Picture Courtesy: www.skymetweather.com)
Caught in the hailstorm (Picture Courtesy: http://www.skymetweather.com)
  1. Strolling through Sabarmati Riverfront. At 12.30 am.

Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project is an initiative by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to develop the Sabarmati riverfront in the city of Ahmedabad, India. . We reached there at around 12.30 am, only to be sent back as it closes at 11.00pm. Neverthless, the short walks outside the entrance were enticing enough to make me want to come back to this place as and when I can.

Sabarmati Riverfront at night. (Photo Courtesy: defence.pk)
Sabarmati Riverfront at night. (Photo Courtesy: defence.pk)

It was also the place where I got the first glimpse of how dangerous the seemingly safe places of North can be. The fact is, in the Southern parts of India, people rarely venture out after dark, with the exception of metro cities. We don’t have night bazaars or street shopping. However in the other parts of India, night is the time everything comes alive. There is something about seeing multitudes streaming through streets going through their lives that make you put your guard down. It makes your forget all that you’ve read about how unsafe a place it is for girls. Which you should never, EVER forget.

  1. Sunset at Somnath

Somnath is an ancient temple located in the Western coast of Gujarat. We were on a trip to Diu and stopped there and ended up visiting the temple at the best moment possible. The evening aarthi was just starting and the ambiance inside was amazing. But the best part of Somnath was standing on the deck there and watching the sunset across one of the most beautiful expanse of sea I’ve ever seen. Experiencing that sense of peace and tranquillity – very difficult to put into words.

Somnath temple at sunset. (Picure Courtesy: Shobha Kamath)
Somnath temple at sunset. (Picure Courtesy: Shobha Kamath)
  1. The day Modi won

How can that day not be memorable? Hearing about Gujarat rejoicing over Modi’s win is one thing – seeing it person, feeling that joy and sense of triumph vibrating through passers by…unforgettable. Needless to say, by the night of 16th May, there was not a single sweet shop not empty and there were policemen stationed every 100 metres. (Erm…I just realised that those two facts have nothing in common!) Brushing aside my personal emotions, it was amazing seeing so much faith in one man’s vision.

Celebratory ladoos on the streets after Modi won (Photo Courtesy: indianexpress.com)
Celebratory ladoos on the streets after Modi won (Photo Courtesy: indianexpress.com)