Saturday, September 04, 2010
Republic Day 2004 Trek to Mullaianagiri and Bababudanagiri in Bangalore
In the past 8 years of my life since I started staying out of Mumbai in a string of places like Bangalore, Pune, Middletown, Oslo, Stavanger I have had my share of travel and fun with friends and my family. After being egged too hard by dad one of these evenings to list down my travel in a blog, I decided to finally budge in. Here is a travelogue written way back in 2004 and I managed to retrieve it from my e-mail archive to my family. Its unabridged and is “as it was written” then. I have not digitally re-mastered it. This trip to the biggest peak in Karnataka was made during the long weekend of India’s Republic Day in 2004, just before Vishal and I voluntarily took a transfer to Pune office of Infosys from Bangalore. This was the last re-union with our batch of Infoscions cum roomies from the batch of September 2002 and other friends in Bangalore. So here it goes!
Period: Weekend of 24-26th Jan 2004
Trek to: Mullaianagiri and Bababudanagiri
Place: Bangalore, India
With: Myself and former roomies Vishal, Rana, Ashish and other friends Manu, Roopa, Swapna and Deepak Mahesh
That weekend, we had been for a trek to Mulaianagiri and Bababudanagiri. MuLainagiri is the highest peak in Karnataka and happens to be one of the topmost heights between Himalayas and the Nilgiris. It is at a height of 6000 feet above mean sea level (msl). The base camp from where the trekking could start was a district called ChickaMagaloor, which is 250kms from Bangalore.
We bit adieu to Bangalore Bus Station at 11.30pm sharp on Friday, the 23rd of January. The bus was running in "vibrator" mode, which really stole our sleep and made every bone of my body cringe with pain.mWe reached ChickaMagaloor Bus Stand by Saturday morning, the 24th of January, at 4am. After completing the morning routine and also breakfast, we guys went via local bus to the place from where the trekking was to begin. We guys sat on the roof top of the local bus, and commuted as they show in movies!!! It was really great fun. We sang a lot of songs, and also shot a video. Link is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mjs05f21Ac8
We started trekking by 9am. It was a very adventurous trek. There are pockets where the slope is close to 70 degrees and can really freak you out. Our group of 8 people, needed lots of moral & physical support to get through this stretch. This was perhaps because the path that we chose was not a proper trekking path. There are places where you can rest, be amazed at the path you have taken and look beyond that to appreciate the heights ! At times some of us used to ascend the terrain a bit quickly, in order to search the best possible route, for the entire team that was following. At times the distances really grew.
All thanks to our mobile phones, because of which we were able to "Express Ourselves" and were able to say "Karlo Mulainagiri Mutthi Main". Even perhaps, leeches cannot climb these heights :) But somehow we managed to find our path and reach the top by around 3pm on Saturday afternoon , with heavy backpacks and hungry stomachs!
At the top, there was a temple where a priest and his small family were living.
This temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is known by the name "MulayanaGiri" and worshipped .They cooked food for us, which was rice, sambhar and also curd rice. The food was really amazing and we guys just couldn't stop gulping down food! After the lunch, some of us snooped around to see the excellent, uninhibited view from all the possible directions.
Myself and Rana were pestering a small cow called 'Chini'. He was just 6-7 months old and very out of love and sadhu (a indian word which means innocent). I spoke to him a lot and asked him about his mom, dad and life in the hills. He was too bored to answer and showed his back to me more than once! After Chinni ran away with utter boredom, we climbed down a bit to explore some caves. There were two caves, which were very close to each other, but still amazingly both never connected each other. The entrances of both these caves were next to each other.
Cave 1 had a statue of Nandi, and also a Samadhi of Baba Mulayanagiri. Legend has it that Baba Mulayanagiri came here many years back for penance. He achieved his Samadhi after years of praying. I offered Gayathri Javams in the cave. I also meditated for some time.
I never had got so much of piece and concentration in my life before, especially while meditating/praying. Also prayed to Maha-Avatar Param Guru Babaji, who is the Supreme Babaji. Beyond the samadhi, the cave penetrated deeper into the mountain. The interiors of the cave were having well cut rocks, which were cut due to water. The shape was amazing and also when you ran your hands across the rocks, your hands felt the same way when you touch ice-creams - very cold.
There were dew drops around, which looked like shining diamonds in the snaps. We explored deeper inside and found some friends like a spider, who was happy to see so many people visiting him. There would have been some other insects and pests, but they were too busy playing hide and seek amongst themselves i believe.
Cave 2 had one entrance. But it split into three different directions, inside. So we went through all the directions, torch in one hand and memories of Enid Blyton stories about adventurous naughty kids on our mind.
We all then sat inside and had a series of snaps. We were discussing about calling Spirits by doing planchet, but then the idea disappeared somewhere in between our talks. Also there was a small stream of water in Cave 2. One of the villagers who accompanied us, did a pradoshanam of that on our head, saying its a prasad of Baba Mulayanagiri, and it was oozing from the nearby cave 1. We then left the caves and went upstairs. Replenished our energy reserves with Lemonades, Glucon C's, Chocolates and biscuits.
In the evening one group was pitching in the tents.
Other group was involved in collecting firewood, for cooking food for night. I was involved in the collection of fire woods. At night ultimately, i myself lit the ''choola" and cooked the food. It was an amazing experience! It was very cold at night and sitting near the choola and managing the flames of fire from dying down was a unforgettable experience. The food was nothing but ready-to-eat food stuff's, which we had carried.
These include - tomato soups, bisibelle bath, tomato rice, sambhar rice and rajma , which all are ready to eat, and need just boiling water to get cooked. We had also carried some 22 Chapatti's from our house, which were cooked in the Priest's House Choola and had with Rajma. Then we all again had some Glucon C's, Electrol and Chocolates. We also had dates. All these really help one to instantly gain energy, and keep up the fluid levels in your body. The moon kissed us, and the view from the top was amazing. It was just like the view from Aeroplanes - all the things below us appeared to be dots. A stream of lights along some arterial roads, some 6000 feet below our eyes, was appearing like a string of diamonds, worn by a newly wed bride.
Then we guys slept in our respective tents. Five guys slept in the Big Tent. The three ladies slept in the small tent. Inside the tent, we had the flooring of foam sleeping mats, which were individually carried by all. I also had the opportunity to wriggle inside a sleeping bag for the first time and zip myself from the feet to the neck.
Being inside a sleeping bag, not only makes you look like an Egyption Mummy, but also doesnt allow you to hug your friends nearby (now don’t catch me wrong there!)!
Me and Rana were the last to wake up on Sunday morning, the 25th of January. Finally the rest of the team of 6, was successful in waking us up from our dreams, as we were obstinate enough to wade off the wake up calls for more than 2 hours! We freshened up, then packing began, Tents folded into sticks and bags and we were ready to leave the top of Mulayanagiri. But not before a final group snap outside the temple, and also after i paid respects to the Lord of Mulayanagiri. Got vibuthi on my forehead and also a folder paper with vibuthi.
We guys then began descending, the range of 6-7 mountains with challenging slopes in between and the force of gravity energizing our moments like never before.
The path we followed to reach to a proper road was a hilly terrain and can easily make you loose your way, in between adoring natural beauty every microsecond. But nature and god had some other plans for us.
The person who was leading our entire team of 8 was Tommy, a dog. He lives with the priests family at Mulayanagiri, and feels its his moral responsibility to take all trekkers to their destination. Hence, were following Tommy for more than 3 hours.
When we took a break, even he took a break and waited for us. He never once was out of sight. All this descending , was done by this Hero of Our Trek with a limping leg. Where ever Tommy went, our network of trekkers followed him. I salute Tommy, for his undying faithfulness. He has really disapproved a common feeling that all two legged intellectuals like us share that stray dogs are a menace. After reaching the road, we gave Tommy some biscuits and cuddled him till a healthy limit.
With no bus in sight for some time, we hitch-hiked our way to Baba Budanagiri, the next target mountian, with the help of a Truck. Sitting in the open truck not only strained our heart for bidding farewell to the Gladiator- Tommy, but also our asses. as it was too hard to be comfortable. So through the winding roads and dusty tracks, we climbed many ranges of hilly area, which have looked so convincingly achievable on television and magazines, but so exciting and unpredictable in real life. We finally reached the top of a hill called Bababudanagiri. It is yet another important trekking spot. At the top,the truck driver was willing to wait for us and get us down.
This place was famous for a waterfall, which was really gave me an impression of a running tap..let alone a fully spread fierce waterfall. Legend has it that the waterfall was the result of a 40 year strong, committed and continued penance by Baba Budanagiri. He had come down from the Middle East, some 900 years back and made penace. The result of his 40 year continued concentration and efforts was the waterfall. It seems till now, the source of water of the waterfall can not be located. Lot of people were having a bath there, to wash off sweat and sins. We decided otherwise and came back to have tea, biscuits for the tummy and sunscreen for our face, to save us from the piercing sun. The truck finally left the peak of Baba Budanagiri and took us to a village below, where there was a shrine. We got down there, to end the short association with a truck and truck driver, who will always be alive in our memories, for his helpful nature.
This shrine is one of those rare shrines where Hindu's and Muslim's worship together, under the same roof. It has Lord Dattatray from Hindu sect and Baba Budanagiri and his chisti's in the same shrine. It was really heart warming to pray to the same source of energy, with fellow human beings from a different religion. It really made one hate the politicians rule of "Divide People on basis of Religion". More such kind of shrines and activities should be entertained, so that we work towards the ultimate goal of embracing all faith, which lead to the same source of energy and existence.
After the prayers, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant. Then we boarded the bus, back to Chickamagalur, which was a good 30 kms away.
Once again, the adventurer in us, made us to move to the rooftop of the bus. There we were, climbing down a hilly terrain, singing songs on the top of the bus and our eyes feasting on the picturesque surroundings. The "Sama Was Suhana" and we were "Musafir hoon yaaron,with no ghar or thikana" and finally we could pay a tribute the clouds, who were kissing us periodically,by singing "Yeh Haseen Vaadiyan,Yeh Khula Aasman". Finally we reached Chickamagalur bus stop on Sunday evening at 4.30 pm. We inhaled the last packet of Chickamagalur air at 5pm,after which the Bangalore Air was 6 hours away by bus. The bus journey showed us how tired we were, and at times each of us sneaked to catch our share of 40 winks in the shortest possible time. We finally reached Bangalore at 11.30pm on Sunday the 25th of January.
Indeed a wonderful journey. Monday was a holiday, being the Republic day of India, so we could relax ourselves.
There is another version of this blog at link well written by my mate Vishal (urf Sandy) the master planner of the above trip and who has helped me shift houses n number of times in life from this point of time in life not only in India, but also in US. Though not one of the most active ones in life and likes to be proud of his laziness, he is one guy I know I can always count on!