Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lohgadh & Visapur Trek

The month of August ended for us with we boarding a train to Lonavala. Our destination was Bhaja Village.

Gang: Vidhu, Rohan, Me, Rafeeque, Arpit, Sharat, Shri, Karthik, Gagan
Normally my train journeys are all about reading books and sleeping. But this train journey I am going to remember for long long time. Somehow we decided to sing (as badly as possible, not that we had to try hard) 90's hindi songs, mostly sung by Kumar Sanu or featuring Mamta Kulkarni. I am sure we must have gotten into nerves of many people, but to our surprise no body complained. A all guys group has its on advantage.

We got down at Lonavala next morning. It was time for breakfast. After feasting on lots of Misal Pav, Bada Pav and Parle- G biscuits, we boarded a local train to Malavli. Once we reached there, we took an auto to Bhaja village.

The moment we reached Bhaja, we could see a beautiful waterfall, where the village women were busy washing clothes and some tourists were busy enjoying it.
The Waterfall
The fall was very tempting and inviting, but our first priority was to find a place where we can dump all our stuffs and also spend the night once we were done with day's activities.

The Sarpanch of the village readily agreed to rent 2 rooms of his home for us. Soon we dumped all our bags at his home and headed straight for the waterfall. We spent around an hour in the waterfall. The ice cold water drained all the tiredness out of our body.
Fun @ the Waterfall
After sometime we started our trek to Lohgadh fort. The fort is around 6-7 km from Bhaja Village. You can even travel by vehicle to the base of the fort.  However walking is what we always opt for. It was a very simple and easy trek but the picturesque scenery, the cool mountain breeze, the lush green grass makes the trek very enjoyable.
Edited Pic

One of the waterfalls on the way to Lohagad

The Scenic Beauty

These sells refreshments: Nimbu Pani, Cucumber, Chips and many more
At the base of the camp lies a small town Lohagadwadi. From here approximately 500 steps lead you to the fort. A mighty gate leads you inside.
One of the Entrance to Lohagad Fort
The fort provides a good sight of places around. But by the time we reached there, it had started to drizzle and it became quite misty. The visibility had reduced drastically. Still we kept on going and ended up reaching a place which looked like the end of the world (or the fort). We spent some time there, clicked few pics, recharged ourselves with Parle-G biscuits.
@ the End of the World
It was getting dark and after some time we decided, its time for us to start our trek back to Bhaja village. As we were returning, the fog cleared for some time and allowed us a view that left us mesmerized. This particular view took all the tiredness away and made our trek worthy.



The rain has made the road back to village very slippery, and it was little tougher coming back than it was going up.

The Sarpanch has agreed to arrange for our dinner at his place. It consisted of Alu tamater ki rusbhari subji, Chapati, Kandhe ki chutney, Daal and Rice. One of the yummiest food I have ever had during all our trekking experience.And after a filling dinner and some leg pulling we decided it was time to sleep.



Next morning we got up early, went to the same waterfall for a quick bath and started our trek to Bhaja caves and Visapur fort. Bhaja caves are believed to be one of the oldest Buddhist monastery and is hardly 30 mins climb on a properly laid out steps.
Steps leading to Bhaja Caves

Bhaja Caves
After spending some time at the caves, we asked people for directions to Visapur fort. There are many routes you can take to reach there, somehow we ended up choosing on of the toughest and least followed one.

The previous night rain has made the path very slippery and risky. To make things worse we soon lost the trail also. After some time we realized we can not go back and the only option left for us was to keep going up towards the caves.

The climb started with we passing through some thorny bushes. Soon we were climbing up a incline. The only thing that kept us going was breathtaking beauty all around us. The rain kept playing with hide and seek with us. The weather was awesome and helped us keep going. And the best part was when we crossed a waterfall where it was beginning to take the form of one.

The Climb towards the Fort

Taking a break and Posing for the camera

Crossing a Waterfall at its nasent form
But we were lost again. Soon we were walking through dense bushes again without any sense of direction. Luckily we came across some huts and a small 10 yr kid came out and helped us with the directions to the fort. He told us there are again two way to reach the fort and NOT to take one of them. We being us, decided to take the forbidden path.

For the next 15-20 mins, it was a pleasant walk.  Then suddenly we were walking through a dense patch of trees just as tall as us. It felt really strange walking through them.






Once we were out of this and after walking for another 10-15 mins, we realized we were almost at the base of the fort. And then we realized why the kid has asked not to take this route. There was no way forward, but almost a vertical climb. We had met 2 trekkers few minutes back and saw them climb up. This gave us the confidence that we can also do this. But mind you it was risky, one mistake and we would have fallen 100s of feet below into the dense forest. Once we were done with the climb, it took another 10 minutes for us to be inside the fort.

Words can not describe the feeling that we felt once we were safely inside. Probably this video will.


Once we reached the top, we realized how huge the fort was. We rested there for some time and allowed our senses to get soaked in the beautiful view that the fort provided.




 We had lost lot of time climbing up, so we were not in a position to spend much time there and we needed to come back to Bhaja Village as quickly as possible. Luckily we met few  local there who agreed to act as guide for our trek back to the village.  The climb down was along a water stream. It was slippery, risky but fun.

We reached Bhaja village just in time, after a quick bath in the waterfall we left for Lonavala to catch our train back to Hyderabad.

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PS: I have been warned by my friends not to use the word "unplanned" in this blog. But the only thing I knew about this trip was "I am going to Lonavala over a weekend"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another Unplanned Trip - Jog Falls & GoKarna Beach

Last year we went to DudhSagar without any planning. This year it was Gokarna beach and Jog falls. Again the only thing that was planned was return bus tickets.
Gagan, Vidhu, Sarat, Rafeeque, Kartik, Me & Arpit (Sameer is taking this snap)

Day-0 
Bus journey from Hyderabad to Hubali
After filling our selves with lots of Pav bhaji, we boarded the bus. Now if you are travelling by bus to or from Hyderabad and you are not a fan of telugu movies, carrying a music player is a must. And as soon as I switched on mine, it said Battery Exhausted. But to my relief and to everyone's surprise, 3 Idiots was played in the bus. A lot of noisy, funny discussions and leg pulling made the bus journey memorable.

Day-1
From Hubli to Gokarna
We reached hubli around 6 AM. Asked around and found out that we have to board another bus for Ankola (~3 hours) and from there another bus to Gokarna (~ 40 mins). The bus journey was beautiful. It slowly took us out from the busy city streets to beautiful landscapes. Some of the views were simply breathtaking.


No words
On the way to Gokarna
Beach Hopping
The moment we reached Om beach, we realized why its called so.

Om beach
The view there was beautiful, calm and serene. There were few eateries, tattoo parlors and cottages around. After a quick beer and some photography, we jumped inside the sea for some fun.
The Sea

Me

Sameer
And then we decided that we are going to trek our way through muddy and rocky terrains to other beaches (Half moon beach & Paradise beach).  We asked some people around, and they directed us to the trails that we need to follow to get to the other beaches. The trek provided some of the most beautiful views of the sea. And after sometime we arrived at the half moon beach.
Eye Candy

Soothing

Walk away from your daily routine

Relax, Recharge and Enjoy
We resumed our trek for Paradise beach after spending some time at the half moon beach. After walking for about an hour we realized that we are not reaching any where. And there came a point where all we wanted was to get out of the forest before it got dark. For the 1st time we realized trekking without a local or experienced person might be risky.

Luckily after some time, we met some people who told us we have missed the trail and actually heading towards Gokarna town rather than the Paradise beach. And we decided its better for us to go to the town as it was already getting late.  After walking for another 2 hrs (may be because we missed many more trails) finally we reached the town. And we realized, its a town with lots of temples and people live a very simple life here.

Preparation for Jog Falls
We wanted to spend the night as close to Jog falls as possible, so that we can spend the maximum time there. Hence we decided to board another bus to Kumta rather than spending the night at Gokarna.
Once we reached Kumta, we asked around and found out that buses for Jog falls leaves at 7 in the morning. We found a nice lodge near the bus station and spend the night there.

Day-2
Bus journey to Jog falls
Another beautiful and scenic journey took us to the mighty Jog falls. This kind of journey makes you think you should be travelling by a private cab rather than public transport. You feel like stopping every now and then and get lost in the nature's beauty. It was raining, there was mist. All you can see was green trees and cloud covered mountains at the horizon wherever the dense forest allowed.




 Jog falls
I was not expecting much from the Jog falls. But once I reached there I realized how beautiful it actually was. You have options of hiring cabs there who take you on a ride for 3 different view points along the falls.
View point at the top of the falls

The falls
As we were running short of time we decided to go to the base of the fall rather than on sight seeing. There are around 1500 steps that leads you to the the base. At the base, we plunged in ice cold water and had a great time. Its a very risky place, the stones are very slippery. And we were surprised to find no life guards there (they collect nominal charge of Rs 5 for entry). Climbing up those 1500 steps was a task in itself.

Bus journey to Shimoga
It started to rain heavily as soon as we were done with the steps. We boarded a bus to Shimoga (from here we had our return tickets to Hyderabad). The time spent in the water and our climb of 1500 steps had made us hungry. The bus stopped at a petrol pump for 5 mins and luckily we found a small hotel near by. In those 5 minutes we gulped down 6 plates of idily, 4 Parle-G biscuit packets and 13 teas.
The bus started playing some local bhajans, we all shifted ourselves to the last row, and had a blast there.

Return bus journey to Hyderabad
As soon as we boarded the last bus of our journey, we realized its going to be a tough one. And we decided we need to do something so that we can sleep in the bus. We ended up buying a Vodka bottle, mix it with Sprite and transfer it to a water bottle and carried it inside the bus. This helped us to sleep in the bus and when we got up in the morning we were in Hyderabad.

And thus another unplanned exciting weekend with a random trip came to its fitting conclusion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DON'T YOU GO ANYWHERE

Loved this.



-You don't get to be mom, if you can't fix everything just right.
-What a stupid world.
-But there are many things we don't understand and we just have to do the best we can with the knowledge we have.
-DON'T YOU GO ANYWHERE.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What should I believe in?

I recently finished reading "The GOD Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. In this book he tells you why a super natural creator almost certainly does not exist and that belief in a personal GOD is actually a delusion.

I do not believe in the all mighty, all knowing god. I have my personal reasons for that. I became an atheist long before I had even heard about Dawkins. But few things in this book, if they are true (they seem 100% true) got me thinking.

Few doubts and questions were raised in my mind. To be frank (and to give due credit to Dawkins) these doubts were always there in my the back of my mind, this book gave me the strength to express them here.

Natural selection or Super natural creation?
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Do we actually believe that human beings and all other living creatures are created by a super natural god. All of us must have read Darwins' Evolution theory during our school/College days.It has been proved beyond doubt that complex living organisms actually evolved from simple organisms over a (long) period of time.

Now please do not get my question wrong. I am not asking where did the simple organism came from. All I am bothered about is do we really believe that we are created by god and evolution has nothing to with it. I certainly don't agree.

Indra:King of gods?
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I find this one very funny.
The only reason I am stating Indra (a Hindu god) is because, that's the one I am most familiar with.Now I have not read any scriptures. Television and internet has helped me to form a notion about Indra, king of Hindu gods. Again, let me make it clear that I have not done any research on this topic. And my idea about it is very minimal.

I find Indra an incompetent, Jealous, coward kind of person. Who is more interested in alcohol, girls and luxury (which are sometimes called earthly pleasures , and he resides in heaven). Tell me will you ever hire such a person to work for you or for your company?  And he is the king of gods. Irony.

Just and Impartial?
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This one pains me the most.
If god really created all the living beings, why doesn't he/she/it treat them equal?  In case of human beings why are people from certain caste/color/religion are more preferable to god than others. Why does certain living creatures has to be sacrificed at the altar of god?

Do we really believe that god is all knowing and omnipresent? Why do we have to go to temples/mosque/church and other places to offer our prayers? Why cant we just sit where ever we are and offer prayers? What I am asking is why are certain places considered more holier than others?



I am not saying believing in god or praying to god is bad. Certainly not. What I believe is praying to god has same affect as sharing your problem with someone whom you trust.Talking to someone you trust calms you down, clears the thought process and helps you concentrate.All I believe is if you want that someone to be god, so be it. But is it necessary that someone has to be a super natural entity?

Dawkins puts it beautifully in his book. He says there is a gap in our understanding of this universe. And we tend to fill that gap by using an all powerful god. But why not feel that gap using science. True, science does not have answer to lot many things currently. But it does not mean that science will never have the answer.



*image taken from http://lukenixblog.blogspot.in/2011/11/scientific-method-proof-and-skepticism.html

Monday, April 2, 2012

A journey from 1996 to 2011

On 31st March 2011 (the day after India had beaten Pakistan to secure a place in the 2011 World cup final) my FB status said:

"For many years now.. I have read it on many newspapers, Watched it on TV/Internet, heard it on FM.. but I have never felt it.. this Saturday.. When India beats SL.. I wanna feel it.."

I had no clue what kind of feeling it was going to be. But when it finally came, like many others, I felt like king of the world. I was happy, I was satisfied. I was out on the streets, I was dancing with strangers. I was shouting at top of my voice, I was going crazy and I had every rights to go crazy.

I don't remember how I got hooked to cricket. Probably it comes naturally to most of the Indians. Even now when computer games are replacing most of the outdoor activities, you can still see children playing cricket outside. Cricket is one of the very few things that unites this vast country.

1996 world cup was a memorable one. Jadeja slaughtering Waqar all around the park, and Prasad giving royal send off to Shoail will always be one of my most cherished moments. Although loosing to Sri Lanka in the semifinal was disappointing, I was not hurt. I was not hooked to cricket emotionally.

1999  world cup was even boring. The only memory i have from this is the 318 run partnership between Ganguly and Dravid against Sri Lanka. I loved that innings so much that, in one of my school exams i described the entire match (Essay on an outing with uncle)

2003 world cup was a good one for us. As the tournament progressed i started believing that we can actually win this. And till date I feel we did not loose the final to Australia but we lost it to pressure of being in the final.
The sixes that Sachin hit of Caddick and Akthar will remain itched in my memory for ever.

2007 world cup was humiliating. Losing to Bangladesh and getting out of the tournament in the 1st round itself was not acceptable.

2011 world cup turned out to be a dream come true. We had the team to win it. And the way Yuvraj reacted after beating Australia confirmed me that we were going to win the it. The following Semi Final and Final matches brought back all the childhood superstitions back. We fought real hard to win both the matches. I don't know about the players, but I was really really tensed.
When the six finally sealed the world cup for us, We conquered the world that day. No words can possibly describe the feelings.



I just wanna thank the India cricket team for making us proud. 2nd April will always be a special day for us. I can safely bet that the world cup win must have made many people to forget their problems and jump in joy. I certainly did.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rahul Dravid - You will be missed

The Wall


Rahul Dravid retired yesterday. He finally did. It did not come as a surprise. With India not playing any test match in near future, probably everyone was expecting this. At least I was.

I am not going talk about the 180 @ Eden148 @ Headingley233 @ Adelaide or the 270 @ Rawalpindi. Great men are supposed to play great innings. These innings did not create Rahul Dravid, he scripted these innings. He did not pull anything special out of the box. He was doing what he was capable of doing. There was nothing extraordinary. 

I have never been a big fan of Rahul Dravid. Blame it on the movies or fiction books. Most of them show the lead protagonist as a super hero and not just a mere mortal. And RD is just a mortal.

Now, I have never met RD. Nor I have met SRT or Brian Lara. When I watch SRT or Lara play, I feel something special, something divine. They were definitely destined to success and greatness.They were born to play cricket. RD was not born to play cricket. But he chose to and he was determined. And he finished his career way ahead of Lara and second only to SRT.

RD represented a common average man. A guy just like any other next door. But he showed what determination can do for you. How an ordinary human being can succeed at the highest level. How to stand tall when even the God (SRT) himself is failing.

Another aspect of Dravid's career is his selflessness. In real life we know of many people who keep there personal desires hidden and give more priority to their family or their loved one's. Dravid loved playing Cricket for India. And he gave everything he had for the Indian Cricket team. I can bet, he did not like keeping wickets in ODI. But he did. Again he never liked to open the innings, But he did. He could have said NO. But he did not. Because he knew this was in the interest of the team and if he had to come out of his comfort zone and work harder, he was up for it.

Then another highlight of his spotless career was the way he carried himself on the field. I doubt we will ever come across any other sports man who carries himself with more dignity. He knows he plays a game which is followed most of the Indian population and Kids. He knows what kind of legacy he wants to leave behind for them.

I have a confession to make here. Even I have switched off the TV many times, when Dravid Comes out to bat in test. Not because I do not like the way he bats. Oh I love his cover drives and pull shots. But I know The Indian innings is in safe hand and nothing bad is gonna happen for couple of hours at least.

When SRT comes out to bat, I always feel like what if he gets out next ball, but when RD bats, I know he is going to stay. He calms my nerves down.

I liked it when he said his return to the real world could inculde dropping his sons off at school and shopping groceries. He again reminded us that he is a mere mortal. Just like you and me.

We will miss you Dravid. And you have given us a lot to cherish. We could not have asked for more.

The Wall will always stand tall.



Sunday, January 1, 2012

How I spent 2011 - Reliving the best moments

On 1st Jan 2011, My FaceBook status said " In the fond memory of 2010: It was a good year. But I can not say I ll miss it, coz one of the things 2010 taught me is tomorrow always comes....".

As 2012 is setting in, I sit and look back into 2011. I can definitely say I had more smiles than disappointments in 2011.

2nd April 2011 was one of the best days of life. I personally did not achieve anything that day. But like most of the Indians I felt like the King of the World. That night brought out tears of joy.

Jan 2011:
As always Jan 1 started with Lots of drinks, food, fun and friends.
But the best memories of Jan was Goa trip. This was my 2nd trip to Goa. When I am there I always feel like I have stolen few days from my own life. Prakash, Nishant, Sameer and Amit were my partners in crime this time.
From Left to Right: Nishant, Prakash, Me, Sameer, Amit
Guys, I ll not forget the Shots, Volleyball game, The hunt for the Sun Rise, The game to find out who is the most Kamina, Nishant's quest to drawn me and Prakash's  gala kharab hai. It was all fun.It was here only I realized few things in life does not change.

Me @ Anjuna beach in 2011


Me @ Anjuna beach in 2008
Feb 2011:
The month my brother got married. And gave me a very sweet bhabi.Took a break of two weeks from office. Worked hard and had fun like crazy for this. I love my family. I love them.
My Family
Mar 2011:
The world cup fever @ its peak. All the matches speak for themselves. But what stands out is epic clash between India and Pakistan. These pics will tell you the story of my feelings.

5th Wicket

6th Wicket

7th Wicket

8th Wicket

9th Wicket

10th Wicket

Apr 2011:
And a six sealed it. We conquered the world on 2nd April. No words can describe the feelings. probably this video will.



This was the day I danced with strangers on the street. This was the day when Everything was Possible.

Then AV's (arpit's) birthday celebrations was first in the series of crazy celebrations with my roomies @ Tulip-101.






May 2011:
May was an becoming an uneventful month till Hampi happened. Its an amazing place to go and see some the most beautiful architecture of Ancient India. Some of the pics:


Jun 2011:
I completed 1 year in Hyderabad. Had a nice party. And this is the month I read "Tuesdays with Morries", and my interest in books was reignited. Sorry No pics for this month.

Jul 2011:
I completed 4 years of professional life and wrote something for the 1st time. Warning you its not good.
But best was another trip to home and the Chillar party- Birthday celebrations of Aanya and Krish.



July ended with a trip to Dudhsagar.Easily best place i visited in 2011.

Aug 2011:
My Birthday falls on 8th. Nothing much happened that day. But i wrote another article on Dudhsagar. Do read this one.
Mid August, I went to Banglore to meet my College friends. Relived the VIT moments. But while I was there, On 14th night i was asked my a stranger "Tum Hindu ho ya Muslim"? I never knew why he asked this. But It did not feel nice.
But what stole the show in August was our trip to Bhawani Islands. Its a very nice place in Vijaywada. Few pics:
Entering the islands

As if there is no tomorrow
Sept 2011:
September was the 1st time my FB status said "Lalit Agarwalla is bored to death.". This month Indian Cricket team traveled to England and was beaten 4-0. I joined guitar classes.On teacher's day I dedicated this to my teachers. And I again request if anyone of you can help me with this.

Oct 2011:
We had lots of parties without any reason this month. We ate out almost every other day. Started playing badminton regularly. We just landed up at each other's place and had loads of fun. It felt like I have either gone mad or have become a teenager again

Then came Diwali, and I was off to home again. Nothing cheers you up more than spending Diwali at home. 
Diwali Puja




Nov 2011:
November was probably the dullest month for me in terms of outdoor activities. I also discontinued my guitar classes this month. But I did have quite a few moments which I will cherish for ever.
To make the month more boring India played WI in a meaning less series. Sachin did not score his 100th Century. This month could have been much better had Aussies been bundled out for less than 25 @ Capetown. They were 21-9 at one point of time and went on to score 47.

Dec 2011:
Dec started with Aikya-4th Annual day celebrations of Pegasystems. I guess this was only the 3rd time i have gone on to a stage for performing something. But I enjoyed every moment of it. This was probably my best day in Pegasystems till now.



Then One of my best friend, Gaurav, got married in this month. We had an amazing time in his wedding. His wedding and most importantly his family taught us few very important things of life.

And then there was Annual day celebrations @ Angel & Krish's school. This day made me realize that Girls are born dancer and guys are simply nuts by birth.


Finally 2011 ended with a nice party @ f-lounge.

In a nut shell, I had an amazing 2011. I have no regrets no complains. 2011 was a good year for my personal and social life. In 2012, I hope to continue this and I ll try to make sure I have a better professional year as well.