Showing posts with label Trek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trek. Show all posts

Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri - History with Mystery

'Ooria-Durgam' is one amongst the 12 forts that constituted the 'Baramahal' (the earlier name of Krishnagiri). Locating this place with the name of 'Ooria-Durgam' was quite a difficult task for us as google search engine failed to show up any results for the same. However, I came across an article which  mentioned that Ooria-Durgam was the erstwhile name of Hudedurgam, and is today being called as Udedurgam. Udedurgam is a nondescript village near Kelamangala and we reached this place without much difficulty. The fortification on the hill was quite evident and when we drove in its direction, we missed a right turn and went further. After realizing that we were heading in the wrong direction, we inquired with a passerby and tracing back as per his instructions, reached the missed turning point. On finding it inappropriate to drive, we took the available deviation and reached a dead-end, where we found an elderly person involved in his farm chores. When asked about the route to the hill of Udedurgam, he kindly replied by telling us to park our vehicle under good shade after which he volunteered to accompany us till the start of the trail from whereon the route seemed clear and the ascent quite comfortable. He was a very interesting and a joyful person, hailing from  the state of Andhra and having settled here long ago.  Since he spoke the language of Telugu, our communication with him was easier.
Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri
Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri
Pattern on the Rock
 As we started walking towards the hill, I happened to notice a structure similar to the prehistoric stone circle and Bingo! I was indeed right! It turned out to be a prehistoric cairn circle. 'Cairn Circles' are a type of megalithic burials, which were constructed using rough boulders with cairn/ urn packing at its centre. It turns out very difficult to date these structures and can be roughly assigned to a period anywhere between 2000 B.C.E to 500 B.C.E. Only a proper and systematic study can help reveal the exact or the closest date. Sighting a cairn circle only doubled our excitement as it seemed to be a perfect ' History with Mystery ' kind of an exploration. There were many hidden secrets waiting to be discovered. We continued to walk towards the hill and were welcomed by a ruined fort gateway. It was also pleasing to witness some portions of the fortification intact. The environs here had an endless vista of hills and valleys apart from its history/ pre-history. It looked like a place where every layer of history remained evident and exposed.
History with Mystery
Megalithic Stone Circle
Butter Ball
 This place may have been inhabited from a very long time back, as tools found here belong to different periods - the Neolithic, Mesolithic period and Megalithic periods. The site is perfect to carry out pre-historic studies, as it is quite evident from the environs to be a perfect place for pre-historic human  settlement. The ascent was pretty much straight forward and easy. It was a first for our youngest trek partner Ms.Diya who took it up on her own and trekked covering a decent distance. However, this was just her beginning and she proved to be a good learner! After sometime, we reached a big boulder that carried a painting of Lord Hanuman. A little further was another gateway with much of its fortification intact, after which the terrain turned flat. We passed by a small water pond and a little further from here was a damaged strucutre that looked like a room, probably constructed during the British period. We continued to explore this region and stumbled upon another intact stone circle! Simply wow! This sighting deviated us from following the original route as we spent sometime exploring this area. However, we were unable to find anything apart from a few ruins of the fort. We returned to our trail and spotted a big stepped water tank or kalyani that remained empty.
A Water Pond
Young Trekker Leading the Way
Bless Me "Lord Anjaneya"
Lovely Vista
 We continued our climb and came across the third gateway, which eventually lead to the top most tier of the fort. Atop the hill were two temples dedicated to Lords Hanuman and Shiva. While the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is at the summit, at a much lower elevation is the temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. While the Shiva Linga seems to belong to a period much older the fort, the temple structure belongs to 15-16th century. The temples were surrounded by many water ponds which remained clean. Many broken pieces of pottery were seen fallen all over the place, probably belonging to the historic era of 15- 16th century CE.  Although not much of history is known about this place, it is very clear that the fort existed much before the 16th century. Later during  the third Mysore war, Tippu garrisoned this fort and surrendered it to the British in 1791. After the peace treaty between them, the fort was returned to Tippu. Finally, in 1799 it fell into the hands of the British and was annexed to the Madras state.
Lord Anjaneya Temple, Udedurgam
Lord Shiva Temple, Udedurgam
Panoramic View 
Om Namah Shivaya
The view from atop the hill was simply magnificent and the lovely moving clouds added the required glamour. We could spot various other forts from the hill top, some of which are Ratnagiri, Rayakottai, Anchettydurgam, Krishnagiri and many such. After having the snacks and bananas that we had carried, we spent a good amount of time at the top. The surroundings seemed to have many hidden mysteries. We spotted a cave that resembled a shelter for the prehistoric human, and hence wished to check it out. However, we could not find any trace of prehistoric humans. The place may have been  used by the soldiers who guarded the area. We then headed towards our parked our vehicle. We greeted Mr. Venkatesh, the person who had guided us in the morning and thanked him. It was lunch time and he insisted us to join them for lunch. We were hesitant initially as we had to return home and the weather was extremely hot, but later agreed to join them as we were hungry. And we were pleased for having joined them for lunch. It was one of the best lunches we have had, sitting under the canopy of tamarind trees and amidst people with big hearts, who were more than happy to feed our children and us by sharing their food. The elderly man also gave us the freshly harvested beans and tomatoes from his farm. Finally, we bade a good-bye, after thanking them. Exploring Udedurgam was an amazing experience overall. An other day, another adventure!
Cave Bunker
The Lost Wood

Forts of Krishnagiri:
1. Thattakaldurgam 
2. Krishnagiri 
3. Jagadevi 
4. Ratnagiri 
5. Balagondarayanadurga
6. Maharajakadai
7. Rayakottai 
8. Periyamalai
9. Ankushagiri 
10. Anchettydurgam
11. Thrayandurgam

1. Madras state gazetteer - Salem
2. Archaeology of Krishnagiri District 

Thattakaldurgam – Vanagiridurgam Part -1

As per records with regards to the Baramahal or the 12 forts built in Krishnagiri district, one of them was the 'Thattakaldurgam' or the 'Thattakal' fort. As not much information was available (including its location), finding this fort was a real challenge.  We finally managed to get some reference to this fort and its location. On a Sunday, we, accompanied by one of our friends headed towards exploring the fort. After enquiring at a few places, we reached the village of Thattakal. The locals informed us that not many visit this fort; and the 2 routes leading to the fort are equally difficult to trek. Now, trekking here with kids was our next challenge and after looking at the massive hill, we felt it was next to impossible! We then tried to find a guide who knew this place well and would take us around the hill. But sadly none agreed. One person even confessed that reaching the hill top was a tedious task for them too and hardly anybody ventures. However, we took the details of the route and decided to explore it on our own.
Thattakaldurgam Fort
Little did we expect that this would turn out to be one hell of a trek! While there are many reasons for why this trek is a difficult one without being accompanied by a guide, the most important is the absence of a proper trail and much of the trek is through thorny shrub vegetation. With whatever information we gathered, we began our trek. Locating the starting point of the trek itself became a major challenge. We finally zeroed in on a point that seemed like the best one to begin. We kept following the track and reached a big boulder, which was one point that the locals had told us to keep in mind as the route from here takes a path from behind this boulder. We did find the trail as informed and following it, we reached the place from where the thorny shrub vegetation began. 
In Search of the  Hidden Path
The Never Ending Trails
Young Trekker Leading The Way
We took a short break here and after a while, I went in search of any traces of the route hereon. I went ahead and found the presence of two trails. While one was a straight path and led us to the portion of the final stretch of the hill (which was quite steep and this we only realized after climbing it half way), the other went through deep forests. Obviously, we preferred the hill route as visibility was high and the route seemed shorter.  I hurried back to my trek partners to take their suggestion about the route to proceed and finally in unison, we agreed to go by the hill route. Thus began our misadventure, and as we reached another big boulder walking through the thorny vegetation, we realised that a short climb from here would lead us to the fort, although unsure about this being the correct route. However, we started to climb the boulder which was almost a 70-degree inclined slope. It was only after we ascended cautiously half way of this extremely steep portion that we concluded it would be stupid of us to even think of climbing further as the terrain only turned steeper. With two young ones, venturing further was risky. We were five of us in total (three trekking independently plus one carrying the youngest partner) and each one was at different levels of ascent. It was our friend who was ahead and was almost nearing the hill-top. As she climbed, she realised that it was impossible to cross the  further portion in order to reach the fort and all of us would get stuck if we proceeded. We immediately decided to withdraw our trek and slowly started our descent on the steep hill.  We had to be extremely cautious and watch every step as any wrong step could lead to a  mishap. With nobody around except us, it was indeed a wise decision to retreat. Looking back at that portion of the steep hill, it was hard to believe that we had actually even tried climbing it!
The Impregnable Fort of Thattakaldurgam

This post is also our 350th one and we are excited to put forth this adventurous place!


Night Trek to Doddabetta, The Big Hill Quest

The past weekend, we, in collaboration with RTC Bengaluru organized a night trek to 'Doddabetta' or 'The Big Hill' near Krishnagiri. Our plan was to begin the trek on Saturday evening to watch the early morning sunrise. We had planned to reach the water spring present mid-way which would be our first resting point. Due to the presence of a natural water spring, this location was also to be utilized for dinner preparations so we could proceed further to reach the peak top and pitch our tents for the night, only to wake up to a beautiful sunrise. We numbered 20 in total with Sunil leading as our trek guide.
Periyamalai - The big hill
Periyamalai - The Big Hill
One group who were supposed to join us had booked for a self driven Tata Hexa with Drivezy which  unfortunately was carelessly cancelled by Drivezy without any prior notice. The group then had to book freshly for an alternate vehicle using Ola outstation. This entire process took much time and the group was delayed by more than an hour. After waiting for them patiently for close to an hour and a half, they finally arrived and we started driving towards our destination. After driving for sometime, we received a message about another car having a flat tyre and had stopped by a mechanic for repair. We waited for them at Krishnagiri toll who arrived after a good 45 minutes. We realized that in this process, we were already delayed for the trek easily by more than 2 hours! While we took a small break just ahead the toll, Piyal rode ahead of us on his bike and lost the route. We helped him back track to our location and driving together hereon, we reached the hill base of Periyamalai around 11:30 pm which was our original target time to reach the hill peak! Gosh we were late!
Star Lit Night
After the formalities of distributing equipment for camping and cooking to all the participants, Sunil helped everyone pack their bags right after which we began the trek. By 12:45 am, we reached the water spring and decided to halt for dinner preparations. The menu for the night's dinner was a cup of hot noodles and some tangy Puliyogare (tamarind rice)! With combined efforts from all in the team, the preparations were complete and dinner was served in the background of music. Some even danced to the tunes of music. With much energy restored, we continued our trek further and after halting for a minute or two at regular intervals, we managed to reach the peak by 3:50 am. It was a good 4 hour trek including an hour for dinner preparation time and multiple breaks. While Sunil helped the others pitch their tents, Dr.Anand, Karthik, Sameer, Nilesh, Me, Adhi and Sunil wished to sleep in the open. The weather was favoring as it was less breezy and not very cold as expected.
Pitching the Tents
Peacefully Sleeping
Morning Scenes
While everyone were busy settling into their tents, I and Karthik tried our skills at photographing the wonderful night sky. Though I managed to click a few pictures, I was less happy with its outcome and realised I needed more practice to perfect the art of capturing the stars. Gazing at the star studded sky was just an out of this world experience! All were asleep in sometime except for Sameer and Nilesh. I woke up early to catch the sunrise and was accompanied by Dr.Anand and Karthik. We took our positions to capture the sunrise and patiently waited making sure not to miss even a glimpse of its gorgeousness! Meanwhile Maneesh and Vishwa woke up and the rest were deeply in sleep. We witnessed the gorgeous sunrise and a few whose tents were pitched exactly facing the sunrise caught a glimpse of it from inside. As everybody woke up one after the other, we packed our tents and all the luggage and started our descent. We reached the base of the hill around 9:45am. While a few who had bookings with Ola decided to leave the place without having breakfast, the rest traveled with us to our usual breakfast point at Krishnagiri. After a relaxed breakfast and greetings, all of us headed back to Bengaluru. It was truly an amazing trek experience for all of us! Kudos to the team for completing the trek. If you wish to join us on such drives, kindly visit the website of Road Trippers Club for more information and be a part of many such fabulous drives across India.
Here He comes
Gorgeous Sunrise
The Enlightened One
Love is in the Air
Ek Selfie Tho Banti Hey
Yes, We did it in Style!
Plumeria Alley - On The Rocks!

Trek Team:
1. Me, Sunil and Adhi in our Xylo
2. Vishwa and Family had car pooled with us
3. Dr. Anand in his Ertiga
4. Nilesh and Sameer had car pooled with Dr. Anand
5. Maneesh and Family in their KUV
6. Mayank and Friends had taken Ola outstation Innova 
7. Karthikeyan in his Yamaha R15

A Road Trip to Kolhapur and Satara from Bengaluru

Our desire to witness the 'Kaas'/ 'Khas'/'Kas' plateau, popularly known as 'The Valley of Flowers' was long overdue. The best season to visit Khas being September luckily coincided with the vacation we planned. Thus our travel itinerary of Maharashtra was mainly based on visiting 3 places namely the Kaas pathar, the Reverse waterfalls and the sacred Marleshwar apart from others. It is well known that this entire region is a blessing to travel during the monsoon. Thus a 9 day road trip to Kolhapur, Satara and Ratnagiri districts of Maharashtra was planned. As we were building our itinerary of places to visit in these regions, we realised that 9 days is too short a time to cover all the places and decided to visit whatever possible within the planned time. Our overall journey was good as we managed to travel across as per plan though there were a couple of hiccups for our vehicle, involving a running repair (starter motor not working) and tyre punctures. The same was handled well without much disturbance or deviation.
We stopped by at a road-side hotel about 45 km before Belagavi for refreshments and took a bio-break. While we were all set to proceed further, our vehicle refused to get started. We tried and checked all possible ways but in vain. Even calling the service advisor from Mahindra and acting as per his advice did not produce any fruitful result as the starter motor was not in working condition. We took help from the hotel staff who kindly obliged and pushed the vehicle up-slope for some distance. Thankfully our vehicle started and we moved on after thanking the staff.  We informed the  service advisor about the same for which he advised us to drive down our vehicle to the next available showroom at Belagavi and also told us to call the helpline. We reached Sutaria motors, the authorized service centre for Mahindra in this region who were of little help, who even refused to even check our vehicle for the problem and told us to go to Kolhapur since we were driving in that direction. We were a little disappointed at their behavior as it was an emergency and they were of no help. We had taken care to keep the vehicle on all along and proceeded further as we were racing against time to reach the next available Mahindra showroom.
Without wasting much time we drove towards to Kolhapur and after a few rounds of U turns, we finally made it to Trendy Wheels showroom at Kolhapur.  We reached here by 5:45 pm, 15 minutes prior to their closing time! We were anxious as the next day was a Sunday and most of the service providers remain closed. The staff here were extremely helpful and made immediate arrangements for my wife and kids to take the much needed rest and also arranged for some tea and snacks. Heartfelt thanks to them for their kind hospitality. Suraj, the service advisor who attended to us gave us first hand information that their workshop remains open on Sunday's too. We felt more relaxed now. He also  asked us if it is an emergency so that he could get it rectified the same evening by requesting his staff  to work over time. We were already much grateful to them and did not want to overload their staff.  Meanwhile, the technicians who were working on the starter motor detected the cause of the problem and assured us that the vehicle will be ready by the next day afternoon. We packed the necessary luggage and reached the main town of Kolhapur as the service centre was located off the Bangalore - Pune highway. We chose to halt at a lodge close by Sri Mahalakshmi temple, so that we could move around without any vehicle and much hassle. It was late evening by the time we refreshed and had dinner. We were fortunate enough for having a good darshan of the mother goddess that night. The atmosphere here was electrical. We returned to our hotel and retired early. 

Next day, we started a bit slow and lazed around while we got a call from Mahindra informing us to collect the vehicle by 2 pm. We walked around in the temple premises and decided to visit the temple again, but were taken aback by the huge crowd. We later realised that it was Krishna Janmasthami that day and during Shravana month, a large number of people come to offer prayers. We visited a few more places around the main temple and then reached Mahindra showroom. Our vehicle was ready and after the necessary checks, we were all ready to continue our journey ahead with much enthusiasm. They had done a great job in a short time and their service was impressive. Knowing that we would be their one time customer and that too for a running repair problem, their action and efforts were highly commendable. We witnessed the striking contrast between the customer service provided by two Mahindra authorised dealers, where one even refused to look at the problem and the other acknowledged with exceptional service! Trust us! This kind of quality customer service is rather quite rare in today's world. Thank you again Trendy Wheels, Mahindra at Kolhapur!
The same evening while returning from Khirdapur, our vehicle had a flat tyre, this time luckily right in front of a puncture shop at Ichalkaranji. The mechanic took less than 5 minutes to fix the puncture and we were back on the road. We continued to explore various places the next four days until Friday, when we were a bit relaxed and hence planned to take an adventurous route to Chiplun from Mahabaleshwar. This route is not advised by the locals as it is not much frequented and less traveled as it is amidst densely forested area coupled with a few bad stretches of roads. The route passes through the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and the drive for most of the stretch is alongside the river Koyna, making it the most beautiful one. We were all excited and started driving along this scenic route. We traveled about 35 km along this route and it was heaven! We had another 60 km to finish this stretch. About 7 km from Chaturbet, in between the villages of Dabhe Mohan and Dabhe Dabhekar is a small bridge across a stream that connects them. To our dismay, our vehicle had a flat tyre again! This time around, the puncture was severe as the short stretch just before the bridge had eroded due to heavy rains and consisted of sharp aggregates. I had to change the tyre and made arrangements.  At the same time, a ST (state transport) bus passed us from the opposite direction taking extra caution as it was a single lane road and our vehicle was parked there. Post this episode, I managed to change the tyre successfully only to find out that the back up tyre was not inflated enough to drive. It was around 4 pm that evening and time was running out. We had to cover that stretch before the sun went down. Without panicking, we rested for a while and discussed about our next move.
Meanwhile, a local who was grazing his cattle conversed with us  and witnessed the entire situation. He informed us that there is not a single tyre puncher shop in about 20 km radius!!!! The next question to him was about the availability of any public transport to the nearest town to get the puncture repaired. He replied  that the ST bus which passed by a few minutes back was our only option! The next bus to Mahabaleshwar would arrive only the next morning at around 8 am. That apart, no other private transport is available. Upon inquiring further for any availability of vehicles in the village, he said that there was only one person in this village who owns a bike. So, we both decided to meet him and reached his house. Though we saw his vehicle parked outside, we had to trace him as he was not around. We explained the situation to him, but he replied that his bike did not have enough fuel. Nevertheless he came along with us to analyze the situation. He gave up the idea of taking his bike as it was quite risky amidst forest area and advised us to inquire if the car was available in the next village and moved on.  While I went with the local to the next village, my wife inquired with a passer-by who was very kind, and obliged by giving the phone number of a mechanic he knew who was located about 20 km away. He was damn sure that the mechanic would come by and resolve our problem. He tried calling him but the area had no signal. In fact, the passer-by was himself walking all the way up so he could get signal and told my wife he would surely call the mechanic and inform. When my wife called the mechanic and requested to come by, he replied that he was out of town and would not be able to make it. As the signal was weak, the conversation could not be continued and the call was lost. The news of our vehicle breakdown had spread across the village and a few more villagers gathered near our vehicle. At the neighboring village we found that no one was around in the house. While people around me went in search of the car owner (Sanjay), I was waiting in front of his house. In the meantime, the person (Manish) whom we had approached initially came hurriedly in search of me to inform that he had stopped a car which had come to drop someone from Mahabaleshwar and had agreed to take us to the nearest tyre puncture shop. While I was walking down with him, the passer-by (teacher) called us and told us to wait as he was on call conversing with the mechanic as promised and requested (or rather pleaded) him to come and help. Finally the mechanic was convinced and agreed to come by. We walked quickly to the car that was stopped and thanked the driver who was patiently waiting for us. It was really heartwarming to see each one's kind behavior. As we waited for the mechanic's arrival (which would probably take an hour or so), Manish invited us home for some tea and snacks. As we had our two little partners with us and it was getting dark, it was a safe call. It also began to rain heavily. The mobile connectivity here was questionable as there was a lot of struggle in getting any signal. Finally, the call connected between Manish ji and Shinde ji (the mechanic) and we were told to come near the vehicle. The mechanic tried all possible ways to fix the puncture, but as the cut was big, he was unable to repair it with tools. He gave up at last saying that he will not be able to fix it. We requested him to check the back up tyre and as he inflated it and checked for any puncture, he found none. Luckily now we had one tyre ready. Everyone around advised us to abandon our journey further and told us to go back and take the highway. We thanked everyone who came to our rescue. We drove slowly until we reached the highway and halted at Khed. This was probably the best experience we have had in sometime, where the entire village came to our rescue. We will always remain grateful to the kind teacher who literally pleaded with the mechanic for our sake, Manish ji who was kind and hospitable all along, Shinde ji who came all the way in the rains, riding through the forest and had to go back in the dark and all  the others who helped us directly or indirectly.
'Maharashtra' is one of the most vibrant states of India and is very rich culturally. Their love for the great Shivaji Maharaja is indispensable and significant, so much so that every place here has an association with the great king. The Western Ghats/Sahyadri Hills in Maharashtra comes to life during the monsoon with innumerable waterfalls taking birth from amidst the hills, and the hills exhibiting splendid colors as the flowers are in full bloom amid lush greenery. Though rains had subsided, most of the places we visited greeted us with rains. The plains were hot, but the mountains remained cold. Overall it was a satisfying trip. Maharashtra, truly a great state turns magical during monsoon!
Kolhapur - Satara Road Trip

Route we took 

To be continued....