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Old 13th February 2010, 22:56   #1
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Thumbs up Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI

When I named this thread, I literally meant what I wrote.

When some adventure-hungry BHPians decided to break away from the shackles of everyday life and reach the boundaries of earth,to the abode of the Gods, among the clouds, there was only one place which we were reminded of.
Skandagiri.
Brraj and Raj.barcode put forth this novel idea, and we contemplated about the Pros and Cons. Both Brraj and Raj.Barcode were doggedly determined to make it happen. Even if no one was in, the two of them would surely make this trek. Attendance to the discussion was sparse, as the trek featured many odds. Steep climbs, and even at a better hour.
An even better fact is, Raj.barcode was not coming alone. His wife would also come. Seeing this, Dreamcatcher also added his name to the list with due "motivation" from his wife. And then there was another guy who was in 2 minds about this whole thing. It was a sheerly crazy idea. It was completely bonkers. But still he joined in at the last moment. Sadly that guy was

People who were brave enough to face all odds:
1. Raj.barcode : Shriraj
2. Shriraj's wife Varsha
3. Brraj : Rajeev
4. Dreamcatcher : Brandon
5. Brandon's wife ( I profusely apologise here that I have completely forgotten your name)
6. Chikku : Prakash
7. Preetam_KORG : Preetam

The Idea that started it all :
On the day of Maha-Shivratri, why not go to a place where it remains dark, and we can pray to God and convince Him to give us a quick glimpse of what He looks like...Does this seem to be it?
Sadly it isn't.
Rajeev decided that a long weekend was coming up, and we needed to do something about it. Sadly, sitting at home and doing nothing was not what he had in mind. Shriraj was also of the same opinion. So it was decided that we would do some trekking at Skandagiri and catch the sunrise at the top. That inevitably means that we had to trek at night. So be it then!

Time of meeting : 2:10 a.m.
Place : BTM Advaith Petrol Bunk (Rajeev and Brandon were there to pick me up, Thank you guys. Shriraj would join us near the hills as he was already there for the Maha Shivratri Puja with his wife at Nandi Hills and Prakash would tag along from the Columbia Asia Hospital)


The Drive:
We started from BTM at 0215 Hrs and headed straight for hyderabad road where Chikku met us. The drive to the destination was quite uneventful. Roads are good. After the right turn from the foothills (left goes to Nandi Hills) one can find the odd pothole here and there but the roads are definitely in proper shape. Shriraj met us at a location 2 Kms from the trekking trail. There was a large mela and the locals were in a festive mood all thanks to the "Big Puja" that was underway. We reached the starting point of the trekking trail at 3:50 a.m. It was pitch dark outside and visibility was very poor. The fog had started to gather.

The Trek :
After parking the cars, we got prepared for the climb to the top. The terrain is rugged and the distance to the top is close to 9 kilometers.
NOTE : Let me say here that the trail is not for the faint of heart. People with any kind of medical conditions should consult a doctor before trying to attempt this. The trail is not suitable for small children and old people also.
Thus began our trek to the top in the middle of the night with no natural light whatsoever. Our only lead was our guide and the torches, sadly I had no torch either. Trailing the way in pitch black conditions was not easy. The trail led us through an Eucalyptus plantation and the a small stone Quarry. Then the climb began. In 15 minutes most of us were out of breath. We had hardly covered a mere 1 kilometer in this 15 minutes. The topography is rugged and very tricky. The peak is not visible from the starting point of the trail. We actually did not know where we were going. After a break of 5 minutes, we again gathered up our guts and exuberance and re-commenced the trek. The exuberance was short-lived. We were again out of breath in no time at all. We could see where this was going. At this rate it would be highly impossible for us to reach the top at all leave alone before sunrise. We trundled along. It was 4:30 already and we had hardly covered 2 kilometers. We were not being able to fathom how we would reach the top. We again reinstated our vigour and restarted vowing to reach the top come what may. We may miss the sunrise but we will reach the zenith somehow. There was no turning back now. Varsha and myself were having the maximum problems with the trek and we were the main reason for slowing down the whole group. Others bore with us the brunts of agony. Thats what friends are for as they say. We were slow and unsteady but we never gave up. From this point onwards the trail levelled out a bit and it was easier for us to walk. We gradually increased the pace and were hoping against hope that we reach the top in time for the sunset. We decided we would do it slowly with a plan. Every 10 minutes we would take a small break to rest our nerves and continue on our way to the top.
NOTE : There are 6 peaks here which are very deceptive. Everytime you reach one peak, it seems that you have reached, but it actually is "2 Kms" away
Eventually it was almost 5:30 when we reached the second last peak. From here the trickiest part of the trail came where we had to cross a very narrow ravine. And to better it off we had no safety gear, and holding onto torches while doing so was very difficult. We did this part with the guide holding onto torches and we crossed very carefully one person at a time. Rajeev and Shriraj were the most experienced guys and had done trekking extensively at some point in time. It was 5:50 when we reached the top. Considering the fact that we had stopped so many times on the way and faced so many odds, I must say here that our average speed was perfectly ok with so many rock climbing newbies in the group

At the Top :
The payoff was huge.
We were enthralled at what we had achieved.
Unlike Nandi hills, this place treasures virgin beauty.
We found a huge population at the top waiting for the sunrise. Frankly, we had not expected such a huge turnout of people. The beauty was breathtaking. we were encapsulated in clouds. It was the break of dawn when we had reached. The natural light was just filling up the sky and the flurry of colours were to die for.
Nandi Hills was like child's play. Having been to both places now, I can surely assure everyone that, once you come here, you are bound to be cut off from the real world. You would not like to receive calls on your cellphone and, you would not like to turn on your laptop and check your mail. You would rather cradle yourself in the laps of mother nature at her very best.
As we waited for the daybreak and the sun to emerge, we relished hot tea from the vendor. We were also informed that Maggi and bread-omelettes were available as well.
The first rays of the sun emerged from behind the clouds at 0640 Hrs. It was a sight to behold. As the sun rays kissed our cold shoulders, vigor was rejuvenated in our systems and we were recharged for the day. We took a lot of photographs at the top and enjoyed never-ending packets of chips, crispies, munchies, and cakes at the top. All of us seemed to travel to the past and become kids again. We were playing with the clouds and the sun was playing hide and seek with us in between the clouds. It was at this point that we decided that we would make a trip to Leh-Ladakh sometimes in September. At around 0730 Hrs we ordered the Maggi and as it was getting prepared we started chatting and cracking jokes with each other. Shriraj started talking about how my pictures always turned out to be blue at the end of the day, and how we never think of anything else except cars and food.
As the Maggi was served, we savoured the hot and spicy noodles which seemed to be the best food available on earth right then.

Coming down :
After the Maggi and some innovative snaps, We headed back down at around 0845 Hrs. The trip down made us realise what we had achieved at the dead of night. When coming down, we realised every moment that what we had achieved was worthy of a lot of praise and appreciation. Believe you me when I say this because, The trail is not easy by any means. I started slipping at one point of time and was completely off-balance when Shriraj helped me to re-gain a foothold. The loose rocks made it excruciatingly painful on the way down. All of us ruined our jeans and track pants as we constantly had to brush up our backsides against the rocks while coming down.
There were not many events on the way down, except the narrow ravine that we had to pass again, and me slipping. The first sight of the cars in the parking lot from around 2 Kms away brought a smile to our faces. It was like a child had got back his toy.
We finally reached the foothills again and made our way towards the parking lot.
The journey had come to an end. We had climbed rocks, slipped on mosses, lost foothold on loose gravel, had muck in our hair, and insects all over us, but at the end of it all, it was an accomplishment. An accomplishment which we were proud of. An accomplishment which will be etched in our memories forever. We turned back towards bangalore at around 1015 Hrs and parted ways from the parking lot itself. I travelled back with Rajeev who kindly dropped me off near my residence. After the trek we were all tired and had no energy left in our bodies. Our bones were aching and our nerves had started to show signs of overworking. We came back home and nestled ourself in our cots in subtleties of slumber.

NOTE : Most of us are still sleeping when this is posted. It was great fun. Why not do it again sometimes in the coming weeks?
You guys are great! Love you all!
Here is me signing off to cradle myself to sleep.
Take Care
Till then
Sayonara

Regards
Preetam
Attached Thumbnails
Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-025.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-030.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-026.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-034.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-028.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-040.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-038.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-044.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-054.jpg  

Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-064.jpg  

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Old 13th February 2010, 23:49   #2
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Must say, this was one of the eagerly awaited report. I was curious to know how you guys managed in such dark conditions. The spirit of humans always live up cheers guys.


@Preetam, you were at your usual best. Love the way you describe it.
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Old 13th February 2010, 23:55   #3
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Thank you!
Glad you liked it.

Yes, the spirit of humans is ecstasy unbounded. The hurdles crossed were really difficult and most of the time we were just not able to see anything at all. Coming back it was all slippery.
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Old 14th February 2010, 00:43   #4
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Seems like you had one helluva time. Very well written travelogue, and extremely nice pictures. The only thing baffling me is how you managed to make Maggi up there.
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Old 14th February 2010, 00:51   #5
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Well Shamik Thank You!
We never made the Maggi, we just ate it.
Nothing more nothing less
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Old 14th February 2010, 01:00   #6
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Default Skandagiri Hills Panorama

Here is the 180 degree panorama that I composed.
Please click on image and see full resolution image.
DISCLAIMER @ Raj.barcode : This Image is NOT blue


Trek to the clouds : SKANDAGIRI-180-degree-panorama.jpg

Last edited by preetam_KORG : 14th February 2010 at 01:02.
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Old 14th February 2010, 01:03   #7
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Extremely well stitched photograph, but somehow lacking in depth. Good job, nonetheless. Cheers.
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Old 14th February 2010, 02:59   #8
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@shamik : Thank you!
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Old 14th February 2010, 11:25   #9
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Nice writeup Preetam. I am still yet to post my pics. Will do it by the end of the day today.

Will also post my write up of the same

And yes preetam, finally no blue pictures

By the way, if anyone is wondering about the 2kms within quotes in Preetams write-up, he was so exhausted that everytime he asked us how long to the top, brraj would tell him another 2 kms. ;-) We told him that for almost an hour and a half
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Old 14th February 2010, 12:37   #10
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Thank you dreamcatcher. Sorry about your wifey's name. It was completely out of my mind.
Well, finally no blue pictures. Now, Shriraj will talk about red pictures.
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Old 15th February 2010, 10:20   #11
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Brilliant write up there preetham and NO i am not telling your pictures are blue or red!!! they are ok, its just that you need a better camera. Since you love taking pictures its worth the investment .

Since i didn't take the camera along; Brraj and Dreamcatcher we need photos and more photos


Quote:
Originally Posted by preetam_KORG View Post
Thank you dreamcatcher. Sorry about your wifey's name. It was completely out of my mind.
Well, finally no blue pictures. Now, Shriraj will talk about red pictures.

Last edited by raj.barcode : 15th February 2010 at 10:23.
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Old 15th February 2010, 12:13   #12
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Excellent writeup there preetam.

We made this trek just to be on top of clouds. Believe me nandi hills is nothing compared to this.
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n to watch sunrise
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We thought we were the only mad guys around but after reaching the top we see 70+ people already waiting for sunrise.
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Old 15th February 2010, 12:54   #13
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Hey Guys...must say that you had a king size trek, with a memory for the lifetime. Wish i could have joined.

Preetam - As usual i am speechless with your speech. Superbly written and amazing snaps. Thinking, if there is any group as OFFICIAL T-BHP Journalists, for you to be there.
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Old 15th February 2010, 13:01   #14
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Brilliant snaps there reliving the moment with those snaps sir

Quote:
Originally Posted by brraj View Post
Excellent writeup there preetam.

We made this trek just to be on top of clouds. Believe me nandi hills is nothing compared to this.
Attachment 288314

n to watch sunrise
Attachment 288312

We thought we were the only mad guys around but after reaching the top we see 70+ people already waiting for sunrise.
Attachment 288313
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Old 15th February 2010, 13:26   #15
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Wow! Just 9 Kms of trek to see this view? Not bad at all.... great report.

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