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Old 16th February 2010, 23:16   #1
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Default When Forests beckon

I find forests fascinating, enchanting, mysterious, at times menacing and at times soothing. Something about them that seems to strike a deep chord within. And when its forests amidst hills with lakes strewn around its pure nirvana for me.

I bought my CJ3B for just one purpose, to explore forests.

Some 22 years ago I had visited Bhadrachalam as a trainee with Bhadrachalam Paperboards. While the factory was an impressive establishment I was more taken up then with the trees in the region. Much taller, more dense cover.

I've been wanting to go back and explore more. This time I decided I will explore the forests surrounding Bhadrachalam. A few calls to a couple of DFO's of different sectors got me a welcome response. After all I was not going to drive 300+ kms and be refused entry into a reserve forest.

Having sorted my Jeep out thoroughly and successfully completed a long distance trip in it getting ready for journeys has now come down to doing a typical check routine. With essential spares tucked away in the tool box and all fluids topped up its just about getting up early and buzzing away.

So this past Saturday my mother, a colleague and I were off on a cold morning. In no time we were heading down the Vijayawada highway at a steady 80 kmph

We reached Suryapet in time for breakfast, stopping by a roadside dhaba

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Post breakfast we took the road to Khamman crossing it and then Kothagudem (power plant fame) and Paloncha to reach Bhadrachalam by 1:30 pm just in time for lunch

I had made reservations at the Haritha hotel run by APTDC and was actually quite impressed by the scale, layout and upkeep of the hotel (forgot to take a pic of the hotel building which is quite imposing)

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The rooms were a big surprise, well maintained, spotlessly clean linen and clean toilets. The tariff for a a/c double is just under Rs 1500, Rs 850 for the non a/c. It was a bit warm by the time we reached and since my mum was along I opted for an a/c room

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Old 16th February 2010, 23:43   #2
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Default Home away from home for Ram, Sita and Laxman

Legend has it that during their exile Ram, Sita, and Laxman lived on the banks of the mighty Godavari just north of present day Bhadrachalam at a place called Parnashala.

Parnashala is apparently the location where the legendary episode of the abduction of Sita by Ravana took place.

Such stories fascinated me as a kid and I thought it would be fun to transport oneself back into time to relive that moment briefly

Post lunch after a short rest we headed out to Parnashala. There's a temple at the site and a sample of the Kutir where Laxman drew his famous rekha.

It was amusing to see sculptures depicting the various moments of the abduction. Ravana as a hermit, Sita crossing the line to offer alms, Ravana changing back to his true form, Sita fainting...

I couldn't help but wonder that Sita must have been quite ravishing to lure Ravana from Lanka all the way to Bhadrachalam.

BTW I don't buy the story of his airplane based abduction. I'm sure he came up the sea and upstream in Godavari in a boat. Wonder if it had a Packard V12. No wonder he diasappeared in no time and not even Jatayu could catch him

Anyway before I get too carried away by legends lets get back to the scenic tranquility of Parnashala. The Godavari..

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sanyas and the quest for a deeper meaning of life

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in the meantime I was busy having a nice cuppa tea under a tree, listening to the sound of leaves rustle as a gentle breeze wafted up the ghat from Godavari. It was an enchanting evening

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There was a quaint market place surrounding the spot where a temple now stands dedicated to the trio

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The drive to Parnashala and back was a bit like doing the salsa on the road or better still a game of poker. It was a single track and every now and then you had another vehicle coming head on. Both would need to move aside just enough to not crash into each other and often I found myself calling the bluff. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. Anyway the NDMS were happy to kiss the soil when I encountered a mind I couldn't efficiently read ! It was fun and I could tell people driving regularly on such single tracks get pretty good at passing each other without slowing down

That evening later in Bhadrachalam we visited a large temple complex which was built by sage Ramdas who was eventually imprisoned for using tax payer money to do so by Abul Hasan Tana Shah of Golconda. But that's another story...

Last edited by DKG : 16th February 2010 at 23:56.
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Old 17th February 2010, 00:35   #3
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Is there a thread on Team-BHP on your Jeep? Why is there a shovel on the driver side?

I want a shovel in my car too. I would like to hit auto drivers with it when they drive like auto drivers.
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Old 17th February 2010, 00:36   #4
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Its been 22 years since I last visited Bhadrachalam and for some reason what we saw now was different from the image of the town in memory.

I vaguely recall a town with tall forests surrounding the region, especially along the banks of the river. A lot of cover may have been lost to felling but in all fairness possibly I remember the trees within Bhadrachalam Paperboards campus and am confused about what once was.

In any case for someone driving 300+ kms to see forests I was a bit taken aback to see a town devoid of that luscious cover I always associated Bhadrachalam with.

I had no idea what was in store for us...

The DFO had very kindly arranged for a beat officer to come all the way from Chintur to escort us to our delight, dense forests !

Early next morning, top down, chill in the air a slight fog around the fields we headed out at 6 am to Chintur, east of Bhadrachalam

Along the way you drive by thousands of acres of farmland being used by Bhadrachalam Paperboards to grow trees for paper. I was told its a cycle of 4 years before a tree is suitably large to be cut for pulp.

Early in the morning as dawn broke and the red sun appeared it seemed magical as a lone open top Jeep darted across the landscape. The joy of experiences !

We reached Chintur in time for breakfast. Chintur is at a junction where a road heads off to Chattisgarh. Its a truck stop. It was our stop too at a cute shack dhaba

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My mother and I were fascinated to observe the dhaba was run by a trio of grandma, daughter and grand daughter !

I asked if omelettes were possible. The proactive owner hesitated for a moment but quickly responded that it could be arranged.

We were totally bowled over to witness a four year old darling dart across from the dhaba to a nearby store to buy a dozen eggs

The smile and shy freshness of cheer in her eyes made her the queen of Chintur that morning. Her she is posing with eggs...

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Satiated with a round of omelettes and dosas we were ready to meet up with the range officer for Chintur. After the usual round of introductions and explanations as to our real intent in visiting forests we got a chance to chat with a rather talkative Koya tribal elder who for some strange reason believed we were the saviors he was waiting for. We got a earful on how the forests were being neglected and no one was bothering. I felt his pain and somehow that pain became mine

No sooner did we leave Chintur a most welcome sight unfolded bringing a sense of elation to all, forest cover !! miles and miles of it !!!

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Old 17th February 2010, 00:45   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
Is there a thread on Team-BHP on your Jeep?
Yes here it is : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-ve...es-no-yes.html (Cj3b : Yes-no-yes !!)

Quote:
Why is there a shovel on the driver side?

I want a shovel in my car too. I would like to hit auto drivers with it when they drive like auto drivers
never thought of that use !!!

I don't know why its there on the driver side but Jeeps in Hyderabad seem to have it there and a shovel is definitely a very useful tool when going offroad

Last edited by DKG : 17th February 2010 at 00:57.
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Old 17th February 2010, 01:00   #6
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Interesting trip this,Sir!
Love the shots of the Jeep on those lovely roads, not a single car/bike to spoil the pic.
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Old 17th February 2010, 04:46   #7
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Interesting trip boss. Bring on more!
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Old 17th February 2010, 07:34   #8
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One of the best jeep here. You almost don't hear any engine sound!
Great one Deepak, we're all waiting to see more.
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Old 17th February 2010, 09:57   #9
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Driving past the Chintur and Nelakota forest ranges it felt intoxicating to smell the fresh forest air, distinct aroma of trees all around and sunlight paying hide and seek with the canopy above.

There were disturbing signs of felling of trees. You could see stumps throughout.

India needs to wake up to the horrors of decimating its forest cover. We are crying about Tigers disappearing. When will someone realise that a forest is far more difficult to recreate. You can always relocate Tigers. But you can never recreate a forest once its gone.

We reached Mothugudem only to realise we were in pristine forest country. The trees seemed taller and denser. I was ecstatic. We met up with the local forest beat officer and off we went to explore a new enchanting forest...top down obviously

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We reached a magical place soon, a waterfall in a setting which seemed straight out of paradise. I think it was called Tadika Vagu

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It was a relaxed morning as some chatted while others enjoyed the cool water

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Somehow much of our world seemed to fade away. Time seemed to lose its significance. All that remained was the chirping of birds, the hiss of a gentle water fall, and the deep rooted tranquility of a quiet mind simply observing. I wonder why people don saffron robes and lose hair to look for this peace ! All you ever need to do is to learn to travel very light in life, carry at best a small overnighter of memories. Thats all !

Last edited by DKG : 17th February 2010 at 10:04.
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Old 17th February 2010, 09:58   #10
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WOW!!! thats a great jeep!!! and this looks like a great trip also..more pics please

Last edited by KSM-Vtec : 17th February 2010 at 10:01.
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Old 17th February 2010, 10:38   #11
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In the middle east where most women remain veiled there are those very remote occasions when a lady would remove her veil briefly in public revealing such exquisite beauty of face. I used to sell cars and often lady customers did that when speaking. One invariably felt honoured being allowed that priviledge.

In nature too sometimes you encounter such spectacular beauty when you least expect it. Our next destination was just such a revelation

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I was dumbstruck at Forebay Dam. I was just not prepared to encounter so much pristine beauty in one location. We were all speechless as we explored this location

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That forest cover several hundred feet below (the water was 900 feet at its deepest I was told) was like that mysterious veil hiding a treasure. Was there a Tiger lounging in that shaded grove eyeing us lazily as he stretched after a sumptous meal? You never know.

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Both our beat officers were Lamdaba tribesmen. I joked that I was willing to marry a Lambada girl and work here as a beat offiicer for the rest of my life. They had a good laugh !

When Forests beckon-img_0218.jpg
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Old 17th February 2010, 10:51   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitin View Post
Interesting trip this,Sir!
Love the shots of the Jeep on those lovely roads, not a single car/bike to spoil the pic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Interesting trip boss. Bring on more!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
One of the best jeep here. You almost don't hear any engine sound!
Great one Deepak, we're all waiting to see more.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KSM-Vtec View Post
WOW!!! thats a great jeep!!! and this looks like a great trip also..more pics please
Thanks gentlemen, and yes Rudra ji that engine is like an electric motor. It really is a "engine hall of fame" candidate. Its definitely a legendary motor. I'm loving it !
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Old 17th February 2010, 11:06   #13
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Some really nice shots. I didn't know that such nice places were close to Hyd.

Your jeep does a good speed as well. Nice stuff there boss!

PS: Didnt you have a tata 207 crewcab with 4x4?
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Old 17th February 2010, 11:31   #14
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Absoluetly wonderful travelogue, just got me going through all the beautiful pictures and wonderful narrations, looking out for more in the next couple of days!
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Old 17th February 2010, 11:36   #15
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If the drive up to Mothugudem has enchanted my eyes and Tadika Vagu had soaked my heart with joy then Fore Bay Dam and its environs were fodder for my soul. I was intoxicated with Mothugudem forest. I was the forest and the forest was me.

The elements that governed the design of the Hurricane motor for the Jeep were stealth, quiet and loads of fuss free torque. Its not WWIII but now in forests this motor seemed just the most wonderful way to explore. Except for the russle of leaves and a gentle hiss from under the hood you blend perfectly into the environment with hardly any intrusion. Highly recommended if you value exploration with minimal intrusion

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I stopped often, switching off the already whisper quiet engine, to listen to birds and the sounds of a pristine jungle. It was simply divine.

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Now you see it now you don't. We were almost a mirage in that foliage. I am certain we were no visual distrubance to the forest at all!

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Some of the trees here seemed very very tall. Almost 100 feet at times I think.

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You can easily spend an entire afternoon here in summer and just not feel the heat. It was very cool this time of the year though.

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Our beat officer excitedly pointed out this rather huge rosewood tree. This is the first time I ever saw one ! There were several. Its a hardwood tree

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With everyone enjoying being immersed in so much beauty I suggested we now go off the road and down a forest trail, my wish was fulfilled...

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The ground was a carpet of dried leaves. I was wondering with so much leaf fall the forest remained so green. What must it be like in summer when all trees are in full foliage cover? My my I would need to turn headlights on I guess

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Here our host wanted to treat us to some forest fruit. We ate some berries which looked like miniature Anar but tasted like Chiku. Never had something like that before. They called it Tuni

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We finally reach the tarmac road near Mothugudem where we had a fried rice and chicken lunch (yes sir even in villages they serve chinese food ) and then after goodbyes and profuse thank you's and a promise to return again this October for a longer stint at this divine forest we headed back to Bhadrachalam

When Forests beckon-img_0267.jpg

Last edited by DKG : 17th February 2010 at 11:52.
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