Saturday, August 13, 2016

Day - 1: Monsoon Cycling Around Sahyadri [Belagaum to Tillari] : 13 - 16th August 2016

13.08.2016 - 1st Day


Four days, six bikers, non-stop rain, wild wet camping in tents, steep ascend, and enormous countless waterfalls across valley, beautiful weather, small tiny hamlets in forest range, pedaling in the dark, passing through the reserved forest!!!! These all happened in a most memorable four days long biking trip around Sahyadri between 13 – 16th August 2016.  This was most awaited event in my life.  Of course last year, at same time, I did road trip of Triple Falls with lovely bunch of friends in the same trail.


This event was in my mind, since a month ago.  My favorite organizer Rafi hinted me to do the four days cycling on long weekend of 15th August 2016.  Last year I had been with him Mahabaleshwara expedition.  I never wanted to miss out this event.  There was a worry for me, last Kuduremukha trek I was badly injured to my left knee, not sure about my fitness.  It was scared moment for me, however never wanted to miss out this epic journey.
 

I pinged about my fitness to Rafi and expressed about my lack of confidence to complete four days difficult journey.  Believe me he is a real motivator for me, just he said “Nothing to worry Vidya, just join this event.  If you could not able to complete the stretch, you can stay in some home-stay or you can reach through vehicle to the respective location”.  I did not think second option, just transferred the amount to Rafi for Bus booking.  One more positive thing is, my close friend Shanthi Prasad also agreed to join with me in this event.  Just we eagerly waiting for the day to explore Sahyadri range.


Well in advance Rafi booked our tickets to Belagavi, else it was not so easy to get the tickets for a long weekend.  Shared all the itinerary, route map, tentative camping spot, things to carry, preventive measures for bikes, some tips for biking etc. 

The team members are Rafi, Deepak, Arun, Shanthi Prasad, Sreeharsha Aithal & Myself

Route opted

Bengaluru – Belagavi – and back to Bengaluru - by Volvo Bus

Day -1 : Belagavi – Mahipalgad – Tillari Dam [Night Halt]




12.08.2016

We all six members could not able to get the reservation in the same bus.  Rafi split the members in three different busses.  I and Shanthi Prasad in one bus (Boarding from Majestic), Rafi, Sreeharsha & Deepak in another bus (Boarding from Mysore Road Satellite Bus Stand), Arun booked himself in the private bus.  Now the real challenge for me is; how to convince the driver? How to load the bikes? How to face the crowd in Majestic?  Again I approached to Rafi about all these challenges.  He explained in detail and filled confidence in me. 

The day was very busy for me in the office; finished the work and reached the room around 7 pm.  Quickly packed the luggage and moved to Shanthi Prasad home. He was ready, started our journey towards Majestic around 7.45 pm.


Reached the majestic around 8.20 pm well ahead of the bus timing, departure time was 9.18 pm.  As expected, the bus stand was crowded, we made a place to keep our two bikes safely.  Inquired about our bus arrival, there was again shock!! The bus has to come from Chennai, the controller asked us to sit and relax saying "may get late to reach the Majestic since the weekend traffic".  Luckily the bus reached on time around 9 pm.  As per Rafi advice, I went to Driver and asked about the space in the luggage compartment for our bikes.  Initially he refused, however gave an option that if the courier material is less, then you can accommodate.  Quickly I dismantled the front wheels of both bikes and rushed to luggage section.  We were enough lucky, the courier goods was less and kept our bikes so comfortably in the section.  Settled happily in our respective seats and continued the journey.

13.08.2016 – Day – 1
Bus reached on time to Belagavi around 7 am. Taken out our bikes so carefully and re-assembled the front wheel.  Bikes were safe during the journey, luckily we did not get any scratch.  Rafi & Arun bus reached ahead of us, they were too busy in assembling the bikes.  Finished our morning core job in Belagavi Bus stand.  By the time, Arun also joined with us, so moved towards the hotel for breakfast.


Yummy breakfast filled our stomach.  We got a descent “Hotel Sweekar” just opposite to Bus stand.  Rafi briefed about our four days journey; do’s and don’ts during journey; route map; tentative camping spots etc.  Now the four days a long epic journey started.


Initial two kilometer trail passed through the Belagavi bazaar street, soon we came out of the city.  The weather was pleasant, clouds are covered the sun.  Soon we entered in the military area. Rafi took us in a small ground for warm up exercise and self introduction to the team.
  

I am well known to all except a new friend Arun. He assigned each one of us a responsibilities; Deepak was our Fitness Expert; Sreeharsha was Accountant; Shanthi Prasad was sweeper; Rafi was Navigator; Arun & I were arranging the camp site.  Deepak run through us warm up exercise about 15 minutes.  Continued our journey.


Very soon we passed the Belagavi town hit to Sawantwadi – Belagavi highway.  The road was busy; surrounding nature was witnessed peak monsoon in that range.  Everywhere was green and green and water flowing in the paddy fields.
 

Our first destination was Mahipalghad.  It is a small village, there is a fort which is built by Shivaji Maharaaj. We took a right deviation from the highway and entered the village road of Devaravadi.  The road is very scenic; ahead the steep terrain was welcomed us.  In between a light drizzling made the journey so comfort; taking multiple breaks and photographs reached the Mahipalghad village.



Taking the local guidance reached the fort.  It is a small ruined fort where the villagers are occupied the most the place.  A small tower view point is there which you can enjoy the valley.  Spent a good time there and continued our journey.



The next destination point was Sundi waterfalls.  We were enough happy to ride on this trail, all the way we struggled steep ascend and now the time to roll down.  Around 3 – 4 KMs rolling terrain took us to Sundi waterfalls.  Took a small right deviation into paddy field, parked our bikes.  We have to do 500 meters a small trek, which lead a glimpse of beautiful waterfalls.  Except me, all are enjoyed in the waterfalls and headed towards Tillari Dam.


There was a small break in our ride; Arun bike tyre got flat.  He replaced the tube, again the tyre got flat.  Later it is understood, the tyre itself is weak.  Rafi asked us to move further; he assured to manage somehow and joining us in the further journey.  We all badly hungry, no one was carrying snacks.  Continued our journey to find the lunch.  We reached the Dolgarwadi a small village.


We found a small hotel for lunch.  The time was around 4pm; the lunch time already passed.  As we expected there was no lunch; fortunately we got hot MISALPAAV.
  

There was a very interesting fact of this village.  Hotel owner asked us to visit the Govt. School, where we can see different types of the snakes.  I and Shanthi Prasad followed a student who was guide for us.  The school name is “MAAMASAHEB LAAD VIDYALAYA”. 



School backyard, they made 5 – 6 underground cement tanks.  They put different types of Snakes in indifferent tanks.  We could able to see three types of snakes. We came to know that, they preserved more snakes in the Lab room, which was locked. Unfortunately we could not able to witness.  



Very surprise thing was, children playing with non-viper like a plastic dolls.  They offered me to hold, but I could not make mind.  Really it is a unique school where the children are fearless about species.  Understood from the villagers, they won’t kill any of the snakes, preserve them and study on that.


Adieu to unique school, by the time Rafi & Arun joined with us.  Quickly they also finished the evening snacks and continued our journey towards Tillari Dam.  Once again we have crossed the Sawantwadi – Belagavi highway and took village road to reach the Tillari Dam.


We have come across again the steep ascend, drizzling, lonely village roads, continued our journey.  Now we entered in the forest trail.  Hardly we can see any village or people.  Now it was become dark, Rafi asked each one of us to ride as a group since evening is the favorite time for wild animal’s movement.  We found many bones on the road side, really the trail was scary one.


Rafi & Deepak were enough lucky to spot a bunch of Indian Gaurs crossing the road.  We waited to have a glimpse; alas we were unlucky.  Continued our journey!!!  Rafi checked the GPS, the next village was very far and not sure about getting the good camping spot.  Already the dark was surrounded us, we had a discussion about day camping. Considering the place, it was grassland very close to reserved forest area. We had more chance about sighting wild animals; the place was easy accessible of water; the entire valley was filled with green carpet.  All were agreed considering these facts, put a stop for the day of biking.


The place was awesome; both the side the water was flowing; back side reserved forest; plain grassland surface; no human trail. Dumped our luggage, engaged ourselves to pitch the tents.  We carried three tents; now our camping site is ready.  The entire valley was completely dark.


I was badly required dip into water; we all went nearby stream to take a bath.  The enjoyment can’t express in the words, we all enjoyed the stream in the dark.  Drizzling added extra joy to our enjoyment.  Now the real challenge was dinner!!  Hope this was the first trip where no one carried any snacks except Shanthi Prasad.  He brought dry fruit Laddu which was the oasis for dinner. Luckily Sreeharsha packed some mixture from Dolgarwadi village; we finished our dinner with dry fruit Laddu & mixture.


We settled back in our tents.  The rain was on its non-stop duty, whole night was pouring heavily. The day was really memorable and challenging one without night dinner.



Click here for Day -2 Journey