Archive for February, 2011

Last Dasara vacation, we took a short trip to the Jog falls area. We went with PK’s brother’s family.

Unchalli falls

We took the overnight train to Shimoga and from there we hired a taxi to take us to Talaguppe. It is about 90 kms from Shimoga and takes 2 hrs by car. We stayed at a wonderful homestay http://matthuga.in. Considering that the area has absolutely no quality accomodation, any clean accomodation would have been welcome. But this homestay was truly awesome. Good accessibilty, green, peaceful surroundings, wonderful caretakers, homely food, clean, spacious rooms. We had a truly enjoyable stay there and would like to go back sometime. The first day, we didn’t do much. Saw some temples in the area. After lunched we just lazed around in the front porch and played badminton and frizbee. Evenings (after dark) can get to be a bit boring for the kids since they can’t play outside and there’s no TV. But they did have a carrom board. May be good to carry some books and board games.

Next morning, we drove to Unchalli falls. It was slightly over an hour’s drive. It is a hidden gem – nothing can describe the beauty of this falls. The sheer volume of water and the drop is breathtaking. You can see the mist rising even a km away from the falls. We had to walk about 20 min or so to reach the view points. Apparently it has water through out the year. We had the whole place to ourselves. While we were taking some pictures, we had our first mishap. AK started howling pojting to something on his foot. PK’s sister-in-law just tried to brush it off with her hands and ot wouldn’t budge. No amount of pulling, shoving with a twig could loosen its grip. PK had already climbed up and gone, carrying Shreya. I was using al my energy to calm AK down and finally she managed to pull it off. After that, AK and his cousin literally ran for their lives. The climbed up the several steps and then up the slope for a good 15 minutes, to reach the place where the car was parked. He was totally shaken. That was our first exposure to leeches.

Jog falls

Then from here we drove to Jog. We first went to the spot over the top of Raja. Apparently this is also called “Mungaru Male” point since this is where some songs from that movie are shot (I haven’t see either the movie or the songs).  Great views of Raja, Roarer and Rocket from here, Raja being the closest. Further up, people were playing in the water. So, the kids and the guys spent some time in the water but it got too crowded and we turned around. The place has a lot of monkeys. Next we went to the point where we see the more familar view of Jog. All four are seen, but from a distance. The stairs leading to the bottom of the falls area was closed. So, this was just a photo stop. After this, we called it a day. 

We had one more whole day before we caught the night train back to Bangalore. On our host’s suggestion, we decided to go to Bheemeshwar. It was quite an adventure. It was a long drive and the kids were getting restless. The weather also seemed fickly. It was cloudy and drizzling and we began to think it was a bad idea. But since we were almost there, decided to go for it anyway. The driver just stopped on the highway, pointed to a foot path and said this is the trail to reach the falls and temple. As to how far you need to walk, his estimate was all over the map. He initially said 4-5 kms. We asked him whether that was the one way distance and he said yes. We totally freaked  out since we were not sure the kids were up for it. Our kids are used to it but PK’s nephew is not. And then the driver corrected himself saying it was 2-3 kms one way. Too late to do anything now except to just go. So we started walking. The path was beautiful with good views of paddy fields. And then we had to cross a stream. And thats when it started again – leeches! AK was the first to get bitten again. And we struggled to take it out. After that we were trying to walk cautiously but soon one by one everyone found one or two on their legs. By now we were at a fork in the path and we were not even sure of which way to go. Not a soul was around. We turned left and walked a bit more. The kids started crying and SK wanted to be carried after we discovered a few in her crocs. PK’s nephew was adamant that we turn back. Everyone was hyper and we were trying to calm them down but PK was pretty firm about not turning back. I was kicking myself that we didn’t get salt with us after the previous day’s experience. Soon we came upon a small house with a big fence. I first called out to make sure there were no dogs and then walked in. The house was locked and any hopes of getting salt and information quickly faded. SK started singing prayers and remembered all her friends. She kept saying she wished we had left her back at grand-mom’s instead of taking her to the jungle. At this point I said we were turning back since nobody was having fun. PK didn’t want to but I overruled him. Just because the two of us are a bit crazy, there was no need to subject everyone to that sort of anxiety and distress.

Bheemeshwar falls

We had walked down may be 10 minutes when we saw a man walking up. Boy, were we glad to see another human being! We told him our plight. He was dismissive of our “problems” and insisted that the waterfall and the temple were very near and we shouldn’t give up now. Aparently what we had seen was the priest’s house and he was out of town. This man was the substitute from the neighboring village and was coming to do the daily pooja since the daily ritual was not to be broken. So he would take a bus from the next village, walk up approximately 2km, do his pooja rituals and then go back. I confirmed with him that there was salt at the priest’s house. And then we started walking back up. He was a nice man and could just yank the leeches out. For PK’s nephew, he was God incarnate! You could see the reverent look in his eyes. At the priest’s house we thoroughly checked the kids’ legs and shoes and then checked ourselves. One had gone up my leg to my hips and had made a huge bite. When I flapped my pajama, a fat one fell. After we all washed off our bleeding wounds, it was less than 5 minutes to the waterfall. And we were so glad we came back! It is one of the most serene and secluded water falls I have seen. And a beautiful stone temple right next to it. While the priest conducted his rituals in privacy, we all played in the water. Then we went in for the Mangalarathi and enjoyed the temple. I don’t like the big, commercial temples in the cities that much. But the setting of this one, the simplicity, I really didn’t feel like leaving the place. But we had to consdering we had a train to catch. We stopped, picked up some salt and all of us started walking back together. He was much faster than any of us and was racing ahead. PK’s nephew wouldn’t let him out of sight and was running to keep pace. We encountered many more leeches and the salt really helped. The kids were also much calmer and would treat any leeches on their body in a very matter-of-fact manner. In the end, it all ended well and even the naysayers were very happy that we didn’t quit and turn around.

It was a good trip. We were told that the trains would soon start going all the way to Sagar, so that’s even better. The overnight trains are convenient, but the route is supposed to be very scenic, so you miss that.

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Eventful few weeks

I’m proud of the many milestones for our family in the last few weeks.

On Jan 23, I drove for the first time on Bangalore roads, all the way from home to my mom’s place (~ 15 kms). Admittedly, it was on a Sunday morning when traffic is minimal (One of my colleagues had this to say – you really have to go look for cars to hit), but still I was pretty much on the edge of the seat and sweating profusely. Was a huge relief when I reached there. Haven’t driven again since. Sometimes I wonder if its worth it. But you can’t a price on independence!

The same morning, a couple of hours later, SK started swimming in the pool, without any floating aids, for the first time.

Then on Thursday, Feb 3, SK started to ride her bicycle without training wheels. I had been coaxing her to do this for 6 months now. We removed the training wheels about 5 months ago and had to put it back on, because she absolutely refused to even sit on the bike. Even now, she need a lot of cajoling, coaxing and bribing. She still needs to build a lot of stamina, but I can see she has improved steadily over the last few days. She could barely go a minute without stopping, now she can do almost 5 minutes.

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