Saturday 28 February 2015

Rayyakottai Fort Trek

The fort is situated within the town of Rayakottai which is one of the ancient fortress in the Krishnagiri district. It is now one of the protected monument by the Archeological Survey of India.In the 18th century Hyder Ali and Tipu sultan ruled this fort. The fort was captured by Major Gowdie during the third Anglo-Mysore War in 1791. According to the Treaty of Srirangapatna, this fort came into the hands of the British.Located in krishnagiri district,Tamilnadu 75 km away from Bangalore.

Started with 25 other friends from Bangalore. Few boarded train from majestic and many from baiyappanahalli railway station.The train was late as usual, planned reaching time was 9.45AM but we reached around 11.00AM. Packed food,water,fruits outside railway station and moved on to the base of hill.
we struggled initially because it was too sunny but all very very fine later on.The trail is clear, only find caves is tricky and its on left side while ascending.Can rest for sometime.Had lunch while descending from hill in the caves. Headed back to railway station.

My Insight :

Feels like tippu built a fort all over south india that too over hills.The sad part is most of the forts which we see is only ruins.Again its under ASI but i feel the board of Archeological department is not enough atleast now they have to maintain forts and their importance to next generation.

How we traveled : 56514/Bangalore City - Karaikal Fast Passenger train

Train timings : 7.15AM from Majestic

Things to carry: Water, food etc.

Time to Ascend: Max 1hr 30 min with all pitstops.

Time to Descend : Max half an hr

Catch up there : Caves, cave temple, small pond and fort ruins.

Permission Required : No

Best time to trek : Avoid in Summer.

"Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone". Wendell Berry

Sunday 15 February 2015

Ride to Devanahalli Fort

Devanahalli was part of Gangawadi and later came under the rule of Rashatrakutas, Nolamba, Pallavas, Cholas, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara rulers. During the time of Vijayanagra rule, Malla Baire constructed the initial mud fort in 1501 AD with the consent of Devaraya at Devanadoddi, the previous name of Devanahalli. In 1747 AD, the fort passed into the hands of the Wodeyars of Mysore under the command of Nanja Raja. It was conquered many times from the Marathas and later came under the control of Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan.The present fort was built of stone by Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan,is spread over an area of 20 acres The roughly oval east oriented fortification veneered with dressed masonry has as many as 12 semi-circular bastions at regular intervals. A spacious battlement is provided towards the inner side of the fortification. The fort has entrances decorated with cut plasterwork at the east and west. The entrances are quite small, comfortable enough for the horses of yore. The bastions are provided with gun points built with lime and brick.

What to see inside fort:
1.The birthplace of Tippu Sultan, also known as Tiger of Mysore, is located near to the fort.The house in which Tippu and Hyder Ali lived also exists till date.The house of Dewan Purnaiah, a high-ranking official in Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan’s court, is also located inside the fort.
2.A memorial with a small plaque stands south-west outside of the fort, stating that Tippu Sultan was born here in 1751, It is about six feet  tall with a pillared enclosure and square top and bears a stone tablet.
3.The small town inside the strong walls of Devanahalli fort has many temples. The Venugopalaswamy temple, which faces the main town road is one of the oldest among them.
4.A few yards away from the Venugopalaswamy temple is Siddalingeshwara temple. Next to this temple is a Raghavendraswamy Math.
5.Across the street is the another age old temple, Chandramouleshwara Temple. It has a spacious inner prakara is built in Vijayanagara style. The Garbhagriha has a shivalinga, and there are two cells on either sides with images of Ganapati and Parvati enshrined respectively.
6.On the left of the main road stands another temple dedicated to Anjaneya known as Sarovaranjaneya temple.

My Insight:
I have not gone inside any temple. It takes less than 1 hr to see all these, better to cover while returning from nandi hills. There is no timings for the fort entry, since there is a small town inside and there is no entry fees.Its not well maintained fort.

"Eat well travel often"

Monday 9 February 2015

Amazing Andamans Day -5 - North Bay Island & Ross Island

Day : 5 
Yes after Picturesque beaches, Snorkeling, Scuba,  last day of honeymoon! Most of the Island is populated by friendly people who hailed from mainland India. Bengalis form the bulk of the settlers. Wow….. What a place to visit in Andaman.  Best way to see the past chapter of our Indian history. We should know the value of our freedom.

North Bay Island:

North Bay (Coral Island) is accessible from Port Blair via ferry. The treasures of these coral islands are unforgettable. North Bay Island is about an hour ferry ride away from Port Blair jetty (speed boat takes much less time) and is a lovely place to go for a day’s trip.  What makes it even more tempting to visit is the wide array of water activities that one can enjoy. Water in this island is very clean. Due to the transparency of the sea water Corals can be seen distinctly along with Sea Lives like Tortoise, Parrol Fishes, and Small Sharks etc. Glass Boats are also available here, which help to enjoy seeing Corals and Sea Lives for those tourists who are not willing for Scuba Diving or Snorkeling. The crowd is more in North Bay Island because of the facilities are available for enjoying.  In the island huts and shelters are available for resting or for the tourists who don’t want to enjoy the sea or beach. The coral reefs are beautifully adored by nature drawing many visitors. Island known as Coral Island. The name of the Island is North Bay. It’s the home of coral. There are lots of coral.

Location:  North Bay, Port Blair
Timings:  Visitors for North Bay should be ready at Phoenix bay jetty, Port Blair before 9.00am. It is 30 minutes journey from Phoenix jetty. Snorkeling and coral view enthusiasts through boat bottoms can book their choices during the journey itself.

Ticket Details: (a) Ferry Ticket: Rs.150/- per person. (b) Child: Below 5 years no ticket.

How to Reach:   It is connected by Boat from Phoenix bay jetty, Port Blair.

Ross Island:

The Ross Island is controlled by the Indian navy, which requires every visitor to sign in on entering. It was during the British rule that the island was developed to a perfect township. Many reminiscent of old British regime are still alive in this stunning Island. The Ross Island is about 2 km east of Port Blair and can be reached by a short boat ride from Phoenix Bay Jetty.  The island presently houses the ruins of old buildings like Ballroom, Chief Commissioner's House, Govt. House,  Church, Hospital, Bakery, Press, Swimming Pool and Troop Barracks, all in dilapidated condition, reminiscent of the old British regime. Ross Island, now a popular tourist’s destination is located at the entrance of Port Blair Harbor on the Eastward with a total area of 70 acres. This tiny island with dense rainforest, intertwining creepers and mammoth trees was once the power Centre of the colonial rule, and a symbol of opulent imperial lifestyle.  Once, perhaps exaggeratedly, called the Paris of East, the island today has ruins of the edifices of the British haven. Ross Island was the center of administrative control, covering penal settlements, for the entire region. Named after the marine surveyor, Sir Donald Ross, the island was a tiny one but it was to change the course of history of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.  With about 500 persons occupying the island of Ross, it was a very vibrant place that buzzed with activity through the day and the night. Yes it’s a "LOST CITY" The Indian Navy has rebuilt some of the old buildings like the bakery and the local stores, from where souvenirs are available. You could walk around the island along the coast line watching the beautiful sea scape, trees, and birds such as Peacocks, Eagles and Parrots. The island has a good population of deers, who are accustomed to see humans. Please do not feed the deer’s, let nature grow and live on its own without human intervention. The Japanese occupation of the Andaman Islands occurred in 1942 during World War II. Japanese bunkers and Cannon still stand as a memorial in this island.  Take a guide and listen to stories of the suffering and the challenges our heroes in the past had faced.

Sunday 8 February 2015

Amazing Andamans Day 4 - Cellular Jail And Corbyn’s Cove Beach

Day -4:
After divine dives at Havelock Island, it’s time to see off one of the most picturesque beaches on the earth. Felt magic of unspoilt nature as you holiday on pure virgin beaches as you relax on soft sands with breeze caressing your soft skin with unadulterated affection. We headed to Port Blair from Havelock. We reached around 1 PM to Port Blair, had lunch at hotel and relaxed for some time and headed to Cellular jail and next plan was to Corbyn’s Cove beach and evening sound and light show at Kala Pani.

Prototype of Cellular Jail
Swatantra Jyoti
Entrance of Kala Pani

The Cellular Jail is one of the saddest chapters in the history of the colonial rule in India. Although the prison complex itself was constructed between 1896 and 1906, the British had been using the Andaman Islands as a prison since the days in the immediate aftermath of the first war of independence. The construction of the prison started in 1896 and was completed in 1906. The original building was a puce-colored brick building. The bricks used to build the building were brought from Burma. You need at least 2-3 hours to see the entire jail.

A wing of the Cellular Jail. Also shown is the central tower with conical roof. The building had seven wings, at the center of which a tower served as the intersection and was used by guards to keep watch on the inmates. The wings radiated from the tower in straight lines, much like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. A large bell was kept in the tower to raise the alarm in any eventuality.Each of the seven wings had three stories upon completion. There were no dormitories and a total of 698 cells. Each cell was 4.5 meters x 2.7 meters or 15x8 feet in size with a ventilator located at a height of three meters. The name, "cellular jail", derived from the solitary cells which prevented any prisoner from communicating with any other. They were all in solitary confinement. The Empire of Japan invaded the Andaman Islands in 1942 and drove the British out. The Cellular Jail then became home to British prisoners. During this period, Subhash Chandra Bose also visited the islands. Two out of the seven wings of the Jail were demolished during the Japanese regime. In 1945, the British resumed control with the end of World War II. Kala Pani Jail converted into a monument. Sound and Light show was an enthralling display of its historical significance. Do plan to visit, only problem is Ticket for the show around 350 tickets get sold out in just 10 min, make prior arrangements for the show.

For General Entry:
1.    Entry fee: INR 20
2.    Camera fee: INR 25 and Video camera fee: INR 100

For Light and Sound Show:
1.    Entry Fees : 50Rs
2.    Duration : 1hr
3.    Show Timings: 7PM and 8PM

Inside Kala Pani
Light and Sound Show at Kala Pani
Light and Sound Show at Kala Pani

Corbyn’s Cove:

Corbyn’s Cove has a small curve of sand backed by palms. The coastal road here makes for a scenic journey, and passes several Japanese World War II bunkers along the way. Located 7km from port blair. Corbyn’s Cove is one of the more busy beaches in the Andaman Islands. The blue benches lining the area make for a great seat to enjoy the view. Zip across the ocean in a jet ski or a motor scooter. Enjoy a relaxing drink with your friends at the beach facing restaurant. Beach surroundings are not clean since many tourists visit very often.  A motor guide may show you a small island which is known as Snake Island, he will take you near to that island. You are not allowed to get down since people say that there are deadly snakes, yes it may rumour too!!.

What we find beach surrounding:

1.    Restaurant
2.    Changing rooms
3.    Bathrooms
4.    Small shops

Corbyn’s Cove Beach
Corbyn’s Cove Beach

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”

Saturday 7 February 2015

Amazing Andamans Day -3 - Scuba Diving at Havelock Island

Day 3: Waited for this day for many years, and it was scuba diving. Long wait is over!!! After initial trainings I and my wife decided to go for our first ever diving. Initially i struggled a bit while training later on I was comfortable and my confidence was improved too. I asked the trainer before the jump, how much time it will require to come up if any problem? He said 5seconds!! Yes there I was happy thinking I will be back alive. Only 5 signs he taught us ok, not ok, up, down and to equalize ears. All of a sudden around me was blue and quiet. I could feel my heart beats fast and my ears hurt as I went deeper. Following my diving instructor, I equalized my ears often, until I felt comfortable to explore the underwater sea. The sea definitely looks beautiful underwater and it really amazed me to realize that there are thousands of creatures living under the sea. The Barrel sponge, blue reef, blue sea star, blue whips, Clark’s anemone, cone shell was really amazing. It was very peaceful under water. It was "DIVINE". It was really a great experience, seeing the beauty of sea wildlife because of the presence of many varieties of reef fish, corals. When we came back we decided to go for one more dive. 1st dive we went 10-12mts deep and 2nd dive it was 15mts. "Yes IT WAS DIVINE".

ज़पिघले  नीलम  सा  बहता  हुआ  यह  समां
नीली  नीली  सी  खामोशियाँ
न  कहीं  है  ज़मीन
न  कहीं  आसमां
सरसराती  हुयी  टहनियां , पत्तियां
कह  रही  हैं  की  बस  एक  तुम  हो  यहाँ
सिर्फ  मैं  हूँ  मेरी  सांसें  हैं  और  मेरी  धडकनें
ऐसी  गहराइयाँ
ऐसी  तनहाइयाँ
और  मैं  सिर्फ  मैं
अपने   होने  पे  मुझको  यकीन  आ  गया

Video of Scuba Diving Andamans

 “I will not stop diving until I dive at all the other coast”- Sandesh Mavinakuli