Saturday, January 29, 2011


Skandhagiri Trek

Treks are generally thought to be planned events, but I don't agree with the view. Treks are greater fun when you learn to accept the uncertainty that comes along with the new location. It is this uncertainty and the associated feeling that keeps me looking for more in every trek.

I had just returned from a long travel to Maharashtra, and was planning to rest when Rajat called me asking if I was game to a trek to Skandagiri. I had heard a lot about this from visitors to the place and the pictures that people had clicked. I was game but wanted some more people to join so that we had a larger company.

Rajat got along with him Vishwanath; I could get in Naveen, Umesh and Uncle Manjunath. It was a nice team of 6 people. Changing our initial plant to go by bikes we switched to car for ease of travel. With the team in place, we decided to leave Bangalore at 1:30 am.

I woke up at 1:00 am with Uncle along, and picked up Vishwa, Rajath and Naveen from Domlur. We got Umesh on board from Vidyranayapura. We fueled ourselves and finally left Bangalore at 2:45 am.

The night drive along the Bellary highway was a great experience, we reached past the Airport deviation, went further. Our idea was to reach Chickballapur as early as possible and begin trek. On the way, we saw a car with a drunken driver, whom we couldn't predict what the next move of his was.

We reached Chickballapur and 3:30 am. We were scouting for direction late night, thanks God! We found a rickshaw driver and asked for direction. Vishwa tried getting some inputs from the commuters in Telugu.

One you are in Chickballapur main road, go ahead till the Police Station, just before that there is turn take it. From there you have to continue till you find a Banyan tree (or rather move over 5 humps). Take a left there and you will find yourself navigating through the narrow lanes of some village.

At the dead end you could expect a Constable and the Inspector waiting in the jeep. You would need to pay an entry fee and get the approval. Missing or skipping this means you would find some more constables further through the way.

The next phase was through beside the lake (which is on the left) then through a village. The village road has a dead end, and just prior to that you would need to take a left turn. Keep driving and on the right hand side, you see torch light flashing.

Pretty soon you would find being interrupted by self proclaimed guides. The rates of their guidance depend on your vulnerability. They try dissuading you from venturing out on your won saying you would get lost. If you have trekked earlier, finding the path isn’t really difficulty. The guide charges vary from Rs 200/- to Rs 3000/-. Ensure you bargain well - else you would be taken for ride. The only challenge in the complete process is the starting point of the trek. If you are able to spot the starting point, getting to the peak is very easy.

Moving ahead without the guide, we had taken a chance here. We were new to the place, there was darkness all around. We weren’t familiar with the terrain to. Just beside the foot of the mountain, there is a small plantation of acacia trees, beside that there is a small stream - watch out for any water in this.

One you cross the stream, you are at the foot of the mountain. There is only one way which is pretty clear, and if you have crossed over earlier than the actual one - you might need to do some scouting just the way we did. Be ready for it - this is where the fun is; the usual route is not a great fun.

Ensure at each step you are looking out for the right route! Tough we began on the right route, we missed a small section of easy route and returned to the harder and then came back to the easier one at the fork. So, keep your senses open and watch out, even if you don’t, you will only be delayed to the summit, not denied of it.

The total time to the peak is around 1hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 minutes. Our detour cost us another 15 minutes. We started off following a small group of torches; we thought they knew the way, and it was only after some time that we realized that they too were looking out for the right way. After grappling in the dark for around 10 min, we spotted the right route. We continue along this route, and were able to spot the exact path. At one of the points we took a left turn instead of a right. This is where many people who were climbing too had mistaken and we were no exception.

This detour takes us to a steep rock phase where our confidence on our footing is tested. Most of the team members easily came up, but Vishwa, who hadn’t been on too many treks earlier, had some issues. He was looking his confidence, but made it up at this point after a struggle of 10 minutes.

The next phase we joined the other route, which joins here. At this point, the route is a bit slippery given the early morning mist. There are some step marks on the stone surface and we could use this to climb.

As we began climbing the trek, at the base we couldn’t see the peak, but as we continued the ascent the surface slowly unraveled itself and this was another challenge that our team had. Vishwa wasn’t expecting such a long trek to the peak given that this was his second trek.

We realized that in order to make it to the peak as a group, we needed to move ahead quickly. I decided to accompany Vishwa and boost his confidence. This seemed to have worked the trick and we picked up the pace. In less than 20 minutes we navigated some dangerous curves and reached the top. We reached the peak at 5:50 am.

Now was the time for the anxious wait - the wait to spot the Sun and the clouds if any that is so talked about of this place? We waited for nearly an hour and at around 6:45 Am we spotted the sun. All the while we had twilight, and the anticipation kept everything away from the mind. For many in the group, this was an early raise and probably the very few occasions when we had seen the sun come out from the horizon.

At a distance, one can spot two hills and I guess these would be Mulabagilu (not sure) which is where the first sun-rise is seen in the State of Karnataka. I think I would get down there sometime and have a look at the sun rise. Once the sun shown itself, it begun raising rapidly and just 5 minutes since the sun-rise the whole of the surrounding was brightly lit.

We spent the next hour clicking pictures and snaps of the surrounding. There are a couple of mantapas at the peak. One of these is the temple and the other probably was the guest house of the guard who would look out for enemy entering the vicinity. There is a fort which borders a very steep edge of the hill.

People have littered the peak and hence we find dogs and monkey a plenty there. There are a lot of stores that give u a tea and some quick breakfast like sandwiches, omelets’, bread jam etc. We had carried our own food - thanks to Vishwa for the wonderful palav he had prepared and got along.

We rested for a while and began our descent back to the base at 8 am. We had sufficient light and so the torches were all in the bag now. We moved slowly now that the whole day was there to make it to the base. With rests in between, we were having our tummy filled too.

We finally reached the base of the hill, a few meters away from where we began. We looked back and recollected what we had done over the past 4 to 5 hours. The memory of the night would stay in our mind for ever. The excitement and fun clouded with the experience is here to stay with us.

This was one awesome trip, as I drove back to Bangalore; we visited our role model - Sir M V's home town - Mokshagundam. There are three monuments that are put up at this place. The house of his birth has been renovated. There is also the house that he used while he was the Diwan - part of this has been converted as a museum and the remaining houses the SBM - which he was instrumental in forming. His samadhi is just beside these houses and has a beautiful lawn surrounding it.

We paid our tributes to the great engineer who inspires us and would inspire more engineers for the years to come. We prayed for his blessings and returned to Bangalore.

We reached home by noon and had the remaining of the day to rest!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Parinathi Group goes on its treks for brain storming and group building every quarter. This trek is the fall out of this resolution of the group.

Shivagange - a place known as a pilgrimage center by many is also an interesting trekking spot. Unlike the other treks where one has to put a lot of strain on the complete body, this trek is more of a step climbing pursuit.

Situated around 60 - 65 km from Bangalore, we chose this place for our brainstorming as most of the group members couldn't spare two days for the trek. Our initial count for the trek was expected to be having around 10 members but turned out that only 4 could make it.

We moved out of Bangalore around 8:30 am (a delay of around 30 minutes) from Domlur where all of us had decided to meet up. The journey thorough the city was pretty not eventful. We reached Yeshwantpur and refueled ourself before continuing the journey. Once we reached the elevated road there was no stopping us, the group was in the discussion while I was busy driving the car.

It was a pleasant drive over the elevated track, and we were near the tollgate withing 5 minutes. The road was pretty clear and the speed limit prescribed was 80 kmph so that made it all the more easy. We bought the toll pass for the day (priced at Rs 25/-) and moved a head on the NH. The road was very good and we reached Nelamangala where we took the deviation towards the Bangalore-Mangalore Highway.

We reached gudemarana halli, from where we took a right to Shivagange. Shivagange is around 15 km from this point. The road is not the best nor is it the worst. It is pretty good ride down to the town.

We begin spotting the mountain from a distance, in some angles it resembles the holy Ox (Nandi) of Lord Shiva. We reach the entrance of the temple where we parked our car and had a small energizing tiffin before we began the trek.

We began the climb the first temple that you get on the left is the "Harake Ganapathi" You then climb up to the split. Take the right if you want to visit the temple and the left if you want to begin the trek immediately.

As you move towards the temple, you get a small passage, this passage take you to the Veerabhadra swami and the Patala gange. Besides the passage is a small temple entrance - that of Swarna gowri (aka Honnadevi).

Back on the track you get to the temple route, you enter into the temple which of lord Gangadhareshwara. In front of him stands the bronze idol of the founder of Bangalore - Kempe Gowda. There is supposed to be a tunnel that connects the temple with Bangalore, but people are forbidden from attempting to get through these.

All these temples are inside caves and give a very special feeling since we are away from the disturbance of the outer world. The feeling is so peaceful and gives happiness.

The shiva temple is also very special since we see an irreversible reaction (that of converting ghee into butter) take place right in front of your eyes. The priest applies Ghee that the devotees get on the shiva linga and it turns in some time to butter, which is then served as prasadam.

The temple is pretty old and I guess it dates back to the time of the Cholas, some of the Nandi carvings look to resemble them. The gopura etc resemble the Vijayanagara times.

Once you have visited the temple, you can begin the trek from the path adjacent to the temple. On the sides you see an old fort wall and numerous pillars all telling the story of apathy of he present and the glory of the past. One would easily get moved seeing these scenes. Something needs to be done quickly with these so that we preserve these for the future. With all these thoughts running in the mind, our next target was the famous Olakallu teertha.

Moving out of the fort premise, we being the ascent towards the peak. There is a door (dwara) to begin the journey. All along the path we find vendors offering one thing or the other to ear/drink. The consumers eat these and drop all waste around the path. This has lead to a big monkey menace; and the reactions of the people who climb have only made these monkeys more aggressive. There are warnings stating that monkeys could be aggressive, but this should definitely be controlled if we don't mindlessly litter the environment.

There are steps all along the trek so there is no way any one could miss the route. There are many students and groups that were on their yearly trips and we found at least ten different such sets. The students were bubbling with a lot of enthusiasm as the begun, but later on, as the ascent got steep there was absolutely little of their voice that was heard. Many returned from Olakal teertha.

There is a common belief that only the fortunate ones get water when (s)he attempts to catch water from the underground spring. Many test their fortune and get back!

We continues our journey further on the path and reached the place where larger than life size idols of Lord Shiv and Parvathi have been constructed. The path further from here have been infested by Monkeys.

The climb through the next phase is pretty steep. At some points you note the old step marks or the railing that have been replaced. Take sheer care of your luggage, the aggressive monkeys take away your belongings even if you have them along in your hand.

The climb through this exciting phase you reach the Nandi which is carved out of the rock there. And once down the Nandi, you get to climb to see two temples at the peak of the hillock.

There is one store at the peak which again showcases the power of monopoly there. There are two pillars there which seem to be dating back more than a millenia (that is my guess, given the architecture and carvings there)

The view of the surrounding is really mesmerizer. I couldn't spot the Savandurga around from here thanks to the clouds and the sun which blocked my view.

We went to a bit off the general public and had our food there, surprisingly, we had no monkeys to bother us here. This is what got me to the realization that the monkeys thrive on the filth we throw away on the path to the peak. I guess if we have the discipline to handle these carefully they wouldnt bother us much.

We had rested at the peak for around 45 minutes before getting on to the return path. The journey to the base was rather non-eventful and we returned at our own pace.
The sun which was scorching in the afternoon had become more familiar as the day progressed and now looked very friendly.

The total journey from the base to the peak and then back to the base was around 3.5 hrs. We had gone barefoot to the peak and it felt really different all along the trek. We probably hadn't got the blood circulation so effective for days.

This was a rater memorable trek for the reason that was done on bare foot, but what saddened the whole thing was the filth people put all along the way. I guess it is time we grew more responsible to the environment.

We drove back to Bangalore and reached Mantri Mall by 4:30 and had fun watching Upendra's moview - Super.

It was complete fun filled day that was worth remembering.

PuranagaLalli Management - B R Ravindanath

Indians have been the temple of knowledge from time immemorial, it has been only in the recent past (around 500 years) that we have forgotten our routes and aped the west to such an extent that we today believe they are better off at science and management that us. I don't intend to have a post on that at the moment as it would make a diversion from what I really want to do - review this awesome book. Its a translation of the the English book - wirtten by Dr Devdat Patnaik.

"PuranagaLalli Management" - meaning Managament in the Purana's is a Kannada book by Sri B R Ravindranath. The book as the title suggest sight some of the key learnings that one could pick from the Purana - the books that state numerous stories. Though this book gives as much knowledge as possible in its 18 chapter with some amalgamation of cases in the chapter it looks like there is much more one could look out for in terms of management from these books. None the less these lessons here are worth a note. The

In the chapters the author Sri Ravirndanath gets out most of the dilemma that the modern manager/leader has to face.
1. How important are rules and regulations/discipline - where should one draw the line?
2. The possible meaning behind the incarnations of Lord Vishnu & the significance to the pictorial depictions of the lord.
3. The priority that Indian's attach to the verbal communication over other means.
4. How to frame rules and when to start amending them to the betterment of purpose.
5. The rule of nature vs the thought process of humans
6. The fear of a leader and the failure of execution
7. Importance of sabbatical to prepare for the larger challenges of life.
8. There are no right answers they are all situational (so make your choices based on the situation)
9. Dominance of mental power over physical power
10. Delegation and its effective skills
11. Importance of recruitment and induction
12. Knowledge management & its significance
13. Keep your eyes on the purpose don't be derailed by insignificant distractions
14. Every action has both direct and indirect benefits - focus on the over all enhancement not short term, that would stand in good stead.
15. Standardization or Variation - make the balance carefully
16. Significance of being human in approach.
17. Avoid options which lead you to a confusing state.
18. There is more to what you see - be empathetical

As I said more, just these points I listed down won't limit our understanding - there more... its time we explore and understand the significance of these.