Friday, September 26, 2014

JUST GO - Friday Skywatch

Last weekend, I got to listen to two adventurous women – Biker Deepti Jacob and Cyclist Namu Kini in a session organized by F5 Escape under their ‘Just Go’ series. F5 escape is a brain child of   travel enthusiast Malini who organizes women only travels. Just Go is their talk series on travel from seasoned travelers from different walks of travels. Every time I listen to those travel stories, I come back inspired with many more travel plans.If you are planning to start traveling with group you can contact F5 Escape for exciting journeys.
This time I was amazed to know about biking women’s world. I don’t know ABC of biking. Not even  about the brands available in the market. Not sure it is my cup of tea. But certainly felt an urge to try it once. Of late I am drawn so much towards cycle that I might own one shortly.
Malini has aptly named it ‘ Just Go’. Travelling is all about leaving behind our comfort zone, fears  and just starting to explore the new exciting world that each one of us crave for.
To me, 2013 was a dry year as for as travel was concerned. I could only manage to travel  couple of times. Leaves and free time at work do not go together. But last year, all three were on my side. Still didn’t travel. Something was wrong with me. I was living as if someone has tied me to Bangalore, as if my itchy feet has been anesthetized, as if am an ardent mother who doesn’t want to travel causing inconvenience to family. But in reality I am not such a good person. I kept on planning for family holiday not getting common dates, I kept on planning for a child friendly holiday, not actually travelling.
Before reaching hilltop
Then it was already December, it was the time for planning and making 2014 resolutions. I decided, it ought to be travel as my first priority for 2014.  But I didn’t travel on 1 Jan holiday. There were no plans in place for  next weekend. I kept on planning. It was already Friday.
On Friday night I slept over thinking about the place to travel next morning. I woke up at 4  which is unusual for me. I was still pondering over the same question. All of a sudden some revelation kind of happened. I knew place doesn’t matter, distance doesn’t count. I knew it has to be  JUST GO to untie myself from the pseudo self imposed restraint.  I called up for a taxi, reached bus stand and hopped on to a bus to Channarayapattana and from there to Shravanabelagola.
Hari and Viha were still on bed when I called them up from Shravanabelagola at 9  in the morning.
Bahubali statue

I climbed the hill, sat on top of the hill for hours together looking at  the bird view of the town and Bahubali, conqueror of anger and jealousy who is an embodiment of spiritual emancipation. Explored the small town walking through its streets, had food in local Jain bhojanalaya. Relaxed quietly in the park watching kids playing. It was still 4.30 pm. In small towns time crawls. In metros it flies at jet speed.

Shravanabelagola skyline - Coconut tress till the horizon
 I untied myself from the self imposed bondage. Shravanabelagola was a good start for 2014.  This year has been kind  with me creating opportunities to travel every month. It’s been packing and unpacking. I am loving it. I will be somewhere in the wrinkes of mountains even while you are reading this. Wish me more travels :-)
Often people ask me ‘ how do you travel so much ?’ I tell them , you need to JUST GO

What was your Just go experience. Pls share

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nandi cycling trail

A fresh  morning, misty mountains, countryside cycling, soothing  weather, once in a while drizzling sky , pottery, silk extraction, magnificent temple, elegant kalyani(temple pond), yummy organic lunch and good company... Isn't it a dreamy day for  weekend ? It was the  stage set for my first  reintroduction to cycling after ages.Last I cycled was during my early college days. In and around Nandi hills, just a few kms away from Bangalore opens up unexplored experiences.
Nandi hills
 Cycling was always been in my bucket list. But for some or the other reasons I didn't get a chance to try one. I started to realize from last couple of years that my bones are going weak. I was  in  an urgency to check myself whether cycle is fit for me or not. Then I found this one day trail by Unventured.For some weird reason I never had a taste to go back to Nandi hills after my first visit about  10 years ago. Unventured had an interesting trail to explore around the foothills of Nandi hills. I was intrigued. I decided to go with them.
Nandi grama(village) - PC - Unventured
 Initially I was apprehensive about  balancing. My whole focus for first few kms was only on balancing  and to ensure I am not falling. After a few kms I started enjoying my ride and nature around me.
Fun time on the way
 This trail was intended to explore the countryside by cycle. We witnessed the extraction of silk from cocoons. Wonderful are the  silkworms  to weave such a fine silk in the form of cocoons and clever are the human beings to extract such a fine silk from the cocoon with  basic rural technology.
Silk extraction

Quiet railway station near Nandi village

We visited  a pottery making unit. We tried  our hands to make pots of our design and shape.It was amazing to watch the way potter was  turning clay into an art as if he is playing with butter. For my hungry tummy turning clay looked like a chocolate tower!! I wish it was ...
My clay chocolate tower at potter's house
 Highlight of the trail was visiting Bhoganandeeshwara temple in Nandi village. I didn't even heard about it. Such a vast temple complex which dates back to 9 century !! It has 3 temples inside. Arunachaleshwara, Bhoga Nandeeshwara and Uma Maheshwara. There is another temple on top of the Nandi hill for Yoga Nandeeshwara. Look at Bhoga and Yoga. While Bhoga is the base , Yoga is the peak.. It is very common in Hindu tradition to see god tagged with  Yoga located on top of the hill and Bhoga located  at base of the hill.  spiritual attainment and material pleasure go hand in hand.They are paradoxical and compliment each other.
When we visited, Kalyanostava was hapepning ( In Uma maheshwara temple). It is an interesting activity celebrating wedding of Uma and Maheshwara. There is a mantap which makes us spellbound looking at the intricate work. Sculpted in black stone is no doubt a master piece. It reminded me stone cot I had seen in Banavasi.
Priests caught in action
 Interestingly in this temple there are 3 statues of Nandi which is generally seen as single. This temple is surrounded by a lot of legends .
I love legends. Let me tell you one of them. When Shiva weds Sati, whole gamut of devas go to the Himalayas. It creates imbalance on earth. Then Shiva asks Agastya to go to south crossing vindhya mountains to maintain the balance. As Agastya couldn't personally be there at the wedding venue Shiva recreated wedding scene in Karnataka at Nandi village.People beileve it is good to get married in  this temple for long lasting marriage.
Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple
 Then comes Kalyani called Sringa theertha. Legend says Nandi dug the ground from his horn and water gushed out. Apparently this  Kalyani has water even during drought.It is  one of the beautiful Kalyanis that I have seen.
Sringa theertha - Kalyani
 We had sumptuous home made lunch at Silver oak farm which is at the base of Nandi hills on the way to Nandi hills by trekking

Whole experience of cycling was cool and I found it was not as difficult as I imagined. Thanks to Unventured team for motivating and being with us all the time inspiring. I wanted to give up at times, but  they didn't not let me give up. I am looking forward for many more such rides with them.