Monday, March 30, 2009

My first and only flight

Dad gave Dipi and me a pleasant surprise. He took us to Safdarjung Airport...

..we were standing in front of a glider watching the pilot preparing for the ride. We were put into cock-pit and strapped to the seat. The pilot hopped in and strapped himself. The transparent, U-shaped shutter slide shut, sealed into the glider. We waved at mom and dad, mom seemed little nervous. They too waved back.

The winch was a kilometer down the runway... actually a dirt track. The steel cable hooked to the bottom started pulling the glider slowly and picked speed quickly. Speed always fascinated me. Even now, I was so excited to see the blurred ground below us. We were zooming now and then we could feel lifting off the ground. We went higher, silent and smooth and sailing… above the capital city of India. It was a wonderful sight. I could recognize few familiar streets as flew in a big circle. The flight lasted just a few minutes. We wished it was little longer but the pilot was preparing to land. We descended smoothly towards the runway… the touch down was little bumpy and noisy and we could see dust rush on the glider as it came to a halt.

The glider had one wheel in the belly below the wings but I cannot remember seeing if it had wheels in the rear end. Dad helped us out of the cock-pit, we waved bye to the pilot and walked towards the parking area.

Though our stay in Delhi was short, dad showed us most of the historical monuments… Red Fort, Qutab Minar, some tombs, Rastrapathi Bhavan, Rajghat, Parliament House, another fort… During one of the many visits to Qutab Minar (our flat at Press Enclave was pretty close by and it was the outskirts of New Delhi back in 77) dad took us to a garden on a hillock. As dad and mom strolled around, Dipi and I climbed up and started rolling down the grassy slope. Mom asked us to stop. No! We were jungles. Time to go back and we were itchy all over. Mom was smiling; serves you both right! We scratched all the way back home and rushed to the bathroom and took one long shower.

As kids, we have troubled mom driving her nuts and she used scream at me!! “Katte Papa!!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Narasimhaswamibetta

I just took off one Sunday exploring the Ramnagar hills...




If you feel like going there, just follow the directions. The entire area is full of hills. The other hills I visited in the surrounding area are Ramdevara betta, Kungal Betta and Thenginkal Betta.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Kodaikanal

One among my few trips to Tamil Nadu...

We visited Kodaikanal during our vacations after our second year engineering exams. We traveled overnight, reached early morning and we found a cottage close to a cliff with great view. The cottage has bunker beds... The weather was cool and the water was cold. We spent some time sitting in the front porch enjoying the view ahead of us. Mot of us used to smoke, including me. Venkatesh had a cigarette and he hid it behind me


We went sight-seeing; some ____ walk, a suicide point, a cascade, a museum, a lake, we did some shopping too, I bought two shawls from Tibetans. This is one place where I saw trees full of pears on street sides, we had one each, they were quite tasty. Evening we went for a boat ride in the lake. For the first time I had white corn... it was so tasty I had some five or six of them! .....all the while I smoked, smoked and smoked.


It's nice to see the water cascade down these rocks and spray of fresh water felt good on the skin.


This was right opposite our cottage, Venkatesh shot this picture; Vishwanath, Aravind, Rajesh, Jayanth and me. This was the evening we had a wild party running late into the night...



The night was freezing, we made a bonfire in the front yard and danced around it like crazy.

Probably that was the last second day I smoked...

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Friday, March 20, 2009

SriKalaHasti

'Sri' stands for spider
'Kala' for snake and
'Hasti' for elephant.


This stone sculpture is at Lepakshi Temple. Srikalahasti one of the important holy places in South India.

Praveen, Gulli and I took a night bus... I remember a suitcase falling on my head from the overhead luggage rack in the bus. Not once, two times, same suitcase. The owner finally kept it on the floor board. We reached quite early, it was still dark.


We found a low priced lodging, slept for some time and got ready early. We visited the main temple first, it's quite big and was a busy place for a temple. The guide tried to explain us the invisible force which keeps... (not getting the word, ok let me call it shaking) shaking the flame in the Deepa but could never catch his explanation. The temple is a very interesting place, we spent some time looking around. Then we had tasty idli, vada and dosas from one of the many carts.


Just behind the temple is a rocky hillock. From the top we could see part of the town. That's Gulli and me and behind us is a scene from the story of Bedara Kannappa in which Kannappa gouges out his eye for Lord Shiva.


Done with the main temple, we explore the town streets. We climbed another hill in the middle of the town, much taller than the one we had climbed earlier. From here we could see the entire town and beyond it also.


That's river Swarnamuhki. The uniqueness of this part of the river is that it flows South-North direction. This is a rare occurrence. All rivers flow in the general direction of North South... at least in India. It's a Hindu belief that this spot frees one from some kind of sin... cannot recall what was told by our guide.


The town is crowded, streets are narrow and hums with activity.

Done with seeing the place, we had lunch, slept for a while and Praveen suggested we head back home. We boarded a Bangalore bound KSRTC bus. The driver drove like a maniac, mostly one handed. He would either be smoking beedis or chewing tobacco and spitting. He honked whenever he saw something moving and would go past pedestrians real close. It was a real tense journey... sitting in the very first row with a full view of the road. We reached Bangalore by 9 30 or so, without any incident.

It was a memorable little trip for the three of us.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Basavakalyan Fort

Praveen and I came here in 2003. We were here to inquire a weigh bridge requirement for APMC, Basavakalyan. We did not follow up closely...

We decided to go sight-seeing. First Basavaeswara temple and then to the fort, it's a very interesting place. We met a bunch of school kids playing in the fort's ruins... actually it was in pretty decent shape then. This is one fort where you can see varieties of canons, some artistic and intricately designed. See the one below- a short stubby one but look at the size of the bore. I wish I could see it in action. Pardon me for the bad pictures. If you look close the handles are fish shaped. Some more canons had fish handles.



This is the mosque courtyard, during our visit it housed a Urdu school. In spite of people living close by the buildings are pretty good condition. In the middle is a water fountain, of course no water.



This is the on top of the gateway tower. The mosque complex acted like a massive gateway for the fort entrance. It was a Friday and the fort gates are kept locked! We were in no mood to give up... we got the watchman to open the gate for us. He let us in with the kids and locked the gate!!


That's the fort complex. It's surrounded by a moat pit.


This looks like a royal courtyard where the king would be relaxing in the evenings... features some what similar to Bidar Fort's but much more emphasis on artistic decoration.



This is the the biggest canon... it has similarities to the a canon in Bijapur, the one that's supposed to be an alloy of five metals. The alloy has certain qualities- does not heat in the hottest of weathers, does not corrode, can withstand the worst of natures forces.


I was awe-struck by this particular canon. Just look at the mouth of the canon; such a beautiful creation to destroy something else! This canon was almost in the original condition, the swivel action still worked.


We sent copies of the pictures to these boys but I cannot recall their names. They were perfect guides.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Bellary Fort

Some time 1999 or 2000

Prasanna of Epoch Instruments, Praveen and I were on a business trip to Bellary. We were here to gather technical information for a ladle weighing system at Bellary Steels and Alloys Limited. We reached the plant by 8 30 am, checked the ladle (which contains molten steel), had a round of discussion with General Manager, Purchase Officer and the production department head. We got the required information and our work was done by noon. We headed to the city, to the Railway Station, booked our tickets to Bangalore. From the station we saw the hill and the fort and decided to explore it.

We walked from the station towards the hill, at the base, we could see ruins of the base fort occupied by people. The entire path to the fort is paved with stone steps and the climb was easy. Now we entered the main fort... in through the main gateway. Most of the ruins are vandalized by treasure hunters, we could see stones displaced and pits dug all over the place. Otherwise the fort is mostly deserted.

The constructions- royal quarters, soldiers quarters, the fort wall, turrets -give an indication of the intelligence of the engineers of those times. We noticed a unique construction... discussed it for quite some time trying to figure out the purpose of it. Our guess was that it's a kind of system to train soldiers. That's the moment I regretted for not carrying the camera. Anyway... we went exploring. Ponds, small to large ones, have been created abundantly to harvest rain water. The fort was designed to be self sufficient for months during a war. As we counted the ponds, Praveen observed a water snake in one of the smaller ponds. Then we saw snakes in almost every pond, in fact one of the larger ones had five of them. Prasanna and Praveen chucked stones in the water to scare them and they enjoyed it!

It was lunch time... our stomachs growling... we decided o head back. Still inside the main fort, we were climbing down the steps... I noticed something interesting and decided to check it out while Praveen and Prasanna continued. Few minutes later I joined them back way down the steps... both had scared looks on their faces... they had seen a huge Cobra just feet away in their path with it's hood open. It was Naga_Panchami that day! Both regretted throwing stones into the pond. We were kind of jumpy for the rest of the way till we got out of the fort.

I was glad to have visited another fort but sad for not bringing the camera. One day, I want to visit the fort again and take lots of pictures and add them to my collection.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Gooty Fort

During one of the numerous trips to Kurnool, we made up our mind to visit Gooty fort.

The fort is located on rocky hill, it was one of Tipu Sultan's stronghold. There are no guides here and we just went exploring. The fort seems to be simple but it's quite complex.







That's Dipi and behind him must be dungeons for prisoners.



The hill offers a very good view of the surrounding area, soldiers could get early warning of any attacks by armies. I think for Tipu this was on of the strategic forts. The other important strongholds in this stretch are Kurnool up North and Penukonda, Nandidurga and Devanhalli down South.



That's the highway to Bangalore.


That's Shaji, Nagesh and Praveen.


In the picture below you can see a cemetery, it's a Christian one. Probably Britishers who ruled us are buried here.



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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Manjarabad Fort

Manjarabad fort is one of the smallest forts I've seen. Like most forts, it's situated on a hillock close to Sakleshpur. The climb to the top is a short one and the view from the top is wonderful... just green all around.

A bit about this fort from Wikipedia- Manjarabad fort is located just outside of Sakleshpur on National Highway 48. The fort is reputed to have been constructed by Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore as a strategic defensive location as it commands the approach to the plateau beyond Sakleshpur from the coast. It is also believed that he had constructed a tunnel from this fort to another fort in Srirangapattana near Mysore.


The fort is on one level unlike other forts which are multi-level. This seems cross-shaped pit with steps leading into it seems to be an ancient well, probably the only source of water in the fort.


These are all my cousins. Coming from the top- Vinay, Vineet, Rohin, me, Siddesh, Vivek, Pavitra, Manasi and Sushant.


We spent about an hour exploring the fort and then as the sun came beating down on us, we decided to head back to Dhamangundi Estate, Ballupet.

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