The Bus Keys Switcheroo

Second year hostel life memories have been just a set of mischievous acts like breaking doors, sudden radio programs or time bomb crackers at night (ssup Gaurav?), frog legs in the library, running away from Manohar, pushing the PWD truck into the fields during the night walk etc.

But one mischief that stood out for its sly brilliance is the bus keys mix up:

 During an after-dinner walk, we came across the parked GEC buses and noticed that the doors were unlocked, and the keys were still in the buses (yeah.. we just magically noticed that while walking at a distance from the buses). Being engineers, we decided to conduct an experiment. We jumbled up the keys among all the buses (for science) and left the scene without making any visible changes to the status quo. Next morning we sat on the hostel terrace looking out for all the non-hostelites walking up the slope while the drivers tried to figure out why the buses wouldn’t start. This was back in 2001.
Today a colleague who graduated in 2011 (!!) from PCCE (!!!) said she had heard some such story.

Felt proud.. And then a little guilty for feeling proud.

Turns out they're still talking about us..

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Harishchandra Gad - Want to click Photos? stay here Overnight

Not sure why this place is called "Harishchandra Gad" though ideally this is not a fort considering its location and no records/information around suggest that this place has seen any wars earlier. It does not give any indication of being a watch fort as well. However, I not being an historian will not go much into the details and will keep my curiosity in check.

This place was on our list for quite a few years now. We had seen photos on many travelougues, heard from many who had been there, however, somehow could not make it our destination. This time on the 15th August long weekend we were determined to go on an overmight adventure. We decided to visit "Bhandardara" as well another place quite close from Harishchandra gad.

Our plan:
1. Leave early on Saturday morning. Sight seeing at Bhandardara and stay at a place called Rajur.
2. Leave early on sunday morning for Harishchandra gad and by evening reach Pune.

As simple as the plan looks, it was not to be. We had to face quite a few complications later due to improper information and research from our side.

We reached Bhandardara at around 12:30. Had a pathetic lunch at the MTDC restaurant. In case anyone of you visits Bhandardara, dont even think of this restaurant. Instead a streetside "zhunka bhakar" is better. We had a nice day of sightseeing at Bhandardara though it was raining heavily, we had our times when the skies got cleared intermittently. Bhandardara has a dam and a lake. The lake has a circumference of around 20 kms. It is a pleasure to ride along this route and is just a relish to the eyes and refreshing to the body. Exactly at 10 kms on this route, you find an ancient temple of "Amruteshwar" worth visiting. Some snaps on the route around the lake:

In the evening at around 8:00 PM we headed towards Rajur which was around 25 Kms from Bhandardara. We enquired at Bhandardara and all of them told us that we would easily get a place at Rajur. However the story took a Uturn when we reached there. We could not find a single good place where we could stay. The only government guest house was full as a MLA was to visit there and needed 50 rooms. Not sure what he was supposed to do with the 50 rooms. None of my business and obviously not a topic of my investigation. We had to go around Rajur for a while when luckily we found a hotel where the owner took 150/- for a Hall. We jumped in at the place and also agreed for the amount.

The next day we left early in the morning so that we could reach Harishchandragad as early as possible. From rajur we had to go to a village called "Panchnai" which was the base village for the trek. The route to this village in itself was a pleasure that got us excited. Here are some pictures from the route:

Finally, after a breathtaking ride from Rajur to Panchnai we were at the base village. It took hardly 2 hours climb to reach the top. We had a zhunka bhakar at the top. This was a nice and lovely experience, having nice and hot zhunka bhakar with a waterfall running just besides. Some snapshots:

 Finally our way back to Pune:

To summarise:
Good trek, a bit tough one, not to be trekked during rains if you are an avid photographer. Perfect trek after september until Feb.

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Palaces, Forts and Snow!!

In my office, apart from a day or two off from work, "LEAVE" is restricted to marriages, funerals and ICU admissions. So when I said I needed a week off so that I could go on a vacation with my wife, all I got was a blank look. My reason was "unheard of"; hence no argument ensued. After a couple of weeks of silence, my leave was approved!! Yippee!!
Reema and myself, along with Prichard and Marilyn planned out a week long tour to re-live our college tour experience. Here's what we did..

Day 1 : Fri 14 Jan 2011

We land in Jaipur at about 10.45pm and are collected by representatives of our resort - "Suryaa Villa". The pick-up from the airport was supposed to be charged, but then they forgot about it.
The rooms did not match the grandeur of the elegant looking palatial resort. Seeing walls with blue ceramic tiles up to waist-height, no wardrobes, and two single beds wasn't exactly what I traveled 2000 km for.

Day 2: Sat 15 Jan 2011

Started our day with humongous road-side breakfast - paranthas and lassi.
Prichard and Marilyn were to join us in the evening, so we spent the day on a govt. organized half day tour of Jaipur city.

Prichy & Mari reach at dinner time, and we head to Hotel Om Tower revolving restaurant. Nice setting where you sit on the 13th floor and revolve about the tower's axis so you can have a look at the entire city while you dine.

Food - 5
Service - 8
Ambiance - 9
Value For Money - 3

Day 3: Sun 16 Jan 2011

Breakfast at the famous Lakshmi Mishtan Bhandar. Nice rich food.. especially "Badvi Baazi" which is actually to be pronounced as "Bedvi Bhaaji", but due to that spelling we happened to embarrass the waiter a little.

Jantar Mantar -
Walking among the huge astronomy apparatus we're suddenly surprised to hear konkani conversations around. It was a group of current engicos on their "study" tour. We remembered our college tour all the more.

Nahargarh Fort -
Here we were welcomed by a guide who appeared very filmy. He reminded us of Rajpal Yadav, had a filmy name - Ramkhilavan; and he narrated the story of King Savai Madho Singh II as if he were a porn star. Apparently he lived with two queens at his palace. Nine others were housed in this fort. The story of how nine queens were kept in the same palace without access to each other, and the secret passage which allowed the king to visit one of them every night without the others having a clue about it was meant for general public. But then he took the guys aside for a little boy-talk where he revealed that the king actually had 52 queens of which only 11 had survived. The reason? "Raja saheb ka saamaan thoda lamba thaa". We wondered why a young guy like Ramkhilavan carried a walking stick around until he used it to illustrate the above "fact" to us.

Sympathizing with the poor queens, we move on to Jaigarh Fort to see the world's largest cannon. NO! Not the "saamaan".. a real cannon.

From here we move down to Amer Fort.
Amer Fort hosts a "Sound and Light show" every evening narrating the history of Amer. This is a must see. We didn't have cameras good enough to capture the show.

Day 4: Mon 17 Jan 2011
Chokhi Dhani -

Chokhi Dhani is a village resort with people doing road tricks and keeping you entertained. A very nice place to spend an evening and totally worth the price. Camel/elephant rides, fortune telling, magic shows, weird skill demos, archery, air guns, street dances, artificial caves etc etc topped with amazing food.
Placards stuck all over the place say "Do not encourage tips". But nobody can save you from "Raam Raam Saa" which at this place means "Give me some money".
Every entertainer on completing his piece of art greets you with these words; and appreciation of skill can only be done in cash.

Day 5: Mon 18 Jan 2011

Having seen Jaipur we now head towards Delhi to catch a bus to Manali. Most of the day was spent on the road.
The memorable part was nice Italian food at "Mamma Mia" in gurgaon.

Day 6: Tue 19 Jan 2011

We reach Manali at about 7.30 AM. Manoj, the guy who was supposed to pick us up is not to be seen. Worse still, he doesn't pick our calls. Worried we might freeze important parts of our body, we start walking towards the hotel asking for directions from the few people we could see around. 2 kilometers trek up the slope in snow with luggage on our back was quite an experience. A cute dog saw us walking and accompanied us until the hotel. We decided to name him Manoj.
At the hotel Flamingo Resort, we were greeted by Tuleram Khargosh, the receptionist/waiter/manager - a very hospitable man who fed us to the brim with the complimentary meals everyday. For some reason, he liked to be addressed as "T.R."

Our first activity at Manali was skiing at Sollang Valley. Not yet having adjusted to the sudden drop in temperature, our stamina wasn't at it's best, so we were done with skiing pretty soon and most of our time here was spent clicking snaps in the snow.

What amazing landscapes! Don't aim. Just shoot!

Our new friends on the trip .. Rohit and Samiksha. It was 12 AM and their anniversary which called for some celebration.

Day 7: Wed 20 Jan 2011

We wake up to a cloudier, colder morning and the water heater can hardly give us any hot water. That's because Tuleram's assistant has just broken ice in the overhead tank and the water's gonna take some time to start flowing.
After breakfast our driver takes us to Manikaran hot springs in Kullu. Two and a half hours drive but absolutely worth it. A pool of hot water!! The sight in itself was such a relief. We jumped into the water and didn't get out for over an hour. :-)
Day 8: Thu 21 Jan 2011

Warm sunny morning! We could do without warm clothes. It was our last day in Manali, and the day for local sight seeing.
Hadimba Temple
Club house
Vasisht Hot springs (Manikaran was much better)
Back at the hotel, pack up and we catch the bus back to Delhi.

Day 9: Fri 22 Jan 2011

Reaching Delhi at 6.00 AM is quite scary, especially when we don't know the way to where we're going. But we did find our way to Goa-Sadan without much hassle.
Dilli Haat -
Very nice place for food.. Authentic food stalls from a number of Indian states. I had the best chicken momos I've ever had.
The Kashmir stall served Gushtaba which was delicious too.. but a little expensive I'd say.
It was the end of the tour for Prichy and Mari who caught their flight to Goa after this.
We rode on a bus to have a look at the Qutb Minar.
Evening train - Rajdhani Express to Bangalore

Day 10: Sun 23 Jan 2011

Food was on the house in Rajdhani. So we ate, watched 3 movies and relaxed. Easy day.

Day 11: Mon 24 Jan 2011

Back to work :-(

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Motorcycle Diaries - Kemmannugundi

The greatest heights of Karnataka - Kemmannugundi.. This was the third time we were planning this trip and hence were pretty strong willed on making it, come what may.

At first, we made the plan with 3 people. A number of people seemed interested on being told about it though.. and like the saying goes.. "Log aatey gaye aur karwan banta gaya".. The highest we reached was a group of 12 people to join in with 8 bikes! Well, the joy of a big-gang trip plan was short-lived; as people soon started backing out. And finally one night before the trip, just the original 3 were left :)

The route

Nice road, scenic ponds, green surroundings... life!

Thats Akhil... A saying about him goes:
"His speed doesn't vary with the quality of the road; only his pillion rider's luck varies..."
- Anon

After battering many a butt, he now rides alone.

The hour long trek to Z - point. Amazing .. Adventurous .. Awesome!

The winds are so damned strong that you can barely stand still for a few milliseconds

On the way from Kemmannugundi to Chikmagalur.
Whoever told Abdul that it's a bad road probably rides on the runway.

After this, came the Belur temple, lunch in Hassan and then the only bad part of the trip.. an incomplete highway between Hassan and Nelamangala.
All in all, a well spent weekend. Looking forward to the next road-trip.

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Apologies from God

You wanted to be the king of the land

And all I've made you is a pawn in my hand

The devil and I play a game of gore

And here is how we keep score

Taking turns, we play with your mind

And whom you obey, gets one point

You build me a temple and I'm in the lead

You crush it to dust and I recede

You build me a mosque, but all in vain

'Cause then the devil strikes again

You make, you break and make and break

And truly believe it's all for my sake

You snap and swear and cry in pain

Until it's too much for you to take

Perplexed, you look for guys to blame

And kill your brother in my name

It's not about the points any more

This, for me is a matter of shame.

I walk through your mind, trying to make a mark

But sometimes the door's shut and the room, pitch dark

The devil smiles at me from the inside

I humbly move on and let him reside.

You think you're smart and voice your views

You think you get to decide and choose

While it's just a game I play with the devil

And whoever may win, YOU LOSE.

Sorry dude... No hard feelings

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Kailas Gad - Easy trek with mind blowing views

Had been to Kailas Gad on saturday. Not many know about this fort mostly because it is surrounded by more famous forts. It must have been only a watch fort during Shivaji's time because it does not seem strategically important considering that it is surrounded by Loh Gad on the Lonavala side and Sinhgad on the other side.

A road going right from the base of Tamhini Ghat takes us to a village named Waghwadi from where the trek starts.This road goes along the backwaters of the Mulshi Dam which is what makes a trip to this fort a refreshing experience. Also from the top you see the whole view of the backwaters surrounding the fort on three sides.

Here are a few snaps of the trip.

Some classic photography on the way

The bikes....The enfield looks the best as always :)

 A Classic view on the way to Kailas gad. We could not resist waiting here for a while. Besides since we had cousins Digital SLR with us it was worth waiting.

 The lush green mountains just made us feel refreshed already.

Whole group except for the Photographer...

 Nice view half way from the fort. Mulshi Backwaters.

 Beautiful view of the Kailas Gad. We had to still climb the mountain seen in the snap.

 The queen of the fort we called her. She does not look less beautiful than Katrina Kaif. Thats the beauty of SLR. I was a little afraid that after clicking the snaps she would ask for her modelling fees. some 100 Rs per snap or something. We had clicked quite a few snaps of this lady.

"Gai Humari Mata Hain, Agey kuch nahi ataa hai" 

Have you seen a flying Human? No it is not Milkha singh. It is our own SLR owner.

Finally the tired, exhausted group with a thought in the mind that we need to still travel 90 Kms.

All in all not a difficult trek, but a very refreshing one. Or you can say can be a romantic trek rather than a hectic one.

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Mr Aurangzeb's city

Had visited Aurangabad on a weekend in May on my new unicorn. Was a great experience and I proved myself the quote that "Four wheels move the body while two wheels move the soul".

We were just two of us on two different bikes to attack Aurangzeb in his own city.

Here are some snapshots of the experiences we had.

Me with my girl friend...

It seems this is the famous Delhi darwaza at Aurangabad. I wonder what is it doing at Aurangabad. It must be an consequence of some silly demand from one of aurangzeb's wife that she wants to stay in Delhi and Aurangzeb must have fooled her in this manner. Believe me, when it comes to wife's wishes the mughals could go to any extent...

The tar on our way to Ajanta Caves.

Ajanta Caves view. They are basically monastries from the 5th century. They have some amazing architectural desings and i must say the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) have preserved them with care. No camera flashes are allowed in the caves so that the bright light does not deteriorate the paintings.


An example of the architectural intelligence of the 5th century men.

Ghrisneshwar Temple. One of the shiv jyotirlingas. The place is called Verul. We had a real good learning experience the previous night. We reached here at 12:00 from Ajanta caves as we got so engrossed in the caves that we did not realize the time. We could not find a lodging and were thinking to stay on the road. But by God's grace we found one just besides the temple. Moral of the story: Stay wherever you are by 9:00 PM when you are at an unknown place.

We two exhausted with the experience we had the previous night. We had slept at 2:00 AM in the morning and we were back on tar the next morning at 6:30 AM.

She was the only one supporting me whole heartedly for anything i wanted to do :). This view was on the way to Daulatabad fort.

Daulatabad fort. It gives you an measure of Mughal intelligence. It is not easy to rule almost whole of India when other kings like Shivaji, Pratap singh rana and brave rajputs always on your look out. It had in all 5 safety layers. The most interesting was a dark cave which was the only way to enter the fort. It seems the troops use to hide there and in case the enemy manages to cross all the earlier safety layers and reaches the dark cave, the troops hiding in the dark cave would attack them.

This is called the "Chand Minar". It was a sort of announcement point. This is one view from the top of the fort.

Great experience. Would be visiting this again in the rains. Should be more fun.

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