Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

Titanic is now a century old Saga!

Posted: April 9, 2012 by Shishir Gupta in Adventure
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Tomorrow, 10 April 2012, Titanic will complete 100 years of sail. Yes, exactly 100 years ago Titanic started its maiden journey from Southampton on 10 April 1912. And unfortunately just 5 days later of 15 April the journey was abruptly ended to one of the world’s major accidents. In 5 days time, one of the biggest sea accidents ever will complete a 100 years.

Titanic was one of the largest ships ever created at that time, with a capacity of close to 3400 people, which included about 900 crew members. The ship was declared as “unsinkable” and probably had gained one of the greatest hypes ever before its first sail. And ironically the claimed “unsinkable” ship sunk in its very first journey, unfortunately claiming more than 1500 lives, but surely becoming a legend/epic since then. In fact its last living survivor, died on 31 May 2009, aged 97.

To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Titanic the 3D version of the 1997 Hollywood flick Titanic has been released worldwide.

The other events that have been taking place for the 100th commemoration are:
At 12:13 pm on 31 May 2011, exactly 100 years after Titanic rolled down her slipway, a single flare was fired over Belfast’s docklands in commemoration. All boats in the area around the Harland and Wolff shipyard then sounded their horns and the assembled crowd applauded for exactly 62 seconds, the time it had originally taken for the liner to roll down the slipway in 1911. On 12 March 2012 BBC’s Songs Of Praise, from Belfast, took the form of a Titanic memorial. The program included a selection of maritime hymns and ended with Nearer, My God, to Thee, allegedly the last tune played by the ship’s band.
On 4 April 2012, the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s completion and her maiden voyage was celebrated by the theatrical re-releasing the 1997 feature film Titanic in 3D.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform The Titanic Requiem, a work composed by singer/songwriter Robin Gibb and his son RJ Gibb, on 10 April in London. The event will include a hologram show depicting the sea, the ship, and the iceberg.
The cruise ship Balmoral, operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has been chartered by Miles Morgan Travel to follow the original route of Titanic, intending to stop over the point on the sea bed where she rests on 15 April 2012.
The SeaCity Museum in Southampton, Hampshire will open on 10 April 2012, the date when RMS Titanic made her maiden voyage out of Southampton. It was designed to show Southampton’s 2000 years of sea history, as well as commemorate the 549 city residents who sunk with the Titanic.

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Torna Fort

I publish my trip diaries over my blog here, so that years later when I read it, I would be able to remember and cherish the moments of the trip. But this trip has been somewhat different, as even if I do not write about it here, I will surely remember it for a long time to come.

Again another Sunday, another fort called in for a yet another trek with my friends. As usual this trip too had to be covered over the previous weekend, but again due to various circumstances it had to get postponed for this Sunday (18-Sept-2011). This time we went to Torangarh (Torna Fort) which is one of the first of Shivaji’s fort, and definitely is known for its tough climb. I and four other friends (Vishal, Achyut, Firoz, and Imran- Firoz’s brother) went for the trip. I and Vishal have made it for almost every trip, and Achyut too has become a regular in the group now.

Also, I don’t know why 2-3 days before we started for the trip, I was having an intuition that something bad was to happen over the trip. I really don’t know what exactly it was but it kept cautioning me, and asking me to skip this trip. But I am somewhat happy that I did go for this as it was definitely a life time experience.

Torna Fort in Clouds

THE PLANNING BEHIND THE TRIP
After the bizarre planning that went behind our Korigad trip, this planning was way better. I Vishal had been planning for the trip, but we were not really sure of the destination trip. It is at that time, when I saw a few images on my friends Facebook profile when he visited Torna fort recently. The images made me consider the place as an option, and I suggested it to Vishal, who readily agreed and so the place was fixed. But he did mention it to me that the climb to the top is one of the toughest around Pune. After circulating the email about the trip, Achyut and Firoz to confirmed for the trip. Apart from the two there were others like Eshanku, Umesh, Sandip, Aman, Raman, and Bhadre who all enthusiastically agreed and wanted to join for the trip. I was happy the count for the trip had for the first time touched to 10 people, who at that time were surely going to come along. But as the date neared we as usual had a few dropouts due to prior commitments and we had to postpone the trip. Again at the start of the next trip, I circulated the same email all over again. Again this time we almost had everyone agreeing for the trip, but it is at that time Vishal sent a caution email (with text in red) to all. The email read as follows:

“Before you make your mind to Torna, let me threaten you all. The fort is very well known for its toughness. It is one of the toughest and high-risk forts for trekking around Pune. Many people find this fort very difficult for trekking in summer and we’re going in these rainy days. So the recent rainfall will intensify the difficulty of your trekking.
The purpose of above threatening is to warn the faint-hearted people of our group.    (The adjective faint-hearted should not be taken personally. I am not referring to any individual………… but to all of us :D) Therefore the faint-hearted people must not come to this trip.”

This email actually worked and we had a few dropouts initially. I was a little unhappy with that at the time, but Vishal did tell me about the details of the trek. After that discussion I made up my mind that at no point of time, I am going to convince any tentative people to join. By the end, we were 6 of us who finally agreed to go ahead (Vishal, Firoz, Aman, Eshanku, Achyut, and Me). Raman had fallen ill, so he was not sure and said that if he does recover he would surely join. Bhadre too agreed, but he said that it would be difficult for him to climb as he has somewhat injured his leg. At that point of time I asked to drop the idea of coming, as there is no point in aggravating your injury. The rest I believe got scared by the email and backed out of the trip. 6 was always a good number, but I and Vishal were somewhat skeptical about Eshanku joining the trip, as we felt his built would not really allow him complete the trek successfully and then his probably if that does happen, the others would also lose their determination to complete the trek. So by a heavy heart I had to drop the idea of taking Eshanku along with us.

The Group (Achyut, Firoz, Imran, Vishal, and Me)

The night before the trip, Aman too had to drop out as he had to urgently go to Mumbai for some work, which left us again to the count of 4. But finally, we decided to go ahead as we did not want another trip to get cancelled due to the count falling. The plan was set to meet at Swargate around 6.30 and then head towards the fort. Also this time we decided that we all would take our bikes, avoiding pillion riders.

THE START
The trip started on a good note. Firoz got his brother Imran along with him and the count increased to 5. Though we started about 20-25 minutes late than the scheduled time, but considering that everything else was going fine, the delay did not worry us much. Imran decided to come on my bike as my pillion rider. After about a drive of about 35-40 minutes we stopped at a McDonald’s outlet on the Mumbai-Bangalore highway. Another group of bike riders had stopped there. All of them had very costly super bikes, and looking at them somewhat charged us as well. Though we did end up spending (wasting) almost an hour. In the meanwhile, charged by seeing that bikers groups we also discussed the possibility of starting our very own bikers group (maybe consisting of only our team members). A team that would undertake such trips at least once a month, I knew that straight away I could see 4 enthusiastic members for the group. And after some breakfast and a small photo session we started our journey ahead. We had barely moved for 10-15 minutes, we again took a break for tea. After a hot cup of steaming tea we headed towards the fort. After we left the highway, the road to the fort (almost 30 odd kilometers) was not in a very good condition, so we drove slowly through. The road wasn’t very good, but the scenery on both the sides was immaculate. We all enjoyed the drive and reached the foothills of the fort by 9.45 AM.

The Bikers Group

THE CLIMB 
Almost immediately after parking our bikes we decided to ascend to the top without wasting any time. The walk initially was good, a little slippery but as we walked through beautiful farms, it was exciting. We could see the fort on top of the other hill, and the walk up to the top was around 5-6 kilometers. As we started moving ahead, the climb got a little steeper and difficult. Luckily there was not much rain till then, so the path was not very slippery, and was manageable if we were careful. While moving ahead, we moved ahead and met a kid called Ramesh. He was a local person and generally guided travellers like us to the top of the fort. He said he would escort us to the top, and informed that he generally guides trekkers like us and also carries a bottle of buttermilk along (he does not charge anything for the guidance, only did for the buttermilk on per glass basis). We were joyed and happily took him along as we all had forgotten to carry any water or any other drink along with us. And even with less than a kilometer we had started feeling the need of water so he along with us was like a god sent. We started climbing up the top, but the climb was getting tougher and tougher with every 10 minutes. Since the climb was steep, I discussed with Vishal that dropping Eshanku was a good idea, though had Umesh and others come it would have been great. Vishal who probably had knowledge of the area said that this was just the beginning. Whenever I felt that this patch was a little difficult, another ever more difficult patch would follow. The path enroute to the top was very narrow suitable for a single person, and the dangerous level increased since this track was just a few centimeters away from the edge of the cliff. We all held our nerves and moved ahead, but the due to the excitement none of us were actually afraid of the situation. In fact we kept on clicking photographs of each other and the nature around. Suddenly we reached the top of the hill (the fort was on the hill on the other end). The view was breathtaking from there, with a narrow track to the fort and cliff on both sides of the track. But the view on both sides was amazing, and we could not stop ourselves from clicking photographs. After some time we started to move ahead and kept on jokingly motivate each other as the route got tougher and tougher. I suddenly realized that in my previous post about Korigad, I had mentioned that climb as very tough, but seeing the situation as till then, if the climb of Korigad fort was tougher this climb was way-way tougher, and I thought about this not realizing that even tougher times were yet to come (though to give my Korigad post a little justification all I can say is that the climb up to that fort was not very tough, however the heavy rains did make it very tough and risky).

The route up to the fort

After sometime we reached a point which I can call the foothills of the fort. I could see the fort at some height, but then the climb from here was almost 80-85 degree climb, and I joked that the trek was suddenly changing into rock climbing now. That sight did scare me a bit as with rains this path had got a little slippery and it had got dicey and risky. But the feeling having reached so close to the fort somewhat blooded some new freshness into all of us and we moved ahead. I can never forget that climb in my life, it was really enthralling. Though to be honest, it was not very tough especially since I know rock climbing, but it was the weather that made it very tough and risky. But that atmosphere had pumped too much of adrenaline into us that nothing could deter us from climbing. In fact we had situations where we were almost hanging on the rocks still I and Vishal were trying to capture everyone’s photographs. Then there was a patch where had to walk around a little, and not climb. That gave us a relief for some time and also in between we managed to spot a waterfall, where we enjoyed for some time and again clicked pictures (some videos too) of each other.

The steep climb

Once we left the fall, we again faced a steep (around 80 degree) climb. But that led us to the top of the fort (within the walls of the fort). The experience up till then was superb and was worth taking the risk. We all had the buttermilk that was given to us by Ramesh and that energized us and after that we let him go back. By that time I had realized that dropping all the others was a great idea, and why Vishal was insisting on not to take friends like Bhadre, Umesh and Eshanku along. Having reached the top was an achievement in itself. Maybe Aman and Raman missed this trip big time as I probably feel that they surely could have accompanied us to the top. Though I am not really sure about the others, as I do feel that it would have been difficult for them to climb, and even one person at that time could de-motivate everyone else. We reached the top around 12, and it took us more than 2 hours of walk to reach the top. The weather on the top was not very good, there were dense clouds and visibility was very low. However after roaming atop for about half an hour, having some fun, and clicking some pictures we started the descend towards our bikes.

On top of the Fort

While coming down we realized that due to the slight drizzle in between, the track had become even more slippery. And once again we faced to steep climb (now turned into steep falls). It is that time I realized that climbing up took a little toll on our knees and legs, but descending downhill would very difficult and dangerous. On most of the occasions we had to sit down (in fact almost lie down) with are backs touching the ground and then try and push our body down. This was the toughest part if the trip I suppose, and as we got used to it, we increased our speeds and then started coming down quickly. While coming down Firoz spotted a crab (it was huge in size) and indicated to Vishal. Vishal’s eyes lit up seeing that and he instantly leaped towards the crab and caught it, and he knew he had his dinner well earned. 

Vishal with the crab

It took us a little time to descend as the track down had become slippery, and we could not really keep our foot steady on ground, and almost everybody was slipping. When we were about to reach the starting point we realized that we had to cross a stream. Vishal entered the stream and we all followed him. The water gushing into our shoes was really soothing, as our legs were very tired, and I almost had blisters in the toes (as while climbing and descending to maintain steadiness all the body weight finally comes on the front toes). After spending some 5-10 minutes and clicking pictures we moved ahead towards our bikes. It was about to touch 3.30 and it had almost taken us 3 hours to touch back from the top of the fort (in fact Vishal had estimated it to be around 1 and a half hour). We all were very hungry and tired, and more than anything else our legs had almost given up. At that point of time I rued the fact that we came on bikes, and that too all alone. This meant that all of us had to drive back and none of us would get the respite of taking some rest.

While entering the Torna Fort

We reached near are bikes and then straight away headed towards a restaurant to have some food. We sat down and, to be honest that moment felt like heaven to me, as I had not sat down anywhere since the start of the trek. The food was simply amazing (to be honest at the moment anything served to us would have been great, but the quality was good). We ate stomachs full and around 4 o clock we got up to head back home. We all started are journey back on bikes and as earlier Imran was once again my pillion. The 30 kilometers drive to touch the highway was tough as the roads were not very good, and also our legs had literally given up. But somehow we managed to touch the highway in about 40 minutes.

The drive on the highway was smooth and very good, though none of us were speeding, actually our legs did not allow us to exceed the speed of 50 (I don’t remember the last time I actually drove that slow on a highway), but to be honest that speed too looked pretty good at that moment. At around 5 o clock we stopped for a break and had a cup of tea. The tea somewhat managed to get some life back into our bodies. All of us were talking about how we are going rest once we reach back home and our plans for the next day. We all were talking about a possible unplanned leave from office, and if I remember I was the only one who was very confident of not applying for one. In the meanwhile we also discussed the plan to visit as many forts possible around Pune before the next monsoon. Though this looked a little difficult, but surely was very much possible especially if I, Vishal, and Achyut were available for every future trip plan.

After a small but refreshing break, we started our way back home. This time Imran decided to accompany Firoz, as that would enable them to directly head back home and no more stoppage.

THE INEVITABLE ACCIDENT
The day was great so far, but just then my initial intuition of something bad going to happen on the trip made way. I was driving constantly on the left-center of the road and a speed of around 50, a scooter driver who was standing in between the center of the road turned left (my side). To avoid him I applied brakes, but I guess since my legs were as good as dead the brake was ineffective, so I had to apply my hand (disc-brakes) brake and the bike skit and hit the scooter, and I fell on the middle of the road. As I feel down the first thought that came to my mind was who was behind me, and as I realized that Achyut was behind (I was constantly monitoring through the rear mirror so that everyone was together) and bike came and fell over me and hit my chest. It almost pinched me hard, and for a few seconds I almost lost consciousness. But at that moment I felt a little happy now that since it has been a few seconds no big vehicle would come near me a very serious injury had been avoided. I suddenly saw Achyut and Vishal picking up the bike the bike from over me, and then picking me up. But that time Firoz and Imran had helped pick me up and that is the time I realized that the bike that skit and fell over me was none other than Achyut’s. When he saw me falling he tried to help me by moving the other side and while applying the brakes his bike too skit and fell over me. I had a few bruises on my knee and my elbow, but I did look a little uncomfortable. Achyut to had a few bruises over his knee and shin, and at that time we realized that a major mishap had been avoided. After a small break and a little quarrel with the people there we headed back home. Despite the injury I once again the group as I knew that driving at a constant and my comfortable speed is the best bet I had.

The group - I like this pic even more now, since had we been not so lucky in the accident, a few faces could have gone missing from this for ever!

THE LAST LEG OF THE JOURNEY
As I moved ahead, the pain in the chest and elbow started to increase and I knew that I was in a tough situation as I had to cover around 18 kilometers more to reach back home. By the time I entered the city (about 11-12 kilometers to home) my hands had started trembling, and I had started to feel the pinch. But somehow I managed to reach home safely (no more mishap). Once I entered home, I showed my mother the bruise on the elbow. There were no lights in the house at that time and so she asked me to the injury with hot water. It is when the lights came on I realized the swelling on my elbow and chest. My mother got scared and took me to the hospital for an X-ray, which finally showed that I had two fractures in my elbow and three in my ribs. And now I ended up the only one to go on an unplanned leave the next day, unfortunately and unintended though.

And thus a very enjoyable day had ended on a miserable note. Though I believe this trek and the accident both will be engraved in the minds of my friends and mine for a long time to come.
 

Inside the fort

A FEW POINTS FROM THE TRIP
Similar to my last post of an adventurous trip, I would highlight a few points from the trip:

  • I have realized that it is good to have all friends come for the trip but sometimes not having the wrong person at the right trip is also good. And I did learn that I can manage people well as I did manage to get some friends off board as they could have unknowingly spoilt the mood of the rest of the group had they backed off half way during the trek.
  • I would remember the trekking experience all my life, as climbing steep heights (almost cliffs) was a completely new experience.
  • I learnt that traveling on bikes is great fun, but when one has to go for such tiring trips it is advisable to take a four wheeler or a cab. Or at least have a pillion rider, with whom you can share half the burden of the journey. As I do believe had I been not that tired I could have managed to avoid the accident.
  • When Achyut met me the other day, he felt guilty that had he been able to avoid his part of the accident, more than half of my injuries could have been saved. To be honest I was happy that some bike was behind me and no heavy vehicle was as that could have caused major injuries if not any extreme condition. Also his bike somewhat shielded me for any other mishap. Also I can understand what he must have been feeling. Even I was sad that he fell trying to save me. Had he got a major injury, I would have really felt guilty too.
  • I was a little sad that Aman did not make it to the trip, as he would have definitely enjoyed the experience. I later realized that had he made it he would have been my pillion and this accident would have been much more dangerous for him, than it was for me.  
  • I believe we must sometimes do need to pay heed to our intuitions, they can definitely give a good hint, if not completely be true.
  • Also our plans of a bikers group and of the fort trekking group have been postponed for a long time seeing this mishap. As seeing what happened this time I am not really sure, how often and quickly we will get back into action.

    That's me after the trip

That’s it from me know, hope to write on some more forthcoming trips very soon, though seeing my condition I don’t see such a trip in very near future but I hope that whenever it does happen it will be a great one and a safer one.


Well this post should have been posted almost one and a half month back, but due to some mysterious circumstances this could not be posted in time. In fact I had written down this post immediately after the trip and even had tried to post it (created a post and tried to publish it), but due to some technical issue it could not be posted on the net, and after that its posting has been getting postponed.

I have always believed that posting the details of the trip here is more my our groups rememberance of the good times we spent that day, so that years later when we read this we could fall in nostalgia and remember those great times. So even after getting so delayed I thought of posting this now, especially since one of my another big trips is planned for this weekend. I also did go to NDA, along with my friends, I will surely try and write the tour dairy of that day before the end of this week, hopefully.

Well I had written this post the very next day after the trip, and so I haven;t made any changes to the content.

Another Sunday (16th July 2011) and it was yet another adventurous trip (and again I am a few days late to publish this post). This time we went to Lonavala, a hill station close to Pune. We can say that probably this was again one of those trips that I had gone for just for the sake of going out with friends, after all the previous plans were getting cancelled. Also the most interesting aspect of this trip was that out of the 5 people that did go only two were actually destined to go for this (and surprisingly I am not part of the two). Also, Achyut, who was one of the two people, ideally should not have made it to the trip, but just because of his sheergrit and his friendship for us, he did.

Korigad Fort

THE PLANNING BEHIND THE TRIP
It is not that this trip was not planned for; in fact this had to be one of my office team outings. This trip was being planned as the team’s annual monsoon trip, and after a lot of discussion and debate this trip was decided to take place on Saturday, 16th July and the venue was decided for Korigad and Lonavala. The team was enthusiastic about the trip and as many as 29 people had confirmed their availability till the start of the last week. This list included me as well, however, I knew from the very first day that if the trip did go on that day, I could not be a part of it because of my prior commitments (I have joined an MBA course and its classes happen every Saturday).

Anyways as the last week started and as the day for the trip was approaching the number of dropouts started increasing (that included me as well). In fact, even after a lot of persuasion by my friends and especially my manager could not help me convince myself to miss the class (however, that definitely left me into the dilemma).  On Wednesday I got the news that the number of the participants for the trip had fallen from 29 to almost half its number – 15. At that time I jokingly told to my friend that if the count falls below 12, I would join the trip. In the meanwhile since I could not go for the trip, I and Vishal planned for a Sunday trip to National Defense Academy (NDA) (since he was going for this team trip, we could not go any way far on Sunday). Agonizingly, the count for the team trip fell to 11 by Thursday afternoon. Now, after getting to know of that I got a little uncertain about my status to the trip. Somehow I thought a lot over it and managed to convince myself to miss the class for the trip on Saturday. On Friday, just when I was about to tell my friends that I would join for the trip, I got to know that due to very less participation the trip has been postponed to September.

A pose with bikes

Almost everyone was disappointed, of not being able to go for the trip. I was not really disappointed since I did not want to miss my classes, and had only somehow managed to convince myself to do that. And now when the trip got cancelled, it was more of a blessing in disguise for me. Anyways, Vishal was really disappointed with the trip not happening; he somehow still wanted to go for this. That time I and he planned out for the trip to Korigad and Lonavala (the original venue) but on Sunday. This plan came into existence at around 4 pm on Friday and within two hours we were a group of 4 people ready for the trip. Although the plan was yet not confirmed and was in its nascent stage.

But the main planning of this trip started on Saturday night, when I called almost everyone up and managed to get the count to 6 (Me, Vishal, Umesh, Raman, Bhadre and Aman). But the problem with this was that we did not have enough bikes (just 2 of them), and with six people it was not possible to go then. Then after a lot more chatting with other friends, I managed the count to 9 (Achyut, Moiz, and Dushyant joined the group). But this time we decided not go on bikes but cars, and I and Moiz were the ones who decided to drive. This list somehow included Achyut, as he was down with fever for the two days and was on his way to recovery, and only agreed for the trip as we were going by cars and not bikes.

Finally the plan was ready by 11 in the night and we nine people had to leave by 6.30 early morning.

Fort in heavy rains

THE TRIP
The day started on a deplorable note, which Moiz not able to join in. With that it meant Dushyant too will not be able to join and it was left with 7 of us and only one car. And above all it was raining heavily since night which meant there was no chance of taking bikes. I was in a quandary of what to do, as all 7 of us could not go, also since it was raining heavily there was a doubtfulness of whether we should go. I called up Vishal, and we decided to go (removing that doubt of the way). But then the big question was who goes and who doesn’t as 7 cannot go in a car. Now Vishal, Aman, Achyut and I were apparent choices, and it was all down to take the decision of who will be the fifth person. After a small discussion I and Vishal decided to ask Umesh to join in. I with a heavyheartinformed both Raman and Bhadre that probably we will not be going, which unfortunately cut them out of them picture.

After that we all started on schedule, I left my place to pick up Aman from his house, and then reached the spot where I had to pick up Umesh by 6.45 AM. Achyut had already reached his picking up point at 6.30 (15 minutes early and was waiting for us), while we were waiting for Umesh. But he arrived at 7.20 and that too I had to pick him up from a place close to his house rather than the actual picking up point. And the reason he gave for this ridiculous act was that there was no water at his place and so he could not take bath. I found that explanation really crackbrained, and at a point I was fuming since Achyut, who had just come out of fever, was on time and waiting for us for almost an hour in the rain. While waiting for Umesh, I and Aman were losing our cool every moment and I was also feeling guilty of Achyut having to stand in rain for almost an hour. In the heat of that moment I even called up Vishal, to discuss the idea of dropping Umesh from the trip. We almost agreed but then since I had waited for more than half an hour for him, I thought of waiting for five more minutes. And just when Aman said that we should leave I saw Umesh coming from a little distance away, and he just managed to make it in the nick of time. And then after picking him up we immediately left the place to reach where Achyut was waiting (In the meanwhile Vishal was a bit lucky since he had to be picked up last, and since we were waiting for Umesh, he too waited for us at home rather than at his pick up point). As we left, he too left for the pickup point. After that small hiccup everything went smoothly, as we touched the highway by 7.45 after picking up both Achyut and Vishal. The drive on the Pune-Mumbai expressway was nothing less than amazing. With the picturesque scenery all around, lite rain all the way, and with me being able to touch the speed of 130 km/hr very consistently, I could not have asked for anything better. 

A cup of hpt tea at Lonavala

Anyways we touched Lonavala by 8.30 (it just took us 45-50 minutes for us to cover a distance of over 60 kilometers). Also on the way to Lonavalaat a toll stop, we also managed to obviate the toll tax, after a lot of persuasion from all 5 of us. After reaching Lonavala, we took a small break and had snacks and a cup of steaming tea (both the Wada-Pav and tea were steaming hot) which charged us up and we moved ahead towards Bushi Dam. We stopped at a waterfall before the dam, and managed to click a few pictures and had a lot of fun near the fall. Though then we decided we would not get wet in the fall, since travelling everywhere wet would be very difficult. So after some fun we moved ahead towards Bushi Dam. The weather was getting a little bad with the rains getting heavier. As we reached the dam the rains had got very heavy, and due to dense fog and clouds, the visibility was very low and so we decided to move ahead towards Korigad and to stop at the dam while returning.

The drive to Korigad was absolutely amazing though very scary as well because of the high density fog and clouds coupled with heavy rains, reduced the visibility to almost nil. Driving was really dangerous since suchconditions were very new for me and with no visibility all I could refer were the markings at the edge of the road. However I really enjoyed driving in those conditions and now I feel I can drive in any given condition.  Anyways driving through, we reached Korigad around 9.45 AM. It was raining heavily and there was no way we could trek up to the fort. So we decided to go to Amby Valley in the time being.

View of Amby Valley from Korigad

We reached Amby Valley in 15-20 minutes from then but since the cost per person to enter the premises was too high, we had no other option than to return back. After reaching we were getting a little frustrated with the rains, as the rains were heavy and there was no way we could trek up to the fort. However, since the original plan was to go to Korigad we anyhow wanted to go up to the fort. We waited for some time for the rain to stop, but that did not happen. But yes it did get lighter which was enough motivation for us to get out and climb up. Initially the way up to the fort seemed easy but the way only relapsed.

Way up to the fort

The way up was muddy and with rains and water flowing around, became very slippery. We did not know the exact route to the fort so we continued trekking with more of a hit and trial method. The rains were getting heavier, and with we having no clue of the actual route up, and also there was no sign of people in near vicinity (it looked as if only the 5 of us, were in that area) it was getting scarier. We even quite a few times thought of abandoning the climb and returning back to our car, but somehow we always managed to convince ourselves to continue for some more time. After some time, we saw two people coming from behind. They were probably local people and knew well of the route up to the fort, and so we started following them. The way they took was more of a like the one through the forest, with a very narrow path. The path was so narrow that the shrubs on either side brushed as we moved ahead. Also there were branches of trees that had fallen, for which to cross them we had to either jump over them or bend and cross from beneath them. All this reminded me of the Man v/s Wild episodes, as the scene was nothing less to the forest expeditions executed by Bear Grylls on that show. Again as I said, all that environmental setup coupled with the rainy weather looked dangerous but was very exciting, and the level of excitement grew even further as while walking on that path we lost sight of the two people we were following. And all of us were once again confused of whether we were on the right track and at that moment all we could do is either return back or just keep on walking ahead wherever the track would lead us too. After 15-20 minutes and a total of about a 40-45 minutes’ walk we reached the foot of the fort were the steps were there that ascended to the top of the fort.

Steps enroute to the top

The steps were very slippery as there was constant flow of water over it, and it appeared as if there was a waterfall that was flowing over the steps. Anyways after a climb of about 15-20 minutes we managed to reach the top. The feeling of having scaledKorigad was amazing, as earlier after every few minutes we were losing are motivation, but just for sheer grit and for the sake up trekking up to the fort we managed to reach. The view from the top was fantabulous and was definitely worth the effort we took to reach the top. We could see the entire view of Amby Valley from there; it really looked amazing from the top. As it was raining very heavily, we could not manage to click many pictures of the beautiful view (also due to the density of rains we did not carry our cameras with us to the top, all we had to click were mobile phones). But I must say we did manage to click some nice pictures of the small lake at the top and the view of Amby Valley from the fort.

Amidst heavy rains in the top

In sometime it started raining cats and dogs, so we decided that it was time we descended to the car, as we all were tired by now and were also feeling hungry. Coming down did not take a lot of time, as now we were well versed with the way route and managed to reach the car in about 35-40 minutes. But by the time we reached the car we were completely drenched in water. We were wearing jackets but still the shirts inside too were drenched (I still remember Aman took out his handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his head, but before he could do that, the moment he squeezed it, the water just streamed out of the handkerchief, such had been the intensity of rain throughout the trek). Anyways we left the place around 12.30, and since we had immense time in hand we thought of probably spending some time at the Bushi Dam or maybe we could go to another fort, Lohagad, if we had enough time in hand later as we approach close to that place. But just before we reached the dam we got stuck in the traffic. There was a complete mess of traffic at that time, because of which we could not stop at the dam, since neither there was a place to park the vehicle nor was there any space to maneuver it out of that mess. So we decided to head towards Lonavala, as we all were a little hungry. But at that time we did not know that we would require 2 hours to cover a distance of 8 kilometers. The traffic condition was pathetic, and I hardly got to drive a distance of more than 10-15 meters at a stretch. And the stoppage interval after every movement was yonks’ for a lifetime, unbearable, and very frustrating. But Vishal did manage to lighten the mood with his didoes.  Anyways we did manage to touch the expressway by 3 o’ clock. But as we all were hungry we decided to take the highway rather than the expressway as the highway goes through the city of Lonavala, and that would enable us to eat something. But at that time none of us knew that we would again be entering the atrocious traffic jam all over again, something that we had managed to get out off after a couple of hours trouble.

But then such situations are inevitable, and we all over got stuck in that traffic mess all over again. Again the situation was similar, in fact even worse than before. It was very difficult for me to maneuver the car around and we could not park the car or stop anywhere in between. So in the meanwhile we decided as there was no chance for us to stop anywhere, one of us could get down and get some snacks, that could at least satiate our stomachs if not fill them completely. Then Aman, Achyut, and Vishal took turns and managed to get something to eat. Luckily that was enough to subsideour hunger for some time. And then finally we managed to cross the city after over an hour and a half struggle, sometime around 4.45. This left us with no other choice than to return home, as we had got over all the extra time we had managed to spare during the entire day.
And finally we took the national highway, instead of the expressway to head back home (as all that traffic which we had avoided all the way so far was heading to the expressway, I thought the highway would have been a better option). To be honest I really don’t know whether this option was better, but certainly it was not bad, as the scenic beauty on either sides of the road was fabulous. There wasn’t much traffic either, and I did manage to drive consistently in the speed range of 80-100 km/hrs (which is not bad at all, however it is less as compared to the expressway).

Anyways, we touched Pune in less than an hour and after dropping Achyut and Vishal I headed back home (Aman and Umesh accompanied me home so that they could transfer all the photographs they had, and I could leave them a little later). I reached home by 6.30 PM (a little over 12 hours when I had started, but the journey was brilliant except the frustration we had during the traffic jam in Lonavala).

The drive to the fort

A FEW POINTS FROM THE TRIP
Similar to my last post of an adventurous trip, I would highlight a few points from the trip.

  • I believe the decision to take the car rather than to go bikes was brilliant for the first half, but while returning as we were anyways drenched, it would have been better on bikes in that traffic (but I don’t think we could have enjoyed that much on bikes as we did in the car).
  • I got a great driving lesson that day, driving in zero visibility conditions, gripping road curves on the hill range, and then immoveable traffic, all of that has made more confident a driver than ever. Now I believe I can drive in any given condition. 
  • Had an amazing trekking experience (I have been to many forts around Pune), but this experience is definitely the best of all. It was actually adventurous and what we did was trekking in true sense.
  • It was good that the trip with the office team did not take place due to two reasons. Firstly, for a large team we would have needed a bigger transportation which would have meant that had we got stuck in a similar traffic then it would have been more agonizing and frustrating. Secondly, I am not sure with a large group would have everyone been motivated to scale the Korigad fort given the route and the conditions that day. 

Once again I have adopted a different style of writing the tour diary, as I feel that there should be a change every now and then to keep the interest of all the readers. Please let me know how you all liked this kind of writing.

That’s it from me know, hope to write on some more forthcoming trips very soon.


This Sunday, I visited Mahabaleshwar, a hill station close to Pune, with a group of my office friends and colleagues. Well, this is a very memorable trip for me for quite a few reasons. Firstly, it was the first trip for me with friends this monsoon season. Secondly, the participation in this trip was the maximum we have ever had. And thirdly, this time we did not go on bikes (as usual), instead we hired a mini bus (this is my first such instance after a very long time).

Though this was not my first planned trip for this season, I and a few other friends had planned our annual monsoon season inauguration trip the weekend before this one to Sinhgad Fort. But due to very heavy rains, that plan had to be shelved.  In fact this trip also happened after a lot of confusion. Both the day and venue for the trip were not our first choice, but due to various circumstances that arose, we finally decided to visit Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, and Tapola. And amazingly all these changes were decided just one day before the trip. Also the participation for the trip kept on reducing as time neared. If I remember correctly, a group of 15-17 people should have made it that day, but finally 10 was the number that actually went.

As it always happens in India with the trip starting at least an hour late than the schedule time, this trip was no different. But astoundingly, this time everyone in the group reached on time (I think I was one of the last ones to reach, anyways but that too wasn’t very late) and it was the bus that got late and eventually delayed our start by an hour. We finally started a touch before 6 AM (we had planned for 5 AM) but as I had said before, that we do get late, we had kept a buffer time of half an hour for the start time. And looking at that I guess we were not really strained at being a little late.

The Gang (Ananda, Moiz, Umesh, Qais, Me, Firoz, Tejasweeta, Sandip, and Achyut). Vishal misses out from this one since someone had to click as well.

The journey started well as we left the city and touched the highway in half an hour. We all had woken up early and so were just relaxing, listening to music, and watching the green scenic beauty along the highway, when suddenly from nowhere, Ananda broke the ice with his scintillating dance moves. This got everyone in the mood, with Vishal and Qais joining in the fun (not dancing but they too got everyone in the mood). And suddenly the mood in the bus changed, from slow to full of exuberance.

Then at around 7:30 we halted for some time to have breakfast. The quality of snacks was good, and was more than enough to fill in life into everyone’s body (though most of us were already into the mood thanks to Ananda, Qais, and Vishal), but the timely snacks did get everyone going from there on. After that we headed towards Mahabaleshwar, leaving the highway and driving through the Ghats. We were having fun on the way, but the boring and limited collection of songs was just somewhat stealing the mood. Then suddenly someone suggested playing the even more boring game called Antakshri. But we IT professionals certainly have a quality where we can make any activity fun and entertaining without much effort. And this time the way we sang songs, and the way we actually contorted the tunes and wordings of the songs was great fun. And this all started from the very first song where Moiz sang the song “Hamma Hamma” on the tunes of “Yamma Yamma”. I cannot really explain the feelings in words, but all I can say the least is it was really entertaining. And as there is line in a Hindi song “Aaghaaz yeh hai to anjaam hoga haseen” meaning (when the start was so brilliant, the ending had to be beautiful). And it definitely was in that way.

Me and Umesh

Just singing along and in a time we could hardly notice, we reached a place very close to Panchgani, where paragliding is done. There were a lot many other groups there as well due to which the place was a little crowded. Due to the monsoon season, we were not allowed to do paragliding, but since there was hardly any cloud cover we got a great view of the beautiful valley. This was a place where all of us extensively clicked photographs of each other.  I have a camera which has got a very good zoom, but unfortunately till then I was not very confident of clicking pictures on full zoom. As on most of those occasions the pictures would get distorted. But to my amazement that day, I managed to capture some great photographs of the beauty around (I will never regret coming to the place especially because of the quality of photographs I was able to capture) with my viewfinder capturing at full zoom, and I was even happier since my success rate was almost a 100 percent. This actually made me realize that I am not a bad photographer at all. And astonishingly this luck of being able to capture some fantabulous beauty stayed with me till the end of the day.

That's Umesh, Firoz, Me, Sandip, and Achyut

After a small and refreshing halt at that place we moved ahead towards Mahabaleshwar. As the weather got cloudy and scenic, we reached Mahabaleshwar, but due to dense clouds and zero visibility we decided not to visit any points at the place (since it might be useless to visit in these conditions), we decided to head towards Tapola, locally also known as mini-Kashmir (another scenic valley, having one side completely filled by enthralling flowers). On the way we did stop at the Venna Lake, but due to very low visibility and very high water level, we could not do boating (in fact had we done, it would have felt more like river rafting seeing the conditions), so we did not waste time there. But yes I did manage to click one of my favorite pictures.

One of my best clicks trying to capture a Rang De Basanti moment (Umesh, Vishal, Moiz, Firoz, and Achyut).

After this as we were heading towards Tapola, we stopped at a waterfall, where I, Achyut, Firoz, and Vishal rushed towards the top to enjoy in the fall. Seeing this Umesh got over enthusiastic and followed us and then there was no stopping him and his antics. I guess with that act Umesh had finally announced his arrival at the trip (I guess, we were waiting for such a trigger, because with Umesh’s enthusiasm no trip can ever go boring).

When we reached a point close to Tapola, we got to witness picturesque scenery. We all again took out our cameras and extensively clicked photographs of each other. I again managed to capture some great views with my viewfinder. After a very good photo session we headed back to Mahabaleshwar, as we realized that since it had started raining heavily going to Tapola would not be much fruitful. While en route to Mahabaleshwar, we suddenly realized that we had enough time to visit Pratapgarh Fort, which was about 25 Kilometers from Mahabaleshwar (thanks to the dense clouds and rain in Mahabaleshwar and Tapola which prevented us from spending time there). 

TAPOLA from my viewfinder..

In between we did take a small break, and managed to have a cup of tea. I must say, a hot and steaming cup of tea at such a cloudy, windy, and a wet day is the best thing anyone can have. The road to Pratapgarh is a little risky, as the width is comparatively small and has a lot of traffic. And the weather (very low visibility) that day made it even more dangerous and to top it all the way the driver drove the bus made the level of affright touch its limit. But, we did reach the fort safe and sound. However, in the meanwhile Sandip (our group’s major prankster and the one who changes everyone’s mood with his witty and great comic timing) fell ill. He was feeling dizzy and could not join us for the walk up to the fort (this was a disappointment as his presence could have taken our enjoyment to another level). But certainly by now Umesh was reaching his best, and he somewhat managed to fill the void created by Sandip’s absence on the fort.

That's Vishal, Moiz, Me, Qais, Ananda, Umesh, and Firoz

The Pratapgarh fort is a very beautiful structure (definitely one of the better forts around Pune). Though the fort is full of commercial shops, still that does not take anything away from its natural beauty. We managed to capture some good pictures, and I once again with my viewfinder was at my best, able to capture some really great snaps (I will never regret coming to the place especially because of the quality of snaps I was able to capture). Finally after roaming around the fort, we decided to head back to the bus. This is when Tejasweeta, suggested to have some snacks, which is when most of us realized that we were hungry. I guess, the enthusiasm had got into us to such an extent that we could not feel any hunger or thirst that time. But I must say, the tea and snacks that we had were very good, and they energized us all over again (only if we had lost some energy so far, I don’t think most of us had lost any), and all thanks to Tejasweeta.

That's Firoz, Me, Umesh, Vishal, and Achyut

After the break, and avoiding the heavy rain, we reached our bus by 2 PM. It was time now that we moved back towards Mahabaleshwar. After reaching Mahabaleshwar, we stopped at the Mapro Garden to have a shake and sandwich. This was one of the reasons why we only stuck to snacks and not have lunch at Pratapgarh. But all I can say is that the wait was worth the effort, and it is all thanks to the perseverance of Qais and Moiz (this was one of the major reasons of selecting Mahabaleshwar as the venue when the venue change was being discussed) that we managed to have those delicious grubs. But whatever anyone says, I would have regretted had we not stopped there for the meal. I guess, suddenly this place was turning out to be the only one where we did not go crazy clicking photographs. But, to the cease that record from being created, we clicked a few photographs (yes crazy ones) towards the end, definitely for memories sake.

The mini meal at MAPRO

Then we all started to head back to Pune, and as we sat reclining thinking of the great times we spent and of course resting, none of us knew that one of the most entertaining part was yet to come.  Umesh was at his act once again, his innocence, his antics, his expressions, and his movements, entertained everybody… I guess, he also enjoyed as much as we did that time. And by then even Sandip also had recovered, and in fact had reached in his best form. His and Umesh’s syndication was probably the highlight of that part of the trip. Their antics together almost rejuvenated everyone else, and all of us joined in the fun. And suddenly what was looking to be a tiring end to a wonderful day, turned out to be a exulting one. With all that fun and enjoyment we reached back our starting point at 7PM. We wanted to anyhow reach back by 7-7.30, and the way we managed our time to precision was something brilliant. I guess this is something what does happen when you have managers and team leads in the group.

That's Firoz, Umesh, Me, Moiz, and Achyut

It has been a couple of days since the trip, but none of us are yet out of it till now. The feeling is still in the air around us. In fact we have already started planning for the next. I hope that one happens soon, and we enjoy it to a similar extent if not more.

That's Firoz, Me, and Umesh

I would like to end this post in a different manner as I generally do to my other posts of different trips. In the end I would like to write in a few positives of the trip.

  • I always believed a small number is the best to enjoy in an outing; well this myth was definitely destroyed.
  • I realized that I am a good shutterbug, having capability of capturing some absolute natural brilliance.
  • During the start of the trip, Moiz asked me whether I was into wildlife photography seeing the zooming capability of my viewfinder. After all the events of the day all I can answer is, that zoom is not always to capture wild life… it can also be used very effectively to capture other life around you.
  • And yes, Umesh has become an overnight star amongst our team. For the last couple of days, we have only been praising him all the time.

That’s it from me know, hope to write another tour diary very soon.


Yesterday (Saturday), I visited Mulshi Dam and Lavasa city with three of my friends. The original plan was to go to Mulshi Dam, Tamhini Ghat, and then Lavasa city, but due to the time constraint we had to drop the idea of Tamhini Ghat. Maybe I will plan out for that sometime during the monsoons this year.

Me, Raman, Vishal, Tanmay, and Mulshi Dam

A long trip on the bike with friends is something that I always have loved to go on. The first trip with my office group of friends was 8-9 months back, when we went to Sinhgad Fort. I guess all of us enjoyed that trip a lot, and we all decided to plan such a trip every month. But since then we have only been able to go out twice (NDA and Mulshi), and not even once in the last 3 months. Though we had made a lot of plans in between, but nothing could materialise. As always this time also I sent out an email to friends for a trip. But luckily, the response was good, and I really thought that we could have some plan in place this time.

Me and Vishal, a nice pic taken by Tanmay

But as like all our trips face a lot of problems in the initial phase, this was no different. On last Monday, I sent out an email to all friends (I thought would come for the trip) asking them for the trip. Initially I got a decent response, with five of them agreed to join, but on the other hand, four of them also said that they could not. As usual Mihir and Najim were two of the four people, and as every time it happens, both of them were going home. Bhadre, also said he could not, but I guess I always knew of that, since he really cannot join in on Saturday, and just because of him I had put the plan for Sunday as well. But since he said he was unable to come on both the days, we confirmed the day to be Saturday. As the days approached, by Thursday, we had a couple more casualties. Sandip had work and had to come to office on Saturday as well, so obviously he was out. But then due to some strange reasons and circumstances, Umesh too had to back out. Now that decision of his really hurt me, as I had never thought that he would back out. Because of this we were left to only four of us (Vishal, Tanmay, Raman, and Me), and for once I even thought of calling off the trip. But since we had called off a number of our plans recently, the four of us (we four are generally there on all the trips) just wanted to go, get out of the frustration of having to get the plan cancelled. And since then all things fell in place (well almost all, except for the start of the trip).

A nice picture of the sun at Lavasa

Lavasa city is known for its scenic beauty during sunset, and so is Mulshi Dam known for during sunrise (skipping the sunrise part, as both sunrise and sunset cannot be practically done, without having a night halt somewhere).  After a lot of discussion and debate, we planned our meeting points and the timings for the trip on Friday evening and were looking forward to Saturday. But unfortunately Tanmay’s bike got punctured, and we got delayed by almost an hour. I and Vishal had to wait for an hour almost at our respective points. The plan was to start at 8 AM, but I and Tanmay set out from our point, at around 9-9.15 AM, and reached the point where Raman and Vishal were waiting for us by 9.45. Since we were already late we decided not to waste any more time and leave for Mulshi immediately. The roads to that place are very good, and we really enjoyed riding the bikes on them. Finally we reached our destination at around 11. We thought of having lunch first, and then going to Tamhini Ghat, but as we saw the customs shop open, we all went in for some shopping. Both Tanmay and Raman, bought some shirts for themselves, after a lot of selection definitely.

After that we all had lunch as we were all hungry (in fact none us had breakfast, so we were really very hungry). And then after having lunch we decided to go down towards the lake. It was very hot as it was already past noon, and I and Tanmay  also decided not to get into the water as we did not want to take any risk, as it looked very deep and dangerous. Though Raman followed Vishal into the water and had some good time in there. I and Tanmay also had a nice time outside clicking pictures. At about 2-2.30 we decided to go back to the cafe and leave if we wanted to go to Tamhini Ghat. As we reached back, Raman saw slides and see-saw there, and for fun all of us went there for some fun, and trying to remember childhood games. Though I must say that was the most exciting aspect of the Mulshi part of the trip.

At around 3 we thought of leaving, but since it was late and very hot we thought of skipping Tamhini this time and moved towards Lavasa. At around 4.30, we reached Temghar Dam and thought of stopping there for sometime seeing the beautiful sight. A few gates of the Dam were open, allowing water to pass by, and that created a sought of waterfall at one end. We really had a lot of fun, climbing up there and clicking pictures. That was I guess one of the most exciting parts of the trip so far. Also this is for the first time Tanmay enjoyed as well. I felt he was only getting bored out there till now. But that experience was really fun, especially since it is almost summer time. At around 5.30 we left that place.

Another at the Temghar Dam

Lavasa was around 9 kilometres from there, and we thought we would easily make it till there before sunset. We did reach there in about 20-25 minutes, but after reaching we only realised that it was the entry gate and the city was still about 10 kilometres further. But I must say that the place is really very well built and architecture is amazing. We really admired the beauty of the place and had some fun going down till the city. I must add that the architecture is one of the best I have seen in Pune, I guess it only comes next to National Defence Academy on those points. We reached down by 6.30, and then as sun was about to set we relaxed there for some time, had snacks, and then after roaming around to different parts of the place we decided to go back.

It was getting dark, and I was a bit scared as none of the riders apart from me had driven bikes on such tough ghat terrain and that too in night before (though Vishal has driven a few long distance rides in night, but I am not sure if has driven on ghats before). But we all tried to go a little slow and lot more safely, as it was past dusk, and were approaching darkness. We all tried to maintain the speed, to be able to see and follow each other all the time, so that we will always be in sight if any mishap happened. But fortunately, nothing happened and we touched Pune at 8. Again the ride back to Pune was amazing, and riding on those ghats was a very good experience for all of us.

Finaly I reached home around 9, tired and exhausted, but full of good memories. The trip that was looking a little boring till mid afternoon, turned out to be an amazing experience by the end of the day. In fact we did not cover all the places in Lavasa, so that we could come back once again, with all the friends (hopefully) who missed it this time.

Hopefully next time, we will plan a full day trip to Lavasa as we can then visit every part of the city then. In fact I have already started thinking of it, and waiting for the time to come. Till then, I sign off from here, and hope to write about the next one soon.


Sudan Block - National Defence Academy

I visited the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune today, commonly called as NDA. I and a few of my friends were planning a trip this weekend to some place preferably Mahabaleshwar, but nothing materialized as such. In fact I even made a plan of going to NDA, all of my friends wanted to none of them finally agreed. Finally we had to drop the plan of a trip.

The NDA Emblem

Suddenly on Saturday evening my brother asked me if I would want to go to NDA. It was really a surprise and definitely a pleasant one. Actually he had two of his classmates there, who had invited him and his school friends. I agreed and also invited a few of my friends for the trip. We planned to leave on Sunday morning at around 9 and asked everyone to at gather at my place first. And the best part we all decided to take bikes. I really love riding a bike, and finally we had twelve people with six bikes.

That's Kiran, Abhishek, Me, Aman, Ankush, Aseem, Parag, and Mayank

The day did not start well. Mayank (my brother) could not contact any of his friends in NDA for an entry. Finally we all left for NDA just to try out our luck. Eight of us left at 10.30, other four (all of Mayank’s friends) were leaving late and told us they would reach NDA directly. Four of us left from my home (Me, Aman, Parag, and Mayank) and had to meet four others on the way (Raman, Bhadre, and two of Raman’s friends). Before leaving it just came across our minds to carry extra helmets, as NDA maybe strict on this.

The group in front of the Artillary Gun

Finally we all left for NDA, again by the time we reached NDA, we were just four of us, Raman, Bhadre and their friends had lost way somewhere. The four of managed to get clear past the first check post, but at the second one we got stuck. Since we did not know the squadron of either Kapil or Kanva (The students at NDA), we were not allowed the entry. Since most of belonged to the army background, Aman called up his father to talk to the security in charge. In the meanwhile an idea struck me and I saw an NDA cadet. Very luckily he was in the fifth term, Kanva’s batch mate, from him we got to know Kanva’s squadron. And after that finally we were allowed entry.

Aman, Me, and Parag

We finally reached Kilo’s squadron, where Kanva stays. We met him and had a long chat with. At around 12 we got to know that Raman and his friends along with Badre also had reached the main gate. In fact Mayank’s friends (Kiran, Ankush, Aseem, and one another) also reached the great. We asked both the groups to fill in the details at the gate and come in, but only Kiran and group could manage to sneak through. Raman and friends were not allowed the entry. After a lot of struggle out there those four guys gave up and had to leave back home. That left with the eight of us there (Me, Mayank, Aman, Parag, Kiran, Ankush, Aseem and Abhishek).

Me in front of the Ashoka Pillar

Then we all went to Peacock bay, it really is an amazing place. After spending some time there, we all decided to head towards Gole Market, as most of us were hungry. While going back I was riding ahead of all, and had Aman as my pillion. We both saw Sudan Block on the way, and decided to stay there. I cannot really explain my feelings when I entered the blocks. It is a building made in the memory of the students of NDA who had made the country proud, most of them losing their lives. There I saw the name of Major Unikrishnan, the one who gave away his life during the 26/11/2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. I remember reading one of the articles which said that his biggest dream was to have his name engraved in the building there. And yes it now is in the column of the highest gallantry award in peace time. Seeing that made me really emotional. I too always wanted to join the army, but don’t know why I did not join it after my school. Seeing all this I really felt sad that I was not a part of the esteem institution. We all clicked a lot of pictures and finally left for Gole Market.

That's Aman, Me, Mayank, and Parag in front of Sudan Block

After reaching there we had some snack, and met Kapil there. He is in the fourth term there. He is a very good friend of brother, in fact has been close to me as well. It was great to meet him, as it was almost after two years that I had met him. We all had a long chat, and remembered all those days when we all played together, went on trips and others. Finally we decided to leave, for home.

The group (Ankush, Aman, GC Kapil, Kiran, Parag, Me, Abhishek, and Mayank)

I had applied for a course there, so I did go to the administration office there before leaving, and was really very happy, when I got to know that my application had been approved. Now I would be allowed to visit the place every week now, this is amazing.

Me in front of Sudan Block, a place I will get to visit often now.

We finally reached home, after spending a great day at NDA. Though we did have a lot of hiccups at the start of the day. As Raman and his friends could not visit the place. But once we reached in there everything was perfect for us. And now when I have the permission to enter the academy, I might take the other guys along with me some day.

The wildlife at NDA

Param Vir Chakra Winners

Ashoka Chakra Winners


A traditional Nagaland Village Gate

My dad is posted in Dimapur, Nagaland and has Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, a part of Assam, and a part of Arunachal Pradesh under his command. This gave me a very good opportunity to visit these remote states. So I planned to go on a leave to my dad’s place for 9 days. Though it takes almost a day to travel from Pune to Dimapur, so that almost cut my stay there to 7 days.

I reached Dimapur on 26th evening. It was almost 5-5.30 by the time I reached home. My parents and my brother were already there. My mom and Mayank (my brother) had left for this place almost a month back when Mayank’s college vacations had started. And then in less than an hour it became dark as if was night. In the night we went to the Army Institute (community place), and after having dinner I went down to sleep as i was very tired by the day long travel. Again in the morning the sun rose very early, I woke up at 6.30 but it looked as if we were already somewhere at start of the day, as the sun was shining very brightly. The sunrise here happens very early even before 5. This timing really amazed me, as I never expected myself to get up so early in the morning and go to sleep so early in the night.

That day we decided the plan for the next week. We planned a day’s trip each to Kohima, Imphal, Agartala, and Aizwal. That would take four days and also would complete my visit to the four states. as I have been to Arunachal Pradesh and Assam before we decided  skip those states in this visit as they would take at least 2-3 days of more travelling, and I was already short of time. So we decided to go to Kohima on Monday, Imphal on Tuesday, Aizwal on Wednesday, Agartala on Thursday, and then head back home on Friday.

Second World War Cemetry

Kohima
The Kohima trip was amazing, it really is a beautiful place and reminded me of Shimla. We stayed at Zakhama, the Military Hospital of Kohima. The weather here was cooler, much better than it was at Dimapur. We first visited the world famous World War two Cemetry there. Seeing that very well maintained place was excellent. Also I got to know some of the history of World War 2. There at a place a slogan was written “When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today“, this is the first place ever where it was written. Now many places they have started writing these things, but this was the first. After that we went to the Naga Heritage Village, another of the amazing places. It hosts and annual festival, where all the tribes of Nagaland and other sister states perform. In fact last time it was an international event, and people from Korea, China and other places had also performed there. It is known as the Hornbill festival, which is held during the first week of December. I would really try and visit the place during that time, to watch this festival.

Second World War Cemetry

Victoria Cross Winner

After this we went to another of the Second World War museums. It had explained all the history and events that had happened there during the Second World War. Later that evening we visited a village nearby. After visiting there I realised that these villages are in fact like independent countries. Then I realised why are these tribes fighting against the country to get parted. Though my visit to the village was great and very hospitable. After that the next day early morning before leaving for Imphal we visited the famous Keera Market (Insect and Animal Market). They sell many types of animals, ranging from insects, to ducks, dogs, frogs, snakes, fishes, worms, rats, rabbits, turkeys, and many worms. All these in fact are a delicacy over there. Watching all this was a little disgusting but was also a very different feeling.

Imphal
We reached Imphal at around 10, and then went on to visit another of the World War museums, this is the place till where Subhas Chandra Bose had reached advancing against the British.After that we visited the Kangla fort. It has a great architecture; I haven’t seen such a place an architecture for some time now. Manipur is also among the places in India where dragons are very famous, and so I did see a lot of monuments, carvings, wood carvings, and many embroideries in their shapes. There we stayed for the night and left for Aizwal the next day. I wanted to visit Moreh, that is the place on India – Myanamar border, but because of the shortage in time we could not.

About to leave very early morning

Aizwal
We reached Aizwal early morning. Though in all these places it looks like as if it is afternoon. We then went to visit the Blue Mountain National Park. Since the stay here was cut short, since it took us time from Imphal to Aizwal, and the next day we had to leave for Agartala. We had to miss the trip to Murlen National Park.

Agartala
Again we reached Agartala in the morning at around 9. There we went to visit the Ujayanta Palace, I believed that the architecture I visited two days back was great, but for a surprise this was even better. It is situated next to the lake and gives a very scenic view. We then went onto visit the Sepahijala Wildlife sanctuary. With this I ended my short trip and stayed in Agartala overnight and we then to returned to Dimapur the next day.

Frogs being sold at the keera market

Back to Dimapur
After coming back home in the evening I went on to see the bollywood movie “I hate Love Stories”. Here they show movies on the very first day of release for almost no charges. One has to only pay a hundred rupees for the family for the complete month. Papa told me about a shooting range, so we visited that place the next morning. It was something again very new. They had made a shooting range setup in the Olympics style. It had a 10m range and the guns similar to the ones used at Olympics, after trying out my hand out there, I went to play tennis. The courts there were built recently, and they had courts, I all the three forms that is clay, hard and grass. This is the first time i could try out my hand in the clay and grass court.

Me at the firing range

And finally on Sunday the day had come when I had to leave back home in Pune. With this I have completed my trip to each and every state in the country. I am really happy of achieving this feat. Now only Daman & Diu, Lakshdweep, and Pondicherry (the union territories) are the places left that I need to visit. Apart from these only I have visited to some or the other place in every state of the country. I now after coming back really miss that place, I now wish I was young and could stay with my parents there. It was an amazing trip, and I am already eagerly waiting for my next one there. There was a lot more to write about, and I could have gone on and on but I have cut it short just like my trip was so that it does not get very boring reading all this. I might write something about them in separate posts when I get the time to do so.


The Sinhgad Fort

Well today I went for a trip to Sinhgad fort, along with a group of friends and I must say it was the most enjoyable trip for quite some time. For the start this plan was made in a few seconds but also was much planned, and of course had a lot of confusion attached to it. I know it sounds very odd, but it has been made in such a way. It all started on Monday evening when I and Vishal, were returning home. It was raining heavily, and we thought it could be great if we could have some tea and snacks (Bhajji as we call it). But we could not find it anywhere, and suddenly I said that it is the best time to visit Sinhgad. And within seconds we decided to go there on the weekend.

That's Vishal, Raman, Umesh, Me, and Aman

From the next day I got down to plan the trip. I and Vishal were confirmed, I called Aman and he too confirmed. I then asked Mihir, Raman, Bhadre, Sachin, Joshi, Umesh, and Najim. Has they all joined we would have had a count of 10. But Mihir as every week had planned to go home this weekend as well (I really don’t know why does he go home every weekend). Bhadre had a very important commitment and so could not join. Sachin too had a prior commitment. Apart from this Umesh too said he could not join. And with this we had a count of 6, which was decent, but now the problem in front of us was we did not have enough vehicles. In fact we all even thought of postponing the event for a day, so that we could arrange the vehicles by then. Then as I said lot of confusion followed, Joshi and Najim said no (I really doubted and was surprised when they had said yes), Umesh agreed to join. So we had a count of 5 and I decided to take my car so that all can go comfortably. We decided to leave for Sinhgad at 5 a.m. on Saturday. With everything decided we started planning the other details for the trip. But to a shock on Friday Vishal said that he was not sure if he would be able to join on Saturday. Now everything again for a toss, but luckily by the end of the day he said he was available, and the trip was on. So we all decided to meet up at 5-5.30 a.m. the next day.

That's Vishal, Umesh, Aman, Me, and Raman

Well the only problem I felt that was my getting up that early. But again to my surprise, I got up well in time (something I still cannot believe), in fact I was the first amongst everyone to get up. So after picking everyone up by 6 a.m. we started our trip (Me, Aman, Umesh, Vishal, and Raman). The road to fort was amazing, and since the fort is on the hill top, I always knew the drive was going to be great. But it was not just great it was spectacular, there were clouds all on the road, and the fog was very dense, one can say almost zero visibility (I never expected it be so beautiful at all). The more the environment got better (fog got denser), the driving got even more difficult. It had driven in such a terrain before but that was on my bike. With the car it was first encounter with such driving conditions. In fact at one place, I felt as if a Heavy vehicle was in front of me, but it was not moving. And when I came at striking distance to it I realised it was a board at the end of the road, in fact I needed to take a U-turn there. We all had a great laugh at this incident, but somewhere beneath my heart I knew, that since I was very careful we were all safe, had I been a little careless that could have been the last journey for all of us.

The Zero Visibilty

Driving out of the Clouds

We all enjoyed the trip up to the fort stopping at many places clicking pictures of the beautiful scenery around. Finally we reached the fort around 7.30.  After that we climbed up the fort visiting almost all the corners of the fort. Captured as many  pictures as we could, and the weather also helped us a lot in it. There were clouds and fog all around and we had a great time trekking and roaming around the fort. Vishal had been to the place here a few times in the recent past, so he took us around all round the fort for some good sight seeing. Had he and Umesh not been there I can definitely say we could not enjoy even half the of what we did up there. One of the most memorable moments up there was when we saw a crab and Vishal picked it up. Finally after roaming around for almost 2 hours, we all decided to have some snacks and tea (remember this was why we planned to trip). This is the place where I one of the most expensive teas, almost thrice its regular price. After this we all planned to visit the Panshet Dam. In the meanwhile to a very pleasant surprise, Bhadre called up and asked if he could join, to which we all very happily asked him to do. It was past 10 a.m. and yet there was no sign of sunlight. In fact there were still clouds and fog around. It gave a feel as if the time was still somewhere around 5-6 a.m. After this we all left for the Dam, Bhadre had to reach that place directly and we all had to meet at Panshet. When we reached there, we tried finding him a lot but were unsuccessful. Then tired we thought of relaxing for sometime in resort nearby. Again to our surprise, Bhadre was waiting for us in that very resort. We all sat for a long time there to have lunch and a long chat.

After sometime, we decided to head back home, but decided to stop at the Khadakwasla Dam as well which would fall on our way back home. While leaving for the first time we saw the sunlight that day. We all headed towards Khadakwasla, and reached there around 1 p.m. We all went down to the lake, and entered the lake to have some fun. Though most of us wanted to have a swim but since the water was not that clean we decided to avoid it. Finally at around 2 we all decided that it was high to get back home. On the way back I, Umesh and Vishal (the bloggers) also discussed about writing a post on this trip. Finally we all reached our homes sometime around 3-3.30.

Now we all have already started planning trips to Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar in coming months. In the end of the day I am writing this post, just thinking of the most memorable trip. I am really tried writing this but when I start thinking of the time I spent a few hours back, I somehow get refreshed all over again. I can remember everything, the drive, the pictures, and the scenery, almost everything. I guess that the only thing that went wrong on the day was that we had planned to come back by noon, and since we got delayed Umesh had to miss one of his important exams. Apart from this everything was perfect on the day, especially the weather. It did not rain, but yes it was exactly the way we all were hoping it to be, cloudy, with a lot of fog around. In fact it was much better than we were expecting.

I already have started thinking of the next trip. In fact I am going on a ten day trip to the eastern most part of the country (the states of Nagaland and Tripura) next week. I will be joining my family there, and I am already planning to have a trek to the eastern Himalayas there (Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya). I will probably write about that trip once I get back. Till then I will probably just try and relive the moments I spent during the day today.

I have uploaded the rest of the images on Picasa for everyone to view. And as I had said before, Vishal has written about the history and many other features of the fort. Here is that article.

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Well today I went for a trip to Sinhgad fort, along with a group of friends and I must say it was the most enjoyable trip for quite some time. For the start this plan was made in a few seconds but also was much planned, and of course had a lot of confusion attached to it. I know it sounds very odd, but it has been made in such a way. It all started on Monday evening when I and Vishal, were returning home. It was raining heavily, and we thought it could be great if we could have some tea and snacks (Bhajji as we call it). But we could not find it anywhere, and suddenly I said that it is the best time to visit Sinhgad. And within seconds we decided to go there on the weekend.

From the next day I got down to plan the trip. I and Vishal were confirmed, I called Aman and he too confirmed. I then asked Mihir, Raman, Bhadre, Sachin, Joshi, Umesh, and Najim. Has they all joined we would have had a count of 10. But Mihir as every week had planned to go home this weekend as well (I really don’t know why does he go home every weekend). Bhadre had a very important commitment and so could not join. Sachin too had a prior commitment. Apart from this Umesh too said he could not join. And with this we had a count of 6, which was decent, but now the problem in front of us was we did not have enough vehicles. In fact we all even thought of postponing the event for a day, so that we could arrange the vehicles by then. Then as I said lot of confusion followed, Joshi and Najim said no (I really doubted and was surprised when they had said yes), Umesh agreed to join. So we had a count of 5 and I decided to take my car so that all can go comfortably. We decided to leave for Sinhgad at 5 a.m. on Saturday. With everything decided we started planning the other details for the trip. But to a shock on Friday Vishal said that he was not sure if he would be able to join on Saturday. Now everything again for a toss, but luckily by the end of the day he said he was available, and the trip was on. So we all decided to meet up at 5-5.30 a.m. the next day.

Well the only problem I felt that was my getting up that early. But again to my surprise, I got up well in time (something I still cannot believe), in fact I was the first amongst everyone to get up. So after picking everyone up by 6 a.m. we started our trip (Me, Aman, Umesh, Vishal, and Raman). The road to fort was amazing, and since the fort is on the hill top, I always knew the drive was going to be great. But it was not just great it was spectacular, there were clouds all on the road, and the fog was very dense, one can say almost zero visibility (I never expected it be so beautiful at all). The more the environment got better (fog got denser), the driving got even more difficult. It had driven in such a terrain before but that was on my bike. With the car it was first encounter with such driving conditions. In fact at one place, I felt as if a Heavy vehicle was in front of me, but it was not moving. And when I came at striking distance to it I realised it was a board at the end of the road, in fact I needed to take a U-turn there. We all had a great laugh at this incident, but somewhere beneath my heart I knew, that since I was very careful we were all safe, had I been a little careless that could have been the last journey for all of us.

We all enjoyed the trip up to the fort stopping at many places clicking pictures of the beautiful scenery around. Finally we reached the fort around 7.30.  After that we climbed up the fort visiting almost all the corners of the fort. Captured as many pictures as we could, and the weather also helped us a lot in it. There were clouds and fog all around and we had a great time trekking and roaming around the fort. One of the most memorable moments up there was when we saw a crab and Vishal picked it up. Finally after roaming around for almost 2 hours, we all decided to have some snacks and tea (remember this was why we planned to trip). This is the place where I one of the most expensive teas, almost thrice its regular price. After this we all planned to visit the Panshet Dam. In the meanwhile to a very pleasant surprise, Bhadre called up and asked if he could join, to which we all very happily asked him to do. It was past 10 a.m. and yet there was no sign of sunlight. In fact there were still clouds and fog around. It gave a feel as if the time was still somewhere around 5-6 a.m. After this we all left for the Dam, Bhadre had to reach that place directly and we all had to meet at Panshet. When we reached there, we tried finding him a lot but were unsuccessful. Then tired we thought of relaxing for sometime in resort nearby. Again to our surprise, Bhadre was waiting for us in that very resort. We all sat for a long time there to have lunch and a long chat.

After sometime, we decided to head back home, but decided to stop at the Khadakwasla Dam as well which would fall on our way back home. While leaving for the first time we saw the sunlight that day. We all headed towards Khadakwasla, and reached there around 1 p.m. We all went down to the lake, and entered the lake to have some fun. Though most of us wanted to have a swim but since the water was not that clean we decided to avoid it. Finally at around 2 we all decided that it was high to get back home. On the way back I, Umesh and Vishal (the bloggers) also discussed about writing a post on this trip. Finally we all reached our homes sometime around 3-3.30.

Now we all have already started planning trips to Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar in coming months. In the end of the day I am writing this post, just thinking of the most memorable trip. I am really tried writing this but when I start thinking of the time I spent a few hours back, I somehow get refreshed all over again. I can remember everything, the drive, the pictures, and the scenery, almost everything.

I already have started thinking of the next trip. In fact I am going on a ten day trip to the eastern most part of the country (the states of Nagaland and Tripura) next week. I will be joining my family there, and I am already planning to have a trek to the eastern Himalayas there (Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya). I will probably write about that trip once I get back. Till then I will probably just try and relive the moments I spent during the day today.