“Friends can be said to 'fall in like' with as profound a thud as romantic partners fall in love. ~Letty Cottin Pogrebin
And NATURE, the Mother of all, cradles this relationship called “FRIENDSHIP” at Her best!”
And NATURE, the Mother of all, cradles this relationship called “FRIENDSHIP” at Her best!”
After having lived our emotive moments at the Malpe beach & the St. Mary’s island, we went to Ujire from Udupi in the public bus service. Booked a sumo from there and resumed our travel in the western ghat section post our dinner. We were on our way to Ghattikallu now...A village about 6 hours from Udupi, in the state of Karnataka, India.
I must say, the journey was given company by all the fun in the course. But, fortunately or unfortunately (you’ll soon realize why), it was more like the ‘leg pulling’ kind of fun that gave company to this on road journey of ours. :) Well, leg being mine, it was a ‘many on one’ situation (read fortunately unfortunate ;))...Fun was at its peak! However, the journey got a little hard-hitting on Shabnam and me after a while. The ghat regions are known to be tough to travel, all thanks to the ultra narrow roads with the crazy bends, running for hours together. Nevertheless, all the fun and care made it a lot easier for us to live through the tough.
We finally made it to Ghattkallu at about 12.30 am. It was freaking cold but the ‘feeling so warm’ was that we were finally there at the homestay at Ghattikallu, all safe and sound...! ’Balige’, it’s called, where our home for more than a day was to be.
The darkness around covered all the beauty. The only place lit up for acres, was possibly the portico outside our rooms...Not that we were surprised anyway. We would have been, had we possibly witnessed it otherwise. We were frantically waiting for the rooms to open their mouth wide open and engulf us into them. Guess even they wanted their share of fun seeing us ‘desperately’ wait for them...They did open their mouth wide, in a little while, thank them for that! It was a room with an ‘aroma of comfort’ irresistible...We now did the needful and CRASHED in no time. After the tiresome journey, we were anyway in no state to admire anything around but the bed and the blankets so enticing. They were definitely the only things that were appealing to us then. :)
We managed waking up on time, eager to live the day but not fresh enough...The next in mind was to wash away the lethargy with some warm water, and it actually worked...After we got all fresh, our homestay treated us with ‘healthy and heavy’ breakfast pleasing our tummies.
A perfect way to start the day:
Tummies reflecting their delight onto the faces resulting in a smile with a bigger curvature!
Our eyes were now totally energetic to feel the beauty of the surrounding. There were lovely flowers all around. Worth a mention would be ‘Bougainvillea’ of colors I had never seen before.
Our home for then, wasn’t so big but it bore a look very ethnically natural, making it look exquisite! On the contrary, our rooms were modern but cozy, hence just about okay. But the bamboo hut where the boys were put up was ‘handsome’! :) It so totally was so, with the furnitures in the room set up with bamboo, the huge fat mattresses resting on the bamboo base, the room was ‘perfect’!
To top that was the bamboo’ed portico which was striking. The young men got a little luckier here! ;)
A decent portion of the open area was blessed with the coffee beans resting on them. The beans seemed beautifully united in the pattern they were arranged in.
Then, my focus moved to the absolutely lovable terracotta hangings I’ve always admired. These were just so gorgeous looking...‘Naturally gorgeous’ they were!
There was this breed of dogs which was a major attraction among all of us. These pups were absolutely adorable and exceedingly friendly...!
One piece of communication about Ghattikallu:
Most of the telecom service providers seem to have neglected this bit of beauty in India. It is only BSNL which shows traces of signal at a few spots. Well, a scenario such (read no touch with the rest of the world) is good or bad...The take is totally yours!
We now set our journey in an open jeep. We had a guide, a fact-giver, a photographer and a friend in Ghattikallu...! Sandesh he was, another good thing that happened to us as a part of our stay at Balige. :) The one man with all the above mentioned strings attached so well.
We were ecstatic from the very moment the engine ignited and the vehicle broke its monotony. We were on the move, delightfully awaiting the experience! It was a joy ride for about 45 minutes in the thickly occupied surrounding. After which, our trek commenced...We walked past a forest section. It was cool in there. Long walk it was, in a delightfully pleasant atmosphere. We were busy energizing ourselves with the fun talks even with that density around, when all of a sudden we were in front of a plain...
It was yellowish green all around with rocks acting as the ‘here and there placed natural toppings’ on the beautifully natural green base. The entire land seemed housed by huge mountains all around.
The sun rays were harsh on us but it was getting so well complimented by the other beauties of Mother Nature! We could now see our destination, a fort at the peak. It seemed horribly far...!
After gathering some words of motivation from our guide, we continued ‘walking the walk’ towards the peak...We were all heated up now, our body temperatures actually rising, all thanks our very own Sun God at his best.
To our surprise, we were soon in another forest section...Something we so totally needed then. It was thickly green and pleasantly cool in there. It was dense with a vivid display of plants and trees.
Suddenly something struck my eyes and I was captivated! It had a sort of simplicity you could possibly never miss...!!
A rare display of Nature it was! We couldn’t figure out where water was coming from and how the pair of leaves was so methodically placed! It was a surprisingly pleasing beauty! I was touched...!
We crossed a stream in the forest section. I heard our guide saying “You come to Ghattikallu and don’t drink this water, you’re trip is certainly incomplete.” Wasting no time, we filled our bottles and drank, taking turns, the so called ‘amrut’. I blossomed the minute it touched my throat...It was ‘cool’ and ‘tasty’! It was the taste of serenity...! All revitalized, we decided to resume with our journey, our trek...Soon, we were on another open terrain and the fort (read ‘the peak’) which seemed to be so far away sometime back, now seemed to be ‘right there’. Whoa! We were absolutely keyed up!
En route to the peak, we lived ‘the moment of a lifetime’...! In the making were a few ‘Models of F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ in display and this noble effort saw a successful completion strongly registering itself in our hearts and minds!
Every action had a story behind it...Certainly exclusive in its own ways! Exceptional was the feeling I had in me, as most of the folks were those I knew for just about 48 hours and the connect we had, was absolutely incredible!
It was a super swift journey in this walk of friendship...A packet not just so full of fun and energy but with the variations from extreme comfort, weirdest topics with crazy takers and crazier defenders, amazing level of care to brutally maddening leg pulling...All these threads attached, it was just wonderful...! :)
On our way up we saw a single rock standing upright. One could easily imagine the rock bearing an impression of a peculiar face of an old man...We certainly could. This is the rock popularly known as Ghattikallu and this is how came up the name of this place.
We reached the peak and saw tits and bits of the corners of a fort named ‘Ballalarayandurga’. These ruins are mere archaeological remains today. Interesting is the fact that these leftovers conceal a lot of history in them...This site has housed many wars and seen many heroes. Tipu Sultan was one such name associated to this place. Sandesh (to remind; our guide) gave us the little stories about the fort, took us through the other traces of the fort, one of which was the queen’s room. It was interesting to know the facts he had to offer!
Standing in one of the corners of the fort, we could see a stoned wall running long, at one portion of the low lying land...Unanimously we said, ‘The great wall of Ghattikallu’! :) It was a joy ride looking at the ruins and trying to connect the tits and bits of history (provided to us by Sandesh) to the traces we saw.
Now, it was time for us to get on our way back...Well, don’t get me wrong here, the journey had just seen the peak of one curve and not the end. It was now a tread to the waterfall. Abbi Gundi falls was the call of time! On our way, we were treated with the natural cooler, the ‘tender coconut water’ we so completely needed then.
On reaching the spot, we had possibly no clue of what was in store for us. It was dense, thickly covered by trees and bushes making the place extra cool and cozy. There we saw, suddenly our eyes spotting the falls. It looked splendid! Not one falling from a great height yet the beauty inherited from Mother Nature! Something unusual was that we were given life jackets here. Wasting no time, guys plunged into the pond in front of the falls. No sooner had they come in contact with water, did they start shivering and that was enough to put a break on the feet of the other few, who hadn’t plunged in a hurry. I was, for obvious reasons, in the other few. :)
Everybody in water started alarming against we (as in ‘the few’ who were kind of scared to pitch into the pond) being a spoil sport and that it was all good once you enter. “It’s only the first couple of minutes you’ll have to fight it out with the chillness. It’s worth all the efforts”, was what they had to say. I must say, it was tempting! Slowly we started stepping into the pond and the water almost froze us...With a thud, we came up almost deciding that we can’t...Finally, gathering all the laugh, advice, whatever we were subjected to, for staying away from the so called fun, we plunged into the pond at once. My entire body almost FROZE! I was uncomfortably numb...!
Having held back by the others, my body had no choice but to build a quick immunity to the unbearable chillness. It started shivering profusely and my teeth started devotedly chattering, making me feel BETTER! I was soon ‘comfortably numb’...! :)
My first DIVE!
The little leap into the ice cold water was a treat to each one of us...A special one to the swimmers who had the sight of a lifetime, sight being that of the non-swimmers dive! An extra special one to the non-swimmers (like me and a few more), who would have never thought they could dare to do something like this, someday...! Well, atleast I hadn’t.
One helluva moment it was...!
Once the aquatic fun got done, we were to head back. The energy level saw a crash, not coz we were obviously worked up but for a fact that our heart and mind were in a state of inertia...! Together we somehow fought it out and decided to head our way back to ‘Balige’ for the next bunch of fun...
On reaching the contemporary home, we all got fresh just to realize that a few were so dead tired, that they had crashed. The rest of us somehow managed to still be ‘on the go’ dynamically and decided to aim and bounce...Well, I mean we decided to play dodge ball. It had the power to take us back in time, reviving the good old days of our childhood fun with dodge ball! Coming to the present, we could see the sleepy heads slowly creeping up with the inevitable temptation this game put them through. In no time, we were all there, playing dodge ball! Sun was down and that marked the end of this amusement...
It was almost 7:00 pm and the bon fire was set for us. The atmosphere was just perfect for the right mood to seep in. To scare and get scared are ghosts and their stories...We, however, had a lovely blend of fright and humour when a few laid down their encounters with the occurrence of ghostly events in their lives. This was followed by the game that just had to come in the frame of our trip. ‘Dumb charades’ it was! For me, this became a killer, literally and figuratively! Literally so, as my dance moves were making the rounds anyway and the advent of this game proved this bit about me, making it figuratively ‘a killer’ as well ( read nothing to stop FRIENDS from pulling my leg) ;)
The bon fire fun saw a low when our tummies began their tour in search for some good food. It was about 10:00 pm and the dinner was all ready. We then wrapped up with this bit of entertainment and pacified our tummies. After which, we teamed up at the bamboo hut and started playing cards...
At about 2:00 am, we decided to return to our respective rooms and collapse...Just to wake up the next morning and pack-up after a lovely breakfast! That was our bye to Ghattikallu. Bye of the kind ‘we shall meet later’...!!!
It was a journey so fulfilling, certainly because of the company...! A company having 12 members in their board and the same 12 being the employees. :)
Jan’ 2011 was when we went to Ghattikallu.
Owner of the Ghattikallu homestay at ‘Balige’ – Mr. Gurudev
Trek Coordinator – Mr. Sandesh
I am still unable to convince myself that this was the first time I met most of these guys. Amazing was this journey with them...! Hats off to all you guys for makin’ it SPECIAL in each of your way! Thank you for makin’ it SUPER SPECIAL for me! Wish we have many more of such memories in our kitties...
I must thank my STAR (read Tony) who gave me these pearls believing in the creative instincts of all, in weaving these pearls into a BEAUTIFUL GARLAND popularly known as FRIENDSHIP!
- Ahi (A simple friend)