Friday, February 21, 2014

Pondy Coastal Bike Ride with CTC

I had done few moderate/easy treks and cycling trip organized by CTC, so I want to take a bike trip with CTC as they are arranging lot of bike trips. I am a travel lover and want to go everywhere in every medium of transports. First I want to test my ability to travel a small drive as a pillion (I drive only without gear bikes/scootersL). So I registered for a Pondy Coastal scenic bike trip organized by Praveen /Vibin.



  
I got selected for this trip as pillion and they mailed the list of participants. I have to accompany Azeem as pillion and I mailed him regarding the meeting point to join. But he said he was residing in Kodambakkam and I got a mail from Praveen that Hassan is residing in Ambathur so you can come along with him to reach Tidel. (the meeting /Starting Point), I called up Hassan and we fixed a point near Padi to meet around 2.00 pm on Saturday. Saturday was holiday for me, so I was bit relaxed and done my packing for the trip and reached little late around 2.15pm near Anna Nagar to meet Hassan. We reached Tidel around 3.00pm and there was already few peoples are waiting there for the Organizers. L

Everybody reached around 3.30pm and introduced with their bikers/pillions. Most of them are freshers, so Praveen gave instructions to everyone and said that Vibin will be taking over as lead and Sai as the sweep for the journey. Praveen had an unavoidable official work, so he handed over the organizer responsibility to Vibin and he had stepped in to lead the trip.

The ride started with 9 bikes (totally 17 souls including bikers/pillions) from tidel around 4.00pm and our Ist stop was near Injambakkam /Sholinganallur junction as some of the bikers as to join with us. Now 2 bikers with one pillion added and the team size increased to 21. The real scenic coastal ride was started after mayajaal. Everyone enjoyed the ride with safely. (Organizers instructed not to ride over 80kmph due to safety reasons). On the way after Mahabs we stopped few minutes for photo session near a lake /back water. It was really beautiful watching the sunset near a backdrop of the vast lake water. Then we headed to Pondy and reached there around 7.00pm. The meet up/assemble point near the Pondy entry was slightly confusion, so some of us was crossed that point. We waited for other peoples to come and the confusion was then sorted and we rode down to the beach.

The beach side buildings were beautifully decorated on the eve of Republic day and there was good amount of crowd along the beach.  Malan, Nikhil and Dr.Arun from Pondy came there to meet our CTC team. Actually we are supposed to stay in a farm over the night arranged by Malan but for some reasons it was changed. Malan and Vibin arranged campsite at the beach near Pondi University with the help of Vallan and Kannan (Pondy CTCians).  It was 9:00 pm and we all were hungry. After wasting a lot of time, we rode to a fast food shop near Kalapet for dinner.

Everyone filled their stomach with food and proceed to our campsite. In campsite we have 2 options; you could either sleep in a house or on the shore watching the stars. I had choosen option 1 in a house, as I don’t have a sleeping bag and I don’t want to freeze in the cold weather. But went to beach for a small night walk. Everyone was gathered near beach and arranging tarpaulin to sleep, suddenly Bala suggested we have a camp fire over there near beach. Immediately everyone gathered few sticks around there and the camp fire was made. It was really awesome sitting around the campfire and feels warm next to the beach watching the waves and stars. The intro session was started over there near camp fire and everyone known others well by their name and their profession.

The intro session and Vibin’s Organizer speech was finished by 12.00 am in the night, we finally decided to wind up for the day and went for sleeping. I and few of us went to the house arranged nearby the sea shore and taken rest and others having sleeping bags stayed there in the beach side for night. It was nice sleep for few hours for me and woke up by 6.00 am and finished my morning duties. Now I saw the house was full as all the team members are came to the house in the morning as some drizzling started. Few peoples went to a morning walk near the beach and took some photos. Everyone started around 8.30 am and had our breakfast and left to Quarry for taking bath on the Pondy-Tindivanam route.



Somebody said the quarry was 200 ft. deep and there was a scuba diving session in progress. Most of the swimmers dive in to the pool and taking diving pictures. Non-Swimmers like me just dipped in the water for taking bath. I had taken my swim tube along with me, so I floated with the help of tube; otherwise I have to be a spectator like few othersJ. After changing our wet cloths we took a group photo with bikes near the quarry. Then we started to Paradise Island near Sunnambukulam.  


With the help of Arun we made a good deal to enter into the Paradise Island for some fun water activities. We took a speed boat to the island and we had a mini lunch as there was not many varieties are available.


First we tried Banana ride and it was really awesome and adventurous. Though I had never taken the ride, I decided to go on that, but the caretakers said non-swimmers are not allowed. I boarded on that and had a very good experience. The banana shaped air bladder was dragged by a jet boat and they dropped us in the middle of the water. I was struggled little bit and somehow managed with the help of friends and returned back to shore safely. After that everyone went on that and few of us done kayaking in the meantime. We returned back to Pondy by 7.30 pm after had a so much of fun in the Island. Actually our plan was to leave Pondy by 4.00pm and reach Chennai by 7.00pm, but it was delayed due to, we wasted some time here and there.

So we had our dinner there itself and left Pondy by 8.30pm. Vibin instructed everyone that we have to ride safely and carefully as it was weekend and night time. So everyone ride the bike with the speed between 60-80kmph and followed Vibin one by one and it looks like, a straight line moving on the black road. The team finally dispersed at Kovalam/Tidel and everyone reached home safely with nice memories.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Mumbai Lonavala Trip

Recently visited Mumbai and Lonavala for a short weekend trip. Visited Elephanta Caves in Mumbai and few places in Lonavala.


One of my friend wants to visit Shirdi and Mumbai and they asked me to accompany them for language problem. We first visited Shirdi Sai baba Temple and had a Darshan. Then we boarded a bus to Mumbai. In the evening we reached Mumbai and did some shopping. Overnight we stayed in a hotel near Bandra Railway station. Next day morning we boarded a local train to Churchgate and from there we boarded a taxi to reach Gateway of India. In Mumbai Taxi was very cheap compared to Chennai Auto (?). 

Our plan was to visit Elephanta caves by boat. We bought ticket for boat Rs.150 per person and boarded a boat. They charged extra Rs.10 for climbing upper deck of the boat, but it was worth to be there. We enjoyed our boat journey by taking pictures and viewing the sea and big ships on the sea. It took around 60 minutes to reach elephanta caves. From the boat dropping point, a mini train was running to reach near the elephanta caves and they charged Rs. 10 per person. It was a jolly ride. Again we have to climb some steps to reach the monument, there is tolly service also available for old and sick persons to carry to the top. 





The Elephanta Caves is located on island hills about 11 km north-east of the Apollo Bandar, Mumbai and 7 km from the shore of the mainland, approximately covering an area of 7 km in circumference. The island is named after a colossal elephant found in the island, which is popularly known as ‘Gharapuri’. At present, the statue of elephant is housed at Jijamata Garden in Mumbai.




The Elephanta Caves can be reached by Ferry (9 nautical miles across the sea)from the Gateway of India, Visit this green island for the wonders of the 7 th century, the painstakingly hewn rock-cut cave temple, dedicated to Shiva. The Maheshamurti panel in which Shiva is shown as a creator, protector and destroyer, is a sight that should be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime. Regular excursions to Elephanta start every day from the Gateway of India. 

The Caves will be closed on Monday.



There are seven cave excavations in the Elephanta group and these are datable from circa 6th – 7th centuries A.D. Among the cave excavations, the Cave 1 is the most impressive which represents the evolved Brahmanical rock-cut architecture. The cave is also famous for the exquisite and vibrant sculptures. On plan it almost resembles the Dumar Lena (Cave 29) of Ellora. The cave has a main entrance on the north with two other openings on the east and west respectively and a central hall with six rows of pillared columns, six in each row except on the western corner, where a shrine of lingam is provided.




On plan, there are three large square recesses divided off by pilasters each of them bearing a gigantic image of a dvarapala. The panel on the east has a figure of ardhanarisvara, a form of Siva with the combined energies of male and female; and on the west figures of Siva and Parvati playing chausar is carved. The central recess holds the most famous and remarkable sculpture of this period known as the Mahesa-murti. It is a colossal bust of the three forms of Siva, the aghora, turbulent and fearsome; tatpurusha, benign and meditative and vamadeva, mild pleasing and lovable. The other notable panels in the main cave are Andhakasuravada murti; cosmic dance of Nataraja; Kalyanasundara murti; Gangadhara murti; Ravana shaking Kailasa and Siva as Lakulisa. A panel depicting Saptamatrikas near the eastern opening is also remarkable.



Entry fee: Rs. 10 per head and children up to 15 years free. We spent some time there and returned to Gateway of India around 4.00 pm. 






The Gateway of India is a monument built during the British Raj in Mumbai. It is located on the waterfront in the Apollo Bunder area in South Mumbai and overlooks the Arabian Sea. The structure is a basalt arch, 26 metres (85 feet) high. It lies at the end of Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg at the water's edge in Mumbai Harbour. It was a crude jetty used by the fishing community which was later renovated and used as a landing place for British governors and other prominent people. In earlier times, it would have been the first structure that visitors arriving by boat in Mumbai would have seen. The Gateway has also been referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai, and is the city's top tourist attraction.

The structure was erected to commemorate the landing of their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary at Apollo Bunder, when they visited India in 1911. Built in Indo-Saracenic style, the foundation stone for the Gateway of India was laid on 31 March 1911. The final design of George Wittet was sanctioned in 1914 and the construction of the monument was completed in 1924. The Gateway was later the ceremonial entrance to India for Viceroys and the new Governors of Bombay. It served to allow entry and access to India.

The monument has faced three terror attacks from the beginning of the 21st century; twice in 2003 and it was also the disembarkation point in 2008 when four gunmen attacked the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.



In the evening we went to Zaveri Bazaar for shopping, My friend bought imitation jewels for their business purpose. It took so much of time on shopping and in the night 11.00pm we returned to our hotel.

Next day morning we boarded a local train to dadar and boarded a express train to Lonavala. The train reached little late by 10.00 am and our cab was waiting there. We arranged a cab online from Chennai for sightseen in Lonawala and they Charged Rs.3100 for Mahaindra logan car for 1 day sightseen and drop us at Pune Airport. The driver not known certain places in Lonavala as he was a resident of Pune. He shown us some places in Lonawala and avoided some places as he said the dams was dry now and the hills / caves are too steep to climb. We seen some places and some places we missed are listed below.



Lonavala is a town and a hill station in Pune district. It is about 64 km away from the city of Pune and 96 km away from the city Mumbai. It is famous throughout India for the hard candy sweet known as chikki and is also a major stop on the rail line connecting Mumbai and Pune. Lonavala comes to life during the monsoon season as the countryside turns lush green with waterfalls and ponds.


Tiger's Leap
Tiger's Leap also known as Tiger's Point is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650 m, giving an extensive view. Buses are available up to I.N.S. Shivaji and the remaining distance of about 1.6 km has to be covered on foot. Just around tiger's leap, there is a small waterfall active only during the monsoon. It serves the purpose of relaxing in the water better than Bushy dam, as the force of the fall is higher. Also, after the brief steep descent, the fall becomes a stream with a fair amount of force to go all the way down to the base of the Tiger's Leap. Adventurers can trek down the stream whilst intermittently stepping back on land where the water current is too strong and the fall is steep.




Rajmachi Point
Rajmachi Point is located about 6.5 km from Lonavla. This point commands a view of Shivaji's famous fort, Rajmachi (Royal terrakouioce) and the surrounding valley. Regular State Transport buses ply between Rajmachi Point and Lonavla from the State Transport Bus Stand. 



Valvan Dam
Valvan Dam has a garden at its foot, and is a popular evening spot 2 km from the town. The dam supplies water to the Khopoli power station at the foothills of the Sahyadris for generating electricity. The Kundali River feeds into the dam's reservoir.

Lonavla Lake
Lonavla Lake is surrounded by natural scenery, about 1.6 km from the town. The lake dries up during the winter months.

Duke's Nose

Duke's Nose stands 12 km from Lonavla, clearly visible from the highway while driving towards Mumbai. This landmark in Khandala is popular with hikers. The cliff owes its name to the Duke of Wellington, whose ample nose it resembles.

Karla Caves
Karla caves, located near Lonavla, is a complex of cave shrines built by Buddhist monks around 3rd to 2nd century B.C. A famous temple of Goddess Ekvira Devi is also present here. 

Bhushi Dam

A waterfall near the dam is a popular spot between Lonavla and I.N.S. Shivaji. Buses running on the I.N.S. Shivaji Road stop here.

There was some water here and there in the dams when we went there. So we skipped some points and went to Pune for shopping. By 9.00 pm the driver dropped us in airport and we boarded a flight to Chennai and reached Chennai around 12.50 in the midnight. 




Thursday, January 16, 2014

Trekking to Thiruvannamalai in November 2013

This year also for Karthigai deepam season we went to Thiruvannamalai for Jothi Darisanam. On 23rd November Saturday as per our plan me, Venkatesh, Dhanajeyan, Deena and Baskar started by Venkatesh's Car from Guindy by 7.00am and reached Thiruvannamalai by 11.30am.



First we went for Siva Darshanam and had our lunch. By 2.45pm we started our trekking to the hill and reached 5.15pm. We had a Jothi Darisanam by 6.00pm and returned back to foot hill by 7.30pm.



It took 2.5 hours to climb up. First It was difficult to us to climb as the Sun was hot and we are not done any recent treks. We had taken enough water and glucose for hydration. Often we drank water and moved slowly. Compare to other mountains, Thiruvannamalai was little bit steep to climb. So it took time and so much of energy. We crossed half the distance by 4.15 pm, after that our speed was increased as we are comfortable to climb now.




One important thing I have to share here for freshers, when we are climbing up, our heart will pump the blood very fast and our breathing will be heavy, that time our mind will say take rest. But no need to stop there, but you have to move slowly. If you taken rest the heart pumping will  slow down and when you start again it will take time to pick up. So you have to move slowly with a steady pace. This will help you to reach the target easily.


Finally we reached the top around 5.15 pm and waited for the deepam to light up. Around 6.00pm a light signal from the Temple shown and on the Top the Mahadeepam was lighted. Everywhere the "Arohara, Annamalaikku Arohara" slogan was heard. It was a nice experience for everyone. God is in the light form has confirmed here. This is our second visit to this place and had a wonderful experience.


We started to descended immediately after the Deepa Darisanam as we have to reach the base before the light was going down. The place was empty after a few minutes of lighted the deepam. We have only one torch with me, others don't have a torch.  So we decided to move one behind the other. It took 90 minutes to to reach the base. In the base we had some refreshments and started our journey to reach Chennai with Spiritual memories.

Thiruvannamalai Temple Arial view


Tiruvannamalai Temple


Annamalai Deepam


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cycle Rally for Peace and Drug Awarenes

Cycle Rally for Peace and Drug Awareness From Thiruvallur district to Chennai, covered around 400 Villages, 30 Schools, 6 Colleges, 18 Public Programs and 4 De-Addiction centres. (Organized by Brahmakumaris) Total Distance covered around 950 Kms in 20 days and I was pedalled around 450 Kms in 9 Days.

Route Map and Towns/Villages Covered:

Route Map 1

Continuation of Map

1. Started at Thiruvallur

Opening Ceremony at Thiruvallur Collector Office



Cycling at Thiruvallur















2. Perambakkam
3. Thiruthani
4. Pallipattu
5. Kanakamma Chathiram
6. Uthukkottai
7. Periyapalayam
8. Kavarapettai
9. Gummidipundi
10. Ponneri
11. Redhills
12. Karlapakkam



13.Thirunindravur


14. Mittanamalli

15. Avadi


16. Ambathur


17. Thiruverkadu



18. Vanagaram



19. Chinmaya Nagar

20. Thiru-vi-ka Nagar

21. Finished at Anna Nagar




 I am proud to be a part of this great event. Thanks to God and Brahmakumaris!

Grand Finale at Chennai, Anna Nagar with Chennai Mayor.