December 21, 2005

sakleshpura - the definitive post

took my fust train journey as an 18-day old. shrieked piercingly all the way from pune to mount abu, apparently. but a train freak was born (18 days ago).

and trekking has been a staple activity for years.

so imagine my giddy excitement, my delirious swooning when i heard of the sakleshpur-kukke trek. its a trek along the railway track, with waterfalls, tunnels and bridges galore.

am i interesting you strangely, yet?

so this is what it is: there used to be a metre gauge railway track between SAKL* and KKK, near the bengaluru- mengaluru highway. it was abandoned (loose! debauched!) for years, but bridges over chasms and nearby waterfalls made it a great trek route.
now they're relaying the track as broad gauge, so hurry up and go there before bengaluru- mengaluru trains start plying.

warning- it's fairly dangerous. i'd give it 4 leeches in arduousness.
no leeches along the track, though i got one while walking through the forest approaching the track.
it has been brought home and is awaiting guests, hungrily.

but i digress.

another tip: get off the beng-meng bus at donigal. this happens at 2 am, so you might miss it. don't get off at gundya cross. at which point you will have to trek 9km along a stream, and then uphill through a forest.that was where i encountered leechy poo. this is the temple at which we turned right and began the uphill- mit backpacks- through forest routine.

on reaching the track we enter our first tunnel. these things are SCARY! you enter, there's a little light, which gradually peters out. water drips onto the tracks. and what is that smell? and that screeching sound? BAATTTTSSSS!
they buzzed me!

post tunnel discoveries:
bats are scary
batman was extremely weird
light at the end of the tunnel means that the light can be seen, but you have to goo step** a whole long way before you can actually reach it.

tip #2 - take a good torch along.

and then there were the bridges. the pictures should explain everything.

and what lies beneath:

and another tip: don't try to do this in a day. torchless through the batcaves is bad enough. but torchless over the bridge is downright dangerous. specially the bridges with crumbly wooden sleepers.

in all, we covered about 35 km along the track.

and then came the rather huge suprise of the day:
dusk was falling and we were still a good 10k away from a point where we could get off the track. i began to cross the longest bridge, with a MASSIVE waterfall below. when i heard from a tunnel at the end of the bridge:


i frozessimo.
the track was under construction, but a few trolleys were plying on it, to carry labour and materials.
decided that if the trolley came rattling along, my only option would be to hang under the bridge. so instead, thought of turning and retracing my way, but the others (in between an unseemly fit of the giggles) told me i was closer to the end than the start. so i leaped, goatlike over sleepers, while the chasm yawned and the horn sounded repeatedly.

reached the other end, sat down and waited for the trolley to appear.
but there was no trolley, just this:

look closely and you will discern the outlines of a MASSIVE (insert expletive here) diesel engine. the big daddy of train engines!

gunral hallelujahing all round after which we happily clambered onto the engine and sat there for five hours as they did some testing and dropped us to sakleshpura at midnight.

yes, you heard me. i sat in the engine!!! i'm not going to pretend they let me drive it - was actually told sharply to touch nothing- but i still was there. spent some time sitting outside with legs dangling and misty wreaths encircling. we never went faster than 10 k an hour.
about the speed i get to drive in beng'u.

just in case anyone's missed the point of this entire post- I RODE IN A DIESEL ENGINE!

pics courtesy AC and AD

* all right. ALL RIGHT! i don't know the official railway code.

** on the entire trek, one has to step from one sleeper onto another in a goo-step manner. the annoying part is that one can never look around while walking.


@#$% said...

interesting,adventures.. to the hilt ..leeches to eat .. arrrggghhhh ....( i'wld vomit at the thought..) .. they are used in tissue grafts and reattachment surgery. So they are boon in a disguise.
smell? ( that might be of blood drained corpse you missed in the tunnel :))
->light inside the tunnel(the big daddy) I imagined aamir stunt in Ghulam. :) "hanging under the bridge" good option .. ;).. only if you r hercules..
tks for descrip... wuld surely visit SAKL in free time..

Orcaella brevirostris said...

@#$%: no no, it wasnt that kind of smell. it was the bats. guano.

guanow, or they'll start running trains there and gunrally mess up the place.

Arif said...

Dear orcaella,

your posts, always leave me speechless. (well, most of the time it's because I've nothing to say,...;p ) but this time...panayamo! Kiddo, that was really something! For a dude who jabbers like i do, I'm truly at a loss for words, except for....LUCKY DUCKY YOU!

Talk about adventure fun, excitement...bat guano and all! (You actually got to do an Ace-Ventura.)

Keep posting...look forward to 'em!


Ps...Have I mentioned before, your writing rocks!

@#$% said...

Where do you work ? seems they give lot of holidays .. I am out of holidays at present :(( .. lot of places to visit..when will I get out of this vicious circle.. :O .. but surely I will try my best.. :)

Lec, S. Marta said...

One generally seethes. But one is like that. The picture of the engine just had to find its way into the post, dinnit?

And the spelling's wrong, innit?

> between SAKL* and KKK

Momentarily very very impressed. Then, read footnote.

> bats are scary

Eh? One thought there quite at the "o.(3)" end of the animal kingdom spectrum.

> so i leaped, goatlike over sleepers,

Really? Goatlike? Really? [fingers s.]

> just in case anyone's missed the point of this entire post- I RODE IN A DIESEL ENGINE!

One is, testily, starting to get the point. Slowly. One is also getting ideas fu(mlaut)r Rache or whatever.

Very well. We'll say it. It definitely seems like a very cool trip and we're all suitably greenish.

Orcaella brevirostris said...

arif: i now understand ace's blind, unreasoning panic when entering the caves.

and thanks for the kind words.

@#$!: we left on friday night after work and arrived in bangalore on sunday morning. horribly tired and creased and hating buses. but there's lots of can be done without taking leave.

smartacus: let he who is without spelling mistakes cast the first stone. remember oracella?

goatlike. i stand by my words.on a crag.

rache? you are reading gone with the wind. in fact, you are studying scarlett.

Gaurav said...

is that young dhammo in the pic?

Gaurav said...

Nope, on closer examination doesn't seem Dhammo-like. You seem very you-like though.

Psmith said...

brilliant. I almopst did this trek a few days ago and I guess I ought to do it quick if I want to at all. They are going to close the line down..

Orcaella brevirostris said...

gaurav- it was young awnindyo.
and i am very me-like. except i've replaced the flourescent green backpack with a more discreet black one. but the orange sleeping bag and funky purple sleeping mat remain.

psmith- hurry up!
although ... sections of the line are far from donne, so you don't have to drop *everything* and run.

DokC said...

Imrove your Bharat Reyl shabdkosh:

A train with only an engine, testing the tracks is referred to as a "Banker". Don't ask me why. Ask the DG BhaRey.

And my only face saver for envy is "been there" ;)

I see now the need for the torch.

PS: more education- SKAL with an Å
is the preferred call while drinking amongst vikings, swedes and the norwegians.

Typically our ole Sven would drink his intoxicant from the skull of either a hunted animal or preferrably the enemy. So head-hunters aren't only tropical afterall.

Orcaella brevirostris said...

dokc- yes. a good torch and some skal in a skull would've been welcome.
but these things never occur to one while packing.