Saturday, May 9, 2009

An Idyllic Weekend Getaway

For miles on end, there was no sign of human inhabitation. A sparsely asphalted road tapered into a muddy track sprinkled with stones. Mobile phones went out of range. When I saw a rock with an arrow, a fish and “Galibore” etched on it, I was elated that my destination was just a few meters away! Tucked in the midst of a deciduous forest, on the banks of river Kaveri is the Galibore Fishing Camp. About 100Kms from Bangalore, this resort which flaunts its natural grandeur is an idyllic weekend getaway.
The main attraction at Galibore is angling (fishing) and the Mahaseer is the prized catch. The Mahaseer is a freshwater carp of the Cyprinid family and certain varieties could be over 5 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds! Hooking the Mahaseer is a challenge relished by fishing enthusiasts who come to Galibore from the world over. While tourists are quite happy with any variety of fish they manage to catch, seasoned anglers come prepared with tackles and other exclusive gear to hook the mighty Mahaseer. Since it is an endangered species, the Galibore Fishing Camp strictly adheres to ‘catch and release’ fishing policy. The fish are released into the water after clicking photographs and recording their weight.
Apart from joy fishing, the other interesting activities at Galibore include coracle rides, guided treks in the surrounding hills, rafting and kayaking in the river which cascades into level 2 and level 3 rapids. Sporting activities are organized by a team of enthusiastic and trained facilitators from ‘Outback Adventures’, a company which conducts adventure and outdoor sports activities.
There are twelve eco-friendly cottages which blend with the serenity of the camp. The tented cottages built on concrete platforms are rustic but comfortable. There are hammocks outside each tent for people who wish to laze around and infuse some freshness into their lungs. It’s the perfect setting for a siesta with the cool breeze caressing you. There is no electricity in the camp. While the kitchen is lit from batteries charged by solar power, old fashioned lanterns are the source of light in the other areas of the resort.
Delicious Indian food is served in a large open-to-sides gazebo beside the cottages. As the light fades away and the stars twinkle in the night sky, it’s time for the campfire and barbecue by the river side. At Galibore you can have a quiet moon light dinner with the rhapsody of a gushing river in the backdrop.
The tranquil ambiance, the soothing green cover of the hills and the exuberant river Kaveri makes Galibore a good retreat for conducting outdoor training programmes. The proximity of Galibore from Bangalore (and Mysore) makes it a good choice for the city dwellers to make a day trip to the camp. Visitors who want to enjoy an extended rendezvous with nature can spend a night or two there. In an attempt to hook the Mahaseer, anglers stay hooked to Galibore for several weeks. The coolness of the weather and the warmth of the resort staff and naturalists are sure to make your stay at Galibore a pleasant one.

From rafting and kayaking for those who would relish a rush of adrenaline, to nature walks and bird talks for the avian friends, Galibore has it all. If “doing nothing” is your idea of a good vacation then the hammocks under the canopy of the trees are most inviting.
If you are yearning to escape from the shackles of a busy work life, Galibore will mesmerize you with the bliss of being in nature’s company. As you travel away from the city, the din of the traffic will fade away. The sounds of nature amidst the sounds of silence will soothe your weary mind, body and soul. The freshness of the country air will rejuvenate your spirits. If you are in pursuit of a place to spend quality time with your family or friends, or just longing to getaway from Bangalore hit the road to Galibore. It is a road less traveled.

Quick Facts:

Getting there
Drive on the Bangalore-Kanakpura road for about 55Kms. On reaching Kanakapura, take a diversion towards Sangam (the confluence of the Arkavathi and Kaveri rivers). About 100m before Sangam there is a signpost which directs you towards Galibore. A 9Km stretch on a battered track leads you to Galibore.

Contact Information

Galibore is run by the Jungle Lodges and Resorts, a venture of Karnataka Tourism.
Phone Numbers: 91 - 80- 25597021/24/25


The Kaveri is well fed during the monsoon months from June to August. After the monsoons, the swollen river cascades into gentle rapids making it suitable for rafting. August to February is a good time to visit Galibore. The angling season at Galibore starts mid December and continues till March-April. The weather is pleasant through out the year.

Other Information
A torch is a must have. Odomos can be useful to keep the mosquitoes away. If you are on a day trip to Galibore, carry a set of clothes to change into after plunging into the river.

This article was published in The Deccan Herald on the 10th of May 2009. Below is the link to the online version of the article.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stories in Stone

The remnants of the mighty fort stand aloft to depict tales of valour and defiance. The magnificent stone edifices are a mute testimony of an era bygone. Built immaculately, with convoluted alleys and mammoth stone walls, the Chitradurga Fort is an architectural marvel and a pride of Karnataka.
Chitradurga was initially called Chitrakaldurga because of the many uniquely shaped rocks strewn across the fort. In Kannada, ‘chitra’ means picture, ‘kallu’ means rock and ‘durga’ means fort. The fort is popularly known as ‘Yelu Suttina Kote’, as there are seven concentric fortifications around it. It is also called ‘Kallina Kote’ (fortress of stone) and ‘Ukkina Kote’ (fortress of steel) as it has survived the test of time.
Chitradurga was ruled by the Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas. It was the headquarters of the Nayakas who were feudatory chieftains under the Vijayanagara Empire. After multiple attempts, Haider Ali finally conquered Chitradurga and it was later ruled by his successor Tipu Sultan until the British took over.

The sturdy walls of the fort have embrasures which were used by soldiers to place their weapons and launch an attack on the invaders. As you enter the fort, you will see the ‘Enne Kolas’ which are large cauldrons used to store oil. There is an elevated pillared structure called the ‘Bombe Mantapa’ in which the kings are said to have erected sculptures in memory of their favourite elephants and horses. In Kannada, ‘bombe’ means doll and ‘mantapa’ means pavilion. Much of it has been destroyed and all that remains now are a few damaged sculptures. There are two ponds called the ‘Akka Thangiyara Honda’ (sisters’ ponds). Folklore has it that these ponds got the name because two sisters who were married to the king Madakari Nayaka jumped into the ponds after his death.

On top of a hillock is the Hidimbeshwara Temple from which one can get a panoramic view of the hills, the windmills and the town. The Sampige Siddeshwara Temple is a cave temple which gets its name because of the fragrant Michaelia Champaka (known as sampige in Kannada) trees growing on the periphery the temple. The artistically sculpted Hidimbeshwara and Siddeshwara temples have towers resembling a ‘ratha’ or chariot and are called Hidimba Ratha and Bhimana Ratha respectively. The Phalguneshwara Temple, Gopalaswamy Temple and Uchcchangamma Temple are the other prominent temples in the fort.

There is an interesting trivia about two tall structures called the ‘Jokali Kamba’ and the ‘Deepada Kamba’ which are erected in front of the Ekanateshwari Temple. Goddess Ekanateshwari is the family deity of the Nayakas and during the Dasara festivities, it is said that the king would swing from the Jokali Kamba (‘jokali’ means swing and ‘kamba’ means pole) and light the lamps placed on the Deepada Kamba (‘deepa’ means lamp).
No account of Chitradurga will be complete without the mention of the heroics of Onake Obavva, the wife of a guard. According to a legend, Obavva came to ‘Tanniru Kola’ (a cold water spring) to fetch a pot of water while her husband was having lunch. She noticed Haider Ali’s troops trickling into the fort through a small opening in a cave. Not perturbed by what she saw, she picked up an ‘onake’ which a long wooden pestle used to pound grains and bludgeoned the soldiers as they tried to enter the fort. Her husband was shocked to see the bodies of the dead soldiers and the blood stained onake in her hand. Obavva, who was killed by one of the soldiers, remains immortal for her courage and presence of mind. The crevice was named ‘Obavvana Kindi’ in her memory.
Visitors to Chitradurga should look out for Jyothi Raj, a real-life Spiderman! It’s a spectacular sight to watch him climb the towering walls of the fort within seconds.
‘Kothi’ means monkey and Jyothi Raj calls himself Kothi Raj as he considers the monkey to be his guru. His daring stunts leave the spectators awe-struck.
On a clear day, the Hidimbeshwara Temple is a good spot to watch the sunset. The beautifully lit up fort is a spectacular sight at night. The hilly terrain, the precariously positioned boulders and the trekking trails in the fort will interest adventure lovers. Many stories woven around rocks and stones unravel the flambouyant history of Chitradurga. The clean, well-kept monument will be a pleasant surprise for the first time visitor.

Getting there:
The most convenient way of getting to Chitradurga is to drive on NH4 (Bangalore-Pune highway) via Tumkur. NH4 is a part of the ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ highway project. Windmills on either side of the road are the first signs of approaching Chitradurga.
Trains and buses ply between Bangalore and Chitradurga.

This article was published in The Deccan Herald on the 28th of April 2009. Below is the link to the online version of the article.