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Day 2:

  DS had not planned to go up to see sunrise but the others were up by 5.30 or so and RT had tried waking me up by calling out but to no avail. So, they set out to the east side to get a view of sunrise. I woke up with a jump at 6.00 and realized the others has left. So, decided to make my way with a torch. Smartly enough, I assumed the folks had gone west, towards NP for sunrise, and set out in that direction! :-) Almost close to the top, I lost the track; repeated attempts at various tracks that suddenly seemed to have sprung up from nowhere, lead me to no where close to the right trail. So, I spent some time meditating, contemplating the philosophy of life ( just the right time and place to do that! :-) ),taking snaps, shouting out for folks at the top of my lungs, whistling out- just about all that I could think of and do out there. By 7.30, I still had not got the trail, and I had walked some 3 kms along various trails trying to figure out the right one. Another hour by, and I was seriously beginning to think if folks weren't missing me and if no one was going to get up here at all, and whether I would have to find out my way all on my own! gosh! that was quite some feeling - for a first trek, first timer! :-)

  However, good sense prevailed on folks and soon AS set out on a one-man search hunt with a toffee paper to serve as whistle. I returned his call and soon the contact was made. Looks like I had made off more to the west and hence lost the original trail! how smart could I get! duh! :-)

  Thankfully, I did get back to campsite, in time for breakfast ( minus brushing teeth! yeeks! ), and back with the group. We cleaned up everything, including food supplies ( thanks to everyone's appetite, specially PR! :-) ), packed the tents, and collected the plastic waste as well. By, 9.15 or so, we were set to start our descent downhill to Kigga. The track there was pretty much laid out and down all the way - DS was very happy about that!

  We did take breaks, to catch a breath, a snap or two of the last few landscapes that we came across of the ranges, and by 11.00 we were down at Kigga. Passed some nice little village fields, which reminded me of my visits to Waynad ( similar paddy fields ). We reached the bus stop in time, for some refreshments before boarding the next bus to Sringeri. The little shop at the bus stand had the best refreshment one can get - pure sweet tender coconutwater and tender coconut! It was awesome! To me it was like icing on the cake. Had two of those, and soon the bus was around the corner. We missed the Rishyashrunga temple at Kigga. Did not notice it and also did not have time. We wanted to make it in time for lunch at Sringeri Math! No way we were going to miss that feast!

A Stop at Sringeri:

  The bus journey was short and sweet - again brought back my college days memories - the wayside between Kigga and Sringeri looked just like how our college trip from Calicut used to be. In half hour's time we were at Sringeri.After making some preliminary enquiries about return ticket bookings, we decided to first book a room at the Devasthanam. A room was soon available at a very nominal pricing of Rs. 25/-. On the way back we booked our tickets to Bangalore for the 9.00 PM Rajahamsa deluxe coach, and climbed the steep steps to the lodge, which is close to the bus stand. Left the baggage out there and PR, BBR, AS and RT went to the river for a bath, whilst myself and DS got freshened up at the Sringeri lodge taps! By 1.30 we were all in the temple premises, and common vote decided to checkout the food first and then visit the temple's sanctum sanctorum. A very modern and efficient system of charity - free meals provided to all bhaktas who come to the temple. The hall must be capable of accommodating close to 1000 folks, I think. And it was very well laid out, with granite slabs for sitting and a neat and clean mosaic flooring. A huge trolley with a pull-push mechanism handled by two people - one in the front and one in the back, carries the huge steel plates that each of us have to help ourselves with while the trolley moves along. Good self service idea! The food service itself is fast and efficient - hot steaming rice in big carts are brought around and spoonfuls effortlessly tossed into the plates. Plain, simple and quick - no time spent in enquiries etc. Then came rasam and it was timed such that as soon as an average paced eater is done with his rasam, the next round of rice is served for Sambar and similarly followed by buttermilk. Was quite filling and tasty! After that lovely lunch, took a stroll within the temple campus. The shrine had closed by then and we had the whole afternoon and evening to kill. I was beginning to feel just a bit drowsy when we started off for the riverbank within the temple. That helped drive away the drowsiness. Tunga here was filled with numerous fishes - really big fishes and small ones as well. I think we concluded that there might be 2 or 3 species in the water out there- for there was catfish and some other fish for sure. Another third one seemed a smaller variety, unless it was the young age of one of the other two. Anyways,had a nice time, cooling off on the banks and feeding the fishes - they sure are used to humans and the feeding practice.

  It was around 2 PM then and we still had 2 - 3 hours to spend before the math and temple opened. So, we sanutered around within the temple premises, looking at the lovely carvings in stone and trying to recap our forgotten knowledge on 'Dasavatara' and the likes. BBR, PR and AS went out for a stroll. I lazed around with DS and RT for a while, and then while they were away for a coke, took that picture of the temple and then decided to take a walk outside. On the roads, bumped into PR, BBR and AS and the four of us treated ourselves to some yummy MTR cone ( very reasonably priced at Rs 10/- compared to the exorbitant kwality walls cones), and equally 'goli baje' washed down with a cup of tea. A lovely evening tiffin! PR as usual,had some interesting experiences, that I shall stay away from, in here, and he bought some mango pickles and the 'mandakki' packets for the fishes. We got back around 3.30 - 4.00 or so, and then got back to some 'mandakki feeding session' and snapshots at the tank. Around 5.00, the math was opened and we took a stroll around, seeing the deers, the Sanskrit research centre, the patshala etc. BBR, AS and PR then went on to meet the swamiji while we cameback to the temple; RT and myself wanted to make some 'archanai' and so,went and had darshan of the god and got the 'archanai prasadam'. Soon the evening was past and we lined up once again for dinner at the devasthanam. Another lovely dinner later, we were back on our way to the lodge rooms,had time enough to pack up, clear the room and head back for the bus to Bangalore.

  This bus was much better and I slept all my way through the trip and we reached back at Majestic around 5.45 or so, and a quick connecting bus journey found me back home by 6.30, Monday morning!

  Voila! So, that was our agumbe trip and I came back with some very pleasant memories of people, places, and incidents. In my mind. Till next time, signing off.. Au Revoir!



R Sharada
IBM Software Labs, Bangalore, India.
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