Sunday, 6 January 2013

A temple you didn't know about...

It was a calm evening, the sky was clear with a romantic blue tinge, the moon was playing with the eyes and I was sitting three hundred kilometers away in a temple listening to nothing but prayer bells, in peace. I was grateful that I made my way to see it.

Away from hustle and bustle of the city life

Kalvabugga is a very small village which is inhabited mostly by people who work in the temple and  its surrounding market. This place has a very interesting history. It is believed that Parsuram established this temple's idol in the place where it is now, around thousands and thousands of years ago; in Treta Yuga according to Hindu Mythology.What makes this temple so unique is not the architecture, but people praying in a different direction! The lord faces west and people pray to the east. This is seen only in a handful of temples throughout the country.

People believe that where ever you dig around a radius of 5 km  in Kalvabugga you'll definitely find a Shiva Linga. To build a 9 Graha Mandapam, foundations were to be laid and in the process they found a Shiva Linga! Temple authorities immediately built a a gopuram for the Linga!

Mysterious Water!
The Temple has a beautifully built kolanu and has a constant water supply. No one knows where the water comes from. The level of water never increases nor does it decrease except when there is a rain. When the water was tested it was found to be soft and drinkable. Many dyes were added to the water to find out the connections, but in vain. You can happily take a bath in this water, even I have. The water is always flowing.

How to reach?
Kalvabugga is located around 30 km from Kurnool and around 250 km from Hyderabad. Best way to reach would be in your car. If you are flexible and ready for public transport you could always travel in cheap. Tungabhadra Express leaves at 7:30 from Secunderabad Railway station everyday. It'll take you around 5 hours to reach Kurnool. Take an auto to New Bus Stand. Auto wallahs charge not more than 10 rupees per head. Any bus which goes to Nandyal will take you to Kalvabugga. The frequency is good enough so there is no point in specifying time.

Where to stay?
Unfortunately, Kalvabugga is not very developed. There is one motel in a very bad state, soon to be demolished as a result of the upcoming 4 lane highway. It would be a wise option to stay in Kurnool which is only 30 Km away. If you don't mind staying in Kalvabugga there might be a chance for the locals arranging  some sort of stay, if you are friendly enough.

What to eat?
If you arrive at Kalvabugga in the morning, there are about three to four places opposite the temple which serve a very famous breakfast of Rayalseema called "Uggani Bajji" which is a combination of Puffed rice with Mirchi Bajji. There is no place which serves lunch or dinner. So, better get your own food if you plan on spending a lot of time here.

Really friendly and approachable people. Try speaking about the history of the place to few shopkeepers outside the temple and I can guarantee you'll be occupied for the next one hour or so!

Best time to visit?
It is a very rocky place and summers are extremely hot, with temperatures above 45 degree Celsius most of the time. Any season other than summer will do. If you are a fan of extremely huge gatherings in the name of God then nothing would beat the huge gathering on Shiva Ratri. They say at least 20,000-30,000 people gather here to participate in the Shiva Ratri celebrations. If you want to see a very different Kalvabugga, different from what I've seen, Shiva Ratri is the day.

Special Tip for Coconuts
You can see many coconut stalls in kalvabugga. They quote 20 rupees. You can bargain it down to 15 for sure and 10 if you are lucky! I still remember drinking tender coconut water for just 5 Rupees when I was a kid!

It's not famous, it's not an architectural marvel, it's a simple temple in a simple village. When was the last time you ever visited a simple place? This place has got many things more to it than written.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

I went following the Tambourine man

My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels

To be wandering
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your riding spell my way,
I promise to go under it.

On a chilly morning, I had to wake up at 3:00 am. My mother is always amazed by the way I wake up when it comes to cycling. She relates me to Kumbhakaran (Hindu Mythology: Ravana's brother who used to get up once in  6 months and get into a frenzy of eating and sleep again).

The History
After not being able to complete the Bangalore 200K Brevet (read) I was very determined to complete the 200K in Hyderabad. I promised myself dedicated training, which of course turned out to be average weekly mileage of a 100K. The ride date was scheduled 3 days after my semester exams. Lucky in one way and unlucky in another. I couldn't concentrate much on cycling. I managed to ride 80 km on the day I was done with my exams. That was all I did.
As usual, I started late by 30 minutes, 
I was rolling easily as the route was mostly downhill.
The first 50 Km to Shadnagar was easy. Reached in about 2:15 hours. I had Idli's and a huge Onion Dosa for breakfast at Aashiana Cafe. Re-filled water and started again.
I was riding in a group till Shadnagar, but couldn't maintain the pace anymore. I was alone. The sun was catching up, head winds made me feel like I was in a wind tunnel.

When I meditated
20K more to go, to reach the turn around point and I was sleepy than ever. I decided to take a short nap when I saw an arid bus stop with a dog for company. Anticipating that I would fall asleep totally and will loose track of time, I decided it would be better to meditate for five minutes. I meditated on the five minute track by Karunesh-"Joy of Life" It fixed everything.

I reached turnaround point, Bhutpur around 11:25AM. I did not take any rest. I started immediately. It was the toughest phase of the ride. The odo was reading 103 kilometers, myself and khartoum were facing head winds and uphill, no matter how hard I tried, I failed to deliver and I was only moving like a tortoise.There was a thought in my head, which I must admit and confess to, was making me feel high, thoughts of me auctioning my bike away at the bike affair (the end point of the ride) and never riding a cycle again.
I was feeling no less than a soldier when a man passing by me on a motorcycle asked me if this was for a military selection! It took fifteen minutes to explain it all to him. Never did anyone stick with me for so long. His questions were endless. After he was convinced, he zoomed away.
The next 10 km to Jadcherla took me about an hour. And it took about an hour and a half more to reach Shadnagar. My Ashiana Cafe, I thought. I was so happy to see the place where I thought, I would be resting for an hour. I ordered two Samosa's,  managed to eat one, a Sprite and Badam milk. The weirdest combination I ever tried. I dozed off for 10 minutes. I woke up, filled some water and thought, riding at some pace or the other is definitely better than taking rest for so long. I simply did not want to risk it.

I am an avid Meditator and have a lot of music for meditation. The specialty of this music is that, the sound of the bells kill your thoughts. They wont let your mind wander. You tend to focus. I did the same and I was riding with great pace. This music also kept me from feeling sleepy. By 4:15 PM I hit the Outer Ring road. I had 30 kilometers more to go. Luckily, I had company for rest of the ride. I rode with good speed and completed the ride by 5.30 PM with 2 hours to spare.

The song of every Brevet rider-Mr.Tambourine Man

A strip from the song that perfectly describes the way we feel.

My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heelsTo be wanderingI'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fadeInto my own parade, cast your riding spell my way,I promise to go under it.

It's all in the Mind

I read several times that Brevets are a test of not only physical endurance but also of your ability to tackle thoughts and move ahead,  this was lingering in my head throughout the ride. In spite of knowing everything, knowing its more of a mental challenge. It was tough to endure such thoughts. If you find yourself in a similar situation, all I can say is that, in the end you will be happy that you completed and will surely look forward for more riding. I hope to train well for the next Brevet which is a 300K and keep enjoying the pure joy of cycling.