Day 1 of the ride was nice, with independence day celebrations, good routes and night at the resort with old and new friends.
Day two, the day broke not with the alarm nor with sonorous bird songs but with revs and idling sounds of the 220 CCs. So the gang or part of it was going to the gorge.
Day two: the day broke not with the alarm nor with sonorous bird songs but with revs and idling sounds of the 220 CC Avengers. So the gang or a part of it was going to see the gorge.
We had arrived last night and as is with groups that converge at a place, pitch tents, celebrate birthdays and bitch about everything it was a late night for few of us. Yet, I had to banish drowsiness and tag along with the Chennai folks. A short ride took us to a chai shop in front of entrance to the fort. Had sticky sweet tea and the smokers lighted up for the morning. We went into the village and they directed to an ancient Madhavaraya temple. A Grand one made from sand stone, standing tall, challenging the rising sun.
At that time, light was just so proper. Blue skies and wisps of just there rarified white fleeting clouds. Gentle breeze. Imposing sand stone providing the best back drop for the pictures. These are the conditions that the auto makers use to shoot their ads or models seek for their portfolio photos. We did pose and prance around. Tried quite a few arrangements with the bikes. Then we went to the fort. The old walls told the stories of past greatness. And as I was admiring them I saw our black beast. Wify dear and Dotty dear too were ready and they had come over driving it. More photos. By now the place was growing on us and we decided to go say hi to Gandi the gorge.
The route to it is via a “just waking up” village’s narrow cobbled street. We passed half naked toddlers, tied up goats and oh so fresh rooster. One kid even requested for a snap. At the end of the street, via granary, the Armory, some pigeon tower and old ruins, a lake like bath thingy is the gorge. As you pass these and get nearer to it, you kind of understand the word that has now got clichéd and trivialized. You stare at the structure and open your mouth and think this is awesome! The majesty, the size and the distantly flowing river make you awe struck. On must reserve these words only for such moments. Not waste them on more routine daily stuff. For us the season , time of the day, the company we were with made it magical. If in another season or another time or with others it may not have had that impact. When one needs to have fun things do come together.
I came back to the resort with my family exploring the bath tank and the Chennai gang did their gig. There were few other groups that were around. Some merged, others split. Each had their own story, unique perspective. Same place, various distinct memories.
We drove back to the resort, had breakfast, un-pitched the tents. One of the bikes had accelerator issues, little tinkering and spannering fixed that and we were merrily rolling down the slopes,the resort fading away in the rear view. We all did few more arrangements with running bikes for the pictures and videos. I wonder where do all these photos go ? They seem like the missing socks in washing machine. You know they were there, they should be around but you cannot find them! This leg of the ride was calm, smooth. Soon we were looking at an imposing seated Buddha. We had reached Belum caves.
Quick lunch at the canteen. Here you get basic stuff, we were hungry so it felt good. There is some on demand omelets and a litter of cats to give some variety. Post lunch and a mini photo session, the troop moved to check out what all this fuss about caves was.
These are limestone caverns formed by an underground river which changed its mind huge time back after sculpting them for few eons. Oh well nothing is permanent. This formation sitting there pretty without the pesky waters is a perfect place to get disoriented. The pretty walls with mosaics, dense thick air loaded with water vapor. Erie shadows from artificial light. Guess this environment is right for seeking answers about life and universe’s mysteries. So the Jain and Buddhist monks had used these for their spiritual awakening. I say the best places and views are explored and captured by the kindred souls. Follow a seer , see where he/she meditated and you will discover the hill with a view, island that is peaceful or a cave that confuses the mind.
The labyrinth is vast, some of it explored and a little piece of that is open for public. Still that little piece is one and half KMs. It is lit and the light gives it a charm. Take enough water and be prepared to sweat profusely if you are planning a visit. It makes you wonder at the paradox of nature. The beautiful patterns are result of a unruly river with chaotic eddies. The neat column is made by whimsical evaporation and unpredictable deposits. The tour starts with rocks that look like lions head. There are formations of banyan tree, shivaling, even musical pillars. We find familiar patterns created by fluid waters flowing to some random rhythm. An impurity here would have shaped the formation in thousand years, a dislodged stone would have directed the eddies to give a perfect circular pattern. Order emerging for chaos over time. Small grain of sand defining an entire structure. And yes what place for a photographer. Lights, shadows, moods. There are three holes in the ground and one of them is the main entrance. Rest of the maze is covered. So the air here is laden and humid. There are spots where air from the surface is pumped. These form the air “oasis” and we all flocked to it like thirsty travelers.
As pretty and mystical the caves were, we actually felt glad when we came out. The normal light and air is good. Since we all riders travel with the bags strapped to the bikes, few from the group stay back to guard them. So when we came back they went in to the caves and had their share of experiences. We lazed around, had some junk food and drinks and pulled each other’s legs. Explored the pumps that gave a breath of fresh air to us below. After the group came back, we posed with the Buddha for the last time and set out for Nandyala.
It was dark by the time we checked in. Post dinner there was session of meet and greet. It was fun to know the folks and hear their thoughts. Another long day done, more bonds were formed. I was marveling on the power of water. One that came from the skies riding the comets. Seems so clam in a lake, can wreak havoc in a storm and can create master piece in duet with time. It teaches that relentless efforts will erode rocks, make gorges, create spaces. Never at rest, forever recycles. As these thoughts flirted with the mind, body drifted to sleep.