05 October 2013

Photo Payana to Chickmagalur

It was a moderately overcast evening in Chickmagalur. Myself with a group of photography friends after a decent day out in and around the "Nature Nirvana" home-stay decided to trek to the sunset view point which was within the estate of the home-stay. Their was a big question mark whether we will get a decent view of the setting sun and as expected, we hardly could spot the sun along the horizon. But moments after the sun went below the horizon, the magical orange light was painted around the horizon with patches of black clouds creating a memorable scene which we will be cherishing for many years.

Sunset from the view point at Nature Nirvana
After sufficient brainstorming among member executive team, we tagged the photo-tour initiative from Photographic Society of Bangalore(PSB) as "PhotoPayana" ! Our first payana was planned to Gandikota and Belum Caves but unfortunately due to political uncertainties in Andhra we had to change the plans and opt for Plan-B i.e. Mullayangiri,  Belur and Halebidu(Halebeedu). Kudos to Narayanan(NV) for seamlessly executing the payana in spite of several hiccups. 

After starting from Bangalore around midnight on Friday, our vehicle Tempo Traveller zipped through recently completed NH-48 stretch from Nelamangala to Hassan. And within no time we were in Chickmagalur to pick-up Mr. Kutty who was our caretaker/guide at the Nature Nirvana Homestay. Enroute to the homestay we stopped at a viewpoint next Kavikalgandi checkpoint. The sun had just popped out from the horizon and there was an interesting play for light along the mountain ranges. We couldn't resist ourselves in photographing the surrounding landscape in golden hours. Mr. Kutty and our driver had expected the halt to be around 5-10 minutes but we ended up spending more than 45 minutes at the same place which is quite normal for a gang of photography enthusiasts.

Landscape towards Chickmagalur  (from Kavikalgandi)

Landscape towards Kemmangundi ( from Kavikalgandi)
After the shoot out at Kavikalgandi viewpoint we moved on towards the Nature Nirvana home-stay. The approach roads to the homestay was muddy as per the reviews in TripAdvisor, but actually the ride was surprisingly comfortable and in napping mode a few of us didn't even realize that we had reached the home-stay.

Waterfall at Nature Nirvana
After morning tea and delicious breakfast we started the photography at the home-stay by shooting the mini-waterfall inside Nature Nirvana estate. We captured the falls from every possible angle in all kinds of modes. Here also we spent 20x amount of time in comparison to a typical group !

Capturing long exposure shot of the stream
Next in the proceedings was the stream and the artificial lake. The lake was mainly meant for boating but was not pleasing photography wise. However, we spent sufficient some time in capturing long exposure shot of the stream and in a few moments we were inside the stream relaxing in clean and chilled water :)

The evening passed on with the visit to sunset point and descending from the sunset point in pitch dark condition was another experience. The tiredness of evening activities was annulled with delicious pakodas and bajjis served by Kutti & co.

On day-2 morning, we checked-out very early from the home-stay hoping to  get a glimpse of sunrise from the Mullayangiri peak which is highest peak in Karnataka and 16th highest among peaks in western ghats. But by the time we reached the summit it was completely covered with mist but for a change we captured the place in different conditions when we were breathing the clouds !

Unique lighting at Mullayangiri
Next in the agenda was the visit to Belur and Halebidu(Halebeedu). It was a deja vu moment as the visit to the same place a few years back had generated interest in me for temple architecture and its photography. We started off by visiting Chennakeshava temple at Belur. By the time we reached the lighting was already harsh. We explored the temple first with help of an official guide and later we captured the temple in detail by moving on our own. A few ASI officials seeing big lenses among our members got excited and started asking lot of questions. They were in doubt whether people really spend so much money on hobbies !

Chennakeshava Temple, Belur
After a lunch session at Mayura Hotel in Belur, we moved on to Hoyasaleshwara Temple in Halebidu. Unlike Belur we were at Halebidu(Halebeedu) at the right lighting conditions. We managed to explore the temple on our own with the gyan which we had obtained from the guide at Belur temple. The depiction of Hiranyanakashyap's assassination and Chakravuhya episode from Mahabharata were major highlights of the things which we noticed and captured in detail.

Assassination of Hiranyakashipu

Depiction of Mahabharata's Chakravuhya Episode

To conclude, it was a memorable weekend trip or rather payana organized by Photographic Society of Bangalore(PSB)! It's always amusing to travel back to same location with different people, in different times and under different conditions.

Posts about my previous visits to same places