Friday, December 5

Rapelling, a dare devil adventure

Are you an adventure freak? Does heights and climbing Excite you? Have you ever imagined yourself sliding of a cliff smoothly? Ever thought of what would be fastest way to get off from a hill without hurting yourself? Did you ever dream of conquering the rocks?  Do you want to unleash the dare devil in you?

Well, here is an exciting and simple answer to all of these questions; which is Rappelling. Yes, rappelling also called as Abseiling, Deepelling, rap jumping  is a way of descending from top of hill/cliff in a controlled manner by use of rope.  It is one of the essential skills of any climber. This technique is used when hill or slope is very steep and is dangerous to descend without protection. The difficulties involved in descending, steepness of rocks, need for unwavering strong will and mighty heart makes this rappelling a dare devil adventure.

Usually rappelling is done by use of specialized ropes, keeping your face up and back towards the ground. This technique is used by rescue teams to save the victims who are trapped and injured. I had the opportunity to do rappelling down a steep hill few years back in Makalidurga, Karnataka. I had done it under the supervision of professional trainers from adventure club, Nature Admire. It was an exhilarating experience.

Rappelling in Makalidurga

Recently I had chance to do Abseiling also called as Australian rappelling descending from the height of about 130 ft. Austarlian rappelling is slightly different compared to normal rappelling. Unlike in rappelling, the face of the person is pointed down facing the ground and the back towards sky in Australian rappelling, slowly descending the rope in standing position.  Australian rappelling is used as a military assault technique, whereby a soldier is belayed, allowing them to face down the descent and fire a weapon.

Compared to rappelling, Austarlian rappelling seems much scary and thrilling, because you would be witnessing the whole steepness as you descend. I had done this as part of adventure activities organized by meetup group and adventure club GHAC .
Australian rappeling

Performing rappelling on your own needs lot of experience, and in depth understanding of ropes, knots, clips, cleats etc. Never venture in such activities alone. It is safe to do this along with professionals and as a group.

There are many adventure clubs in India and many suitable places in and around Pune, Rishikesh, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Choose your group or club with your discretion, start venturing out and fulfil your adrenaline rush.

Tuesday, December 2

Bhavani island - perfect weekend getaway

A naturally formed island amidst the vast, serene, pristine waters of river Krishna, Bhavani Island is a perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Spread over an area of about 130 acres, this island is poised with lush green trees, beautifully crafted gardens, and elegant meadows.  It is a place to relax, rejuvenate yourself, and laze-out dancing to the tune of the lively breeze from river.

Located in the heart of the city Vijayawada (new capital of Andhra Pradesh state), Bhavani Island is supposedly one of the largest river island. It is very near to the hill Indrakeeladri, abode of goddess KanakaDurga also known as Bhavani, hence this place is named as Bhavani Island.
View from Bhavani island

What to expect

It is a famous picnic spot for the people over the weekend. It has ferry rides, beautiful park which offers many activities to children as well as adults.

Ferry rides:  

Sitting in a boat watching rhythmically swaying tiny waves, enjoying the cool breeze from the river, witnessing the splendorous hills challenging the bounds of the river and gigantic Praksam barrage is an experience which is one of its kind. Ferry rides are free for people staying in the resorts in the island.  Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation(APTDC) has different packages for these boat rides.

Adventure zone: 

The park inside the island promises few adventures. It has Tarzan swings, Climbing wall made out of rope, river crossing.  This place is one of the best place for corporate outings and team building activities.

Festive season:

Festivals are celebrated with equal enthusiasm, passion by adults and youngsters in Bhavani island. People fulfil their religious sentiments by gathering here and having fun at the same time. It is more lively and colourful during Dussera, Diwali and Sankranthi; most celebrated Hindu festivals.

Kanaka Durga temple: 

The island is in the proximity of the sacred Kanaka durga temple, famous religious temple on top of hill which is supposedly the residence of goddess Durga mata. Devotees across the country Visit the temple throughout the year to pray and pay their respects to the goddess. Dussera, which usually falls in the Month of October is the time when lot of activity goes on here.  The procession of goddess in Hamsa vahanam(Boat decorated with lighting, flowers and carved in the shape of swan) on the sacred Krishna river is a must watch during this season.

How to reach:

Bhavani Island is very near to the Vijayawada city, and is in the close proximity of about 3 kms. Vijayawada is very well connected by trains, buses to all major cities of India , namely Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai etc.  APTDC has several packages and organizes regular trips from Vijayawada city to this island.

Day trips:
Regular boat trips to the island from Vijayawada city, they take you the island and leave you to wander around in the island, you can  return back anytime in the day  in the number of boats which operate to and from the island.

Boarding packages:
Haritha resort, maintained by APTDC has different packages which offer accommodation, food and boat trips around the island.

Accommodation and food:

Haritha resort which is inside the island under the governance of APTDC  has several AC and Non AC duplex cottages which offer beautiful view of the Krishna river, unique tree top cottages surrounded by greenery.  It has couple of restaurants, which offers good food but lacks in variety.

Since this resort and  is maintained by the government, the packages are economical and service is not of top notch.
Tree top cottages in Bhavani Island

Best time to visit

From August to Feb. Winter season is best enjoyable here with its pleasant weather and picturesque views.

Final verdict:

It’s a great place ignored by the officials till now. It has potential to become an excellent tourist place,  but definitely needs a better maintenance and effort from the government. It is an ideal place for one day outing.

With the latest happenings of bifurcation of the state , AP government has many interesting plans for this island to make it one of the most desired tourist destination in India. Below are the activities which are in pipeline.

Shilparamam, the arts and crafts village –  For showcasing  the the world famous Kondapally toys made by the toy-makers of Kondapally village near Vijayawada. Also  many exquisite weaves done with great skill by local artisans in areas surrounding Vijayawada.

Amphitheatre and shops for artisans to sell their products are also in the pipeline.

A rural museum – Illustrating the cultural grandeur with sculptures, life-size images depicting day-to-day activities of rural artisans  and their skills is sure to attract visitors.

More adventures: water-roller that allows fun-lovers to walk, float and roll on water in a 12-feet-long cylindrical PVC structure.