Date: April 4-5, 2009
Participants: AmendraS, ArbindK, BidhaR, BirajS, ManishD, MukeshS, NishikarS, PragyaR, RajeshS, RajuM, SabitaK, SagarA, SangitaM, ShreejanaP, SumitS, VinayaS
Hiking Route: Bandipur – Ramkot – Bandipur
Report By: NishikarS
Caption: BidhaR, BirajS, MukeshS, SangitaM, ShreejanaP
Photos: ArbindK, BidhaR, BirajS, MukeshS, RajuM, SangitaM,SumitS, VinayaS
Creative Support: Dijup Tuladhar, Pallavi Sharma
Geographic Information of Bandipur
Latitude (DMS): 27° 55′ 60 N
Longitude (DMS): 84° 25′ 0 E
Altitude: 1,030 m.
The Data department is often ridiculed for organizing the most boring hikes. So, most people felt that this was just going to be another one of those mundane and unexciting travels. But this time around the partnership of Mukesh Sah and Biraj Shakya wanted to prove everyone wrong. It was decided that the tiny yet beautiful village of Bandipur would be the right place. The decision was unanimous. The main attraction of the hike was to be Siddha Cave, the largest cave in Asia whose end it is said has not yet been discovered by any human.
But before we could set out on our journey there was still one battle to be fought – the football match between Data Demons and QA Bigfoots. The game was a tight contest. The Data Demons fought like brave warriors but eventually went down to the QC Bigfoots two goals to one. It was a moment of terrible grief for the Demons and more so for the hikers. Most of the players could be seen fighting back tears of anguish. It was doubtful whether the hike would even be successful. Was this going to be just another one of those drudging hikes, we wondered. Eventually, the Demons found solace in the wise words of Frank Zappa – “The whole universe is a joke. All things in the universe are just sub divisions of that joke. So why take anything seriously?” The mood lightened quickly and we eventually set out on our journey on a warm Saturday afternoon.
The drive to Bandipur was eventful. We encountered four different road accidents along the way one of which involved our own vehicle. A truck carelessly rammed into the left looking mirror of the our van. According to Ram dai, its cost was around fourteen thousand rupees which was hard to believe especially for Vinaya as he repeatedly asked Ram dai if he was sure of the cost. The issue was resolved after consulting with Vishnu dai. We decided to let go. This caused a delay of more than an hour. But we did not let this dampen our spirits. We sang songs and danced and played games like caged birds which had been set free. It seemed as though people were finally allowed to exhibit some abnormal behavior. It was fun. The trip usually takes around four hours. But this time it took seven hours. We reached Bandipur after sunset. It was dark. A light drizzle was falling. It turned out that the previous day strong winds and heavy rainfall had damaged the electric poles at Bandipur. So there was no lights, no mobile network and no telephone – a perfect setting for some thrill seeking hikers.
That night Mukesh came up with a sinister plan. He decided that everyone should join him in playing a game of cards. Under the belief that the spirit of the Card God was with him, he was confident of winning. He was to use the loot to buy a Chuck-Norris T-shirt. However, it wasn’t to be. At the end of the game, Mukesh could be seen literally banging his head on the wall with partner in crime, Mr. Oracle himself – Arbind comforting him. It was also the night of another important and historic event. That night, when partners Manish and Nishikar cracked jokes and fell to the ground in intoxicating laughter, the free flying spirits of Mithunda and Rajnikant entered their souls.
We woke up early the next morning. Everyone was pumped up and ready for the greatest hike of all time. It was to be a double treat – first to the village of Ramkot and then a shorter yet more difficult walk to Siddha Cave. But before that we decided to kick off the hike by visting the Tundikhel at Bandipur. The main attraction at Tundikhel was the clouds that floated above the hills like an ocean of white cotton. We marveled at the scenery. The pale orange rays of the rising sun above these clouds made it look even more heavenly. In fact, Amendra was so moved by the atmosphere that he decided to do a blind bungy jump on the clouds themselves. However, he later decided to back off as the move was considered by many to be too suicidal.
The hike to Ramkot was not really that interesting. People just walked and cracked jokes. The highlight was Mukesh falling to the ground in intoxicating laughter under the influence of Arbind Kr. Karna classics. Another highlight was Manish throwing away a bottle of pure mineral water just for the heck of it. It was just really right wing, normal kind of fun.
It is weird how the best moments in life come at the time when you least expect it. This time around it was the walk to Siddha Cave. We expected it to be a short thirty minutes hike but we were wrong. Instead, it was an incredibly steep climb from the highway to the top of a cliff where the cave was located and that too under the blazing afternoon sun. People grumbled and complained but kept walking. We simply had to see this cave. Eventually, all of us managed to get there. Siddha Cave was an amazing piece of natural architecture. It was like walking from a burning oven into an air conditioned room. With torch lights and a guide with us we decided to explore the cave. People were quite scared at first. “May be we should return”, some said. But then we decided to continue. Once we entered the cave, it felt like we were transported to another world. The walls of the cave seemed to be carved into weird sort of shapes. Some looked like tiger’s claws, others like
snakes and still others like cauliflowers! We were then shown a place inside the cave where a sadhu had meditated for a couple of months. Moving from the easy parts of the cave we were taken to places where it was slightly more difficult to get to. Again, some were apprehensive. “No, we shouldn’t go there”, they said. But others protested and we moved on into the haunting darkness. The cave began to smell of sulphur and some complained of feeling claustrophobic. Mukesh famously remarked, “My dear brothers and sisters. To whom do you have to show your bravery and courage? Let us return.” So he decided instead to sit there and manufacture glucose using the chemicals in the walls of the cave and drink it to increase his energy. Eventually, we decided to return from the cave when we had reached a point from which it seemed impossible to move on. The return trip began late in the afternoon. During the journey, Nishikar suggested that the hikers listen to his “psychotic song collection” but it was unanimously rejected. Finally, we arrived back at Kathmandu at around 8 PM. It definitely was the most awesome hike of all time.