Sunday, November 24, 2013

Enchanting train journey along Sakaleshpura-Subramanya tracks with heavy monsoon rains through tunnels and streams!

19 July 2013,

Let me write in reverse way and dispose off the feelings I felt in western ghats first and then get back to preparation.

Yes I made it :-). As planned, finally I sailed into the ghats along beautiful western ghats with monsoon rains and through tunnels. OMG, what an experience which I can never forget in my lifetime. You get to see dripping water along every curves. The streams, tunnels, water falling from tunnels, the water falls, the landscape is simply mesmerizing. I forgot my lunch too in middle of this beautiful experience. It was raining heavily at some places while drizzling at some. At times we and train had natural wash from the water dropping atop the tunnels.My camera as well as me got drenched but still both of them were not down ;-). Especially my camera withstood heavy monsoon rains. Of-course, I used to wipe lens frequently to grab proper video! People were screaming with joy everytime the train cruised through tunnels and streams. My 32GB SD card was full as train neared Subramanya Railway station.

As said in my previous write-up, commuting to Bangalore is not good option. Hence I decided to commute from Bangalore. This time many people in train were excited about the ghat journey. I could predict it far early [sixth sense ;-)] and hence grabbed foot-board at Hassan itself :D. The journey from Hassan to Sakaleshpur was also wonderful with lush green paddy fields. The scenes of birds trying to hunt fishes from fields with farmer ploughing farm land was ecstatic. The delight increased as we entered Ballupet where actual Malnad region starts. It was raining a bit while the ghats and coffee estates were heaven to watch.

The train reached Sakaleshpur around 1:30PM on time. The Hemavathy river was flowing with full vigor. What a sight to watch 8-). It started raining heavily when train departed from Sakaleshpur station. All along the journey we were enjoying beautiful western ghats, streams and tunnel. It is eye-catching to see the beautiful rain forests during monsoon season. At many places we could even see clouds kissing the hillocks and deep valleys. The  curving of train all along bridges was simply breath taking with streams beneath. I was capturing every moment and as said earlier my camera was fully co-operative with no glitches in between ;-). I am really thankful to it which withstood continuous rains, fog and wind. At times, train stops in middle to check for any landslip. The sections where frequent landslip occur had inspectors who provide green signal once the things are clear by whistling. This time battery drained in between ghat section, however I did not make mistake of not having additional battery. I had charged both battery fully and started using camera only after Hassan :).

It was around 4PM when train reached Subramanya Road station. Again we were greeted by heavy monsoon rain. The scene thereafter was also truly amazing especially the majestic Netravati river basin at Bantwal. We were again greeted by heavy rain at Mangalore!

I reached around 8PM to Udupi where my father was waiting to pick me up. I drove till my village with so many memories. As I reached village, the heavy monsoon showers greeted me again :-). I convinced my parents to at-least travel till Sakaleshpur during July monsoon season to enjoy the scenic western ghats.

The day, I started around 3:30AM in morning and reached my village around 8:30PM at night. Some people questioned the necessity of wasting entire day. However I believe there are somethings in your life you do without expecting any returns and that is your happiness. This was also for pure happiness. Moreover, the journey from Hassan to Mangalore is worth the day long journey. The ghat journey relieved lot of anxiety and stress from me. We were completely lost in this wilderness and gorgeous rain forests. I wish to travel again and every year along this route during July monsoon season :-). Anyone wants to join for next year's journey, self sponsored though ;-). We can also have journey from Mangalore to Goa alongside ;-).

Finally the train journey video is here :-). Took a bit time to sort and edit :D. It has been 4 months since I traveled but delayed composition mainly due to slackness of hardware [including me ;-)]. Later I had to self-motivate and everything was ready in 2 weeks ;-). Enjoy the magnificent train journey through rain forests, viaducts, tunnels, streams and get drenched in heavy monsoon rains ;-). Enjoy the wilderness with blanket of thick monsoon clouds.

Altogether it was around 90 minutes of footage but trimmed it to 24mins. 90 minutes would have been short movie ;-) and now it is short film :-). The video editor is same as usual. Had easy going editing videos. Since all parts of the video contained lush green western ghats, it was easy to edit bumping up the green color balance. Also kit lenses exhibit too much chromatic aberration and I thought it would be difficult to get rid of all of them totally. After few evaluation, most of the frames had no blue appearance. Tearing down blue color balance had vanished all chromatic aberration :-). Had to increase saturation in some clips and decrease brightness in some. Also increased contrast for some clips. If you know much better video editing tips, please leave a comment below! Eventually, it took whopping 8hours to render 1080p, 30fps clips with all edits and 2 pass encoding to satisfy YouTube video upload criteria. If you do not follow rules of YT, the YT butchers the video heavily to spoil your creativity! The final size turned out to be 1.3GB. 

Some tips from my side:

Whatever I mentioned in my old blog still holds good except for the following ones ;-)

Monsoon season, it is difficult to decide which foot-board to grab. While moving towards Subramanya from Sakaleshpur, left side has myriad of waterfalls diving on you while right side has many water springs originated out of the waterfalls and hillocks. If you have two people and two camera, shoot from either side ;-). Also beware of water entering inside camera. Have protective cover before hand since heavy rains are definite. I did not possess any protective cover and camera under rain was imminent. The water source easily shorts circuit board inside while camera is powered on.

Having sufficient food is must if you do not wish to enjoy the scenery of gorgeous western ghats under heavy rains ;-)

What mistake did I make this time :D

Everytime I execute something, some or other mistakes pop-up :D. This time it was no different ;-). I unknowingly inserted ear-phone into microphone jack of DSLR. Alas! audio fully down :D. Thats the dumbest thing I did ;-). At the time I was writing this blog, I could not stop LOL :D and bit disappointed too! I lately realized the stupid thing I executed :-(. But audacity to rescue :-). After increasing gain of audio in audacity and removing noise, my video is back :-). There is still some problems but manageable ;-). A lesson learnt for one more time to read user's manual properly when you buy something big ;-) 

Altogether this journey was fun while traveling and editing too :D

Apart from this, there are some more great train journeys to cherish during Monsoon season. I am not sure when will it materialize but I have plans.

1) Mangalore-Roha along konkan belt. I have traveled in this route but not recently
2) Train journey along Briganza ghats (where we can catch up Dudhsaagar falls)

Here are two more clips shot along train itinerary. First one is the clip from Netravati River basin of Bantwal and other is of heavy rain at Mangalore.

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