09-Jul-2011 -- We were planning to visit this confluence point for quite some time now. The place seemed reasonably accessible and would make a perfect start to our contribution to the project. We aim to cover all the remaining points in India in the coming years hopefully before anyone else covers them!
We started our journey from the Karnataka’s capital city of Bangalore(Bengaluru, as now it’s called). We took a city bus to reach the main bus terminal, to catch the overnight bus to the city of Bijapur. The city is most famous for it’s architecture, mainly the Gol Gumbaz, which is the second largest dome in the world, after St Peter's Basilica in Rome. (We visited the Gol Gumbaz as well, on our way back. ) We reached early morning the next day, and had a quick breakfast.
17N,76E lies near a sleepy, miniscule village of Tamba, around 42km from the city of Bijapur. We had to catch a rickety state bus which passes by this village, and hope that we get down at the right stop. The 42 km bus journey took us around one and a half hour, as the roads were not in the best of condition.
We were equipped with 2 GPS units. One was a Geonaute wrist GPS and other was my android GPS on my phone. Amazingly, the GPS on android showed an accuracy of 2m at the confluence point! (refer to the attached photos).
On our way, apart from the expected glares of suspicion from the locals, we faced a lot of questions as to what we are doing there. Answering to the land owners was more difficult. We would generally tell them that we are from the newspapers, and taking photographs of the farming techniques in their area.
Farms in this region grow cash crops like cotton, tobacco and other crops like Ragi, sugarcane. Most farmers were very eager to tell us all about their farms, hoping to get their name published in the paper. Maybe they had some issues with some agricultural policy which they wanted to bring to our notice. They were disappointed when we would tell them we are not from the local newspaper, but from a National newspaper, that too an English one.
We finally reached the spot after 1 hour of going through various farmlands. We met the owner and told him we would need about half an hour to take photographs of his farm.
The place was serene and beautiful, as what you might expect from any rural Indian location, and made a perfect location for us to have our lunch. We made it a point to sit around the exact 17N,76E point before we break bread, as it represented a mission successfully completed. Soon enough, the landlord made it clear to us that he was not comfortable with our little picnic and asked us to leave if our work was done. We asked for directions to go back to the nearest bus stop and left.
We also passed by a village primary school, which was buzzing with the mid day activities. Some children were playing the ubiquitous Indian sport – Cricket. Some were playing the more traditional one – Kabbadi. It was amazing to interact with these children. It was quite obvious they were enjoying the presence of ‘Tourists’ and were eager to show us their whole village. Majority of India still lives in the villages, and as a city dweller, one forgets this part of the country even exists.
We took a ‘shared taxi’ back to the city of Bijapur. As we were the first ones to sit in the car, we had to wait a long time for more passengers to populate the car so that the trip is profitable for the driver. I dozed off in the car, and woke up to realize how serious this guy was about making money from this journey: There was a guy sitting on the Bonnet(Hood), occupying half the windshield. I turned back and saw a guy hanging from the back. When the car stopped next, two guys got off from the roof.
We reached Bijapur and spent the remaining day exploring the city. We didn’t let go of an opportunity to travel by a tanga (horse-drawn carriage). Something of this sort is almost impossible to find in a city.
We took an overnight bus back to Bangalore and arrived early morning next day. 17N, 76E done, and hopefully more will follow in the near future. Obviously, this journey and experience would not have been possible had there not been a reason (even though artificial) to go to this particular location, in the wilderness of rural India. I guess this justifies the concept of the confluence project – to visit and experience places you otherwise would have no reason to visit.