A trek to Kondana caves

After postponing it for 2-3 weeks due to work load, this Sunday me and my friend Sameer, finally managed to take some time out in our schedule and go on a trek to Kondana Caves. I have decided to do such type of treks at least once a month to refresh my mind. The visual library in the mind gets updated and it becomes really a good educational exercise too. I get to absorb new things, texture, colours and concepts. This helps me to keep my style fresh and also helps me break out of monotonous work environment where I stare at computer screen most of the time during work. I also get to collect rich reference photos and ideas for later use. It is really like recharging your battery.

The Trip

We started at 8.30 A.M in the morning and after riding for about 54 Km we reached there at 11.00 A.M. Since this is not monsoon season, there were not many tourists. We parked our scooter at the base in an open area and started to climb up. Since I am now not used to walking large distance or climbing hills, this trek exhausted me in the beginning. It was not that hard but I noticed my stamina has decreased too much. I need more treks like this to get accustomed to this type of excursion.

Starting point of the trek. Vehicles can be parked here.

Apart from my lack of stamina, the walk to the top was really calm and relaxing to ears as well as to the mind.

A dried up stream we crossed during the trek

After reaching the top, I rested for a bit and then explored the caves. These caves are man made and are built by excavating rock. These are a small glimpse of Indian Rock Cut Architecture style. These were created by Buddhists and their patrons. They are called Viharas as they used to be facilities where, Buddhist monks, travelers and traders could stay while on the move.

I was astonished to see the level of precision in the designs considering these were made around 1st century BC. The facades have details which resemble buildings made of wood. The carvings were made with exceptional detail and precision. The perfection in the symmetrical arches and design is brilliant.

The Return Trip

The return trip of this trek was equally exhilarating like the trek to the caves up the mountain. There is Ulhas river at the base of the mountain and it has small village near its banks. The calm and rustic environment was really inspiring. I had brought a sketchbook and some gouache for painting, so we sat down on a rock near the river and started to paint.

Despite being drenched in sweat from the trek and the sun not being in a mood to give us some respite, we didn’t think of anything else other than painting the scene.

Me painting the landscape
Me painting the scene sitting on the river bed , drenched in sweat 🙂. Photo by Sameer.

I need to do more of these treks and outdoor paintings it really teaches you so much things which you can’t learn while painting digitally. I can apply the tricks and knowledge that I picked up during these sessions to the digital painting and improve my style and make it more organic. I re-learned some of the colour schemes and mixing techniques in this session.

The Finished Painting
Details of the painting
I had fun painting these reflections in the water
The final painting. The paper crumpled a bit at the top, I need to buy good paper for next time.

Overall this trek was really refreshing and I look forward to the next one. I need to buy good outdoor painting equipment and materials. I would love to hear stories about your treks and outdoor painting session like these.

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