Saturday, May 30, 2009

A place above the clouds....

If you are a nature lover looking for an adventure and have the will to endure, then trekking is the activity for you. It is an activity embarked on foot for a long duration hand in hand with nature. And yes, unusal things happen in your life when you least expect it.
This trip was planned suddenly at work, when i was glued to my computer and "Toodle"... a mail pops in. That was my collegue who mailed us the details and the schedule for the trip. The moment i read the mail I shot it back at him with a confirmation that i was coming along.

Skandagiri, was the destination. I had never been there, so I was blank about the route. We hired a mini bus. Unfortunately, the driver did not know the route. But, the guy who organised this trip had researched online and took some print-outs about the place and the route to take, that helped us.

Saturday, 1:05 AM : A team of 15, boraded the bus. And we all were very excited about the trip. Started our journey to this place above the clouds.

Saturday, 2:30 AM: Pitstop 1 - Stopped at a known diner to pick some munchies for the journey.
Saturday, 3:30 AM: Reached Muddenhalli - Birth place of Sir. M.Vishwesharaiah. And, yes we were lost. We are supposed to find an idol of Sir. M.Vishwesharaiah which we either missed due to darkness or we took a wrong turn. We reached a dead end, a police station, a turn to left, a turn to right, and worried bunch of people ( Worried coz we might miss the sunrise, if we delayed more.) Finally, the police station to the rescue. They told us the route, grumpily though, coz we woke the constable up.
Saturday, 4:30 AM: We reached Skandagiri. We parked the bus there and started walking towards the mountain. We had also hired a guide. Cost : Rs 400/- It is pitch dark, so be sure to carry a good, bright torch along, if you are planning a midnight trek, to be there for the sunrise.

( Will mention the things to carry later)

On route, the stretch is very rugged and slippery due to loose gravel. We did our best for grip, and managed it. Certain stops in between to catch some breath.

Saturday, 6:45AM: WE REACHED!!!!!!!!!!!!..... a million breaks, tired collegues, parched......But the view from there, made us forget taht we even trekked so much.... Breathtaking view, amazing sunrise, very very very cold. You wont believe your fingers tend to get numb, and ears ( the outer lobe part) start to pain. You get bread-omlette, Maggi, Tea there. If you care a bit about your health, I would suggest do not eat anything, as there is no water source there apart from a small depression collecting rainwater. Obviously, very stagnent, That is the reason we suggest you to carry enough water.

The place has ruins of a small fort built during the period of Tipu Sultan, you also find an abandonned teample there. During the trek you will find certain canon areas, rocks shaped like shields. ruined fort walls.

I call this beauty, a place above the clouds, because of the beauty you find when you look aroud yourself. You will be surrounded by clouds. A carpet of clouds, with sun rising from beneath. Awesome sight. Even at noon, with sun right above your head. The place is cold.

Saturday, 9:00 AM: Started our journey back. Just before planning to leave we planned to visit Nandi hills too as it was beside Skandagiri. Climbing up was tough, getting down was tougher. Slippery surfaces posed so much difficulty, we had to keep diverting our path through the rocky surfaces for grip and stability. We at times felt we lost our way. That is because most of the journey was in dark. Return journey down hill was hot and we were sweating more than what we did while climbing. We ran short of water. Everybody were parched, partially dehydrated. Finally, by the time we reached the foot of the hill, the entire team of 15 was split into several groups. On the way to the parking lot, we found a villager selling tender coconuts. God, indeed saves us.
Saturday, 12:00 PM: Had breakfast, we found this guy selling hot idlies and tea. We started our journey to nandi hills. Now this place is hot. Even though Nandi hills is much higher than skandagiri, it is hot and humid. Guess this is what happens if a place is commercialized.

We had lunch at Hotel Mayuri. My personal suggestion is to carry your own food. After lunch, we started our journey back home. I was all the time sitting on the step near the door, coz it was breezy. I just look around, and found everyone sleeping. To my surprise.... only 3 of us were awake. Driver, a friend, and me. I pitied the girls who never trekked before.
Saturday, 6:30 PM: Home sweet home. All the pictures taken, envied by people around.
Last but not the least, as promised,

Details :
about 1350m above sea level
70 km from Bangalore
Nearest Town/Medical Help
Chikkaballapura, 5 km
Nearest Airport/ Railway station
13°25′3″N 77°40′58″E
Getting there:
There are two routes to Skandagiri:
From NH-7, turn towards Nandi Hills. At the base of Nandi Hills turn right and proceed to Kalawara village via Muddenalli (birth place of Bharath Rathna Sir. M. Vishweshariah).
From Chikkaballapura proceed directly to Kalawara village.
Follow the Bangalore International Airport , better known as Bellary Road. After crossing the BIA , you shall be on Chikkaballapura road. Follow the same road until you find a Visweswaraih statue on to your Left.
Take a left at this place and a right turn at the City Municipal Council a little further down. Later this shall directly lead to papagni Mutt, which is the basement of Skandagiri.
At Kalawara village ask for Omkara Jyoti Ashrama / Papagni Mutt(13°25′26.6″N 77°41′28″E). There is a Shiva temple near the base of the hill, where vehicles can be parked.
Nandi to Kalawara to Papagni Mutt is 6 km.
Chikaballapur to papagni Mutt is 3 km.
Most important:
Supplies: Sufficient water, Two litres per head; Good pair of shoes; Warm clothing to wear at the top of the mountain; compass; cellphone with GPRS( To access Google Maps); Snacks or light food; First Aid Kit.
I will tag more photos later.