On the new year day we went on a day trek to Antaragange.  Antargange is a temple on a  hill.  Its about 5 kms from Kolar. Initially we thought of going by motorbykes and someone even came up with the idea of going by car. But there were more people than motorbykes could take and the one who had the car dropped out.  So we decided to take the bus.  We took the bus at ~9 am and reached Kolar by 11:15 a.m.  Though Kolar is only ~70 kms  from Bangalore traffic within the city made the journey longer.  We had not carried food froom Bangalore so the first thing we did at Kolar was to search for a restaurant.  As we walked out of the bus stand we didn’t find any neat looking or eye catching restaurants.  We had dosas in a shabby restaurant (Darshini) near the bus-stand.

Before starting towards antaragange we packed cucumbers, oranges and banana’s.  There were several rickshaws lined up on the road next to the compound wall of the bus stand.  We picked one and asked him to take us to antaragange.  He took us to the entrance to antargange temple which is a little up the hill.  Rs 40 for fours of us.

Entrance gate to Antaragange

We knew that it was  pilgrimage stop for the localites but were surprised to find a large number of college going students.  The temple is a 100-200 steps from the entrance gate.  The temple is nearly half way up the hill. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There is a pond to the right of the temple. A narrow pathway connects the periphery of the pond to the Ganesha temple (which is more like a small enclosure) at the center of the pond.  Nandi (Bull) is seated on a raised platform between the pond and the main temple.  There is a water outlet below the Nandi. We saw a number of people collecting this water.  It was not clear if water was naturally coming from the outlet or was pumped from elsewhere.  We got our feet wet in the pond and rested under the trees nearby for a while.  Two vendors had put up mobile chat stalls (pani puri and mixture) here!

The path ahead of the pond lead up hill. There were no steps but there was a path. As we walked up the number of people also reduced. It was already sunny and we had to wait a couple of times before we reached the top after ~45 minutes.  Here we had to decide whether to go higher up to a nearby hill or walk ahead to what we later discovered was a village. We had read about there being caves in (actually near) antargange  and were curious about them.  So we walked on for ~30 minutes. We passed a group of school/college kids.  Strangely, one of them rushed to me and hugged.  Happy new year, he said.   I was taken aback but wished him.

People sitting all around Nandi

Soon we found ourselves near a village; we had actually walked through what looked like ill-maintained fields. We could see the road in the distant far and even a bus.  On inquiring we discovered that this village goes by the name Paapirajanahalli. There is a dargah here. A few people directed us to the cave which was across the road. But the cave had a grilled door and was locked. The men at the door told us that the cave was closed for now and that we could instead go to caves in the hills. They pointed to the hills near the ones we had come from.  But they also warned us that it could be dangerous and that there were wild animals. (This I know from experience is a typical caution that villagers give to those who look like city goers) So we walked further along the road asking for directions. A few kids guessed that we had come looking for caves and offered to take us there.  We could see tiny specs of different colors atop the hill from the village.  These as we later discovered were a large group girl students dressed in different colors.  The kids took us along an adventurous path (a little climbing and jumping across boulders). On the way we came across Durga Kote, a fort now in ruins that was once apparently occupied by the pandavas! (as the local legend goes). Nothing remains of the fort except bits and pieces of the fort wall. After ~20 minutes of this trek we reached a plateau where the school girls had gathered.  We rested here in the shadow cast by an inclined boulder,  had oranges and then started the journey to the caves.

School girls gathering

A few meters below the plateau was a pond. There were guava trees here as were on the way up to the plateau. The kids helped themselves with unripe guava’s whenever they found one. Soon we came across a hillock which consisted of  large boulders piled on each other. The caves are basically large cavities (tunnels) that are present because of the way boulders are piled on each other.  There are many such tunnels. The kids took us through one such tunnel that they were familiar with.  Getting into the tunnels was adventurous. For the uninitiated getting into the tunnels  may be tempting but getting out in the right direction or getting out at all could pose a problem.  At times we had to crawl and twist our body to fit in.  It was very sunny and scorching hot outside but in the tunnels the air was  cold and this was a big relief for us. After about 20-25 minutes in the tunnels we came out and went down hill back to village.  The kids asked for money before we parted.  We had shared food with them on way up and also given away unused biscuit packets.  We gave them 60 rs but later i felt sorry.  They had asked for 100.

Parts of the Fort Wall

I wanted to go back the same way that we had come: walk back and down hill to antargange-auto to kolar bus stand -to bangalore. But one of us noticed a bus at Papinashanahalli.  So we ran to the bus just as it was about to leave. The bus was overflowing with people. We squeezed in as did many others on subsequent stops!  It took about 30 minutes to reach Kolar bus stand. The conductor took the money but did not give tickets! (30 rs for four of us).  Later i noticed that many of the people behind us neither paid the money nor did the conductor ask them to buy tickets.

Bus to Kolar

On reaching Kolar we had dosas in the bus-stand canteen.  This canteen turned out to be better than the restaurants in the town. Both cleanliness and quality of food was better.  There are buses almost every 10 minutes to Bangalore from Kolar. We skipped a couple of buses so that the rush subsides and then got into the bus where seats were available. We were in Bangalore by 7:30 p.m.

There are a few blogs that give useful information on antargange.  Here is one.

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