Archive for the ‘Bangalore treks’ Category

Weekend trip from Bangalore: Sawandurga

October 8, 2012

Sawandurga as seen from ~10 kms away.

We met after a long time accidentally at the cafeteria. Over coffee we exchanged pleasantries and soon discovered that we were free on 2nd October.  Back in the grad school days we had done a number of treks together so we decided we would relive those days by going on a one day trek. We would start early and be back by evening. There are a number of trekking places near Bangalore but we quickly narrowed down to Sawandurga. It is 60 Km from Bangalore and we had been there 10-12 years ago. I couldn’t remember the details but I discovered that he had almost a photographic memory-he remembers that 11 of us had been there and also the names!

We thought we would take the bus like we had years ago. We had taken the bus from Majestic but his memory said that it was from K.R. market.  A little Google search revealed that bus no. 241 M shuttled from K.R. Market to Sawandurga. But there was no information about the timings or frequency. So, I suggested that we drive on my motorbyke instead. He remembered the route: go to Magadi and then take the diversion to Sawandurga. He even knew how we would go to Magadi: go to Malleshwaram take the diversion at 17th Cross to Rajajinagar-West of Chord Road and the right right turn to Magadi road.  That was good enough for me, after all I knew how to go to Malleshwaram. I lived there once!

Soon after Magadi town when we got off the main road we saw this sign board. This was the first board mentioning Sawandurga.

We started at 6:45 a.m. on the Hero Honda Passion. We stopped at Adigas fast food restaurant on Magadi Road and had Breakfast (Idlis and Coffee) . On the way, soon after we put the city behind, when the road went up hill we saw a mountain in the not so distant far. Could that be Sawandurga ? We thought we will check it on the way back from mountain. This we did by driving a little and looking back to spot the mountain. We traced it for a little while but the shape of the mountain changed the farther we drove and soon we were not sure if we were looking at the same mountain. So, that remains a mystery.

After we crossed Magadi town we kept an eye for the direction board. Soon enough we came at a T junction flanked on each side by tea stalls and people.  We asked if  it was the right turn to Sawandurga. Yes it was. I noticed just then hidden behind foliage and people smoking, Sawandurga, written in Kannada, on a wall with an arrow pointing towards the road.  We took the turn and a few yards ahead we crossed the direction board that we were hoping to see. I thought it would be good to take a picture and that is the one shown here.

A few kilometers along this road and then a left turn and few more kilometers on a bad road: not tarred and full of potholes , and we

The Narasimha Temple at the base of the hill.

were in Sawandurga. They say it’s the largest monolith in Asia. It does look gigantic but largest in Asia? I doubt that. At the base there is a Narasimha temple, a couple of shops and vendors selling flowers, fruits, coconuts etc. for ritualistic worship. We did not see any bykes parked around – 9 a.m. is probably a bit early to expect bikers. With no parking place per se we asked a shopkeeper if we could keep the byke by her shop and if she could keep the helmet with her until we were back. She agreed. I bought the mango drink, Slice and we started the trek.

The fort wall seen at the top of the picture.

There is no direction indicating the way to the hill so we just went along a narrow path way that went towards the hill. A family with kids was already on the way up. Sawandurga is a durga (fort) and this is indicated by ruins of the fort wall here and there around the hill.  There is also a shelter intact on the hill. Typically, the families with  kids go up to the fort wall that can be seen on one side of the hill. There are no steps and the rock is steep and in some patches slippery because of rain water streamlets (as in the picture). If one avoids the watery parts the rock has  just right amount roughness to give a good grip for any one to walk up! Some women even walked up in daily use sandals! A sports sandal is more than enough to give a grip.

Shelter on way up the mountain.

My friend trying the steeper route

The other face of the hill is steeper, nearly 60 degrees incline, and is strictly for those who have some experience and confidence. I climbed that way ten years ago but was not sure now. I took the easier route and went up to the fort wall.  There i waited for my friend join me. He tried the steeper route for a while and then changed his mind.  After the fort wall there are arrows marked along the rock indicating the easier way up hill.  That was really helpful. At times one is tempted to go up a seemingly shorter way only to find that it ends up in a dead end. There are valleys in the rock (a U shape rock) that cannot be noticed from afar. As in life here too there are no short cuts! My suggestion, if you are a casual trekker follow the arrows. The arrows follow a relatively flat terrain and then comes the real climb. This steep enough to scare but doable. Grooves just about enough to rest a shoe are carved in to the rock towards the top end where it is steeper.  Once we reach this end its an easy walk up hill. We walked on the fort wall that was nearly flattened to the level of the rock. Soon we came across the shelter that must have been used for storage or possibly horses in the olden days.  A little further we spotted the peak of the hill marked by a whitish construction.

The whitish construction at the top is the final destination

We had to go a climb down a little through caves formed by boulders resting head to head. Trees and shrubs grew around this area and made it a cool place. Everywhere else it was mostly rock until now. On a sunny day it would be hell to climb up Sawandurga. On a rainy day impossible.  But today we were lucky; it was an unusually forgiving weather. We took a few pictures and moved on to the peak. At the peak we found the whitish construction to be a open mini-temple for the Bull, Nandi, equipped with a temple bell. The bell had large crack in it but that had not dampened the sound. Worshiper’s had literally tried to feed the Nandi with what appeared to be mashed Banana colored by vermilion that is applied as a custom.  A village boy had followed along behind us with a box full of juice packs. Yes, the village lads are good at trekking but this kid  had come up the mountain only to sell juice! I helped myself with a couple of mango drinks and then requested him to take our picture. He obliged. We then rested lying down on the

A mini-temple for the Bull, Nandi at the peak.

rock. Before leaving i fulfilled one of my desires:  shout at the top of my voice. I shouted, screamed at the top of my voice and waited for the resound from the valley.  With each shout i shouted louder until it hurt.  I felt i could shout louder but didn’t. I had seen in one of the Hindi movies and also read somewhere that shouting at the top of one’s voice is stress relieving.  Did i feel relived? No. I was not stressed in the first place but i was glad that i did it.  A couple of groups had joined us at the top by now; one of them with Karnataka flag. And we saw more groups coming up on the way down. As we neared the base my friend failed to notice a watery patch and slipped. He fell but

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the temple courtyard! It was a coincidence of sorts because it was Gandhi Jayanti today.

quickly recovered his balance with only a scratch on his palm. At the base we found it was now crowded, there were lots of bikes, two buses and more vendors. We had tender coconut and started on our way back to Bangalore at 1:30 p.m. One and half hours later we were in Adiga’s restaurant having late lunch.

Weekend trip from Bangalore-Shivaganga

January 17, 2011

My former lab mate and friend had come to Bangalore for the Christmas vacation along with his wife. His schedule was packed with functions and meeting relatives both on his and his wife’s side.  He had a day to spare.  I decided to spend it on a day trek.   I had been to Shivaganga a couple of times before and had liked it.  Its ideal for a day trek.

We drove to Yeshwanthpur and parked the byke in IISc campus.  I had planned to take a bus towards Tumkur at Yeshwanthpur bus stand.  But we found that a multistory building in a semi-finished state stood  in the place where Yeshwathpur bus stand stood.  The buses to Yeshwanthpur now park along the road! A city-bus conductor asked us to go across the road and wait for a bus to Tumkur.  When we crossed the road another bus-conductor told us that the chance of getting the bus would be higher if went down the road to the Govardhan Theater stop. We walked along the flyover to this stop and found two private buses.  We were tempted to sit in the bus which had the engine running. However, the bus moved only after 30 minutes when most of the seats were occupied.

The journey to Dabbaspete lasted more than an hour. The bus stopped at any number of places in between.  Dabbaspete is a small town.  Everything around the main road is unbelievably dusty.  The road on the left of the main road goes to Shivaganga and on the right goes to Devarayanadurga.  Around the cross-roads there are a few stalls selling fruits, vegetables, some bakery items, tea, etc). We bought bananas, cucumber and i forgot what else but enough to fill our stomachs for lunch. I had  carried some biscuits, glucose and water from Bangalore.

We took an auto (50 Rs) from Dabbaspete to the hill which is Shivaganga.  A village is located at the foot hill. It has the look of an agraharam with an entrance and houses lined on both sides of the road.  Since it is a devasthana there are stalls selling fruits and other essentials needed for the ritual worship.  Pepsi and Cola drinks are also available as are all brands of biscuits and snacks. Many consider the entire hill to be a holy place so they leave the chappals behind and climb it bare foot.  Its not too tough though at least until the devasthana.  There are steps to the top of the mountain.  The devasthana is halfway up.  A little farther from here is a cave.  Inside the cave there is a hole in the rock below with an opening through which a moderately sized hand can go.  It is believed that if put your hand in the hole and can touch water within then you are the lucky one.  Many collect the water in their palms and drink as teertham. The last time i did that i caught throat infection!

The steps to the top of the mountain are from behind the temple. The steps become steeper near the top  Fortunately, there is a steel bar all along the steps to hold on to.  The panoramic view of the village and the road in the distant far from here is nice and keeps getting better.  There is greenery and many hills all around made up of boulders or rock. We took another 45 minutes to reach the top.  There is a small Shiva temple here.  There are many monkeys. They are fearless and rob anyone walking along with an eatable.  There are two view points. Both of them are rocks that precariously extend beyond the edge.  One is the Shantala point which is  a little away from the temple.  It is believed that a Jain princess committed suicide by jumping from this point. The other one is nearby and one can sit here almost near the edge. There is a steel fence though not protective at both the points.  Both give excellent views of the landscape.

Dabaspete or Dobbspet or Dobbasapete is ~50 kms on Bangalore-Tumkur road.  Shivaganga is ~5 kms from Dabaspete.  The trek duration is about 3 hours.

Coincidentally, i came across this article today in the newspaper that  gives briefly the historical background of Shivaganga.  Apparently a fort was also built around the hill.  This is also apparent from the ruins of the fort wall here and there on the way up the mountain.  The information that wow’d me was that there is a (or is believed to be) underground passage from the Gangadheeshwara temple to Basavanagudi in Bangalore!!!

here is another site about trek to Shivaganga.

Antaragange

January 5, 2011

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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