Sunday, December 14, 2008

SiddaraBetta (aka Siddara Betta)

Having experienced the joy of looking at the world from the TOP(thanks to Savan Durga), i was looking forward towards another trek near Bangalore. So were the rest of the gang and we started looking around for places(though summer was about to peak). Rajesh again came up with the place- Siddarbetta. However this place isn't that popular and we didn't really get that much information before hand as to how to reach the place. So we had to find our way little bit. It is Sacred Place where siddaru(Holy spritual men) made meditation and worship of Lord Shiva and there is a Shiva temple at the peak.

No new characters this time. Same old gang with Datta missing.


DATE AND TIME: April 2005 7.30 am

We assembled near Vijayanagar as usual(Hotel Indraprastha became more or less our starting points for all the trips) - 6 of us - me, Srikanth, Keerthy, Rajesh, Avinash and Pavan started on 3 bikes - Enticer and 2 splendours.Rajesh had given an approximate estimate of 60-70 km on Tumkur Road(He proved to be a software engineer even before he completed BE by this rather wide off the mark distance estimate).

We took the Tumkur road which was splendid to say the least for bikes. I did touch my enticer's top speed of 105 kph on that trip. We reached the flyover before Tumkur in a short time and started enquiring this place. As expected most locals never know anything near to them(this is same everywhere). Another important confusing fact is there are apparantly 2 Siddarbettas .. one near dobhaspet and one near koratagere which we went. So at Dobhaspet we took the right turn to korategere and went along that route which wasn't great. After around 45 minutes we reached korategere and after further enquiry took a left turn to siddara betta.


Now, it was summer and it was almost 10 am when we started the trek. As it can be imagined it was hot and though the mountain wasn't as steep as Savan Durga and hardly risky, we still took more than a few breaks before we reached the peak in around hour and half.. Siddara Betta is more famous for its caves than the trekking ..So decided to go into the caves as well..

There are many guides there who charged around 250-300 for 1 hour of cave-exploring..he stated that it was impossible to explore it ourselves without getting lost ..possibly a marketing gimmick ..but nevertheless we took the guide and started the cave exploration ..

It was awesome !! there were some real low rise rocks where we had to literally crawl ..and even though sun was burning outside, within the caves it was really cool ..After an hour or so, we came out. Some guys went into the temple while we were taking some pics and then had lunch we had packed from home. Leaving immediately after that, we reached the starting point back in about an hour.

Since it was still 3 pm, while coming back we decided to go Devarayana Durga on the way back. There are motorable road till the top and there was no trekking as such. We just went on bikes till top, took few pics and started down again. There was about 5-6 km of hairpin bends and really sloped roads which was fun to ride. I totally scared srikanth sitting behind me by putting the bike in neutral while coming down(damn dangerous) and reaching speeds of upto 70 kph without even starting the bike(probably this incident prompted him to buy his own bike so that he needn't take risks with guys like me!!!)

Otherwise the trip was incident-free and we reached Bangalore by evening 7pm. Overall a nice experience which was not too tiring even in peak summer.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Time to Trek: 2.5 hours(1.5 to climb and 1 to come down)

1. From Bangalore, take the Tumkur road and keep travelling till you reach dobhaspet(you ll cross nelamangala on the way) after around 55 km.
2. At dobhaspet, take the road towards the right(SH3) that goes to koratagere(and madhugiri).
3. After 40-45 km, on reaching Koratagere , keep going on the same road towards madhugiri. After about 2-3 km, take the left to reach Siddara Betta

Distance: 110 km from Bangalore

Better to Know:
1. There is another Siddara Betta much closer on Tumkur Road(near dobhaspet itself), which the localites would confuse you about.
2. Better to take food and water..nothing much available at the top
3. To go in bus, need to take bangalore-tumkur bus and then from Tumkur take the bus going to Madhugiri or Koratagere.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SavanDurga( aka Savan Durga)

Time to move on to my first bike trip (actually considering that everyday i was traveling almost 40 km daily up-down to my college, everyday is a bike trip). This was in the beginning of 4th Sem and we decided on bike trip due to the pretty bad experience on Bus to Mekedat. Rajesh suggested Savan Durga as a nice place to trek.Savan Durga is a Monolith Rock around 1200 m high near Magadi.

New Characters:

Srikanth(aka kaams) : Highly enthusiastic trekker. Probably the person with highest stamina though he doesn't exactly look like that. Check out his blogspot for his rather drab view of same stuff:

Rajesh : With rajesh around, excitement[aka accidents mostly] is guaranteed . He ll be first to discover if there is any signal in any mountain as cell phone is his best buddy, whether we are in college or top of mountain.


Date and Time: February 2005 - 7 am

First thing as soon as we assembled at around 7 in the morning somewhere near Vijayanagar, we realized that no one brought their cams( i remembered this after scanning my harddisk and finding no pics of this particular trip only). So the pics here are all borrowed ones [;)]

6 of us - me, Keerthy, Srikanth, Avinash, Datta and Rajesh left on 3
bikes - My Enticer, Keerthy's Splendour and Datta's Nova(which he refused to let me ride even though i offered to exchange Enticer for Nova !!! ) . My bike was still fairly new and totally enjoyed the ride. We took the Magadi road which was pretty good and reached Magadi in an hour. Had breakfast there and packed some stuff for lunch too(which we later realised wasn't enough at all). In about 20 minutes from magadi, we reached the base of Savan Durga(Since the hill had a fairly famous temple, most locals knew the directions well). Parked the bikes near a temple behind which was the starting point for the ascent of the Savan Durga at around 9.30 am.

You ll be confronted with a breathtaking view at the foot of the hill itself. Fairly steep looking and high mountain. Started the climb enthusiastically. There are directions and arrow marks most of the way. Just following them would ensure that we don't get lost. There was one particular point where there was very steep portion of mountain in which some had expressed his love via painting their names and Keerthy did try to climb that portion unsuccessfully ..wonder how that guy did that overcomes height too [;)]..

Climb was real fun. It was fairly steep at places. We reached the top in little less than 2 hours. There is a small temple at the top and nice views all around. After some time we realized that we had planned on a 1-day trip and it was still not yet 12. So we set about looking around to see if we could probably reach one of the other peaks that were visible from Savan Durga. Found one that looked reachable(damn optimistic thought) and started getting down the valley between the 2 mountains. After a while, we had get down a very steep slope which we did by sliding down and reached a dead end. In the full enthu we had sliding down, we forgot that sliding up was not an option and hence had to struggle really hard to come up. Avinash as usual never listened to anyone(who asked him not to get down) and had to take multiple tries with every time he tried climbing up, he used to slide down. Eventually we came up to the temple without accomplishing our mission of trekking to neighbouring peak , had lunch and started the trek down Savan Durga.

Since Savan Durga is a fairly small climb, getting down is even easier though we need to crouch and use our hands to get down as well at couple of places. We also had a major accident while getting down though. What happened was i started running down the slope at some point and Rajesh too did the same thing. But our speed only increased and stopping was becoming very difficult. I finally stopped but Rajesh didnt. I just turned around to see Rajesh almost coming directly at me at fair speed. Me being no hero didnt even think of stopping him(We both would have went down i guess due to impact). Instead just moved a bit, let Rajesh run along his path which he did for some without stopping and reaching close to edges of the hill. Just when we thought we were going to witness major disaster, Rajesh did a brilliant move of basically falling down as that was the only way to stop his downward journey. Ended with only minor bruises and major scoldings from others.

We got down finally around 2 pm. Since we still had time we decided to take a different route while coming back. Took the road the joins the Mysore road and first went to Manchinbele dam which was ok at best and then went to Big Banyan Tree on Mysore road. Spent some time there - though we realised we were at wrong place at wrong time. It was evening and most people there were either couples or families. So left there pretty soon and reached home by 7pm.

I was overall a pleasant and adventurous experience and though i went on later to much larger treks later, Savan Durga remains one of my favourites.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Time Taken for the Trek: 3 hours ( 2 to climb and 1 to come down)


1. From Bangalore, take the Magadi road(towards Magadi). Magadi is around 60 km from Bangalore.
2. Take the left turn just before Magadi town that leads towards Ramanagaram.
3. Proceed around 10 km to reach Savan Durga

Distance: 70 km from Bangalore

Better To Know:

1. Private transport as though buses are available to Magadi - It will be difficult to reach Savan Durga from Magadi.
2. The rocks would be difficult to negotiate during rains - not much vegetation to take support while climbing/getting down.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mekedaatu(aka Mekedat)

Everything has to have a beginning - a humble one i would say and thats how the trekking trips started.
3rd Sem Engineering. Our group of under-sized guys(as you ll see in the pics) decided we need to go a trip somewhere for the weekend. Dont remember for certain, i think Pavan suggested the spot. Atleast i had not heard of that place before. Anyways we decided to go to M
ekedaatu that Sunday.

First the characters(other than me of course).

Keerthy - His yes is almost assured for any kind of trip (courtesy his rather cool parents of course) - All you have to say before any trek is that ' I read in some blog that they took 6 hours to climb' - He ll immediately plan to finish the trek in 3 hours - His speed being legendary among our group

Avinash Gupta - Might compete with all south indian heroes for his one-liners. His trekking capacities are at best left unspoken (Sorry maga).Unofficially the entertainer of the group.

Pavan(aka Boda) - Most enthusiastic about treks atleast he went to US . Spends half his free time planning on next trek(most of the places he picks are unheard by rest of us) and rest of the time playing cricket or badminton.

Dattatreya - Used
to see most of the places via his camera lens instead of his eyes till he decided that photography is best left to amateurs and not for experts like him.


Date and Time: Probably October 2004. Morning around 8 am

This being our first trip, we didnt want waste our time convincing parents to let us go in Bikes. So we assembled in Banashankari Bus Stand and took the bus to Kanakapura at around 8 in the morning. Man was it crowded !! We somehow squeezed in and waited for the crowd to reduce which never happened. In about 1.5 hours we reached Kanakapura and had our breakfast. Caught a bus
going towards Sangam which was way less crowded than earlier bus and reached Sangam around 11.30. The roads were pretty good all the way.

Now, Sangam is kind of the starting place for mekedat. All the vehicles are p
arked here and you ll have to cross the kaveri river to start trek(more of walk i would say) to mekedat. The river had fair amount of water - varying from 1 feet to 4 feet depth of water. Anyways, we crossed the river and had an early lunch - each one of us had packed so much, with everyone assuming someone else might no get it, that in the end we had to give some of the home-cooked food to dogs !!

Also, there is an option of taking a mini-bus to the top (mekedat) from the place where we crossed the river. But we decided to walk .Started the trek at 12 - it was fairly hot and we did this for about 30 minutes and we were seriously bored in our first trip. It was almost like walking on road except that it had 5 degree inclination and was mud-road. Dont know who came up with the idea but we decided to go offtrack. We just got down from the road onto the right sloped area and proceeded from here. And this was the most exciting phase of Mekedat trip ..For about hour and half we just continued on excursion crossing streams of water, small whirlpools and finally climbed back onto the road just before the summit.

Now, the summit is Mekedat(Supposed to mean Goat Crossed It). This place is actually pretty beautiful. Though however the valley between two mountains which the goat is supposed to have crossed is around 60-70 feet wide !!! We just hung about there and decided to make it to a huge rock ahead of us where there were only couple of guys. It was while climbing this fairly steep rock, that avinash asked me to help him climb up. What happened eventually was that combination of his weight and gravity resulted in me going down instead of him coming up !! Well almost our first mishap and nothing happened and we reached the top to find one guy fishing (thats what he claimed he was doing) - Remember guys he was on top of rock may be 100 feet high and fishing in the fairly fast flowing river below - Must be a damn lucky guy if he really caught fish.

One important point is that last bus from Sangam back was supposed to be 4 pm. So left around 3-3.15 and walked down -this time on road. For some reason Pavan and Datta ran almost half the way while the rest of us took easy. Reached Sangam at around 3.45 and waited for the bus. Will never forget that waiting though as it went on and on. For some reason that bus didnt come at all. There were few TTs and Cabs and we asked i dont know how many of them to drop us somewhere to some town - All of them claimed to be full - Finally one of the Vans offered to take 2 of us. So around 6.30 Pavan and Datta went in that van. Me, Keerthy and Avinash walked further towards someother nearby bus stop and waited.. again ..Some bus did eventually come and we came to Bangalore in the same route as in morning at around 10.30 in night - Made a strict resolution that we are using bikes next time and never again depend on Bus.

Also, in 2004, there was absolutely no signal of any cellphone network there - might have come up now.

So, this was our first adventure - slow start - good interval scenes but ending up in rather anti-climax

Difficulty Level: Easy

Route :

1. From Bangalore, take the Kanakapura Road and go to Kanakapura around 45 Km from Banashankari.
2. From Kanakapura, take the road leading towards Sangam around 45 km from Kanakapura
3. From Sangam, Cross the river - Either walk or take the mini-bus to Mekedat around 5 km

Total Distance: 90 Km from Bangalore to Sangam

Better To Know:

1. Better take Private transport - Bus facility is pathetic at best.
2. Cell Phone didn't work few years back.
3. There are small shops around for food and snacks - though better carry from home if anyone is concerned about quality.