Thursday, 14 May 2015

A Day Trek to Savandurga Hills

A Day Trek to Savandurga Hills en-route Manchanabele Dam

Savandurga Hills is one of the largest monolith hills in Asia that offers an unparalleled trekking experience to the adventure enthusiasts. Situated at around 1226 meter above sea level and 60 Km west of Bangalore, Savandurga hills is a great weekend getaway spot from Bangalore.

Several pilgrims pay visit to the Savandi Veerabhadreshwara Swamy and Narasimha Swamy temple situated at the foothills there. Apart from them, Savandurga hills are frequently visited by picnickers, rock climbers and adventurists who come here and get indulged into several kinds of activities. There are many Bangalore based private tourism companies that organize several adventurous activities in and around Savandurga, which are quiet cheap and easily affordable.

My visit to this wonderful place was suddenly planned on a Sunday morning along with two friends of mine, Shouvik and Subhankar. From Bangalore, Savandurga Hills can be reached either, via Magadi Road or via Mysore Road. We started at around 6 AM on Sunday from Shouvik’s place nearby HAL market in Bengaluru and took the Mysore road route. We decided to follow this route because, on this way, we will cross the Manchanabele Dam that has been made on the Arkavathi River, which passes nearby through the Thippagondanahalli reservoir. Manchanabele Dam was earlier famous for watersports activities and the landscape around the Manchanabele reservoir lake is really wonderful and photogenic.

Though the entry to the Dam and the Lake water is prohibited now due to some mishaps that happened in the recent past, but it’s still worth visiting Savandurga Hills via this route as you will get a closer glimpse of the Manchanabele reservoir lake when you travel through this route.
First view of the Manchanabele Reservoir Lake

Casual Posing! (Myself (right) & Shouvik (left))

We reached near the Manchanabele reservoir lake at around 7:10 in the morning; clicked some pictures and headed towards our final destination. On our way from the Manchanabele Dam, we crossed a state forest, where the road was blocked at one place due to a tree that got uprooted and fell on the road due to the other night storm. Somehow, we got off road and made our way to cross that blockage and went on. The road was narrow but well maintained apart from the last 3 km. Once you take a right hand diversion from the Magadi-Ramanagara road to the Savandurga road at Nayakanapalya, the road is a rough one that leads you to the foothill.
Road Blockage due to the other night storm

***There is a small restaurant at the junction in Nayakanapalya, just where you need to take the diversion. That restaurant is the best option to have your breakfast in and around Savandurga, as there are no other such hotels nearby and the only food options available are light snacks items like biscuits, cakes, tea, juices, & coconut water.

As we already knew this fact while Googling about Savandurga, so, we had a nice breakfast at this restaurant and finally reached the parking space at the foothill of Savandurga at almost 8:30 AM. We parked our vehicle there and without wasting any time, headed for the uphill trek. The parking fee was Rs. 10 per bike. We were lucky enough as it was a pleasant morning with not much heat of the Sun!
At the foothill of Savandurga

Crossing the shrubs and heading towards the Hill base (Subhankar (left) & Shouvik (right))

The trek to Savandurga Hills is not that easy and will surely make you feel a lot tired. This trek can take anywhere between one and half to two and half hours to reach the top, based on your stamina. You need to take rest at places and then carry on again with the next phase. Thus, it is always advisable to go there during early morning, when the weather is pleasant. Uphill Trekking during the Noon, under the scorching Sun will not be a good idea at all to plan for Savandurga!
Right at the base of the hill getting started for the Uphill Trek

A small, almost dried out stream on the way

Catching our breadth under a shade

Though there are some kids roaming around there, who act as guides and offers you to take you to the top in return for some money, but, you can easily try this trek without anyone’s help. All you need to do is, follow the electric poles and you will see arrow markings on the way. Just stick to those markings and don’t try anything odd, as it is quite dangerous in certain places and without your knowledge, you might get trapped.
Dangerous steep slopes on the way

At some places you can't even walk; It's better to crawl up and down there

A chameleon disguised as the marble rock

The first fort wall that we came across

Halfway victory!

Feeling the cool breeze

As we climbed up the Savandurga Hills, we came across several rocky trails with scanty vegetation and also the ruins of a fortress that was originally built by Kempe Gowda II but, later occupied by the legendary Tipu Sultan. The slope gets steeper and dangerous as you climb up. After around 2 hours, at 10:45 AM, we reached the top of Savandurga Hills, where a small Nandi Temple is situated.
Ruins of fortress at mid way

Taking some rest under the sky. Thank God, the weather was not against us!

As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people!

Slippery stretches

The last set of ruins almost at the Top

Good as drink is, it ends in thirst!

The Nandi Temple situated at Hill Top

Do not rush yourself during this trekking. Take your own time and trek in your own way, enjoying the scenic beauty and taking ample rest on the way. Once you are at the top, the breathtaking view of the surroundings will simply blow away your mind and your soul will be highly satisfied on this achievement. Spend as much time you want to spend at the hill top and start the down trek at least an hour before the sunset.
Scanty vegetation on the top

View of the midway Ruins from the Top

A closer look

Sunny patches amidst the cloudy sky!

We stayed there on the Hilltop for around an hour and then started the down-trek at around noon as the area was getting covered by dark black clouds. We wished we could have stayed back there longer amidst the breathtaking environment. But, safety first! We returned back as fast as possible, so that, we don't get stuck mid way due to rain and we were pretty successful on our venture. Unfortunately, there were many people who got stuck at the hilltop or in the middle, who took shelters under small cave type formations. It would be really a very difficult job for them to get down after the rain stops!
The Happy Soul!

It's getting dark too dark to see!

The outstanding view of the Manchanabele reservoir lake from the Savandurga Hill Top

Returning back

That cold black cloud is comin' down...Feels like I'm knockin' on Heaven's Door...!!!...

We waited at the foothill under a shed for around an hour or so until the rain stopped and then headed back to Bangalore via the Magadi-Ramanagara Rd and National Highway 4.

Overall it was an amazing day out that was highly refreshing!

Important Note:

Carry sufficient water and packed foods (especially chocolates, biscuits, cakes & other snacks) along with you as there are no options available at the hilltop and you will definitely need ample amount of water and snacks in order to support your body and stomach during the Trek.
Plan your trek in such a way so that you reach the hilltop before the Sun is too strong in order to avoid any unpleasant trekking experience. For the downhill trek, you can choose any time of the day but, make sure you start the down trek at least an hour before the sunset.
Follow the arrow marks on the hill and the electric poles that will lead you to the hilltop through a proper way. Don’t try anything unnecessary or else you might get trapped there.
Do not rush & stress yourself while going uphill. Take your own time and enjoy the view on your way. There are certain stretches where you can’t walk properly. It is better you crawl rather than walk on those stretches.
Wear shoes and other footwear that are having good grips. Avoid wearing slippers and sandals that do not have proper grip hold. If you do not have the proper footwear, then go there in naked feet.
Avoid visiting Savandurga Hills during the rainy season as it is highly dangerous and not at all advisable to trek when the slopes are wet and slippery.

If you liked the blog then like our page on Facebook

Friday, 8 May 2015

A Brief Glimpse of Nandi Hills

Nandi Hills - One of the best Sunrise view in & around Bangalore

Nandi Hills or Nandidurg is an ancient hill fortress, located at a distance of around 52 km from Hebbal Kempapura in Bengaluru, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Located at a height of 4,851 feet (1,479 meter) above sea level in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka state, Nandi Hills has been a favorite picnic spot for any kind of traveler, especially the young enthusiasts on weekends. Previously, during the Chola period, Nandi Hills was called, Ananda Giri/Hills, which means the Hills of Happiness. The present name of Nandi Hills is based on the shape of the hill, which resembles a sleeping bull.

Nandi Hills offers an amazing scenic beauty and excellent climatic condition along with fresh, soothing, cool & pollution-free breeze to feel and inhale. Though there is nothing much in Nandi hills and if you have been to various hill stations then, you might find it below average, but still, it has become a popular tourist destination because of its wonderful landscapes, pleasant weather, Nandi temple, Brahmashrama and also for its unbeatably best sunrise view in Bangalore.

Nandi Hills can be visited anytime during the year but, during the rainy season (generally during June till August), visit to this place is not much favored as it is extremely wet during this time. It is best if you start early from Bangalore at around 3-4 AM in the morning and reach the hill top before sunrise. Even if you reach there before the sunrise, you should be lucky enough to view it from the hill top as during most of the time of the year, the surrounding remains foggy in the early morning that generally gets cleared after an hour or two of the sunrise.
"I'm a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds." - Mike Tyson
An usual early foggy morning at Nandi Hills top

"We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality." - Iris Murdoch

The view point

In the case if you are not able to view the sunrise from the hill top, which happened to me too, don’t get upset because, the early morning ride to the Nandi Hills itself is a wonderful experience that will freshen up your mind and make you forget all your worries. The early morning breakfast accompanied with a cup or two of hot coffee or tea on the cold hill top, is a great add-on to the traveling experience to Nandi Hills.
My Travel Companions, Mom & Dad

The Happy Granny

A self-timer pose

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them." - Henri Matisse

"You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way." - Walter Hagen

Wondering, how to reach Nandi Hills?
The best and the only way to reach Nandi Hills from Bangalore, is by road. You can rent a car or ride your own vehicle. There is a motorable road to the top of the hill. The road is very good to drive to Nandi Hills, even on 2 wheelers but, be careful while you are riding as there is only one road to the hill top and you can expect vehicles coming from the other side as well. Two wheelers are not allowed after a certain point. You need to park your vehicle there and trek to the hill top. Four wheelers can climb to the top. There’s an entry fee of Rs 10 per person, Rs 100 for parking car (including entry ticket for all passengers) and Rs 20 for two wheelers.

Driving directions to Nandi Hills from Bangalore -

From Hebbal flyover, take NH7 and drive straight until you see a signboard in English, displaying "Nandi Hills 22 km", which is located at about 10km after passing by the BIAL airport flyover. Take a left diversion from here and drive straight to reach Nandi Hills. You can also take the help of GPS to reach there.

Important Note:

Earlier, the entry & exit timings to Nandi Hills were from 6 AM to 10 PM but the timings are now limited to 5:30 AM to 6 PM to avoid crimes.
Make sure that you carry some warm clothes with you as the temperature in the hill top, especially during the early morning is very less when compared to the temperature in Bangalore city. The riders in two wheelers need to carry jackets or windcheaters in order to protect their body from the cool breeze.
Be careful with food as there are monkeys that snatch food items and many dogs as well on the hill.
Do not leave the windows or doors of your car open, even if you are sitting inside and do not keep any eatables in such a way that they are visible from outside.
There are no ATMs in Nandi hills. So, better make sure that you have enough cash for your food and snacks. It is also advisable to bring your own packed food since eating options at the hill top are very limited.
You should also take care while driving the car or two wheelers, as there are around 40 sharp curves on the way and it is a two way road with vehicles coming from the other side as well, that too amidst dew and fog.

***Don’t be a LITTERBUG there! Please use the garbage containers placed there to dump your litter.

The notorious snatchers of Nandi Hills

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." - Jawaharlal Nehru

If you liked the blog then like our page on Facebook

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Kendatti - A Hidden Paradise, not so far away from the busy Bangalore

A day trip to Kendatti & back to Bangalore -

It was a monotonous, busy, yet boring weekday at office. Most probably, it was the Tuesday or Wednesday of the second week of March, 2015. Suddenly Amit, my childhood friend pinged me on FB and asked to Google for a place named “Kendatti”. This place has been named as “Chota Ladakh” by many people on their blogs and even in News.  Within minutes, I looked into the pictures from Google and felt in love with the place at once.

But, what an irony! Suddenly I found this link on Kendatti Lake being a prohibited area, and it broke our heart.

Then within an hour, after gathering some basic information about the place and its surroundings, we decided that whatever it maybe, let’s hit the road during the coming weekend and if we can’t visit there, then at least, we will have a long drive on the Kolar Highway and have some snacks in the Café Coffee Day situated nearby. Kendatti is situated on the National Highway 4, just 43.4 km from Krishnarajapuram (K.R. Puram) Railway Station in Bangalore. It can be visited from Bangalore either fully via National Highway 4 which is having Tolls or via Hoskote Malur Rd and National Highway 4 without Tolls. Soon, we shared the plan with the other buddies and most of them were in.

Everyone in the gang is a great planner, but mostly we find it hard to successfully execute the plans! This time, our plan was to hit the road by 6-7 on Sunday morning. This was planned in such a way, so that, we can avoid the scorching Sun. It would be an hour drive from our place. We would reach there, visit the surroundings, get some clicks, have breakfast and come back by Noon or so. Earlier the weather in Bangalore was not that Hot, but as years are passing by, the heat is increasing radically. During afternoon, you can’t enjoy nicely outdoor, unless it’s any water sports kind of activities.

After a not too late night party on Saturday at Amit, Shibangshu & Rupam’s place, in Sarjapur Main Road near Bellandur, we had a great weekend waala sleep and unfortunately woke up around 10 in the morning; That too Shouvik, another member in the gang, ringed our mobiles for some 7-8 times. Shouvik didn’t attend the last night party and was at his flat nearby HAL market. He too, wasn't able to wake up in the early morning and as soon as he woke up, he started calling us. With all heavy heads, I, Amit, Rupam, Shibangshu, Suryangshu & Gaurav woke up. We took some time to decide whether we will be going or not since the Sun ray was not that friendly outside. After getting freshened up, and on the arrival of Shouvik, we finally hit the road at around 11AM in a Royal Enfield Classic Desert Storm, KTM Duke 200, Honda CBR 250 and a Honda Activa. Since we were in Sarjapur, so we took the Sarjapur-Bagalur Rd and followed GPS. We had some light snacks and tea on a roadside restaurant and packed Dosas and Idly-Wadas for our brunch, somewhere middle.
Our Transport
The Gang - (From Left) Amit, Shouvik, Rupam, Gaurav, Suryangshu, Shibangshu & Me behind the Lens
Getting Our Brunch packed
Ride through the Sarjapur-Bagalur Rd
The Journey Continues....!!!!....

Within one and half an hour drive, we crossed the Café Coffee Day that was marked on Google Map nearby Kendatti. After looking around for some time, we reached the road entrance to the Kendatti Lake, a wonderful Crater Lake. To our fortunate luck, there were no police or other officials to block us. It was probably due to the unbeatable heat maybe. Near the lake, it was a peaceful area with no signs of civilization nearby. It was just around 2 km away from the National Highway, on the right hand side, if you travel from Bangalore, just after crossing Kendatti Bus Stop.
The point on the National Highway from where you need to take a right hand diversion in order to reach the Kendatti Lake
In search for the hidden treasure!

There were signboards of “Prohibited Area” written all around the mud road that took us near the lake. It’s kind of a hidden Lake just say, 250-300 meters away from a particular point on the mud road, that we crossed twice, but unable to figure out initially. After around half an hour of roaming around here and there following our instincts, suddenly with a great hunch, we finally discovered the hidden treasure, Kendatti Lake, really worthy to be named as “Chota Ladakh”. Yes, literally, we did trespassing!
First Sighting
Vehicles parked nearby
A short trek to the final destination

I and Amit were the first to discover the Lake. We parked our bikes under a tree shade nearby and headed towards the lake. Oh no! It seemed like the road that leads to the shore of the Lake has been destroyed and there is no proper way to reach there. We were disappointed again and were desperately looking for a way down there. The only way down there was to climb down the rocks that were deep for almost like a 3 floored building height. Sudden Rock climbing without any gears or former preparation! The excitement and our adrenaline rush were at their heights!
Finally, we were there!
A little disappointed looking at the depth of the crater and no way in or out
Depth of the crater - Almost a 3 floored building height
Not able to find a suitable way down there
Unable to decide whether to go down or not
Still in the dilemma

It looked almost impossible from the top, but, we decided not to give up that easily. After trying for some time, Amit was somehow able to get down there. Now, he got down but, how to get out from that crater was the next problem. So, instead of following Amit down there, we waited on the top until Amit climbed up back again. Our confidence increased at this point of time and we all headed down there except Shouvik and Gaurav.
Amit was the one who discovered the most feasible way in & out the crater
And so we followed Amit down there
Shouvik stayed back on top
Gaurav also stayed back

Once, we were at the shore of the lake and sat down there by submerging our feet in the crystal clear blue water of the Lake, we found Nirvana…..!!!!....
Nothing beats this feeling!

And we found Nirvana!
Natural Fish Spa in the crystal clear water of the Kendatti Lake
We did achieved what we were looking for

A long ride accompanied by some trek, rock climbing, relaxing natural fish spa, trespassing and exploring the unknown hidden paradise......A day worth mentioning.....!!!!....
Kendatti - The Hidden Gem and so called Chota Ladakh
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.”

If you liked the blog then like our page on Facebook