Sunday, January 27, 2019

Moonlit Sunrise Trek to Channagiri

RTC Bengaluru's plan for a drive-cum-trek to Skandagiri to witness the beautiful sunrise amidst the clouds was organized on the 20th of January this year. The event was led by us (teamgsquare), Prateek (Mystic Rider) and Shashank Gowda (localite). After many people showing their interest in joining the drive/trek, around 40 people were confirmed for the trek. While Trigo (Prashanth) along with his 4 friends were joining us from Hyderabad, the rest were from 'Namma Bengaluru'! After many discussions with the leads regarding the trek type and route, we finally zeroed in on the regular Sunrise trek to Skandagiri.  The D-day arrived and bang on! All the participants had gathered in front of Esteem mall, Hebbala by 1.30 am as per the schedule. It was quite surprising and rare to see all the trek participants gather within the said time. From here began our much awaited journey to reach above the clouds! We numbered 37 in total, traveling in 6 cars and 4 bikes.

All Set  to Vroom!!
By 2.45 am we reached the temple of Sri Bhoga Nandeeshwara  at Nandi and were waiting for Shashank's arrival. After waiting for nearly 25 minutes with no fruitful result, we decided to head on towards Skandagiri to secure a place for parking our vehicles. By the time we reached here, we were shell-shocked to see an ocean of people thronging to get the permit to trek. A rough estimate of the number of people would be around 2k,with each one trying to squeeze in and fight in order to secure a place for the trek. Meanwhile, Shashank along with his two friends joined us at the Skandagiri parking lot. Seeing the huge crowd of people assembled and the number of incoming people, the trek leads, without a second thought decided to forgo the scheduled trek at Skandagiri and instead trek the neighboring hill of Channagiri. Although our idea was good, we were now stuck in the parking lot as the chaos at Skandagiri had only started to build up. With the forest guard's denial of permission to trek and the increasing number of people, the parking was jammed with no movement of vehicles on either of the directions. Besides, time was running out as we were bent upon doing a sunrise trek, somehow! Finally Shashank along with a few locals helped cleared the mess and without wasting any more time, we drove towards Channagiri, located about 14 km from here.
Moon and his Reflection on Water
After reaching the hill base of Channagiri, we realised that the members of a car and bike who were supposed to be following us had missed their route. All of us were waiting for them to join us to start the trek. Although the biker was able to locate us, the ones in the car had driven off to some other place. Prateek and Shashank tried their best to trace the car back until they gave up, after Arvind from that car informed them about being run out of fuel and also being quite far away from the destination. Unfortunately, the four from Arvind's vehicle couldn't join us. Once the rest of the team were back to the hill base of Channagiri, the trek began under the moonlight. We were down to 36 plus +3 infants and had to reach the peak of Channagiri before Sunrise. Thus began our conquest of Channagiri hill. Though at the outset it seemed like a small hill to trek, we realized after trekking a while that it was no joke to conquer this peak. Having read about this hill before, I was quite sure that this was going to be one heck of a trek.
'Channagiri' is one among the 5 main hill peaks of the Nandi hill-range, the others being Nandi, Bramhagiri, Skandagiri and Kaurava Kunda. Channagiri is the second tallest peak of this range, only after Nandi hills. There are basically two routes to this hill peak. The easier route starts from Sultanpet via well laid steps and is taken during early morning treks so as to catch the sunrise. The less easier route is through the forest via Channapura, which is a longer and steeper trail. Thanks to Shashank who lead us to the second route via Channapura forest. Everybody started the trek and the entire hill belonged to us at that moment! This route was surely a blessing in disguise for us when compared to trekking at Skandagiri. It would've been more like walking in a fair amongst thousands of people had we trekked Skandagiri. It was a decision well-made and in-time, most importantly with the consent of all the participants. Our only goal now was to make it to the peak top of Channagiri. We were now racing against time for the sunrise!
Good Morning
Armed with torches and accompanied by the lovely moon-light, our trek went on smoothly. The terrain was quite steep and rocky mostly, while at a few places we had to pass through thorny vegetation.  The Trigo group were ahead of us while the rest of the team trekked together, until at a point where Ravi sir's wife started to feel a bit uneasy. As the terrain would only get more difficult to climb, sir made the right decision of halting their trek at this point and stayed by his partner. Kudos to you both sir for making it up till here! The rest of us continued our trek amidst laughter, fun, music and halts at regular intervals. We finally reached a point from where it seemed like the trek was complete. But it was a 'so close, yet so far' kind of a situation! We motivated ourselves to keep going and our final ascent to the peak top was quite steep. Slowly and steadily, one by one, all  the participants reached the top and picked up their spots for photography. We were just in time to catch a glimpse of the Sunrise, although coming in a few minutes earlier would've surely helped! Unfortunately for us that day, the skies were clear with no signs of any clouds. A small bonfire was set up to make ourselves warm.
Beautiful Morning Sky
There is a small beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya/Hanuman at the top. After taking his blessings and spending some time enjoying the sunrise, chit-chatting and munching on snacks, we began our descent from behind the peak. However, a few of them decided to stay back for photo ops. Our descent was quite tiring and as we were all extremely hungry, we wanted to make it to the base as early as possible. We met Ravi sir's family along, who were eagerly waiting for us. We finally  reached the place where we had parked our vehicles. A small lake besides our car park made the entire setup look more beautiful. We were now waiting for our breakfast to be served! While Shashank checked upon the breakfast arrangements, we all rested and waited for the others to join us. Though our initial plan was to have breakfast near the village of Nandi, we decided to serve the breakfast at the hill base only as a few of them were yet to complete the trek. While some team mates (Chaluve Gowda sir and family and Vishwa) decided to move on without having breakfast, the others spent time chatting and having fun. I and Shashank left to bring the breakfast. As we brought the breakfast, our last few team-mates had just made it to the parking and their timing was perfect!  The breakfast comprised of Idli, Vada, Chitranna (lemon-rice), Chutney and the famous Mysore Pak. The food was very delicious, especially the combination of lemon-rice and the spicy chutney. We were happy people now and turned pretty lazy and reluctant to leave this wonderful place.
Second Serving (PC : Prateek)
Munch Time (PC: Prateek)
The sad truth was that we had to head back home. We planned to take a small break over tea/coffee in between along the highway. However, due to a small confusion caused by me, we ended up reaching Shashank's farm instead. Prateek and the biker gang decided to ride ahead, halt by a tea shop and wait for us to join. Meanwhile, we dropped the Trigo group at Shashank's place from where they were heading back to Hyderabad. But by the time Prateek shared their location of the tea shop, we were already on the Rajanakunte road towards Yelahanka, much ahead of them! We somehow couldn't make it to our tea/coffee break to bid our good-bye's to the team. All of us headed back to our homes after ending one of the most memorable treks! Kudos to the team for completing the trek! 
Group Photo (Bigger the group, more difficult to organize for a group photo!; PC: Prateek)
The Trek Team
1. Teamgsquare (Me, Amrutha, Adhi and Diya) in our loyal Mahindra Xylo 
2. Abhyuday, Tarun and Arjun in Toyota Etios 
3. Chaluve Gowda and Family in Volkswagen Polo 
4. Satishewara with 2 kids in Mahindra Bolero 
5. Ravi Shankar and Family in Mahindra Scorpio
6. Arvind and his 3 friends in Maruti Alto 
7. Shashank, Rocky and Abhi in Mahindra Thar 
8. Prateek and Shikha in Yamaha R15
9. Gaurang, Maaz and Himanshu in their Bikes 
10. Vishwas and Hiren in Pulsar 150 cc
11. Chaitra, Anuradha, Madhu, Rashmi and Akshata, car pooled with others
12. Trigo Prashanth, Naveen, Sadik, Niranjan and Sachin, car pooled with others

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