Showing posts with label night trek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label night trek. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Night Trek to Doddabetta, The Big Hill Quest

The past weekend, we, in collaboration with RTC Bengaluru organized a night trek to 'Doddabetta' or 'The Big Hill' near Krishnagiri. Our plan was to begin the trek on Saturday evening to watch the early morning sunrise. We had planned to reach the water spring present mid-way which would be our first resting point. Due to the presence of a natural water spring, this location was also to be utilized for dinner preparations so we could proceed further to reach the peak top and pitch our tents for the night, only to wake up to a beautiful sunrise. We numbered 20 in total with Sunil leading as our trek guide.
Periyamalai - The big hill
Periyamalai - The Big Hill
One group who were supposed to join us had booked for a self driven Tata Hexa with Drivezy which  unfortunately was carelessly cancelled by Drivezy without any prior notice. The group then had to book freshly for an alternate vehicle using Ola outstation. This entire process took much time and the group was delayed by more than an hour. After waiting for them patiently for close to an hour and a half, they finally arrived and we started driving towards our destination. After driving for sometime, we received a message about another car having a flat tyre and had stopped by a mechanic for repair. We waited for them at Krishnagiri toll who arrived after a good 45 minutes. We realized that in this process, we were already delayed for the trek easily by more than 2 hours! While we took a small break just ahead the toll, Piyal rode ahead of us on his bike and lost the route. We helped him back track to our location and driving together hereon, we reached the hill base of Periyamalai around 11:30 pm which was our original target time to reach the hill peak! Gosh we were late!
Star Lit Night
After the formalities of distributing equipment for camping and cooking to all the participants, Sunil helped everyone pack their bags right after which we began the trek. By 12:45 am, we reached the water spring and decided to halt for dinner preparations. The menu for the night's dinner was a cup of hot noodles and some tangy Puliyogare (tamarind rice)! With combined efforts from all in the team, the preparations were complete and dinner was served in the background of music. Some even danced to the tunes of music. With much energy restored, we continued our trek further and after halting for a minute or two at regular intervals, we managed to reach the peak by 3:50 am. It was a good 4 hour trek including an hour for dinner preparation time and multiple breaks. While Sunil helped the others pitch their tents, Dr.Anand, Karthik, Sameer, Nilesh, Me, Adhi and Sunil wished to sleep in the open. The weather was favoring as it was less breezy and not very cold as expected.
Pitching the Tents
Peacefully Sleeping
Morning Scenes
While everyone were busy settling into their tents, I and Karthik tried our skills at photographing the wonderful night sky. Though I managed to click a few pictures, I was less happy with its outcome and realised I needed more practice to perfect the art of capturing the stars. Gazing at the star studded sky was just an out of this world experience! All were asleep in sometime except for Sameer and Nilesh. I woke up early to catch the sunrise and was accompanied by Dr.Anand and Karthik. We took our positions to capture the sunrise and patiently waited making sure not to miss even a glimpse of its gorgeousness! Meanwhile Maneesh and Vishwa woke up and the rest were deeply in sleep. We witnessed the gorgeous sunrise and a few whose tents were pitched exactly facing the sunrise caught a glimpse of it from inside. As everybody woke up one after the other, we packed our tents and all the luggage and started our descent. We reached the base of the hill around 9:45am. While a few who had bookings with Ola decided to leave the place without having breakfast, the rest traveled with us to our usual breakfast point at Krishnagiri. After a relaxed breakfast and greetings, all of us headed back to Bengaluru. It was truly an amazing trek experience for all of us! Kudos to the team for completing the trek. 
Here He comes
Gorgeous Sunrise
The Enlightened One
Love is in the Air
Ek Selfie Tho Banti Hey
Yes, We did it in Style!
Plumeria Alley - On The Rocks!

Trek Team:
1. Me, Sunil and Adhi in our Xylo
2. Vishwa and Family had car pooled with us
3. Dr. Anand in his Ertiga
4. Nilesh and Sameer had car pooled with Dr. Anand
5. Maneesh and Family in their KUV
6. Mayank and Friends had taken Ola outstation Innova 
7. Karthikeyan in his Yamaha R15

Monday, February 4, 2019

Sunrise Trek to Huthridurga - Uttari Betta, Treks Around Bengaluru

'Huthridurga/Hutridurga', also popularly called as 'Uttari Betta' among the trekking community is one among the popular trekking trails around Bengaluru. It is rated as one of the easiest treks around Bengaluru suitable for all age groups. It is a great place for beginners who desire to trek. A word of caution for first time trekkers is to better be accompanied by people who are familiar with this place. Huthridurga is about 55 km from Bengaluru and is one of the Navadurgas (nine forts) built by Sri Kempegowda. This fort was built in the 16th century CE and has later undergone a few modifications during the reign of Hyder/Tippu and the British rule. 
We, from #RTCBengaluru had planned a drive cum trek to Huthridurga this Sunday. Though initially many were interested to join the trek,  the number gradually decreased as the week progressed and after the last minute dropouts, our group comprised of 6 adults and 2 kids. We started our journey on time to Huthridurga and traveled in 2 vehicles. We started from home around 3:15am early morning although our scheduled time of departure was 3:00am. We were a few minutes late as we were waiting for one of our friends to join us. Unfortunately, he failed to pick our call and without wasting any more time we drove to our next assembly point which was Magadi Road. The rest of the group  were already present there. We joined them around 3:45 am and began our drive to Huthridurga, via Magadi.
Since it was that hour of the day when traffic is the least, we were able to cross Magadi in time and reach Huthridurga crossing at 4:45 am as per our plan. Here on we had to drive on a small section of ghat road and as we drove ahead, we were informed that Ravi Sir's vehicle had a break down. An inspection of the vehicle revealed that the issue was with one of the tensioner pulleys that had given way.  A wise decision of stopping the car was made to avoid any further problem. We were a little ahead of them and had to return to check on the situation. The vehicle was parked by the road side leaving enough space for the movement of other vehicles without any hindrance. All of us now drove ahead in one vehicle and reached  Huthridurga which was about 1 km from here. We decided to complete our trek first and check on the availability of a mechanic after our descent. 
Sunrise Trek to Huthridurga
Crescent Shaped Moon
We found a proper place for parking at the hill base and started our trek  at 5:15 am. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the top of the hill including a 10 minute break, under the clear black sky dotted with millions of stars and the lone crescent shaped moon. At the break point, I tried my hand at photographing the stars though I couldn't manage capturing a decent picture of the star lit sky. I realized that I should spend some more quality time to learn photographing the skies! We were greeted by a carving of Lord Anjaneya housed in a shelter a little further from here. We trekked  at a slow pace and reached the peak top comfortably. The weather was quite windy and chilly up there and amidst this, we patiently waited for the sun to rise. There is a temple atop the hill built by Sri Kempegowda dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is Sri Sankeshwara Temple which houses a shivalinga with an idol of Lord Nandi opposite to it. Attached on one side to the temple is a mantapa with pillars and roof covered with stone slabs. While my wife and kids took shelter inside the temple to keep themselves warm, the rest of us made ourselves comfortable and took respective positions so we could catch the first glimpse of sunrise.
Sunrise Trek to Huthridurga
Yes! He Finally Arrives!
Best Sunrise trek around Bengaluru
Lord Surya above Savanadurga Hill
Top Place to Watch sunrise around Bengaluru
What a View!
It was cold and quite breezy, and finally at 6:50 am the Sun made his appearance just like the description of Lord Surya arriving on his seven horsed chariot! Every Sunrise is a unique experience. For the next 20 minutes we enjoyed the showdown utilizing every opportunity for photo ops. After the sun rose and the weather turned warmer, we decided to explore the other portions of the fort. We spent some time between the boulders that acted as wind breakers for having snacks and chatting. Finally we descended and reached the starting point where we again halted for a short break to bask under the sun. It was time for breakfast as we all were quite hungry and drove down towards the town of Magadi for some hot Thatte Idli's (Plate Idli's) and filter coffee. After satisfying our hungry stomachs, our next job was to find a mechanic to fix the car, but being a Sunday most of the shops around remained closed. A few who were open were quite reluctant and refused to come along as the destination was quite far. Meanwhile Ravi Sir contacted his regular mechanic who agreed to come by and fix the car. We dropped everyone at the required stops and reached home safely. The weather turned pretty hot along our return journey and we were only reminded of how pleasant it was atop the hill amidst nature! We were informed by evening that Ravi sir got his vehicle repaired and reached home safely. He is quite an inspiration for all of us and his stories kept us engaged all through our trek and drive. It was yet another great experience. 
Hutridurga Trek
Kempasagar Lake
Uttari Betta Trek
Team on the Top
Trek, Trail and Tales

The Trek Team
1. Teamgsquare (Me, Amrutha, Adhi and Diya) in our Loyal Xylo
2. Ravi Shankar in Mahindra Scorpio
3. Vishwas Gowda, Natesha and Shiva Prakash, car pooled

Related Posts:
1. Moonlit Sunrise Trek to Channagiri 
2. 101 Places to Visit Around Bengaluru
3. Channarayana Durga Fort

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

Related Post:
1. A night trek to Skandagiri  
2. 101 places to visit around Bengaluru 
3. Channarayanadurga 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Moonbow at Unchalli Waterfalls, Sirsi

Unchalli waterfalls, Siddapura Uttara Kannada
Unchalli Waterfalls
Sometime back,  having read about the phenomenon of a Moonbow or Lunar Rainbow occurring at a few waterfalls around the world, we wondered if we would ever get an opportunity to witness this rare phenomenon. The chances seemed were very minimal or nil, owing to the locations of its occurrence previously. The formation of Moonbow has been documented in 5 locations of waterfalls throughout the world so far, though there could be many such places where the Moonbow would form. One and only such place documented in Asia is our favorite waterfalls of Unchalli. We have the privilege of visiting Unchalli quite often, as Sirsi is always on our annual pilgrimage tour. This year however, we were unable to visit Sirsi earlier due to various reasons. Somehow, we got a chance for a quick visit to this place during the last weekend. As we wanted to visit Unchalli falls in the evening, we had to meet a few locals whom we knew from our previous visits and seek help to get the required permission.
Moonbow Unchalli Waterfalls
Note the Faint Moon Bow
Moonbow Unchalli Waterfalls
Chandra Dhanasu, Unchalli Falls
A Moonbow or Lunar Rainbow is a celestial phenomenon similar to the  usual rainbow, but formed only during moonlight. They are very rare in occurrence and invisible to the naked eye. Moonbows are very faint and believed to occur during a full-moon or bright-moon night. Though capturing them in the right angle is very difficult, there are a few who have been chasing Moonbows at Unchalli since a few years and have succeeded in documenting them only last year. As Unchalli waterfalls comes under the area of reserved forest, there are restrictions of movement during the night times and a strict ban is imposed on camping here. The locals were quite helpful in getting us the necessary permissions from the forest department for a late evening visit.
Moon Over unchalli Falls
Moon Over Unchalli Falls
I, along with my friends reached the house of the local friend around 6.45 pm that evening. Taking a moment to refresh, we quickly started our walk towards the view point of the waterfalls. Though that night was a half-moon night or Ashtami Chandra, the falls was clearly visible and we were enjoying our moonlit descent towards the view point. We made sure to be well equipped with torches to help us descend. The view from the watch tower was just splendid! The scene is indescribable in words or sentences! It  would easily convert any normal man into a poet. But I instead chose to photograph this spectacular scene, which was quite difficult due to the dim light. After a lot of trials, I  managed to get a couple of decent shots of the waterfall. While I zoomed in to take a look at the picture, I was shell shocked to see that we had additionally captured a Moonbow! A quite faint rainbow it is, but is yet so exciting to realize that very few people in Asia have ever been able to witness and capture it. Thoroughly and unbelievably excited I was! Holding the same excitement on reaching home and transferring the pictures to my system, I had a closer look just to reassure it was a Moonbow. I was happy that we were able to capture it on camera. Thus making Unchalli closer and dearer to us. Don't miss to stop by a short video tour on Unchalli waterfalls.
Trek at Unchalli Waterfalls ,Sirsi, Uttara Kannada
Descent to the Falls
Waterfalls of Karnataka
Unchalli Waterfalls

Our humble request to all is 'Please take prior permission from the concerned authorities before heading into the forest area during nights as it comes under reserve forest area'. Also, entry to the falls is prohibited after 6 pm. Remember not to litter the place and leave it as it is for others and future generations to enjoy. 
You can also read one of our experiences at this waterfalls here.

1. Times of India
2. Landscape Wizards 
3. Time and Date 

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1. Neelakurinji - A rare bloom
2. Dandeli - Resting in the lap of Nature
3. Biking in heaven, Kodagu

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Night Trek To Skandagiri

Skandagiri, also known as Kalavara Durga is a very popular night trekking destination among Bangaloreans and is admired for the fascinating views of sunrise. Skandagiri is a  hill fort which was built by the local palegars and further improved by Tippu Sultan. Much of the fortification still remains intact. Owing to the illegal activities and unlawful acts that have taken place here, the forest department has strictly banned trekking at Skandagiri. Long ago (2009), when Skandagiri was just gaining popularity, we were fortunate enough for having an opportunity to trek. One evening, we acted on our spontaneous decision of exploring Skandagiri that night to see a beautiful sunrise next morning. Back then, witnessing the crowds present there and their unruly behavior, it seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
Good Morning from Skandagiri
We started from home at around 11.30 pm and after picking up a few friends who wished to join us, cruised along NH 7 towards Chikkaballapur. In less than 45 minutes we reached Chikkaballapur and stopped at a place where a few policemen were on patrol duty, to inquire for directions. We followed their directions and reached the hill base, where a person agreed to be our paid guide. We parked our vehicle as per his guidelines and started walking towards the other side of the hill from where the trekking trail began. After ten minutes of walk, we reached a small tea shop and took a much needed hot tea break.
Peaks Around Skandagiri
First Glimpse of the Sunrise 
 Queued Up to Get a Closer Look at the Sun
Nandi Hills as Seen from Skandagiri
 We ensured carrying sufficient lighting equipments such as torches and flash lights. Though the ascent was supposed to be easy, we struggled quite a bit as none of us had done anything of this sort. As this was our first trekking experience, we had to take breaks quite often and progressed slowly.  It  took us close to 3 hours to reach the top of the hill and we were glad to have made it! Our next challenge was spending time until sunrise in that cold winter night. We bade a good bye to our guide after paying his fee and found a nice place to settle down till the sunrise. It was a good two and a half hour wait for the sunrise and seemed to take longer for the sun to be completely out. The  views as the sun rose were simply out of the world and worth every single step we had put forward that night. After a  really long photo shoot, we descended down quickly feeling like achievers! Fortunately, we had another chance of trekking at Skandagiri two years later. While the crowd had grown five-fold this time around, the security personnel were more stringent about the rules.
Moon Lit Trek at Skandagiri
Floating Atop the Clouds
The Fort Wall 
Sati Stones and Hero Stones at the Base of Skandagiri Hill 
  Last weekend (December 2016) when we visited the Nandi hills, its counterpart Skandagiri attracted us for a trek. Later we came to know from our sources here that a strict ban has been imposed on trekking at Skandagiri, even during the day. Although trekking during the day was allowed previously, the forest department has completely banned since the beginning of 2016.It is worthwhile to note that Skandagiri falls under the reserved forest area and any illegal entry could lead to serious punishment. Measures such as restricting the number of people allowed to trek at a time, accompaniment of trained and certified guides, well marked routes, complete ban on smoking and alcohol consumption with strict enforcement, educating the locals about the importance of this hill reserve, setting up an organization for its development involving various trekking clubs, nature conservative clubs, forest department, local villagers and others need to be undertaken to ensure that the picturesque Skandagiri is well maintained and serves to be a sustainable tourist spot, only to make sure that such places are saved for our future generations. It lies within us to be a responsible trekker.
Latest Update: Trekking here is now conducted/regulated by Karnataka forest department under their new initiative "Myecotrip", check their website for further details. Many thanks to Thams Roy  for sharing this information with us.