|Majestic view from Skandagiri|
How to Go:
There are two ways to go to Skandagiri from Bangalore(might be many more depending on the fact that from which place of bangalore you start from)
1. Using the devanahalli Airport road, via Nandi hills
2. Using Muddenahalli --> we went by the second one as we had to pick a colleague from Vidyaranyapura
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What to carry and what to wear? :
a. For day trekking: It will be hot and sweaty the time you reach the top. So, shorts/light clothes are preferred. Carrying water bottle is must. You can get butter nilk, tea/coffe, cold drink on the way. You can also get omlates,maggy prepared by locals on somedays--> but don't reply on it. Better to carry your own food.
b.Night trekking: Carry Torch,Jackets/sweater, Water bottle, light food as you will not get anything in night, Pair of trekking,canvas shoes are preferred.Sands are also ok as it does not have any big rocks to climb the whole way.
Caution: Enquire the local of any rains, ban on night trekking before you leave from bangalore. Its better to postpone your trip on a rainy day to avoid any risks due to slipping rocks. Also carrying sparys like volini,cotton(for any first aids or to cover eyes from winds), band aids is advaisable. If you are planning for night fire camp, you can get wooden sticks you get on the way.
From Muddenalli cross(taking left turn) ,it is around 6km to Kalarava village from where the Skandagiri trekking begins. There are 2 ways to treck from there, namely 5km one and 8km one. We were stopped by locals of Kalarava village on around 500m from village entrance and were told to start our skandagiri trekking from there. We had to pay 100Rs for the bus parking and they were forcing us to take a guide which could cast 1000K.They also warned that if we get lost in the hill, anyone who is offering to show us the correct path might ask 2k to 3K! As we had ample information collected from friends and had 200% faith on google maps(later realized how costly it could have been) we clearly refused their offerings. 5km one as the name suggests has steps in many places to climb the Skandagiri hills( which is also known as Kalarava betta) and comparatively easier to 8km one. But what is the fun of trecking if we climb the steps ? !! . So, we decided to take the 8km one. We have reached Kalarava vilalge around 1 AM.So, we had plenty of time also.Although villagers insisted to go via 5km one as we had couple of girls in our group(whom villagers thought as not energetic enough to climb 8km !!). Finally the villagers pointed towards the 8km route. We were pointed to take right from there and go toward Papagni Mutt and take left from there. They also told us not to give more than 100 to any one who is offering to show us the way and we can ask them to show the way only till the first mark from where we can start the journey by our own.
One of the ancient mutt of its kind and is knows for its special Poojas during saturday. It houses Omkara Jyoti Ashrama and a temple. As we had been there by night, could not visit the mutt. For the day trekkers, it might be helpful to note that Mutt has daily "dasoha" and food is offered in its Annapoorneshwari Bhavana(Opposite to the Mutt) daily between 1PM-3:00 PM in afternoon and 7:30-9:00 PM in night.You can also visit the temple known as Dakshina Kashi Kshetra temple right after your climb down if you are a night treker.
|Our Gang near Papagni Mutt|
Coming back to the treck, we went in the way showed by villagers. Took left after Papagni mutt and went in the road until we got a dead end in it. It was the 3rd left cross in that road. When we went in that road for some distance, we realised google map is showing some deviation to the left. One villager who was following us, advised to take the left into a paddy field. Field was recently plown and being prepared for harvest following recent showers in bangalore. As it was plown, there were no clues about any roads to Skandagiri !! we could see some small pathways seems to lead to the top . We took one of it and ended up in a kind of deadend in bushes from where we could not find any path ahead to the top. By that time, some villager saw us wandering in the hill top and offered us to show us the way to Skandagiri top. We were bit relunctant initially considering the warnings by the villagers at parking place. Finally we could bargain that strange guy to show us way till the first marking for 250 Rs. He took us and showed us to one more group of 3 guys who were coming with a guide and told that guide can show us the way till top also and we can pay anything from our interest for that ! We just thought to cross the bridge when it comes rather than thinking a lot and wasting time before hand. So, went on. Although everyone was planned to bring the torch, some could not make it and planned to use the mobile lights. But we realised the importance of torch starting from the step 1 after papagni mutt as it was Pitch dark due to 10th day after Poornima which was leading us to the Amavasya darkness. Luckily we had around 2 tourches per person and went on..
The guys in other group seemed to have drunken a lot and were walking slowly. They were finding it difficult to climb some small steps /rocks also. So, our group wanted to get rid of them. After covering some distance after first mark, we asked the guide whether there are too many diversions or can we go ahead of our own. He said you will get one left mark if you go straight now. From there , there are no diversions and you need to follow the only path thereon.
|You find signmarks showing the way here and there|
We were quite happy because of 2 things. one is we did not want the drunken guys to follow us or lead us. Secondly we need to have to pay the guide in thousands and follow a guided way missing all the exploring thrills. But believe me. Even though you have markings here and there , in the places where you have diversions, you can still miss it if you don't observe the path carefully.
|Night Trek as it went on..|
|One of the Pit Stop|
|Near the shelter|
We saw a kind of 2 shelters made of Stone opposite to each other where the 5km strech joins the 8km one. Finally happy to see a guide descending down there who told us in 10 minutes you will get temple !!. Though he did not mention which temple, guys were happy after hours of journey!(who cares to see his watch to observe what time it is in that pitch darkness and miss the cloudy, misty environment and the joy of night trekking !;-) )
We chatted, pulled the legs,shouted, climbed, rested on the way.. all powered by the enthu of the teammates.Some faced pains in their towards the end of the trek, there were no major worries. Finally we saw a pole at the Skandagiri peak. I guessed it to be the peak of Skandagiri. Yes, it was. But was not the place where treckers rest and wait till the much anticipated sunriese for which they come far.Had to take some more steps to find a temple kind of strcucture. It was around 4 AM in morning and we have accomplished the task of Skandagiri trekking(one way though) in an average time of 2.5 hours eventhough being lost in the first place itself :-) .Inspite of having powerfull torches, light would not go farther than 10 metres due to heavy mist which has started by that time. We did not realize it is a ganesha temple until we reached there and saw 1 group resting inside it. They were sitting inside it as it was good choice to avoid winds and also bit warmer compared to outside. We went behind that temple in search of a place where our group of 21 people could sit together and pass time for next 1 hour probably(expecting sunrise by 5:30 !). Behind the ganesha temple, there is one more temple kind of structure which is running into ruins now :-(. Although none of us were feeling sleepy, almost all sat down in the huge open space between temples to take rest and few lied down. I lied down covering my face with the bag against the direction of winds. This technique , though i copied from Nandish there, provided better protection against blowing winds and cold aprt from providing huge relief for my back. It was not few minutes since i lied there, 2 dogs came from nowhere seeing the snacks my colleagues were opening !. Seeing the bags of chips, Sweets, biscuits being opened by guys n gals, who will sleep ? Along with chips, b'day bumps started for the guys who had recent b'days , having in near future and also to the randomly selected lucky ones ;-)
Some localite has offered the option of fire camp while we were coming behind the temple, we initially resisted not knowing how costly affair it could be. But, not withstanding the cold and winds Hakeem, Ashish, Adarsh made a deal with one localite in meanwhile and arranged for a fire camp. Its not a big fire camp, but a fire of small dry twigs. But that that collection of sticks was hot enough to keep us warm for around 30 minutes in a price of 200 Rs. By the time , we realized that we could have carried our own sticks during journey and made our own fire camp, it was very late and we could not get any dry sticks in that damp weather(prabably one of the good advise for anyone who is reading it and planning to go there next time). There were several rounds of goodies being passed on by Akshay, Devu,Adarsh, Arjun, Hakeem , Ashish, Sumit, Vikas, Aritra, Aparna, Bhagya, Medhu, Gayi, Naveen , newbies lile Pravallika, Drushya, Dileep, Nandeesh, Narain, Kiran during firecamp.
even after fire died, Nandeesh was good enough to keep us warm by his Blacksmit skills of best use of the fire ember(Just kidding Nadish ;-)). People might have waited there to make best use of it, until all ember turned into ashes.
But by the time, it was 5:50 and we were eager to see the sun. But, I guess sun had taken sick leave due to the cold caused by the misty weather :-) He was not willing to show his face. As Soon everyone left the place of firecamp, we saw one group coming and occupying our place ! Mist which starting covering our jackets with white, we realized we should not have deserted the place. So, Amidst the chilly weather, heavy winds, cameras getting clogged with mist, our photo session started which lasted for next 20 minutes. When , sun was not willing to come up at all, we realized that sunrise time is already over and we were probably unlucky to miss him that day. Nevertheless treck and the misty weather was not at all disappointing our efforts. Visited the Ganesha temple and bowed the mighty lord to seek his blessings for the safe and happy return. There we got info from the localites that sometimes one has to wait till 8:00 or 9:00AM also there to see the face of sun!!
It was 6:40 and we decided to start our way back so that we could have breakfast in time. But within few steps, we found one more small fire and all sat there itself not willing to move a single step ahead :-)
|One of the catepiller and need for DSLR !|
But was struggling to capture them due to heavy winds which made butterflies, flower shake like anything. Apart from that exposure time of my cam(Nikon 2700)+its macro(5cm) were not so great for macro photography. I had to give around 4-5 tries amidst due to the fact that focus was not sticking to a perticular object. It was moving in and out with pace which was not allowing me to capture any marcos. Still i was lucky to get some. So, one serious advise is to take any DSLR or any cam suitable for macro photography and preserve its battery till the morning. Skandagiri will not disappoint you :-)