Monday, June 2, 2014

Short and sweet Kabbaladurga day trek - 31 May 2014

Good to tick off another trek from my to-do list. And doubly nice to exercise those dormant muscles after months of running and cycling. What a nice feeling that I can count upon BTC and fellow trekkers to add chapter of memorable events yet again. Some sort of Catch-22 events resulted in missing BTC events for 5 months after Kaurava Kunda night trek. Wait was worth it though.

Reaching 15 minutes before appointed time, I was surprised to see large group already assembled in front of Shantala Silk house. Most of them were going to Savanadurga (the other day trek organized by Anthony). Soon after, Sangamesh (our guide) arrived. We started few minutes before 7 AM and this time I was feeling comfortable with the group pretty soon (it helped that I knew Vaibhav and Sri from previous BTC treks)

Despite early Saturday morning, it was slow going on Kanakapura road, especially under the metro construction stretch. Cyclists, mashed dog, large solid cuboid of built rock obstructing one half of road, frustrated drivers unable to overtake trucks - just another day on this road flanked by trees. A few made themselves home by sleeping, others sharing previous trekking experiences. Wazid, coming off directly from night shift, wasn't feeling well. The driver stopped once to get a newspaper and again to fill fuel. This TT was finally different from past three events and unique too - could walk without bending, joint seats but without option to recline and less possibilities to open windows.

Fourth time in a row, I was having breakfast at Srinivasa Sagar in Kanakapura. As usual crowded and as before occupying the four tables in family dining room. For a change though, I ate Chow Chow Bath instead of idli vada. An amusing waiter served us - or rather managed to generalize our orders, taking multiple rounds to get them right and cajoled many to change to idli vada instead of masala dosa (citing long waiting time). We got tomato rice and Chow Chow Bath packed for lunch and bought water bottles to cope with blue sky in pre-monsoon season.

It was past 9AM by then and to pass remaining 30 minute journey to base of Kabbaladurga, Sri and Sangamesh started dumb charades. Dropping the idea of splitting into two teams, one had enact and whisper movie name to next guy. Narrow and pot-hole filled village road posed more challenge for the enactor until Naresh came up with Casablanca - ten minutes and three tries (Hiren, Naresh himself and Vaibhav) later Kabbaladurga arrived but no correct guesses.


Intro session
We formed a passable circle under tall, thick trunk trees for the intro session. Sampath, Vaibhav, Hiren, Sangamesh, Naresh, myself, another Naresh, Sharad, Spandan, Sribacha, Wazid were the all boys BTCians come together. One member was last-minute dropout due to some international client interaction - he'll as a consequence be blacklisted for few months.


Kabbaladurga Village
Sri packed bunch of bananas (we shouldn't have taken driver's word and got different fruits at Kanakapura only). I happened to be only one with camera (others preferring smartphones). Lots of sparrows around. Street shops primarily serving temple goers. On asking directions, a shop keeper informed people aren't allowed to trek, others pointing right way.

We passed series of well built houses before hitting trail. Weather was a bit cool from overnight rain but largely cloudless sky wasn't good omen. 15 minutes of crossing series of wet narrow paths flanked by grass and shallow pools of water, we came across one of the many small temples built in this village. As we resumed after taking few snaps, three village kids (brothers as we got to know later) hailed us from steep slope of hill (took a while to spot them too in bright sunshine) to correct our course.


All smiles, not knowing the steep climb ahead
Spotted steps of usual path but then were apparently off trail again. This time we ignored advise given in good faith and scaled more than moderate grade of steep slope. Thankfully, enough dry spots to avoid wet and extremely slippery regions formed by consistent water flow. First timers and pros alike were panting frequently - Sangamesh and Hiren (co-organizer) encouraged and calmed our nerves.


Steep climb
 After ten-fifteen minutes of break (during which the three village kids kept calling us to move forward as well as calling aloud to some still at base) we started again - with fresh drama. Some continued climbing steeper slope while others resorted to comparative safety of carved steps supported by broken rails. One particular bend was scary. Comparison to Madhugiri was inevitable and Savanadurga was billed tougher than this. Cool shade on green grass under trees on a man made raised platform was our next break - fifteen minutes. As expected, bravado team termed their stint as awesome experience.

From our vantage point, we could see entire village, white painted temple standing out. Prayers weren't restricted to temples alone - bangles, sacred threads, pendants, amulets, lockets, et al were tied to various cactus plants. And couple of rangoli drawings nearby.


One of the numerous short breaks

Yet again, we had to climb steep slope, longer stretch than previous two. Long break between trek as well as muscles getting used to two months of running and cycling clearly showed in my struggle - the body was trying its best to adjust. Sampath and I kept going leaving others behind only to stop again under trees. Once remaining member caught up with us, we started again. The village kids were always ahead of us, conversing now and then.

Steps near the peak

More carved steps, hot railings to hold around wet water spots and struggle - thought crosses why even bother with such excursions. Sampath felt bit of knee pain - cue to get my bananas out, only to see them smashed. We somehow managed to eat two apiece making our palms greasy in addition to heavy sweat. I worried myself silly thinking about tougher descent and possible encore of boils from hot rock/railing ala Madhugiri

All together by then, top of hill came as a sudden surprise around a broken ruins of fort/houses. Quite a large area with multiple worn out paths and uneven ground. Hiren was ahead and waiting when a monitor lizard scurried past. Further ahead, a branching path led to view point and past that was temple on a lower ground that it gets hidden unless one reaches too close. Apart from more decoration on cactus plants, villagers had also arranged stone mounds all over the place.

We trekked further to other end of peak to rest. Numerous breaks notwithstanding, the entire climb took only 90 minutes which actually felt as anti-climax. The view was well worth all our troubles. Surrounded by hills in front of us and villages on other sides. We dropped our backpacks under sunny conditions made pleasant by wind going around. I clicked few customary snaps when Naresh (Casablanca fame) climbed a boulder taller than trees with grass growing under it caught all our attention. Three of us followed him to top while others preferred edge of hill.


Perched atop
Time pass included past trekking anecdotes (mine invariably includes KP these days), snaps on a small cliff, listening to dog's howl, cow's moo reaching us from village below, watching Kite and other birds, the grazing sheep, future trekking plans, munching Sri's bananas, etc. Only about an hour's rest later we started back - not before taking necessary group photo :P
Group pic time
Mercifully, some clouds hid the Sun and wind created a pretty cool weather. Twenty minutes of relativity easy descent later, we perched under trees to have our packed lunch. I wasn't even feeling hungry, but we were leaving soon so as to visit Cauvery river for a bonus visit.


Cautious descent

Half an hour later, Sun was out and wind had died out. I found climbing down much tougher as always, legs shaking at times. Taking pics and slow pace almost led me to deviate from path. As I finally caught up, they were busy watching two goats fighting. By the time we took another break near temple, we were sweating uncomfortably. And had to watch kids enjoying in the two muddy pools around the temple.


Quenching our thirst
As we entered village road, we were welcomed with sight of water tank and allowed to wash/drink. It was only 2PM by the time we had another group photo with Kabbaladurga hill as background. Starting back meant spoiling afternoon siesta of two dogs under the Tempo Traveller.

On the way to Sangam, we restarted Dumb Charades. While no movie posed more than 2-3 minutes of challenge, dirty names crept in. Wazid and Naresh were standout actors. Just as we were closing on the destination, Wazid had another bout of vomiting. Do avoid summer day trek right after night shift in office ;)


Mekadatu Sangama

Mekadatu Sangama - meeting point of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers, was crowded and banks were dirty. Entrance road (with plenty of cars/vans/tempos parked) and stalls were clean in stark contrast. We were actually planning to reach Mekedatu - but that required crossing waist deep Arkavathi river and 6 km to and fro hike. We decided against it and spent just few minutes.

Traffic on Kanakapura road was worse compared to morning. And number of sleeping beauties went up too. Tea break was too early to be had at Kanakapura, no decent places at Harohalli. So we settled for tender coconut and tea near APS college - one of the favorite among cyclists. Sri finally broke his fast too. Sangamesh wrapped up the break with feedback.

So happy to ticked off another hill around Bangalore. A short and sweet trek, could be combined with a visit to Sangam/Mekadatu/Chunchi falls.

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