Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hutridurga Trek - 3 Aug 2014

By strange coincidence, my 5 BTC treks so far has been with  5 different guides. And each time I have come back with feeling of time well spent, memories added to feel good nostalgia. Even unexpected no-show by tempo traveler couldn't spoil our fun (it rather masked my 20 minute late arrival to meeting point ;) ).

Hiren, our guide, explained the situation and suggested public transport as alternate option and everyone agreed. We first had to board a bus to Market and then got a private bus to drop us nearby Hutridurga. Many seats were empty but got overcrowded along the way. We did our best to have fun - bus driver happily accepted our request to play Hindi songs from pendrive (until crowd built up and Kannada movie was played instead). And then, we even got to play Dumb-charades! Some very tough movies there (mostly given by Neer and 'yahoo' search by Gaurav) - I was clueless when enacting 'Don Muthu Swami' (somehow my team mates got it). After a round we had to stop as it became too crowded.

After breakfast (dosa and vada) and packing Chitranna (lemon rice) for lunch, we hired a pair of autos to drop us at base of this short hill (relative to ground level). We got their mobile number to hire them again while returning. Somehow, on both rides, we arranged ourselves in 5-7 grouping rather than 6-6!

Weather was close to perfect - wind and overcast sky didn't feel as if the day had gone past 11 AM. We gathered for intro session (with a mention of some earlier trek joke of 'straight circle') only to move away to avoid loud phone conversation of a villager. Our group this time was - Hiren, Gaurav, Vikram, Purvik, Neer, Sushila, Rishi, Geetha, Nasreen, Srikanth, Hrishikesh and yours truly. Most of them had done treks with BTC before - if I remember correctly, Srikanth mentioned that it was close to a year with BTC for him!

And so, we were finally underway for the main course of the day. We walked for a short distance following the hair pin bends of pretty decent road. Gaurav was apparently known for his photography skills and had to shoulder the responsibilities this time too. And more of his charisma (pranks would be better word :P) along the way.

Leaving the road, we soon reached a clearing. Natural cue to have a break and photo session. Strewn rocks and trees around, it was rather dark but pleasant. As we moved ahead, we crossed a series of fields, most of them red but workers around to let us know about not walking on them. And soon enough, we were at out in open, able to view broken fort walls and the hill with its multiple protrusions. Trees, old and new, some with orange colored fruit, as well as the surrounding valley coming into view as we climbed higher added grandeur.

Stone pillars forming cuboid entrances reminded me of Madhugiri, but their frequency and number here was more. And like other hills with temple atop, explicit steps as well as carved ones eased the climb. Not that this hill was anything more than 'easy' grade - just about one or two small stretches that really qualified for a breather.

Despite all the mini-breaks (along with never tiring snaps from Gaurav), we comfortably got to the temple atop the hill in about 70 minutes. The cool weather helped no doubt. Shiny bugs, wild flowers including flowering cactus plant, little pools of greenish water (with grasses and toads and garbage), a funny cartoon pointing direction, view of village at the base nestled between Hutridurga and another hill, etc got our fair share of attention before reaching top.

A broken brick ruin and yet another greenish mucky pool were beside the temple. We rested a while before Hiren led us to more exciting exploration and other side of the rather large area atop the hill. An almost hidden passage made of stone steps brought a new level of excitement - in retrospect, this definitely was the highlight in terms of visiting the hill.

On the other side, we suddenly felt uncomfortable due to lack of wind. Hiren was mockingly admonished, as if he had failed to control it. We were walking on lush green carpet of grasses, reminding of the western ghats. Moving on, we were dealing with the first real difficulty of the trek - maneuvering thorny trees either side of a boulder. Some, including me, got scratches to show for.

And soon after, we had reached our lunching point - close to the edge of hill and strewn with huge boulders. We left our bags under the boulders and moved about, soaking the view and clicking pictures. Hiren and few others went further to check for possibly better shaded place. Sun played hide and seek as was the case with wind. Rain was a possibility but didn't come except for a very thin drizzle for just a few moments.

Gaurav now showed a glimpse of his prank side - doing it all with a convincing serious face. While Hiren and others had gone, he took one guy's mountain dew bottle, passed around for few sips and filled water instead. Afterwards, while the guy detected something amiss, Gaurav let few subtle hints by way of conversation and finally truth dawned.

Having decided to settle there itself, we had lunch soon afterwards - passable given the circumstances but really packed in excess of most of our appetite. Nasreen then came up with game to play - an object gets passed around until music stops. Whoever last possessed it was 'out' and had to do some playful thing decided by others. Mostly it involved telling a movie dialogue/first crush, singing song, saying a brief history appended with funny words/sound, proposing, etc.

PC: Gaurav

After group photos (Gaurav had a remote, better flexibility compared to timer), we started descent. The thorny section was dealt better going down but we briefly wandered off from the hidden entrance. We took pics on the steps and rested a while.

PC: Gaurav

Wind was fierce about halfway down, moving about required caution - cue half-hearted joke of my thin body getting whisked away :P Climbing down is usually tougher for me, but this gentle hill didn't pose a trouble other than wind. Judging we were close, we took a break and auto wala was phoned to come. It turned out to be a rather long break with discussion on languages.

As we left the rocky terrain and reached the fields, apparently an old worker mouthed us off for taking this path with women members. Probably cautioning against wild animals or some superstition. We were certainly careful to not walk directly on fields.

Emerging on hill road, we could spot the autos waiting. Just after reaching the crossroads, we could spot rain around the hill. And would not reach us until we had caught bus to Magadi (to avoid crowded direct buses to Bangalore).

Most of us had tea (the worker having forgotten sugar and then giving it in extra cups!) - some got mineral water bottles, some had pani puri and chilly bhajjis. Gaurav, apparently was told by pani puri wala that the 50 rupees note he got from bakery was fake and got it exchanged. After relating this little incident, he proceeded to tell us, with a serious face, how to detect a fake note. Fold the note multiple times and then tap with a hard object - say back of ball point pen. Open it again and check if Gandhi's spectacle is broken or not! And to boot, he repeated this to the few who missed the first time on our way to Magadi - with a better performance! Oh, we aren't gonna forget this for a while, and if possible use the trick some day :P

We got a BMTC bus (but KSRTC route, meaning passes don't work) to Bangalore. As in morning ride, we played dumb-charades. But after the usual end-of-trek feedback session. And again, nearly all of it was positives and some suggestions. So, all in all, yet another awesome feel good event with BTC. Looking eagerly now for Dudhsagar trek in September :)

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