No matter how many treks one does, there is freshness on the next one. Turned out to be double bonanza on this last day of August with BTC. A large ensemble of 21 enthusiasts gathered by 7 AM at our usual location - Shanthala Silk house near Majestic. Deepthy and Hiren were on task to keep us on leash. Hiren and Abhishek (another organizer) were just coming off from 2 day trip from Kodachadri (talk about trek addiction :P).
|Funny acting evokes real expressions :) (PC: Ritu)|
Soon after our mini bus was on its way, the usual ice breaker - Dumb Charades started. And this time, thanks to Vikram, I managed to not make a mess :P Ritu's guessing were too unnatural to be often asked for a ban! We stopped at Dabbaspet for breakfast (idli-vada, good but a little spicy for my liking) and packed for lunch (Vaangibath and Chitranna). The enacting fun continued until we stopped for our first trek - Devarayanadurga.
This hill is more famous for its many temples and well built steps from base criss-crossing its way through forest and road. We started barefooted from one rung lower than temple entrance after a round of introductions and snaps. A guava tree stood at the start of steps, but pilfered of any worthwhile fruit - which perhaps explained absence of this hill's notorious monkeys at that spot.
Despite starting high above, there were many steps to climb. It was a cloudy day and there had been overnight rain too. Which was good considering we had left our bags and water bottles behind. Past the steps and a pond, our climb was an interesting mix of abrasive sand, slippery wet black mud, boulders, bushes - making us crawl on occasions.
|Bare foot, interesting trek|
We stopped at hill's shoulder for a while - chit chatting, pics, enjoying views around - with someone naming many of the surrounding hills, some prank. A short climb later, we reached the peak. An open temple like structure devoid of idols was there. Quite breezy, threatening to blow stick figures like me and Ankit. Discussion and plans for Dudhsagar trek too.
By the time we reached base of Channarayana Durga, it was half an hour past noon. Villagers were playing with color powder, not unlike Holi, besides Lord Ganesha idol. The still gray sky and breezy conditions lessened the difficulties of climb that lay ahead.
A difficult slope right from base of hill, we found ourselves struggling to ascend continuously even for a minute. Numerous breaks and snaps kept us going, surrounding view of hills and lakes and fields pleasant too. The good news was that this arduous stretch required only half an hour, including breaks. Potential bad news was rain which might make our remaining climb and descent trickier.
Outer walls of fort and an entrance marked the end of this steep slope section. Once inside, easy trek wasn't the only welcome relief - trees growing on wall, lively lush green grass, couple of mangrove like trees at the edge of pond, various shelters and ruins greeted us. Rained for sometime, but didn't ruin our way much.
Another 20-30 minutes to reach peak. Spotted Madhugiri in the neighboring hills on the way. Apparently that trek has been banned due to some bad incident, it would be shame if it doesn't reopen soon. As we neared the shoulder high bricked walls of peak, rain blanketed all around us. Drizzled a bit on us too but cleared and spared us again. Windows in the wall blew cold air - a natural freshness like no AC.
|Atop Channarayana durga, rain all around|
The best and fun 'climb' was maneuvering stone projections and tree branches to reach a platform on the walls. Guess it was Abhishek who spotted it first, afterwards everyone had a go at it.
Vaangibath (Brinjal rice) was very tasty, which meant lesser wastage compared to previous trips. Followed by slices of cucumber. Abhishek managed to get extra piece promising oranges in his bag left back in mini bus (turned out he did have fruit contrary to our belief at the time, only it was mousambi not oranges).
A village group had reached peak by then. They were scouting for some particular type of grass, which they explained was used to prepare a medicinal mix.
We started our way back after entertaining and daring attempts of group pic. Descent didn't pose any trouble as rain had dried off. We stopped by the pond for a nice and long break. We had got separated into two groups - the first one reached the pond along a different path. It resulted in us meeting on opposite banks. We eventually figured that there was a path alongside the outer fort wall to connect the two, the mangrove trees made it difficult to spot.
|Mangroves on a hill?|
The steep slope portion on lower hill was much easier and faster to cross than it had been while climbing up. Three kids, full of wonder and curiosity about our group, saw us off while leaving. We stopped for refreshments (tea, coffee and rather colorful sodas :P) and feedback. Regulars were happy with continued good work from BTC while newbies expressed their joy of climbing seemingly insurmountable hill.