Sunday, March 1, 2015

Scary and Superb Savandurga - 22 Feb, 2015

The first time I registered for Savandurga through BMC was for a night trek on a Friday night. It got canceled. The second time I registered, we did rappelling and forest walk missing the largest monolith climb in Asia. After nearly 45 months, I finally got the chance.

Manoj was coming over to Bangalore for a training session and wanted to go for a day trek. I asked around and Arvind (whom I met in Nagala trek) also wanted to come. Bangaloretrips and Wikitravel gave us ample info about getting there and food options.

So, Sunday morning we got up early and got to bus stop by 6:30 AM while others were probably still peacefully asleep waiting for India-South Africa match to start. Coincidentally, I had missed the second match of 2011 world cup too when I went to Tadiandamol! We had to catch bus to Magadi from KR Market, so we let a Majestic bus pass by. As Murphy's law would have it, next one was for Majestic again - we caught this one, got down at Corporation and then soon reached KR Market. After a bit of asking around, we neared the outstation bus shelter. After cup of hot tea/badammilk at a busy bakery, we caught a KSRTC bus to Magadi. The conductor knew about Savandurga and told us where to get down. He also informed about one direct bus which starts at 6:30 AM.

Just after 9 AM, we reached the Ramanagara/Magadi road junction. Seeing a hotel, we decided to have breakfast there itself instead of Nayaknapalya. Thatte idli was decent but the masala bonda was too good in taste. Two each of them proved very heavy meal for us - and the cost? Rs 30 per head :O Right after, we caught bus to Nayaknapalya (just in time too as Manoj was almost late to get back after purchasing water bottle). We met two more trekkers in the bus. The conductor again was proactive in letting us know the bus stop. And as we got down, share auto seemed almost waiting for us - we just about managed to squeeze in for a bumpy 3km ride to base of the hill. The temple is quite famous which attracts pilgrims from nearby villages - quite a boon for trekkers in many aspects.

Plenty of tender coconut vendors as was promised. One shopkeeper got into talk with us and we ended up having coconut at his shop (probably fulfilling his wish :P) We finally started our trek after a short forest path. Plenty of villagers and trekkers (presumably mostly from Bangalore) were present. Some had come back and raised their hands in achievement.

Right in front of us was steep hill inviting, with clear promise of steeper climb ahead. We knew that one simply had to follow the electric pole lines to reach the top. And we had that in sight to the right of us. Without much checking out paths available, myself and Arvind started climbing the steep path. Once we had put in few feet and looked back, it was clear that it was safer to go ahead rather than climb down. Manoj, not so much used to steep rock climbs was left back. Having gained sizable height, we advised him to take the easier path on the right. As for us, we climbed a bit further and then took almost horizontal path to reach the usual trekking path (safety). By then Manoj had come up too. More adventurous ones were trying even higher and steeper climbs, once we saw two guys taking a path which would almost have reached the peak - that was scary just to look at!

Haze all around meant Sun wasn't baking us and when the wind blew it actually felt like AC. Helpful arrow marks and overhead power line was our constant guide (as well fellow trekkers either climbing up or coming back). It was mostly steep climb but here and there we could rest and sometimes under the shade of a large boulder. Given the large trekkers, there are atleast couple of boys selling water and tetra pack juice. They even try to be helpful by indicating how far one still had to go and then pitched in with sales :D Large number of empty packs were visible throughout the trek path.

We constantly were worried about the trek back but kept going for the moment. Enough breaks allowed us to catch our breadth and allow body to acclimatize. About 3/4th of the way, we met a large group on the way back with an injured person (sprained leg). Two guys formed sort of firemen hold to carry the person. Must have been really hard for them.

The path was very circuitous one, following the broad shoulders of the hill. As we climbed higher, the base became wider and wider. Cactus and other trees were strewn around too. Some of the grass had been burnt to avoid forest fires. The trek becomes lot easier but with intermittent steep climbs. The surrounding lakes, especially the one close to Manchanabele dam formed a pleasing surroundings.

Arvind had turned on GPS tracking at start of trek (10:09 AM) - we reached the temple at the peak at 11:19 AM - just 70 minutes. So, definitely a short trek, compared to Madhugiri - the second largest monolith in Asia which takes about double the time and has its own steep sections which literally requires railing support built there.

Wind was howling with short breaks. It did give us a pleasing weather but it literally was difficult to move near the cliffs. We rested for about 40 minutes, near the end of which we helped a small group of trekkers with water. My insistence of carrying 2 liter water each was finally being put into use :P

On the way back, we also visited a carving of Hanuman on a large boulder. There are arrow marks veering off the main trek path pointing to it. Lot more trees there too. And a nice branch, strong enough for one to hang from (hands and legs clutching the branch while the body hangs below) - we took turns to get our picture taken :P

Yet again, our preconceived notions turned false. The climb down was tricky but not very difficult. We even ran down some sections. Just 2-3 places we had to be extra careful, otherwise the trek back proved quite a breeze. Near the base, we took the much easier path (and this one too had arrow marks pointing the way). I think it took us about 40 minutes to reach the base, with few breaks in between and almost emptying our water supply by helping another groups climbing up (they weren't carrying any water bottle at all!)

Again, we had tender coconut at the same shop. We inquired about Manchanabele dam - it seems that the road is quite bad. The share auto driver we took back asked us Rs 200 (I think one way trip). We decided to drop the plan after all. While waiting for more passengers to fill up, we got a cucumber cut from nearby vendor (grand cost of Rs 10) - we couldn't finish it among us. And in a freak of a coincidence, part of morning group in share auto were coming with us back too!

Instead of the circle we got down in morning, we went all the way to Magadi bus stand. It proved the right thing to do, otherwise we wouldn't have got seats to sit. By 5 PM, we were back in Indiranagar - what a short, sweet and satisfying one day trek beyond our expectations (despite the popularity of hill amongst trekkers)

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