Friday, July 3, 2015

Ramadevara Betta - 27 June 2015

End of June. Rainy season. Day trek? Not usual. I have only once ever done a day trek in June, way back in 2010 - and it had rained plenty while coming down that day. I thought why not? It is not as if I would be alone, and a trek with BTC has always been fun.

We were to catch 7:30 AM passenger train (Tirupathi-Bangalore-Mysore). Another group (to Nijagal Betta) were taking 7:45 AM train, so it wasn't a surprise that I met two of that group in the same bus to Majestic. Hiren (organizer) lead us to platform 6 and soon after most of us had assembled. And so good to see Vaibhav and Sudesh again, whom I met in my first trek with BTC. Sonali (organizer) came just before train arrived, eliciting an apology - I like this from BTC very much, some rules have to be strictly enforced. A trekker soon found out why - missed the trek, despite the train starting about 20 minutes late.

Awesome video compilation by Rakshit

Unlike the train to Makalidurga, took less than an hour to reach Ramnagar. We had to sit cramped in different compartments and some took to top berth. So, we missed the usual Dumb Charades ice breaker. That didn't stop our scattered little groups discussing treks. We walked more than a km from Ramnagar railway station to have breakfast, near bus stand. Food was good, we packed for lunch and brought water bottles. And we made full use of rest room, despite the confusing 'No Admission' sign.

It was a hot morning. We hired two auto rickshaws to drop us about 3 km further, costing 5 bucks per person. The base of Ramadevara Betta was still half an hour ahead. Clouds and little bit of wind made the walk through village road pleasant. Villagers were attending to their everyday work at shops, only mildly curious about our 21 strong group in trekking gear, selfie sticks and cameras. Tall trees and hills all around. A good spot chosen for Sholay. As for us, we were again in little groups, changing now and then, discussing our jobs and the lure of trekking.

After a brief confusion near a small lake full of Lotus (we did enjoy taking snaps and pun on Kamal nevertheless), we crossed a village with mud road, another lake and a guard at the foot hills. A concrete winding road took us to start of temple steps, which made 'trekking' moot - steps all the way to top of hill.

A sheltered walkway with sidewalls to sit on provided the ideal opportunity to rest after the hike and introduction round. Most of us had been on a trek with BTC before.

Steps were boring and painful on the thighs. So we took a break by veering off for photo shoots by large boulders - selfies, jumps, group, ladies only, what not. The view of the surrounding hills, particularly the vertical one was pleasing to the eye. And on we climbed the steps again.

Shortly, huffing and puffing, we reached the temple, with broad spaces around and a cliff ending with pond. We spent a long time resting, discussing, pics, spreading out to edges of the hill and some snacks as well. Hiren then asked what we would like to do after coming down from the peak - overwhelming majority for boat ride against another hill trek.

After a short trek, we came to almost vertical cliff to climb - with steps carved and railings on both sides to hold. It looked and felt scary, especially while coming back with the wind howling crazy. We took turns to capture with selfie sticks and camera and Rakshit's GoPro.

The peak was even broader open space, with a few cacti and a nice pond with water plants and crabs. And one could spot the train whistling past. When we had enough of walking around and pics, we sat as a group for lunch. Tamarind rice with coconut chutney and snacks made it a happy meal. Wind threatened to spoil our no littering policy but we managed to get'em back. Again kudos to BTC.

Around 1 PM, we started our way down. Took us less than 25 minutes from peak to outside temple steps entrance. Hike to main road perhaps took longer. Again, we were in little groups and the discussion in our little one centered heavily on different trekking clubs and nice but less familiar trekking spots. Near the main road was a government (I think so) run facility providing treated water - 10 liters for Rs. 1

We hired two auto rickshaws to take us to Rangarayara Doddi lake, about 6 km from there. It got bit more cloudy when we reached and drizzled a bit during our 1 hour stay. The muddy lake was encased on road side by raised walkway and hills on around other sides. A small hill rose where we could climb about halfway (pretty steep further up) and have the lake in front of us. Other groups (localites I presume) were enjoying the two paddle boats and our large group prompted motor boat to be brought. Some were flying kite, tough controlling against the wind.

Two rounds to accommodate our large group, the ride itself short but good, especially for selfies and profile pics. And some took to paddle boating as well. We then took the waiting rickshaws to drop us directly to railway station. With more than an hour to kill, we hit the roadside stalls for chats, samosas, lime sodas, etc. And jack fruit on the platform. We got Dumb Charades going, but train arrived soon after. This time, some of us had to stand. Hiren worked trek expenses - grand total of Rs 151 for a fun filled day. And some of us topped it with refreshing tea/coffee outside the railway station :)

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