Monday, August 17, 2015

Stepped Shivgange - 26 July 2015

Yet another trek full of steps (with railing supported final stretch) and temples. But there ends the comparison with Ramdevara Betta. The sheer number of pilgrims, vending stalls, beggars and monkeys at Shivgange was astounding.

After very long time, it was good to meet Chaitanya, who was the organizer at my very first trek with BTC. We gathered at Majestic before catching a Tumkur bus (the conductor having accepted to drop us near Dobbaspet).

After about an hour of travel, we got down at Dobbaspet. A warm up walk ensued as we didn't know that the bus was going under the flyover. We then had spicy but tasty breakfast at the usual BTC hotel (for treks around Tumkur) and packed variety rice for lunch. Twelve of us then adjusted in a share auto to reach base of Shivgange hill, about 6 kilometers from there.

Cloudy sky, especially the ones hanging around the peak proved irresistible throughout the day. I clicked about 450 photos! After the customary introduction session (good to see familiar faces from previous treks) we started our stepped trek.

Temples and statues were well built. The initial steps were sheltered and some them inscribed, but our ascent was punctuated by raucous monkeys running wild atop. Vendors kept slingshots and sticks to keep them at bay and I guess monkeys too had learned their lessons long back and turned their attention to unsuspecting pilgrims and trekkers.

Though it was easy going, the path wound around the hill and steps were boring to say the least. A little bit of humidity made it uncomfortable at times. We took break now and then, buying snacks to munch (spiced nellikai, kachcha mango, etc) and I continued to take snaps (weird ones as others named it)

The main attraction for pilgrims is a temple built on/around a water spring from rocks (similar perhaps to Namada Chilume and Antaragange). Some of us visited it while others chilled near a cliff edge with boundary walls built). We continued onwards after the break, coming across more pilgrims climbing up and those returning. And of course, more vending stalls and ever present monkeys.

Just before the final steep railing supported climb, we stopped by yet another temple for an extended snack cum break. We treated ourselves to butter milk, lime juice, cucumber and other snacks.

The final stepped climb was slow and steady. Just wide enough only for two persons side by side. There were plenty of us climbing and many were returning too. For most part, we had to climb clutching the railings. I suppose some would get a sense of Vertigo looking back down.

The peak had yet another Nandi statue (with its own set of steps) and temple on the wider area. One end of the peak had railing support and a tall cylindrical pillar. Two smart people tried to play sport by throwing a mango juice bottle back and forth over a monkey's reach. One of them missed the throw and the monkey gleefully scampered away with the bottle (and out of reach of other monkeys - it somehow managed to smash/dent the bottle, spill the juice on rocks and then gulp)

We spent an insane amount trying to get our perfect profile pic from edge of the peak, avoiding the railing, etc. And then reluctantly followed Chaitanya over to other side of the peak, which was relatively calmer and less crowded and monkey free until we reached, snapped more pics and then gave our relatively tired body a rest on the rocks.

After we had our fill of the peak, we reached the temple housing the water source to have our lunch in the sheltered veranda. The waiting line had swelled, so it was good that those who wanted to visit had done it earlier in the morning itself. We had to be alert for monkey attack and people nearby helped to keep them at bay. We had cane juice to top off our spending at the stalls before reaching the base. 

As we had finished it pretty fast (not withstanding the leisurely breaks), majority voted to take a bus back to Bangalore instead of catching train. Yet again, we cramped ourselves in a single auto to Tumkur highway. Just in time as it turned out, a slight drizzle caught us but we could make out that much more poured around the peak.

We had to spread out in the bus to be seated and as such couldn't have feedback in the bus. So, we gathered again inside Majestic for the feedback (mostly positive, crowd at Shivgange can't be helped) and then like the past two treks of mine, we signed off by having tea/coffee.

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