Friday, May 30, 2008

Kalavarahalli betta (Skanda Giri)

Walking above the clouds -- A dream - a reality...

We had heard about this place, Kalavarahalli betta (also known as Skanda Giri) very close to Bangalore where you can literally walk above the clouds, and we desperately wanted to visit this place.

Finally after lots of ifs and buts, things fell in place and one fine Saturday morning in December 2007 we a troupe of 8 people took off from Majestic area at 4:30 am. Two pulsars, 1 discover and 1 activa were our carriers, we reached Devanahalli in quick time, stopped over for the much needed tea break. From there to Chikballapur was a slow journey as the activa was trailing behind and also as the ride was a bit bumpy.

There are two routes to this place 1> on NH7 from Bangalore, take a deviation towards Nandi hills and proceed further to reach Kalavarahalli village. 2> Reach Chikballapur and then turn right to proceed to Kalavarahalli village. From there ask for Papagni mutt (you will find many hamlets among the way before reaching the mutt who provide parking space as well as guides to trek to the peak).

We did not go up to Papagni mutt, but instead stopped before at a hamlet which had put up a board displaying the path to the peak where we found a guide also who would take us to the top. We negotiated with the guide and settled for 150rs for the ascent and the descent as well. Luckily the skies were pretty clearly and we started by 6:30 (we were a bit late), our trek to the peak. We just passed through a field and we looked up to see what was our target and hardly we could see some 50mtrs above us, dense fog cover was disrupting our view of the top.

The group got divided – 5 fast paced people of 3 of us slow paced walking amidst the rocks and mainly wherever we could find a way up! A hour into the trek we could feel the clouds ramming into us providing the much needed cool breeze onto our sweated bodies and my gosh it was pure ecstasy. We were almost blind folded by these clouds, could hardly see anything further nor up nor down from where we came, we were just in between these, with a sense of excitement, cheer of what would it be like when we reached the summit. Finally after nearly 2 hours of climbing for the slower paced, we reached the peak just in time to see these hordes of white clouds passing below us and we just stood in amused fashion admiring them and capturing them in our minds and heart and as well in the cameras too…. to cherish them for a long long time to come. This was just a trailer of what we experienced and it would be more fruitful if the peak is reached by say 6.30am.

We lazed there around no idea for how much time such enjoying the cool breeze and the views of the valley beneath in between taking innumerable number of pictures until our memory cards were full. Then we walked down lazily as it being a Sunday taking all the time in the world (then only we realized what a rocky path we had taken to go up).

But one thing which haunted us all the more was the disposing of plastics by unruly trekkers and visitors :(

What a shame !!!

Route: Bangalore - Hebbal Flyover - Devanahalli - Chikkaballapur - Skandagiri. Take a left turn inside the city, follow the narrow road to reach Papagni Matt which is at the foot of Skandagiri.

Distance: 70 odd kilometers from Bangalore

Tips: Carry water and food (if required). If camping there overnight carry tents and food to survive with warm clothing to survive the chilly nights.

Ideal plan: Reach Kalavarahalli base by night, start trekking from midnight to reach the top just before sunrise else Leave Bangalore early by 3am (preferred) so that you can just reach the peak in time.

Guide: Do not venture without a guide. Chances are high that you would definitely loose your way. Bargain and pay nothing more than 200rs for a group.

Request: Please do not litter the place. Allow the nature to survive and present us with many more such surprises.

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!
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