Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jalamangala (Narayanagiri hill)


(the first view... the spot on the top is the temple and the tree)
 
Mid hot April and myself and guru decided to go on a short hike to Jalamangala, near the town of Ramanagara close to Bengaluru. I got pointers to this location from Aravind’s blog post on the same (http://aravindgj.blogspot.in/2011/04/jalamangala.html). I presume this is also known as the Narayanagiri hill.

Directions: At the Ramanagara town signal take the right turn, a little ahead take the left at the Y junction. 20kms from here and you will reach Jalamangala village.
As you near the village, take the broad road toward the left and proceed for a km or so and park your vehicle at the base of the big tamarind tree. A clear trail leads you all the way to the top as we realized later. This is the easiest and best way to reach the top.
Else, at the fork, turn right and reach the village. You can park at any of the houses here and ask for directions to the cliff. This path is tricky and you may have to find out ways yourself and it takes a longer time too.

I and guru rode on my bullet first to Ramanagara to have a peek at the vultures. After some scouting, finally we saw a lone individual at a far distance away, noticeable was the absence of any activity on the cliff. Boards indicating ‘Vulture Sanctuary’ have been put up near the tar road (Latest update: the area is declared as a protected area for conservation of the very few Long billed Vultures left). After a good one hour we moved towards Jalamangala. As I had read, it hardly takes less than an hour for the ascent, so we took it easy and moved without any hurry.


As we approached the village, we could see the cliff far away and made the mistake of going to the village instead of taking a left turn to the base. The villagers suggested I leave the bike near their house (it would be safe from mischief makers) and walk from behind the village to ascend the cliff. I nodded as I thought it to be a good idea and there would be no worry about my bike but we realized the hard part very soon. The villager guided us saying – “As you traverse behind the village, you see a lake and a small temple, take the path next to it and keep climbing to reach the top”. All seemed well till we reached the lake and took the path next to it going upwards. We soon reached a hill top only to realize there was a bigger one to our right with dense growth in between. We somehow made our way to the top of that hillock to find nothing there and we could see another bigger hillock now behind us and with not suitable path direction seen. The sun was now all bright and fury and was pretty harsh and we had exhausted our water supply too. It was becoming increasingly difficult and the hear getting unbearable. After pondering what to do and resting for some time, we finally made up our minds to figure out the way to the top however long it may take!


Taking a narrow path and crawling amidst the dense growth we joined a fairly used track going uphill only to realize that was the actual well marked path to the top from the other side of the hill closer to the main road (as I have indicated above). Relieved, we started climbing again now following the arrow marks (thanks to the person who has taken the effort to paint the arrow marks everywhere) leading to the top, Traversing to the top on the fairly notified path in pretty much easy and you get to pass through the edge of the cliff at one point (lucking iron rails are there for support) and steps carved out in the rocks. Finally we reached the top to see the similar sight of a temple and a tree that was the lone identifier of this place I had seen about. There were a few people inside the temple complex drunk and playing cards, in all probability they had camped overnight, prepared a non veg meal, drunk and were gambling. Felt very bad seeing the sight but a lone Egyptian Vulture soaring nearby lifted my spirits as we sat and rested for some time. The sun was right on top now and we had run out of water and were feeling the heat now. We could see lot of small dry ponds around and remains of fort walls (not sure though). The tree on the top was excellent providing good shade to relax under. The view from the top was good and you could see as far as you want being a sunny dry day.


We then descended following the marked route and traced back the route to the village. Back there, I literally gulped some 4-5 bowls of water but still was feeling very thirsty and hot. Hot weather, hungry stomachs and tired bodies are not a good combination on any day J We asked a villager about the activities on top of the hill and he replied – “Yes, they do go as it’s a cool place, its quite common”. I felt like bulldozing him right there but kept quite not to create a ruckus there. The journey back home was uneventful and was a good ride on the bullet.


Tips: Carry food and water, do not litter the place.
Use your instincts if you can’t find the way, simple rule being you need to climb and so figure out how!
Ride safe! Be safe!
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