Monday, December 28, 2009

Night Trek to Skandagiri’s Misty Mountain Top in Karnataka, India

It was half past eleven this Saturday night when 13 of us in 4 cars met up opposite Columbia Asia hospital on the NH 7 highway. Our plan was to trek in the night to the top of Skandagiri, soak in the sights of the brilliant sunrise that this place provides and make descent back to our starting point.

After a quick pit stop at a dhaba enroute, we reached Chickballapur only to be stopped by cops. Initially, the cops didn’t allow us to proceed further as night trekking in this area is considered dangerous. But, after much haggling and pleading and us testing negative for drunken driving, they allowed us to proceed further.

Shortly, we lost our way in the dark village roads, but reached the parking lot thanks to some guidance from the locals.

At the parking lot, we were greeted to the sights of a beautiful starry night. Armed with torches and head lamps, we started our ascent towards Skandagiri. There was a lot of talking, fun and laughter in the first 30 minutes of the trek.

But, the climb got pretty steep after we took a left turn from a small hut on the trail. Soon, people restricted their talking and concentrated their energies on climbing the steep ascent.

We crossed other large groups on our way up. The night was pitch dark and which meant we could only see a short way ahead using the light from our torches and headlamps.

We had 2 short pit stops and 2 long pit stops on our way up. As we continued our ascent, mist cover started forming and there was a good nip in the air. By the time we had covered three-fourths of our ascent, the mist had completely enveloped us leading to extremely poor visibility. This is when one of us in the group said “No Wonder, the flights struggle to land at the Bangalore International Airport in the early hours of the morning”.

Slowly, but steadily, we made it to the top. The entire climb had taken us close to two hours. We found ourselves a nice spot and settled down.

Since this place gets a lot of trekkers especially during the weekends, the locals have set up make shift tents to serve the tourists with omelettes, noodles, bread and tea.

Soon, we got our camp fire going. As the temperature was dipping, all of us circled around the camp fire to soak in the warmth. All of us were famished after the climb and devoured countless numbers of tea, bread omelettes and noodles that was brought to us.

While we were walking, no one felt the chilly winds, but once we got settled into our sedentary positions, everybody felt the bite of the chilly weather.

Some members covered themselves from top to bottom. Some got closer to the fire. Some, cuddled closer to stay warm. And, some like me, kept talking and walking to keep my warmth intact.

The weather worsened by the minute and the wind kept picking up speed. Soon, it reached a stage, where everybody started looking at their watches and counting down the time to sunrise. To make matters worse, the mist cover intensified and drenching us all that laid in its path.

All of us felt that time was crawling. We were bone-chilled so badly, that we wanted to see the sunrise, run down and get into the comforts of our cars.

Finally, it was half past six and we made a beeline to the view point to watch the sun rise. The entire place was swarming with fellow trekkers, but we somehow managed to plonk our backsides at a precarious corner of the view point. 

We waited for 20 minutes, but could see no sun rise. We decided to give it 10 more minutes. Still, no sunrise. All we could see was thick mist cover. Dejected, all of us made our way back. We stopped nearby to see the ruins of Tipu’s fort. The fort itself was in a very bad state of ruin.

Slowly, we made our way back to our camp site and started our descent. The descent was steep, making us measure our step. When the descent took us through the jungle thickets, we had to exercise extra caution as the trail was slippery too as the dew was falling from the nearby plants and trees.

A couple of guys slipped, but all of us shared a good laugh after the slips. All of us made through the slippery zone in one piece, thanks to some great team work. 

As we continued our descent, the mist cover finally left us and allowed us to open our sights to the picturesque rocky hills and the vistas that lay in front of us.

The views kept getting better as we descended further. And happily, for us, warmth was creeping its way back into our bone-chilled souls.

We took 2 long pit stops on our way down to admire our surroundings and capture the beauty in our lens.

At certain points in our descent, the hills opposite us wore different shades of yellow and made for a very pretty sight. The different shades were a result of the sun rays getting refracted in the floating mist.

We had nearly completed our descent when I looked back. I was awed at the sight of the mighty Skandagiri Hills that we had climbed in the night.

The Skandagiri hills lay mighty and loomed large over its surroundings. No wonder, Tipu decided to build his fort here.

As the sun crept up, the lakes and the greens in the yonder became visible. Our entire vicinity seemed very pleasing to the eye.

After a relaxed descent of close to two hours, we had finally finished our trek.

We celebrated the successful completion with some excellent tender coconut water from the country side.

Soon, we made our way back to Bangalore. We made a final pit stop at Cafe Coffee Day for our morning coffee and then enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Maiyas in Jayanagar.

Overall, a very memorable and interesting trek. A HUGE THANK YOU to the alpha male of the pack, Deepak, for organizing this entire trip and bringing together a very interesting group.

Welcome to BE ON THE ROAD Travel Blog! I am Sankara, its founder, a 30 something male from Bangalore who is living his dream of exploring the world and simultaneously trying to inspire others to live their dream.
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