A fine Sunday morning saw me go on a trekking trip with couple of my friends. The agenda was fairly simple for us. We were going to climb one of the many hills that border the popular Nandi Hills and be back at our respective homes by sunset.
We managed to reach Nandi Hills by half past six. We wolfed some eggs and bread for breakfast while we asked the locals for directions to the various hills around. After our discussions with the locals, we found out that we were going to climb Chandrayana Betta that morning.
Chandrayana Betta is one of the many hills that dot the area of the Chickballapur district in Karnataka. Nandi Hills and Skandagiri are the more popular ones with the tourists, but the locals seem to know more or less all the hills as they visit the small temples on the top to seek the lord’s blessings.
The place where we started our trek to Chandrayana Betta is about 8 kms from the Nandi Hills main junction. A small trekking path ascends up opposite a temple with a huge Nandi statue. There is high possibility that you will miss this point so do remember to check with the locals near the temple.
We found a local farmer about five minutes into the trekking trail. We asked him for directions, but he went a step forward and decided to show us the way till about half-way to the top. The climb was steep, but not harsh. The trail was slippery at some places due to overnight rains.
It was fairly easy going while the local farmer showed us the way. But, the excitement began only when he gave us further directions and decided to cut the long blades of grass at that point. Soon, armoured with directions, we made our way forward. All was going well till we took a break at a view point.
Post that, we seemed to lose our way. We waded through thorny bushes, shrubs and slippery rocks for over two hours, but we did not find our way. After bearing the scratches from the thorns and the bruises from the various slips, we decided to retreat our way back till we find the right route. After retreating for about 45 minutes, we found directions marked on the stones.
We kicked ourselves for missing these directions and then started the climb again. By this time, the sun was beating hard and we were running low on water. We had carried no food supply with us. We lost our way a couple of more times, but somehow managed to reach the top. Enroute, we stopped for a long while at a couple of picturesque view points. The final stage of the climb is really steep and is completely rocky. And the heat added to our woes.
Just before you reach the top, you have to walk across a scary steep ridge. But this ridge presents some breathtaking views of the plains below. After a good four hours, we had finally made it to the top. In ideal conditions, we would have made it to the top in under two hours.
Once we reached the top, all three of us went our separate ways to explore the place. During my exploration, I came across the ruins of a temple and a temple pond. It looked like it used to be quite a big structure. Today, fishes and frogs play in that dirty temple pond. Next, I found another temple, but it looked like this temple was still being looked after. May be, the locals come here to offer their prayers on some auspicious days of the month.
As I approached the other side of the top, I was stunned to see some amazing views of the Skandagiri hills and Nandi Hills. Skandagiri, especially stood tall against the rocky horizon. After our long exploration, we found some shade and decided to take some rest. The cool breeze provided us with some respite from the hot sun. While climbing up, we had found no one else apart us on the trail and when we reached the top, we were extremely happy to find the place completely to ourselves. This provided us with much needed peace during our short n sweet afternoon siesta.
Our stay at the top was just over an hour. This was when I decided that it was time to start our descent. But, upon looking around, I could not find my 2nd friend. Hence, I waited again. Shortly, he turned up with some information about an alternate way for the descent. I said, sure, why not!
Thus, we began our descent from the side where you can see Skandagiri clearly. The descent unlike the ascent was through steps and we were happy that there were no thorns around. But, the descent was extremely steep and we had to take every step carefully.
Shortly, we ran out of water. But, we were confident that we could live without water for another two hours. We kept descending while watching the various quarries that lay below the cliff. At one juncture, we missed our path and headed deep into the bushes. It was a vertical drop down. One of us took it and went down. We could hear him, but he could not come back as he did not have any gear to hoist himself on the vertical surface.
Upon seeing this, one of my friends panicked and said that we should call for chopper help. I laughed and promised him that I would take him down slowly, but safely. With that, we ascended through the dense bushes and then found our way back to the main track. From here, we just took the steps down.
Soon, we re-joined with our 3rd team member. It had been three hours and all of us had not had water at all. Hence, we were extremely happy when we found a small farm house. We went in, asked for some water and got buckets of it from a garden hose pipe. After having quenched our thirst, we made our way to the main road.
But, the trek was still not over for us as our car was parked about 5 kilometres up hill next to the Nandi temple. It had been 8 hours since our light breakfast and all of us were painfully hungry. We somehow managed to get a lift to the car, had heavy lunch at a road side dhaba and then took our tired souls back to Bangalore.
This day was a great adventurous experience for all three of us!