Its been a while since I did a trek and it was hard to get a full weekend dedicated for trekking. So, I planned something more simple - a day trek to Savandurga. I first checked with Tilak and Sudeepto - who readily agreed - and soon Santa and Gopal joined. To make it better, Tilak and Sudeepto suggested going in bikes - that would give me a chance to go on a first ride (out of the city, that is) in the all new Avenger DTSi 220. This was already better than I expected!
Btw ... the last time I went to Savandurga (in March 2004), it was quite an experience. In a most bizarre manner, I had lost the way and headed to the nearby jungle - ending up there for the whole night without any food / water and finally getting back to civilization after some dare devilry. To say the least, I wanted this trek to be a little less adveturous!
We started around 7 - I picked up Santa from his house in Indira Nagar, met Sudeepto and Gopal near our office in Bannerghatta road and finally Tilak joined us from near the Shopper's stop. We had breakfast and bought enough water bottles from 'Trupthi Upahar', again on Bannerghatta road and soon reached NICE road. My fuel tank was already in reserve and we had to travel ahead a little more to find a petrol bunk, before coming back to NICE road and heading towards Mysore road.
|At the Big Banyan Tree
There are few routes to reach Savandurga. Last time, I had taken the Mysore road till Ramnagar and then took the Ramnagar - Magadi road. Savandurga is about 3.5 kms from this road. An alternate option was to take the Bangalore - Magadi road and then turn towards Magadi - Ramnagar road. But, the shortest from Bangalore will be to take the Mysore road past Kengeri, till the Raja Rajeshwari nursing college and then take a right towards Big Banyan Tree (Dodda Alada Mara). This road will finally reach the Ramnagar - Magadi road via Manchinbele.
Savandurga is the hills towards left
It was a beautiful day, thanks to a blue sky sprinkled with white fluffy clouds. We reached the Big Banyan Tree (Dodda Alada Mara), about 8kms off Mysore road, by 9 and took our first photo break there. In another 20 minutes, we were at the Manchinbele reservoir overlooking the Savandurga hills - about 10kms from Big Banyan Tree.
Thats were we are going!
Soon, we hit the Magadi - Ramnagar road and, just a couple of kms ahead, spotted the right turn towards Savandurga. The road from here was not in a good condition and it was already quite hot. By 10, we reached a point with a clear view of the Savandurga hills where we took our third photo break. I wanted to take the bike in to the field and take a pic of the Avenger with Savandurga hills in the background. But, it was already quite hot, prompting me to delay this plan till the return.
Santa spotted a trail going up the hills and wanted to take it, which I resisted as I was not prepared for one more adventure here :) Ten minutes from here, we were at the Narasimhaswamy temple at the foothills of Savandurga hills. The trail to the top of Savandurga starts from here.
Savandurga is one of the tallest monolithic hills in the world at an altitude of about 1250m. There are two distinct peaks here, the Billigudda and Karigudda - of which Billigudda is a popular trekking destination and Karigudda is a lot more tougher to reach .
The location looked quite different from what I remembered from last trek. There was an easily identifiable trail leading to the base of the hill and then we had to walk on a rocky trail. It looked like I went further towards north during my last trek and then got lost in the forest between Billigudda and Karigudda. But, this time there were no confusions - the trail was clearly marked in yellow paint and it was hard to have any more adventure!
Let the trek start ...
The trek up started quite fast - it was quite easy to see that the whole hill was a single monolithic rock. Most of the trail was on the rock with very little vegetation in between. At some places, especially in the beginning, the climb was steep and grip was not very good, making it a little precarious. But gradually we got used to walking on the rock.
Can it take all the weight???
The first landmark was a pair of frangipani trees. The trees had shed all its leaves and looked quite romantic. Sudeepto found one of them quite inviting and started climbing up. The rest also followed him and soon I was clicking the rest of the gang on top of the frangipani tree.
The terrain being quite rocky, there was hardly any vegetation - except for some small grassy patches and even fewer shrubs. In some places, we noticed small pools of water accumulated in burrows on the rock face. This was home for tiny plants, algaes and frogs, leaving us wondering how they'll survive once the pool dries up.
|Door with a view
By 11.30, we reached the next landmark - a mantap made of granite columns with a single entrance to the east and three on the west. We took a longer break here, especially me and Sudeepto - the silhouettes, the blue sky, fluffy clouds and the views all around were too beautiful to be ignored - kept trying to capture the scenes in our cameras.
Sudeepto, Valley and the Clouds!
Finally, when we were done, Tilak and Gopal was waiting for us a little ahead. Santa had already gone ahead and there were two trails in front of us - one in to the forest and the other one out in the open. Tilak and Gopal had already tried the trail leading to the forest and it was a dead-end with a Hanuman carving on a rock. We too - me and Sudeepto - took that same trail, visited Lord Hanuman and came back, now ready to take the other trail.
By then, we could spot Santa perched on top of the adjascent hill, right next to the peak. He, apparently was getting worried as there was no news about the rest of us. Soon, we also reached that hill, with an open view of the valley on the southern side of Savandurga. The Billigudda peak - unmistakeable with a white temple tower at the top - looked quite close from here. Meanwhile, Santa opened up his bag and distributed some snacks, which re-energized all of us before the final lap.
Nandi @ Billigudda
We had to get down slightly and then climb up again through a trail lined with boulders. But, it was just a matter of a few minutes before we reached the Nandi tower, painted in white, on top of the Billigudda peak. It was just past 12 now and the peak offered a good view of the valley all around us - the only hill with a compareable height was the Karigudda peak, standing tall towards the west. I could make out that Karigudda is not totally rocky as Billigudda and one would have to go through a forest trail to get to the peak.
Santa & Gopal at the peak
Another day's work 
But, that was meant for another day - now it was time to enjoy the views around us. We spent almost an hour sitting there enjoying the breeze and the views all around us. During this time, more people were coming up to the peak - including a 6yr old boy accompanying his father! How I would like to come here again with Manu!
Tilak - lost in thoughts
The return was very brisk - even though the rocky trail did not offer much grip, it did not deter any of us. Especially, Gopal was running ahead of all of us and reached the base in less than half an hour. The rest of us reached down in another 10-15 mins. The best thing about reaching down was a tender coconut stall - it tasted so good, given the heat and I emptied two of them in a flash.
Feel like god!
By 2, we got out of the temple complex. I took a small stop at the first view point to get a 'Avenger at Savandurga' shot - drove the bike in to the field and then in to a rocky base. I hope the effort was well worth it.
We took the Magadi - Bangalore highway on return and it felt a little longer than the Big Banyan Tree route. It was about 3.30 by the time we reached the city limits and another hour before I reached home.