Skandhagiri is closed. No more trekking in Nandhi hills. Kunti betta is over 100km and so on.. Makalidurga is one of the still safe and allowed places in Bangalore for night trek.
60kms from Bangalore (49kms from Hebbal flyover), Standing at 1117mts height Makalidurga is the hill that will quench your thirst for a night trek.
It is Sunday morning 2.30am,
Makalidurga – One of the places where you can do a night trek if you are in Bangalore. Skandhagiri is awesome but banned. Climbing the savandurga at night is not safe.
Finishing my much awaited and long term postponed Savandurga Trek successfully, guys who did not join us there were interested in next trek. I finalized this place by first week of January and fixed the date as 28th Friday. I am not into night trekking thing, so I planned this a day trekking with start at 5.00 AM. My friends who can’t wake up at that time and the decision was taken at 12.30 AM in the morning and we started in an hour.! Whew.
From Hebbal the road towards Airport we ought to go under the first flyover.( Note that at the time of writing this post there was only this fly over. Future Flyover plans are subject to political parties :P) Take a left and head towards Yelahanka town continuing on to Doddabellapur. It was a smooth highway road at the starting for about 10 km. From 11th km onward the highway was a single (lane) way. Road till Doddabellapur signed “Work in progress”. We had to cover the distance for some time in left side lane and for some time in right side lane. It was really annoying when the switch over comes. But after Doddabellapur? It was only single road. No place for expansion even for the last 10Kms.
It may seem the road details are too significant for getting into a blog. But the fact is that we travelled on a New Moon Day, Highway (no lights) , Single road, 150cc bike, not more than 60km/hr speed, Opposite Lorry, my first time night ride, High beam on face. On top of that I had a pillion whom should tell that I am a good driver. The amount of cold going through my nerves are more than that of the chillness outside.
Nevertheless, these did not turn this ride into a nightmare for me. Thankfully there was some light thrown on for more than couple of stretches that were smooth. There were no vehicles on either side of the road. It is not the night ride to airport with full of yellow lamps, clean three lane roads and sight of hoardings everywhere. It was total dark and forest / very high trees on both side of the road. Excitement!
Reached Makalidurga Railway station, that’s what google maps said us even when we are in the main road. It’s a small mud road that goes left from the main road to the railway station. Parked our bikes outside and entered the station. While researching the station and the hill opposite to it, came the station master and showed us the direction we should head to.
Torch Lights on. Start the Trek.
It was 7 of us +2 dogs. No I am not mocking anyone, really there were two dogs that started walking along with us. Ten minutes walking on the railway track, we went to a position where there is no place on the side to get on to. It was a single lane track like this “/=\” . Without any hesitation came the horn sound from a train at a distance. In my mind I started hearing my bones breaking between the wheels and the track. Quickly Kuppu found us a small place to get on to. We stood there holding each other with no space.
After riding the bike to middle of nowhere and now this scene in railway track, I started to feel something bad in my stomach.
Without showing my stomach’s status outside, I marched forward. I know our exit was a 54/400 sign board alongside the track (simple homework). But I just Found 53/000. We were discussing how this markings would mean to us and concluding we are having another 1000 meters to walk. Wow, what a place to get enlightened about the railway signs. Finding our exit post, we saw a bright sodium light towards our left. We decided that is our trek entry point and went near to see a temple.
I read the blog lines “There is a temple with the small pond beside” and we were searching for the pond to confirm that this is the temple we are looking for. All this with one single torch light and 3 phone torches. Upon finding the pond you will not believe it is a pond. Since it is dark, we discussed if it could be drainage exit or something else. But I again read those lines “small pond” and we fixed that this is a pond. Hailing from a place where we use pond for theppam, I expected it to be little large.
I and kuppu went in search of the trial route. Others? They were already tired squiggling on the railway track and took out some oranges and started to slurp on. Our +2 companions were with us all the time and they showed us the direction to head out.
The trial route starts behind the temple. I started moving with hopes that the whole route will be showed by these dogs. Our next task was to find Arrow marks. I know this trek was guided with arrow marks. This is a often used place and there were lot of rocks around us. Every time I pointed the torch to some rock, I felt like there is some markings and signs for the trek route. First I got my railway enlightenment and now my archaeological skills are improving. Immediately Kappai knocked my head and said, it’s not marking but the dog’s ****. Suddenly there was a white arrow that we found and that beauty was on a small stone. I wondered, what if someone had turned that stone to some other direction. It was all drilled down to identify one arrow mark and the first one, after that, for every 20 meters we found one thanks to the people who painted these. If you cross an arrow mark and you put 5 steps further you can see another arrow mark. This is the first night trek and I enjoyed to my fullest leading from the front. “Ji here is the arrow mark”, “Dude I found the next one, this way”. When it works in our favour we transform fear into fuel, and anxiety into joy. Yes JOY!
Rising some altitude I turned back to take a look at the lake behind us and the stars above us. Stunning as it looked. We don’t get to see these many number of stars inside city due to pollution and lot of other stuff. And who does see stars in our routine life? If I said my roommate, “Hey I am going out to see some stars, are you coming?” on a regular day, he will not allow me to enter his room next time! It’s 4.30 am in the morning and you see all darkness with street light reflections over a lake at a distance and a view of a small village far ahead of you with stars above you. Do not expect a photo. It’s a beauty only your eyes can capture. It’s the touch of the air only you face can feel it. It’s the happiness of trekking at night.
We took three to four stops before reaching the top enjoying every single part of the climb. Every time we took a break, I personally enjoyed the stars above. Yet it would had been an awesome experience if the reflection on the lake was a Full Moon O. Still this is a different kind of experience with total darkness.
For me it was not a moderate difficulty climb but an easy one. I did not feel any tiredness during the whole climb and not a single time I said, “Can we break for some rest?” Later I realized it was because of lot of factors like, my excitement for night trek, my expectation of the difficulty. Moreover, there was no sun to sabotage my energy.
We reached the peak. Aye!! The time we reached is exactly 6.00am. Darkness was breaking and the dawn was breath-taking. I cannot explain the feeling and the sight in words. There was three sides of view. Railway track on your right, sun on your front, lake on your back. The fourth view, it’s the whole world!
Its sunrise time, Orange, yellow, Blue. Doesn’t matter if they are your favourite colour, they will not fail to amaze you. Then the sun it looked like an orange fruit. The sun rays projected the clouds so well that it looked like a white hat over the top of the hills around. Having strong roots in Chennai, I have seen a lot of sunrises on the beach, but this is not the same.
My friends followed their usual routine during the sunrise, very involved in taking photos. Later we were having some snack that we had brought. Licking the generously sponsored empty Nutella jar, I was wondering where the fort that I saw in blogs did and photos went? Did I miss them in the path that we took? Did I take some other path in the course? While wondering, there one guy shouted “here is the fort you are looking for “. It was right in front of us all these time and it was fully hidden by the mist that was around us. Just imagine how much cloudy it was.
Climbed to the fort and relaxed there for some more time. In these hills as far as I have seen fort is not the actual Palace that we used to see in the movies with huge walls, rooms, carvings and all extra carefully sculptured fittings. There was only ruins and remains of the fort wall. Seeing big big rocks that are arranged in an order, we should assume that it is the fort that was used for a defense purpose or jail purpose. That said, it is no lesser to be admired, it’s only I am not a big fan of these annihilated forts (walls).
Then we started our descending. Descend was on the day time, so we had certainly the better scenery for our eyes. The hillock opposite to us, small village in front of us, the highways that was laid in between the trees ( perspective from the top is such a cool thing to watch ). Our route down of-course was accompanied by our trekking partner who will always demotivate us, drain energy from us and who makes us forget all the pleasant experience we had. It’s so much hot that we had to take the tender-coconut from the vendor at the foot of the hill. As we parked our bikes in railway station, the two kilometre stretch took us more time than we took to climb the hill down.
That said, having lot of water from the railway station tap and pouring it all over me. We started from the place. Our next stop is some good restaurant in Kalyan Nagar. We did not want to stop in any other place. We wanted food lot of food.
Initially I was so much afraid to start a night trek. But this was a new experience. Morning when I saw the path that I climbed during the night it felt like, did this path looked that much scary at night? It was a memorable experience and I will sure visit again on a full moon day!
TIP: No tip. Not such a tough place though. Go for night trek, carry some matchbox and petrol for fire. That’s it.