Bike Rides Bangalore

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Pearl Valley (Muthayala Maduvu) - The tiniest waterfall around Bangalore

Place: Pearl Valley (Muthyala Maduvu) Waterfalls and Dam

Distance:  90 km round trip
Type: Waterfalls, forest
Ideal for: Friends and Family
Permission Needed: No

The first time I had been to pearl valley was back in 2016 when I got my brand new Bajaj Avenger, it was the first-ever ride on that bike. Its 2019 now three years passed by still my madness to visit places hasn't reduced. Pearl Valley (Muthayala Maduvu) is one of the lesser-known places around Bangalore which is both hyped and underestimated at the same time. As I was already there before I knew what to expect as most of the visitors get disappointed after seeing Google images vs real images. But the motto of my visit wasn't the destination but the journey in itself. I was overwhelmed to see how much the place was improved. Read on to know more about it.

Best of the Beast

It all started with my zeal to learn car driving. I do love bike rides, crazy rides in the wind and rain but there have been situations when I felt the car would have been a better choice of commute (especially when parents were in Bangalore). I do have a driving license but everyone knows how we pass the DL test here in India :D I had been talking with my colleagues about this idea of renting a car and going on a short drive. My colleagues were ready to join for the expedition but little was the confidence I had in their driving skills. I knew I wanted to give this a try so I booked a self-drive car for Saturday morning at 10 am. After traveling in and around Karnataka for 6 years, trips have become a part of my life. It's like breathing, walking, eating. It's a ritual I do often to keep myself motivated. I couldn't think of any better place than Pearl Valley which is close to Bangalore and has pretty good connectivity.

Saturday Morning: We assembled near my office in Koramangala at 9.30 am. Usually, I make sure to escape out of Bangalore before 7 am to avoid traffic but this time was an exception. After breakfast, we walked to forum mall to pick up the car. After zipping through the traffic we reached the electronic city at 11 am. After Bommasandra we took a right turn to join Chandrapura-Anekal Road. We switched the driving seat, it was my turn to be the man behind the steering. I drove till pearl valley with a little hiccup here and there. But I was overwhelmed by my own driving skills :D

We parked our car at the Hotel Mayura Nisarga Pearl Valley (Run by KSTDC)  after paying an entrance fee of Rs.30 + parking fee of Rs. 20. 
Once you are here you can do the following things,
1. See the waterfalls
2. Walkthrough the valley as far as you can
3. Have lunch at Hotel Mayura overlooking the beautiful valley with a beer in hand.
4. See the Pearl Valley Dam (its as big as a lake)

Water Falls: We started walking down towards the waterfalls. To my surprise, I could see a lot of improvements since I'd visited this place last time. The stairs were nicely led out. There were viewpoints at regular intervals (still under construction). After climbing down 80+ stairs we came to the falls. Well, I knew the falls is a tiny stream of water flowing from 30+ feet but what amazed me was a beautiful natural pool at the bottom of the falls.

Well laid out stairs to reach the water falls

Construction is going in full swing to make this place the hottest tourist attraction

Well said.

Natural Pool: Govt has done a great job in constructing the pool which is perfect if you want to get into the water. There was a man already swimming in the pool which tempted us to get into the water as well. Sadly we didn't get any clothes or towel so we could only sit near the falls and relax. Moreover, the weather was very cold, which was pulling us back from getting into the water. 

Can you spot the waterfalls?

A natural swimming pool formed beneath the waterfalls.

I envy this guy who was chilling out in the water

This is how we chilled out for quit sometime

The Valley: For most of the people Pearl valley finishes right here but there is more to it. You can walk along the path following the water stream. It will take you into the thick forest, you can walk as further as you want. When I was here 3 years back the valley was really beautiful, but now all I could find was broken beer bottles and plastic everywhere. This is how irresponsible visitors destroy nature and in the end, everyone will suffer as the place will eventually get banned by the govt. Since there is so much improvement going at this place I hope it will get restored to it's best soon.

A group photo in the valley of pearl

Oh did I mention? You will find your old lost friends here :D

Lunchtime: It was 2 pm by the time we decided to leave, a perfect time to fill our tummy. As there are not many good restaurants around this place, we decided to have our lunch in the Mayura Restaurant itself.

That's the most beautiful view of the valley straight from the Mayura Restaurant
The good part of the restaurant is the beautiful view of the valley next to you and the best part is that the restaurant would also serve alcohol. So if you want to have alcohol then there could be no better place than this in the vicinity. We had roti curry, daal, and jeera rice. The food was tasty but the quantity was less and overpriced.

Pearl Valley Dam: After lunch, we chilled out near the dam just adjacent to the restaurant. I saw few rowing boats tied up, looked like there used to be boating activity but they were not functional at the moment. Last time we were here we had taken a dip in the water. But now there was a barrier gate which clearly indicated that we are not allowed to go near the water. After clicking few photos we decided to leave. It started drizzling which made the day beautiful than ever. I drove for a couple of more km until Akshay took over the steering. We finally reached Bangalore at 4. A day we'll spend learning to drive the car.

The boats you see on the left.. Well I wish they were functional

This is the Pearl Valley Dam. quite small but beautiful

The day ended with a hot cup of tea at Devesh house

Important Notes:
1. Keep your expectations very low while visiting the place. Otherwise, you will be disappointed.
2. The pool depth is around 4 ft which is perfect for playing in the water. Please don't pollute water by using soaps and throwing garbage.
3. There are no changing rooms available. 
4. It is a great place for people who like to pedal on their cycles.
5. If you are coming with a girl then avoid walking into the valley. There could be drunken guys who might pass comments on you. Till Waterfalls, it's very safe.
6. Walking deep into pearl valley might be thrilling but make sure you find your way back, make sure you remember the cardinal directions. You might get lost if it gets dark.


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Ramadevara Betta Tumkur - The most thrilling trek on this blog

Place: Ramadevara Betta, Tumkur, Karnataka

Distance: 70 km from Bangalore
Type: Trekking
Ideal for: Adventure Trekkers
Trek Difficulty: Medium
Trek Lenght: 4 kilometers one side
Trek Duration: 2.5 hours for ascending

Bangalore weather was pleasant for the past week even though it was a summer season. I decided to plan for a small trek near Tumkur. Last time I had been to Mandaragiri Hills, I could see a gigantic hill next to us. After quite a research I found that it is named Ramadevara Betta. It looked like a small hill at first, so I thought we can easily scale it within an hour. I tried to get more information about the hill over the internet but unfortunately, there was no solid info on the internet. I found a couple of blogs which mentioned there are many ways to climb this hill but the easiest one would be from the backside of Siddaganga Matha and blogs suggested taking help from the locals to find the route. I was still unsure about the trip execution but all I knew was "I had to go there and find it for myself".

Note: This is the Ramadevara Betta in Tumkur not the Ramadevara Betta in Ramnagar. If you are looking for the later one then do check this post

I booked a Zoomcar from 7 am to 8 pm on Saturday. My friend Anu was the only one who knew how to drive. She was an amateur at driving, she had very little experience driving on the highways. I knew it's not wise to rely on girls driving skills (never mind!!) but I made a strong decision and went ahead.

Saturday morning: I got up at 5 am and I was ready in half an hour. After picking up Anu, we went to Zoomcar parking spot Rajaji Nagar to pick up the car. I was a little scared about Anu's driving skills but I had no option but to pray to God. We picked up Bhims, Govind, and Smitha on the way. NH4 was relatively had less traffic as compared to the Mysur road but the toll gates were a bottleneck, every time I cross these toll gates I used to be on a bike, I used to pay no toll and waste no time in the line. I could finally feel the pain of the car and truck drivers waiting in the long line for the toll :D

We stopped at Pavitra Idli Hotel for breakfast. This place is famous among the people traveling to Tumkur. It serves delicious Idli and Vada. It will be very rush during the weekend but it's worth the wait and effort. After a nice breakfast, we headed to the Siddaganga Matha as suggested in one of the blogs.

Where is the trail? As per my research, the trek route or the trail should start from Siddaganga Matha. We enquired with two security guards at Siddaganga Mutt but both of them said they don't even know the hill named Ramadevara Betta and after we pointed the hill at far they said the trail doesn't begin from here. Even if we start from here it is gonna be very difficult to find the path. They showed us another way to reach the base of the hill from where the climb is expected to be easier. Following the directions given by those security guards, we reached a dead-end where there's no route available leading to the hill base. It didn't even take us anywhere close to the base of the hill. We could see the hill from far but had no idea how to climb it. We enquired some more local people but none seemed to know the proper route for it. Since its a very unknown hill and no one usually goes there made us a bit scared. Since we had girls in our group it was unsafe to do this trek anymore. I almost gave up the idea of doing this trek and called off the trek but girls were more courageous and said let's do it.

Siddaganga Matha

Enquiring about the Ramadevara Betta with the locals.
None seem to have any idea about it :(
Ray of Hope: We called up a friend who lives in Tumkur (currently he was in Bangalore), he said the hill is unknown but gave us a hint about the route to reach the base.  We were blindly following the direction given by him. We spotted a middle-aged man on the bike, when we asked about the hill he was surprised!! It was unusual for him to see visitors from Bangalore coming to trek Ramadevara Betta. He grew up in the same village so he knew how to scale the hill. He offered us a safe parking area inside his farm and also he arranged one of his workers in the field as a guide for us.

We parked our car in the private farm and started trekking with a local.
Finally the Trek Started: It was 11 am by the time we started trekking. For the entire week the climate was cloudy and soothing but today it was hot & sunny. The initial trail was through the relatively flat ground. Since this hill doesn't attract many visitors, there was no defined trail. It was exciting to see the untouched nature at its best. Unlike my usual treks this trail is completely raw, there is footpath visible at few places but its diverged at many places so finding the right one might be tricky. Even though it was summer the greenery at this place was charming. The plants were mostly throbs, so be prepared with full sleeves as you can expect a lot of scratches on your hands.

Our guide had all the energy in the world :D
The initial stretch was through a flat ground
There was no defined path. The guide knew the trail.
True wanderers find their own path :D
All we knew was - we have to get there
After nearly half an hour we were near the electrical pole. Back in time, these poles were laid to supply electricity to the temple at the peak. You just need to follow the electrical poles until you find a very big boulder (picture shown below) after which the electrical poles go through a dense steep path. The trek was going easy at the beginning but soon we were gaining altitude hence it was tiring to put every step. Upon that the scorching sun was making us more tired (and tanned course :P ). We didn't take many photos on the way as we were busy in following fast moving guide, he had all the energy to trek like a pro. We reached a big boulder, the peak was visible from here. We crashed down for a short break of 5 minutes. Looking at the peak we didn't have any confidence that we can reach there. It was way too far and looked impossible to find the way to it. The guide didn't let us take rest for more time (which was a good thing actually).

As not many trek this hill there is no defined path. You have to keep exploring the possibilities

The electric pole on the left is going to be the landmark for the trail from here onwards.
We got Lost: After 15 minutes of trekking, the guide said he lost the route. I asked everyone to sit and wait until I and the guide go and check the routes. We trekked down until we reached the last resting point there was no other path, the guide was confused and tensed as he was unable to find the trail. I tried to calm him down by telling "it's ok if we don't find a route! we can chill out here and head back". He didn't feel convinced. He wanted to give another try. We came back to the place where everyone was waiting.

Our guide was confused as he had lost the way. You can see the peak in the picture but it looked too far still.

This boulder is going to be a landmark for you.

We could see the peak

This path looked spooky at first. I don't know how will it feel in the night

Everyone was off to some rest before guide and I could find the way out

Hunt for the Trail: By now the climate was very hot, we had emptied all the water bottles already. The guide said there's drinkable water source at the peak, that was a relief for us. Like colombus we started finding the route, after 10 minutes we found the trail, we were on the track now. It was already late so we decided to take less break and keep trekking. The inclination was steep and every step was difficult to scale.

We were able to find the path finally. :)
We finally reached the peak at 1.30 in the afternoon. It was a big relief to finally reach the peak. I had been to so many hills around Bangalore but scaling this hill was one of the most thrilling and satisfying experience I ever had. It should usually take two hour to scale the hill but we took 2.5 hours due to the trail confusion. 

What do you do when you reach the peak? You jump :D

There were nearly 30+ villagers at the place, who had come to here to celebrate one of their kid's naming ceremony. They were surprised to see us. A kid came running to us and asked if we have come here for film shooting :D  Looking at the DSLR so many asked which movie or TV show we are doing. I replied with a smile that we have just come to explore.

We crashed under the shade to take some rest.

The rocks look gigantic and beautiful

Where you are on the hill every other hill looks so tiny. Isn't it?

The cave temple and the pound from where you can get drinkable water
There's cave temple dedicated to Rama to the left, we proceeded there first as we were thirsty and there's water source there. Inside the temple, there is a small pound from where you can get fresh water for drinking. The depth of the pound is way too deep so be careful if you are taking water from there. We drank water and refilled our bottles. The water was not clear but drinkable. Nothing happened to anyone after drinking that water so you can drink it without a second thought.

Athithi Devobhava: The villagers invited for lunch as well (non veg ;) but two of us were veggies so we refused the offer a smile. That's the kind of love you get from the village side of Karnataka, unknown people call you for their family function and offer food. Athithi Devobhava truly followed in our country. We explored the place for some time, we had a small photo session.

We had an amazing photoshoot
The temple atop is dedicated to Shiva. There are not many details available about the history of the temple anywhere, even the guide didn't have much idea about it. The temple premises is a flat ground with panoramic views on all the sides, I could spot Shivagange Hill, Nijagal Betta, Mandaragiri and Devarayana Durga from this point. It was definitely a treat to the eyes.

The rock wall surrounding the main Temple

Shivalingu worshipped inside the temple

We all chilling inside the temple
The descend: It was 3.30 in the afternoon the sun was high in the sky. It was time for us to start descending now as all of us were very hungry. As usual, the descend was easy and we didn't take much breaks until we reached the base. The man whom I met in the morning was waiting for us. I talked with him and thanked him a lot of times for his hospitality and guidance. He refused to take any money. It was nice to see the love by localities. Despite being strangers he helped us a lot. Hope we will get a chance to serve them too. We paid guide Rs. 400 for all the effort he took (we should have given him more I felt).

Back to Bangalore: It was 5 pm by the time we started driving back to Bangalore, I initially had plans to visit Siddaganga Mutt and Mandaragiri hills but it was too late for that. We pulled over at Kamat near Nijagal betta, where we had lunch/snacks. Driving back was difficult for Anu as she was an amateur at driving and the traffic was too much. We dropped Smitha, Bhimu, and Govind on the way and reached zoom cars parking space at 8 pm to return the car. 

It was one hell of trekking, I really appreaciate girls for having the courage to do the trekking even in such an unknown trail. Nothing is impossible! You just need the right set of people and some mental will.

Contact me to get the details of the person who helped us. He will be more than happy to help and arrange a guide for you.

If you found this blog helpful then you can thank me by subscribing to my youtube channel. I would appreciate if you could also share with your friends. I make amazing travel videos there :)

My youtube link: Sakre Cubes


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Narayanagiri Hill (Jalamangala) and Thimmappana Betta - Lesser known hills around Bangalore

After my Hampta Pass Trek, I said to myself "Dude you have spent a lot of money this year, no trips for the next 6 months". It didn't take me much longer to break the promise I made to myself. My friend Bhimu called me to ask for a bike trip to Narayanagiri hills, it has been always on my ToDo list hence I couldn't say no.

Best of the Beast: Iconic view of the twin hills at Thimmappa Betta
There was literally no information about this trek on the internet (that's the reason I wanted to visit it and write a blog about it). I posted queries in the bikers WhatsApp group asking if anyone visited it. Surprisingly a lot of them had visited this place and the response was good. I watched's video which gave me a pretty good idea about what to expect. Only me and Bhimu were on the confirmed list for this ride.

Sunday morning: I woke up at 6 am and got ready in half an hour. I picked up Bhimu from Kengeri bus stop at 7 am. Metro constructions and widening of the road made the Mysore highway busier than usual. After cutting through the crazy traffic we reached Bidadi at 7.30 am. We had delicious Thatte Idli and Vada at the popular hotel - Shivadarshana Shashi Thatte Idli (Click for google maps link). There are a lot of hotels at Bidadi but this one is my all-time favorite.

Must try Thatte Idli and Vada at Bidadi
We resumed our ride after breakfast and a hot cup of tea. The most popular route to reach Jalamangala is by taking right from Ramanagara, but the Google maps showed another route through countryside road. The Mysore highway looked too boring to ride further, so we decided to take the countryside road. The roads were covered by trees on either side. It was serene feeling to ride on this road cutting through many villages.

Take the route highlighted in the blue. It takes you through countryside road. Recommended for both car and bike. You can renavigate from Bidadi if google is not showing this route.

Somewhere near Jalamangala
As soon as we reached Jalamangala we could see the Narayanagiri hills right in front of us. There is a beautiful lake adjacent to the hill.  The google maps don't show the off-road path so make sure you take the right turn after the lake (Follow the route with the red mark in the below image).

Behind me, you can see Narayanagiri Hill. From this lake, you have to take a right turn

This Rock frame in the lake was interesting to me. I don't know the purpose of it though

Take the route I marked in Red. Google doesn't show that. You can put the maps into satellite mode as soon as you reach Jalamangala.
I would like to divide the journey into two parts now,

Off-road: The offroad trail starts right after we took the diversion from the Lake. Coming next is one kilometer stretch of the mud road. The road isn't as bad as you might be expecting the inclination is more. It wasn't too difficult for me but if you are new to biking then you might face little hiccup scaling this stretch. If you are doubting if your bike can pick up on this stretch then don't worry at all. I saw 100 cc bikes like Hero Splendor, Bajaj Platina parked atop. We reached a dead end after which we had to hike. We parked our bike and started trekking.

The Trek: Trek is very short and dead easy. Stairs till the top are hewn on the stone rock face. So there is no question about the directions or safety concerns.  You just have to follow the stairs until you can see the Lakshmi Narayana Swamy Temple atop. The trek was easy and we reached the top in 10 minutes. 

Steps are nicely hewn on the rock. It is assisted with a bar grip on either side.

You can see the parking area. Once you reach the dead end, you can park your bike/car and start walking on these stairs

As soon as you start hiking you can see this rock on the left. Good for dope photography and not dangerous

Soon after 10 minutes of hike you will reach the top and you can see Laksmi Narayana temple

I was expecting a tougher trek, it was disappointing to see such an easy trek. There is a lesser-known irregular route from the base of the hill which would make the trek considerably challenging. As there is no information about that route on the internet it was wise for us to take the route followed by the locals. I would recommend you to take a local villager if you want to scale the stretch from the base through some other route. There were many villagers atop, who came here for the weekend picnic. I could smell delicious Mutton Biriyani. The villagers come here to perform their rituals of meat-offering. It wasn't much surprising for me as I am used to it in my village. Most of the locals were having drinks and playing cards but they didn't misbehave. Be aware of what you might expect here. If you don't like such things then it's better you visit this place early morning or don't visit at all. This place is great for night camping. You can drink, cook, eat nonveg - no one asks you. But make sure you don't litter the place.
Front view of Laksmi Narayana Temple. The trees on either side add to the beauty of it

You can see locals preparing food outside the temple.

The villagers were kind enough to offer us breakfast but I didn't have it as my tummy was already full. The smell of the food was irresistible, I regret rejecting the offer till date. We visited the temple, had some chitchat with locals and spent some more time looking at the panoramic view around the hill. We could see Thimmappa Swamy temple from the top. I had been to that place two years back (check out my vlog: This hill near Ramanagara will blow your mind), I decided to visit that as well. Thimmappa temple is just 8 km from Jalamangala and it was worth visiting.

Me just enjoying the panoramic view from the hill

You can see the lake at the base and a countless number of hills around

You can spot Thimmappana betta not so far from you
Thimmappa Swamy Temple, Thimmappana Betta: We descended and started riding towards Thimmappana Betta. We reached Thimmappa Swamy temple in 15 minutes. I was so happy to see so many improvements at this place. This place was not a very known place until GoPro man discovered it back in 2015. The iconic view of the twin rocks makes this place stand apart from all the places around Bangalore. Lately, it has got popularity, which was both a boon and a curse for this place. The place attracted a large number of visitors, among which some were obviously the irresponsible. There was litter everywhere, people used to drink and break the glasses here. But now the local authorities have taken a good initiative. The place is very clean, no drinking is allowed anywhere near this place. I was happy to see this in a better form than what I had seen last time.

Thimappa Swamy temple

Good to see the initiative taken towards conserving nature.
I took my bike straight on the hill. The gorgeous twin rocks and surrounding nature make it a perfect landscape picture for my Instagram. We spent the next half an hour clicking a lot of pictures and enjoying the surroundings. The temple was closed, so we couldn't visit it.

We started riding back to Bangalore at 1 pm. We stopped at Srinidhi Military Hotel near Ramanagar Bus stop for lunch. It is a good recommendation if you like Naati style nonveg with ragi balls.

Delicious Mudde with Naati Chicken :P

After lunch, we started riding back to Bangalore. We reached home at 3 pm. A day well spent away from the hustle-bustle of city life.

Important Notes:
1. Even the cars can scale the off-road stretch easily. I saw Maruti 800 near the parking area at Narayanagiri hills.
2. You can also visit the Kanva Reservoir if you have time.
3. There is no permission needed to camp at Narayanagiri hills. You are free to cook nonveg and drink atop.