June 2015 | Bike Rides Bangalore

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Makalidurga Betta - Conquering another mighty peak 28/06/2015

Place: Makalidurga Hills, Doddaballapur, Karnataka

Distance: 64 * 2 = 128 km
Route: Jaynagar -> Hebbal -> Yalahanka -> Makalidurga Hills
Bikes: Bajaj Discover 125 and Bajaj Discover 135
Crew:  Sachin Rathod, Satish Kumar K, and Sagar Sakre(Myself)
Type: Trekking
Ideal for: Friends
Budget: 150/Head

Best of the Beast: Gundamagere lake view from the hill

Brief about the place:
  • Standing as tall as 3664 ft high Makalidurga is one of the best spot for trekkers.
  • There is a small fort on the peak protecting small temple dedicated to goddess Makalidurga.
  • Difficulty level is easy to moderate with trail marked by paint en route
Day before the trek: We were only 4 confirmed list, I went to Satish room located at Jaynagar on so all of us can start together. After dinner we were ready to go to sleep as we wanted to start early to avoid intense sun while trekking. Suddenly Gouda slipped out of the plan. Disappointed we dropped the plan and we watched movie till 1 in the night. That's when Sachin said what if one guy is not coming we three will go at any cost (yes this costed a lot :D I'll explain, just read on..). IWe three said yes at the same time, we went to sleep at 2 am.

Sunday Morning: Alarm was irritating us from 4 am, after snoozing it for dozen times we all woke up at 5.30 am, we all got freshed and were ready by 6 am. 

What the F*ck: I stepped out of the room and walked towards my bike that's when I smelled petrol leaking from my bike, I rushed to see some bastard stolen fuel. Not only he stole fuel he had cut the petrol pipe. It was still dark, no garage would be open until 9 am. Fortunately Satish had a mechanic phone number and it was Ramzan time so he was awake by now. Within 10 minutes he arrived fixed the problem by replaced the broken pipe with other dummy pipe. He was so generous that he didn't charge anything saying it was a minor problem. Finally we were ready to hit the road by 7 am.

Breakfast near TB Cross: Shri Raghavendra Tiffin Centre

The Ride: Satish was bit scared at beginning as it was his first bike trip but he picked up very quickly and over took us he went beyound our line of sight. After the first flyover at hebbal we have to take a left turn I stopped there but Satish had went straight without realizing the turn, we called him and asked to come back, finally he came back after 30 minutes. Time was wasted for unnecessary reasons like these, it was already 8 am we haven't crossed Yelahanka also. After Doddaballapur we pulled over for breakfast near TB cross. Its hardly another 15 km to Makalidurga betta, we refilled water bottle as there is no water available throughout the trek. The climate was cloudy which kept the journey peaceful. I had visited this place 3 years back with my college friends back then we had done night trekking I was excited to visit this place again.

Within few minutes we could see the Makalidurga railway station on left, there are two options for parking vehicle
  • Park vehicle near railway station and trek along the track for 3 km to reach the base of the hill. Most of the people coming on train will be taking this way.
  • You can park the vehicle near the base of the hill beside track there is plenty of space and some people would have already parked vehicle here. Though there is no one to petrol it is safer place.
We didn't wanted to burden ourselves with unnecessary 6 km walking. We chose the second option - parked vehicle at the base of the hill and started trekking at 9.30 am.

First view of Makalidurga Hills
Parking area beside the Railway track at the base of the hill
Railway track opposite to the hills
Selfish Selfie :P

The Trek: There were 3 other groups who started trekking in parallel. There is a temple at the base after crossing it you can see hill on the right side, start of trek trail could be confusing for first time visitors because I saw many people trying to take some weird path and ended up wasting time and energy. The route is simple - after crossing the temple walk straight for 300 meters, there is a small pile of rock on the right, on which you find arrow mark indicating to take right turn. If you find this starting point then rest of the trail is simple as there are arrow marks till the peak. At night it could be bit difficult to find the marks but be sure to search till you find it. 

The mighty Makaligurga hill
Arrow marks painted for the directions
Arrow marks painted for the directions
After the first arrow real trekking begins, hill was covered with green shrubs, the climate was cool with sun hiding behind the clouds for most of the time. We took small breaks at many places enjoying surrounding view, feeling the cold breeze and off course - taking photos. View of Gundamagere lake from the hill was incredible. The trek is realtively easy for all age group people except at one point where you have to climb a big rock which could be crossed easily with help of others.

After crossing the difficult part of the trek
Greenery all over the place
Having a peaceful time enjoying the view of the lake
A voice from one of the  group shouted "Hey Sagya, you are here!!" I looked up to see who is calling my name. It was my RVCE friend Rajeev who had come with his colleagues. It is really nice to meet your old friend at a trek like this. We talked for a while after which he rejoined their group.

Rajeev we met on the way
 Finally we could see the fort walls from a distance some more steps to conquer the mighty peak. The trek is relatively small with snail pace we reached peak in two hours. There is a temple at the peak dedicated to Goddess Makalidurga, after seeing the surrounding places we decided to take rest under a tree, it was almost 12 in the afternoon but the climate was cloudy.

Fort is visible, some more steps till the peak
Few more steps till the peak
Entrance gate of the Fort
Fort outer walls
Almost on the peak
Open area on the peak
Temple on the top: Makali Sri Malleshwara

 We met two guys who were also from Bangalore working at IBM one named Sri and other I remember his nick name Scientist, we spent half an hour talking about adventures we did. They offered water and snacks which we shamelessly accepted.

Two Guys we met during the trek,
From left: Scientist, Sri, Sachin and Satish

Eating their food shamelessly
View 1- East Direction: Sunrise viewing point
View 2 - South East Direction
Yet another view from the peak, the highway and train tracks are visible
Railway crossing view from the peak
View 3 - West Direction

View 4 - West Direction: Gundamagere lake view from the peak
Descend: Descend was much easier but had to put each step carefully as not to skid or get crank in the knees. Other two guys had plans to visit the lake but we decided to head back.

While Descending
 After having lunch at nearby hotel we started journey back to Bangalore.

Important Notes:

1. Ways of transport:

  • Train: There are plenty of trains run between Bangalore - Doddaballapur, get down at Makalidurga railway station and trek for 3 kms till the base of the hills.
  • Bus: The bus will stop near the hills from where you can walk to the base of the hills.
  • Private Vehicle: You can either park at Railway station or near the base of the hill as I explained in the post.
2.  Carry your own water and food.
3. You can also do night trekking and camping on the peak, many people do on weekends. Bangalore Trekking Club often arranges event to this place for night trekking you can join them as well.
4. There are arrow marks to help people follow the trail, these marks will be repainted every now and then because last time I visited 3 years back the arrows were there now again I saw the same at good conditions.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Kolli Hills - Bikers Paradise 13 & 14/06/2015

Place: Kolli Hills, Namakkal Tamilnadu

Distance: 700 km round trip
Route: Vijaynagar -> Hosuru -> Krishnagiri -> Salem -> Rasipuram -> Karavalli -> Semmudu - Kolli Hills Forest
Bikes: Yamaha R15, RE ThunderBird, TVS Apache, and Honda Unicorn
Crew:  Seena, Shaman, Srikant, Krishna, and Sagar (Myself)
Type: Water Falls, Sight Seeing 
Ideal for: Friends & Family
Budget: 1500/Head

Best of the beast: Kolli Hills

Brief about the place:
  • The mountains ranges from to  3500ft to 4500ft with the tallest peak Vettakaramalai, rising to 4663ft above sea level and covers area of 280 km². 
  • The Kolli Hills has 70  hair pin bends and hundreds of turns and twists to reach the top of the hills. 
  • Hills has two view points, a major waterfalls, 3 other small falls. A shiva temple and many other attractions.
Attraction at Kolli Hills:
  • Akaashaganga Waterfalls: The main attraction of Kolli Hills. Akasa Gangai is an enchanting 300 feet waterfall of river Aiyaru, located near Arappaleeshwarar temple it is the main attraction of Kolli Hills. 1302 steps lead down to the falls.
  •  Arapaleeswarar Temple: It is a 12th Century Shiva temple right opposite to Akash gange waterfalls.
  • Mini Falls: This is a small waterfall situated close to the Arapaleeswarar temple.
  • Botanical Gardens. This place is an ideal spot for loitering around with kids. There is a view point at the top of this Botanical Garden.
  • Masila Falls: Unpolluted waterfall is not as huge as the Akash Ganga falls, but good enough for taking bath.
  • Sikku Parai Viewpoint: Also known as Suicide point it gives an incredible view of the valley. Watching sunset is an amazing feeling.
Saturday Morning: I left my home early in the morning and reached Seena's home by 5.30 am. Since my bike wasn't able to withstand such a long journey I had decided to be pillion rider for Seena. Without wasting much time we headed to the assembly point - Kudlu gate. 3 other guys were already waiting for us, I was meeting all of them for the first time. After a formal greeting, we started our journey.

The journey: The medium traffic in the morning was not a big thing to deal with. We knew the journey would be long so we decided to maintain a good pace, riding at 80 kmph to 90 kmph on this smooth National Highway (NH7) was easy. As our stomach started growling we pulled over for breakfast at A2B near Shoolagiri.

At A2B near Shoolagiri

30km before Salem

After crossing Rasipuram we took a left turn which would lead to Karavalli - the base of the hill. The road transformed from broad NH to smaller roads, though the road condition was good. Another 20 km from here would lead to Karavalli.

From the Base of Kolli Hills

We could see Kolli hills stretching across many miles, the hills were looking more and more beautiful as we were nearing. How can we miss such beautiful scenery to capture in our camera? Stopped for a while for a small photo session. We finally reached the base of the hills where we had to enter the bike details at the check post. I asked the man how far is Semmudu, he replied "23 km". Well, 23 km in ghat section with 70hairpinn bends would be exciting we told to ourselves.

Check post before the Hill starts

The 70 Hair Pin Bends: The journey started with the hair pin bend number 1/70, apart from these bends there are many twist and turns which aren't counted. The uphill ride was thrilling, me being pillion ride was busy in taking photos and enjoying the view, Seena and other 3 riders were enjoying tricky turns. I appreciate Tamilnadu govt for such a good condition roads, there was not even a single pot throughout the stretch. As we were ascending the view from the hill was becoming more and more beautiful, we stopped at a couple of spots to enjoy the view. 23 km of the uphill ride with hundreds of twists and 70 hair pin bends took an hour to complete. We asked directions for Arrow Mansion lodge, another 8 km to reach the lodge.

Hair Pin Bend
Kolli Hills Road
View on the way
70th Hair Pin Bend
Finally, we reached our destination  at 12.30 pm, 6 hours of a long ride was tiresome. We checked into the lodge and had a short nap.

Directions Please: After an hour of rest we came out to visit the attractions at Kolli Hills, we mainly wanted to visit the waterfall. Seena asked lodge owner for the waterfall and directions, he suggested two waterfalls which he said are nearby one is Masila Aravi and other Namba Aravi. After having a meal nearby hotel we headed in search of falls. Since there was no network (except Vodafone) we had to depend on localities for the directions. Only Seena knew little Tamil, directions were written in Tamil so we had a tough time figuring route. Finally, after roaming for an hour we reached Masila Aravi. 

Dry Waterfalls: Our heart was broken when we saw the falls, a small stream of water was flowing from a large rock. It looked like a shower than a falls. Disappointed by the falls we decided to give another falls - Namb Aravi a try.

Masil Aravi Falls: A play ground for kids near the falls
Falls from far
Oh no water!! Falls or shower?

 We headed in search of Namba Aravi waterfalls. Again with the hard effort, we found the route to the Namba Aravi falls, just before the diversion we met another group of bike riders from Bangalore. They were coming from from Namba Aravi falls, when asked they said there is no water, its waste of time to go there. In return, we said the same thing about Masila Aravi. They were heading to Shiva Temple so we decided to follow them as we had no better plans. There was a sign board near the temple 'Mini falls 0 km and Akashgange falls 1 km'. This is what we were searching for - Akashgange falls is 1 km down which could be reached by climbing down a thousand. The entry gate to falls was closed the guard said no one is allowed to go after 3 pm, I checked my watch it was already 5 pm. We decided to come back the next day morning so we skipped temple for the next day.

Sakre view point on the way to Shiva Temple ( thanks Seena for naming it after me :P)

Sunset at Kolli Hills: After wasting whole day we at least wanted to witness the sunset from Sikku Parai View Point, without wasting a minute we started our bike. The view point was near our lodge so we had no trouble with directions.  We finally reached the view point at 6.10 pm. The view point was incredible, the panoramic view of the surroundings was breath taking. Sun vanished behind the clouds and the sky turned into black, we left the place after Sunset.

Sikku Parai View point
Surrounding mountains from Sikku Parai View point
Sun vanishing behind the clouds
Sunday Morning: Got up early in the morning and we headed to Akashgange falls at 6.30 in the morning. Reached Shiva Temple, had a little food at nearby hotels. 

Akashgange waterfalls: Climbing down 1302 steps was easier, the path goes through thick forest giving an incredible view of the beautiful valley surrounded by  mountains. As we got closer we could hear the sound of the water flowing.

Descending 1302 Steps to reach Akashgange Falls
Well constructed stais
A view point on the way
Valley surrounded by Mountains
First glimps of the falls
Last part of the trek
The falls was bigger than our expectations. In no time we all got into the water. A supporting rope had tied to help people cross the small stream. The water is hardly 5 ft deeper so crossing the stream wasn't risky at all. We enjoyed the falls in full swing.

Akashgange Falls
Akashgange Falls
A rope support provided to cross the stream, it hardly 5ft in deep
Here we dive in

After diving in water
Getting back was a tougher task with 1305 steps to be climbed. We visited Shiva Temple and we came back to the Sikku Parai view point to have another breath taking view.

Infront of Shiva Temple
Arapaleeswarar Temple / Shiva Temple
Day view from Sikku Parai Viewpoint

Ride back: After a quick nap we checked out at 2 pm. Ride back was bit tiresome, the climate was really hot at the beginning but later it turned out to be good. Stopped for lunch near Salem. Had tasty Mango in shops beside the highway. Reached Seena's home by 9 pm from there I came back to my room by 10 pm.

Place we stayed: Arraw Mansion Inn Kolli Hills, Tamilnadu

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