January 2016 | Bike Rides Bangalore

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ramadevara Betta and Sri Revana Siddeshwara Betta - 31/01/2016

Places: Ramadevara Betta and Sri Revana Siddeshwara Betta (a.k.a SRS Hills), Ramanagar, Karnataka.

Distance:  70 x 2 = 140  kms
Route: Vijaynagar-> Ramnagar-> Ramdevara Betta-> SRS hills
Type: Temple, Trekking
Terrain: Solid rock with rough stairs
Ideal for: Friends and Family
Transportation: Bikes
Crew:  11 people

Best of the beast: Lake adjacent to SRS Hills 
So it was my 6th back to back trip, as I mentioned already Vinay had got new Gixxer recently, his first service was done so the beast was all set for a spin. Me and Vinay called our friends to check if they are interested to join the ride surprisingly the response was overwhelming, 11 friends turned up for the ride. Whenever we planned for these two places i.e SRS Hills and Ramadevar betta, we started with only 2-3 people but ended up with 10+ people turning up for the ride. Same thing happened 2 years back (1/02/2014) where 10 people joined the ride.

Sunday morning: We all assembled in front of R V College gate as planned at 5.30 am. Within 10 minutes everyone joined and we were good to go. Mysore road offered a decent ride with minor traffic. We rode at normal pace as to make sure everyone is OK. The first destination was Ramadevara Betta, as soon as you enter Ramnagar you need to take 170 degree right turn, use Google maps for convenience. It's hardly a km through rough terrain after which you reach main entrance to the hills.

The outer gate at the base of the hills
Ramadevara betta Vulture sanctuary, its always good to read about the place history
Sun shining in the sky as we walk towards the hills
Ramadevara Betta: The board said the timing are from 8 am to 5.30 pm, we were there by 7 am. We parked our bikes and walked rest of the stretch. After half kilometer we reached another gate from where staircases start. During open hours you can bring the vehicles till this point. We were the first ones to reach this place. We needed to climb around 400 odd steps to reach Lord Rama temple atop. Climbing through the stairs was interesting with the surrounded lush greenery, chirping of the birds and soothing climate. We took around 20 mins to reach the Rama temple. There is a pond, Rameshwara and Nandi temple at this place. There is a view point constructed here which offers a decent view of the surroundings but yet it didn't satisfy our instincts. The specialty of this pond is that the depth of this pond is still unknown. There has been efforts measuring depth of the pond by many means but none
were successful. 

The second entrance, during open hours you can bring vehicles till this point.
400 steps to be climbed from this point till the temple atop
Climbing stairs is never boring when eyes are greeted by the lush green
and sound of birds chirping makes your day
Trying some photography angles
Rama temple at the top, flat ground
Rameshwar swami temple to the right of the main temple
View point and place to rest
Most of the visitors return from this point thinking this is the last end but path to the left of the temple leads to the summit where the most stupendous view can be seen in all directions. The trail is short and path is clear. Finally we hit a big vertical hill which seemed to be impossible to climb at first look but because of steps carved in the hills and supporting railings it is easy to scale this stretch. Once on the top we were greeted by the view with a lake guarded by rocky outcrops and the horizon marked with a band of blue hills the panoramic vistas were a treat to the eyes. You can sit there and observe the vultures flying over your head. As it's a reserved forest for eagles you can see a lot of eagles flying over your head. If you are a bird photographer then pull out your your zoom lens and freeze moments through the camera.

Left turn from the main temple leads to the summit of the hills. Clear and easy stretch
And the scariest ascend is here. supporting bars would make it easy to scale this tiny yet deadly stretch
View from the summit, looks like one of those scenes from Hollywood movies..
Isn't it?
Vultures flying around for morning breakfast :P 
A lot of them flying around
Beautiful hillock right next to the summit
And that covers all the 11 riders (shadows count too :P)
Descending, its more scarier than it looks
Old chap claims to be there during Sholay shooting
We had another destination for the day SRS Hills so we didn't spend too much time at this place. We walked back to the place where our bikes were parked. We met an old man who claimed that he was there during Sholay film shooting. He said he acted as one of the villagers. He told some more exciting tales from the movie shooting as well.

We had tasty breakfast at Ramnagar town. It was just 11 in the morning but the sun was high upon us, we bought cold drinks and water to keep hydrated during the next trek. We headed to our next destination of the day which is around 12 km from Ramanagar. After 2 km we took left turn which leads to the base of the hills, the rest of the stretch is through country side road. It was peaceful riding through this stretch. 

Sri Revana Siddeshwara Betta (SRS Hills): We could see hill from far distance to our right. The blue shelter for the trekkers looks like a snake on the hills. We parked our bike, this place is extensively visited by a lot of devotees so during weekends you can expect good number of people around here. There is a temple at the base dedicated to Godess Bhemeshwari 

Sri Revaba Siddeshwar entrance arch
And the ascend begins
As soon as you start climbing you feel shelter upon your head is ruining the look of the hills but as you go up you will realize its importance when the sun rays hit your skin on a really sunny day. You see a beautiful lake guarded by rocky outcrops to the right which makes your day. The hill is really steep which makes it difficult to climb but thanks to the temple authorities who took initiative in carving rough steps to help one climb with ease. As I already mentioned this place is extensively visited by devotees, you can see aged persons scaling the stretch. It's usual practice for devotees to climb the hill on bare foot but it's up to individuals how they want to proceed. As you climb you can feel cool breeze kissing your face, the panoramic scenery across becomes more lively. 

The roof top gives devotees respite from the sun
Majestic lake beside the hill
Finally when you reach the top there is Rudra Muneshwara and Siddarameshwara mantapa on either side with a bell at the center. We then need to climb down a little bit to the other side to reach the Revana Siddeshwara temple. The moment you reach the top the monkeys would start attacking from all the directions make sure you don't have any eatables or offering to the God in hand. There is a water tap outside the temple where you can quench your thirst and wash legs before proceeding to the temple. Lord Revana Siddeshwara idol is installed in a cave and is beautifully decorated and worshiped. We spent some time sitting resting there at the peak watching monkeys doing mischievous things.

Such mantapa on both the sides
The bell
Descend a little bit on the other side to visit the temple
Revana Siddeshwara Temple
It was nearly 1 o'clock in the afternoon by the time we left the place. The descend was easy and fun. Had tender coconut water at the base to hydrate ourselves and cucumber to eat. We visited the lake at the base, its safe to take a dip in this lake but we didn't had extra pair of clothes upon that we were too much tired, getting into water and driving would make it worse.

Suzuki Gixxer
The drive back was smooth everyone reached home back by 3 pm.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Anjanadri Hills / Anjaneya Hills - The birth place of Lord Hanuman 22/01/2016

Place: Anjaneya Hills a.k.a Anjanadri Hills, Anegondi (near Hampi) Karnataka.

Distance:  100 x 2 = 200  kms
Route:  Ilkal -> Hanumanalli -> Anjanadri Hills-> Hospet -> Ilkal
Type: Temple, Trekking
Terrain: Stairs
Ideal for: Friends and Family
Transport:  Mahindra TUV 300
Crew:  Nabhi, Shankar, Basu, Chandu, and  Myself

Best of the beast: Anjanadri Betta Summit
Sometimes you visit a lot of places far away from your home but won't have seen a lot of awesome places close to your place. I was in Ilkal for Sankranti celebration, Chandu had purchased new car recently, so we called out for a short trip to Anjanadri Betta which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. It's hardly 100 km from my place, a good day out for us.

Saturday morning: After a lot of calls and coordination everyone was aboard by 6 am. The silky smooth highway offered a decent ride until Budugumpa cross after which you hit countryside roads and have to continue another 20 km. We pulled over for breakfast beside the highway I don't remember the exact location though.

Sunshine as we stopped for breakfast

Anjanadri Hills a.k.a Anjaneya Hills: Though this place is popular among the locals it is still underrated in the tourism department. It's very close to the Hampi, one can easily spot this hills from Sri Virupaksha Temple of Hampi. We parked the car and proceeded towards the entrance.

Stalls near the base of the hills, only snacks and cold drinks available.
Anjanadri hills, you can spot temple at the top
A close up of the above picture
Devotees do rounds around the hills
Thanks for the recent developments at this place, there are good stairs till the top. Around 570 steps need to be climbed which should take around half an hour and will leave you tired to the core. I saw many visitors from Maharashtra, this place is often visited by a worshiper of Lord Rama and Hanuman.

570 steps to be climbed
Some steep curves near the peak

At the summit, there is a beautiful temple at the edge to the right. As expected this place is dominated by monkeys which are believed to be the avatar of Lord Hanuman. As soon as you enter the temple you can see a glass tank where a  floating stone used during Ramayan for crossing the sea is placed. As you enter the temple core you can see Hanuman idol carved on the rock. Also is the small shrine for Rama and his consort Sita are installed inside the temple.

Temple to the right edge
Temple entrance
Floating rock inside the temple
Temple core, no photos beyond this point :(
We came out of the temple to explore the surroundings. The view from the hilltop is marvelous. Unlike in southern parts of Karnataka where you find greenery all over the place here you can see rocks everywhere. Patches of paddy fields looks like a solved jigsaw puzzle, coconut tree plantations and the whole of the ruins sites is visible stretching into the horizon. All around in the horizons are the rugged rocky mountains and at one side in the mighty Tungabhadra river. It was a naturally secluded strategically important location for a capital city. You can also spot the Sri Virupaksha Temple on the other side of the Tungabhadra river. This place is dominated by monkeys so be careful if you are bringing any food or offerings for God.

Monkey's all across the place
Bhadravati River, Koppal dst to the left of the river and Bellary dst to the right of the river
Panoramic views, you can see rocky mountains till the horizon
20x zoom: Sri Virupaksha temple can be spotted from here
Getting down was much easier and quicker. At the base, there are a couple of shops to quench your thirst and hunger. We drove back to Hospete where Chandu had some work with the car service center. We had a quick meal at the bus stand and then headed back to Ilkal

Conclusion: If you are visiting Hampi you can visit this place, you can spend around 2-3 hours depending on how long you are willing to spend time here. Having come all the way up, tired, with stunning views down, great unending cool breeze may tempt you to stay longer. Also, this place is very popular for watching the sunset so plan accordingly.

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Trek to Savandurga Hills - Challenging your Grit and Guts 10/01/2016

Place: Savandurga Hills, off Magadi Road, Bangalore

Distance:  70 x 2 = 140 kms
Route:  PathPartner ->  Mysore road -> Take right at Rajrajeshwari    college -> Dodda aladamara -> Manchinbele dam -> Savandurga Hills
Type: Trekking
Terrain: Solid rock
Ideal for: Friends
Transport:  Tempo traveler
Crew:  Me and other 15 collegues
Budget: 550/Head

Best of the beast: Fist fort wall
There was a buzz trekking plans at office so I jumped in to plan trek to the one of the most visited hillock around Bangalore - Savandurga. We were 16 on the confirmed list, Naresh helped with booking the vehicle while Krishna took care of arranging snack.

Brief about the place:
  • Standing as tall as 4000 ft Savandurga is one of the largest monolith in Asia
  • Savandurga is formed by two hills known locally as Karigudda (black hill) and Biligudda (white hill).
  • Savandi Veerabhadreshwara Swamy temple and Narasimha Swamy temple, situated at the foot of the hills.
Sunday Morning: Everyone started from the office at 6 am, I was about to join them at Vijaynagar. Cab arrived at 6.30 am, the energy and enthusiasm was clearly visible on everybody's face. Its very rare to see your colleagues at 6.30 in the morning :P Driver didn't know the route so I sat on the first seat with GPS guru to help him with the directions while everybody was busy playing Antakshari. Pulled over for tea at Big Banyan Tree. Though there are many ways to reach Savandurga I intentionally chose this route as we can see Big Banyan Tree and Manchinebele Dam enroute but unfortunately we were running out of time so we skipped visiting these two places. After crossing Manchinbele dam the road turned out to be pathetic, never take this route if Manchinbele dam is not on your watch list. 

Manchinbele reservoir: The photo is pulled from my previous visit to reservoir
After going through bad road we could finally see the hills. We finally reached the base of the hills at 7.30 am much delayed by the scheduled plan. None of us had breakfast but energy didn't seem to be down even by a bit.

Narasimha swami temple at the base of the hills

The Trek: Unlike most the hills I had climbed this one offers true trekking experience as there are no support rails or stairs for the entire stretch which makes ascend thrilling but risky. I will be dividing the trek in 4 parts. 

First fort wall: The initial stretch is the toughest one. The slope is very steep which makes it very hard to climb and makes one exhausted at the beginning of the trek itself. Since the rock is steep a good grip shoes is mandatory else a small skid could lead to serious injuries. The slopes can get really treacherous if it starts raining. The untrustworthy nature of these slopes earned them the name Savandurga (Savina = death + Durga = fort) which means the Fort of Death in Kannada. As you climb higher you will get used to the terrain. Many of us had a tough time negotiating the steep stretch, finally after half an hour we reached the first fort wall which is indeed a sign of relief as trek becomes little easy from this point.

Trek trail starting point.
Massive inclination at the very beggining of the trail
Almost 60 degree inclination, needs body balance and good grip shoes

Gravity is a bitch: Everyone feels like Michel Jackson :D 
First fort wall.

2nd fort wall: After crossing the first fort wall the slope becomes gentle and trail passes through scanty vegetation. Big group of 16 people was soon divided into fast ascenders, photo freaks and acrophobics. After a lot photo stops we finally reached end of the second stretch where the steepness is sharp. There are steps carved into the rock which helps to ascend easily. Finally we hit the second fort wall which is apparently more popular as most of the trekkers take a quick break here. One does not cross this point without taking crazy photo.

Just follow the electric poles, which finally leads you to the peak

You find many such arrows which guides to the peak
Final stretch before the second fort wall. Observe the steps carved in the rock
I don't know what pose it is bit it was the craziest pose of the day
Kallina Mantapa: After the second fort wall the trail is simpler and less interesting until you encounter a flat land. There is a big pond, a stone mantapa, and a solid rock building. You can see the summit from this point. Though it might seem far it will take less than 20 minutes to reach. 

Selfie time!!!!!
The first building you encounter near Kallina mantapa
Kallina Mantapa
Trying some photography. Observe Manchinbele dam at the background.
You can see the summit earmarked by the Nandi temple
Summit: The final stretch is the quickest one, you pass couple of caves then ascend very steep boulder. Finally you can see the Nandi statue which marks the end of the trail.

Admin team from my office were already waiting for us atop. We had a group photo before they left. The clear blue sky and the expanse of green below it make for a mesmerizing sight. Excellent place for photography, trekking in Savandurga provides an excellent vantage point for landscape photography. It was 9.45, none of us had breakfast. Fruits and chocolates helped us survive through the hunger. We spent an hour more taking pics, eating, meditating and just exploring the surroundings. There was a local guy who was selling juice at the peak, obviously at the double price. I think they deserve the over price they charge as its not easy to trek all the way up. But on the darker side there were a lot of litter around the place because of this. It was 11 am and we decided to leave the place.

Nandi Mantapa
Kallina Mantapa you can see from the peak
Another adjascent hill called as Karigudda (Black hill) Which is tougher to climb and very rarely climbed by the people
View of the surroundings and base temple.
Real meditation or drama I am not sure :P

Savandurga hills conquered by the PPties
Descend: The descend was quit easy as the gravity did the rest of work. Negotiating the steep terrain near the base was challenging. Took around half an hour to reach the base of the hills. We had tender coconut water and were ready to leave.

While descending
You can see the manchinbele reservoir
Descending could be tricky at some places where steepness is high
Back to the base
It was already 12 pm so we decided to have lunch directly on out way back. I don't want to mention it but sadly I broke my LG G2 mobile screen while trying to call someone :( :( :( We had lunch at hotel Athiti near bidadi. I got down at Vijaynagar, everyone was home by 3 pm.

Important Notes:
  • Carry water and food as there is nothing available on the hill or on the way.
  • Wear a good shoe with better grip as some part of the route are steep
  • Start early as to avoid sun as the hill will get heated as time passes
  • There are no proper washrooms available but you can request at Kalyana mantapa halls near the temple who would allow you to use the washrooms.
  • Please do not litter the place
UPDATE 8/8/2016: Trekking to Savandurga is banned.
Previously night trekking to Savangurga was banned but recent news from the forest officials said that even day trekking is banned at this place because of various mishaps. Please confirm with the forest officer or locals before planning to trek to Savandurga. Source:Bangalore mirror

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