September 2019 | Bike Rides Bangalore

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. 


Monday, September 2, 2019

Getting out of my comfort zone | Hampta Pass Trek - Day 1

If you haven't read my post Why I decided to go on Hampta Pass Trek this Monsoon, then do read it before or after reading this post. 

Best of the beast: Crossing the famous Rani Ka Nallah at Jobra campsite

The flight was scheduled departure at 6 in the morning on Sunday. I had prior experience of traveling in domestic flight on my Goa trip and international flight on my UK trip so my previous flight experience helped me. I booked an ola cab from my home at 3 am and picked up my friends on the way. We reached Bangalore Internation Airport at 4 am. After security and check-in all the bags we were ready to board the plane.

The magical view of the clouds from the plane

The Spicejet plane was better than I had thought and getting a window seat was a bonus. I fell asleep as soon as the flight took off and directly woke up when we approached Delhi. We landed in Delhi at 8.30 in the morning. It was very hot and humid here. It is common to experience humidity in coastal regions but it was very strange to see humidity in Delhi for me. I then learned that the rain in the surrounding area makes the capital city humid in Monsoon. Delhi airport was vast and big but it wasn't as posh as our Bangalore airport. One best thing in Delhi is the metro connectivity. The metro network in Delhi is widespread, you can reach any corner of the city via metro at very affordable rates.

Delhi airport lane. One of the most high fi and amazing metro I have seen
We took the airport express lane to reach Dwarka where our stay was booked. The airport metro is very advanced and futuristic as compared to our namma metro in Bangalore. Knowingly or unknowingly I started comparing each and everything with Bangalore and I was glad that I was staying in the best city of the country :D

The rooms were shady and the locality was bad. We had the plan to stay here only for 7-8 hours so we didn't bother much about it. I wanted to explore Delhi in the given time but the hot climate and humidity made us not to step out of the room. 

We took the metro to reach Mandi House station which was the pickup point for our bus to Manali. We had booked the HSRTC bus, the AC Volvo bus looked decent and cozy. I would highly recommend HSRTC Bus if you are planning to go to Manali from Delhi. The bus departed from Delhi at 9 pm, we had a stop for dinner after which I fell into a deep sleep.

Couldn't believe I was finally going to the Valley of the Gods
When I opened my eyes we were already in Himachal Pradesh. Beautiful valley, pristine river, eye-catching greenery everything was so overwhelming to me. I couldn't believe I finally reached this place which is thousands of kilometers away from my home. I just wanted the time to freeze forever and I would never have to leave this beautiful place ever. We crossed Mandi, Kullu and Finally reached Manali at 9.30 in the morning.

As soon as we got down, we were surrounded by auto and cab drivers. The auto fare is very high in Manali due to tourism. A 4 km stretch costed us Rs. 200 in the auto. We reached Indiahike's assembly point Keylinga Inn at 9.30 am. The assembly time was 11.30 am. We freshened up in the common washrooms. Meanwhile, everyone reported. It was a big group of 22 people, I wasn't expecting this big group. The trek lead took our health readings and briefed us about the trek. 

Briefing session by the trek lead
We had lunch and were ready to start our journey. We loaded all the backpacks in the vehicle and boarded one of the Tata sumo to reach the starting point of the trek.  18-kilometer picturesque drive from Manali, along with 42 hairpin turns, has panoramic views of Kullu valley took us to the Jobri - the starting point of our trek.

One and a half an  hour drive through this route took us to the starting point of the trek - Jobri

Jobri. The start point of the trek
The trek was going to be very easy for the day. A simple 45 minutes hike would take us to the first campsite - Jobra. It was 4.30 pm by the time we started trekking. It started drizzling, everyone got into their rain suites/ponchos. The trail was through a mixed forest of pine, bright green maple trees, and luminescent silver birch. The forest is mostly Pine with an occasional Maple tree with its new lush green leaves – a pleasant change in the vegetation. It’s an easy slope and after 20 minutes into the forest, we came to a bend with a huge rock which overlooks a meadow strewn with small rocks.

The route goes through mixed forests of pine, maple and birch trees, and eventually runs along the Hamta river. 

The river stream was found throughout the trail

Mules gazing on the wet grasses

That's the first campsite - Jobra
The Jobra campsite was very beautiful. We stayed here for the night to acclimatize better. Most of the other organizers keep continuing and camp at Chikka which is another 2-hour hike from Jobra.

We got hot cup of tea and crispy pakoda for the evening snacks. Now, this is called real - High tea ;)

The valley looked like the one from fairy tails.

This photo was taken at  7 pm. The valley was surrounded by the mist and the temperature dropped drastically
It was drizzling all over time. We got a hot cup of tea and pakoda for the snacks. I was overwhelmed to have such good food in the mountains. We had dinner and finally went to sleep at 9 in the night.

Read my next story where we trek from Jobra to Jwara crossing the bone freezing cold river. Meanwhile, you can also check out my vlog on youtube. Do subscribe to my channel. It keeps me motivated to get new vlogs every time I visit a place.