Sunday, April 10, 2016

Avalabetta Hilltop - Story of a wanderer 10/04/2016

Place: Avalabetta Hilltop, Chikballapura, Karnataka

Distance:  93x 2 = 186  km
Type: Hilltop
Terrain: Hilltop with stairs
Riding time: 2 hrs one way
Ideal for: Weekend Getaways, Family Picnic
Bike: Bajaj Avenger 220cc
Crew: Solo ride

Best of the beast: Even she's at awe with the view.

Its been a month since my last bike trip to Shivasamudram Waterfalls (325 Kms round trip), in Mandya District of Karnataka. And as usual, a few weekends of being lazy in town, nothing much to do  other than bearing the excessive city noise and distracting lights and coping with fast moving city life, a yearning for a short escape from all the nuances of a city life beckons my soul. For a wanderer, I think its a pleasant sickness whose cure can only be found in the lap of nature. I heard about Avalabetta Betta from one fellow biker on Bajaj Avenger Club Bengaluru whatsapp group. And so, I decide to give the place a visit.

Saturday Evening: Pulled up my riding gears on and my Canon 60D DSLR. Couldn’t hire any wide angle lens the day before. So I am forced to be content with the prime 50 mm lens. I know its frustrating but I got no choice. But they say, its not about the gear but more about the person taking a photo right? And I'm still not so confidence with my photography skills. :P 

The Ride: I switched on the GPS on my phone, clamped it onto the mobile holder on my bike and at 2:30 PM, off I go. At an average speed of 80-90 kmph, I cruised with my Avy along NH7 like a … BOSS! :-D. Feels good. Feels awesome. Feels like God. Continued on NH7 till Peresandra (77 kms from Bangalore) and took a left turn towards Madikal. Passed through some beautiful fields. The road from Peresandra to Avalabetta is decent with few humps and potholes in between. But overall, it’s a good road. Reached Avalabetta hilltop at 4:45 PM.

Avalabetta Hilltop: There is a small parking space at the top. And some local vendors selling coconut water and some eatables. Parked my bike and immediately quenched my thirst with a coconut water from the guy selling them near the parking lot.
Want a sip?
Passed by the temple and climbed a little higher and on reaching the top, I know its worth it. The ride is worth it. and I must say its a beautiful view overseeing the plains and other smaller hills from atop. Though the sky was not that clear and its misty too. So couldn’t get any good shots. Took a few photos, rested a while and enjoyed the view and the cool breeze.

Few steps towards the temple
Laksminarayanswami Cave Temple

Its not gonna be long before the sun kisses the hills goodnight
Yet another view from the summit

Gentle slopes
Spent some time up there and then climbed back down to the parking lot. Tried talking with the local vendors there but the fact that I couldn’t converse in Kannada or Telugu spoiled the possible fun of getting to know them better. But after taking another coconut water from them, we are all smiles and laughing with each other and that matters. I then took their leave, rode just a little ahead more and reached a Forest Department Guest House. Took some pictures there and time to leave.
She looks good ain't she? My Avy. ;-)
Ride Back: Its almost 5:40 PM now and I know its gonna be dark by the time I reach Bangalore. There is nothing else much to offer in the area though. I met some other bikers from Bangalore, had a small chat with them. And then started my journey back. Its 6:18 PM and I am on my way back along the long winding country road. And reached Bangalore by 8:00 pm. A weekend well spent. And my nomadic soul well fed.

Conclusion: Its sparsely crowded, which is good if you look for solitude in nature’s midst.  And it’s a good spot for picnic with friends and family I must say. Even camping, I am told, could be organized. Hmm.. Not a bad thing for those looking to enjoy the night in a countryside, away from city lights with only the starts shining so bright. ;-) 

Looking forward to the next ride. See you soon. Till then, stay adventurous. Ride Hard. Ride Safe. And keep traveling. Cheers! ;)

Thanks for reading guys. If you like it, don't forget to +1 or Like and leave a comment below. Cheers!


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hulukadi Betta Trek - The lesser known hill 14/02/2016

Place: Hulukaddi Betta, Doddaballapur, Karnataka.

Distance:  60 x 2 = 120  km
Type: Temple, Trekking
Terrain: Solid rock with stairs
Trek lenght: 1 hour
Ideal for: Friends and Family
Bikes: Discover 125, Suzuki zixxer
Crew: Jayaraj, Vinay and myself

Best of the beast: Hulukaddi betta
Its been more than a month since last trip to Ramanagar, the hot weather wasn't suitable for road trips, though I had a lot of itch to go I convinced myself to stay home. One fine day Vinay pinged me with this beautiful off beat place near Jayaraj's home. Since the plan was called at the last moment, only three of us were on the confirmed list.

Brief about the place: 
There are very few unexplored places around Bangalore, Hulukaddi Betta being one of them. With a strong mythological and historical background Hulukaddi betta reveals some fascinating stories which dates back to thousands of years from now. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Veerabhadra and Lord Narsimha fought to stay at this place. Later Lord Veerabhadra took this place and Lord Narsimha took another place in Andhra Pradesh. Since then Lord Veerabhadra is worshiped in these hills. Its said that every year during festival in February, a giant snake comes to this temple and circles itself around the legs of Lord Veerabhadra's Statue.

The Chola Kings of those days found a natural Shiva Linga in this place along with a Nandi. They then formed two temples on the hill, one for Swami Veerabhadra and another for Shiva. During 11th to 13th century Cholas built fort walls and watch towers on several spots in the hill that can be seen even till today.[1]

Apart from historical importance this place is surrounded by lakes in all directions, offering an enchanting view of both sunrise and sunset.

Morning: Kick started the bike at 5 in the morning. With all the riding gears in place we were ready to zoom to one of the lesser known place around Bangalore. Though it was a typical summer time the cold at early morning was bone freezing. With soft breeze kissing our face and roads running smooth like butter it was one of the best ride in recent times. We took a stop for tea, took another hour to reach Jayraj's home at 6.30 am. Hulukaddi betta is just 10 km from his place.

After getting fresh we headed towards Hulukaddi betta, Jay's neighbor Abhi joined us for the trek. We reached base of the hills by 7 am. Though this place is popular among the locals, it is rarely visited by the Bangaloreans which makes it an idea destination for people who wants to spend quality time with nature without being disturbed by the mass crowd.

Hulukaddi betta: There's plenty of safe parking space for bike and car at the base of the hills. There is a shop at the entrance arch where you can get snacks, cold drinks and water. Please carry supplies as you won't be getting water and food atop. As we started trekking we observed that there were very few people at the place, I knew there was a night trek event by Getbeyond limits, so I was expecting to see them. The entire stretch is well routed with stairs to help the devotees scale the hill with ease. There's another route exactly to the opposite of the hills used by people long back, the trail on the other side is tough without stairs. It can add extra essence to the trek as long as you are accompanied by the guide or locals. Getbeyond limt takes you from that route.

Parking area at the base of the hills
Arch at the entance marks the start of the trail. There are shops to the left of it.
Well constructed stairs at the beginning. Painted white to help devotees climb during peak hours.
And then there are some roughly placed stairs.
As you go to the top there are steps carved into the hills with supporting railings
As we gained altitude we had enchanting view of dozens of lakes surrounded by green paddy fields stretched across the the horizon. The misty weather and scenic view was a treat to the eyes. The trek is easy but its tiring, thank fully sun wasn't too harsh on us yet. Half way through the trek we crossed getbeyond limits group, couldn't get a chance to talk with them though :( After repeated breaks at every 5 minutes we finally reached the flat ground, where there is a pond to the left and to the right there's a path to the temple. The pond is created naturally between shallow dept of the rocks. One can take a dip in the water here but since its stagnant water the cleanliness of the water was put to the test. We proceeded towards the temple but it was closed. Well most of the people think this is the dead end and return from this point. The real fun begins behind the temple. There is a small path behind the temple which leads to the other side of the hill, the path is short but be careful while crossing this stretch as it goes through rough grasses and you don't wanna step on any reptiles.

First view of the Lingapura lake. There are numerous other lakes visible but they are blurred in this photo
And there getbeyond limits group descending while we were ascending
Taking rest every five minutes but we always look fresh for the photo :P
You reach flat ground. Pond to the left
Path to the summit to the right. You are almost there 
Pond atop. One can take a dip in this water (dont know how clean it will be)
Took us an hour to reach the summit of the hills from the base. The backyard of the temple is most amazing as you can have a clear view of the surrounding hills, if you are here early you can even witness sunrise from this point. It was already sunny by the time we reached summit but the cold breeze kept our soul cool. We had snacks and some photos, we tried exploring the other path which getbeyond limits take. We tried descending from the other side but we ended up with dead end everytime. Even Jayaraj and Abhi didn't have any idea about this route so we decided to descend from the same route. 

The backyard of the temple.
Another scenic view of the surroundings. Its not clearly visible in the photos though
There we pose
Temple was open by the time we were returning (around 9 am). We had darshana of lord Veerabhadra and Shiva. We spent couple of minutes there before we left.

Near the Veerabhadra temple entrance.
The bell
Lord Ganesha and nandi idols are seen as soon as you enter the temple
3 feet door to reach the core of the temple where lord Veerabhadra's idol is installed and worshipped
4 feet magnificent statue of lord Veerabhadreshwara at the core of the temple
Shiva temple
Shiva Lingam at the core of the temple
Descend: As expected descend was easy and quick. We saw a lot of families climbing, also there were some kids who were taking dip in the pond at the top I mentioned earlier. We returned back to the base, we wanted to visit one of the lakes which we saw from the hills. we proceeded to the lake which was hardly half kilometers from the hills.

Yep!! we are just posing intentionally 
Lingapura lake
We stopped by the Lingapura lake to have a good look at it. There was no one who could tell us about the lake which left us clueless about the depth of the water. We didn't dare to go close to water as the dept seemed high. The sun was upon our head and we were dying out of hunger. We quickly rode back to Jayaraj's house. We were greeted by tasty food. After breakfast Jay's father took us to their mango and coconut farm. Had two fresh tender coconut water and talked with uncle for most of the time. I have no words to describe about the hospitality and care he offered, I liked him for his generosity and simplicity. He made us feel like we were one of his own son. That's the beauty of village tradition which we could never learn living in big cities.

Jayraj with new born cattle
That's how decently we posed in front of Jay's father :P
Riding back: Vinay and myself headed back to Bangalore, we faced hard time riding under the burning sun. As took around one and hour hour to reach back home. We returned back to home by 3 pm.

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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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