Saturday, July 23, 2016

Madhugiri Fort - Asia's second largest monolith 23/07/2016


Place: Madhugiri Fort, Karnataka

Distance: 100 * 2 = 200 km
Type: Trekking
Trek Lenght: 4 hours ascend
Trek difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Ideal for: Friends
Transportation: Mini bus
Crew: Me and 25 other colleagues

It's been 5 months since my last trek to Hulukaddi betta. I have covered most of best trekking places around Bangalore in my blog but Madhugiri was the missing one. I had done Madhugiri trek back in 2013, neither I had proper photos nor I could remember much things to write a post. So I decided to recreate the memories and post it for you guys. Since it's far, riding bike for such long distance, trekking and riding back would be hectic (we did it last time ;). There's a trekking group at my office, I posted an event and invited everyone, response was huge and head count reached up to 24. With big group comes bigger responsibilities, Naresh helped me a lot in arranging the transportation and refreshments.

Since it's far, we decided to leave at 5 am to avoid heat during the trek. It should take 2 to 2.5 hours to reach depending on the breaks.


Best of the Beast: Turret at Madhugiri fort

Saturday morning: Naresh along with 20 others started from office, me and 2 more guys joined them at Gurguntepalya at 6 am. Most of us were sleepy, pulled over at Koratgeri for breakfast. Another half an hour of drive took us to Madhugiri.


Energetic at the start of the trek

The out most wall of the fort, there are govt offices inside this now

You can park your vehicle safely at this point


This is the starting point of the trekking, there is a temple to the left (yellow wall)

The trek: We started trek at 8.30 am, climate was pleasant which should make the trek a good experience. The trek route is quite simple, but the trail is very long. Let me divide this stretch into 4 parts.


This is the exact feeling you will get while trekking Madhugiri


First stretch - The first stretch has several steps to carry you on your way. These are fairly easy to climb and will take you through a series of beautifully carved stone corridors, leading you to a relatively large tank and an outpost. The wind welcomes you at this spot, from where you can see a huge hillock, a preview of the trek ahead of you. While everyone was busy exploring trails at Madhugiri, I was experimenting with manual mode on my SLR. I was enjoying taking pictures as the rocks covered with the lush green made photos look gorgeous.


You can expect more beautiful photos now on. Like my page, I post there regularly

Photos know no fear :P

Beautiful walls of the fort which is giving fort a spectacular look

Nicely placed stone slabs as stairs at the beginning of the trek, seems easy but wait for the next stretch

The path goes in zigzac fashion, you can see the doors at regular intervals 

Lush green guarded by the rocks makes it perfect place to take a pic

Guys were bored with straight stairs so they spread to find their own trail :P don't try this!!

Mantaps are there at regular intervals to crash in and take rest. It will be your savior if trekking on a sunny day
Nearly an hour later we reached a flat ground, with turret on one side, pound at the bottom and beautiful view all around. It was tempting to explore this part but I knew we had a long way to go. I refrained from spending a lot of time here as it will become too hot while covering rest of the stretch. This is the most beautiful spot throughout the stretch


No words to explain this art. I love this structure which is so perfect even after it has been ruined over year
Presenting you the best part of the trek. A pond, a big turret and green grass everywhere

The biggest turret of the fort, its view is even more spectacular as you go up

Second stretch: The flat ground I described above is starting of the second stretch. From here the slope is little more inclined. The steps are now carved inside the rock, you get railings for support. After 20 minutes of trek you will finally reach the toughest part of the trek.


One might think that's the peak, but wait you have a long way still
From this point there are no stair cases, but there are grooves and supporting railings

The view of the surrounding becomes more and more beautiful with every step

The guys who wanted to find their own trail at the beginning of the trek were tired to follow the simple st :P

The turret looks even more beautiful when you go up.

Observe the outer wall of the fort, I could spend my entire day just sitting there and enjoying the view
A panoramic view of Madhugiri town and surrounding hills

Third stretch:
 The third stretch is the most talked about, perceived as dangerous by many but in reality, anybody who makes up their mind can successfully conquer this stretch. The inclination is close to 60 - 70 degree, requiring trekkers to get down on all fours and crawl their way forward. It is strenuous and very challenging. On account of this stretch, sturdy footwear is a must on your trek of Madhugiri Fort. There are grooves in the rock, offering support to crawling climbers, last time I visited this place there was supporting railings which is no more there making it more scary to cross. It's not difficult but scary, I saw other group of boys who returned from this point. Even 6 guys from our group decided to stop here as they were afraid of heights. I appreciate girls in our group who crossed the stretch without any fear. After this stretch there are no supporting railings or grooves in the rock. At some places the rock is steep where we had to knee down and crawl. During rainy season it could be really difficult to cross this stretch.


Here comes the toughest part of the stretch, the supporting railings is broken, only grooves in the rock is there for the support

I am not really sure what NBF means but it points towards the peak, so just follow it. 

The stupendous view makes you forget all the pain you took to trek this stretch

There are neither supporting railings nor grooves in the rocks from the third stretch
Fourth stretch: The final stretch is fairly the easiest one, the inclination is less and its just a simple walk. The surrounding view greets your eyes and you feel its worth the effort you put to trek all the way up.





There are neither supporting railings nor grooves in the rocks

Just trying different composition, bear with me for a while 

Who said guy with a DLSR can never get a good pic of himself ;) thanks struggling photographer for clicking this nice pic of me

If you think thats the peak then again you are wrong :P its still a long way to the peak. 

Isn't that's scary and beautiful at the same time?

I always feel like conquering all the hills I could see. 

The peak: After a lot of breaks we finally reached the peak at 10.50 am. Another team from my office were already waiting at the peak. At the top of the hill are several ancient structures that you can explore as well as the Gopalkrishna Temple. A one story stone structure with a tiny hole to let in only a single ray of light, it fascinates all who encounter it.  The thick dome shaped stone granaries that were built to store perishables still remain, and even saved the lives of Freedom Fighters.


Finally. This wall marks the peak.

Symmetry. 
Yepppy finally we are at the peak. The girl beside me had almost gave up, I struggled so hard to keep her going :)



The jail at the peak.

Conquered another mighty peak \../

Nanu kannadiga:
PS (non kannadiga readers): please try to learn bit of Kannada we feel very happy :) 

Pose like a pro 
Stupendous view of the surrounding valley on the other side of the hill
The back of of this jail is where the most stupendous views can be seen in all directions. It offered beautiful 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.

Descend: We did photo session for another hour and started descending. Unlike at many places where descend is quick and easy the scene is different at madhugiri. Though you will not spend much energy to descend, it's bit tough as steep stretches are difficult to descend than ascend. It took nearly an hour to reach the base of the hill.


Getting down is scarier than ascending

No camera, no mobile, no money, no tension - just enjoy the nature

The toughest part of the trek is more scary while descending

Those are the guys from our group who decided to stay back. One bold step would have made their day. 
There are not many hotels at madhugiri. We could have planned to have lunch at dhaba on Tumkur highway but keeping budget in mind we chose Shanti Sagar hotel just opposite to Madhugiri bus stop near the base of the hill. We reached back Bangalore by 3 pm.

By the way I forgot to introduce you to my new Canon DSLR. I got pretty good shots and much longer battery life. So you can expect quality photos in my future posts.

Conclusion: It was one hell of a trek I must say. Because of cold climate we didn't feel much tired but if you start your trek late especially in summer you will suffer really bad. It's a pretty long stretch putting yourself through tough test.

Thanks Naresh and all my other friends who made this trek possible :)

Important Notes:
1. There is clean washroom at the Madhugiri bus stand which is just at the starting point of the trek.
2. Carry water and food as you will not find anything atop. There are no monkeys so you can pack your breakfast or lunch and have it.
3. Make sure you leave no garbage behind not even wrapper of candy you ate.


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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pearl valley (Muthayala maduvu) and Thattekere - Meet my new beast 02/07/2016

Places: Thattekere and Pearl valley (Muthyala Maduvu)

Distance:  140 km round trip
Type: Lake, water falls, forest
Ideal for: Friends and Family
Bikes: Bajaj Avenger and Karizma
Crew: Mahantesh, Vishwanath, Bhimu and myself

Well the time has come, I would like to introduce you to my new beast. Its been nearly 2 months since I bought new Avenger Street, I couldn't go on trips because of two reasons,
1. Bike was in Run-in period, so I am not supposed to cross 50 kmph and no long rides.
2. It was damn hot, not an ideal time for the bikers and trekkers.

As days rolled temperature had come down and my thirst for the ride had reached its peak. Since bike was still in run-in period I wanted to go for short ride so as to not damage the engine but still enjoy the ride. I was talking with my colleague Mahantesh who was doing back to back trips, we decided to go for a short ride to Thattekere. Mahantesh said will start by 12 in the afternoon, I usually prefer morning rides but it was going to be a new experience so I agreed.

Best of the beast:  Feel * Like * God  

Brief about the places:

Thattekere:  Thattekere lake, situated in elephant corridor of Bannerghatta National Park and it is a birdwatching place. It used to be the best spot for bird watchers, photographers and cyclists but lately the place has been banned for visitors to see.

Pearl Valley a.k.a Muthayala Maduvu:  The place is famous for its waterfall and the beautiful mountain ranges it overlooks. this secluded place makes a fascinating picnic spot.

Saturday afternoon: I left my home at 12 in the afternoon, since Mahantesh and Vishwa were coming from Indiranagar we decided to assemble at silk board. I took route via Banashankari through ring road which was a traffic nightmare, its the reason why early morning rides are the best as you can avoid traffic. Took nearly an hour to reach Silk Board from where Bhimu joined me. Other two guys were waiting after Bommasandra.

The ride: Started navigation to Thattekere, electronic city flyover is considered as racing track for Bangaloreans but I was out of race this time as I was not supposed to ride fast :( Took right turn at Bommasandra, after couple of kilometers we pulled over at bakery where Mahantesh and Vishwa were waiting. It was 1.30 in the afternoon, ideal time for lunch but we weren't hungry so we bought some snacks and soft drinks. Thattekere is just 25 km more, route goes through country side roads. Condition of the road was bad until we crossed Ragihalli. The last 5 km stretch goes through Bannerghatta national park limits, this is the best stretch it reminded me of Mutathi. I had read about many cyclists peddling to Thattekere, now I got reason why?. Finally we took left turn to Thattekere which goes through a small village and leads directly to the Mahadeshwara temple near the lake.

This gate is on the main road on your left, since it was closed we proceeded further and took alternate route
Electric fences, elephant warning signs and big gates welcomes you to the Thattekere lake
Mahadeshwara temple near the lake
Thattekere: There were warning signs about elephants, a big barricade and electric fences. The path left to the temple leads straight to the lake. The place was serene and beautiful, there was another group who were busy in taking photos. The water is clean and unpolluted. Its very rare to see lakes undamaged by the civilization. The lake is surrounded by the trees on other side, "Its a perfect place for photography" I said to myself. 

Panorama view of the lake
We were just about to start the photo session, security came and shooed us away
As I took out my camera and started to take photos a security guard came running and started shouting at us. He asked us to leave as its a restricted area and we are not allowed to enter. He told that its part of the Bannerghatta stretch, wild elephants come here to quench their thirst in morning and evening. He said forest officer would be doing regular rounds, if he see us we will be under trouble for trespassing and breaching the forest area. We had no idea about the ban on visitors, unfortunately none of the blogs had mentioned about it, we had to respect the rules and regulations of the forest department so we left the place. Its really disappointing to see beautiful places like this getting banned :(

Spontaneous plan: Now that the entire plan got ruined we asked security guard about any other attractions nearby. He informed that Muthyala maduvu popularly known as Pearl valley is close. Mahantesh had been to there couple of times before, google guru said its 22 km and should take 45 minutes to reach. It was 3.30 in the afternoon and we were felling hungry, Mahantesh told about the restaurant at peal valley which serves good food. Passing through country side road again we finally reached Anekal from where pearl valley is just  5 km. Pearl valley is called as Muthyala maduvu by the locals so make sure you are using right name when asking for the directions. Stretch to Pearl valley from Anekal was nice and beautiful.

Selfie stop ;)
She's gorgeous isn't she?
1 more kilometer to go
Feel * Like * God
Pearl valley: We reached pearl valley at 4.15 pm, we parked our bikes and proceeded towards the hotel. There are monkeys all around, a lot of moneys to be specific. The restaurant offers splendid view of the valley. It serves good food and alcohol but the service was dead slow. We were running out of time as it would get dark and will be difficult to come out of the valley. 

Pearl valley parking space, you can see the restaurant at the end
Mayur Nisarga restaurant, well I had to pose for it ;)
Toughest thing on earth - waiting for food you ordered
That's the view of pearl valley from the restaurant. You are free to roam around all around the forest
Soon after we finished the lunch we headed towards the falls, around 50 plus stairs leads down to the falls. I knew the falls is just a tiny stream of water flowing from the rocks so I wasn't disappointed after seeing it. The water stream hits the black rock and bounces back, the sunlight shines through the water droplets which looks like a pearl. That's the reason behind the place name - pearl valley. There is a small temple dedicated to lord Shiva, it was closed at the time but I got the information that it will be worshiped every day at morning by the locals. 
We need to walk 50 odd steps to reach the water falls
Raise your hands if you found the falls :P
Look at Bhimu's expression after seeing the massive falls ;)
Temple dedicated to lord shiva near the falls
Temple dedicated to lord Shiva
The real fun begins after this point. There is path which runs deep into the valley, you are free to roam around and explore the place. As we went deep inside it was all new experience to us, I couldn't believe to find a forest so close to the city limits, sure Bannergatta is the closest one but that is doesn't offer freedom like this. We spotted couple of water pounds, there are no wild animals as such, you can sit anywhere you like under the shade and spend peaceful time. We walked for nearly a kilometer, we could go still deep but since it was getting darker it would be difficult to return back so we left after taking couple of shots. Though the trail seems easy many people get lost in the valley and finding way back might become difficult, so make sure you remember the cardinal directions.

Walking into the valley
Broken trees and dense forest \../ 
Some water streams here and there
Foot trail is everywhere, make sure you can make a way back to the starting point
Dense forest and pounds at regular interval 
Lets explore the water bodies, hoping to find some animals here :P

Ek selfie to banti hai

Swimming:
 There is small lake just opposite to the parking area. Locals were swimming, our group jumped into the water in no time. I get dozy if I get into water so I stayed away from getting wet. The pound is clean and safe to swim. It was almost the sunset time, while others were busy playing in water I grabbed my camera and sat on a nice spot to capture the Sunset. We captured couple of more shots, Bhimu and I were busy with the photos, Mahantesh and Vishwa started riding back.


small lake near the pearl valley
Here's our group ready to dive in
I've put this photo just on Bhimu's request :D :D
Freshen up 
Blood in tank, fuel in veins

Ride back:
After taking some more photos we left too. It was already dark, after reaching Anekal I started navigation. The route was quite simple and good, we took the Hosur route which joins the national highway. I cruised at 50 kmph for another hour and finally met other two who were waiting for us near A2B. We said good bye, we had hot cup of tea and cruised along the fly over. Bhimu got down at silk board from where he had plan to go to his friends home. I drove back to my room, again I had to pass through heavy traffic.


Conclusion: It was a day well spent, the first part was a sad but soon covered by the awesome pearl valley \../

Thanks to Mahantesh for guiding us through the peal valley else I would have never visited it.


Important notes:
1. Now that you know Thatterkere is banned don't think of visiting it, you will be either wasting time or will be under trouble if forest officer catches you.
2. If navigating to Pearl valley make sure you search it as Muthyala Maduvu on maps, pearl valley doesn't show up.
3. I didn't like restaurant at pearl valley serving alcohol, I heard drunken people passing comments on girls. Its a nice place to drink but just make sure you cause trouble to others.
4. 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.
5. Lake near the parking area is safe for swimming but make sure you don't swim deep, also please don't pollute water by using soaps and throwing garbage.


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