Skandagiri – A Night Trek

It was a Terrific Friday night. The clouds were filled with lightnings and thunder and rain was about to downpour in a while or so. Don’t know why always Friday is the inspiration day for us to plan for wild getaways? 
 
The endless passion made us to assemble @SLV [Gandhibazzar] after our strenuous work when time ticked 8.30 PM. Conversations between us suddenly strike to a small trek which is outskirt to Bangalore, “KALLAVARAHALLI BETTA” aka “SKANDAGIRI” which is also famous for “MOON LIGHT TREKING” the plan was geared up by 10.PM and we decided to go by 2 cars as we were 9 of us. 
 
It was decided to gather around 11.30 PM back to SLV after a light supper, compulsorily carrying a torch with each of them. Plan was to start a trek around 2 AM the next morning so torch was badly needed with everyone. 
 
Finally all set for a night drive to Skandagiri which is 65km from Gandhibazzar. First pit stop was at hebbal to pick Prabhakar, it was first time in our adventure journey to trek in the night and everyone was curious about it, stopped at a small tea shop on the way. By the time we reach the tea shop was 12.05 PM and it was raining heavily which took us to a dilemma state to cancel the trek or not! OK we decided not to trek but at least we shall go to foothill of the destination. 
 

Pavan had been to the place previously and he was the guide for us to trek, we took a left turn at SaiBaba Arch which is 50km from Bangalore, the road which will take to Skandagiri. You can also reach through chikkabalapur. We missed the way and couldn’t find a single person to ask for right directions. At last Hoysala police were patrolling and stopped us, they were surprised to see us strolling at the wee hours of night and interrogated us with n number of questions [who are we?? What are we doing here?? Have we consumed liquor?? Any antisocial activity is on??] Finally we proved that we are nature lovers and adventurers, and told our night expedition to Skandagiri. Also we told them that we missed the way and looking for help to reach the foothill. Police guided us to Skandagiri foothill. We thanked Hoysala team and started towards foothill.

  

It was so strange we were wandering in the same route but couldn’t see the sign board which is positioned make us very hard to locate it. 

The time was exactly 1.56 AM. Few minutes drive from the board located we reached Skandagiri foothill. Here is a matt called as “PAPAGNI MATA” where you have to park the vehicle and book a guide if you need else become a self guide and explore it! 
Rain had stopped its play but clouds were filled with lightning and thunder. There were already 2 tempo travelers around 25 people waiting to trek. Mean time Ranga enquired one of those members and found that they are planning to start the trek in the morning around 5 AM. 
 
So, what’s next?? Are we trekking or wait until any other team start and follow them. 
Fanaticism made us to start right away and planned to trek without any guide as Pavan visited this place before and he could guide us. It was time to take out the torches and pack few food items to carry along with us. To start we had only 6 torches karthik started investigating who did not carry the torches and it was [Prabhakar, Seena and Ranga] were without torches. 
 
This trekking is famous for MOON LIGHT trekking and people trek on full moon day. But that was not a full moon day and it was a dead dark, with difficulties we started our adventure to peak. I was heading front with a torch the other 5 torches were distributed accordingly. 
 
Seena started cursing me and Pavan who planned the whole game as he was filled with fear and he did not wanted to take such a risk, according to him it was a brain damage plan. Hmmm literally everyone mind strike the same statement but neither of them expressed. In between Sunil cracked jokes and PJ’s which helped us to be on positive note and reach the peak. 
 
It was wild climate new-fangled environment to all of us; seeing us the other team also started the trek, we were ahead of them we could only see the torch light blinking from downhill. Factually speaking there are no directions put or any sign boards which says we are on right direction towards peak the small red arrow à marks indicate left right or straight, to see theses indicated arrow marks one has to observe keenly on rock or on bark of the trees. There are cases where one can easily get into wrong route if you do not observe [Especially trekking in Night]. 
 
I don’t know why the forest department has not taken any right moves in improving the Skandagiri. You will not find any safety here from robbers or from wild animals; obviously one cannot blame wild animals as we are in their territory. But I think govt. has to improve the place and make more access to the place from all nooks of the city. The Govt. should [appoint authenticated guides, put sign boards markings, put sign boards saying about the place and its history, place dustbins to collect the garbage and wastages] let the govt. collect forest entry fees/ charges from the trekkers to maintain the place. But I don’t see these improvements which are still in the dark side. 
 
Local people here are guide and they take you to peak, they charge around 300/- for a team to accompany. It was 4.30 AM when we reached the peak to our surprise already 30 members’ team was in the peak. The rain had completely stopped and peak was covered with full of mist. It was shivering cold on the peak and managed to sit near a fire camp to beat the cold. Basavaraj and Govardhan gently distributed the food items which we carried like fruit cakes, buns n breads, biscuits etc
. 
 In the peak you have a small ganesha temple. As the peak was filled with smog and previous night rain the climate was very bad due to this the sunrise was not clear and we were not able to capture the good scenic beauty from the peak. After an hour or so the other team also reached the peak. I engaged myself in speaking to a guide accompanied them and learnt that Skandagiri has sloth bears and many trekkers have encountered the beast. This made me more thrilled usually sloth bears are very shy animals its presence is always secretive and crossed my fingers that we could sight one while downhill. 
 
The time ticked 7 AM satisfying with one or two scenic pics we started downhill and reached the “Papagni Mata” where we had parked the car at 9.30 AM. We stopped at a tea shop at foothill and had a morning sip of a coffee.
          
The mind went to flashback in collecting the memories, calculating the pros and cons of trekking the peak at night, imagining the encounter of the beast [sloth bear] last but not the least many things in improving the Skandagiri and making more accessible to all nature lovers and adventurers. 
 
A small suggestion to all nature lovers is do not leave unwanted wastes like plastics, watercan bottles and things which will not decompose and are likely to be threat to the environment. Carry a bag wherein you bring back all you’re waste like [Plastic covers, biscuits/cake covers, and water bottles] dump the next morning to Municipal Corporation.
 
Basavaraj–>Pavan–>Seena–>Ranga–>Amit–>Govardhan–>Karthik–>Sunil–>Prabhakar(behind lens)
 
The mind and soul still wanders and seek to trek on FULL MOON DAY! – JAI SKANDAGIRI 
 How to reach there:- 
Route 1: 
BangaloreàDevanahalliàLeft turn near SaiBaba archàPapagni mata[Skandagiri].This is 65kms.
Route 2:
BangaloreàDevanahalliàChikkaballapuràTake a left inside the townàPapagni mata. This is 75kms.