Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Night Trek To Skandagiri

Skandagiri, also known as Kalavara Durga is a very popular night trekking destination among Bangaloreans and is admired for the fascinating views of sunrise. Skandagiri is a  hill fort which was built by the local palegars and further improved by Tippu Sultan. Much of the fortification still remains intact. Owing to the illegal activities and unlawful acts that have taken place here, the forest department has strictly banned trekking at Skandagiri. Long ago (2009), when Skandagiri was just gaining popularity, we were fortunate enough for having an opportunity to trek. One evening, we acted on our spontaneous decision of exploring Skandagiri that night to see a beautiful sunrise next morning. Back then, witnessing the crowds present there and their unruly behavior, it seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
Good Morning from Skandagiri
We started from home at around 11.30 pm and after picking up a few friends who wished to join us, cruised along NH 7 towards Chikkaballapur. In less than 45 minutes we reached Chikkaballapur and stopped at a place where a few policemen were on patrol duty, to inquire for directions. We followed their directions and reached the hill base, where a person agreed to be our paid guide. We parked our vehicle as per his guidelines and started walking towards the other side of the hill from where the trekking trail began. After ten minutes of walk, we reached a small tea shop and took a much needed hot tea break.
Peaks Around Skandagiri
First Glimpse of the Sunrise 
 Queued Up to Get a Closer Look at the Sun
Nandi Hills as Seen from Skandagiri
 We ensured carrying sufficient lighting equipments such as torches and flash lights. Though the ascent was supposed to be easy, we struggled quite a bit as none of us had done anything of this sort. As this was our first trekking experience, we had to take breaks quite often and progressed slowly.  It  took us close to 3 hours to reach the top of the hill and we were glad to have made it! Our next challenge was spending time until sunrise in that cold winter night. We bade a good bye to our guide after paying his fee and found a nice place to settle down till the sunrise. It was a good two and a half hour wait for the sunrise and seemed to take longer for the sun to be completely out. The  views as the sun rose were simply out of the world and worth every single step we had put forward that night. After a  really long photo shoot, we descended down quickly feeling like achievers! Fortunately, we had another chance of trekking at Skandagiri two years later. While the crowd had grown five-fold this time around, the security personnel were more stringent about the rules.
Moon Lit Trek at Skandagiri
Floating Atop the Clouds
The Fort Wall 
Sati Stones and Hero Stones at the Base of Skandagiri Hill 
  Last weekend (December 2016) when we visited the Nandi hills, its counterpart Skandagiri attracted us for a trek. Later we came to know from our sources here that a strict ban has been imposed on trekking at Skandagiri, even during the day. Although trekking during the day was allowed previously, the forest department has completely banned since the beginning of 2016.It is worthwhile to note that Skandagiri falls under the reserved forest area and any illegal entry could lead to serious punishment. Measures such as restricting the number of people allowed to trek at a time, accompaniment of trained and certified guides, well marked routes, complete ban on smoking and alcohol consumption with strict enforcement, educating the locals about the importance of this hill reserve, setting up an organization for its development involving various trekking clubs, nature conservative clubs, forest department, local villagers and others need to be undertaken to ensure that the picturesque Skandagiri is well maintained and serves to be a sustainable tourist spot, only to make sure that such places are saved for our future generations. It lies within us to be a responsible trekker.

7 comments:

  1. Great, Thanks for sharing.
    Awesome pics.

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  2. The myriad of hues captured of the sunrise is brilliant! So nice to hear about the measures taken for its maintenance.

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  3. This looks like a gorgeous sight and the hike must have been exhilarating. I'm glad you got these beautiful photos to share with us, but it's too bad that rowdy behavior has resulted in a complete ban on hikes to the hilltops.

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  4. Whoa! This is again a great discovery for me. I haven't been here yet.
    You know you must start a trekking group... seriously, it is a matter of time when you will be the most sought after guide in Karnataka!

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  5. Amazingly beautiful clicks:) Thank you Dhiraj:)

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