Friday, 19 August 2011

Kabbaladurga - Night Trek

70km from Bangalore and 20km from Kanakapura, Kabbaladurga is visited by devotees during day to worship at the temple on top. This monolithic rocky mountain is precipitous at a height of 980m (3234ft) overlooking the village and a few other mountains nearby. To find the route to this sleepy village where you will spot a cattle shed in front of every house, turn right from Kanakapura main road where the left turn takes you to Muthathi. Kabbaladurga temple is famous among the locals and you can use the Indian GPS ( stop and ask anyone on the road).

Bangalore Mountaineering Club was organizing a night trek to Kabbaladurga peak on Aug 6th, thanks to Saurav for forwarding this information. There were two other colleagues from GE who joined in this trek, the total headcount was 14. They charge Rs 800 per head and includes transport, breakfast, sleeping bags. You can find more details of such treks and long weekend trips -

On Saturday night, we headed to the pick-up point near Lifestyle showroom on Richmond road. There were a few other waiting for the bus that starts from Wind Tunnel Road. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of girls who turned up for a trek. Krishna from BMC and others picked us and the vehicle was heading to Kanakapura through the torn apart roads by Namma Metro project. We reached the base at 12midnight and it was a half-moon night. Krishna briefed us about the plans and gave us our sleeping bags to carry with us. Megha and I realized that we forgot to pack our torch (such an insult) and it was going to be a tough job to hike up without a torch. Plan was to reach the top in two hours and stay (sleep) until 6am and descend. The group reached the first steep ascent and everyone was sleepy and gasping for breath. Following Yogesh's torch light, we were leading the group mostly. Whenever we were doubtful about the route further, we used to wait for Krishna.

The climb is very steep and there is no clear path to provide grip. The locals have carved a few tiny steps just enough to place half of your foot on the most precariously steep rocks. There are electric poles on the way and you need to watch those cables while climbing up. Sometimes using all your legs and hands and climbing up like a monkey is recommended. Try to avoid the slippery parts of the rock where the water sweeps down as it provides no friction. Without a torch light it was too dangerous to take any step.

In two hours with a few breaks gulping water and waiting for others we reached the peak by 2am. It was drizzling a bit and rain cuts were handy. The peak was very cold and mercury levels were reading 14 degree Celsius. Moreover the wind was very strong and you would feel you will fly off if you don't hold to something. Megha was so excited as she was the first one to reach even before me. Once Krishna reached the peak with the tail end at 3am, he walked around the bushes to collect firewood to set a campfire. We were walking on the edges of the mountain through fog and it was a wonderful experience. Krishna asked if anyone smoked in the group and Saurav was running to him thinking Krishna is offering a cigarette. Krishna was asking for a matchbox or lighter. I was glad to find that none of the group members were into smoking.

Lighting up the fire was another Herculean task and none had a lighter or matchstick except a girl who had kept it for lighting up a few candles for her friend's birthday. Krishna, with the help of others trying out paper, plastic, dry grass etc lit up a the firewood and that provided a cozy warm feeling amidst the thick fog and wind. Then he started the 'Mafia' game which put a few of us to sleep and other s to continue the game until day break. The wind gathered more momentum and I felt I would be flying with the sleeping bag. Luckily it was not raining, we were sleeping on the rocks without a tent. Packing myself maximum into the comfort of the sleeping bag I slept until 6am and morning rush to watch the clouds floating woke me up. It was heaven on earth!!! You will feel like floating along with those cotton like clouds…

Reality struck me when Krishna asked us to pack up the sleeping bags and start descending. Descent was even more difficult as at many parts of the trek you will have to descend vertically without any grip or anything to hold. Sitting and sliding down on your bums is the easiest way to tackle this and always remember to lean against the rock instead of the air which can't support your heavy body. In 45 min, against the expected 2 hrs we reached the base. After freshening up we waited for others while trying to catch up with a power nap inside the vehicle. By 9:30 am we were in Kanakapura munching a much rewarding breakfast and we were home by 11am. Looking forward to more such organized treks by BMC.

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