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Day Trek to Makalidurga: My first BTC experience

If you think this is a brief review, please look elsewhere! coz am going to describe every bit of the trek as this was my first event with BTC :)
People get high on alcohol, grass and what not. But my way is to travel trek and explore. It was quite sometime after my exciting SCUBA dive in May and I had not travelled or indulged in anything exciting. Though I had tried making some plans for weekend getaways, none had worked. I was really frustrated that I had spent all my weekends sleeping at home. I needed something to unwind myself from my monotonous college routine. That's when I happened to visit BTC website. I went through the site and found it interesting and registered myself immediately, hoping that then onwards I don't have to waste weekends at home.
One day trip to Makalidurga registration was on and without giving it a second thought I registered for the trek. So now I was a member of a trekking club! Sounded so cool ;-)

Let me start with the day when my mail inbox first received the "ticket to heaven" i.e my name on the shortlist!
It was just another day as I randomly press 'refresh' icon on my phone screen, so then it goes loading and there I find the mail. I was surprised to see my name on the shortlist. I was happy and also skeptical that will I be able to do this with some bunch of strangers?

With all these mixed thoughts I waited for further emails. And in no time I receive the mail which had all the plan schedule. As I go through the instructions and important points, "remove your nails" caught my eyes. I was like what? Come on I love my long nails, (a girl would know my apprehension better!) So I immediately mail Santosh asking if I can be permitted with my nails! Santosh promptly replied back saying its toe nails so that they don't disturb within your shoes while trekking. I laughed at myself for being so dumb. (He must have also had a hearty laugh at my silliness).

I was all geared up for the next day 25 Aug, I packed all basic necessities - water, energy bars etc before I hit the bed and was up by 6.30 next day, got on to my bike and reached Yeshwanthpur station at 7.25, reached platform 3 by 7.40. It didn't take long for me to spot out Santosh despite a crowded platform. I introduced myself to him and to couple of them (Gautham & Rithvik) who were around and we waited for the rest to gather. After everybody arrived we briefly introduced ourselves to each other and followed Santosh into the train, I had presumed that seats were booked in advance, so was thinking we don't have to bother for seats. Wow it took me sometime to realize that we are in the general compartment and looking for place to sit (I mean to stand)!!

Luckily we did find few upper berths vacant and climbed on it. Vinay and Gautham guys had to stand through our journey though.
Chit chat among the members went on and on. Being a medico all their conversations sounded Greek and Latin to me. Forgot to mention that I was the only girl trekker for the day :(
Soon enough I was distracted by the strong aroma of pulav! Well it was the family in the lower berth having their breakfast. Sad that I couldn't cater to my taste buds. Then came a lady on the platform selling grapes. Just 5 bucks for a handful amount of grapes. Everybody picked up two packets. We reached Makalidurga station by 9.40.
At the station we again had the BTC's tradional way (I suppose) of introduction :)
And then began the most memorable trek of mine. It started with the trek on the railway tracks to reach the base of the hill. On the way we met our ancestors (monkeys) who were trying to snatch grapes from us. We outdid them by stuffing grape packets into our bags and teased them :-P

As we walked with pride after a successful encounter with monkeys, we heard the faint sound of the approaching train, we got off the tracks as instructed and waited for the train. Satish and Prakash placed a coin on the track (I believe they thought doing that would turn steel coin to gold :-P)
The train passed across, we waved bye to the occupants in the train and headed towards the hill. About the coins, they had totally disappeared!

From my past trek experience what I have learnt is nature is God like maybe that's why you find a temple at any hill top. So there was one here even before we began our ascent. Right beside the temple there was a small collection of water, smaller than a pond. The localites advised us not to get into the water with our shoes as this water was divine and had medicinal properties. None of us were brave enough to try this "sanjeevini" :-P
Our trek proper began. The initial stretch was easier, which had more of grass and boulders. Talks and jokes throughout made us lose track of time. We kept taking sufficient amount of breaks midway to enjoy the scenic view. As we continued the terrain seemed to get steeper, we were all sweating, panting and getting dehydrated. Plus point was that the weather was just perfect with no scorching sun and intermittent cool breeze which made us feel the trek was effortless.
Meanwhile Santosh was busy capturing nature and us, making us wear a smile on our sweaty face and pose now and then :-P
I have always had a fondness for medicinal herbs, which cost a bomb at supermarkets. I was so happy to spot bushes of lemon grass and turmeric plants between the rocks. I did collect some dried stems and stuffed inside my bag. I was also filling the others with small trivias about these plants.
 In no time we reached the first destination i.e the fort wall. The aerial view from there was just beautiful. In short I was HIGH!! The grey black clouds looked as if they were at our hand stretch distance. The floating weightless clouds seemed to mock at us, our lives are so filled up with complications and hazzles.
Each person started venting out their bottled up angers, frustrations regarding their jobs, bosses and other worries in life ;-). After a brief session of de stressing we opened our snack packets, ate biscuits and stuff. We walked over the 360° round fort wall. It was a beautiful aerial view of so many small villages down there, snake like appearing mud roads and the parallel railway tracks which would make you wonder, will those parallel tracks ever meet?
Next we reached our second and final destination the Shiva temple which marked the end of our ascent. The clock struck 12.30! Our stomachs started to rumble as if rats marched parade inside. It was time for lunch. The menu for the day was pulav with raita. Many declared that it was BTC's delicacy lunch. We gulped our lunch, shared some cut fruits.

I wonder was it the hyperglycemic state or the effect of relatively high altitude (less oxygen in air that may affect your brain cells) that made Santosh climb on to trees or for that matter he was found to sitting on the temple roof :-P
It was time for our group photos, it did not end without Vivek's favourite GANGAM style pose! Santosh took an initiative of making that place plastic free zone, stuffed all the visible plastic wastes into a cover and to carry it back to Bangalore to dispose off.
By 1.15 we started to descend. It also started to drizzle which totally rejuvenated us and filled us with a whole new bout of energy. Vivek was literally cruising down! He wanted to make it the train which would leave to Bangalore at 2.20. We kept making fun of each other. Though I initially felt I was an odd man out, that feel was off in a very short time. I never felt that this was my first trek, all the members made me feel very comfortable and secure. As we descended we took a totally new route, after a few mins of trek down, we were in a place which had steep boulders again. We sat on them & descended slowly and carefully. A local person there helped us to take a shorter route. We kept announcing to Vivek that he must forget his train!
By 2.40 we were back at the railway track. It was time for more photos. We all even tried ballet practice over the tracks and did balance ourselves on the track for the photo!
The next train to Bangalore was at 5 apparently so we decided to catch a bus. We had to walk another km or so to reach the main road. We saw a bus at a distance and reflexively assumed lift pose!
The driver was kind enough to stop the bus for us despite it wasn't a designated bus stop. We all got into the bus and it had enough seats for all of us.
Santosh bought us tickets and calculated the total day's expenses. I was in near faint situation when he told me I had to pay him Rs. 110. God!! This was one of the terrific and most "EXPENSIVE" trek that I had ever had in my life ;-)
After about 90 mins of journey it was time for us to depart. We greeted each other and got down at the stops close to our homes. My mind was so fully loaded and seemed heavier with the good cherishable memories than the bagpack which I carried during the trek!

Thank you BTC, specially to Santosh and the members (Vinay, Gautham, Rithvik, Vivek, Uday, Satish, Abhishek, Prakash, Ashok ) for making it such a memorable experience!
Looking forward for more such nice treks!!

Written By          : Deepthy Jagadish
Organized By     : Santosh Kumar Gupta
Members Count : 11 (10M, 1F)
Date of event     : 24th Aug, 2013
Place                  : Makalidurga Fort
Pictures             : Santosh, Satish, Gautham
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