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Siddara Betta Trekking and Cave Exploration - Fun Overflowing

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste" (A famous quote by Charlotte Bronte) so here I am once again to share my, well I would now say our BTC trek experience :)

I would say it was caving or Spelunkin more than trekking. This synonym of caving was added to my dictionary by Anu, thanks Anu!

I can claim that I always have an element of pre trek events to pen which somehow would lead to the subsequent happening history! Despite my exams being scheduled for the coming week I decided to join the trek. I woke up as my phone alarm rang and peeped outside the window, it was still dark and gloomy, i almost snuggled back inside my blanket. I so happened to check my phone, damn it was 5.30! Just an hour left to reach Majestic which was the meetup point. It was time for me to hush. I jump out of the bed open my room door to witness my shock of the day - rain , it was pouring cats and dogs :( My mind instantly concluded "girl! you cannot even reach Majestic without getting drenched, trekking for the day is a way too far thought to think off" and then texted Sangamesh, i can't come :'(

I also had to inform Abhishek as i had planned to catch up with him to reach Majestic from Mathikere. Knowing that he was still going in rain, something made me change my mind (It must be either the divineness of Siddara Betta which beckoned to me or the warmth that i received from BTC on my last trek, its the latter i think!)

So i'm out of my house with an umbrella and warm clothes wondering how the unpredictable Bangalore weather can just throw one's life out of gear in a sec! To add on to my fowl mood, i got splashed by a car which drove over the puddle as if the driver offered me a free water ride. I somehow managed to reach the meetup point. Our transport for the day was a tempo(?)!!

I was surprised to see the founders of the BTC family :-P (Viru, Chaitanya) standing right infront of the tempo to welcome their old kids, small kids and newborns!! I hadn't expected that i would meet them so soon,(i had heard a lot about them in the last trek). Feeling glad about it i get into the mini bus and took my seat. Unexpected rain had obviously stretched the plans for the day, so we could not leave at the planned time. We picked up Channa at Okalipuram and in no time i got to know his petname  "Chandala". Rhymes well with Khandala :-P!

We had to wait for Vivek, who was already bike trekking to figure out the way to reach Majestic! He made it finally near ISKCON. He was royally welcomed, to aid him trek better he was made to warm up with couple of modified squats (by holding his ears) before he was let to get into the bus :)
All in, head counts done and we hit the NH4 Tumkur road. It was time for BTC mania to kick off! Sangamesh, host for the day introduced us to a game of singing (To sing a song from the last vowel/consonant of the previously sung song). It was a juke box! retro, contemprory, pop, national integrity songs, you name it you've got it! To the conventional music genre list an addition was Bollywood item numbers! The guys sung them so Dil Se, now i know why Indian movie directors consider an item number on par with the actual movie :-P. By 9ish we reached Dabbaspet, our first stop for energy loading. We had thatte idli with vada, sipped coffee, bantering amongst groups went on. (We were a good number of 20!). Took food parcels for lunch and we were back on the road to reach our destination.

Wow, now everybody seemed like those duracell battery charged bunnies! The bus seemed like an unstoppable Orchestra wherein all the members had transformed themselves into musical instruments. It also did remind me of Indian Idol auditons, every member with equal potential of blossoming into either Sonu Nigam/Shaan/Kishore kumar the list goes on! (Don't take it too serious guys! i'm referring to those funny auditions of chaps who get kicked out by the judges) Unfortunately we girls were overpowered by their exceptional voices :( Our new talent for the day was Sri, who can give competition to Javed Akhtarji. His Chakka Chakka charkha chale was unanimously chosen as the best song for the day! (Nope! i haven't got the lyrics wrong, its chakka not chappa). To give rest to our vocal cords we proceeded to play dumb charades. That was again another mind blowing session, it seemed like members made up fake movie names at that instant! Personally i feel Amitesh deserves to be awarded Mr. Dumb charade for his graceful bajji/pakora/paddu making demo! We laughed till our stomach hurt. Maybe around 11 we reached Siddara Betta.

And then Organizers go:
Stand at ease
Form a big circle
Take your turn to introduce yourself to everybody
FYI: Facts about Siddara Betta and their past experience
Okay, lets begin the trek :)
We begin the trek, this trek was unlike the other treks where you are amidst the nature with no other company, this place was flooded with people who come to visit the Shiva temple located up in the hill. This place was like any other tourist spots with many shops selling pooja stuff, water bottles and soft drinks. Just like Vodafone network, wherever you go the monkeys follow!

The boulders upto the hill top had man made steps. If you thought climbing laid down steps was easier than the rocks, believe me its not! I was almost out of breath, panting heavily just after climbing about 50-60 steps. Viru and Sushma were kind enough to offer me medical help :-P. Everybody climbed the steps at their own pace, chit chatting, resting now and then on the way. I need not mention about Photography, (Pro's: Santosh, Chaitanya, Channa, Sangamesh, Madhuri, Vijay, Pavithra, Arjun, Anu) which was a full fledged mission in action from the start till the end!
Weather was just apt, with neither bright sun nor strong winds. However did miss the cool breeze that would carry away your exhaustion and ease you as you climbed up. I guess most of us were focussed on just reaching the caves at the earliest. Viru and Chaitanya had told us, about the cool water head/body shower inside the caves, which was the only thing that pushed me to keep climbing hoping to get rid of my sweat drench. We reached the caves in an hour time, waited till everyone was there. In the meantime Sushma sported Hawai looks with yellow flowers! We had to leave our shoes before entering the caves. It was pitch dark, the only source of light there was from lit dhoop and lamps at a distance at the Shiv ling where people were offering poojas. With little hesitation i went forward for the most awaited shower with the holy water from the holy kund, i put my head forward and stood bent. Even before i realise what i was upto it was literally a mind blowing shower! was totally numb for a while. Everything around me seemed to be slowing down. Well i guess thats being cool headed!! :-P
Suraj and Abhishek were smart enough to carry extra clothes so they didn't mind getting water poured on whole body. After the shower we all got Vibhuti put on our foreheads from the pujari and planned for the cave exploration. With mobile torches we followed into the caves with our cave navigators (Viru & Chaitanya). We came across few meditation rooms, which were once used by Sadhus. The passages were really small and narrow, we literally had to squeeze through them. The rocks were slippery and sharp. There were some real low rise rock, we had to crawl and cross over widely separated huge rocks. All this without shoes! It was a perfect combination of fun and adventure. This place was rich in vegetation but nothing of that i could identify :( There were large roots which were as strong as the rocks, some were good enough to use them as swings! Thank God! no play ground security guards around to shoo you off from using these nature made swings, not limited to under 12 yrs of age :-P

It was one stop for the Tarzan man, Spider man and also for fake Nityananda swamijis to pose for photoshoots! The clock striked almost 1 and it was time for our second refueling so wanted to head out of the cave. We followed Viru wherever he  knelt, climbed and crawled. Soon Viru confessed that he then had temporary amnesia and was trying real hard to figure out the way out. Meanwhile Sri, Suraj and Tushaar kept us entertained with TELE BRANDS ad act! and madhuri was only praying that Viru shouldn't ask us to take the same creepy passage to get out of the cave. Nobody showed any bit of displeasure and were thoroughly enjoying the moment. After an hour time we succeeded to get out of the cave, it was a lost and found feel. Amithesh and Nagarjun had been helping us through our way whenever need arised. With a huge smile and sigh of relief we picked up our shoes and had to trek further up to reach the pre decided lunch spot (monkey free zone)

It was the only time that i cared to enjoy the aerial view of the nature around. It was soothing. It was pleasant to watch the shadow of the drifting clouds playing peekaboo over the green land down below. We sat to eat our lunch, the lunch was chitranna, many were glad that it wasn't pulav the BTC official delicacy, but i did miss the pulav :(

After some energy loading it was the photo shoot time. Santosh was trying his pro skills and his models were Channa and Sangamesh! After ample amount of time we decided to descend. Took group photos and couple of pics along the trail and began to trek down. Santosh helped me to stuff more lemongrass in my bag as we descended.
We reached the base of the hill by 4.30 in 30 mins. I then volunteered to take the girls to the washroom which was at a distance, Viru and Chaitanya followed us to ensure that we are safe and don't lose our way. They also appreciated my shortcut through which i lead them :-P

All of us boarded into the bus and started back to Bangalore. We stopped by Koratagere to have refreshing masala soda and also had the feedback session. The organizers shared with us the history of BTC, after which my fondness for BTC grew all the more. We were back in the bus and continued our journey. Dumb Charades continued and which was followed by singing of old ad songs, Nirma washing powder, Vicco turmeric to name a few! The outstanding performance for the day was delivered by Sri and Vivek singing Spiderman song.

In an hour time we hit the nice road, were in the city. Couple of us got down at ORION mall and walked back to our homes with a new set of memories to cherish! It was yet another fun filled (actually fun overflowing), well planned and executed trek!

Hearty thanks to the organizers, especially to Sangamesh who was our sang hamesha!! and all the members (Viru, Chaitanya, Channa, Sushma, Murali, Vijay, Madhuri, Anu, Arjun, Sri, Vivek, Pavithra, Amitesh, Suraj, Abhishek, Tushaar and Nagarjun) :)

Written By        : Deepthy Jagadish
Organized By    : Sangamesh Itagampalli
Members Count : 20 (15M, 5F)
Date of event    : 31st Aug, 2013
Place                : Siddara Betta
Pictures            : Chaitanya, Santosh, Channa
Video                : Sangamesh
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