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WOW Exploration - Siddara Betta

I have relocated to Bangalore after 8 years. Earlier, while living in Bangalore,I had friends to do everything I wished for and enjoyed every minute of it. I suddenly found myself back in Bangalore feeling a little lost, a little left out and looking for friends. The 1st of January I google for trekking groups in Bangalore. I find BTC, I register and the same day I am a member of a group of trekking enthusiasts – the BTC. I go ahead and register myself for the only available trek for the 4th of January. It was a trek to Siddarabetta organized by WOW within BTC. A Google search on impulse turned out to be the best ever new year gift I have ever given myself.
Eleven ladies, 11 strangers wind up having their own little wonder adventure on their excursion to Siddarabetta. The trip organized by Deepthy and Sushma part of the WOW group within BTC. 11 excited and, admittedly apprehensive girls meet up at Majestic at 7am on the 4th. Having done basic introductions we begin our journey at 7:10am. Siddarabetta is a good 100 kms from Bangalore. We were looking at a good 2hrs and 30mins with strangers in the confinement of a 12-seater tempo traveler, when Sushma began the quintessential ice-breaker - Dumb Charades. By the time we reached the Kamat restaurant for breakfast, we were strangers no more.

We reached the foot hill of Siddarabetta and began our adventure. It is about a 2 km climb up-hill. Nope, it was not easy. I am completely out of shape and not used to trekking any more. But I had the best girls with me to encourage me to trudge on. So much so, that for a bit I even braved to go over the rocks instead of the steps. Not once was I rushed when I sat back to take a rest and I always had someone to give me a hand when a rock was too much for me to overcome alone. The treat you got for climbing every little bit was the breath taking vista of the surrounding hills and plains.
Just over noon we make it to the caves and the temple on the hill top. The locals there encourage us not to explore the caves. They were not ready to guide us through the caves. Undoubtedly, we were disappointed. All we could do was to go in and visit the temple. The cave temple has a water source which is fabled to be medicinal. A few of us braved and drenched ourselves with the really cold holy water. We then offered prayers to the deity in the cave temple. Just when we were ready to head out of the temple without exploring the rest of the very tempting caves, one of the locals offered to be our guide. We were back in the game!
The cave exploration was awesome. I was literally on all fours squeezing myself through crevices, I did not imagine possible I could. Once inside, there were these peaceful little enclosures and you could see that there was a time when people actually lived here. I suppose our energy and enthusiasm was infectious, our guide had us meditate and sing songs in Kannada in one of these peaceful enclosures. Now that is something I never thought I would do. While coming out of the cave temple I also braved being drenched in the cold holy water. I will always be thankful to Deepthy & Sushma for this experience.

Having had the adventure of our lives we were happy and hungry when we walked out of the caves. We bought some bajjis to complement the rice we had carried with us for lunch. We were to trek further up, on top of and higher than our beloved caves for lunch. Only to be followed by monkeys. Sunitha lost her lunch in the bargain and for the next 30 mins we were to wait for the monkeys to satisfy themselves and then leave us in peace. While we were contemplating our arduous trek back to the foot hill that stood between us and our lunch, Deepthy and Sushma gave us a wonderful surprise by pulling out a cake from their bag. We celebrated BTC’s birthday, braved some lunch despite the monkeys, and happily started our trek back.
Once back in the bus, no one had energy to do anything but eat some more and snooze, except for our vivacious organizers. Energy came in the form of tea, coffee and juice at the Kamat restaurant. With new-found energy, all of us sang and played Antakshari the entire way back. I reached Bangalore finding myself richer by 10 friends. Thank You BTC WOW for a memorable day, an unforgettable experience, that could not have been better organized.

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I recently became a member of this fantastic club – BTC.
It had been sometime since I had actually trekked…apart from my weekly or fortnightly climbs on Chamundi hill in Mysore. So, the moment I got to know that a trek was scheduled for Jan 4th, I jumped at the opportunity and grabbed it! What more would one want to start a New Year with!

The organizers, Deepthy Jagadish and Sushma Ranaut, two very sweet darlings, were very helpful and extremely efficient, replying almost immediately to my e-mails and guiding me on what to get for the trek, outlining the detailed schedule, sending the contact details of fellow trekkers etc. Almost every single thing was very carefully thought of! And I was totally impressed!
I instantly knew that my first trek with BTC was going to be one helluva time and I’m gonna love every minute of it! And I wasn’t proved wrong!!

Deepthy was in touch with me until I reached the scheduled meeting place, early Saturday morning. We were supposed to assemble at 6.45 am and leave by 7.00 am. Almost everyone were on time and we left by 7.15 am. So the start was a good one and went without a glitch!

Our group was a little silent at first because of all the new faces… but Deepthy and Sushma were the life of our party and made us feel so comfortable that we were playing Dumb Charades like old buddies within no time at all!

We stopped for breakfast, mid-way, at Kamath on the B’lore-Pune highway (NH-4). The service was pretty quick and the food was good and we had a hearty breakfast. A good start to an excellent day! We got lunch packed on the way. We reached Siddarabetta by around 10.00 am and after another round of informal introductions, we finally started climbing the hill around 10.30 am.

It was a really good climb, with jokes being cracked… Munching on some tid-bits, taking small rests on the way, puffing and panting, we finally reached the top at 12.30 pm. 

There is a small Shiva shrine inside a cave at the top. As soon as we entered, our weary selves were almost jolted, as holy water was poured on our heads! It was of course a welcome, refreshing jolt, as each of us was tired and sweaty from our climb! The next thing we knew, we were being smeared some pretty generous amounts of Vibhuthi (holy ash) on our foreheads, by the priest of the shrine! Making us all end up, looking like lady sadhus of yore! :P

Our next plans were to explore the caves beyond the shrine, but were told that the explorations had been discontinued since recently due to a mishap that had occurred. But, Deepthy and Sushma, being the efficient organizers that they are, somehow got permission for us to explore atleast part of the cave system. We entered the caves with a guide who was most knowledgeable about the caves, sharing with us some tid-bits about the caves and its history. He even taught us a few hymns and made us meditate in a cave for a few minutes! The experience was very serene and peaceful, although I guess, some of us were also scared a teeny tiny bit about the dark and the creepy crawlies that usually dwell in a cave! :P
Finally, after all our ‘dark’ adventures, we were out of the caves by around 2.30 pm. All our escapades had left us ravenous. So the smell of chilli bhajjis that came wafting through the air as we exited the caves made our stomachs growl! We got some bhajjis packed, deciding to relish them along with our lunch. Deepthy and Sushma decided to take us to a view point at the side of the hill, where we could have lunch in tranquility, in serene surroundings in clean, fresh air. So we started trekking to that spot albeit a little reluctantly as our stomachs were silently snarling!
Little did we know that our peaceful plans would be mischievously brought to an end!

As we were taking our second bites, we had some unexpected guests – Our mischief-making relatives, monkeys! Suddenly, we were surrounded by a horde of monkeys who snatched away poor Sunitha’s lunch! The rest of us, not wanting to lose our lunch as well, hurriedly packed our lunches inside our backpacks and watched amusedly as the monkeys ate their lunch according to their hierarchies! :P One poor little fellow, and the end, was left with a few morsels and he looked at us with such pleading eyes that we were almost touched to give him some more of our food!
Then, Deepthy pleasantly surprised us by almost magically producing a small cake, to celebrate BTC’s 1st anniversary!

Later, we had a really cool photo session, with a few of us creating the ‘WOW’ logo human formation – which was a really cool idea. We had a few tiny bites of lunch and Sunitha’s delicious sandwiches to sustain us for the trek downhill! All along, watching out for more monkeys, who seemed to appear around us like little Houdinis! Thank you Sunitha for saving us with your sandwiches that day! ;)
We had a fun time, climbing down the hill, with more photo sessions along the way. Finally reaching the foothill by around 5.00 pm. Deepthy and Sushma initiated a feedback session, in which everyone was more than happy to share their experiences! To sum it all up – it was one awesome trek!

We started towards B’lore by 5.30 pm, stopped for tea at Kamath… Later, had a really fun and exciting antakshari contest!
We reached B’lore by around 8.30 pm, exhausted yet rejuvenated by our new-found friendships! We came back home with a twinkle in our eyes and a spring in our step! With happy memories that will last for a long time to come!

Thank you all… Deepthy, Sushma, Sunitha, Radha, Sucheta, Shilpa, Bhagya, Akanksha, Shikha, Shwetha, for a wonderful time!!! Indeed had a fantastic start to a fantastic New Year!
Looking forward to have many more such wonderful and exciting adventures with BTC!!!
Happy New Year to all! Wishing that you all have an awesome year ahead!

Written By       : Radha & Shubha Ashok
Organized By   : Deepthy J & Sushma R
Date of event   : 4th Jan'13
Members Count: 11
Place               : Dabbaspet
Pictures           : BTC FB Page
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