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Jalamangala Trek..14th June 2014

Deja vu!! satisfaction of a successfully completing a trek yet again. Thanks to Deepthy and Hiren for meticulously organizing the exciting night trek. The location this time was Jalamangala hill - about half an hour bus ride from Ramanagara. The meeting point was platform no.10 at the Majestic railway station. We were 15 of us – Abhishek, Aswin, Deepthy, Hiren, Raja, Ashish, Ankita, Anubha, Amir, Prathiba, Sudhir, Deepak, Sangamesh, Sanjay and me, who set out for the challenge. The train started a little later than 4:15pm and we kick started the journey with a game suggested by Sangamesh. We divided ourselves into 2 teams and each team had to name a movie with the ending letter of other team's answer. It was good fun and we had to wrap up the game only when it was difficult to find names of movies with N - by hook or by crook!! We also reached Ramnagara by this time and somehow got down the crowded train. Ankita jumped out of the emergency window which completely surprised a little girl sitting on the upper berth!! After getting down we assembled, had a head count and started towards Ramnagara bus stop. It was a 15-20 min walk and on reaching there we had our pit stop at hotel opposite to the bus station. We feasted on dosas and juices to give us all the boost we required for the trek ahead. Shilpa, who could not take the train and had caught a bus had now joined us. By the time we caught the bus at Ramnagara it was 6:45pm. It was really crowded inside but fortunately me and Abhishek got some gunny bags to sit on. The others enjoyed chatting with one another while Ashwin made some new contacts on the bus!! After a roller coaster ride we reached a small village from where we had to begin our trek. 

We started with a quick round of introductions and an explanation of the rules and regulations by the organizers. Since we were starting our trek from the village, neither did we want to disturb the villagers nor did we want to attract any unnecessary attention. Anubha also brought a bunch of bananas from a nearby shop which had unfortunately become banana pie by the time we completed the trek. A few minutes after start we came across a dried up lake. This meant that we were on the correct path. Soon we reached a diversion which marked the beginning of our trail. Sudhir and Pratibha and Ashish were the photographers of the group and never missed any opportunity to capture an important moment or profile pic requests. After hiking for some distance the group inevitably began to break up into 2 parts with quite some distance in between. Since I was not clicking pictures this time I was somewhere in the front of the lot while Hiren and Sangamesh were doing the sweeping work. While we waiting for the people at the back, we noticed some light on the trail below. So for we had been unsuccessful in maintaining a low profile and we really didn't want to get into any confrontation with the locals there. Once the group was all together we kept silent for some time and realized that the lights were probably of vehicles on the road..relief!! We started moving again and on the way we also collected firewood so that we didn't have to hunt for it at the summit. While we were again waiting for everyone to arrive, Anubha unfortunately tripped and fell. However we were up and running in no time as not only did Anubha show courage but we also had a doctor amongst us.

We followed the marked trail for some time until we found ourselves standing in front of a 90 degree wall. Using the light of our torches we tried to look out for railings which were supposed to be there but couldn’t find any. We soon realized that we had taken a wrong route and after backtracking for some distance were on the trail again. The atmosphere soon started becoming cool and windy giving us much relief from the exhaustion. Moments later we reached the peak where we could clearly see a temple and some trees around. We were planning to spend the night in the temple but to our surprise there were people already in there, judging by the footwear kept outside.

We were sure that those people inside were locals. We tried to stay quiet and started looking for some other spot to spend the night. However it was inevitable to avoid a faceoff and the local guys got curious of who we were. Since we all had to spend the night on the hill Abhishek, Ashwin and Sangamesh went to socialize with those guys and disappeared for quite some time. People from our group started to device all sort of combat plans in case the local guys had the wrong plans in mind. To our relief all the 3 members of our group returned fit and fine and it seemed that they had made new friends Once all this settled down we got to the task of constructing our fireplace and making a campfire. The plan as always was to boil water and prepare same old cup noodles. However there were other dishes in the menu as well. It included a pao bhaji, roasted bread and a sweet dish. What more can one expect in a hill away from civilization!!
Once dinner was done, it was time for the favorite game of any trekking group-Dumb Charades!! The teams got divided and as a pre decided plan we decided to send Abhishek in the opposite team..one reason for the high entertainment quotient of Dumb Charades in BTC treks)   Our team emerged as the stronger side even though the opponents had lots of self proclaimed experts. It kept us occupied for quite some time and after 2 rounds a break had to be taken based on public demand. We also realized that by this time the temperature had reduced drastically and it was chilling out there. Soon everybody got into their jackets and warm gear. Since it was quite late, me and a few others decided to get into the shelter of our sleeping bags. At that time it felt more comfortable than a five star hotel (im sure the others must have been really jealous). The remaining few gathered around the campfire and a round of story-telling commenced – the theme “Supernatural”. It was a really interesting to hear the incredible stories that were going on – some of them even related to personal experiences!! This went on through the night while I went off to sleep, tugged cozily in my sleeping bag.
By the time I woke up, others were already up while some hadn’t slept the entire night because of the cold. It was about 6am and the sun was almost out. The view from the top was as breadth taking as it can possibly be. The top of surrounding hills seemed to be rising out of a blanket of mist like giants waking up from slumber.

Considered to be the golden hour for photography, both the photographers and the subjects didn’t waste even a single minute in trying out all the permutations and combinations of poses possible.

Meanwhile the rest of us packed our bags so that we could get going. We finally had our last round of photo sessions outside the temple as we bid goodbye to Jalamangala hill top. 

The descent was in the same fashion as the ascent – one group leading and the other trailing. We later realized that the trailing group had managed to gather profile pics for the months to come while we were almost empty handed. Once everybody reached the base we got back to the trail. There were lots of neem trees around and that acted as out dental hygiene for the morning. Further down the road there was a tamarind tree as well and we did our best to pick as many tamarinds, flowers and leaves as possible. Good start to the morning I must say.

We walked back to the village from where we had started and gobbled idlis, vadas and lemon rice. Though the tea tasted like sugar syrup it had a flavor of its own. Few minutes later a bus arrived and we all began our journey back to Ramanagara. We took another bus from Ramanagara to Bangalore instead of the train and had the final feedback session at the Majestic Bus Stop marking the end to yet another awesome night trek with BTC. The icing on the cake was that the total expense was only Rs.140 (no terms and conditions apply)!!

Written By        : Kaushik Chakraborty
Organized By    : Deepthy & Hiren
Date of event    : 14th June 2014
Members Count : 15
Place                : Jalamangala
Pictures            : BTC FB Page
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