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Night trek to Horagina betta

Yet another night trek this summer, just can’t get enough of the cold breeze :). A place I have visited before, Horagina Betta (also called brahmagiri, nandi range). Having had a super busy Saturday morning I rushed to get ready and pack my bag the last hour. Thanks to dad for chasing the bmtc bus, catching it after 2 stops. Woah, what a start!

I reached terminal 3 around 5.05. More than half the team were already waiting at the platform. Greeted few known faces and we hoped into our bus. Gotcha window seat! Yay! :P:D. The bus started from platform 11 at 5.30. We would be going till Devanahalli and taking another bus to Karahalli from there. We reached Karahalli 7-ish.

After a quick intro we started to trek. There is a good 3-4kms to be covered before we reach the base of Horagina Betta. You might know the place very well, but when it’s the night it turns into a whole new place, trust me! With Hiren on the lead and Gaurav n myself sweeping, we started our trek. We stopped at two places to double check on the route we were taking.

One enthu and energetic team it turned out to be. We took very few quick short breaks. After about an hour we reach the road, the start of the base of our destination. Time for a jelly candy break! Re-energized, we started off from the base.  We reached a place where it was a large clearing and had a clear view of the full moon. We decided to spend a little longer time to soak in the moonlight. Loved this group, everyone were enjoying the silence broken often by the cold night breeze. Inner peace! 
We reluctantly leave the place after clicking few pics and continue our journey to the top. 
It got a little steeper as we climbed up, but this group surprised me with their energy. With me puffing and panting finally reach a place where there is a small temple which the locals worship. From here it’s a very small stretch to the peak amidst tall grass and trees. As you walk through this path, you get the jungle experience, one hundred percent :). End of this is the clearing and voilà the peak!

The first thing I did was to drop my bag and lie down to watch the beautiful sky lit with the soothing moon light. Man! It couldn't get better than this. Gaurav happily distributed badam and oranges to the team. Few of us started collecting dry wood for our campfire. Stones were stacked, enough wood collected for fire and we had the campfire in no time. Kudos to the team work! Then came out the pan, water, Maggie, and the home food. After our hungry tummies were taken care of we decided to play a round of dumb charades. We split into two groups and Gaurav volunteered to do the act first. With a good 15-20mins of enacting it was fun watching the team trying to guess. The fun had just begun and we continued till everyone got a chance to showcase their acting skills. We later decided to play antakshari. All of them sang their hearts out and connected through music. This was followed by some ghost stories. Did it freak me out? Of course!  But guess what as these talks were happening we had a guest by the campfire. Initially identified as a rat turned out to be a huge black scorpion!! Did that scare me? Naaaa...The rest of them? Hell yes! They were!!Mr. Scorpion seemed to like our company and refused to move away. Few of them tried sending him the opposite direction, seemed to listen for a while and it took an about turn back to our place. This happened for a while and finally the scorpion probably got bored and left us for good.
Few went on snooze mode, few decided to walk around n see the place. Gaurav and I spotted rocky a place overlooking the city below and sat there. Gaurav was asking me to check around for scorpion every now and then. We spent a good amount of time talking and trying to guess the places and bridges down below stopping in between to let the cold wind do the talking. We had the wind hitting us all the time carrying our voices onto the other side. It was indeed a beautiful night with the moon playing peek-a-boo shining and hiding.

Must have been nearing 3am now and we decided to make some coffee. The milk was getting heated in the pot and the BTC coffee recipe(ssshh secret recipe! ) all ready in the cup. We had the yummiest coffee ready and gulped down in no time.

You usually have coffee to wake up but It was reverse in my case. Nasreen and I got the sleeping bags out and went around looking for a almost flat surface and settled down. Thanks to Gaurav for getting the bag for me. I slept the minute i closed my eyes. It was around 6 when Nasreen woke me up. Woke up and the first thing i see is a clear sky with the moon still watching us. Cool morning breeze and a good night's sleep....wow I was all smiles, happie meee!  A look around I see all the photographers walking around clicking away to glory. .
The sun was already coming up wading away the cold and warming us up. We watched the sunrise, few capturing it in their cameras and few just with their eyes. Ensuring our campfire was put off completely we started descending stopping near the temple for a group picture. We were at the base in no time having taken a shortcut. Had a yummy breakfast at the hotel and had a quick feedback session while we waited for our bus back home. Kuch meeta hojaye! Hiren takes out this mega sized Cadbury which we all happily shared!  
And as mentioned in point 11 we departed with a promise to meet again in yet another memorable trek.

"Ain't about how fast i get there. Ain't about what's waiting on the other side...It’s the Climb..."

It's not about what your destination is or how soon you reach there. It isn’t a race to the top. It's about the journey and the people walking with you.

This journey is going to be etched in my memory forever. Thanks a ton to all of them who were a part of it.


Night trek to Horagina Betta peak on 4th of April, 2015 was my first trek with Bangalore Trekking Club (BTC). And boy, how refreshing, how eventful, how exciting the trek was!

We were a group of 15 trekkers under the leadership of Gaurav and Hiren. Both Gaurav and Hiren had been to the peak many times earlier; which means we were in right hands. We started in a KSRTC bus from Bangalore at 5 PM and reached Karahalli junction at about 6:30 PM. A road from this junction takes the traveller to Nandi hills. Horagina Betta peak is part of Nandi range. There are four hills in this range, including Nandi hills.

 Our trek was about 4 Km long. Gaurav had mentioned in trek profile that the trek was of easy to moderate difficulty. Indeed it was of moderate difficulty. However, we faced steep slopes in the last half kilometer or so.
During my march to the peak, I was pretty surprised by the tranquility and harmony of the surroundings. Nothing to be surprised about it actually: forests and mountains are nature’s own therapeutic centres. I was surprised because I could experience such tranquility at just about an hour’s drive from Bangalore city. BTC is, in a sense, an asset to the denizens of this huge metropolis, trapped that they are in prisons of noise, pollution and traffic.

We reached the peak at about 9 PM. Gaurav says this is a record of sorts for any trekking group of BTC. The uphill trek takes more than three hours.
The plan was to make the downhill journey early in the morning. So we unpacked and made ourselves cozy. Gaurav actually had planned few programs for the night. Until now I did not know anyone in the group. There was an intro session just before we started out trek. However I hadn’t managed to catch anyone’s name. Here I got to interact with my fellow trekkers. I realized that the group was as diversified as it could be. Our members were from various states and worked in various vocations. Many of them, like Sandeep Paul and Sundeep Agarwal, were veterans in BTC.

Although strangers just hours back, we pretty soon gelled together like soda and whiskey. On second thoughts, that may not be an appropriate metaphor (liquor and littering are banned in BTC: any violation to the norm shall lead to debarment for lifetime). Gaurav was the spirit of the ensuing bonfire party. He is jovial and friendly. He made us freshers feel at home. 
Few group members had collected twigs and firewood from the forest. BTC is, I got to know, extremely sensitive to wildlife preservation. Veterans were zealously guarding any violation of no-littering rule. Fallen twigs and firewood were searched for and collected; no one plucked so much as a flower from a tree. A trekking group without such sensitivity and discipline would do much damage to nature.

Fire was lit and bonfire party began. We had our dinners. Thereafter we had dumb charades followed by antakshari.

The 16th Member

Our plan was to sleep after antakshari. But there is a twist in the tale. Howsoever much you plan your treks, not everything happens as per the plan. The jungle has its own ways. After Antakshari someone demanded that he be narrated some ghost stories. Gaurav narrated an entertaining and humorous tale, claiming it to he a ghost story. In his tale his great grand father was once coming home with fish. Some hungry ghosts chased him and snatched away his fish. The forest Gods were expecting some other tale, perhaps, for they showed their displeasure to his story by sending a 16th member to the participate in the group…
Someone in the group remarked that there are actually sixteen and not fifteen members in the group. We had started from the valley with fifteen members. We had done a headcount too. So it was impossibile to have a 16th member amidst us.
“What makes you thing there are 16. We are just 15”
“No. I feel it. There are 16”
“I too feel it. There are 16”
Just at this moment someone cried out to Sundeep: “Rat! There is a rat between your legs”.
There indeed was a creature near his legs, listening intently to our conversation. If this creature was a rat, it indeed is supernatural. This is because (1) rats usually do not populate forests as forests are full of snakes, and (2) rats prefer agricultural fields and town areas where food is easily available. Could this creature be the 16th member of the group? The bonfire party was turning into a ghost story (copyright © BTC) to be narrated in future bonfire parties.
But no. It was not a rat. It was a scorpion king. When seen from the bonfire light it looked both beautiful and eerie. A bite from its tail is lethal. Dr. Sneha observed that the only cure to scorpion bite is anti-venom available only in a hospital. This fact did not give us the comfort we needed. So then started a turf war between the scorpion king and us. We found ourselves severely outnumbered – we were just 15 trekkers against the mighty scorpion king. Ok, I am exaggerating ludicrously. It was just a small scorpion against us humans. It sure raised its tail up in the air and tried to threaten us with its battle posture. But we managed to shoo it away.

The scorpion had, however, managed to spook us. Most of my compatriots decided not to sleep in the night, lest the scorpion trespasses back. Many of them were ready from before for a night-out. As a result we had a night-out in that chilly peak-top on a full moon night. We also exchanged some more funny ghost stories.

Veterans had come prepared with stuff to make coffee. Coffee was made just before dawn. I missed the coffee since I somehow dozed off – involuntarily – just before then and woke with the first rays of rising Sun. Sunrise scene gave me a spiritual feel.

We clicked group pics at the peak and many more on our way back. The journey back to the valley was easy and fast. We reached the plains in just about an hour.

Written by : Monisha Venkataraju & Smarak Swain
Organized by : Gaurav & Hiren
Date of event : 4 April 2015
Place :  Horagina betta
PhotosBTC FB Page

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