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Walking The Night | Horagina Betta Night Trek

Eighteen & half enthusiasts, some known and some unknown to each other decided to walk the night to HoraginaBetta. Each with their rucksacks over the shoulder. It started at platform number 23 at Kempegowda Bus Depot. There's always ample signs to a memorable experience in its beginning that fails the  pre-scripted. The direct bus to Karahalli Cross, (the destination to the foothills of Horagina Betta) was cancelled.
We walked across outside to KSRTC Depot for the alternative - reach to Devanahalli and take another bus to Karahalli Cross. The beginning had already defined what was to follow. Before we go into the details heres a little about the place. 


(About Horagina BettaAlso known as Brahmagiri, (Meaning 'The Outside Hillock') lies 65 kilometres from Bangalore, is one of the major hillocks on route to the Nandi Hill (the preferred tourist destination). The peak hosts a modest (mostly) deserted Shani-Eshwara temple. It is 4724 feets (1440 meters) above MSL its highest point has rocky platforms and a rock-cut lake which stores rain water in the monsoons. The terrain is diverse, mostly rocky with evergreen forest, thorny bushes and patches of grass on the slopes. It is considered to be a rich bio-diversity with birdlife: warblers, flycatchers, thrushes (esp., Malabar Whistling Thrush), wood pigeon, shaheen falcon, yellow-throat bulbul, uropeltidae Snakes, scorpions and pill millipedes). In terms of accessibility this trek goes to be an easy-moderate category.
We reached Devanahalli around 8.00 PM. As we waited for the connecting transport to Karahalli Cross, people were getting introduced to each in a light handshake and reserved smiles as it normally happens. After a short wait, the transport was arranged. It was a small goods tempo with tarpoline covered top. This is where we, the eighteen and half souls were to fit-in. We did fit-in comfortably. There were subtle jokes about a leopard in the tempo (reference to a recent leopard sighting in one of Bangalore's school). The 1/2 (a boy of 8-10 years old) showed his courage to sight and face it. While few others talked about the political situation of Bihar, Nitish's governance and helplessness of their political alignment. Someone pointed out that we looked like cattles enroute to the abbatoir. Everyone laughed at the obvious remark. The bulb lighted up in the back to everyone's delight. It was already 8.00 PM in the night when we reached Karahalli. One by one everyone jumped off the vehicle. Small groups formed to Others walked to the bakery behind for snacks, vegetable puffs were preferred and the shop-keeper finished his stock in no time.
8.30 (ish) PM : It was time to trek. We gathered around and were introduced to each other with names and experience with BTC and about the trek that was to follow. Our team leader convinced us in many words that this was a non-issue trek and everyone will We were convinced by the trek leader that it was going to be a fairly easy one and over in no time as we reached to the top.  The torches were out from everyones bags and walk began. 
Shadows of people seemed darker, in the focus of the torch to the ground. The  light's focus were occasionally shifted from the path, to the vegetation and the sky. A half moon shone spreading a shallow spreading white light across the horizon, lighting up half the hill in light and plunging the other half into darkness. There were mild conversation between people. Occasional laughter broke the silence. We walked towards the jungle in all eagerness. 
For the next two hours or more we walked following the direction of the more experienced. The paths of occasional trekkers gave us the direction to move ahead. It was only around 11.30 PM that we realised that the path was wrong. We would not be able to reach up to the summit in that direction. It was time to walk back to where we started. The reaction at this time should have been of painful exhaustion spelling a desperate blame game to why? Surprising everyone was enjoying the walk and had no problem walking back. This is the spirit of a true trekker who doesn't mind being wrong in a path and decides to try a different path. 
The thorny bushes by now has started scratching the body which gave mild sharp tingles. The breeze was still a little lesser than cool or maybe the walk made the body warmer. There were talks of who had been to which trek earlier and there were diplomatic analysis of how good each one was as a trekker. It kept the conversation alive. The torch lights did sway in all direction. Occasional resting on the rocks brought in more subjects to talk about, mostly pleasant conversation. 
As the new paths were discovered, the walk continued. Resting and walking. Walking and resting. Rocks jutted out in strange shapes, faint paths showed sometimes. There were clearing from the trees that had flat grasses. Then boulders in shapes that were both frightening and awesome in the moonlit night.  There were more frequent pit-stops by now. And a lot of food sharing, someone offered scrambled eggs. More people were falling flat on the ground at every stop. There were others who passed energy bars, paranthas and snacks. There were instances when everyone talked about the rules of trekking, previous trekking experience and how this as a night trekking was new and they were looking forward to it. Almost everyone had some good advice on how to move ahead. 'You can do it', 'This is the last stretch' and 'Just a little ahead' were encouraging words and being used more often. 
It was almost 2.30 AM when we reached near the temple. A crude granite steps led the way up on the left hand side, narrowing down the bushes from both sides. At the end of the path was a dry pool (looked like man-made) which in the monsoons should be holding water. Above that was the final peak of Horagina Betta. The peak of Nandi hills showed to the right, where few vehicles were showing the headlight moving as they took the curve on the roads. The towns below had flickering lights. Everyone was tired and sat down with the sigh of achievement. 
We tried to make a bonfire on the top but it was too windy. While a few pulled out their sleeping bags, others moved around to collect firewood for the bonfire. Everyone but a few stayed back at the top. Others came down near the shanieswara temple and created a bonfire. Cup noodles and food were passed around. Antakshari session started. Its always funny how in such place there is always one person who is obsessed with a particular type of songs and can pull out one after another in the similar line. But everyone laughed. 
5.30 AM: It was time now to go back up to the top and wait for the sunrise. Between the vermillion streak on the sky and darkness covering both below and above, it felt like an eternal wait for the sun to rise. The breeze was chilling. Then all of a sudden the orange ball of fire popped up the sky. Peaceful, enchanting and promise of a beautiful day ahead. It was time for everyone to explore around and take a lot of memories back with them. We stayed there for sometime. 
It was time to descent which was a fairly fast one. We turned back and few distance down and looked back at the peak where we had walked the night before. It looked distant and majestic. It was more beautiful now. We had seen it closer. 
Written By       : Ajith
Original Blog   : feirnveya
Organized By  : Hiren
Date of event : 13 Feb 2016
Place               : Horaginna Betta. 
Pictures          : Album
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