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Caving at Antergange

        Caving at Antargange

Bangalore: 8th May 2016, temperature 37ᴼC, real feel 41ᴼC...How does a day trek here sound? Not very attractive right? But what if it is combined with cave exploration? Ahhh…now that’s something! With dreams of such a unique adventure, 19 BTCians set out for Antargange near Kolar. The journey started from Shantala Silk House in a minibus.

Once everyone was aboard, the one-of-a-kind introduction session began. Taking inspiration from dumb charades, everyone had to use their creativity and enact their name. Once the ice was broken, people volunteered (sometimes forced :P) to sing and so we heard songs in Bengali, Punjabi, Telegu, Kannada and Hindi (item songs by Moyukh to be specific).

By now our stomachs were growling for some food. So off we were to Nandi Grand. As the proverb goes, the fruits of patience are sweet, the fruits of our patience too were sweet (kesari bath) alongwith salty, spicy (dosa, idli, vada, khara bath), hot (tea and coffee) and oily (onion rava masala dosa as Vikram and Shalini will tell you). Packing the lunch in our tiffins, off we were to our destination Antargange.

Before we could embark on our mission for the day, we had another sweet encounter…cake!!!!

This was the 400th event of BTC and we celebrated it by cutting a cake in the midst of monkeys and a marriage ceremony. With the extra dose of energy, the flight of stairs to the temple didn’t seem very tiring. While some of us reached the temple and waited for others, we could see various activities around us. Visitors, who had come for religious purposes, were busy filling up their bottles with the holy water coming from a source yet unknown. It was sad looking at the small lake which was too dirty and ruined the serenity of the temple. The monkeys were busy with their tricks. And so we BTC monkeys also decided to proceed with the trek.
The trail was a well-marked rocky one. The sun beat down on us and left us sweating, thirsty and eager for some rest. Nirmala passed around a sweet whose name I don’t remember but it was a gingery form of jaggery beautifully packed in a coconut leaf box.
And here came upon us the Man of the Day, Siddhesh or more appropriately the Kid of the Day. He was to be our friend, philosopher and guide for the day. So with shouts of “Come on girls and boys, hurry up!” he led us to the ‘water cave’. As Siddhesh and few of us wriggled into the dark and mysterious cave, others waited outside for their turn. Our patience was tested every time we heard excited voices from the cave and this only made us more curious about the cave. Each time someone would come out of the cave, the scene resembled that of after a viva exam with questions pouring out…How is it?Is it easy? Is it cold? Is there enough light? There was a particularly vertical rock inside the cave for which some pulling and pushing was required. Nirmala was transformed into Bahubali for this rock :P. A small stream flowed inside the cave. Bottles after bottles were being passed each time someone went inside resulting in no shortage of water throughout the trek.

Once everyone had experienced the ‘air-conditioned’ caves, Siddhesh led us back to the trek path and suddenly disappeared into some bushes. We followed him to stare down a rock leading to another rock which led to another rock. This particular cave, if you can call it so, seemed more interesting as we girls made good use of our short height and did not bang our head against the rocks above. Twisting, turning, jumping, sliding and posing across rocks, we reached a clearing and waited for others. Some of us decided to explore the area and jumped across the rocks to reach the other side. This is where the twist in the story occurred when Nirmala twisted her ankle during one such jump. With a sprained ankle and a scarf tied around it, Nirmala was advised to rest for some time. It was already 2pm and so we decided to have lunch there. Out came the tiffin boxes with Vangi bath and curd. I still think that the amount of food packed was according to the box size as probably for the first time I finished my trek lunch quite easily :P. Everyone around was being too courteous and offering their lunch to others. The grapes acted as the icing on the cake as we decided to move on from the cave.
The climb out was a short one with a slightly tricky part. But BTCians that we are, innovative methods were developed to navigate it. Finally we were out in the open! Now it was a simple climb down the rock steps which Nirmala bravely faced without any complains. And it was photograph time! The moment a person would stand for a single photo, he/she would be photobombed first by one person then two then three and then finally the whole group. The setting varied from the boulders to cactus trees to fiery orange Gulmohar trees.
Reaching the temple marked the end of the trek and exploration. Soon we spotted an ice cream cart selling ice cream in orange coloured thin cones which reminded us of our childhood days. I hadn’t realized that ice cream candy can be a multi-purpose item till Nirmala bought one of those. No, it was not for eating but to soothe the sprained ankle! On a lighter note, I hope the pain was sweeter thereafter :P. The weather was now cooling down as the clouds gathered above and we happily got into the bus with the hope of enjoying fresh cool air in the running bus. But nature was beyond our expectations as it started drizzling soon. The rains lifted our tired spirits as we played Antakshari.
Just as we thought that the eventful day had come to an end, there was another surprise in store.

In the itinerary mail, Vikram had mentioned about a surprise which we had assumed to be the cake cutting. But no, there was more to it. We were to visit the Kotilingeshwara Temple on our way to Bangalore. By now it was raining quite heavily. Maybe the Raag Malhar of our Antakshari did please the Rain Gods :P. We had the option of either staying back in the bus or putting our brave selves out as it was raining cats and dogs now. While Nirmala decided to not take any more risks for the day, the rest of us ventured out in the few umbrellas we had. Imagine 18 adults in 4 umbrellas...you do the math! The road was muddy and the sky dark grey.

 Throwing all caution to the wind, we splashed through the puddles to reach the temple. In the distance we could see a huge Shiv ling. The entrance of the temple was adorned with small Shiv lings but it was only the trailer. As we stepped into the courtyard of the temple, we were met with a beautiful sight. Spread over a huge area was innumerable number of Shiv lings of different sizes adorned on top of colourful brick stands. The blues, greens, reds and yellows of the stands seemed even more beautiful and bright in the grey evening after being washed by the rain. Due to the rains, there were very few visitors and we could roam around peacefully soaking in the calmness. The courtyard went on and on and was only intercepted by few temples where some of us offered our prayers. With a peaceful end to the trip, we got back into the bus.
The atmosphere was created for the feedback session with blue lights and a mike. Everyone had enjoyed the day and was all praises for Vikram. Vikram could not handle so much praise especially when it came from the girls amidst hooting by others :P. The positives and negatives of the trip were discussed and BTC rules explained to the first timers. There was still some time before we reached Bangalore as we navigated through tollgates and traffic. Biscuits and cakes were being passed around to sooth our now hungry stomachs.
As we reached Bangalore, people got off at their respective stops with goodbyes. As mentioned by everyone, the group for the trip had been very social and fun. It hadn’t taken long for everyone to blend in including the first timers. Two hours into the journey and we were already joking and fooling around. The trip was different from the ones we had done before. It was less trekking and more of navigating across boulders which made up the caves. At the end of this exploration trip, everyone was left asking for more such caves.  Hats off to the organizer Vikram and the participants for making this trip a memorable one. We hope to meet again soon and relive the fun!

Written By : Nasreen Choudhary
Original Blog : Caving at Antergange
Organized By : Vikram
Date of the Event : 8th May, 2016
Place: Antergange,  Kolar
Pictures: BTC FB Page

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