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My 1st Trek with BTC : Makalidurga

Who knew a BTC mailer to Makalidurga could be so enticing as to get rid of my extreme leg pain from trekking the Chennagiri hills? I was thrilled. 
Another hill, another adventure !!
Having been to quite a number of treks before, this was my first one with the BTC (Bengaluru Trekking Club) and might I add, it was beyond amazing.
An hour from the Bangalore outskirts, the Makalidurga Hills lay adjacent to a quaint railway station with same name, between Doddaballapura and gowribidanur. This station means lot for the trekking tribes as well the devotees that throng the ancient hindu temple, Ghati Subramanya 4.5 kms away in the valley during auspicious days. This hillock perching among many numerous ones in the valley sits on huge boulders and rocks with small tress, bushes and shrubs grown all over the terrain. Lemon grass and Palm trees, could be dates are abundant on the hill.

As the Bangalore- Vijayvada passenger train arrived at Yelahanka, I boarded it along with Rajesh with an enthusiastic yet light sceptical aura. If you haven’t been on lot treks before, there are some basic terrors that hold you back before registering. What if you are the tardy 49 year old who lags behind while all the other experienced trekkers speed ahead? What if the crowd isn’t friendly enough? (It is quite tedious to toddle up a hill without good company.)

And worst of all, what if you don’t make it to the top?

The journey began as we huddled up in the train and the ice broke with jaunty introductions, naturally followed by riots of laughter. It was a comfortable crowd and everyone was fuelled up for a day’s worth of leg workout. Everyone, including our MVP, Latha Patil, a 57 years young ball of energy who was about to experience her first trek ever. 

As we got off the train, it was remarkably cool with the sun shying away due to the rains that had lashed out for the past couple of days. Our team leaders Ashish & Amol and few more had prior experience being regular trekkers of the hill. They led us through a 2 kms walk parallel to the railway line, accompanied by the scenic beauty of numerous hills and rain clad meadows.
Walk on the ramp next to the hill started after strict instructions by our leads of NO smoking, NO drinking and NO littering. Violating any would call for a lifetime ban from BTC.
The team turned right and lined up to ascend uphill after a furlong more on the ramp. With respite at few points for a breather and to appreciate the lovely view we reached a huge flat boulder. There we lay with face upwards watching the sky and breathing the cool air let going the stress and burden of the city.

The young and energetic team with Amol in charge had already reached the top and had lined on the remains of fort hedge overlooking us. Further march ended us in front of a tiny run down temple and the fort remains bordering the fringe of the hill top. Temple has Nandi erected on top corner with a deity carved on stone inside. With not much homework done I and Megha discussed if the deity is Kali and so the name Makali. While the fact is the deity is Shiva and the name as per legend is for Markandeya Rishi who performed penance in this place.

The nearly 270 degree scene from the top is breath-taking. With faraway hills and green patches below in the adjoining valleys, one can point the rail lines on left side and the highway on the right. The disturbing piece of industrial shed in the far south before the hills made us visualize the landscape in next 5 to 6 years. Someone pointed at Nandi giri and Skanda giri hills. While we were wandering and watching something exciting happened. Two goats delivered twin kids on the grass carpet at the other side of the hill. Many ran with excitement to watch the Mother Nature’s act while photography experts were on their shooting spree. I quipped, ‘Cloud 9 Maternity care’ free of cost in the midst of nature.

Next hour went on with sharing and eating the packed food with many guys moving around to taste every pack. I and latha missed lot as we were tightly seated at one place, definitely Ruchita’s parata and chole. Fruits and biscuits came through on dessert course.
Around 1:30 noon the pack started to descend with one more stop at flat platform. Peacock cries could be heard from bushes down that had a cue from the clouds that had gathered. Ashish craved for jamoon fruits (indian plums or blackberries – Nerale Hannu in Kannada) and kept saying why not those trees over here. May be idea to start a new planting project in the hills. The team that has gone down kept waiting for all to join at the foothills. With few scanty drops drizzling for a minute we all sat their round in circles. Amid chitchats and accomplished mood I felt wonderfully peaceful within. All the happiness hormones with hill workout were playing on.

The ever motivating and energetic leads with their deputies’ in-charge helped the slow ones all through the trip and back. On the platform, refreshed with water and cold drinks we had a quick feedback session. Couldn’t suggest anything to improve other than appreciation for the organizers and the team. Can’t forget the dog painted with leopard marks. Back home when I mentioned, my daughter said IT IS the Makalidugra dog and always painted. Sorry for the dog to tolerate all the chemical paint for someone’s fantasy.
Dumb charades followed with more time to act rather than guess. It would have gone on and on if not for the train that arrived. It chugged in late and we had to scatter in an overcrowded compartment unlike the journey we had in the morning. Few on the top while many youngsters grouped into a partition and had their singing and never ending laughing spree. Chocolates, biscuits, rusk one after other…
Train crawled in between the farms and grape vineyards as the city scape came in. WOW one more day, one more try to be close to nature far from the noise and hustle bustle of Bengaluru life.
Like to end the note with sincere thanks to,
Fully charged compassionate team, thoroughly organized, experienced and ever motivating leads and deputies, Photog raphy experts, north Karnataka group creating ripples of laughter, Vidya and Shravya aka the undisputed selfie queens, Lovely Lata, , Prashanth, Hasana huduga (boy), Chankit, Brajesh, Megha, Harshita, Tirupathi boy with comical commentary, Bengali boy Satyaki, kolar boy, Rajesh, Andhra and Telangana guys each and every one whom I have missed here. Definitely will look forward to meet someone or other in future treks.

Fact Files:
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makalidurga
  2. Can be reached by rail or road. Train being the cheapest mode with as less as Rs 30. To and Fro
  3. Ongoing journey Bangalore Cant Vijayawada Passenger – Train no 56503 Scheduled start from Cant is 7:40 AM and has stops at Baiyyappanahalli and Yelahanka.
  4. Return journey Vijayawada - Bengaluru Cantt. Passenger - Train No 56504 Scheduled departure from Makalidurga is 2:20 PM and always arrives 2 hrs late, an advantage for trekkers.
  5.  Above trains run every day of the week as per rail info on 15th June, 2017.
  6. If train is missed, enquire the locals in station and walk to the highway and try to catch state transport buses.
  7. No water source in the hill. Can be bought in the station. Packed lunch and water bottles before journey will save time for trek.
  8. Shoes with good grip is must for urban folks as it is rock climbing and can be slippery if it rains.

Written By      : Prabha Mudda
Organized By  : Ashish Chouhan & Amol Saindane
Date of event : 10th June 2017
Place              : Makalidurga
Pictures          : BTC FB Page

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