One-day Trek to Makalidurga

[August 2014]

The vacations were over. Two months of vacation without friends is a very bad idea. I spent most of my time hooked on to my newly acquired laptop, watching movies and TV shows. At least the mornings and evenings had been productive. I would go birding with my father. That was something to look forward to each day but otherwise my days were plain useless. I even went trekking to Coorg for a couple of days but it was over even before I knew it. Well most good things are.

Back in college I was just getting accustomed to my new hostel and room-mates when it hit me that we should be planning a trek. I did my research and Makalidurga it was. Thanks to VTU, my SJCIT friends weren’t back yet. This time it would be just us and surprisingly as it turned out, just the three of us. The trinity comprised of yours truly, Mrityunjay, and Kiran. We stocked up and packed our stuff on the last night of August. I really couldn’t sleep out of excitement.

That Sunday morning we made our way to Yelahanka Railway station from a route I had discovered previously. We used the second gate and soon were walking along dusty rail tracks enjoying the green cover and the lake. It was a good 3 km walk and soon we were on the platform. We boarded our train at 8:30 am and enjoyed a good ride as the train was empty! We just couldn’t believe our luck. Soon were in Makali, our trekking getaway.

Even the sight of railway track makes it look like there is a lot to be explored in the place. The rails went on and on curving around the hill and out of sight. On both sides the vegetation was ample and gave a feeling of the wilderness. Walking along the trail we soon stopped for a quick breakfast. Bread and biscuits were shared and we were all set to start.

The trail was picturesque, curving around at the foot of the hills like a miniature valley. It was in fact where water flowed as a stream from the hills and to the lake nearby. So the path was full of rocks and pebbles. We asked for directions from the shepherds and went on. Soon we came across few farmers who asked us to start climbing the hill right away as the actual trail was still a long way from where we were. Taking their advice we started our uphill climb and so began one of the chapters of my trekking experiences I can never forget.

We never really found the right path! Initially all the rock climbing was fun but soon it was taking a toll on us. We were resting more often and our water supplies were getting scarce. Our movement if you traced it would look like a sine wave. That was because each time we made our way up the hill we would encounter a very steep climb that was almost impossible for us. Then we would make our way down and skirt a few hundred feet along the hill and then go back up. It was tiresome yet we kept going. Part of me knew that the only reason we weren’t giving up was that there were only three of us. Anymore and negativity would have started to creep up.

We took turns navigating. While others rested the navigator would go on ahead and look for a possible route to the peak. It had been almost two hours now. We were starting to curse ourselves for listening to the locals when we found herds of cattle grazing the lush green grass of the hills. In our desperation we had failed to take in the beauty of the hill. It was completely rocky and lush green grass enveloped it. Trees stood there like beacons welcoming people. Anyway the herds of cattle meant that there would be farmers in the vicinity. We found them. They asked us to keep heading in the direction we were currently in. He said we would find a dilapidated old entrance on the top.

We continued in search of our stairway to the peak! The climb was actually memorable. It’s not as easy as it looks on TV. It’s exhausting yet exhilarating. Once we were sufficiently high above we could see the landscape of the village underneath and the muddy lake that shimmered in the golden light. It was a treat to our eyes. The last stretch was treacherous but we were in no mood to give up. I went ahead and found a way up top. We were almost done when it started showering! Yes that was what we had been waiting for. The rain cleansed me, rejuvenated my mind, body and soul. We took shelter in a nearby cave to avoid the heavier showers. Soon the shower turned into a drizzle and we were back on. It took less than half an hour to reach the peak.

The top of the hill was amazing. It was really worth all the effort we had put in. Solid rock fort encompassed the top. It had stood the test of time. Some parts were crumbling but the rest was in perfectly good shape. The views from there were stunning. I put my camera to work. We were soon getting a lot of photos clicked. Adding to all this was the fact that we were the only ones on the peak! Yes we took a good look around and there was not a soul to be seen. Solitary and serene. That was our Makalidurga experience.

We started exploring the fort and other structures. There was a Shiva temple on top and a very oligotrophic pond at the back of the temple. It was rich green in colour. The find of the day was when I discovered our national flag hosted atop the far end. It was supposed to be the highest point. We lost all our senses when we saw it. We ran all the way to the top and saluted our flag. Took some photos and lost a really nice cap to the wind! Yup, Kiran was the unlucky guy. The wind was too strong up there and there was nothing to be done. It was a fitting end to all our climbing and trekking memories.

We were short on our water supplies. So we shared whatever that was left very carefully. I made a mental note that from next time on I would ensure everyone carried extra water no matter the discomfort. Food was eaten and our energy was restored to us. The time for descent had arrived. Exploring further we found the supposed trail that we should have taken coming in. But we were starting to agree that it was actually better to have come the way we did. All that fun and despair, there was no way in hell that his trail could have provided us that. The way down was pretty easy and quick. That was also when we found people after a long time. They were enjoying their evening walk up the trail. I envied these guys for living so close to serenity.

We hit the bottom, at least I did! Yes, yours truly missed his footing and twisted his foot. But after all I had been through I wasn’t going to be deterred by a silly fall. It hurt but carrying your pain around teaches you not to repeat your mistakes. Soon we were in a village. The smell of cow dung and manure filled our senses with joy. Where there are people, there is water! We filled all our bottles and drank like a camel. Then we walked another few miles to reach a town from where we were told the buses plied to Bengaluru.

The journey back was nice and comfortable. BMTC buses are good, probably the best in my opinion. We were back in Nandini hostel- our abode by 8:00 pm. I had a nice hot bath that relieved me of my strains, at least temporarily. Then we enjoyed a satisfying meal at our mess. As always the food was good but that day it did taste a lot better!

Another great journey had come to an end but not before we had a wonderful time and had learnt our lessons for a lifetime.

“Never give, up. No matter what the circumstances are”.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This trek while being true to the former statement also ended with a single step to my bed .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       -Sameer Desai

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