Set your heights more than what you see around you, see beyond said Anthony Anderson. Well, staying on the 3rd floor of my residence, I seriously pondered over his words and thought of scaling some height and seeing what lies beyond. A rainy previous night and cold & misty morning were perfect to get out of the city and climb up some height. In retrospect, now, I feel I took the quote a wee bit too seriously without realizing what the actual height I had set when I decided to trek up the largest monolith of Asia.
Distance: A decent 60 kms from Bangalore (of course it would vary a few kilometers here and there depending upon which part of the city one is located).
Route taken: Basaveshwarnagar – Magadi Road – Tavare Kere – Savandurga
Mode of transport: Buddy’s 4 wheeler. Government buses ply very frequently on the Magadi road. But the connectivity off Magadi road towards the foothills of Savandurga through these buses might not be as frequent.
Ideally start off the climb from the foothills around 6 am, if not earlier! Well, ideally. But did we do that? To keep it simple, NO. Started off from home around 6.20 am and enjoyed the leisurely drive through the dug up roads initially on the highway and later through winding roads with lush green fields for some distance and through green canopy closer to Savandurga, on either side of the road. It was around 7.45 am when we reached the foothills.
The real fun begins where the paved roads end, said the Strugatsky brothers(well-known Russian science fiction writers)! Oh fun, we had! Even after 4 days after our trek, my creaking knees and those singing ankles remind me of all the fun that we had once we parked the vehicle and walked off the paved road onto the muddy trail which led us to that colossal rocky outcrop.
AWESOME! BREATHTAKING, not just the view, but the climb uphill was – it literally took our breath on and off. Time to note that the trek can be considered of moderate intensity for those who are fit and trek on a regular basis but difficult and best avoided by those who intend to begin their trekking expeditions.
I am not sure what the thoughts were in my hubby’s mind or my buddy’s, as they stood at the base and measured up the climb. But I took refuge in yet another quote! Love from within, be determined and let your self-confidence take you to heights you never experienced before ~ Arsi Nami. On that quote, I mean note, pretty much unaware of what we were up for, cheerfully we started our ascent around 8.00 am.
The climb on the rocky surface from afar would actually appear simple. But believe me, it isn’t. Slowly but steadily we hiked up the stony path. The cool breeze was soothing as the temperature rose steadily, thanks to the sun emerging out of the clouds after a good 4 days. After the initial 30 mins of the climb, our speed seemed to be inversely proportional to the altitude we were gaining. With our heartbeats racing and feet dragging, we would take as many pit stops as possible as we replenished our bodies with H2O and maybe a sip of mango fruit drink sold at vantage places by the vendors; but remember, a clever way to utilize the break time would be to indulge in photo-ops and video shooting.
The view remained more or less similar after the initial climb of 30 mins. Green cover over the base and the smog covered still waters of TG Halli lake/reservoir became clear as we trekked up higher. The blue skies and the bald grey mountain made for some very picturesque sight. A few other trekkers apart from us, the homo-sapiens, were the resident macaques trying to snatch a piece of cucumber or maybe a tetra pack of mango juice from the tired visitors.
Watching a few trekkers already on their way back to the base, intermittently reminded us to speed up a bit and reach the unknown and unseen peak. A casual enquiry now and then regarding how further the trek would be, with those returning would be met with ‘you are halfway now, probably another 45 mins of the climb‘. Further ahead it would be, “well, this would be the last steep climb. The rest would be comparatively easy”! Well, we climbed and climbed and climbed further.
Rocky path or the mud trail, steep climb or the uneven paths, squeezing through the narrow strip of the path in between huge boulders here and there watching the wonders of nature fluttering at a distance or swaying to the tunes of breeze and many a time chirping at a distance kept us engrossed without a dull moment all through our hike up to the peak; undeterred we made it to the top singing and smiling and thoroughly enjoying.
The view of the unassuming Nandi Mantap after the last leg of tricky climb heralds our arrival at the intended destination – the peak of Savandurga. It was around 11.30 am. The innumerable stops and the picture clicking spree had delayed us substantially in reaching this point but then, where was the fire? The exhilarating feeling of reaching the top without giving up midway and the sense of achievement after a tough trek cannot be explained in words!
Frequented by pilgrims to pay a visit to the Savandi Veerabhadreshwara Swamy and Narasimha Swamy temple situated at the foothills, this granite monolith called Savandurga is one of the most sought after destinations among the rock climbers, trekkers and adventure seekers. The 2 hills Karigudda (black hill) and Biligudda (white hill) collectively form this trekkers paradise called Savandurga. The few minutes spent at a height of about 1226 meters above mean sea level, admiring the panoramic views sipping salted buttermilk from the tetra pack and then guzzling a litre full of elixir while exploring the entire place is worth all the efforts that have gone into this trek.
Ruminating on the thrill of reaching the peak, with a broad smile on our tired and sunburnt faces, we began the descent around 12.15 pm. Make no mistakes and assume that the climb down to the base would be much easier than the ascent. The hot surface of the rocky mountain did not take any pity on the trekkers and let us sail through nor did it shrink in size and help us touch the base quickly.
Instead of the creaking knees and the singing ankles of the ascent now joined the quivering calf muscles and danced its way to the base of the mountain. While a few parts of the descent did seem reasonably simple, most parts of the walk involved getting down on all fours to hold ourselves against the gravitational pull. The granite surface reminded us yet again that treks should be started early in the morning and completed before the sun saps us of all our energy and most importantly, it’s a reminder to keep our photo sessions to the minimum.
With minimum breaks and maximum manoeuvring of the deceitful twists and turns, we did manage to touch the base in one piece around 1.00 pm! The root of achievements is passion – how true! After almost 2 years of break in my trekking and fitness routine, only my passion & determination to get back to my earlier routine I believe, has finally put me on the right track/Trek! As I recount this memorable experience of a difficult as well as challenging trek expedition, another meaningful quote keeps playing in the back of my mind – There is no top. There are always further heights to reach ~~Jascha Heifetz
Some tips to make the trekking experience better
- Choose a weekend preferably to trek since the place and the trek path wouldn’t be safe to venture alone (in my opinion). Better to have company
- Start early and try to complete the trek before lunch
- Cannot stress enough on wearing comfortable trek-friendly clothes (preferably covering your arms), hat and sneakers.
- Carrying a water bottle is advisable but it may weigh one down during steep climbs
- Follow the arrow; the path is marked with white paint and it would be easier to follow the markings
- Climbing the rocky path in a zig-zag manner would marginally reduce the stress on your knees and ankle
- Take small breaks & hydrate your body at regular intervals.
- It would be wise not to get carried away and run down the slopes (however much alluring it may seem), during the descent. The slopes deceptively have proven fatal in some cases recently, I was told.
- For the hungry tummy – the first eatery, right at the entrance is a decent option for having breakfast or lunch even though there are a couple of other smaller run stalls. Not sure of the name though.
- Tender coconut water after a tiring trek, sold at the foothills surely infuses life back…in case one is too tired
- Ample car parking space at the Narasimhaswamy temple (foothills) is available (for those who reach early)
Footnote: This trek though was done during covid times, maximum safety in social distancing was followed even though the visitors on the trekking route were very few.