Sunday, May 06, 2007

Savanadurga - A Labour day outing

Bangalore is basically made up of rocky ground. If you go out of Bangalore just 50-60 Kms, you will find many many rocky hills. On top of many of these hills, a king (paalyegaara) of 16th century by name of 'Kempe Gowda' had constructed forts to protect the people from enemy invasion. Don't pin me down on dates and other facts... things are very much in grey area when we come to Bangalore's real history. Date lines don't match... Things are not taught in school... rotten politics is every where.

All that apart, after the accidental break down of the Mekedaatu plans - we decided to go to Savanadurga which would be a equally nice drive. My driving partner - lets call him Nani - was promptly only 20 minutes late to start. A nice (lengthy) breakfast in of Nani's old hangout's in Basaveshwarnagar further delayed our start by an hour... But who was in a hurry?

Nani is a good driver. We headed out of Bangalore on the Magadi Road... He negotiated the irritating Kamakshipalya traffic with a two-wheeler like agility. Oh BTW, we were driving a year new SWIFT. Half an hour of irritating traffic and more irritating road brought us to some where near Macho Halli. The agony continues... some "Work in progress" situation for the next four kilometers saw us riding over dirt tracks stirring up clouds of dust behind us. All these surprisingly did not seem to effect Nani at all, who was happily smiling away to the tunes of 'Dr Raj's eternal romantic songs'.

Nani had been here before... So, there was no need to ask for directions... although the illusive water-tank that he so clearly remembered never appeared before me. Any way, the winding roads kept him happy... nice music and the cool AC kept me happy. It was a very good combination. I needed to take pictures of anything remotely photo-worthy... and he wanted to take a break ever so often. And more over, time was on our side...

Well, reaching Savanadurga is all about left turns. There are mile-stones counting the number of kilometers (yeah, I see the contradiction too) left to reach Magadi. When it reaches 'one' there is a left turn to be taken... Boards are currently there. Not sure if they last longer... This is called 'Hosapete' circle. Couple of chais shops, bakery, cool-drinks... and nothing more.

Savanadurga is 12 Kms from there. Some distance (have no clue how much) in that road, will lead you to a place called VG Doddi. Gotcha... if you reached here, it means you missed the left turn you were supposed to take. Yes, just before VG Doddi, there is a left turn... there is a decorative entrance (again, not sure how long it will last). This should be good enough hint. After that you have to be really dumb or arrogant to lose your way.

We were at the base of Savanadurga hill by 11:30. There is a temple for Lord Narasimha at the base. Since wait period to consult the deity was too long, we decided to first climb the durga (fort) and then come back to the temple. So be it. We started to ascend... the wrong way. It had to happen. When we found it tough we looked around to see how others were doing it... that is when we realized that there is a easier, albeit round-about way to start. Ten minutes (okay... it was 6 minutes) into the climb, we had our first pit stop. Clearly we were climbing the wrong rock. We had to walk sideways to reach the correct path. Since we were already half way (okay.. 1/4th) up this rock, I thought why not see the top of this one. Nani gladly volunteered to stay back. Climbing was easy. Damn easy - until I reached a point where memories of Kabbaludurga (a mis-adventure of mine 4 years ago. Another day - another story) came back to me. The crevices I could hold on to were becoming less comfortable. Some how I had lost the will to stand upright. All this said - time to climb down. Oops... and then I made the mistake of looking down... Nani was way down some where... and there seemed to be no way I could go there walking on two legs. I wondered whether I should be happy that I climbed so much in just three minutes or start making contingency plans if I end up with the same plight as Chamayya Mestru of Nagara Haavu movie. Well... After 10 gruelling minutes of dorsal (face skywards) crawling I was back where it all began. Both my palms had blisters but I was happy to be walking again... many thanks to my denim trousers.

We started walking sideways to reach the 'actual' path. Until you do it, you would not realize the risk in this. It is very easy to twist your ankle when gravity is tricking your sense (if you have one) of balance. Fine... Once we joined the more trodden path, we were joined by various groups of people... some left us behind and went ahead... and some vice-versa. All kinds of people come to Savanadurga... some as pilgrimage... some for just time pass... some to put a tick on their TODO list... reason could be many - but the pain is all the same.

The terrain, the heat, scarcity of water, Nani's innate urge to give up - I was fighting multiple battles here. Each battle required different strategies... The terrain had to conquered the old fashion way. One step at at time. The heat... there was no escape. The only way out was to surrender and mitigate the damage by taking ample rest when ever we came across shades. They came in various shapes. Under a tree, between two boulders, sometimes even walking in the shadow of Nani helped :-)) The third battle was against water (or the lack of it). I am accustomed to using very less water during my running... So that battle was won fair and square. The last one was a tough ask... the enemy was changing faces at every corner. Nani would find creative reasons to stop at any pit stop. Luckily, I had more creative reasons why we should see the top of this climb. This tug-of-war between the curious and the quitters went on for 2 hours... both physically and in our (Nani's and mine) minds. Finally the curious had it their way.

The fort is no big deal to write about. It must have been a formidable opponent to overpower in its days. However, I think anything that high in that heat would be formidable... The enemy had to first fight the quitter in himself and only then would the fort be accessible. On top of the Fort, there is a Nandi (Bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva) looking over towards North. There are no inscriptions... no commentary on how it got there, why it has been put there, who put it there. Zilch. Nothing. There were a bunch of other climbers who had their own un-verified versions of history. I did not understand why there was a bull, when the temple below was of Lord Narasimha and not Lord Shiva... any way that is for the historians to ponder about.

At 2:30, we thought it was time to head back... In this more used path, getting down was not that scary... We were safely back at the base in 50 minutes (okay, 1 hour 15 minutes). At the base a nice kind hearted lady offered us drinking water from the well. She would not accept our help in drawing the next pot of water from the well... 'Does urban life kill the humanity in people?' I began to think....

We quickly offered our prayers to Lord Narasimha and headed back to civilization. Near the base of the fort, there is a vendor of tender coconuts. Mr Nani quenched all his thirst here. Nani's promise of getting ragi balls for me for lunch seemed impractical since it was already way past lunch time. Still we tried our luck at Magadi... In vain.

Nani, still could not believe what he had accomplished. The quitter in him had been sedated... albeit temporarily. He definitely felt good about it. But does not want to accept it... for fear that if he gets into this habit of feeling good this way - life may become harder.

Reached Bangalore safely at 7:00 PM. Bought 'Namma Oorina Rasikaru' by GorUru Ramaswamy Iyengar for just ten rupees (Now you know where I picked up this Nani from). Rava Idly at Janata Hotel... The End.

The End.


aishu_here said...

Sounded quite interesting.
I could feel most of your words- the heat ,the rocky surroundings, the blisters ..since I was at Magadi during the same time at an adventure trip with some colleagues.

Your post has inspired me to jot down my experience of the 'labour day outing too.

Lets see if the 'inspired' or the 'quitter' in me wins on that ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hmm, knowing who "Nani" is, I would consider making him to trek is your biggest achievement so far !!..
I would not have believed if I had not seen the photos taken.
Great going !!!...