08 January 2009

Skandagiri: New year day episode

So here is the detailed narration on Skadagiri episode regarding which I had mentioned in HNY 09 post.

"What are you doing during New Year's Eve ?" the question Hemanth asked me a few days before Jan 1st. My immediate response was .. "let's go for a moonlight trek ". The obvious destination came to my mind was Skandagiri(Kalavarahalli Betta), the place favorite among trekkers and photographers in recent times for breathtaking sunrise views. We thought of celebrating the year switch at the peak itself. After basic planning and deciding Hemanth's car as the transportation, we looked for enthusiastic people. First person to agree was Sundeep Gupta. We refrained from calling many people as there was restriction w.r.t transportation (only 5 ppl can be accommodated in the car).

On 31st Dec afternoon, when we were still hunting for remaining members for the trip, I got a from Harsha. He showed interest in our Skandagiri plans but there was a sudden exclaimation from him. "Did u read TOI today? There's restriction for new year celebration at Nandi Hills and Skandagiri. General public will be not be allowed after 6 pm". It took a while for me to digest the news. Then we tried to look for alternatives. Hemanth enquired various clubs around Bangalore. The events at the places were not so interesting that too with an investment over thousand rupees.

So we decided to spend the year switch roaming randomly on streets of Bangalore and simultaneously doing street photography. At 9 pm Hemanth picked me from home and after getting everyone on board we discussed about places we can go. Firstly to fill our stomach we went to Food Street in VV puram . There we had usual stuffs Masala Puri, Pani Puri, Idly, Bonda etc. The exciting place in the street was famous VB Bakery. In order to attract the crowd (esp children) the owners had kept two clowns 
at the entrance, who were dancing to various tunes . Occasionally a few enthusiastic customers used to join them to have a dance session. It was amusing to see that one of the oldest bakery of Bangalore doing all possible stuffs to woo customers. Also there were some passerby giving a embarrassed glance at the bakery "What's happening here ? ".

Later we decided move to heart of Bangalore's new year celebrations i.e. Brigade road. As expected the place was brimming with revelers. In order to maintain law and order policemen were keeping strict vigil at the location and were not allowing people to stand at a particular place. The vehicular traffic in Brigade Road was stopped, in order to provide free movement for pedestrians(revelers). Roaming here and there we moved towards Fame Lido mall and had a coffee session at a CCD outlet there. Then when it was about to year switch we started walking back towards Brigade Road. On the way itself year we realised it's 2009 ! Bunch of revelers started dancing randomly in celebration mood and wishing everyone "Happy New Year".

Now the year switch was over. We witnessed more celebrations at Brigade Road and also group of people doing exaggerated stuffs in front of media cameras. For us somehow the disappointment of not going to Skandagiri was still lingering in our minds. We continued our walk on MG Road and walked
further upto UB City. From the building many hi-fi people were coming out and getting into their luxury sedans after finishing off their new year party formalities. Proceeding further we thought of having of one more round of coffee at Coffee Day Square. But unfortunately the cafe was full and there was no place to sit. In addition a police constable came into the outlet ordering the owner to close the shop as it was supposed to be closed by 12.30 am.

When it was time head back to our homes, Hemanth got very much optimistic about making it to Skandagiri. He was confident that local police may not raise objection in early morning. So at 2 am, we started our journey towards Skandagiri. The route was simple i.e. take the road towards BIAL, go to Chikballapur and from there seek local people's help for directions. The ride upto BIAL's trumpet interchange was smooth, beyond that it was full of hiccups. Adding to our trouble were defective headlights of Hemanth's car. There were many notorious speed breakers making the drive miserable. Slowly and steadily we proceeded towards Chikballapur.

As were not carrying any food items our other task was to find a shop to buy some basic items. Almost all the shops on the highway were closed. Fortunately we found a tea shop where we bought biscuits and further ahead before Chickballapur we got a dhaba by name 'Friends Dhaba where we bought mineral water and cool drinks. Since we didn't know how to proceed from chickballapur, we stopped for a tea break in the town and asked the shopkeeper for directions. The route was pretty simple according to him go straight and take a left after bus stand.

Moving ahead we discovered that there were many prominent left turns. We took a left turn at one of the prominent junctions (towards Gowribidanur) looked around for humans to enquire directions. We found one small shop and in which carpentry renovation work was going on in full swing. We asked one of carpenters for directions. He didn't even had a slightest idea about Skandagiri and instead he started explaining route to Nandi Hills. We looked around for more help and found a security guard type of person sitting in front of building with structure similar like lodge or a hostel. We striked the gate to wake up the person and to our surprise the man turned out to be a police constable and in fact the building was police station of Chikballapur.

As soon as we mentioned the word Skandagiri, the constable replied "No entry". Since it was already 4 am, we requested it's anyway going to be morning in a few hours and new year celebrations are already over. Our reasoning sounded convincing to him and he immediately replied with the route. He asked us to go straight and after APMC market take left on a tar road.

Following constable's instructions and with help of one more local person on the way we reached base of Skandagiri peak. To our surprise there were dozens of people already at the place with optimistic thinking as ours. All had come up with an opinion that entry restrictions won't be there in early morning. After getting down from the car we immediately started the hike. Along with us one more group started the hike. We proceeded for 10 minutes, but later on we didn't had any clue about moving ahead. Absence of moonlight made the job more difficult. Then somewhere from dark an old man appeared saying "you are on a wrong track, give me money I will take you to the peak". Realising our helplessness, we decided hire him by fixing an amount of Rs. 300 (shared b/w two groups).

The ascent in the dark was a different experience altogether. Intially we faced problem as we were carrying only one torch but later on the other group shared one of their torch with us. The trail was easy to moderate and thanks to the darkness we didn't really bothered about steepness of the terrain. With 3-4 pit stops we managed to reach the peak at 6 am, just in time before the sunrise. We sat at a comfortable location getting set for viewing and shooting sunrise. At 6.15 am, the ultimate, breathtaking first sunrise of the year 2009 happened. Almost 50 people on the peak celebrated the signature moment by shouting aloud "Happy New Year".

Then for next one hour we dedicated time of photographing people on the peak and landscapes around the peak. One of the major stuff was shadow of the peak formed on west side. Finally at 7.30 am, we decided to get down. The descent was different psychologically. While ascending as it was completely dark, we didn't even had a slightest idea about the trail. Whereas the trail was completely different while descending in daylight. The obvious question constantly coming to our mind was "did we really ascended from the same route?".

At 9 am we were back to the parking lot and started return journey. Being sleepless overnight
for Hemanth the drive turned out to be very tedious . Sitting besides him in the front seat, I was constantly chatting/arguing with him on various topics, in order to keep him awake. Slogging to our physical limits(w.r.t sleep) we were back in Bangalore safe concluding our adventurous Skandagiri expedition that to on a new year day!

Find more photographs in the album embedded below.


  1. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Excellent way to bring in the new year! Good going Shande :)

  2. Amazing Experience!!! :)
    FIRST Sunrise of the year! Wow..
    Real nice plan...

  3. yeah .. we have been cherishing the experience for entire 2009.

  4. nice read, man.

    Could you please tell me whr did u plak your car near skandagiri?
    is it safe to park thr and go for hiking?

  5. @b!nu, thanks for dropping here.

    we parked our car in front of Papagni Mutt, which is at the base of Skandagiri. I feel the place is pretty safe and also in weekends ur car won't be alone :)

  6. Thanks a lot man.

    I visited your website and pages. Its great and pretty informative. Thanks for sharing these info.

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