Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta

The longer one stays away from posting or giving any heed to the blog; when restarting, more becomes the need to pen down such a monumental literary piece that would someday be at least made into a bad action movie.

Though the hiatus from blogging does fit nicely into that long time interval, this is not one such post.

This is not.

The most action you might come across in this post is a three way bull fighting scene, which was witnessed for a grand total of three seconds, from the window seat of the bus, someplace outside Bidadi.

But if you are reading this line, you have already come across it. The action sequence of the post is over.

The remainder of this post deals mostly with tips about reaching Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta and making it back.

First off, knowing Kannada helps.

A basic knowledge of the where the place is does too.

Since all knowledge about reaching Bilikal Betta on the internet appears to be generated by various versions of the one paragraph, here is some more content to increase that database:

Assuming you are not going by bikes, cars or skydiving right to the top the hill - this is what you do:

Get to K R Market, Kanakpura Bus Stop. There are buses to Kanakapura every 15 minutes or less. At least that’s what it looked like. Hop into one.

No matter what the Google maps say - there is no need to go to Kanakapura.

Get down at Harohalli.

Take a shared auto to Dodda Maralwadi. This is 8 km off. You pass through a lot of Doddis on the way like Narale, Karikal, Durgagowdana Doddi etc. Try to sit in the back of the shared auto with your feet dangling off the edge. Imagination permitting, a video can be made depicting one running very quickly in the air – in full reverse.

Stock up on food, water and drinks at this point. Stare and disbelief at auto drivers who proclaim it is an additional 15 km to the bottom of the trek. Small outbursts of laughter are permitted as well.

The foot of Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta, or as the locals call it - Tal betta is 5 km from Dodda Maralwadi.

Get into an auto whose driver mentions a number no more than 7 km.

One passes through Devanahalli, Konala Doddi during this part of the trip. The place is overgrown with mulberry plantations. And every house is immersed in sericulture.

The best way to make the auto driver warm up to you is to ask basic questions on sericulture, where the eggs are procured, where the silk is sold; make appropriate sympathetic sounds when he details how they get only around 200 bucks for kg of silk produced etc. This effort will not only increase your sericultural know-how, but will also get you his name and contact details, and on the way back make him get a better auto and wait for you for the best part of a quarter hour - as you make your way down the trail.

The trek up – from Tal betta, to Madhya Betta to Bilikal Betta - is about 3 km. In the worst case scenario, as we had to test it out, starting at 1 under the scorching Sun, it takes exactly 2 hours to reach the top. If there are four people trekking, you will almost completely go through at least one kg of bananas, one kg of oranges, one liter of Maaza and two liters of water in this interval.

Tamarind and ‘Belad hannu’ can be foraged as additional appetizers along the way, but this completely depends on how accurately one can throw sticks or dried coconut husks to strike these down from the tree tops.

This trek is usually grouped under Easy to Moderate. In retrospect, it is easily moderate.

Atop the hill, there is a Rangaswamy temple. Carved underneath a giant monolithic rock.

There is a man made pond to the side of the temple, a slight ways off, which provides a sweet swimming area for several small frogs, large toads, small birds and huge bees. As we also came to understand, it serves a dual purpose of providing clean drinking water to the temple inhabitants.

And also, if you really wanted to know it all right away - on a biggish rock in front of the temple, an elephant is painted in blue.

The temple is open on Satudays. The priest comes in for puja on Saturdays. Saturday is the day of the week to target. Or the week of January 14-15th. A huge jatre takes place atop the hill and people from all surrounding villages attend at this time. But this decision, esteemed reader, is totally yours.

The altitude atop the Bilikal Betta makes it so that there is a very pleasant cross breeze at all times. After soaking in the scenery all around where one can see for miles and miles on end, lounging near the temple’s side is serene and peaceful.

The trek down takes just 45 minutes. The Sun also helped by greatly reducing its experiments to see how quickly it can dehydrate trekkers. You could call up your newly made auto driver buddy halfway along the trail, who will deliver you from Tal Betta till Dodda Maralwadi - directly into another auto which will take you all the way till Harohalli and a from there a bus will get you to Bangalore.

If you happen to get down at Banshankari and not K R Market, eat Masala Dosa and Sambar Vade in Adigas before returning home.

The trek will then be truly complete.


This post is dedicated to Sarvesh and my brothers -the fellow trekkers, the Harohalli aunty- who knew the place way more than Google maps and various blog posts on this topic put together, the kids along the way– Sidalinganna –the woodcutter- for his entertaining tales of elephants and wild buffalo and his elephant survival techniques, Seethamma and her two brothers – for finishing the supply of chocolates, Manju – the sericultural auto driver – for being there on the way back and not making us walk an additional 5 km back to Dodda Maralwadi from Tal Betta.

1 comment:

cfp123 said...

Very sacred...