Savandurga is one of the largest monoliths in Asia. I had been waiting to do this trek since more than a year. Whenever I travelled towards Mysore, I would look on my right and keep admiring this single rock beauty. I also had the perfect day in mind to climb it. It should be a full moon day and the next day should be a holiday. So finally, the opportune moment presented itself. Thursday the 17th was a holiday in view of the Great Indian General Elections and 16th was almost a full moon day. Harsha, Nikhil and I decided to climb on the evening of 16th . Nikhil was in-charge of the food, me in-charge of the tents and equipment and Harsha in-charge of firewood. Nikhil and I did our duties. Harsha thought I wasn’t serious when I mentioned that he needs to get firewood. He hadn’t even arranged for some fuel. He was banking on Nikhil’s vodka bottle. We set off from Harsha’s home at about 3:30PM in the afternoon. Our hope was to cover a good distance while there is light and spend as much time as possible in one place at night. The view en-route was enjoyable too. Typical idyllic life. After about an hour’s drive, we lost track and wandered about for 20 minutes before getting back on track. Although the hill was visible all the time, we were just going round and round. We finally managed to get to the temple at the foothills. Parked our car and started off at about 5:00PM. Looks daunting, doesn’t it? Anyway, this is not where we started. We had to go around and find a more gradual slope. After about 20 mins of climb, we took a small break. We also noticed that a dog had been following us. It would later dawn upon us that it was not following, it was leading! Thats Nikhil trying to catch up. Can you spot him? As per Pole (Harsha) the lizards’ way up. The view after another short climb of 10 mins. That’s pole. Nikhil slowly fading in. After more than an hour’s climb, we were still not anywhere near the top and it was getting dark already. Nevertheless, it was already beautiful up here. The water body is the Manchanabele reservoir. After one more quick climb of about 20 mins. We decided to camp for some time and wait for the moonrise. That’s Bangalore. The moon wasn’t showing up and we had no work to do. So we thought we will shoot a few ghosts. In the excitement, we forgot about the moonrise and the moon was already smiling upon us before we realized. Thats the Manchanbele reservoir gleeming in the moonlight. Finally! The moonshot I was hoping to get when I thought of getting up on this hill. It is a combination of two photos. One with a 30 second exposure to get the city lights and another with a 1 second exposure to get the moon. We started our climb again. This time, with the dog leading us from the front. Reached the top in another one hour’s climb. It was quite windy and cold on the top. We were definitely under-prepared. We found one rock shelter and quickly finished our meals. We need all the energy to prepare the tent for the night. After a lot of struggle with the wind, we managed it!! We were not sure if it will stand the test all night. Nikhil dozed off. Pole the firewood in-charge finally got to work. Thankfully, he had got some matchsticks and camphor.Things weren’t looking up. We needed some dry grass to start the fire. The wind made it all the more hard. We were running out of camphor and matchsticks. Finally!! Got some warmth for about 20 minutes after 1 hour’s struggle. That’s our tent with the Nandi in the background. The moon was now almost at the zenith bathing everything in milky white light. You can see a faint Jupiter in the background. The night was crazy!! We saw some torch-lights at a distance. While Nikhil was sleeping peacefully, Pole and I got worried. It is not uncommon to get robbed in this area. So Pole and I were standing guard all night. And our weapons? Just a thick Lathi and a small knife. We had hid all the valuables(including my DSLR) behind a big boulder and were ready to give off the rest of the possession in the worst case. Finally at about 4:00AM, some of the strangers came close enough so that we could call out and converse. We then realized that it was just another group of trekkers. We then happily went off to sleep. The Nandi looking over the hills. It was morning and all our belongings outside the tent were still there. We started our descent as Nikhil wanted to be among the first ones to vote. The climb in the night in this part of the stretch with all that gear wasn’t easy at all That’s actually the sun! It was so cloudy. Managed to reach the city at about 9:00 AM. Dropped all the gear at home and went directly to the polling booth. Voted for Modi, came back home and dropped dead.
Huliyurdurga (translates to The fort of the tiger’s town) is not particularly well known. I guess Pole (Harsha) and I were among the handful that got on top of the hill this year. Infact, most people we met in the town were not aware of the trek path. As it is with a lot of other things, the less explored path is also likely to be the more adventurous and interesting one.
We started off from Pole’s home at about 6:00AM in the morning. Reached the village in about 1 hour. We had a hard time finding the scalable side. Our first effort went in vain and we had to climb down after a point. Luckily, we caught sight of a bird hunting a lizard live. The bird was generous enough to pose for a full video till the lizard gave up.
Finally, after going around a bit, we found a temple and the trail. For the convenience of others, I have put a local map below with the red path showing the path to the starting point of the trek-
As soon as we reached the top and looked around, we found a Pelican flying at about the same altitude. Interestingly, we could not spot a big water body around. Must have been an adventurous pelican.
The Brahminy kite seemed to be staring right back at us.
The old temple as seen from top..
The panaroma –
The toughest part was yet to come.. I had to drive for 3 hrs straight through the traffic jams of Bangalore.