Ballalrayana durga – A stretched exercise!!

2nd December 2013

This is a classic example of how a trek that seemed to be easy turned into a challenging one. I and Subbu were just back from Annapurna circuit trek and we considered this as a cakewalk. But events of the day and our over confidence made this hike difficult so much so that we even lost hopes of reaching the peak at one point of time.

The first culprits were the restaurants of Kalasa. At 6:30 in the morning, we were all set to go but could not find a restaurant that served breakfast. We roamed around the streets of Kalasa in vain. Finally by 8AM we gulped some idlis and boarded a KSRTC bus towards the base point.

Now enters the second culprit in the form of a fringe political outfit. It seems that KSRTC had cancelled a night bus from Kalasa and 20 odd people started protesting against it. People in Kalasa shouted against KR Nagara bus depot manager. I could not make a link between Kalasa and KR Nagara. Not sure whether depot manager in KR Nagara would ever know that there were people protesting against him!!  The protestors were all “paid” and the leader had a cunning look. The protest was called off after a press guy came and took a photograph!!

A precious hour was lost in the process.

It was 9:45AM when we finally started the trek. The initial stretch was not exciting as we were walking on asphalted road though the scenery around us was enchanting. The silence of the place was occasionally disturbed by autos which plied on the road. After walking for about 30 minutes, we had the first glimpse of our destination, Ballalarayana Durga.

The first glimpse of the hill
An hour later, we realized that miniscule idlies in our backpacks were insufficient for lunch. We went to a “kirani shop” and requested them to prepare some lunch for us during our return for which they obliged!! One issue solved.

Slowly, the asphalted road turned into a Jeep track and then a diversion appeared. The prominent road on the right went opposite to Ballalarayana Durga while a narrower road directly led to it. We chose the latter and continued our walk.

After walking for about 25 minutes, we felt something was amiss. Contrary to our expectations, we did not gain any altitude. Notwithstanding the doubt about the correct route, we continued hoping to meet a local to clear the confusion. We finally saw a house but unfortunately it was locked. But then there was a small colony of houses nearby. So, went in that direction hoping to clear our doubts. But we were in for a surprise!!

Abandoned Bungalow
 No soul was present in any of the houses. But more bizarre was that they looked abandoned. Completely astonished by this, we walked towards the main bungalow which was void of any human life. Only few goats were grazing in the area. It was a sort of “Bhooth bungalow”.  The bungalow looked wonderful from outside and the items inside the house was intact though cob webs was present everywhere. “How can one leave such a beautiful estate and bungalow?” I expected to find some ghosts but was disappointed!!

After a round of investigation we sat and decided the next course of action. A road from Bungalow seemed to lead towards the hill. We decided to try that path. The initial reports were encouraging as we found some plastic papers!! But then the road vanished into thick undergrowth making us difficult to continue further. It was a leech area and we were bit by them mercilessly. Our conclusion was that the road was unused for a long time. We retreated back to Bungalow.

We were tired and ate some energy bar to rejuvenate ourselves. The watch showed 12 noon. By all our estimates we should have reach the top. We were nowhere near it. As we looked at our food reserves and energy level, we felt that the time had come to give up our plans. But not before trying till the last minute!!
So, we went back from the abandoned bungalow. We crossed a stream but it did not occur to us to fill our water bottles though we had minimal amount of water in our bottles.

The tree tells the story
Joined the main road and continued further to climb up. Then enters the second Samaritan of the day (first one is the woman who agreed to prepare lunch!!).  He said that we were on the correct path and provided information about the deviations we need to take. With renewed energy we proceeded further.

After a while, the Jeep track narrowed and little later a small footpath appeared towards right. We decided to follow the main road. But to our luck, we met the third Samaritan who was climbing down on the smaller trail. We were going on a wrong route again!! Thanked him for his help and continued further. The bigger worry now was the water supply. We were all set to hit the grasslands but we had no water!! The person assured us that we can find a small source on the way.

"Water source"
We did find the water source which was just enough for us to fill our water bottles and quench our thirst. We found our energy levels rise by leaps and bounds!! This was the stage we were convinced that we would reach the top. The progress henceforth was quick as we quickly gained altitude. The scene around us started to get better and better. We crossed couple of shola forests and Ballalarayana Durga appeared nearer.

Finally, we reached the fort. Nothing much is left of the fort other than the walls. A little small house surrounded by tress is the only sign of human life on the top.

The best part is the scenery. It is just unmatched as folds grasslands and shola forests. We explored the area for some time and had our little idlies as lunch. The main course would be waiting down!!

Trek to Bandaje Arbi was also on our agenda but we dropped it. There was not much time left to come back.

We had our late lunch on our way back. It was so late that the woman who prepared lunch was wondering where we had vanished!!

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