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!!
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.
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!!
Labels: fort, hill, trek