June 20, 2016

MicroAdventure - May

Location: Nandi Hills
Plan: Climb to the top!

This year has brought out a continuous resfeber in me. I suppose it's almost half the excitement of this project-  the anticipation of a trip about to happen but the whereabouts of which is still unknown. Same story every month.

My family has begun planning a macroadventure in August. With not much time to prepare for the four day trek in Uttarakhand, my dad suggested a climb up Nandi Hills to test the knees. I wasn't too pleased with the plan. Having visited Nandi Hills a dozen times before, it had transformed from a quiet family picnic spot to a pilgrimage of Bangalore's summer holidayers making their way up by the bus load. 

But (seems to have become a habit) it was already near the end of the month and my initial surfing plans had to be cancelled because of the onset of the monsoons and I didn't have a good enough back up. So, Nandi Hills it had to be.

It rained almost through the night and was still drizzling when we left home. Around 7, when we reached the base it began raining again, so we drove around for a while. Empty roads, sleepy villages and the clouds made quite a lovely Sunday morning. The loveliest sight was seeing the Skandagiri peak over the clouds. That was a night full of adventures a few years ago. Every time I see it, it brings back a flood of memories. 

We waited almost an hour for the rain to stop, then found our way to the end of the road near the Silver Oaks farm, parked the car, and started the climb. On the map, you can see where the trail starts from the farm which is on the opposite side of Nandi Hills where the road is. 

The weather was absolutely perfect. The coolness of the breeze, the low clouds moving past us, the dampness under the trees, the overcast sky hiding the sun- we really couldn't have asked for a better day. The rainy weather added another bonus- the lack of people! Just a few other early risers and some friendly chit-chat on the way.  

The trail was mostly steps that wound their way through the trees. At every bend, we could see the the fields below and other surrounding hills. Considering that that the trail is called Tipu's Steps, it wasn't a surprise to find some ruins of mantapas from the eighteenth century- the stone camouflaged between the branches, and the steps leading us under them.

It's Nandi Hills! What new things could I possibly see on a hill that I had been to countless times. But this trip was hugely different to the usual trips here. The climb was pretty easy and the effort usually spent in hauling myself up and focusing on the top, I could spend noticing little things. The rains brought a variety of creatures out of the shrub and onto the steps. I've always been fascinated with tightly curled up millipedes and snails with their sensitive feelers.

It took us about 80 minutes to get to the top with many many breaks along the way. Once at the top, we spent no more than ten minutes before turning around and heading back down. A couple thousands steps later we were back down at the car- a bit sweaty, jelly-legged, but quite refreshed. 

Looking forward to a change from Bangalore hills to Himalayan foothills soon :) 

P.S. Most of the pictures are my Dad's. Although I took the camera card on this trip, the battery was super low and died right in the beginning. Silly me. 

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