Trekkers surprised by ban at Skandagiri Hills

Trekkers surprised by ban at Skandagiri Hills

Trekkers surprised by ban at Skandagiri Hills

Much adored for the view of a beautiful sunrise and beds of clouds, the picturesque Skandagiri Hills - the lesser-known cousin of Nandi Hills - has all the right ingredients to attract trekkers.

Also, the tempting reviews on different online platforms too present a rosy picture.

However, most of the trekkers remain ignorant of the fact that trekking remains completely banned in the day or night and hundreds of clueless trekkers return home having missed the thrill of trekking.

Determined to watch the sunrise, Dhananjay Gowda from Ulsoor, along with his colleagues, recently took a taxi to reach the foothills of Skandagiri, which is in Chikkaballapur, about 70 km from the City.

However, things did not transpire according to their plan. They were told by the security personnel about the ban, he said.

“We chose to trek after going through the online reviews on TripAdvisor, which presented a beautiful picture of the top view. We reached the spot at midnight but the security personnel were strict. Like us, there were many of trekkers who came in the night between 12.30 and 3.00 am, but none were allowed to trek,” he said and added that all of them were keen to enjoy the sunrise. 

Illegal route
Quoting the guards on duty, he said, “Even if someone takes an illegal route to go up escaping the sight of the security personnel, the trekkers will be confronted by the villagers in the morning while walking down the hill.”

Virander Sirohi of the Bangalore Trekking Club (BTC) said trekkers most often rely on online  reviews and sometimes are misguided. “Although, day trekking was allowed at Skandagiri a few months ago, the Forest department banned trekking completely due to some anti-social incidents. For this, we have to blame our behaviour. Some trekkers litter the hills and a few smoke (which can lead to wildfires), while others consume alcohol on the top of the hill,” he said. Syed Nizamuddin, Range Forest Officer (RFO) of Chikkaballapur, said that Skandagiri comes under the reserved forest area and any trespassing could lead to imprisonment for up to three months.

“About 500 to 1,000 trekkers come here on the weekends and in the holidays, but we do not allow any of them to trek up. Even the villagers are very particular about it,” he said.

Dr V R Naik, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said there is a proposal to let day trekking resume due to the high demand by trekkers and tourists. “We are working on the proposal in terms of holding a full-fledged nature camp with a guide for every batch. But, we can not surpass the Forest Act,” he added.