Scrambling up the scenic hills

Scrambling up the scenic hills

B V Prakash ventures into the charming hills of Hornadu for a two-day trek and comes back with captivating tales of the green hills, blue skies, lush coffee estates and more.

When a group of trekkers from coastal Karnataka invited me to take part in a two-day trekking dventure, I didn’t think twice. A thrilling adventure – climbing 3-4 hills in a span of two days and the fact that not many know about the place, got me all excited. I am talking about the cenic hills in and around Hornadu.

Located 330 km away from Bengaluru, Hornadu is dotted with dense vegetation, plantations and lush agricultural fields.

After an overnight journey, I landed in Sringeri – the point of our rendezvous. We then started on our journey towards Hornadu. Landing at a spot six km beyond the town, we discussed the trek and its logistics over a sumptuous breakfast of idlis and started our adventure.

The green and the blue

Our first destination, Pandavara Upparige, wasn’t a hilltop but reaching it did involve climbing up a hill and then descending into a valley. As we traversed the path downhill, we could see the beautiful peak of Kyathanamakki Gudda to our right. The green hill set against the background of blue sky was a mesmerising sight. Walking further, the trail evened out and we passed through a forest, where a lone-tiled house caught our eye.

With its inmates out in the fields, the house looked isolated. From here, the path narrowed and went up in a high gradient. From the top, more of the charming scenery unfolded before our eyes, giving us a welcome break. Thanks to the shade of big boulders strewn across the trail, we were spared from the harsh mid-day heat.

We spent some memorable moments at Pandavara Upparige, a natural stone roof. Legends say that the Pandavas stayed here during their exile and hence the name.

Looking at this natural marvel, one wonders whether someone actually carved it. Beside the stone roof is a cave with a narrow opening. Resting for a while and relishing our packed lunches, we resumed climbing up the hill range, taking a different route.

Our next stop was Hanathe Betta, called so because a stone on the summit
resembles a clay oil lamp. A tall conical hill, it has no designated path to the top.

Choosing the easier-looking southeastern side, we embarked on the climbing quest by late afternoon. With frequent stops, we finally reached the summit, gasping and panting, well before the sunset. But what a glorious sight awaited us! You could see the entire range of Western Ghats spread out in all their glory from here. After getting our share of the awe-inspiring imageries from the top, we descended down the hill and hit the road by twilight. You can find many agricultural fields and coffee estates in this area.

Fortunately for us, the planters were very generous too. One of the estate owners very graciously arranged for our stay overnight.

Fulfilling sojourn

But we made one last stop before hitting the beds. This one is called Kallu Gopura and is home to an ancient Jain basadi with remnants of mantapas and other
structures strewn around. After enjoying some yummy snacks prepared by our hosts, we proceeded to eat our dinner and ended the day with a basketful of sweet bananas.

The next day, we woke up to a misty morning and took a walk around the blooming estate. We then headed towards Durgada Betta, also called as Ballalarayana Durga. This hill is steep and can be climbed in a day. Our path was interspersed with deep forests, which made us lose our path every now and then.

The unspoilt feel of the area was testimony to the fact that very few had ventured here. The final leg of the ascent was very steep and tiring and on reaching the summit, we all experienced a sense of achievement and euphoria. The summit here provides you with a view encompassing a vast landscape of hills, estates and streams.

Climbing down was more exciting since we had to go down on all fours, holdings plants and twigs for support. We ended our trekking sojourn with a visit to Sithavana, a pristine forest in a private estate.

This trekking quest bestowed me with priceless memories and gorgeous
imageries of the environment.

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