This blog post is about trekking to a place called Skandagiri (aka Kalavarahalli Betta - Betta in Kannada means hill). Nandi Hills is something most people in Bangalore know about, which you can see from Skandagiri. This trek was done by myself and my college friends (totaling 15 people). This place is 6km from Chick bellapur. At the foothills of Skandagiri is Papaghni mutt. From the mutt, it takes 4-6km walk to reach the top. I will split the blog into two parts. During the first part, I will stick to general info, for those who are planning to go trekking there and are here through Google search looking for more info. The second part is mostly my experience there.
You should be able to see Chick bellapur here. From there ask for Papagni Mutt and from there, you trek.
What time is it best to go?
Good question, it is good to go during times when it doesn't rain. We had people skid even though it was totally dry. Remember that, if its gonna rain, you have no shady place to take shelter. If you really meant time, its nice to see sunrise, so do a night trek. The ideal climate for trekking is to have clouds but not rain. The clouds stick below the hill. So you can see sun rise above the clouds, which is something you can see otherwise if you were a bird ;). It is a great idea to trek on Full moon day mostly because its easier to trek, as you will have some natural lighting. On an average, during weekends, the guide told me that around 1000 people trek, which is a fairly large number, by most standards.
How do you go there?
Pack all these:
1) Torch - very very important if you do night trek. I got a three LED bulb torch that cost like 120 Rs. It was very powerful and I should say, the brighter torch you have, the easier it is to climb.
2) Water and Snacks - Pack as much snacks and water as possible. Remember that every snack you take up, you will have to carry apart from your body weight. So be choosy of what U want to take up. Please don't litter at the top of the mountain. We saw a lot of Lays packets at the top. Now that you have carried so much snack items to the top, it wont take a lot of effort for you to get them to the foothill. Collect all of them in a plastic cover, come down and drop them near the dustbin near the mutt. Its not tough to do. Also don't empty the water bottles on the way down. You could do better service to others than to make a slippery path for them to climb. (sorry for preaching, but we did face/see all these).
3) Shoes and Jerkin - Wear the shoes and go, keep the jerkin in your bag. When you climb, you will sweat, so its a nice idea not to wear it (I wore it, it was stinking when I reached top). Also check the grip in your shoes. No point if it skids - you are going to climb up the hill.
4) Cash - (credit cards don't work ;) )
If you are taking a vehicle (cab/ van etc), then the spending for you will be this:
Rs. 225 for trekking in wild - permit (We had 15 people climbing up).
Rs. 400 for the guide - You can find guides in the night waiting there on Sat and Sunday. Other days, it seems that they don't allow beyond 1 AM or something. So if u are trekking on a non-sat-sun, be early there. Our total expense per head ended up Rs 370. It becomes cheaper with more people sharing the conveyance expense.
How much time does it take to trek up from Mutt?
It takes 2 hours if you can climb up fast. If you are average climber it should take 2.5 hours. If you are slow climber, it should take 3-3.5 hours. More than that, check your health if you are young :p.
What do you do after you reach top (can be rephrased as: What to do there)?
Actually nothing ;) Once you reach the top, till the sunrises, you have nothing else to do other than eat and sleep (and probably star gazing which I will describe momentarily).
When should I get back?
After you watch the sunrise, get yourself off the mountain. Its going to get hotter and you will sweat. If you climb down with the sun overhead, its really not a pleasant climb down. (We started at 7 AM and reached down at 9:15 AM). By the time we reached the bottom, we were all exhausted and the sun overhead can be more irritating. Since you haven't had sleep the whole night, its even more irritating. So get off the cliff after the sun rises. Personally, I found that it was far more difficult getting down the cliff and your knee trembles. DO NOT do a free fall walking/running down the path. That is very dangerous.
PART 2 - My Experience: