A work trip to Bangalore - should you stay and explore or fly home ASAP? Think that India is cities, people, cities, people and nothing else? Think again!
We say - tack on a weekend and fly back late Sunday! There's not too much in Banagalore, aside from your authentic Indian food and your chaotic but experiential markets. But venture outside just for a tiny bit and you'll see a part of Southern India you never thought could exist.
There are a few places to choose from if you're looking for a weekend trek from Bangalore. But the reality is you are bound by time - some are more than 300kms away: 5 or 6 hours drive from Bangalore.
We didn't have much time so opted for a night trek just 60kms outside of Banagalore - a little hill called Makalidurga.
We went with www.getbeyondlimits.com - Salwat and his team founded the start-up in July 2014 and have already turned it into a full time job. The company does various treks around the region and will always do two weekend and some weekday treks - servicing both local Bengalaruans (mostly young techies working in 'the Silicon Valley of India') and expats or visitors to the South.
We left Bangalore around 10pm on Saturday night, picked up from St Mark's Cathedral on MG road by Salwat and his volunteer co-guides. Two more pickups later and the 14 of us were on our way.
After arriving at our pit-stop and picking up our local guide Prasanth, we started trekking around 1.30am. The first section is along a railway track. After which is a sandy flat that takes you to the very base of the mountain. Straight away its a rocky climb, starting off which small little loose rocks and followed by bigger claimable boulders. It was pretty cold and windy, and that only increased as we ascended. The 1,350m summit took only 2 hours or so to reach, and that includes quite a few rest stops, including one at the top of a very flat and steep rocky face climb. We chilled out (literally) at the top until 6.30am when the sun rose.
At the top is a small and degraded fort, which made it relatively easy to try and find a wind break. It was really really windy at the top and that made it freezing! But Salwat and the guys in the group made a small campfire to keep us (smoky!) warm.
The 6.30am sunrise was a little bit cloudy, but still worth the hike. It warmed up very quickly and didn't take long at all to descend - maybe an hour or so. (The group insisted on some bouldering and jumping off the fort and caving which added to our descent time. I wasn't a a huge fan of this - I was pretty tired and wanted to get some sleep!) but in all honesty, I resolved that it was probably better to be there and in the open outdoors than back in busy Bangalore!
We ended with a local South Idian breakfast and made our way back to the city. All in all I think it was a worthwhile addition to the weekend!
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