There is a big huge rock, like a bald elephant’s back. But bigger. And it gets deep into your memory and surfaces some times. My first encounter with the Savanadurga betta was eight years ago for a walk on a sunny day. Very hot sunny day. I had walked up the back of the elephant with a bunch of friends and was miserable on the way up and on the way down. Scorching sun, tepid warm and insufficient water, bad packed food. But the rock was magnificent. The top of the rock cool, breezy.
And so the rock crept into the folds of memory. The photographs of that trip started to look good as years passed and the misery of sun forgotten, but barely so. On the other side was this restless spirit that kept demanding action in the old ways and the long weekends in succession. Wify dear and dotty dear were impatient too as usual. Not wanting to go to amusement parks or long trips was looking for something for a day and the monolith surfaced. That is how I declared to my clan the intent to re visit the majesty of the rock and the misery of the body. Of course the misery part was not told loudly.
This time it was not sunny at all but the cyclone fury clouds were out make up for it. Yet the mind once set needs to dare the elements. Hence the family loaded onto the black beast and headed out. Boldly.
The usual route is to take the Magadi road and then a right somewhere. I read that one could also go via Mysore road and pass the big Banyan tree (Ramohalli), Manchenabelle and then onto the Durge. So Nice road it was for us. As we neared Manchenabelle ( the dam and the lake here are worth a half a day visit on its own) we could see the mountain/rock half covered in clouds. The sight was good but my heart missed a beat. Wify dear glanced questioningly and dotty dear declared she want to catch a cloud. You have to cross the dam and go some 7-8 KM and look for a sign to turn right for the rock.
Once we reached it, it look more bald than before and no sight of path to climb. An old man tagged on and become our unsolicited guide.
As we started to climb the lazy lifestyle was punished. Heart, lungs and muscles gave up in the first half an hour. Dotty dear protested. Old man did not miss a breath. Ego was battered. Misery of last time replayed. The funny think about hikes is, it is the first half an hour that is tough, then you get the rhythm and know the pace. Here the steep climb meant breaks to catch up. As the ascent progressed the view become nicer and mind clearer. Wify dear managed with springy steps. Dotty dear chased monkeys. Heart was happy. There are small ponds on the hill and provide good excuse to stop. Another ruse we had to halt the progress was to pose for photos. The overcast sky minus rain meant the going was better.
As we neared the top we saw trees. Went through gaps in the boulders and crevices. There is a hanuman on a rock brightly painted on the way. It is the top that is most rewarding. Howling wind, 360 degrees of panorama. Waters from the dam and the clam Nandi looking on.
What goes up must come down and so we did. Lunch. Visit the two temples. Way back we missed a turn and the on the road interaction with locals and few more wrong turns meant we added forty more kms to the trip. Yet the mistake meant we could see more of the villages and hills. The drive at dusk crossing the Dam and the ISRO antennae had its own hue.
The rock has pull that is tough to figure out. There trek itself is not big deal, you just die a couple of times on the way and lasts for just over 2 hours. The scenery is good but then most hills offer good views. The black streaks due to water flowing is nice. But the experience is what lasts with you. It holds your spirit and will call you once more when you are not looking.