I lay there on the rocky peak, my eyes still heavy in the chill morning winds of the hills, and my body refused to give away the warmth of the sleeping bag. After trekking up the hill last night, two hours barely made for enough sleep that day. As I opened my eyes, still in a dreamy state, I felt like I’d been teleported into a different realm overnight. All that lay beyond the greens and the rocky summit was an endless expanse of cottony clouds. The white cloud cover seemed so close yet so distant, continuing to remain untouched. All the child in me wanted, was to be one with the gaseous mist. In that moment, I had an urge to travel more than ever before.
Horagina Betta, a less known hill in the outskirts of Bangalore, has a lot to offer for the wanderer in you. When I first thought about taking up the trek, I couldn’t imagine the possibility of ending up in a place which seemed to have come to life, straight from a photograph. If this exhilaration, dreaminess, awe and ineffable feelings comprised of every minute of travelling, I would go so far just to experience it all over again. I wanted to defy my fears and move ahead, one step at a time.
Journey consisted its own share of thrills. From being aboard a crowded local bus to ending up stranded midway to our destination, we weren’t short of surprises. I guess that’s what travelling is all about, being surprised at every moment. Meanwhile, got acquainted with all the lovely people on the trek and chanced upon the fact that my friend and I happened to be the youngest of the bunch. This was to be my very first trek (sans the family). After much speculation, embracing the hitchhiker in us, we hopped onto a mini-truck that happened to go our way. The mini-truck offered us a beautiful view of the night sky. With the moon following us, its radiance and a bit of music along the way added to the allure of the already unconventional ride.
As we moved forward, the human settlements dwindled and the freshness in the air was a sign of being amidst the green cover. Having arrived at the base, we took some time relaxing and a sip of chai accompanied with hot bhajjis seemed to do the trick. I gazed at the hills at the distance, getting prepped up for the climb that lay ahead; there it stood tall, the hill on the left, I was to be atop it soon. We embarked on the trail, armoured with torches, with an occasional howl from the hounds keeping us company. In the dead of the night, our voices turned into whispers, careful not to disrupt the silence that engulfed the sleepy village.
To rekindle our adventurous spirit, we took the hard way round. The path we were onto lacked a clear trail, which made it all the more fun. The terrain seemed to be rocky, sandy with a bit of vegetation. Deep in the wilderness, the grass and thorny shrubs grew tall, limiting our visibility, causing us to lose our way quite a few times. The darkness of the night, didn’t take it easy on us either. As the ascent grew steeper, it presented us with more of a challenge, making it difficult to hold our ground. Though some of us were bruised, and even got a little itch, none slowed down till we reached a clearing. More than an hour had gone by and this was our pause for the trek.
I arrived there with a heavy breath, accelerated pulse with a heightened body temperature from all the exercise. The clearing had a flat rock, topped up with a scintillating view. Sitting down exhausted, a slight breeze and the welcoming sight of the distant glimmering city eased my mind, rejuvenating the body giving it a tinge of cold. I just sat there looking at the view, trying to identify the places all the little lights originated. The trek onwards seemed to be a piece of cake, reaching Shani-Eshwara temple and finally landed on the peak an hour later. As I stood there, smiling at myself having reached the peak, I noticed I was one of the first ones to arrive.
A gushing wind cooled my body while dropping the weight off my back. It was all very clear now, the view of the land below, the twinkles from the frontier above, I stood mesmerised. After helping with the gathering of some wood for the bonfire, I ended up in a secluded area, to soak in the aura of the place. My mind wandered across the stars, hunting for constellations, lost in its own depths. By the time, I finally came out of my hiding, the cold finally started getting to me. The bonfire was lit, as it warmed our souls against the blistering cold. There were stories, some detailing experiences in the wild, others agony stories of college and office. The good old Antakshari strengthened our bond as we helped ourselves to the ready to eats and cup noodles. The highlight of the night being succulent barbeque, which our taste buds couldn’t get enough of.
At around four in the morning, the winds were too fierce to my liking and I decided to call it a night, retiring into my sleeping bag. My eyes gave into a deep slumber soon, was it the endless twinkling gaseous balls high up in the space or the stillness of the hills that made it so very tranquil. I barely woke up as the sun rose that day. A cup of coffee was all I needed to return back from the fairyland I’d been zoning out to. But in a place so dreamy, it was hardly fair not to. With an unwilling heart, I started the descent. Having a case of acute acrophobia, didn’t make it any easy. At one point we passed through the mist that was witnessed from the peak. The steeper lower part of the hill was quite the challenge when my body just refused to move at times.
Nonetheless, an hour later, I made it back to the base. Filled with pride, I had finally accomplished the strenuous trek. As we parted our ways, I knew I took along something immeasurable.
Horagina Betta alternatively named Brahmagiri, is one of the major hillocks on route to the Nandi Hills, at a distance of 65 km from Bangalore. The evergreen forest patch on top of the hill being a favoured wintering location for many migrant species of warblers, flycatchers and thrushes. Due to the presence of Nandi Hills which is a popular tourist destination, Horagina Betta has been rarely visited by trekkers. Shelter can be taken in 2 open rooms situated near the temple when it gets rainy. It’s not surprising to encounter small snakes, Insects, Scorpions etc in the night. Trek is of moderate difficulty and can be started from Karahalli Cross.