Monday, August 20, 2007

Save Savandurga

Fascination or is it just a Rock climber’s obsession? Whatever it may be there is a sense of strength in the Rocks that drives me to them every time. One such special place that enhances the inner strength challenging the odds is Savandurga.

Monolith hill considered to be one of the largest in the world rises to an altitude of 1226 MSL. Situated 60 kms west of Bangalore at 12.919654° N and 77.292881° E, the hill is surrounded by the dry deciduous forest and houses some incredible number of bird species. The hill also has a fort on the top that has been part of history ever since the Hoysala’s in 1340 AD and the British in 1792 AD who described it as fort of death that indicates the toughness of the hill.

The gradient is quite good one could choose a difficult route or walk up a slightly easy incline to the top. If you are a first timer it would be safe to take a guide from the village below, young boys who make few extra bucks offering to walk along ensuring you do not get lost or reach a dead end.

The Rock climbing community has put up some excellent routes you could try if you are into some serious climbing, but any serious climbing activity using the rope or any other climbing equipment one would need to pay a climbing fee and take approval from the forest department. It’s a very good initiative to charge a climbing fee and deploy the funds for maintaining the hill. Who would not like to keep this climber’s heaven alive for years to come?

The question that really arises is ‘what is the real objective of the Forest department to charge a fee?’ A look around the hill will redefine all civilized logic you would have thought about. The base of the hill houses a temple, and people walking up the hill are not just the enthusiast climbers but also picnickers and pilgrims who care a damn about the place and litter the place with liquor bottles, paper, plastic and any thing that can be classified as garbage by civilized people. It’s surprising why the climbers who treat the hill like a temple are penalized and not the irresponsible visitors.

What is even more annoying is that there is not a single signboard or a notice board educating the visitors on the does and don’t or ban on water and juice vendors who are all over the hill and contribute to the dump yard. Its time the forest department re-looks at its philosophy on approvals and charging fee and does some thing about it before the hill turns to a dump yard.

It’s a shame that these obvious environmental issues go unnoticed by the department and the climbers are given step motherly treatment. Identifying the actual cause of a problem is as important as arriving at a solution. Just coming up with policies with out a proper assessment serve no real purpose, and its time the forest department realises that.


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