Monday, September 01, 2008

Bananthimari Betta - One day Trek

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Place not know or less frequented by Bangalore trekker are very few, one such hideout is 'Bananthimari Betta', just 3 kms from Kanakapura on the Kanakapura - Ramanagaram road.

Situated between Konanadoddi and Kuthnahalli it offer a unique trekking option, surrounding the 2 hillocks is the vast fields, between the hillocks is a lush green valley and a stream flowing down. “Bananthi” means mother who is nursing a new born, and “mari” means the violent goddesses. I am not sure on the origin of the name, but the base of the hill has a temple of Bananthimari that can be reached from the village of Kuthnahalli.

Many devotees visit this temple sacrifice lamb or chicken and cooked near the temple and served to all the visitors. The highlight of this place is that the priest goes into a séance and talks to the devotees about their problems, and giving solutions and blessings.

There are 3 trek routes:

Route 1: Reach the temple by vehicle, and trek to the top of the hill through the narrow treks path and the boulders.

Route 2: Reach the base of the hill from Konanadoddi side crossing the granite factory, the fields. Trek trough the valley, the vegetation is very rich and the wall like rock face on both sides offers a great view, the sound of the flowing stream and the quietness keeps you going all through the route. This is also the track accessed by the local shepherds, it finally leads to the temple and from thereon have to take Route 1.


Route 3: This is ‘freak’s route’ basically no route, keep climbing and trekking till you feel you are reaching somewhere.

Jeetu, Subbu, Tarsh and me wanted one exhausting break; so on the morning of 31st Aug 08 we drove down from the city. Breakfast at Adiga’s before the Kodhay’s factory is a ritual for us whenever we travel on Kanakapura road, after spending a good INR 170 we decided to move on. Even though most of the drive to Kanakapura is a lot of traffic there are some good driving stretches that relaxes your mind.

Once reaching Kanakapura we asked for directions, and at one place two villagers got into a verbal fight on who was giving the right direction, so we decided to take the advice of the older of the two and reached the base of the hillock.

After parking the car at Soundrya Granites, we realized that none of us had a water bottle; I did not carry it as every trek and lose a good can and en-route we forgot to buy some bottled water. Subbu went to a near-by hut and borrowed a small ½ liter empty bottle promising to return it.

So we walked around the fields that were all slushy due to rains in the last few days, still deciding which route to take and finally ‘freak’s route’ was the best option. We had no clue what will be ahead, but started walking up the rocky face of the smaller hill, we could see a red flag on Bananthimari Betta and we had only objective – ‘to reach there taking the difficult route’.

The rocks seem to be much older than the Madhugiri or Ramanagaram, it looked more worn out, quite rough and did not feel slipper even on a steep stretch. Even though we only get to see the fields on all the 3 sides of the hill, the view of the other hillocks from there is really awesome.

Ramadevara Betta, Kabbaldurga, glimpses of Savanadurga and many more of those unnamed elevations give some breather for our cameras, we took pictures of as many views along with all our other regular crazy shots.

Bouldering is also a good option; many faces also offer some rappelling routes. It is quite a long climb to the flat pitch on the top of the smaller hillock. Mid way there is a spot that has a huge rock in the middle, one side of the rock is a traverse that is dangerous, and the other side is a drop zone with some two feet space to walk and is slipper due to the flowing water, once you decide to brave it and cross over, you then have a 6-feet climb up with a 75 degree elevation and a slip to your right would mean going down the drop zone.

Other than few of the dicey spots, the climb is quite nice and mainly tests endurance levels. Once on the top of the smaller hill, the route down and up to the main hill was clearer. We met a boy named Raju who was keeping an eye on his cattle that was grazing in the valley below; we got talking and asked more about the routes and the local area as such.

One of the interesting thing about trekking is that we get to meet the local people, talking to them sharing their knowledge about the place etc ect. Most of the time they wonder why we are doing crazy thing of coming to a forest instead of enjoying city life on a holiday, little do they know what we really feel about our city life….”Murphy’s law” I guess.

As we trekked down to the lake, we saw a small temple and the devotees asked us to stay for lunch, given the fact that we were hungry that was the best offer we had, we immediately said yes. We lazed around for an hour, decided not to trek up the actual Bananthimari Betta, sensing that it’s going to rain we trekked back using Route 2, to reach the granite factory by 4 pm.

Subbu and I fell asleep on the back seat, since Jeetu had no option but to drive, Tarsh kept him awake with some talking till we reached the city.

Bananthimari Betta:

Distance from Bangalore: 75 Kms
Distance from Kanakapura: 3 Kms
Route: Bangalore – Kanakapura Road and deviation that leads to Ramanagaram
Cost: 400-500 per person
Total duration: 12 hours (including travel of 4-5 hours)

- BASECAMPer
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