Think of a trek, for 5 kms, across the mountains, at the night, during the full moon, walking amidst the clouds, with a gentle breeze, just to watch a stunning sun rise – that is what the skandagiri full moon trek is in a nutshell.
|Distance of Trek||~5 kms (one way)|
|Tentative Duration||2-3 hrs (one way)|
|Level||Moderately difficult trek as the hill is precipitous and high (depending on the route u take!)|
|Coordinates||13°25’3 N , 77°40’58 E|
|Interests||Photography, adventure, night hike, trekking|
|Photo Gallery||Slide Show|
Now to the longer version – It all started, some where last Nov (2010), with getting inspired by some photographs. Several blog posts touted that the best way to watch the sun raise is by starting around mid night. Hence the plan to look out for the next full moon and that too on a weekend. Feb 18, 2011 – it was decided.
Initially two of my friends who had wanted to join to trek, had got travel assignments and was not able to make it. Handful of folks at office who were planning with all enthu, were not able to make it in the last minute due to cold. With all that, i was still inclined to get to this , as this was planned well ahead. Mahendra, Jagi (my brother), my wife and myself decided to get on with the Trek. Only as the date got closer, did I realize that I had to take care of a monthly client call @ 9:30 PM on Feb 18. As soon as the meeting was done, rushed home to reach by 11:30 PM for a quick dinner.
Packed some snacks, chocolates, water and other required items and started off from home by 12:45 AM. Picked up Mahendra from marathalli and hit the Outer Ring Road by 1:00 AM. It was really a pleasant drive, especially driving without much of traffic in Bangalore roads. But do watch out , cops were waiting at strategic points for vasool ! Asked my brother to take care of driving , Mahendra was in-charge of navigation. He was pretty sure that he knew the route to the place. Lazing in the back seat, was planning for a quick nap, but thanks to the numerous speed breakers and patches , it never happened. Tentatively, I was hoping we would hit the place by 2 AM. Got a little restless as it was 2:15 and we were still on NH7. Quickly turned to Google’s aid on nexus s and there we go – learnt we had crossed Chickbelapur. Missed it completely, thanks to the newly constructed fly over. A quick u-turn and some drive thru the gullies, we were eventually close to to skandagiri. Thanks to Google maps !
As we were inquiring to get to the parking, one guy came forward “Sir it is too late, I can take you thru a short cut, will cost Rs 500/- He was a guide. After some negotiation , we took him for Rs 350/- Instead of the regular parking he took us across the road, for a secluded parking, near his place.
Took the bottles, snacks, muffler [oh yeah, planned for it as we thought it would be cold up at the hill top !] et all and all set to start the hike by 3:10 AM. It was probably a kilometer to the base of the hill, then the fun started. Though we had planned and carried torches, they were rendered useless owing to the flood of moon light. The terrain is bit rocky and the only vegetation found were the thorny bushes and dried grass. After venturing some steep rocks and adventurous twists and turns, started thinking how much of the hike we would have covered.We felt that the climb is almost over, that is when my bro showed us the path to the next summit. So we were basically only at the first summit of a series of many summits (each higher than the other) till we reach the top. The trek has possibly just begun and we were nowhere near the destination. Realized that this place is kind of a teaser. “Just as you reach the fort wall content that you have topped the hill, you see another ring of fort. No sooner do you reach there, than you find another majestic fort wall waiting to be conquered. There are six such series of stonewalls protecting an abandoned ancient temple on the hilltop.”
Only now did we realize that the short cut – was actually more strenuous and a steeper route . If you would like to go the less strenuous route you can check this out, but is a probably little longer and time consuming.
Finally after much drama and deep breaths, reached the top, around 5:15. Just as we were getting onto the destination, could hear “bread omelet, noodles, tea” – wow – on the spot service. Get your spot , settle and order, it would be served right at ur lap :). The guide offered to even arrange for camp fire. But as it was already time for sun rise we decided not to go for the same.
It was a clear sky ! So clear that I could have set my tripod for some star trail photography. It was an amazing scene, the twilight combined with the city lights and the bon fire was nice to watch (above shot)
As we were waiting for the sun rise, was wondering what happened to all the clouds, the early morning mist etc etc that I read about. The entire horizon was overcast and there was no sign of the sun rising. The moon on the opposite side was shining majestically. Tried taking some close up shots of the moon, but the wind was quick high , resulting in not so sharp shots. Overall – was I disappointed- probably not. For me the journey itself was part of the destination, the experience of walking into the unknown in the (moon light) dark was exhilarating :).
Then the magic just happened – as if it was all planned. The sun began to peep out of the overcast horizon to display an orange blanket over the misty morning – one of the stunning sun rise that I had witnessed in the recent past. This shot is really not doing any justice to the awesome scene that unfolded at the dawn ! Finally it was all worth the effort :)
All along, the guide was adamant that he wanted to leave and the service generally is one way. After going thru some of those steepy steeps in the dark, there is no way I am going to find my way back. So we talked him thru to take us back too. If not we offered him half the negotiated price. He decided to stick on, but not without the grumbling.
Around 7:30 AM, after munching some snacks & bread omelet, shooting to our fullest, decided to hike down. To be frank, was little reluctant to opt for the same route back as it was real steep in some place. The guide indicated that it would be a real long walk to go around the mountain if we choose a different path. Finally we did take the same path and it was much easier than the climb up. We were glad that we started down at this time as the sun and heat were raising up, with time. We hit ground zero by 9:30 AM. Surprisingly it took almost the same time as going up.
The tender coconut sold at the foot hills, near the parking, was an awesome relief to the adventurous trek.
What one would enjoy at the destination – has probably more to do with the weather and the time of the day. The place is probably not a great choice for a day trek – thanks to the sun ! Night trek is much preferred , both to enjoy the trek and also to be there at the right time for the sun rise. Hence plan accordingly !!! Happy Trekking !!!
Things to Note !
- Overall remember this would be a moderately difficult trek as the hill is precipitous and high.
- If possible, do an overnight trek or a very early morning trek. The mountainous route does not have a lot shade. If starting during the later part of the day, most of the trek would be in the open sun.
- Sometimes the night trek is banned because of security reasons. Do Ensure that the night trek is available prior to starting.
- If you are looking for the kind of bed of clouds shots, plan for the trek around Mid of December to Mid of January.
- Do negotiate the prices with the Guides. Some times they do quote as high as Rs 700 – Rs 800. Nominal amt could be around Rs. 200 for one way
- Definitely wear sturdy shoes with good grip, not sure how these guys managed bare foot.
- Carry atleast 1 lt of water / person. Snacks , chocolates , sugar items are a plus !
- A camera with a tripod is definitely a must :)