Thinking of Bangalore, the first thing that comes to one's mind is the shopping malls, pubs, etc. Its indeed a very painful process to search for weekend hangouts in Bangalore if you are obsessed with the malls and the same old restaurants. Also, when you have your friends coming to Bangalore for a weekend, you'll have to end up visiting the same coffee shops and hangout spots everytime. It gets very boring after quite a few months (Atleast for me it was!!)
Last week I was on a search for a completely new place to visit near Bangalore and spend my weekend there. I Bing-ed extensively and found this place, Skandagiri, a hill close to Nandi Hills. Skandagiri is famous for the view during sunrise and the clouds that surround the hill by that time. Besides that, its a good trekking spot. You've to be a real enthusiast to climb the rocky & damp terrain. And the whole trek is an amazing experience. Let me share on how to plan for a trek and reach this place.
What can you expect to see at Skandagiri?
The sunrise is awesome and the clouds that surround the hill during the morning. More than anything else, the trekking experience itself is far worth the bucks spent!
What's the minimum budget per person?
It generally depends on how you plan the trip. Exclusive of the conveyance charges, I'd say around 500 INR, should be quite good.
Right time to visit Skandagiri?
Weekends! If it rains, kindly avoid. Other than that it should be totally fine. Its generally preferred as a late night trekking spot. For the sunrise view, 6:00 a.m. is preferred. You need to be at the base at around 3:30 a.m. to make sure you are up the hill by 6:00 a.m. If trekking is what you are looking for, you can do it by late morning. It is generally not famous in here, but trust me, around 400 people visit early morning, and it might be a little cluttered there during sunrise.
Where is skandagiri? How to reach it?
This question is just a Bing Maps search away. Anyways, this place is around 70 Kms away from Bangalore. Its quite close to a place known as Chikballapur. There are many non stop buses that ply from Kempegowda Bus Station in Bangalore to this place through out the daytime. The rate is around ~40 INR per person. You can also get train to Chikballapur by around 8:40 a.m. from Majestic Railway station. The train has around 10 stops while the bus stops nowhere. The travel time from Bangalore to Chikballapur in both means is around 2 Hrs, sometimes the train is ~20 mins late. If you are travelling by own vehichle, its well and good. Just have a Map Service with you. From Chikballapur to Skandagiri base (distance of 4 Km), you can take an auto. The auto fare is 100 INR.
Reaching the top of the hill :
Its a mandatory rule that you need to take a guide to reach to the top. There are many guides who will be available near the start point of the Skandagiri trek. They charge around 100 INR for each person in your group. If you want to bargain, you can offer them for a day's pay which is around 500-700 INR. If you are planning not to take a guide, be sure to lose your way in the middle of your trek! Having said that, if you are visiting Skandagiri by morning, you can take a guide till half of the distance and do the rest of trekking by yourself. It's easy that way as you get more time to spend time with your group than listening to the guide's personal life tragedies and stories.
The trek is a little tiresome one and make sure you've enough water with you so that you don't run out of them at any point of time.
After Reaching the top?
You may be very hungry and tired. You can order for a noodles/bread omlette/simple bread with a guy there! You can even buy water bottles, but the cost is just 50 INR ;)
Top of the hill, you can also visit the temple, take a lot of pics and enjoy the beauty of nature. People who trek by night, take some bed spreads, etc to sleep there itself. In this case, you have to take some shawls, etc too. It might be a little cold out there. Night treks can be more fun cause of the campfires you can do. You can buy sticks for the campfire at a nominal rate from the villagers there. If you are trekking by late morning, you can stay at the top for around 2 hrs, take snaps, etc. You won't get much of things to do there. But, even then, its simply awesome as the view throughout is too good.
Make sure that you :
- carry three or more water bottles per person.
- have towel, bed spreads, shawls.
- take some snacks to munch after reaching the top.
- have good trekking shoes to get a good grip. As it may be slippery with normal ones!
- charge your mobile phones well before the journey.
- have around atleast 150 INR per person while trekking. Cause, if you run out of water, you may have to buy it at the top.
- carry torch lights to trek during night time. Its mandatory too.
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