I have been there before, and I knew this was good. So when my friend called me up for a trek and night camping at “Kalavaarahalli betta”, I said YES without hesitation.
Kalavaarahalli betta OR Skandagiri is a place ~ 70 kms from Bangalore near a small town called Chikkaballapura. Trekkers mainly trek here overnight to view the splendid sunrise in the morning.
There are two routes to reach this place. One is to take a turn towards Nandi Hills and go further to Kalawara Village crossing Muddenahalli. This is shorter route than the one from Chikaballapur. Second one is to go to Chikkaballapura and then to Kalawara Village. From Kalawara Village ask for Omkara Jyoti Ashrama / Papagni Mutt. There is a shiva temple and vehicles can be parked there. This is at the base of the Hills.
We were 4 of them: Me, Pankaj Jaiswal (Jassi), Jyoti Prakash Deka (Deka) and Sikha (Deka’s wife). We planned to trek to the peak in the evening (and possibly see the sunset) and camp there for the night. See the sunrise the next morning and then trek back. We decided to go on our bikes. The plan was finalized with all the logistical details and each one of them was assigned their part of the preparation work.
We started from Bangalore on 3rd of January in the afternoon @ 3:00 pm. We all got together at the outer ring road flyover, which turns towards Hebbal from K.R.Puram. After we redistributed our weights, we started our journey towards Chikkaballapura. The roads until BIAL was really good. We had to take a left turn in Chikkaballapura town (near a temple) that lead us to the Papagni Mutt. Bought some water on the way. We finally reached the base @ 5:15 pm.
After quickly freshening ourselves, we started on our trek towards the Kalavaarahalli betta peak. The bikes were parked in the base (its quite safe). There are guides easily available (if u need one), but we didn’t take any. The loads in our backpack had become quite heavy with the tents, sleeping bags, water and food in it. With none of us in our best of physique, we got tired soon and had to take frequent breaks on the way. The trek path is well marked and frequently visited. We finally reached the peak at ~ 7:30 pm after almost two hours of trekking. We missed the sunset by quite some time.
Now its time for some surprise for me. I saw vendors at the peak selling tea and snacks (which was missing the last time I came here). There were even campsites and firewoods on sale. We were pleasantly surprised (and also annoyed at the exorbitant pricing). We took some bread omelet and went to a campsite the vendor showed. It was a nice cozy place, a bit protected from the heavy winds that were beating the peak at that time. Temperature started dropping fast and we quickly had our tents erected. With enough of woods available, we started a campfire and made some lemonade. People were hungry and all gulped the Biryani’s we packed from Hyderabad House in Bangalore. The campfire continued afterwards with occasional lemonades and baby corn barbecue along with roasted potatoes. Believe me that was fun. As the wind started getting stronger, we decided to take shelter into our tents. We had a tough sleep at night with the gust of wind constantly beating the tents to wake us up throughout the night.
Woke up early in the morning (5:00 am) and re-lit our campfire. Had a quick session of lemonade and some cup-noodles. It was still quite dark. After the sky got brighter at 6:30 am, we moved towards the viewpoints for seeing the sunrise. It was extremely misty and foggy and the visibility level was very low. We quickly lost our hopes of seeing a sunrise. The chilly wind was really hard to bear. But to our surprise, the sun smiled at a height above the clouds and the fogs cleared. We quickly got it captured in our camera.
It was time to get back. We packed our bags and the tents. Collected the garbage we created to be thrown at a common place for disposal. Cleared the bills with the vendor from which we took the snacks and firewood.
We started our trek back to the base. Captured some pictures on our way back. After reaching the base we redistributed our weights on our backpack. It was time to drive back to Bangalore.
On our way back had a stopover for lunch at Green Park restaurant. Food was average. Finally reached Bangalore @ ~ 2:30 pm.
The whole trip was an wonderful experience, much better then the first trip I had because of the wonderful overnight camping and the campfire.
Location: Kalavaarahalli betta (Skandagiri), ~70+ kms from Bangalore
Routes: There are two routes to reach this place. One is take a turn towards Nandi Hills and go further to KalawaraVillage crossing Muddenahalli. This is shorter route than the one from Chikaballapur. Second one is to go to Chikkaballapura and then to kalawaraVillage. From KalawaraVillage ask for Omkara Jyoti Ashrama / Papagni Mutt. There is a shiva temple and vehicles can be parked there. This is at the base of the Hills.
Others: You get some tea and bread omelet at the peak, but mostly carry your stuff. Medical care will be possible at the Chikkaballapura town only.