September 6, 2010 4

Shiva Ganga Trek

By in Pre Trek

11 of us -started for Shivaganga on Sunday around 5.30 AM. Its about 60 odd kms from Bangalore and we caught some breakfast on the way at Kamat. On the way we were ‘toll gated’ by asks for donations for Ganesha Puja. BTW – was carring no camera – so all others do donate / put up your pictures soon! To reminecience, go down to the first link with pictures at the end of the post.

ShivaGanga:

Shivaganga’s trek is on the beaten path and most of it is either on roughly laid out stones to help climb or on the steps carved out from the stone. The last stretch is almost like climbing up a ladder.

The base (900mtrs) and the peak(1233mters) both have Siva temples. The base is reputed to turn ghee to butter – we didn’t confirm as there were too many folks. The entire mountain is made of stones big and small (I guess), so the water that collects is sorta available in various pickets – and is what forms the Olakala Teertha or the ‘Goodness Meter’ mid way to the mountain and the Patala Ganga pocket at the base.

The Goodness meter Pocket gives a reading; if you are able to reach the water – you are good, else… too bad. The PatalaGanga pocket is midst of two really huge stones, with a small bit of light coming in from the top, few narrow steps leading you to the water, the place entirely smelling of bats – quite an NG moment.The base is also reminiscent of the once buzzling town within the temple fort; market places, homes and lanes of long ago. The side corridors have memories of games played by long ago kids and adults in their free times. The base also has a suranga marga or a secret tunnel that supposedly lands up at the Gavigangadareshwara temple in Bangalore – a good 50 km away. I don’t think it has been tried out in the modern times – (National Geographic and Discovery – do you hear?).

The priest on top stays there apparently, most folks but us were walking barefoot – faith! Also on top is a Nandi carved out of the top of a boulder containing some steps probably carved for the artisan to climb up. Its a crazy climb, the top having a feet of stone bracketing the Nandi on two sides. Do a pradakshina – it is sure to give you a heart attack and there were railings to keep people somewhat safe – Mamu and Prasanna narrated stories of how when they were young, they would go around the Nandi on top without these railing, trying to grip the nandi which was typically bathed in oil! Oh – I forgot the famous Shantala point, this dancer apparently for whatever reason, deemed fit to walk off the rock – and dropped to her death. The view from top – is fabulous, the September air chilly – peace only marred by the nearby drone of the  generator used to weld the railings and the far away sounds of the quarry – chopping off the stone like ‘one would chop off cucumbers for lunch’ (quote Shyam).

The entire way is infested with monkeys many of whom have taken over the jobs of Toll keepers demanding hidden biscuits, fruits and chips you many have bought to enjoy at the peak – wise would be to carry these in a bag and especially get rid of the plastic; they can hear plastic from a mile. Else these monkeys are used to people climbing up and down – and didn’t bother us. One noticable thing was the monkeys didn’t ravage the stalls both midway and on top – they must have been trained by the stall keepers.

Oh- I must mention about this dog that adopted us midway and deemed fit to escort us till the top. Almost gave it a biscuit but by the time, the bag was opened a monkey nearby got smart and attentive and we gave up. Friendly doggie that.

Back to Bangalore/home by 3pm

Notes for future ShivaGanga visits:

1. Go early so that you can avoid the crowd
2. Carry water and some health food in backpacks only and climb up in groups.
3. Eat your carryaways only at the top – after making sure there is someone to guard against the monkeys
4. Avoid the temptations of gooseberry and churmuri vendors (stomach’s still complaining and I had just 3 gooseberries)
5. Carry Suncreen and sunshades as it can get hot at stretches
6. Walk with good footwear ie canvas or trekking shoes
7. Carry 2+2 rupees per person – entry fees applicable at Olakala Theertha and at Patala Ganga
8. Eat at Kamat, next to the HP petrol pump – hotels after may be suspect.

Here are more stories for you to read about Shiva Ganga;
(a) Blog Post with Pictures (b) Blog Post without pictures