Published: March 2nd 2011February 23rd 2011
This was the first weekend we had with us to spare with no work, since the time I had relocated to Bangalore. We wanted to go out somewhere which is close by and worth spending a day. I had already pulled out ‘285 Tourist places Bangalore’ from mustseeindia.com for our next two years. After a quick check, Nandi Hills was the first choice for us. We were 7 in all, so one car wasn’t sufficient. I decided to take my brand new Blue Avy 220 (Bajaj Avenger) for a ride. The plan was, we will start by 0330 morning and reach there by 0500 and then plan for the rest of the day, accordingly.
Nandi hills is 60 km from Majestic, Bangalore (75 kms from my flat) at an altitude of 1478 metres above sea level. It’s a cluster of small hills with marvellous cliffs. Without going into the history (which is anyway flooded on the internet) I will take you to the ride. To note Bangalore is 949 mtrs above sea level. So we had to travel 529 mtrs to reach Nandi Hills.
An evening before that I had bought myself a pair of pro-biking gloves, a lovely
‘Studds’ helmet. My wife already had an old helmet without a visor. It was quite cold (20th Feb) so I geared-up myself with the riding gear and so did my wife. While I and wife were on the bike, others got in the car. Plan to start by 0330 actually turned out to be 0350, which means we may miss the most sought after sunrise from Nandi Hills. With one stop for gas, we directly headed for the destination. The route is fairly simple with lots of direction boards both on NH7 (Hyderabad express highway) and the by-lane to Nandi hills. Although the Nandi hills is through a dual lane road, however the quality of the road is good. While the car was zooming at 85-90 on NH7 I restricted myself to 45-50, the bike being a new one. The frustration is even some of the mopeds overtook me on the way, while I kept starring at them L. I must say Avenger is indeed a bike for cruising. Such a comfortable, stable, sturdy bike. My wife loves the stability it has and the smoothness. I never felt tired during the entire drive. Although, I guess the rear seat was not that comfortable for a long ride.
By now, we had already crossed 48kms of the 60 km journey but there was no sign of hills. This bothered me along with the fact that the lesser the distance left, the steep will be the ride. On some of the reviews it was mentioned that after you reach the top there is very little you get to hog. So on a junction, we stopped for some snacks and paid a straight 50% mark-up on everything we purchased. 50% markup on the MRP...lovely business. Moving forward we suddenly saw two huge cliffs at some distance from the road. My wife guessed, it might be the Nandi Hills. Without bothering what they were, we moved forward and then we realised that the roads had started to twist and turn. The turns and steepness wasn’t those scary ones that I have seen in the North West Bengal (Darjeeling, Mirik. BTW I belong to Siliguri). My Avy responded very efficiently to all the turns and at time I managed to put the gear on 4th as well. I was mostly on 2nd and 3rd gear. Every passing moment I was getting impressed with my Avy 220. For my Brother-in-law who was driving the car (Swift 1.2 ltr), it was the first time he was on hills, so it was a bit hard for him to cope with the steepness and the turns, but he managed well I must say.
One big turn and we were there at the gate of Nandi Hills. There’s a gate 475 mtrs away from the hill top. All the bikes have to be parked there, while the cars can be driven to the top after getting a pass. It was like a small plateau where everyone waited for the ticket counter to open. From reviews on internet, I could understand that it opens just before the sunrise is about to happen. Which means, if the que is long and you are towards the end of the que, then you might miss the twilight. And yes I was towards the end of the que :-(. The plateau was covered with cloud (yes cloud, not mist) and the wind was chilling. Because the hill was blocking the cloud, at times you could feel the drizzling as well. Luckily we managed to get the tickets and the car pass before the twilight. Since we were 7 and only car is allowed to cross the gate so I decided to walk while the other 6 can cover the remaining 475 mtrs distance in car.
The gate was one of those typical fort types entrances but comparatively small. I chose to take the forest path rather than the drivable road. While walking through the dense forest and stone laid stair path, I realised it was drizzling in patches. This reminded me of class 8 geography. Foothills get rains when clouds are obstructed by mountains. Some patches on the way were well flowered. By then I realised the sun is about to rise so I set my very dear ‘Canon SX 10 IS’ bridge camera and started clicking the ‘Burning circle’. The sun was lily red and the forest with some pine trees and other varieties of nature formed a good background for my pictures. Finally I reached the hill top but may be on the wrong side. There’s a huge cliff falling into the gorges and the only thing you can see is a stratified layers of snow white clouds (yes clouds, not mist) below you, toward the other side of the gorges and the sun right on top of it. While I lost my friends, but that gave me a good opportunity to click some lovely snaps. Otherwise my wife hates me for loosing focus on other things / people, when I’m with my camera. I walked on the edge of the cliffs to get to the other side. ONE THING WHICH IS BAD IS TO NOT HAVE ANY BOUNDARIES / FENCE ON THOSE EDGES. WHILE PUTTING ANY SORT OF FENCE ON THE EDGE OF 350 MTRS CLIFF WOULD DISTURB THE BEAUTY BUT IT’S A SERIOUS INVITATION TO ACCIDENTS. I COULD SEE LOT OF YOUNGSTARS TRYING TO GET A PEEP OVER THE CLIFF AND SOME OF THEM EVEN TRYING TO GO DOWN TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE. THERE WASN”T ANY GUARD TO MANAGE THE CROWD AS WELL.
Finally I caught hold of my mates. They were at the Tipu Drop. This is supposed to be the execution point during Tipu’s rule. As a punishment, Criminals were pushed down the cliff, from here. By now, the clouds started to move fast and un-clutter. We could see surrounding hills and curled roads down beneath. What a view. After some snaps and posses we walked back to the gate. While we were walking down (this time myself along with my wife and another friend of ours) we saw the famous Tipu pond. It’s like a lavish ancient rocky swimming pool, with stairs and huge flower pots on the edges. Lovely serene place. There were ruins of the fort on the way to the gate which we did not bother to see.
After a cup of tea at the gate we geared-up for return. The plan was to straight away hit Banagalore and have typical Bengali breakfast in K C Das, M G Road, opposite to Hard Rock Café. While the car zoomed again I stopped my bike in between for snaps of my new bike and surroundings. The as soon as we hit the NH7, we saw a board specifying Tipu’s birth place towards the left. Since all other mates were way before us so we decided to keep this due for next visit.
At K C Das (A famous Bengali sweet parlour) after a lovely breakfast punched with luchi (flour bread tossed in oil), aloordum (spicy small round potatos cooked in lots of Indian spices), cholar dalna (whole pulse) and lots of sweets and mishit doi (Sweet curd with the cream from the milk), the only place we could think of is the well cushioned bed.