Sunday, September 30, 2012

Devarayandurga - 3940 ft closer to god, literally!!!

Destination: Devarayandurga
Location: Off Bangalore-Tumkur (NH 48) Highway, near Dobbspet, Karnataka
Devarayandurga stands for: Altitude of 3940 ft, 13 hair-pin bends, Surrounded by beautiful hilltops, mesmerizing view, trekking trail (not an easy one), Temples and Amazing weather (18-22 C temperature)
Distance covered from Bangalore (one day round trip): 167 km
Date: August 12, 2012

Devarayandurga, famous for its temples, isn't as big as some of heavy hitter places around Bangalore for one day trip; perhaps that's what makes it different and interesting.

Riding is an addiction. It has been long since my last trip to Yelagiri Hills. The concrete jungle and its routine life have become unbearable, an indication of hitting the road, yet again. After a long brainstorming and considering many options, I chose Devrayandurga as a destination.

First a little dope about the place. At an altitude of 3940 ft, Devrayandurga is a hill station cum religious destination near Tumkur in the state of Karnataka. It is surrounded by several hilltops and wide spread forest. It is otherwise popular for temples including the famous Bhoganarasimha and the Yoganarasimha temples. These twin temples, built in the Dravidian style of architecture are said to have been constructed by Kanthirava Narasaraja I who was the Wodeyar ruler of Mysore for 1638-59 and later, were repaired in 1858 by then Mysore king Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. This place also hosts a small sacred pond called 'Narasimha-Teertha'.

I was planning to ride solo this time. However, I asked Dilip, my friend and to my surprise, this time he agreed to join me for ride. It was an overcast morning, a pleasant day for ride. I left home at 7.30 am. I had to pick up Dilip from his PG in Koramangala. Despite giving him gyan about the importance of proper gears for riding, there he was standing outside his PG wearing a sports tee and shorts, ready for the ride.

It was quarter to 8. We left his PG and headed towards Mekhri Circle, from where we had to take Tumkur Road. This six lane Tumkur highway (Also known as NH 75) is a rider's delight; time to hit fifth gear. A rider can enjoy the ride here without worrying about stray animals (and for that matter people also) as the whole road is barricaded from sides. The weather was soothing and I could feel the chill in air. Rides like this give you the feeling of being alive.

We crossed Nelamangala (about 30 km from B’lore) in no time. From here, while riding towards Dobbspet, we crossed a toll plaza and couple of more small villages before stopping for breakfast. The Tatte idly was delicious which was served with Mirchi Bhajji. After getting recharged, we resumed our ride.

After reaching Dobbspet, one has to leave highway and hit the service road, parallel to flyover. Keep going straight and you will see first crossing under the bridge, skip it and keep going straight. Take the second right under the flyover for Devrayandurga.

Couple of more kms and we saw sudden change in the landscape. We were riding on country side road surrounded by beauty of nature. It's a two lane nicely laid road and provides you a great ride. Riding on highway feels good but nothing can beat the experience of riding on nicely laid country side roads. Here, man-made infrastructure becomes a part of Mother Nature and blends in it.

On our way, we crossed Uradigere town. Once you cross this town, you have already covered 2/3 journey for your destination. Cover about 20 km till the time you see a road split. Last couple of kms before reaching, road is not in its best condition and we found quite a few potholes. Standing here, on our left, we had the first glimpse of the beauty of our destination. 

We took left from this split which enters into an arch. It is a 7 km upward journey from here. The landscape changes quickly and we found our self on a single lane surrounded by lots of flora and fauna (Feels like riding in forest).

After covering another couple of kms, we stopped next to the small pond to enjoy the beauty around us. After 5 mins short break and clicking couple of more pics, we were back on our way. The road is not in great condition here. Tar from the road is washed off by rain and you will find concrete coming off the road. However, you will be so lost enjoying your surroundings, you will barely notice it. We had to take right from another split which comes after covering another km or so.

There are total 13 small hair-pin bends. I called them small because contrary to other hill stations like Yelagiri, Ooty or for that matter Nandi Hills, you barely cover 50-100 mt between two bends. Also, as it is a single patti road, it turns into a raw experience and trust me, you will love riding on it.

Once we crossed 11 hair-pin bends, we came across a parking which will lead us to the Yoganarsimha Temple. However, we could see the road going further up. We decided to follow it and found ourselves surrounded by few abandoned buildings and lots of flora. These building were in bad shape, mostly destroyed by natural calamities. I parked Nandi between to such buildings and decided to explore more on foot. We reached this huge rock which was apparently also a view point. View from here is picturesque. When you sit here, it looks like you are experiencing a huge canvas. Miles long flats and then this mountain breaking the symmetry and then again flat which ends into a range a blue mountain rage, like a border for this multi-colour, mesmerizing experience.

We clicked a lot of pics here expecting to capture some of this beauty in our camera and spent quite some time here. It was 11 am now. We roam around trying to locate this Ram temple, for which we saw the board while coming up. When unable to find it, we gave up and started moving down, towards the parking to visit Yoganarsimha temple, located on the adjacent peak. We crossed first turn and that is when Dilip saw this weird small white wall beneath the rock we were sitting on. It also head one small window size door. We were sure about it being temple but still were unable to find the path which will lead us to this temple.

After spending 5 mins, the idea clicked and we decided to follow it. Bang on, and we were in that temple in no time. Trick to identify the path is to stop when you see a small board on second last turn which says 'Way to temple'. It might look like the temple is further up the mountain but it’s not the case. Right behind this board is an unpaved, almost hidden path which will take you to this temple. It was quite some exercise before we could enter this temple.

This temple is made in a natural creak in rock foundation and covered by man-made wall to make it look like a temple. There is barely any space inside to sit straight, forget about standing. In here, we found idols of Ram, Laksman, Sita and Hanuman. We set there for about 5 mins. This is where we met a group of three friends. It was a group consisting one member each from Lucknow, Bangalore and Kerala. It was really an interesting encounter. In the era of this globalization where there are more English speaking people outside Britain, this brother from Lucknow still thinks that people who speak in English are either 'Angrez' or have 'Descendant from them'. He thought that Dilip, who is Mal by birth and brought up in Bangalore, is from some Latin American country, just because he was talking to me in 'Angrezi'. It was hilarious. After spending fun time with them, we left that place and parked Nandi at that crowded parking.

It is not that easy to reach out to God. We had approx 100+ odd steps (Tried counting them but lost the cont in between) in front of us. However, we were so involved in talking, we didn't realise reaching the temple. This is where you have to separate yourself from your footwear. Inside temple, there were so many monkeys and devotees were keeping feeding them. After Darshana, we came out of the temple and found a small pond called Narasimha-teertha.

After spending sometime here, it was time for some trekking. First thing about this trek is to find out where to starts from. Here is the tip. Don't waste your time, just follow others. The trek here is little tricky. Most of the time, you will be surrounded by plants, uneven surface under your bare feet (Yes, it’s insane but you heard it right; for max fun, do it bare foot). After tunnelling through the flora around, we found ourselves on a flat plateau. The view is amazing from here but best is yet to come. Second part of trekking is different. It is a mix of stones, sand and mud and gets really tricky as you reach towards top.

Once you reach top, first thing greets you for your efforts is a cool fresh breeze with a little hint of dew in it. The instant effect, you will no longer feel tired. This point is 3940 ft high from sea level and is all stone, no mud. It also has one man-made stone structure (Something similar to Stonehedge but on a very smaller scale and stony roof). This point gives you a panoramic, mesmerizing view. Just sleep on those rocks and keep your eyes open staring clouds. Soon, you will have this illusion of flying. It will give you adrenaline rush and will scare you at the same time. We spent a lot of time up there. Now, we were hungry and only thing we could think of were those Aloo & Mirchi Bhajji with hot tea, all the way down, in parking place.

Getting down was even more difficult but we managed it. Soon, we were at bhajji stall, having hot bhajjis with hot cup of nice tea. This is the only hot stuff available up there. it was 3.30 pm. On our journey back, we stopped near the same pond near hill's base. Return journey was more or less event less; except that we had couple of breaks in between for Dilip's all-time favourite Chai. We were back in town and it was just 5.30 pm. Evening was getting young and there were more plans for evening. I dropped Dilip at his PG and returned to my place, on my way, already thinking for next trip and possible destination.

Directions: Directions from Bangalore to Devarayandurga

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