Saturday, March 12, 2016

Shivagange Trek

Shivagange is a peak and Hindu pilgrimage center located near Dobbaspet,20 km from the town of Tumkur and 54 km from Bangalore. The sacred mountain is shaped as a shivalinga and a spring flows near locally called "Ganga", thereby by giving the place its name. It is also known as Dakshina Kashi and it has various temples.

We started from Banashankari at around 6:30am and had a brief stop for breakfast on the way. From a distance, the peak looks difficult to climb but I would rate the trek somewhere between easy to moderate depending on your stamina and prior trekking experience. I will split this trek into various stages and explain each stage with pictures.
We reached the foot of Shivagange by 8:30am. There is no formal parking area so you can park anywhere you find shade. There is a Gopura and a Shiva statue at the entrance where you will officially start the climb.
The first stage of this trek is the conventional climbing up the steps till you reach the first temple.
Take the path to the left of the door which will lead you to the outer sanctum of the temple.
You have now crossed the stage 1 of the trek and you can do a progress check with the view :)
The next stage involves the initial climb on the hill. There are steps cut out of the hill and a support that lets you climb with ease. As you climb, you will get a lot of Nandi statues. 
A little further from the Nandi, ends the stage 2. Time to do the progress check again.
Stage 3 of the trek is walking. There is no much climb and you just keep walking till you reach the OLakallu puNya theertha temple. 
If you are planning to visit the temple then do so when you are climbing because by the time you climb down back to this place, you will be sweaty and the only thing on your mind would be to go home and shower. When you take the left from the temple you reach the door to stage 4 of the trek. 
As you walk you will find one more temple with a water spring on the way.And when you cross this you will see how much more you have to climb to reach the top.
From here on its climb up without support or shade. Rocks act as steps and little stones try their best to throw you off balance so make sure you have shoes or sandals with good grip. We came across a group of students (cubs and bulbuls, scouts and guides) who kind of put us to shame because we were struggling to climb and these kids appeared fresh and full of energy.
At the end of this you will see the statues of Shiva, Parvathi and Nandi which I would call the concluding point for stage 4. Take a deep breath and enjoy the view and cool breeze. 
As you are climbing you will find a shop at regular distances that have water, lime juice, butter milk and some light food to eat. So you can keep yourself hydrated and well fed throughout the climb.
And now comes the final stage of climb. It is a steep climb up through rocks. There is support so there is nothing to worry. But the thing to worry are the monkeys. These monkeys seem to be trained to snatch anything that they can find and they cause more problems if they see you carrying a bag. And I say that because they can open the bag zip too. So it is advisable to break a twig on your way and use it to shoo away the monkeys. 

Towards end of the climb you will see a monolithic Nandi statue on the top. And when you climb up to reach the Nandi, you will see the Garuda pillar of the temple on the other side of the hill.
That concludes the climb to Shivagange. Walk around, enjoy the view and the amazing breeze on the top. You deserve all this after the climb. It took us around 2 hours to reach the top with sufficient breaks.
So there I was sitting on the top of the Shivagange hill wondering “What am I doing with my life?”

Points to note:
- It gets sunny and really hot so start early and try to reach the top preferably by 9am. Also this is a pilgrimage so you will see a flood of people at around 10-11am. 
- Free lunch is provided by the temple so you can time your climb down accordingly. 
- Its a good practice to carry a water bottle though you wouldn't need it here considering the cold fridge water that is available throughout the way.
- Careful of the monkeys. Secure spectacles, mobiles, caps and purses when you see monkeys.

1) My brother for telling me about this place.
2) Prashanth - who warned me about the monkeys and also advised me to start the trek early
3) Amruth and Vikram - my partners in crime for all these trips.

You might also be interested to read: Madhugiri, Avalabetta and Gudibande fort, Maklidurga

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