Madhugiri is a small town located in Tumkur District, about 100 kms from Bangalore. In the middle of this town, on Asia’s second largest monolith stands a magnificent fort. I had already scaled this hill once in 2011. (Previous Post) I vaguely remembered it to have been a tough hike with the scorching sun rising above our heads. Additionally, two or three false peaks make the journey to the summit seem rather long and tiring. For a trek that Ashirwad and I had been planning for sometime, I chose to visit Madhugiri again. On the 1st of July, we began our journey from Bangalore at around 6:30 AM and headed towards our destination - Madhugiri. As always, stream of consciousness did its job and kept new topics rolling, to retain a conversation between us.
To be frank, I was a bit worried about the safety, as it was just the two of us hiking on that day. I had made it a point to implement most of the learnings from that eventful Trek of mine, earlier this year. We were not carrying anything valuable and had with us, the phone number of the nearest police station. But, still, we at least had to carry our cellphones and a wallet. Moreover, for all you know, these offenders might not be looking for anything more than just that. But as we approached the hill, I saw a descent number of people trekking on that day. That made me feel comfortable. Since it was a Sunday, there were a few locals hiking up the hill as well. Therefore, Sunday, seems like a safe day to trek in these remote areas.
A cloudy weather definitely aided the climb. We tried some new video angles to shoot the movie and took enough rest along our way up. At least for me, our long conversations on varied topics made the walk feel smooth and easy. I don’t think, I can write about everything that we talked about but, for me, the highlight of this trek was surely the discussion we had. It is interesting to notice that sometimes, the feelings and events that we think has been unique to us, isn't really so. The more we open up with the others, the more we realise that some of them, if not all, have experienced something similar in their lives. I strongly feel that this awareness helps us accept certain emotions in us as normal and thus allow us to move on with life.
Some regions along the trail are challenging and can be dangerous. Specially, during the rains and would mandate a shoe with good grip. It is needless to say that the view from the top was, as expected, formidable!
At the summit, apart from us, there were enough people - Two other trekkers from Bangalore, a family, a group of three women, a couple and a suspicious group comprising of three boys and a relatively older man. With my previous experience, I don’t think I can ever see things the same way again. To me they looked suspicious as they appeared to be studying the situation there. One after another, people began to descend and it was just the four Bangloreans left at the summit. Suddenly, two new boys came up and scanned the situation. I was almost immediately suspicious about them and requested Ashirwad to head back and suggested that we stick to the locals during our descent.
We left the two boys and the trekkers at the summit and began our descent. I felt that I was overthinking here based on my past experience but I had ignored my instincts once and paid for it. It would be utterly foolish to not apply those learnings. On our way back, we stopped by a cave and relaxed there for a while. It is a nice location to enjoy some fresh breeze and click some great images.
While we sat there for a while discussing, we saw the two young men head back. The two boys were following them; stopping when they stopped. The situation was very similar to the one I had experienced. I was sure that the middle aged man and the three kids, whom we had seen earlier were also part of this gang; waiting at some other end of the trail while these two boys chased the trekkers. The boys spoke a language unknown to us and kept observing all of us as we interacted with each other. When the boys made some signals to God knows who, I was almost certain that they were part of a bigger gang.
Meanwhile, a group of men who had trekked up while we were descending were also returning and I decided to head back along with them. I struck a conversation with them and learnt that some of them were from the Malnad region. I requested the two other trekkers to walk along with us but they did not heed to my request and chose to stay there.
As we headed back, we saw the man and the three kids relaxing. They did not seem to communicate with one another and that appeared strange to me. As I passed by, I looked at one of those kids and he returned a suspicious stare back at me. The two boys now followed us till one of the entrance and made sure that we were gone. As we approached the locals who had descended earlier, we slowed down and relaxed. But I could not stop thinking about the two young men we had left behind.
What if, they were attacked? Shown a dagger and dragged to the side, away from the sight of the others on trail? What if the two boys who followed us, only wanted to make sure that nobody else was coming up the trail? There was nobody at the summit anyway. Perhaps, I could have helped the hikers. But for me, my priority was the safety of the people trekking with me, my friend. However, I had requested them to walk along with us. I would never want anybody to experience what we did on that trek, earlier this year. Or, was I just imagining all of this? I don’t think so but, I surely hope, I was!
At the base, we had some tasty sugarcane juice and headed towards Goravanahalli Laxmi temple. After a super quick darshan, we had some simple but filling lunch at the Bhojanshala.
On our way back, we decided to take a village route back to Bangalore via Kolala & Hesaraghatta. It was a great decision because, we passed through several traffic-free villages and that made the drive enjoyable. We stopped at a small Tapri (Tea stall) for some tea where, I had a brief conversation with the villagers who seemed worried about the delayed rainfall. The corn fields were tilled and ready to absorb the showers.
By the time we reached Bangalore, I surely was tired but it was also refreshing and enjoyable. And of course, a good company and good conversation always make a journey interesting!