A month ago. Saturday evening. Calls at 7.30 pm. 5 friends arrive at 9 pm. We take out the Karnataka map and decide where to go.
I suggested that we plan such that we can go to Shivagange for the sunrise and that we should take the shortest route out of Bangalore so that we can avoid the traffic as much as possible, and left the rest to the others. Since we were close to Mysore road, we reached a consensus within 2 minutes to take Mysore road â†’ Srirangapatanam â†’ Pandavapura â†’ Nagamangala â†’ Yediyur â†’ Kunigal â†’ Nelamangala â†’ Shivagange â†’ Back home. Roads : Mysore Road, Road connecting Mysore road to NH-48 , NH-48, NH-4.
On the way on Mysore Road, I suggested we skip "kaaDu mane" restaurant because we've been there often, and one of us was insisting on a dhaba. We kept saying we'll stop for the next one, and kept skipping dhabas. Discussion topics varied from pulling legs to politics to amazing lecturers like for example, an Electronics lecturer said that high-strength signals are sent towards a satellite and low-strength signals come towards earth. Why? Because of gravity! True story. We finally went to Kamat Lokaruchi and had amazing joLada roti oota.
I was singing "Hit the road, Jack" and we were back on the highway.
We were taking turns in driving the car. I drove for half an hour at around 12.30 am. We stopped at a place to have some tea and then we asked the people there about the road to Pandavapura and they said we had to take the right turn i.e. the road just opposite the tea stall! If we hadn't stopped here, we would've been going on and missed this. What an amazing coincidence! The tea burnt my tongue but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Our journey continued and I got into stargazing - my favorite pastime during night drives. Sometimes when you are watching a star continuously, you suddenly realize that the earth is revolving and moving, we're not just stationary, that sudden realization gives a gushing feeling, it startles me everytime and yet there's something surreal about it. And it feels stupid to even try to explain this to somebody else.
At around 1.30 am, the road was secluded and very few vehicles around. We switched off the headlights momentarily to see how dark it really is and it was amazin'. The two photographer geeks got started clicking. One of us notices a light near one of the trees at the edge of our horizon, and another said it must be some hut. A few minutes later, one of us shouts it's the moon! This is the first time ever that I have saw a "moonrise". We were just jumping up and down at this point. Totally unexpected. Exactly the stuff night drives are made of.
Around 4 am, we had tea again at somewhere near Kunigal.
At 5.30 am, we reached Shivagange. I remember just getting out of the car as soon as it stopped, sleep-walking and following the others and next thing I realize is that I'm hiking up a long set of the stairs which never seemed to end! We were accompanied by some localite kids who were also climbing.
About 10 min before we reached the peak, I turned back and saw that the sun had already risen and it was a beautiful scene. It wasn't as exciting as the moonrise mostly because the moonrise was an unexpected thing whereas we expected a good sunrise scene here. The wind was so strong up there that we couldn't hear each other speak even though we were standing next to each other.
Then, we walked a few footsteps to Shanthala point (where long time ago Shanthala Devi had committed suicide). Here, one of us got crazy and jumped over the railings and sat down at the edge of the cliff! And the others followed soon enough.
Then, we got out the foodstuff and started eating the pure magic chocolate biscuits, the pistas and some other biscuits as well. A good timepass was collecting the pista shells and then throwing it in the wind and watching it fly.
We started walking back, and it seemed people just didn't want to go downhill...
After we reached the base, I insisted that we go to the water body nearby. The water was extremely dirty, so I just dipped in my feet to cool it down but got out soon. An old man came by and started telling stories about the place and it was quite fascinating to hear about it. For example, if we see the peak from 15-20 km away, it looks like Ganesha from the north direction, Nandi from the east direction and so on in all the 4 directions. He told me about Shanthala devi, and the spring here, about the different Nandi statues (kaDale basaveshwara, etc) and the significance of each statue and so on. The combination of me being tired and that old man talking so fast didn't help me catch on to the details of the stories.
In the meanwhile, the photographers went after a stork in the water as well as a chameleon/lizard trying to capture it in the cameras.
Then, we headed back towards Bangalore. We were just celebrating an awesome last 8 hours. I gathered that each of us liked a particular part of the trip. Razik - trek/climb to top of shivagange. Vikram - the photoshoot of the lizards and birds in the water body. Me - the moonrise and the stargazing and the stories told by the old man. Ashish - the sunrise. Ajay - the all night drive.
Once I reached home, I had brunch and a satisfying Sunday afternoon sleep.
Moral of the story : The best things in life are the ones you didn't plan for.