One of the best places for trekking in Bangalore is Antaragange. Located 70 Kms from Bangalore in Kolar, Antaragange appeals to both pilgrims and trekkers. If trekking, bouldering and caving appeals to you, then Antaragange would not disappoint. There is a monkey infested Kashi Vishwanath temple midway up the mountain where a mysterious underground spring supplies water to the Pond round the year. Granite rocks, boulders and caves abound above the Temple and is a dream for adventure enthusiasts looking for trekking in Bangalore.
Antaragange is located near Kolar, which is 70 Kms from Bangalore. Take the Old Madras Road and enter the town on left side upon reaching Kolar. Take the first left and this road will take you eventually to the base of Antaragange. Directions are easily available as Antaragange is popular among both pilgrims and trekkers from bangalore.
We had come in an Enfield Bullet and it was a smooth ride all the way from Bangalore to Antaragange. While the Old Madras Road is very smooth where you can maintain good speed, the road from Kolar to Antaragange is very scenic where a leisurely cruise through the villages is the order. The ride takes roughly 1.5 hours from Bangalore.
The trek up from Antaragange is full of boulders and caves. Wear tough shoes which can withstand the boulders and shrubs. If you are going to ride a bike then warm clothes including jacket, gloves, muffler would be required. Pack water and snacks to last a few hours. Start from Bangalore at 530 am ideally. This would help you start the trek by 730 and hence you will have enough time to finish the boulders and return before it gets very hot.
The other option is to do a night trek where you can stay in a cave. However, this option requires a seasoned guide to take you. Bangalore Mountaineering Club organizes overnight camps at Antaragange and you can try that if interested. Do not attempt Antaragange at night on your own.
Parking is available right at the entrance where a caretaker is available. There are a few shops to buy water and snacks if not packed already.
Antaragange is infested with hundreds of monkeys which are not shy. Any food item will be snatched away by them! Do not carry any food in your hands and avoid carrying plastic covers as they sense food in them. Donot eat anything in front of them.
My shoes being scanned for security by the monkeys-
Antaragange is famous for its Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Shiva is the main deity. In fact Antaragange is often called as the Kashi of the South. There are 350 steps which lead you to the Temple. Monkeys give you company all the way till the temple.
There is a Pond at the Temple which is filled by an underground spring the origins of which are un known. Antaragange which means "Ganges from the deep" owes its name to this phenomenon.
You will find Pilgrims filling the holy water at the upper level and having a bath with the water at the lower level. A bath in this water is supposed to cure many diseases. Many of the villagers around Antaragange get their drinking water from this spring. You will find many of them briskly walking up and down the steps with vessels of different sizes and shapes.
After the temple visit, we hit the trekking trail which starts just behind the temple. The trail is well defined with boulders on both sides. As you climb up the scenery is spectacular with all shapes and sizes of boulders enveloping you. A painting of Lord Hanuman greets you on the way up.
The path continues over layers of boulders and after 3-4 Kms you reach a plateau.
It is refreshing to see patches of land being farmed here. You wonder how did the tractor land up here. And then you spot the road! There is a direct road connection to this plateaus a little further from Kolar. But whats the fun in driving to a mountain. The trek up Antaragange was good exercise and fun.
There are seven villages on the top of Antaragange. We stopped at the first one and enquired for directions. A bull got upset with our intrusion, but thankfully he was tied.
A small boy of 11 agreed to accompany us. While we wanted to visit the caves, he did not know the route. He instead took us to a Fort built by Tipu Sultan. It was a slightly different terrain of slippery gravel. We saw an interesting phenomenon of cacti in camouflage with the surrounding rocks.
Once on top the view was amazing. There was a serene pond on the top as well. We took our first break and relaxed for 15 minutes.
When we insisted on a guide to the Caves, the boy told us stories of cobras that reside in the caves. He even told us about leopards that come out in search of prey. Apparently a leopard had killed 2 trekkers a few months back! When we clarified if they come out at night, the boy impishly said in broad daylight around noon. I looked at my watch and it was noon. Having heard enough of the tall stories from the boy, we traced our descend back to the village.
The story being told about a cobra and a leopard-
With no one available to take us to the cave, we took some broad directions and proceeded towards the boulders below the Fort. The next 2 hours were fun and exciting as we climbed boulder after boulder. The terrain reminded me of the Grand Canyon as I had just watched Mackennas Gold the previous weekend!
I spotted 2 beautiful peacocks which flew away before i could take snap. There were plenty of chameleons and butterflies.
Although we couldn't locate the caves, it was great fun bouldering at Antaragange. On our way down past the temple, we witnessed a carrot feast.