Skandagiri is a trekker’s paradise. The best time to attempt this is in a full moon night! You can actually touch the swimming clouds here. The sunrise at dawn here is a spectacle worth the climb. At an altitude of 1350 meters, Skandagiri is just 70 kms from Bangalore off Bellary Road near Nandi Hills. Legend has it that Tipu Sultan captured it by bribing a milk woman to poison the local ruler and his men.
Take Bellary road from Bangalore and turn towards Nandi Hills. Proceed towards Kalawara village after taking a right at base of Nandi Hills. You will pass Muddenahalli, the birth place of Sir M Visveswariah, before reaching Skandagiri. Go towards Papagni mutt for parking your vehicle.
Carry a power torch to penetrate the fog. If you are going for the first time, a guide will be useful. Do carry water and some snacks. Don’t venture into the cave at the base to avoid a python encounter!
Start the trek at 1am from the base camp. This will ensure you won’t miss the Sunrise irrespective of how unfit you are! You will be guided by the glimpse of the fortress right through. Like a mirage in a desert, the fort will play games with you. As you approach it, mysteriously another wall will appear! You will encounter 6 such walls before finally making it.
There are 2 caves in the hill. One is right at the base and is more interesting but needs to be avoided as it is home to some pythons! Locals will tell you their goats disappear from villages and land up here. In-fact this Cave is supposed to open out at the peak near the temple! There are a few Samadhis as well. The other cave will come on the way up to the peak.
After 2-2.5 hours of making your way through boulder strewn shrubs, you will reach the summit. Once on top you can have play around with the swimming clouds just over your heads! There is an ancient temple of Lord Ganesh as well for exploration. In fact the temple is the only refuge from the powerful and chilly breeze! Take a nap or just wait for the sunrise, which will be the most awe-inspiring moment of the trek. Words cannot describe the sunrise; have a look at the snaps.
Omelets and tea is sold at the peak by local villagers.
For my travelogue on Coorg, visit here.