Antaragange is a great destination for Caving and Bouldering near Bangalore. Located near Kolar Gold Fields, Antaragange is a hill full of boulders with a temple in between. The temple has a mysterious underground stream and hence the name Antaragange. The hill has a fascinating chain of caves located deep inside a cluster of boulders. The caves are dark, mysterious and spell-binding! At many points one needs to slither like a snake to get past the narrow boulders. Being just 70 KMs away, Antaragange is a fun and action action packed weekend getaway from Bangalore.
Antaragange is a nice ride by a motorcyle. The 70 KMs ride will take just short of a couple of hours. One needs to take the NH-4 or Old Madras Road and reach Kolar. At Kolar take the left from the highway and go past the over-bridge. Take the left after the bus stand and the road leads to the base of Antaragange. After climbing the steps at the base to the Temple, continue further up along the trail which will be visible between the boulders. The Caves will appear on the right side after a climb of 20 minutes. The path goes all the way past 7 villages.
Leave Bangalore by 6am to reach Antaragange by 8 am. This way you can avoid traffic and the heat.
The hill is full of boulders of all shapes and sizes. One needs to be reasonably fit to climb over these. Proper footwear and a good sense of balance is essential. If you have had no exercise of any form in the recent past, rest assured over the next 2-3 days you will sense aches in parts of the body you never knew existed! But the aches are a of the good sort and welcome reminder of a need to get fit.
Caving should be done only with a guide. You will find boys hanging around helping to guide you. You can even ask for one the shop at the base camp. The route is tricky a guide is a must. The path is very narrow at places and once needs to follow the way the guide slides between the boulders. There would be places where you need to lie down and slither. People paranoid of claustrophobia should keep away. Carry a torch as the caves will be dark.
Monkeys love this place. Most of them will be around the steps that lead to the temple and around the Temple pond. They also have a fascination for the shoes and slippers that are kept outside the entrance. It is advisable to keep the socks deep inside the shoe, as the little ones like to play with anything that is hanging out from the shoe, including laces.
Avoid carrying any polythene bags as the monkeys will snatch it looking for food. Donot take out any food in front of them. In case a few of them do come close aggressively, just throw the food and don't fight with them!
A short climb from the base will lead you to the Temple and the holy underground spring. Take a round of the pond and you will be able to see the spot from where the spring emerges. There will be pilgrim filling the water in cans most of the time. You can spend 15-20 minutes in the temple area and then proceed to the trail that starts right behind the temple.
Boulder country welcomes you and just follow the marked trail. There will be fantastic photo opportunities as you climb. You can have your fill of posing behind all sorts of boulders.
Once you walk up for 20 minutes you will find boys who will be willing to guide you to the caves. They are usually there only on weekends as they go to school on week days. If a guide is available take him along and the next 1 hour will be a unforgettable experience.
Yes, this was the entrance to the caves!
Our Guide Purushottam ensured we returned in on piece without any broken limbs despite slithering our way through boulders and narrow crevices. All of 10, he was an expert and told us exactly where to put our feet to get the best grip.
If it is a week day, remember to ask for a guide at the shop at the base camp. If no luck, then try at the temple where the priest or the vendors might be able to help.
If no guide is available, you can still go up and have fun bouldering. Just keep climbing and you can walk past the 7 villages to reach the top of a fort right at the end of the trail. For more details of this trail beyond the caves, visit Bouldering.
If there is still some energy left after coming down the hill, then plenty of interesting places are near by. You can visit the Kolar Gold Mines located 25 KMs from here. Although the mines are closed a drive or ride through the township is still fun. You will most likely not be allowed to enter the closed mines. But there is no harm in trying your luck with the guard. I have managed to get in a couple of times!
On the BEML road at Bangarpet, you will find Kotilingeswar temple. There are nearly a crore lingams of Lord Shiva in this temple. It is an awesome sight.
If you have a day to stay over, then Morritt Farms at Sri Nagar on the Kotilingeswar road is a good option. The farm has cottages availabe for a night stay. The most interesting activity here is t take a bullock cart ride to the Menaka Gandhi Black buck sanctuary. Blackbucks are easy to spot in the morning evening. If you are lucky, an encounter with a Cobra is also possible.
For a travelogue on Weekend in Kolar visit Tractor Safari in Kolar.
For other weekend getaways in Bangalore visit Bangalore weekend getaways.