After having been to around half a dozen hills and/or forts perched atop, within the 150kms radius of Bangalore I was beginning to get saturated. It was almost the same thing all over again and the excitement was slowly dying with each hike. The last amazing hike that I thoroughly enjoyed was the Dudhsagar Falls hike in Goa and that was nearly 3 months ago.
So when Dad mentioned to me about the Madhugiri Fort hike, I was hesitant initially and agreed to it half-heartedly. A change in the hiking date made it possible for me to accommodate it within my schedule. And I just blindly agreed to go along cuz I saw it as an opportunity to do fun stuff my folks again. Given their age & fitness levels, I’m one of the few privileged ones to able to do all of these with them at this stage of their lives. Not many of you can actually say this. But boy ! Aren’t I glad and yes am equally grateful too.
The hike was being put together by one of Dad’s friends who’s an avid hiker. So much so that even at 70 he lines himself up with 2 hikes in the Himalayas each year. These one day & two hikes in and around Bangalore are training hikes for him and to the group that he goes along. We tend to join whatever is feasible for us; as such never having been to Madhugiri before, we decided to go. And Mum kind of tagged along too.
A good early morning 3hrs drive from Bangalore towards Dabbaspet & beyond, took us to the starting point of this hike. Apparently the hill itself is a giant monolithic stone on top of which a fort was built hundreds of years ago. Such a giant this, that it is the largest monolithic hill in Asia. Or so that’s what the local municipal claims it to be. For us it was just another hike.
From where we started the hill didn’t look overwhelming at all. Probably cuz the entrance was at the shorter side of the hill and the summit was never visible, as it was at the opposite end to where we were to commence from. It wasn’t too hot, and all of us had our gears so we just started to make our way upwards. It was about 45mins into the hike that we spotted the first ‘steep’ part of the hill and the sun had started to come out a little stronger too.
But this steep part had support in the form of hand rails that we could cling onto as we made our way. A few minutes later we made a pit stop to rejuvenate ourselves before carrying on further. Until this stage nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Once we restarted and slightly looked to our right, it started to look like a daunting task. The next point which I thought was the summit was kind of visible although the path was now starting to get much steeper.
For a fraction of a moment I wondered if it was safe for my folks to keep continuing. But given their grit & determination I didn’t want to hold them back. Every individual knows what their body is capable of and when to take the best call suited to their situation. And so we progressed onwards & upwards, slowly & carefully.
It was just another 20mins or so later where we came across a section of the slopy, steep hill where we had to cross horizontally to reach a part of the fort wall. Until about this section, there were handrails & one-step groves but at this part neither the groves were safe nor were there any handrails. The rails were destroyed by some vandals and just to keep it safe the authorities had tied a rope from one end to the other to keep people probably from rolling down the hill, in the event of a slip-off.
From where I was viewing this, it didn’t look pleasing to the eye. There was small group in front of us of which one of the hikers was scared to proceed and she was holding everyone else up. It felt like a mini traffic jam of sorts as there were atleast 25people ahead of me and an equal number behind, all waiting (or thinking) to cross that ‘scary’ looking part.
The hill was quite slopy, almost at a gradient of 50 degrees and the groves weren’t very convincing either. The trick was to cross this section on all fours, practically lying forward at the angle of the slope and moving one leg & one hand at a time before the other. If you know your exercises well, it was almost like doing the spider walk but only horizontally. I made half way through, flipped around and perched my ass on a rock and started helping all those who were skeptical about the crossing.
It was at this point, a handful of them gave up and turned around. Impressively my folks didn’t !! They wanted to go all the way and I was in full support of their choice. So we managed to cross the hurdle and reach another minor pitstop from where would finally see the summit and the fort top !! From that point it did get steeper as we made our way up but the stone was quite rough and grippy enough that we could make it to the top safely. There were points where my folks had to walk on all fours, practically doing the spider walk or the monkey climb but they for sure made it.
It took us about 3.5hrs to go all the way with all those pitstops. Once we made it to the top, we just relaxed for an hour doing nothing. We did have our brunch & also downed a gallon of water. There were a couple of ‘mantapas’ at the top which were worth exploring and we did. The summit also offered a brilliant 360 degree view of the region and all the surrounding hills, of which we had conquered a few a couple of months ago.
By around midday, we then started to make our way down. It hardly took an hour for us to make it all the way back and there were no nasty surprises as such, cuz we had to come back the same route that we went up. Yes we had to come down the steep parts, yes we had to cross the ‘scary’ horizontal section of the hill, yes we had to slide on our bums at some parts but at the end of it all, it turned out to be one of the most amazing one day hikes I’ve done around the Bangalore region yet.
But most importantly what was even more impressive was the fact that my folks at 70 & 65 respectively managed to pull off the feat with very little support. It was very satisfying to see the joy of accomplishments on their faces as well as the tiring look at the same time. Whatever it is, I was super proud to call them my folks and it goes on to show that if you take care of your body properly your body will take care of you. And that’s exactly what my folks do. They’re incredibly disciplined about their eating habits and their lifestyle, so much so that it has brushed off on me to a very large extent as an amazing source of inspiration.
To be able to do stuff with my folks at that age is not many people are privileged with; for me it continues to be an opportunity to carry on doing some cool shit with my parents as long as their bodies allow them to do so. So much of world yet to conquer with them 🙂 And this is just the beginning of a long haul.
If you want to know the scale of what we conquered, here’s a satellite image from Google. Thanks to India Hikes for the image.
Note: For all the information about Madhugiri Fort hike, please visit this link. It’ll give you everything you need to know and do.