Skandagiri- An indelible night trek

Skandagiri, also historically known as Kalwarbetta or Kalavara Durga, is a mountain fortress located around 70 km from Bangalore. It was built by Tippu Sultan. Skandagiri is famous for the walking over the clouds feel. The night camping at the top is no longer allowed here. Hence, we went to the base at around 2am in the night. The forest dept issues tickets at around 3am. We started the trek at around 3.30am. The trail is well marked and the total distance being around 5+5 (10kms). The difficult part here was the extreme cold and the darkness in which we had to hike. We did this in the peak winter month of January. The views are better in the winter months than other seasons.

The ascent takes almost 2hrs for a novice hiker. We were a group of 10 people. There were at least 100 people looking to trek up the hill that day!! sigh!! I thought, it’s going to be nightmare with so many people around. We tried to barge in first through the gate, so as to climb up quickly without much crowd around. But as we trekked, I realized the whole crowd was disseminated throughout the trail and it no longer felt like a queue for a kid’s vaccination shot! It was quite disturbing to see a lot of people litter around. I tried to educate whomsoever possible along the trail. Kids learn quite fast, but the adults!

Anyways, the sky was very clear that day. The starry sky was quite exquisite. We could spot few of the major constellations like saptarishi/big bear, Orion, pole star and venus. It was star gazing throughout the trek. Halfway through the trek, the visibility reduced significantly as we were walking through thick cold condensed saturated clouds. It felt very cold for that stint of the trek. Extreme reduced visibility was little scary considering the trek was done in the dark with just torch lights. Along with the stars, the horizon formed prior to the sunrise was very breathtaking. Moiz tried to experiment with his new portable mobile stand he bought for taking long exposure photos. Some pictures were awesome.


fire ring

For me it felt like the way event horizon of a black hole was pictured in the Nolan’s movie “Interstellar” 😛 . The whole ring of sunlight seeping through the horizon looked akin to a sunrise viewed from a flight while flying. The sunlight through the horizon falling on the clouds seemed like glowing magma underneath us when we were trekking up. Once we reached the top of the hill (destroyed fortress), we started feeling extremely cold because of the breezy winds. We had to cover our hands and fingertips in gloves as we couldn’t feel them otherwise.

Orange Sun grazing the horizon

The trek group

We waited for sometime till the sunrise happened. The sun rising above the clouds was mesmerising view I’ve ever seen. We spent almost 2 hours of our time atop. One interesting point about this trek is that the famously known Nandi hills can be seen from here too.

If one wants is adventurous and wants a clearer view of the sunrise and clouds, horizon skandagiri is a better alternative over Nandi hills.

Sun playing peek a boo during our descent

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