Bilkal Rangaswamy Betta is a huge hill, probably the highest in the vicinity of Bangalore, located around 50 kms south west of Bangalore, off Kanakapura road. This is different from the more popular BR hills. If you take the Kanakpura road from Bangalore, you have to take a left at Harohalli village and then go around 15-17 kms till you get another village called Marlavadi. Marlavadi is the last bit of civilization, source of food and water before Rangaswamy betta. You can start early from Bangalore and have your breakfast here and get your lunch also packed that you can probably have at the top of the hill. The village is typical small little settlement with shops that still sell a lot of local material along with the popular brands. We were pretty impressed by the penetration of certain brands in the smallest of shops. Like a typical village, this village also carried an air that relaxes you without you making a conscious effort to be relaxed. There is a rustic smell that comes from people living in tune with the nature and animals. There are children playing all along the roads, streets, fields, houses and just about anywhere. There are people moving and talking at their own pace, with no pressure to run and win a race. We stopped at various places in the village to feel the village and to click the pictures. One house served us buttermilk, and believe me the taste was very different from the packed buttermilk that we are used to drinking, though am not sure which one I like more.
You have to walk 3-4 kms towards the base of the Bilkal Rangaswamy Betta or hill from this village. The path has dense vegetation, lot of trees and a small river. You will see the village animals and at times children on the way. You would get a few tamarind trees and custard apple trees on this way. The base is very close to the river. Once you start climbing the hill, it is a very steep climb, almost till the top of the hill barring one or two relative less steep patches. There is a defined path to go up and down the hill, but a very narrow one, that can accommodate only one person at a time. You can stop and keep looking out for the view that would keep changing every few minutes, and you would be able to see the ground going further and sky becoming clearer. But the icing on the cake is once you reach the top. The view is just breathtaking. You see the valley all around, everything green, sky with actual color called sky blue, clouds trying their best to kiss the hills and a wind that gives you a heavenly feeling as it passes through your hair. There are huge boulders on the top and small water tank. Below a huge boulder is a Rangaswamy temple, which has a huge hall and another small water tank that looks natural. When you sit by this tank, you can faintly see the skyline of Bangalore and the highways going out of Bangalore.
You can spend sometime on the top. It looks like people do camp on the top of this hill, but I am not sure if it is allowed by the forest department. Coming down from this hill is easier than climbing, but you have to be very careful as the stones can be loose and can topple you. If it rains, it can become very dangerous as the path would become extremely slippery. We did face some rain during the descent and once we reached the base, we enjoyed the walk through the fields. You must carry a lot of water with you, as after the village there is no source of water and the steep climb would make you use a lot of water.
Trek to Bilkal Rangaswamy Betta was organized by the Chandra on behalf of YHAI (Youth hostel association of India). There were 11 people, and what a group, it had women, students, working professionals and senior citizens. And I must admit that I was the least fit member of the group and had to take numerous stops on the way up. I can not thank Chandra and Yati enough for pushing me hard to climb the hill. But for them I would have given up and would have missed the beautiful view that was well worth all the effort it took to climb the hill.
Look forward to some more trips with YHAI.
Trekking Image source Shutterstock