KR Hills is a nice scenic spot near Shimoga. It is apparently a popular tourist destination. Especially if you go by the number of tourists who manage to make their way from nearby areas to the place
We set off from Bangalore on Saturday morning with CARE Adventures. As expected, the bus was filled with software engineers. Software engineers are an interesting bunch of people, especially if you see them as a sample in a socio-psychological experiment. They spend all day in office in artificial light, stale air-conditioned air and interacting with other s/w engineers. Not surprisingly as a community they end up with a sense of humour on par with the principal characters of a David Dhawan movie. The entire 12 hours we traveled in the bus was a non-stop riot of jokes that made you want to pull your ears out and stuff them into your bag.
The bus journey from Bangalore took about 6 hours. On the way we stopped for breakfast at the A1 Plaza built by Reliance – a handy outlet that serves very limited variety of food but prides itself on hygiene levels. The next break had a more local flavour, with tender coconuts and the like. We reached KR Hills and checked into some rooms for a quick wash. After that we were off on the ‘trek’.
The trek turned out to be a walk. The trail was bursting with tourists. The women wore bright sarees and high heels. The children were not treading carefully on the ledges but running forward. All of us, on the other hand, were dressed like people in the brochure for a Himalayan trek and consequently provided some light entertainment to the tourists.
We reached a reasonably high point after an hour of brisk walking. There was a gentle breeze, the sun was not so hot and overall the walk seemed worth it. Then three of us walked to a very nice point from where there was a spectacular view of the setting sun. The sun glowed a fiery yellowish-orange and even as we watched, the colour began to gradually turn more sober, rising up from the bottom till the whole ball was a dull but strong orange. The nearby clouds began to look gray and the valley, which spread out before us, glistened for a while before settling down to a verdant calm.
By this time the rest our gang was nowhere to be found and we made our way back to the rooms. There we found everyone gathered at a table ready to gulp cups and cups of hot tea and pakoras. Gleefully we followed suit. As night fell, the power went off. So for a couple of hours some of us waited in the dark as most of the S/W engineers went off to do a complete makeover in the dark. Presumably even this little bit of exposure to other people makes them suddenly realise that this is the time to flash that expensive make up and clothes.
Well past our original schedule we arrived at our campsites and lit a cheerful fire. Before the raucous singing could begin and drown out the sounds of the night, the rain gods rescued us. Everyone jumped into the tents. There was a brief respite in the rain while we ate and then it began to pour again. Water began to seep through the thermocol floor of the tent. Luckily it stopped before it could soak the sleeping bag in which I was huddled.
There is something to be said about waking up and walking to the edge of the cliff where your tent is pitched and seeing the mist rise slowly from the valley. Enthralled, we sat and gaped for a while before getting ready for the day’s trek. That day was to be entirely downhill and through a nice forest cover – enough to keep out the sun but not so much that you would be in close contact with lurking snakes.
Thanks to the rain, the weather was excellent and we made good progress. Our trekking guide, G, had made up his mind long ago that the best way of dealing with the laggards was to ignore them and pick them up on the way back in case they did not make it to the waterfall we were planning to reach. G was a short and wiry guy who lived on nicotine. Every time we took a break, he would pull out a cigarette and go about aiding his already blackened teeth into permanent decay. G had no clue how to get the S/W guys to stick to the schedule and following his new plan of action began marking elaborate signs on the ground for the others whenever we had to make a detour. At some point G gave up even on that and decided that if it were meant to be, the gods would find a way to get the entire group to the waterfall. Mercifully, everyone reached.
The braver people managed to get into the waterfall and shiver away for ten minutes before getting out. Most just sat around and felt the cool spray of the gushing water on their faces. After all the walking, the sight of the lush green trees, sparkling water and dry rocks on which you could perch was very calming. Soon it was time to leave and a longish bumpy ride back in a jeep brought us back to the rooms.
The return journey to Bangalore began little later than scheduled. Since I had to catch a train G got worried and began to handle the situation in his usual style - avoiding direct eye contact with me, urging the driver to go fast and smoking gloriously. It was entertaining for a while but when it looked like we would all ram into some oncoming vehicle thanks to a charged up driver, I told him that my train was later than he thought. Immediately he called for a tea break and began to smoke in relief.
We reached Bangalore at a reasonable hour and went our separate ways. I had taken a sum total of twelve photos to record this experience. The s/w guys sent the entire group their snaps the next day. Which was probably the only good thing about the group since they had taken 185 snaps and some of them were really terrific. Well, nice trek, nice snaps and Ok crowd. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad