Workout with great views: Shivaganga near Tumkur

The peak from far
LocationShivaganga Peak, Near Tumkur
Date: Sept 25th, 2011
To get there: Go on NH4 Towards Tumkur. At Dobbaspet take a left under the flyover towards Shivaganga. There is a sign board immediately after you take this turn. Shivaganga is about 6 to 7km from here.
Distance: 60 km from Bangalore
Trail type: Crudely cut or man made steps on the hillock with some rocky path in between. There are railings for support when it gets too steep. It is going up almost all of the time, so one has to completely stop for a respite. The peak is at 1350m elevation, making it a gain of about 400 meters during the trek. Distance is around 2km. Trash can be seen all along the path though it was not as bad as in some other temple trails.
Facilities: Refreshments such as cut cucumber, soft drinks, bottled water, majjige, bajji, charmuri are available by trail side vendors at constant intervals along the trail.

MapClick here for the Google map.

This spot was picked for the first ever group trek by the residents of Brigade Classic Apartments as an easy to moderate trail. The group comprised of families with kids from 6 yr old to 15yrs. It was finally a total of about 25 of us who set out in a bus at around 7am with a packed brunch and plenty of energy for a good workout. As it was a Sunday, it took us less than 2 hours to reach Shivaganga town. The traffic was light and the new elevated freeway up to Nelamangala made the drive even smoother. Some fun games like Dumb Charades and 20 questions helped us reach "quicker".

The trail starts from the main road close to the temple tank as a flight of steps leading to the base temple. To go to the top you have to turn left just before you enter the temple compound. We chose to carry the packed lunch of Idlis and Karabath to picnic on the trail taking a chance on the warnings about monkeys which we were told liked to give company. More on that later.

It is a steady climb all through and will be quite tiring if you attempt to do it too fast. The best way is to go slow enjoying the views and taking rest as required. We made 3-4 stops on the way for coffee, fruits, water, etc., All of our group right from 5 yrs to almost 50 made it to the Shiva Ganga statues after about 2km trek and 300 meters gain. On the man made steps, it is easier to navigate though steeper while on the undeveloped parts of the trail one has to be careful about slipping on the small rocks. 

The monkeys. Well, they kept us company all through the trail. A few times they were aggressive enough to come close and sniff at the bags or, as it happened, at a lollipop that a child was sucking on. It did not go away until the lollipop was gifted to it. Advice: Do not carry any exposed food item! So, here we were hungry and ready to picnic but not at all comfortable with the patiently stalking monkeys waiting for their share of the food. A kind vendor came to our rescue by allowing us to use a barred enclosure behind the statues. This worked well though when you think about it, we were in the cages feeding while the monkeys were free outside looking in at us! Gives a different perspective to the "zoo" experience. :)

After the refreshments, about 8 of us chose to go ahead and reach the peak while the rest decided to head back. The final 100m climb is a very steep climb on man made steps. It is quite strenuous though there is adequate support in railings. But we made it, even a little one at less than 6 yrs. At the top there is a Gangadeshwara temple also marked as Dakshina Kashi and a Nandi on an adjacent rocky outcrop. 

After spending a few minutes there, we started our descent which is a little more trickier and prone to accidents if one is not careful due to the steep gradient. We managed to get down fairly quickly with no mishaps. 

There was not much birding to do. We could see and hear White-browed Bulbuls all over, Purple-rumped Sunbird and many Black kites hovering overhead. Highlight, could be a possible Thrush or Robin on which I will update here, if I am able to find its ID. (Confirmed now. It was indeed a Blue Rock Thrush one of the first visitors to India this migrant season)

Overall, it is a nice trek if one is looking for some challenge without it becoming too difficult. I would think kids 8yrs or more should be able to do it with some exceptions both ways. After lunching at Kamat Upachar which is located on NH4 few kilometers after Dobbaspet, we were back home around 4pm with some well-earned aches and pains! :)

Some more images from the trek are here.

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