Our destination: Nandi Hills, located about 60 km north of Bangalore and about 4800 ft above sea level. On top was Tipu Sultan’s summer retreat and the remains of Tipu’s fort still remain. Tipu’s Drop, a 600 metre high cliff face, where prisoners were hurled down the precipice when the king was really angry. Not a place you want to venture close to!
If you reach the top early enough – say between 6-9 am or so – you can experience the mist covered hills and drive through the clouds.
We did first toy with the idea of cycling all the way to Nandi Hills from home and then climb up. We then realised, it wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do on our first long ride. This was a few months ago.
We – Thejesh, Rajni, Ann, Ramesh, Sandeep and I decided instead to travel by car with our bikes till the base and then climb up Nandi Hills. We parked at Silver Oak Farm around 8 kms from the base around 830 am. From there, after assembling our bikes we started off.
We reached the base and then started off at a good pace. The first few kilometers are the easier stretch. Ann and I kept each other company through this stretch (Ann on a gearless Hero cycle – she’s quite a wonder woman!) while the rest followed. Till the half way mark, we were going pretty well. We crossed a few other riders on the way, all going downwards. Another biker – Prashant – flew past us on the bike giving us quite a complex but we prodded on 🙂
We took a break at the half way mark – hydrating and eating bananas and staying away from the aggressive monkeys.
From here is the last 4 kilometres where most people give up and walk towards the last bit as it’s too steep.
My limbs were protesting and I could feel every muscle complaining. By the time we were around 2 kms from the top, my cycling was probably slower than walking! But Ann and I didn’t want to give up yet. Prashant had finished his ascent and came back down to cheer us on the final climb. He’s a real enthusiastic young man and made sure we don’t give up just yet! So on and on we go, each rotation of the pedal getting painfully harder. Where is the end, is all I could think of! At the final curve (which I didn’t know) I got off the seat to take a break. “You can do it.” shouted Prashant in encouragement. I struggled to get back on again (its really tough after you dismount on an incline) and ride till the top!
I could see the arch right in front of me, but my body was not too willing at this stage! With a final burst of energy, I finish the final incline. The rest follow soon after and we do the customary bike salute. Thanks to Prashant for being a big sport and making sure we didn’t give up and walk!
Of course, the best part was riding downhill at 50 kmph – what a feeling! And not to forget, the well deserved lunch :-p
While Manoj and Athreya were aiming to complete their marathon 50 km effort (they were going to start running near the Hebbal flyover and head to Nandi Hills), Reena and I decided on a slightly shorter distance knowing our capabilities.
M&A started running around 530 am in the morning. We timed ourselves to start off a little before they reached Nandi Hills so we all reached the top around the same time. Anjana joined in somewhere near the turn-off point at the highway and ran with M&A. A few others – Mahesh, Narry, Vasu, Chandra – also ran different distances till the base but didn’t attempt the climb.
Reena and I started off at around 945 am at the idli point – this is the t-junction where you take a left towards the base of Nandi Hills. The first few kms till the base were relatively but the time of day wasn’t really conducive to running with the sun out in its full glory. And a few occasional whistles and cat calls were annoying but those are the downsides of running on the road. We had some support in the form of Manu and Nisha who had driven down and we asked them to stay close to us, just in case.
At the base (4 kms from idli point) we saw a few cyclists who had just returned from Nandi. We took a few minutes and then started our ascent.
The first few kilometres were a gradual climb and we kept up a slow but consistent pace. By the time we reached the half way mark, I could feel my calf muscles protesting and my legs beginning to tire. We had a “tender coconut” break there and then started on the last 4 kilometres – the steepest bit. Needless to say, it was tough. Anjana, who had taken a ride with Amit for a couple of kilometres (who was in the other support vehicle) joined us and we ran the last couple of kilometers together keeping up a constant chatter to take our minds away from the effort.
A pack of monkeys approached us making some dangerous noises and scared us a little. What does one do when attacked by a monkey? Should get some advise on it for later reference! On the second last kilometre, we bumped into Monica and 2 others who were cycling back down Nandi.
Manoj and Athreya had now overtaken us powering ahead (they were still going strong, well into their 40 something kilometre mark). Then we turned a corner and suddenly there was the very welcome arch of Nandi Hills!
So there – earlier I had cycled up and now I had run up! Was a great feeling to finally do it on foot. We all did a celebration run and posed for pics at the arch and then headed on to a very well deserved lunch, again at Silver Oak.
Pics courtesy: Amit Rao and Manu Changappa