So that happened. To be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me to wake up at 4.30 am. But wake up I did, after about 10 min of trying to come up with a legitimate reason to give up the whole idea of heading to Kolar at the crack of dawn.
Yes, Kolar – the destination for the day, primarily chosen for its proximity to Bangalore. My friend and I set off from Majestic at around 7.30am from Platform 3. The buses are frequent and cost around INR 70.00. We reached Kolar bus stand by around 9.00-ish and that’s when the story started.
We found an auto from the bus stand that was willing to take us to the nearby Kolaramma Temple for INR 30.00 (TBH, it is just within walking distance. We opted for auto because we were a bit late and were not sure how long the temple will be open) Incidentally, while planning the trip, I tried, in vain, to find out the timing of the temple. Even now, I have no accurate idea of the timings – it was open till 10.00am on a Sunday is all I can say. The Kolaramma Temple was quaint. Small, but quaint. It took us barely 15-20 mins to see the entire place. It is also pretty famous and draws huge crowds on certain days, an inference I made from all the crowd control measures found inside. It wouldn’t eat up much of your time. After the temple visit, we realised that we are pretty hungry and set out to find a place to take breakfast. After roaming around the entire town, which is pretty small and old school, we ended up at the hotel in the bus stand. And let me forewarn you – Don’t eat from there! The food sucks. Which is why we ended up setting off to Anatara Gange in a semi-hungry state.
Antara Gange is a range of mountains that you first get a glimpse of when you enter the district of Kolar via bus. It is around 4km from the Kolar bus stand – it should cost you around INR 50 to go there – beware of auto drivers just outside the bus stand who’d charge you INR 70-100 stating that they’ll have to ‘return empty’! We had asked a vendor inside the bus stand how much the autos charge you normally, so when the first auto bhaiyya said 100 bucks, we knew better than to take it.
Now the Antara Gange mountains can be climbed in 2 phases – first there is a series of steps that take you to a temple that is built at the slope of the mountain. The deity is Ganesha and the temple had a decent number of devotees offering prayers when we reached. Now the climb is pretty steep with around 100-200 steps, but no worries – you’ll be escorted by hordes of monkeys throughout. Once you reach the top, the real trek begins. Climb the rocks and you’ll find a narrow path covered with trees and bushes – once you pass through the “portal” (as I like to call it) the mountains beckons. The trail is pretty straightforward – most of the stones even have rough steps carved on them!
We climbed our way to the top of a mountain where we found a bunch of trekkers with a young local boy acting as a guide – apparently, they were in pursuit of the famed Antara Gange caves. Since it was 12.00-ish by then and hot like hell, the breakfast-deprived duo (aka us) decided not to join the team. We found a cosy spot by a tree at the top and rested for a good half hour, gushing about Wild, Reese Witherspoon and the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and enjoying the view, after which we had an uneventful trek downhill. Autos were readily available at the base of the mountain (INR 50) to the bus stand from where we took a bus to Bangalore.
All this took just half a day. I was back in my room by 4.00pm.
P.S: You could also try visiting KGF (Kolar Gold Field), the Kotilingeshwar Temple and Someshwara Temple, situated around 35 km from the Kolar town (nearest railway station is the Bangarapet). Frankly, we were too exhausted from the lack of sleep and food to head out there. Antara Gange also offers considerably challenging cave exploration treks which could be undertaken at night – moderately dangerous, yet worth the effort, I’m told! Btw, don’t forget to carry plenty of water when you set out for the trek!
P.P.S: In case you are planning a trip to the place and need any info, please feel free to post your query in the comments. The primary reason I decided to document the trip is the lack of detailed info about the place – you know, the kinda of things that actually help you plan the trip, especially if you are a geographically challenged newbie like me. 🙂