As I stood at the edge of this unknown lake, grey clouds surrounded Makalidurga. Behind me herds of sheep neighed and marched, cows moo-ed, and a dog barked. My friends chatted away in the distance, something about Coca-Cola or Sprite. But in the silence, you could hear the wind rushing, the slow gurgle of the water, an occasional spit-splat as the stones hit the water. The hill looked different now, greener even.
Makalidurga, is a tiny hill beyond Doddballapura, that’s set in a district with the same name. A railway line marks the entrance of the hill, or rather the climb. The route till there is accessible by car or bike. After a tedious process of registering with the forest department, our climb began. The internet said it was a 4/5 hour climb.
As we made our way through the sandy shrubbery, we were asked if we could carry a small bag of cement to the top. ‘For the temple construction’, they explained. A few of my friends offered to, and I have never seen them regret a decision more. Far away we could hear the saffron people screaming ‘Jay Hanuman’, it echoed down the pathway. Later, we were told by the yelneer anna that people (read men) came specially to carry bags of cement to the top.
The path to the top was marked by white arrows, some on the ground, some on the trees. And for those who could not afford to look down, the path was marked by saffron ribbons on the trees. Surprisingly, the place lacked monkeys; there were garden lizards, and some bugs and insects. But no monkeys.
The hill, though green, was barren. It had dry grass that left scratches and cuts on your hand, it had trees, but no shade, it had rocks that were heated up by the sun above. But it had these flowers, the size of a big ant, and the colour of the sun. When you stood on the edges that the paths offered, you could see those great fluffy clouds casting humongous shadows down on the fields below, and nothing ever looked more enthralling and unique.
Climbing Makalidurga was tiring, exhausting even, mostly because of the scorching heat. It was a three kilometer trek, but it seemed like it was 30. Finding water there is hard. At each edge, you see humongous lakes surrounding the hills. They’re waters reflecting the clouds above, but on the hill itself, you’re left parched.
Once you climb it, the lakes around are your motivation to come back down. Right on top is a small fort and an even smaller temple, and a poorer attempt at a man made lake. Makalidurga is said to have been a fort for the Vijayanagara empire where army exercises were conducted. Cannot imagine what they were thinking.
Some useful tips:
-Carry loads of water
-Shades and a cap too
-Wear shoes that are not worn out
-Don’t impose your ideas on others
-Be kind and respectful.
Over and out.