Sipping my coffee on a Friday evening and watching the monsoon rains pattering from my balcony. I said to myself – “It’s time for a ride tomorrow morning”. Within no time, the crew was set! Where to? – A quick one! Alright, Shivagange trek was on my list. Although my mom defends that we had been there when I was a kid and she was the only one among us who could get the Olkal theertha (the sacred spring water, read on). Anyways, coming back, even though it’s very close around 50kms from Bengaluru, I don’t remember trekking that hill. Without any more plan, we woke up in the morning and started the journey at 7 am.
Brief on Shivagange hills
Shivagange hills is a perfect weekend getaway with a combination of moderate trekking and spiritual miracles. From the trekking point, the place is ideal for moderate day trek with ample steep trails. From a religious point, the place is dedicated to Gangadhareshwara – a form of Shiva Linga. An interesting miracle here is that a ghee abhisheka on the linga turns the ghee to butter, which is distributed to the devotees. This seems interesting to research!
Besides, spring water named Olkal theertha which can be accessed from a small hole inside the cave temple. As we trek midway, we find a Jyothirlinga temple with Shiva, Parvati statues. In the summit, there is a cave temple dedicated to Shiva. From the west, Shivagange looks like the shape of a Shiva Linga. While from the east, it looks like the shape of a bull, a cobra from the North, and from East, a Ganesha.
Journey to Shivagange trek
The weather was refreshing and a bike ride gave us all the thrill we were waiting! We stopped at a normal Tumkur Thatte Idli hotel to have breakfast. As we were nearing, The glimpses of Shivagange hills – shaped like Shiva Linga could be noticed from the road. Before Dabaspet, we took a left turn at Shivaganga cross and started driving towards the hill temple. It was almost 8:30 am when we entered an archway gopura marking the entrance of Shivagange temple. This road is narrow and muddy with few old stone structures and kaccha homes on either side.
The Gangadhareshwara temple
In a few mins, we reached the Gangadhareshwara temple entrance and parked our bikes. A long stretch of steps till the temple! Many people were ascending barefooted, but if you are here for the trek, keep your shoes on and start. As we ascended, Ganesha temple in the left, Honnamma Devi temple at the right and the main temple was still closed. As already stated the Gangadhareshwara Shiva Linga here is a miracle which turns ghee to butter. I was very curious about this, decided to visit on the way back. The temple premises has stone carvings with Yali pillars, mythological figures and symmetrical structures.
The Initial stretch of Shivagange trek
Beside the temple, we saw a sign to the hills and followed. Meanwhile, there were lots of monkeys already patrolling for people to arrive. Better to trek empty handed, not even bags to be safe from monkeys. Also, there are many stalls on the way so better buy, eat then and there.
To the left there opened a beautiful arch which opened to the hills which marks the initial stretch to the hills. A set of mantapa, Nandi statues can be seen here and there. The huge Nandi statue on the further mantapa is a sight to capture. The well-carved steps on the rocks with railings are really helpful for climbing the hill. There are stalls at every point which will provide snacks and water. I repeat that not to carry any bags or bottle to the trek, you will simply be in trouble with the ferocious monkeys. After trekking for 10 mins, we meet a point where the road diverges to two paths, I took the less travelled one 😛 I chose the steeper one with the steps. Few people took a longer route with the natural trail.
A new friend Rocky
Here, I found a new friend that is a fawn dog, which wagged its tail and followed us to a good stretch. We named him Rocky! We did not have any food to give him! But he really helped us chase away the monkeys.
There were literally no other group in this route except us. The steps got pretty steep, we started taking breaks in middle and trek at a relaxed pace. Somehow at some point, Rocky disappeared and we really missed him further. Finally, after another kallu mantapa, we could a huge boulder. That’s the peak, we yelled! Below the boulder, we could get a glimpse of Shiva Parvati statue. After the steps, we reached a flat surface from which the views were spectacular!
Shiva-Parvati statue and Jyotirlinga temple
The Shiva Parvati statue with Nandi and a hills all around – a perfect sight to resemble Kailasa. We reached the temple which houses the 12 Jyotirlingas, which are forms of Shiva Lingas all over India. We bowed to the Jyotirlingas and followed the trails behind the temple. Many people just reach the cave temple and go back. Actually, if we manage to walk behind the temple, it will lead us to the peak of the hill. As we moved out of the cave temple, towards the right of the trail, we continued the trekking towards the peak.
The Steep stretch of Shivagange trek
This was crazy zigzag steep trail! There were steps carved irregularly with railings which were quite strong. It was like an adventure to trek this stretch as I had to think where to keep my next step and firmly holding the rusted iron railings. A quick tip to trek sideways in this trail. This is quite a toll on our energies and really worth the experience.
This part of the trek was more challenging as it was an exploration of the rocks, bushes, undefined trails and steep hilly edges. The group was tired, but the enthusiasm to reach the summit drove us to reach the peak. The beautiful mountain views and landscapes accompanied us throughout the trek.
The Monkey menace
There comes another adventure. We all knew – the monkeys. You must see their durbar, they just slide on the railings like a Telugu movie hero and pounce on you with the fierce roar! Now, for me, the steep stretch was already struggling scary and just imagine a fat monkey coming in the same style and give you that angry look. It checked my empty hands and no bag. So it slid further to my friend who wore a huge bag.
Panic mode on! It pounced on the bag and started opening the zip! OMG smart monkeys huh! He was shit scared and we all started yelling and make weird noises than the monkey itself. Another monkey joined to attack further and we were unable to find a stick! But where the hell can we find on this steep trail! A localite yelled at us to shoo the monkeys with the bag only and somehow we tried that and it really helped! That was a hell of an attack! No pictures captured during the scene, because I was in a position to! 😛
The Summit of Shivagange trek
At the end of this steep stretch, the Nandi statue on a boulder marks the summit. Small carved steps on this boulder took us next to Nandi statue which had a garland of bangles of devotees. We could go around the statue and reach down.
Moving further, the huge boulder standing strong at the corner with a flat surface on the top looks amazing. There are railings all around this boulder and two pillars where devotees offered coins. Reaching this was the most amazing part of the trek, after all its the summit. The views from here were spectacular marking the green farms, villages and lakes. The blue skies and many lofty mountains in a series. The changing shadows cast by the clouds on the mountains was sublime to watch.
A cave temple dedicated to Shiva linga is here and we bowed to the lord. Inside the cave, it was super cool even in the scorching sun! At the other end, there is a steep point known as Shantala drop, where the Queen Shantala of Hoysala king committed suicide. Apart from all these, there is a tree which gives good shade and cool air, where we rested for some time.
After spending quality time on the summit, the sun was high as it was already noon. We started descending and it took musch less to descend but it’s again a toll on the tired knees. On the way we reached Olakal theertha, a natural spring inside the cave temple. They say that only the blessed ones get to feel and touch the cold water here, I was one of them. Few were depressed that they did not get the water, remember to fully immerse the hand sideways and for sure shot you would get it! The water was cool and quenched the tiredness instantly.
Re-uniting with Rocky
Do you remember Rocky, who wagged his tail and followed us but disappeared after some point? We kept checking every dog we saw. Finally, we saw him sleeping near a mantapa. We woke him and offered Parle G! He was really happy and followed us till the parking to bid us farewell. Dogs are so loyal creatures ever! We started driving and since we still had time, We thought to stop by Mandaragiri and witness the golden sunset! Stay tuned for my next post!
The Last Note on Shivagange trek
Shivagange trek in one word is an excellent one day trek near Bengaluru. To be frank, I underestimated this trek. It’s quite adventurous with moderate to steep trek. So I highly recommend Shivagange to every trekker! Besides, monkeys literally gave us a bad time! So be careful! After this, we witnessed sunset at Mandaragiri hills (next post). Nevertheless, it was a great weekend getaway marking the onset of monsoon for me. Keep travelling guys! 🙂
Tips to travellers
- How to reach Shivagange trek: The place is 60 km from Majestic, Bangalore.
- By bus: One can take buses to Dabaspete and there are local rickshaws operating from here to Shivagange
- By private vehicles: Start driving on Tumkur road, make sure to take left on Shiva Ganga cross.
- The trek is a moderate level of 4 to 5 km uphill and downhill. It took us around 3 hours altogether for the whole trek.
- What to carry for the trek :
- People would be trekking barefooted. The trek trail would be rock bedded, so requires a good pair of sports shoes.
- The sun was harsh so a hat/sunglasses would be handy.
- Trek empty-handed to avoid monkeys.
- Carry some chocolates for instant energy.
- Plan and start the trek early by 6 to 7 am. The trek would be a little difficult on rainy days as the rocks will be slippery.
- Lots of stalls are present for snacks and water
- Guides available to lead you to through caves and to the top of the hill. If you are a small group of people, you can ask them to accompany you.
- Please don’t litter plastics and maintain silence inside the cave temple.
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