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A visit to Nandi Hills
At a barely ninety minute’s drive away from Bangalore, Nandi hills provide a welcome relief from the taxing urban milieu. On a cold grey Saturday morning, two weeks ago, we made our way to the hills. Traffic, it being just 8:00 in the morning, was sparse and offered us little resistance. After about forty minutes of driving we paused for a quick breakfast at a cozy little roadside joint. To my surprise, they kept a little, beautiful, well maintained kitchen garden – most unusual for a roadside eatery.

By the times we were behind the wheels again, more traffic had hit the road but since we were already past the congested city area our progress was smooth. Shortly we were cruising along on an empty, infinitely long narrow road with endless green on its either side. We stopped outside a building adorned with a giant statue of Ganesh, mistaking it for a temple while (for some inexplicable reasons) it turned out to be a boarding school. A few pictures later we hopped into the car again.

Soon the hills sprang into our view. Their peaks were veiled in a thick mist. As we began our arduous drive uphill, negotiating the serpentine curves of the hill road, we were confronted by dense fog. Every ten minutes or so we would get out of the car, click a few snaps, marvel loudly at nature’s beauty and then clamber back into the car again. On progressing higher the visibility on the road degraded to just a meter or so. The engine of my friend's Maruti 800 could be heard remonstrating as it tackled the difficult terrain. Curves on this road uphill were numbered; the milestones placed near them kept giving conflicting opinions of the distance from the summit.

At last we arrived at a circular mesa which we wrongly took for our final destination. It was a checkpoint for paying the parking toll. On our left were two wooden shacks. In one, sat a gentleman clad in khaki and collected the toll. The other was a make shift shop which stocked groceries and other daily necessities probably for people living at the hill. Water was now precipitating on the leaves of the trees around us and pouring down. The entire place owing to dark skies and a dense fog looked extremely eerie. The crackling sound from All India Radio (Mukesh crooning – ‘कितना हसीं है मौसम, कितना हसीं सफ़र है’ which roughly translates into – how beautiful is the weather, how beautiful the journey) added to the haunted feel. It could have easily been an inspiration for many a stories dealing with ghosts and the occult.

The final leg of the drive to the summit was a steep but short one. The view at the summit was anticlimactic. Three shops – again selling groceries, potato chips etc – played loud music on the radio. Parking was scarce. Rowdy monkeys had made themselves comfortable on rooftops of parked vehicles. A little tea-stall in one corner would only serve machine-made coffee or hot water and tea-bag combo leaving my craving for a properly brewed hot cup of tea unsatiated.

We visited a dilapidated temple on the summit. As expected the high priest rudely insisted on conducting a little prayer ceremony to inveigle money. On coming out we found the entire scene at the hilltop; with people pouring in and the din from the radios getting louder, most disagreeable. Summarily, we began our descent. The fog had cleared up a bit and we stopped again at a couple of spots to reflect upon the serine beauty of the hill and its valley. The journey sometimes is indeed more pleasurable than destination.

P.S. Pictures to follow shortly
posted: 22.11.04

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