I suggested something near Tumkur, a
#Airbnb stay, to catch up on all the things we missed out in the last 18 months of the pandemic. Sidderabetta was my go-to, more because of the familiarity of the place.
The discussion quickly evolved into just staying at an Airbnb, and the only one that could accommodate the 12 of us was one near Dabaspete, called Hoopinkayi's Farm Retreat. A humongous 100acre property, with cottages/rooms, in the middle of nowhere. I booked the stay. Airbnb's generous Superhost discount came handy in making this trip budget-friendly.
But we all slept late the previous night, and we were severely underprepared to wake up early in the morning.
Disgruntledly, we took the left on the highway, and reached an arch we were skeptical about the car fitting into. The car managed to slip past with a foot of space on either side, and we were soon at the parking lot. Bhaskar Deol who could see us from an elevation, guided us to where he had parked, and up the first flight of stairs.
Stairs, there were a lot of. Large ones wide enough for two strides, and small ones with space barely enough for half your foot.
We met up with the others, and started our adventure with the sun beating down our backs and sapping up all the enthu we had. Nadeen Zacharia, Tisya Purohit, Mahasweta Kapadia, and I became the tail end of the group, while Shikha Gill, Mandhatri Bhatt, and Bhaskar Deol blazed ahead. The shops along the route were just opening, and we rested in quite a few places - this being our first strenuous activity in a while.
The heat was bearable. The views made up for it. As we reached the top, the climb became steeper. The route is well marked, and has enough people moving about in the day. The railings helped a lot (but I think we used up all the saved quota of unsanitized contact that we had saved up over the two waves).
There are a lot of monkeys around, and you need to be careful. The shops are well-stocked with buttermilk, lemon juice, cool drinks, and stuff to eat - cucumbers, chips, churmuri etc.
We saw women being assaulted by monkeys at the peak. Cheeky bastards. Preying on the food carried in their handbags. They attack near the Nandi on the top, where there is really no escape route.
Finally reunited on the top, we basked in the warm 11am sun for a while. Endless stretches of farms and hilltops in all directions, made me want to climb more. We couldn't really snack because of all the monkeys around. A small Shiva temple marks the absolute top of the peak here. It's said you can change ghee back to butter in the temple here.
On the way back down, we stopped at a shack for a fill of snacks and buttermilk. The fitter gang, again, took off while the rest of us slowly trotted down the uncountable flight of stairs.
This being a pilgrimage spot, it was uncommon to see people do the trek barefooted, and with religious sentiments.
We met up with the gang at Hoopinkayi's Farm Retreat. Freshened up. And sat at the table for some lunch. It was good, given the torment of climbing a hill; unprepared. We relaxed looking at the rain trickle down unkempt bamboo fields, and played with the two adorable dogs.
The staff made some pakodas for us, to accompany the tea and the rain. We also indulged in some wine, and killed time catching up and laughing about stories from the past.
The barbecue was alright. The dogs rolling in the kocche was off-putting, especially when they came to sit on the same sofa we occupied. Samarvir Pandey and Sankarsana Khanna finally arrived, and we toasted with some more wine and barbecued paneern and mushrooms. The night ended with a lot more food at the dinner table, a healthy round of Heads Up!, and a lot more laughter.
We woke up around 8am, and walked around the property. The others were already awake and active. They tried looking for the lake the host had shared on video, but couldn't locate it.
Samarvir Pandey, Sankarsana Khanna, Mahasweta Kapadia, and I set out on foot looking for this lake. Got lost for a bit. Retraced our path, and found some cellular connection, and the link to the video. Following instructions, we eventually reached the lake pond. A map could've made this a 100x easier to be honest - even a roughly drawn one.
Breakfast was being served by the time we reached the property, and we dug in.
We played football to burn off all the food, and laziness. The large open spaces were amazing to hangout in.
We left the property around 1.30pm. On the way back to Bangalore, we stopped at a hotel for a late lunch.
Note: All pictures clicked by the people on the trip.