NITK Catch-Up at Shivagange

Three weeks prior to the trip and hangout, Samarvir Pandey made a WhatsApp group for a catchup in/around Bangalore. Tisya Purohit, Shikha Gill, Bhaskar Deol, and I.
I suggested something near Tumkur, a
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.
The plan was eventually decided. Climb Shivagange on Saturday morning and chill at Hoopinkayi's Farm Retreat till Sunday afternoon, and head back home.
Shikha Gill picked us up. We were to meet Tisya Purohit and Nadeen Zacharia near Nelamangala and then Bhaskar Deol and Mandhatri Bhatt at the base of Shivagange. Geet Zacharia was bicycling to Hoopinkayi's Farm Retreat, a randoneering training regiment he had made for himself.
But we all slept late the previous night, and we were severely underprepared to wake up early in the morning.
Shikha Gill came home around 6:30, and Tisya Purohit was still groggy. We met up at a restaurant near Yeshwantpur for breakfast instead. It was 8am, and we considered dropping Shivagange from the plan, when we received a call from Bhaskar Deol who was waiting for us at the base.
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.
Tisya Purohit and Nadeen Zacharia dropped us back home around 6pm, and we called it a day.
Note: All pictures clicked by the people on the trip.



Location: Tumkur
It's easy for the most part. There are narrow stairs cut into the rock face, with a handrail for support.
It's difficult at the steep places


Carry a backpack for water and food. There are plenty of shops that operate along the trail after 10am
There are a lot of shallow stairs cut into the rock face. Your ankle will take thew brunt of the trek if you're not careful


Drive from Bangalore on the day of the trek
Start climb at 9:30am
Reach the top at 11:30, relax, and keep away from the monkeys
Trek down, and reach the bottom by 2pm


There are lots of monkeys around. Don't carry a sling bag as it's easy for them to attack those
If a monkey does attack, throw the bag as far as possible from you. They're looking for food, and will leave the bag alone when they find it
There's a minor peak with a Nandi next to the peak, which is a hot spot for these attacks. So is the peak
Use the handrails to the fullest. Finding balance on the small stairs is difficult. Sanitise your hands before and after
There are no alternate paths. Please stay on the trail, as the rock faces are very steep elsewhere
There's on-street parking available near the peak
They can charge you INR 30 as entrance/parking fee
You can wear shoes, even though it's a pilgrimage centre
There are temples along the trail, with paid shoe stands if you want to visit them
There are plenty of shops for food, water, drinks etc along the trail if you're starting late (10am and later)
There're hardly any spots with shade. Hydrate well, and apply sunscreen if you must
Would recommend staying nearby and doing this trek at dawn instead of climbing up in the scorching heat

Hoopinkayi's Farm Retreat


Location: Dabaspete


It's a 100acre farm, with very little along the way. It' isn't easy to get lost, but there aren't many people around to stop to ask for directions. The google map route is pretty accurate.
The rooms are rustic, but could've been maintained better.
Only one bathroom had hot water available when we visited.