Have you heard of a Magical Land? No, not the one with funny water rides or people ducked in clown costumes. One where you have wide open roads. Where the puffy white clouds accompany you throughout your journey and the one where your breath is taken away with marigold fields by the road. Not to forget the beautiful sunsets by the lake, along with breathtaking views from the hilltop. Our Bike trip to Avalabetta and Dandiganahalli Dam from Bangalore was exactly that. A dreamy ride to a Magical Land. One that was filled with beauty, adventure, laughter, and above all a whole bunch of memories. Read on to know all about the ride to Avalabetta and Dandiganahalli Dam.
Let’s Begin The Ride. Shall We?
So, it was a fine weekend in September 2018. I was expecting a friend of mine to come down to Bangalore. But he had to cancel the plans at the last minute because of some emergency.
And me being me, didn’t want to spend the weekend at home. So I picked up my phone and took a quick glance at the “Want To Go” places on my google map. I narrowed down the options along the Bangalore Hyderabad highway. I remember seeing the pics of Potato chip rock at Avalabetta. So, I decided to ride to Avalabetta along with a sunset ride to Dandiganahalli Dam.
I put the word out to the gang. KT, Veerappan, Saurabh, and a few others signed up. We thought of starting early on Saturday to beat the traffic. But I had an important meeting scheduled at the office. So, the earliest we could start was 10: 30 AM.
As planned, I reached the office and finished my meeting. Saurabh reached the office by then. After a quick breakfast, we left the office by 10:40 AM. My bike badly needed servicing so I rode pillion on Saurabh’s Gixxer.
KT and Veerappan were starting from Whitefield. I called them up and informed them about our departure from the office.
The Quintessential Bangalore Traffic
We got out of the office premises and a jam-packed road greeted us with wide-open arms. Not quite literally as there wasn’t much space to open my arms wide :P. Anyway, We patiently slogged through the heavy traffic on Bannerghatta road. We breezed past the moderate traffic around Cubbon Park. The Hyderabad highway surprisingly had sparse traffic on that day. And boy, all the shutters to my excitement opened once we crossed Hebbala.
Mr. Blue Sky Welcomes You
Soon after we crossed the city limits, the cloud formations revealed themselves. I was awestruck looking at those cloud formations. The black road leading up to a bright blue sky which is in turn dotted with huge clouds. It reminded me of the ride to Hogenakkal Falls.
It was such a beautiful sight that I couldn’t keep the phone inside my pocket. At around 12 PM we reached Devanahalli. KT and Veerappan were still on their way. We parked the bike by the road and stood at a tea stall. There was a Ganesh Nimarjan procession going on. Contrary to what I saw in Bengaluru, the idol was huge.
The procession reminded me of the Ganesh Chaturti days back in my village. The umpteen number of youth associations that competed with each other to put up the tallest Idol. Those were the days when I dared to sing bhajans at the pandal ;). Yes, I tried my hand, or should I say? mouth at singing as well. I remember sitting beside the idol during the procession and emptying the puliogare :P.
And The Tribe Meets
After a while, I called KT and Veerappan again. They were still a few KMs away from Devanahalli and reached by 12:40 PM. Their entrance was sort of celebrity like. The two shining beauties, One black, and the other bright red. The beasts Apache RR 310 and CBR 250r had everyone’s eyes glued to them. I quickly checked the maps and Avalabetta was another 60 KMs from Devanahalli.
We decided to have lunch and start the ride again. We hit the highway and I found a cozy place by the name “The Green Park“. Contrary to my experience of having food in restaurants on the Hyderabad highway, the food here was really delicious. The ambiance was quite soothing compared to the scorching heat outside. To top it all it wasn’t expensive at all. And no, I am not paid for giving this review :P. Nice shade, delicious yet inexpensive food.
What more could you ask a bunch of hunger-struck foodie riders? 😛
Ride Into The Dreamy Land
We belted the food and were all set to belt the bikes now. I rode the Gixxer from the restaurant. We continued riding on the Hyderabad highway. At Peresandra we took a left turn as indicated by Google Maps. It took us through a series of small villages surrounded by paddy fields. While the paddy fields themselves were a treat to the eye, nature soon surprised us.
After one mysterious turn, a marigold field welcomed us. It was such a beautiful and refreshing sight. Bright blue sky, beautiful marigolds, and puffy white clouds sandwiched in between them. We just sat there, embracing the calmness and beauty. Needless to say, we clicked a lot of pictures.
We started the ride again. Mind you this stretch of the road is narrow. And the turns are so unnoticeable and google being google, is slow to tell you that. So a word of caution from my side, keep the navigation ON as soon as you take the left from the highway at Peresandra. Don’t just wait for it to shout out the directions, but practively look for the turns.
Wrong Turn To The Right Place
I am insisting on this so much because there is a very high chance that you will miss a turn. Coz we did :P. However, the wrong turn we took, took us to another place with a beautiful view. But that’s not guaranteed for you, so keep your eyes on the maps. Although the wrong turn took us to a right place, we lost valuable time and were getting late for the sunset at Dandiganahalli Dam.
Took a quick look at the maps again and the “right” right turn was an even narrower road. This one was just a bunch of gravel ganging up and pretending to be a road. We rode through the road very carefully, ensuring the stones weren’t bouncing on to the bike behind.
Let The Hike To Avalabetta Begin
After carefully riding over gravel, we reached the Avalabetta parking lot. It is a fenced, paid parking lot. We didn’t see a lot of vehicles there. So we assumed that the crowd would be moderate. The shopkeepers near the parking lot told us that the hike is around 2 Kms till the mid point. They pointed us to a concrete road which was the path to the top. Apparently, the guards allowed vehicles up to the midpoint of the hike earlier. But for reasons unknown, it was stopped, at least for that day.
We started the walk on the road. After about 10 minutes, we reached a junction of sorts. We could either choose to continue walking on the road or take the stairs which had ample shade. So without a doubt, we took the stairs as it was too hot at that time.
Alternating between stairs and the road we reached the halfway point. The view was amazing from here. It felt as if the clouds were beaten flat by someone below. Don’t you feel that too?
But we knew we were just getting started. Once you reach the end of the road, you will see stairs to climb further up. These stairs take you to the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple first and then to the top of the hill. Irrespective of how athletic you are climbing stairs always takes a toll on you. Especially if they are narrow and huge. Like the ones this hill had.
History Of Avalabetta
The hilltop doesn’t just offer beautiful views of the valley below, it has an interesting backstory as well. Samudra Manthana is a popular event narrated in the Hindu epics. The event resulted in the creation of Amritam, the nectar of immortality among the other 13 Ratnas. One of the Ratnas was a holy cow, also known as Kamadhenu. Kamadhenu is a wish-granting cow and it was taken by Lord Brahma. It was then gifted to the sages so that the could use the ghee from her milk that could be used in Yajnas.
As per the folklore the cow is believed to have landed here. Apparently, the hoof marks of that cow are still visible on a rock, though we couldn’t find them. Avalabetta Hilltop is also called Dhenu-Giri. Because the years that followed observed a large number of cows coming to the hill. Because of this, the villagers here take great pride in offering the first milk of their cattle to the deity in the temple. And as per the tradition mentioned above, the ghee used in the temple is from the milk given by the native cows.
Grounded Amidst Clouds
We continued the climb up and after a short 20-minute climb up the stairs, we reached the top. My excitement had no bounds. Imagine sitting on the tallest hill in the vicinity, with clouds hovering at eye level in the distance. With nothing but lush greenery dotted by boulders and lakes below. It was certainly the most beautiful sight of the day. Looking back, it was pretty evident from the number of pictures we took at the top 😛
The Quest For A Rock
After the seemingly never-ending photoshoot at the top, we walked down again. I remember reading about a viewpoint that resembles the potato chip rock in San Diego. So, I started searching for the spot right from the top.
I was able to locate the place from the top and had no clue how to get there. We reached the temple on the way down. While at the temple, I saw another path that had a board saying “Entry is Prohibited”. As headstrong as I was about not violating the rule, I couldn’t resist exploring it. We slowly walked around the hill behind the temple. The trail was just about to end and a policeman welcomed us. He said the area was restricted.
We politely requested him to grant us permission to take a quick look at the place. Luckily he let us go. The potato chip rock is now fenced off, so you can look at it only from the outside. The rock protruding out into a cliff, with the lush greenery way below the rock enhanced the beauty. Right before the rock was a small pond. The reflection of the rock and the bright sun in the small pond was so mesmerizing. It resembled a fighter jet 😉 Must say, the place was no less than magical. Look at it for yourself. Aah! The Tranquility.
We slowly walked down the hill and reached the parking lot. It was already close to 5 PM and we had to get to Dandiganahalli Dam for sunset. With that target in mind, we pulled our bikes. We pulled as hard as we could until we encountered a stretch of the road that was under construction.
Way Down We Go
The tires were skidding at high speeds, so we literally had to reduce the speed to 20 KMPH to cross that stretch safely. Once we got through that nightmarish road, we continued riding through small villages. On the way, we spotted a lake. It was the golden hour time and the entire lakeshore appeared to have been ducked under a golden filter.
After quite a good amount of off-roading, we reached Dandiganahalli Dam by 6 PM. Although we missed watching the sunset at Dandiganahalli dam there was still ample daylight left. So we captured as much as we could of this secluded, unexplored, and calm place. The sky still had some shades of the sunset left and we captured as much as we could of those shades.
Magic Of Dandiganahalli Dam
I read somewhere about a small hike to a hill nearby which also has a waterfall en route. But that’s left for another day. Even though the light was fading away, we decided to stay for some more time. We sat there, enjoying the cool breeze brushing the tiredness off our faces.
At around 7 PM we started the ride back to Bangalore. It was pitch dark at few places. The road from Manchenahalli to Chikkaballapura was under construction.
To make things worse, in many places, it was one way. The dust and high-beam lights of the idiots on the other side just screwed with our eyes.
We stopped for a refreshing coffee at Chikkaballapura and then continued the ride later. We reached Koramangala and treated ourselves with some delicious Tibetan food :D. The visuals of the puffy white clouds on the backdrop of bright blue sky kept repeating in my eyes.
That’s all for today folks. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed riding to this hidden gem.
I’ll be back with another beautiful travelogue soon. Until then, check out my travelogues on Chunchi Falls, Hogenakkal Falls, and Shivanasamudra. If you’re a personal finance enthusiast like myself, check out my thoughts on the subject here.
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Asta La Vista!
Until Next Time! Cheers.