On a random Saturday afternoon, I reached the foot of SRS Hills near Ramanagara. Owing to the scorching heat, I was really thirsty. A sugarcane juice cart on the other side of the road caught my eyes. I parked my bike and walked up to the cart and asked for a glass of sugarcane juice. After five minutes, he handed me a glass of juice which I downed in a jiffy. I reached for my wallet in the back pocket but it wasn’t there. I frantically searched for it in my backpack but I failed to retrieve it. But how did I end up in this situation? I did not remember it immediately. So I sat down and tried to visualize everything I did from that morning. Come, hop on while I trace the lost wallet during my bike trip to SRS Hills near Ramanagara from Bengaluru.
It was that time of my life when I just didn’t want to stay at home for weekends. So on one such Friday evening, I was lying in my bed and thinking about where to ride to. I randomly decided to go to SRS hills at 11 PM on Friday. I was looking at the route on google maps and it showed a boring ride on the Bangalore-Mysore highway off NICE road.
Taking The Road Less Traveled
So, like always, I wanted to improvise the ride, so I was looking if I could find any scenic route to SRS Hills. While the Mysore road was ruled out because it was boring, I struck off Kanakapura road as I had already ridden on it multiple times before. The only option left was to continue riding on the Bannerghatta road and upon a closer look, I observed that the road passed through the state forest. Without a doubt, I decided that I was going to ride on that road.
I slept off once the rough plan was finalized. Unlike the previous rides that started even before the sun was up, this trip started in broad daylight. I felt like the entire city was up and on-road already, even though it was a Saturday. I started my ride at 11:10 AM.
With heavy traffic, Bannerghatta road, as always was at it’s painful best. After crossing the NICE road flyover, the traffic reduced dramatically. There were hardly any vehicles on the road, so I pulled the throttle speeding past Bannerghatta. I took a left turn near the Bannerghatta and within no time reached an arch that forced me to leave the well-paved road for this.
Ride Through The Ragihalli Forest
As I was used to patchy roads in Bengaluru, I was happily riding on this road. But soon those patches disappeared as if the tar layer was pulled out of the road.
I was slowly riding through this slippery patch of the road but the heavy vehicles made it worse. Every truck that passed by dumped an equivalent load of dust on me. I kept riding as fast as I could to escape this menace and I was so relieved to see a well-paved road. As the signboards revealed, it was a protected forest area and I was breathing air again. The road I guess is laid down on the edges of the forest as the trees weren’t really “foresty” on both sides.
There were many muddy paths that diverged from the main road, but all of them were blocked. I guess they were leading us to the deeper stretches of the forest.
After a while, the entire stretch of the road was filled with eucalyptus scent as the trees stood in a row on either side. Soon a huge rock occupied the view. At this point, I was in the middle of a forest with no human around. Then, I spotted a narrow muddy path leading into the forest. I stopped my bike, parked it by the road, and started following the trail. After a 10 minute walk and thankfully, no unwanted interactions with wildlife, I reached this viewpoint. It was boiling so I didn’t rest there, but it sure looked like a peaceful place.
Animal Crossing Ahead
I continued the drive through few more patchy and dusty roads, drove past villagers who looked at me in surprise. They must be thinking who is this weirdo riding a bike in this part of Bengaluru. After a while, the lush greenery around villages, the villages, and villagers themselves disappeared.
While I was busy focusing on the road, a board caught my eyes. It read, animal crossing ahead, GO SLOW. I was sure I was going on the right path until I saw that board. Looking back, it was a foolish move to stop by the board, after knowing that it was animal crossing area. But thankfully, I didn’t have any unwanted encounters.
I quickly checked the google maps and was relieved that I was indeed on the right path, I continued the ride. Soon the road was replaced with a truck load of sharp slippery rocks. I wasn’t getting enough traction at the speed I was going, so I had to slow down significantly. “The tricks of forest department to slow down vehicles” I thought to myself and continued the ride. I felt it was turning out to be more adventurous that I initially thought.
Thankfully my bike endured all those adventures and I hit the Harohalli road. Harohalli road was wide and was in really good condition. Barring the occasional curves, I just kept racing past villages until I hit Harohalli.
Intermission At Harohalli Intersection
The scorching heat, the tense ride through the forest left me gasping for some fresh air and cool water. So I stopped at the Harohalli intersection to quench my thirst and cool myself off. I continued the ride on the “Forever Under-construction” road from Harohalli to Kanakapura. There were a lot of diversions on this road since 5 months and they slowed me down.
After reaching Kanakapura, I took the diversion near the bus station and got onto the Kanakpura-Ramanagara road. A few minutes into the ride, I was welcomed by the boulders. I knew Ramanagara was famous for the boulders but I underestimated their vastness. I continued the ride and for kilometers together, the road was surrounded by paddy fields, overseen by coconut farms which were in turn overseen by boulders.
After riding close to 11 kilometers from Kanakapura, I took another diversion near Nagohalli village. The SRS Hills uniquely stand out when seen from the Kanakapura-Ramanagara road because of the serpentine-shaped metallic structure to provide shade to travelers/devotees.
The road to the base of the SRS Hills Ramanagara was curvy and surrounded by mango plantations. At around 2:40 PM I reached the foot of the hills. Owing to the scorching heat, I was really thirsty. A sugarcane juice cart on the other side of the road caught my eyes. I parked my bike and walked up to the cart and asked for a glass of sugarcane juice. After five minutes, he handed me a glass of juice which I downed in a jiffy.
All The Good In This World
I reached out for my wallet in the jeans pocket to pay for the juice. I didn’t find it there. “Aah! well, I don’t keep the wallet in my jeans pocket when I’m riding,” I told myself. Then I slid my hand into the outer pocket of my backpack, it wasn’t there. Opened up the next zipper and searched for it, but no trace. The only hope left was the final pocket of the backpack. With fear clouding my thoughts, I slowly opened the zip. My heart was beating really fast while my hand searched inside the pocket and BOOM, no wallet in this pocket either.
I doubled checked the bag and all the pockets but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I emptied the bag to check it again but the result was the same. Meanwhile, the juice guy was curious seeing the tensed look on my face.
What Happened? The juice guy enquired.
I told him that my wallet was missing and that I don’t have money to pay for the juice. “That’s okay, but you should calm down and think this through” he ordered me.
As I sat the repercussions of what happened flashed in my head. My wallet had around 500 rupees cash but more importantly it had my originals of PAN Card, Aadhar Card and License.
He asked me if I remember the last time I saw the wallet. I told him that I stopped for a drink in Horahalli but I didn’t remember clearly if I put it in my bag or the jeans pocket.
He further inquired if I stopped anywhere in between. I told him that I stopped in between to click a picture of the coconut farms and stopped a few minutes before reaching the foot of the hills.
Call From An Unknown Number
While we were talking, my phone started ringing. It was a call from an unknown number. I picked it up and the person on the other side spoke in a caring tone, “yaaru, Gowtham Kumar aa?”-(Translation: Are you Gowtham Kumar?)
“Ha, Anna. Houdu”, I replied in a faint voice (Translation: Yes, brother)
He then said, “Neevu SRS hills ge..” and a few more words in Kannada that faded because I couldn’t understand any of them. I gave the phone to the juice and requested him to talk to him. The guy seemed to recognize the person on the call. A few seconds later, he gave a shout out to the group of people who were getting down an auto near the temple.
One person among them raised his hand and waved at the juice guy. My eyes slowly moved to the raised hand. He held a brown rectangle-shaped thing in his hand which looked similar to my wallet and he started walking towards us. As he came closer, I paid close attention to the brown-colored object. I was so relieved when I looked at the embedded metallic logo on the wallet.
He placed the wallet in my hand like how gods gave boons to warriors in myths. I thanked him and he said that I had so many ID cards in the wallet but none of them had my phone number. I asked him how he found my number then?. He pointed towards a black card in my wallet. It was the warranty card of the battery I bought a few weeks ago. It was branded purchase and in the name of legitimacy, the dealer wrote my number on the card. That’s how a warranty card saved me from the 9th circle of Dante’s Inferno.
The Heroes Of The Trip
I verified the contents and couldn’t see the 500 rupee note anywhere. But all the ID cards were safe. I turned to the juice guy and said, I lost the 500 rupees I had in the wallet and don’t have any change to pay for the juice.
He smiled and said: “It’s okay, I am glad you found your valuable items. Have fun climbing up the hill“. His response stunned me. I was so grateful and his statement reinforced my belief that there is still so much good left in the world. I didn’t even bother asking the person who picked my wallet about the 500 rupees. The effort he put to stop midway, pick it up, take the pain of going through the contents, finding my number and calling me was more than a kind gesture and no amount of currency can pay for that generosity. I thanked both of them and went to where my bike was parked.
Sri Revanasiddeshwara Hills or famously known as SRS hills are a group of boulders that are home to three temples. Renukamba temple is at the bottom where I parked my bike earlier. The Bheemeshwari temple is in the middle while the Siddeshwara Swamy temple is at the top of the hill. So bikes and cars are allowed until the entry to Bheemeshwari Temple. The parking gate personnel stopped me for issuing the parking ticket. I told him about the life-ending crisis I just came out of and he let me go. He said, “Pay up the next time you visit Siddeshwara Swamy”. I promised that I will pay twice the cost without fail.
The Climb Up To SRS Hill Top
I quickly rode to the parking area, parked my bike, and went inside the temple. Though I am not very religious, that day I wanted to pray, not for me but for the juice guy who comforted me, the stranger who picked up my wallet and the parking guard who let me in. I prayed for all the good people in this world and promised myself to always be helpful for everyone.
I came out of the temple and noticed the metallic structure built on top of stone-carved steps and started climbing them assuming they lead to the top. After a few seconds, the landscape filled with mango plantations and huge boulders welcomed me.
The steps were carved around the hill. After reaching the diametrically opposite end of the hill, a stunning view of a lake whose waves washed over the foot of a huge boulder captured my attention. While I was busy watching the people kayaking in the lake, few more boulders were looking at me look at the lake from a distance. I never saw so many boulders together and no wonder Ramanagara is one of the most sought after destinations for rock climbing.
I continued climbing the steps and they became steeper as I approached the top. Monkeys seemed to rule the entire stretch of the trail. They were notorious and climbed on to people snatching anything they perceived as edible and even I wasn’t spared. I drove through some scary stretches of the forest all alone and didn’t get into trouble even once. But on that trail, surrounded by people, these monkeys didn’t give a damn about any of that as one of them started climbing on my backpack.
The Windy Top Of SRS Hills
I stood still and was shooing it away by shaking my backpack. It appeared to be open my bag but I shook my bag rapidly and the monkey let me go. After climbing the stairs for another 10 minutes, I reached the top of the SRS Hills. The heavy wind almost toppled me. The top was particularly dangerous. There was only a small portion of flat surface to rest and the remaining was just steep unbarricaded slope. But the views were simply stunning and the cold evening wind just carried the tiredness away.
There was a small temple at the top. I prayed to the deity before settling down in the shade of the temple. The cold wind, the shade, and the scorching heat made the perfect recipe for an evening nap. I spent about 40 mins on the hill in the shade of the temple. Many of the devotees who came, just prayed and left instead of enjoying the beauty around. I felt like I was on top of the world when I sat on the top of the hill and looked at the beautiful landscapes filled with mango forests, a lake, and huge boulders.
But I didn’t realize that my “On top of the world” feeling threatened someone else’s authority. The monkeys gathered around me. Perhaps, they were thinking “Who is this idiot doing picnic in our kingdom”.
Initially, I planned to stay on top of the hill for sunset but knowing I had triggered a war with the Vanarasena (Monkey Army), I left the place and started the climb down. I didn’t want my parents to read the headline “Bengaluru based youngster attacked by monkeys for refusing to share food”.
The Sunset Misadventures Near SRS Hills
If not the top, I wanted to watch the sunset over the lake, so I started riding towards the lake. I took a diversion from the main road and entered a muddy trail. A few minutes later I reached a gate where a guard stopped me. I told him I wanted to reach the lake. He politely replied that the lake is private property and that wanting to reach there amounts to trespassing.
I looked inside the gate and realized it was a camping site called “Q Mango Resorts”. Another muddy trail towards the lake away from the resort caught my attention. I parked my bike outside the resort and started walking on the trail and reached the end of the trail but the coconut trees blocked the entire view. I couldn’t see the sunset properly but the silhouette of the hill on the backdrop of sunset sky was a beautiful sight.
I bid adieu to the setting sun and raced my way back to Bengaluru via Ramanagara. I skipped NICE road as I didn’t have money and slogged my way through the Mysore road and reached home.
The events at the foot of the hills kept flashing in my mind hours after reaching the home. If not for the kindness and the generosity of those people, I wouldn’t have slept peacefully that night. I know that the world is cruel and it’s very tough to survive out there without being highly competitive.
But we often forget that the competition isn’t about winning over the other person but to stretch the limits we set for ourselves. If we think competitions as a collective effort to push the limits of what’s possible and what isn’t instead of me vs you fight, I believe it’ll make us help and be kind to each other more.
I fell asleep with that newfound realization and closed the curtains for an enlightening bike trip.
If you loved the ride, here are a few more beautiful rides around Bengaluru. Check out the one to the Niagara Of India, Hogenakkal Falls, or the one in the Scotland of India, Coorg, or to the mystical land of Shivanasamudra.
Thanks a lot for reading through till the end. This is the 15th blog post in the Virtual travel blog post series and thanks for all the love 🙂
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