Its been 6 months since we moved to Bangalore, but we haven’t been able to explore Bangalore all that much. It is unexpected of us as Mayank (my beloved husband) and I hate to sit at home doing nothing. Now that I work for a startup, most Saturdays are spent working and complaining about work ;).
So, this Christmas, we had a long weekend (which is Saturday and Sunday for me, Ho Ho Ho) and we decided to venture out to Anthargange! Alas, we were too late to register for the trek with BMC India, and by the time we called, they were already booked. No, we were not going to spend the “long weekend” at home, come what may! So we just decided to drive to Anthargange on our own. And we found out that we didn’t need a guide anyway.
Just to give you a quick background: Anthargange (also called Antara gange) is a small hillock about 60 kms from Bangalore (in the village of Kolar). The place is popular for the Anthargange temple that stands in the center of a reservoir and beautiful cave formations.
The fun drive to Kolar: We followed the Trekkerpedia blog for information on how to reach this place.
Starting at 6 am in the morning, it took about 2 hours to drive to Kolar. You will be surprised to see how big Bangalore roads look early in the morning. It was a total zoom ride on the highway! We stopped for a short breakfast at CCD on our way and had some grilled (read microwaved and soggy) sandwhiches. I would suggest you pack another sandwich for lunch!
On reaching Kolar, our car got bumped more than a couple of times as we drove on the dirt road to reach the entrance of Anthargange. My advice would be to keep slow once you reach Kolar, in the best interest of your vehicle.
Anthargange Temple: It was 8:30 by the time we started to trek. About 10 minutes of climbing multiple steps, we reached the Anthargange temple. It looked beautiful standing in the center of the small reservoir.
It could have been more beautiful, had the reservoir water been clean and clear, reflecting the image of the temple in orange sunrise light! But sadly, it was dirty standing water and people were using the same water to wash dishes – not a pleasant sight!
Oh by the way, there are washrooms just before the temple.
Trek to the caves: We continued right past the temple to look for the caves. Ascending uphill, was mostly done by hopping on these rocks or following the step road where possible(stair trail made on the rocks).
About the route: The route is pretty clear, except for a couple of occasions. Even if you take the wrong diversion (chances of which are 1/1000), you ll be able to figure out almost instantly.
Sighting the caves: 45 minutes into the walk, we reached the caves. Although, there was no signage about the caves, but there were locals at the entrance offering to help people explore them. We paid the local guy 75 Rs/ person and he took us into what did not look like a cave at all.
Let me clarify here that what we call a cave here is mostly big boulders with narrow passageways in the space between two or more of them. A beautiful beam is formed with the sunlight filtering through these spaces. The “cave” is completely dark at some places, so a headlamp would go a long way!
Cave Exploration: This was the most fun activity ever! Non tiring, calorie burning and just plain intriguing.
The cave entrance and even navigation inside the cave was very non-intuitive. The passages were extremely narrow and we wouldn’t have been able to figure out without the help of the local guy, who navigated us through a series of small openings between rocks. We learnt that the actual route through the “cave” was always the one that looked least probable! Double wink.
There were times when I felt that it would be impossible to fit, let alone pass through the cavities (I can only call them cavities, considering their small sizes). But when ‘push came to shove’, I did just fine. The guide was pretty entertaining as he jumped from one rock to another like “Mowgli”.
A lot of people have written that some people may not be able to pass through the caves – which I think may be an exaggeration. Everyone in our group was able to do it and we were of different widths and heights!! Look how much fun:
The surprise 2nd cave: Just downhill of the main caves was a small water cave. Actually the name “water cave”, is just a way to differentiate it from the main cave and also because of an underground river that flows through it. By the way, this is the river that waters the reservoir at the temple. This cave is unknown to most guides.
We found a small local boy, Purshotam who told us about it. Not deeper (horizontally) than 30-40 meters, we could see and hear the water flowing through the rocks. And what a lovely sight.
Note: There is absolutely no light in this cave. But we were able to get by with our mobile flashlights.
Check out this video of inside the water cave:
What should you bring with you to Anthanragange:
Apart from the usual – personal medication and food, water etc.., headlamp is a MUST, as there is no light in the caves. You can also use your mobile flash light or a small torch
Volini/ Moov, in case you twist your ankle while navigating through the caves. Probability of this happening is pretty low though.
There are thorny bushes at the top – it is advisable to wear a jacket to avoid bruises.
What was amusing?
The most amusing thing is that while you will be all pumped up in your trekking shoes, there are people that show up in sarees and flip flops! And they will easily breeze by you and your city friends!
Oh! not to forget – the realization that no matter how strong, everyone is scared of the monkeys! And as soon as one comes close, they would willingly give away whatever it is that they are eating/drinking to these copy cats! No one wants monkey scratches on their face, right?
What is annoying?
Loud music: If you go to the caves in the morning, you can enjoy the better things in life – chirping of the birds, rustling of the leaves, the whistling of the wind! As the day progresses and the place begins to fill up (literally turning into a disney land), the privacy begins to fade away. You will find people playing loud music on their cell phones to keep themselves entertained! What the fuck – I mean respect the silence of the place.
Garbage: Anthargange is where you’d go to appreciate nature. It riles me to see how people throw their garbage in the caves and around the campsite area.
Do you need a guide for the Antharagange caves?
The answer is NO. Like I said, it is not a trek at all. If you are worried about the caves, you will easily find a local to assist you at the entrance of the caves.
An agency (or professional travel guide) will cost you about 1000 Rs/person. for transportation, lunch, caves guide, rappling and bouldering and Forest department Permissions. One thing to note is that there is no need of forest department permission for this trek. If you are interested in Rappling/Bouldering you may want to go with the tour group, as you cannot do it by yourself if you are a beginner.
Outbounder’s budget: Rs 900 for fuel (split between 4 people) + Rs 30 (toll – split b/w 4 people) + Rs 20 (car parking at Anthargange entrance) + Rs 75 for 1st cave guide + Rs 50 for 2nd cave guide + Rs 150 for breakfast and lunch = ~525/person.
Information you may find resourceful:
Things to see: The temple and the reservoir, cave formation mid way to the summit, water cave, water fountain at the summit (so we were told, but we never found it)
Trek distance: 2-3 kms only. It would be unfair to call it a trek. Its an easy 45 minute walk to the caves. You will probably spend 15-20 minutes in the main caves and 10 minutes in the smaller water caves.
Best time to go: Cooler months of September to February would be preferable, although the area sees tourists round the year. Try to start as early as possible. It gets hotter around 10-10:30 am. Night treks are also very popular.
Difficulty level: Easy. You do not need a trek guide for sure. Unless, it is a night trek, in which case I would recommend going with a BMC or thrillophilia.
Parking: Very safe. Parking fee: Rs 20.
More cave exploration: Visit Siddarabetta- 90kms from Bangalore, Siddarabetta is a lesser known cave exploration site, but with much better (and greener) views!