Yesterday, as a friend was visiting, we went on an impromptu trek to Ramanagaram, a village about 60 km. outside Bangalore, on the Mysore road. At one end of this (behind the Ghousia college of engineering) lie the Ramagiri hills, a peaceful and scenic cluster that is popular with rock climbers. This is where the iconic Hindi film 'Sholay' was filmed decades ago. There is a Rama temple on the top of one of the hills, which attracts a few visitors. Further on, there is a small path and steps cut into the rock face which lead to the very top. From here, one gets to see miles of countryside and hilly tract all around.
We began our trek enthusiastically, with lines like "Kitney aadmi the?" ringing in our ears (from the Sholay days). In my urgency to avoid the concrete steps (that the devotees take, which lead straight to the temple), I missed the beginning of the walking trail and we soon found ourselves in the thick of a jumble of trees that led to a series of increasingly steep rocks. It was a beautiful sight. We moved on in the hope that the rocks would connect up to the temple path further on. So, higher and higher we ascended, until there was nowhere else to go! We then resorted to half walking and half sliding down ungracefully till we hit rock bottom (we now know how this feels!) with few exciting moments on the way such as loose rocks that bounded down, my unthinkingly clutching a cactus for support, a friend wandering into a patch of wild grass thick with thorns (the kind that immediately dislodge and dig themselves into your clothes), another friend getting cold feet (until we reminded him of his Lama origins).
At the bottom was a ravine which seemed to lead in the right direction, but between us and the temple stood sheer vertical rocks on two sides and a large stone wall in front. The choice was rather simple. So up we went, along the wall, making enough noise for all the snakes and lizards to slither out before we climbed, somehow hauling ourselves over the top. Not much more penance was required. Just a few rocks to surmount, a crawl under a broken barbed wire fence - and we were back on the temple path!
It was an unforgettable walk; we saw thickets of wild grass, outcrops of cacti around which which chameleons cautiously moved, tiny trees tenaciously clinging onto stone and the magnificent stark rocks towering around us.
Of course, we also passed places littered with plastic waste, informing us that humans had indeed walked these ways before. It is always sad to see these reminders of our thoughtlessness and utter disregard for the environment and all creatures who live there.
There were several people at the temple but no one further on; we climbed the vertical rock face holding on to the side rails and found ourselves in the company of a solitary kite perched higher than we could ever reach. The blue sky was close overhead. The wind blew gustily. We were happy.