Kalavara Betta (Saturday 27th December 2008) -- My last outing of the year
I was planning for a weekend outing for the new year and was feeling a bit bored sitting at home on a weekend when i received a phone call at 5.00 pm from one Mr siddarth, a resident of New Delhi who had come to Bangalore 4 days back to his friends place. He wanted to visit Kalavara Betta before going to Mysore and was insisting me to take them to Kalavara Betta and come back on sunday morning.
I was not very much keen on taking them to Kalavara Betta since my last visit to the place had a bad experience of huge crowd gathering there and making a lot of noise besides turning the place into a open dust bin. Besides trekking had been prohibited for some time due to the problems with the local villagers and I was not sure if the problems has been resolved. Also finding a vehicle posed a problem. It was then decided that they will arrange for the vehicle and my job is only to take the team of members to place and guide them for the trek.
As planned i met the team at their residence in Jeeven Bheema Nagar and left the place by 10.00 pm reaching the base of the hill at 12.30 am. Surprisingly, there were not many vehicles parked. There were hardly around 75 people on the top compared to the now usual crowd of over 200 on an weekend. The ban on trekking has really worked reducing the maddening crowd who has littered the whole place, not a good scene compared to the one I had seen 2 years back.
Forest department who use to collect entrance fee were not there. I came to know from the so called guides (local villagers) that there exists some differences between the forest officials and the local trust as to who has to get the collection. We set off for the trek as the last team for the day. Weather was pleasant and not very windy. We reached the top of the hill at 3.00 am. Usual chaiwallahs were moving around with flasks and fire woods for camp fire. Surprisingly it was less noisy on the top with most of the team huddling together around the camp fire. It wasn't that cold. We slept for some time till morning. Sunrise wasn't spectacular with cloud covering it was not worth the wait.
We left for the base at 6.30 am and reached the base of the hill at 8.00 am. We were in for a different kind of an experience. Our driver had slept inside the car and had not noticed the air of the one of the front wheel removed. Later it was noticed that all the vehicles had the same condition. A localite who had collected 30/- as parking fee told that the police had come in the night and beat a few local people who were waiting for some clients to guide them to the top had removed air in all the vehicles and had even torn in the seats on some of two wheelers. I came to know that the police are not interested in allowing any trekkers around.
Actual problem is not known, but such an act by the police department needs to be condemned as nobody is interested in going against the prohibition. For the last 2 months or so when the trek was prohibited there has been no trekkers in that area and it started only when we came to know that they allow. There was no police men available at the area to speak with us. It is not known whether it is the act of some of the locals who now a days don't get any body asking them to take them as guides or the policemen who had done this job.
We tried to speak with the incharge of the trustee who pleaded ignorance and was not of any help to us. Chikkaballapur being 4 kms away, it was a difficult job of getting any help to get air pump. Luckily for us they had removed air in only one tyre , we could change the tyre and leave the place. There were quite a few vehicle were both the front wheels air had been removed and the plight of the two wheelers, it was a bad scene which needs to be looked at.
Any how for those who wish to visit the place need to be cautious about this kind of problem and make sure you clarify the permission part before venturing into the trek.