Navigating through scenic village roads, we passed several picturesque hillocks covered in mist and fog, until we found ourselves at the entrance of the hill we would be climbing that day: Bheemana Kindi. We parked our cars under the shade of trees, on whose branches perched parakeets, a Greater Coucal and a koel hidden from plain sight but whose loud call gave it away. We shouldered our bags, dabbed ample sunscreen on our faces, and began our ascent.
Located about 80 km from Bengaluru, Bheemana Kindi is a lesser-known trek and houses a Basaveshwara temple atop the hill. The trail took us through a mix of trees, shrubs and tall grass. As we moved deeper into the forest, we were greeted by several Green Bee-eaters perched on the power lines connecting electric poles, which also acted as our trail guide.
We were kept company by several butterflies like the Common Crow, Plain Tiger, Common Castor Butterfly, and the brightly coloured Crimson Rose and Blue Mormon. To our luck, we also chanced upon a Signature Spider (Argiope Pulchella) and were able to share fascinating facts about the beautiful orb-weaver.
After a moderate climb up the hill, the boulders grew in size until we had to walk through a narrow way in the hill to suddenly find ourselves in a windy opening that made us catch our breath. Above us spanned a breath-taking and massive rock arch, about 100 feet in height and length and a width of about 50 feet. We felt we had stepped into another world, because the air became noticeably cooler and the chirping of birds echoed louder.
Legend has it that the arch was formed by Bheema hitting the cliff with his mace in order to create an entryway for his mother Kunti, who had lost her way in the forest. Geologists however believe that the arch was naturally formed due to weathering. Magical or not, the arch is a sight to behold and no image can fully capture its entirety. We rested here for a while and took in the stunning views of the landscape.
Energized by our water break, we decided to climb higher to the hill’s summit. A gap in the boulders to the left of the temple led us to a lesser-used trail that became steeper. The vegetation grew denser and we had to be careful not to walk into large webs meticulously woven by Giant Wood Spiders. The top of the hill is a large area and offers a breath-taking 360 degree view. The calmness, the gentle breeze, and the sounds of nature were a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
On our way down, several Bonnet Macaques watched us pass, leaping from branch to branch to keep us in view until they lost interest in our group. With the sun fully up by now, birds were out and about. We managed to sight the Black-rumped Flameback, Ashy Woodswallow, Golden Oriole, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Rufous Treepie and babblers, amongst many others. We ended the trek as we began – surrounded by birdsong.
Kanchanahalli, 80 km from South Bangalore, is the nearest village to access Bhimana Kindi. The trek takes about 2.5 hours to complete. It is best to carry water and some food as there are no water sources throughout the trek. There is however a water tank at the base of the hill where one can refill bottles.