Savandurga hill trek & manchanbele dam: Weekend gateway, Bangalore

 With reference to the comments below, I advise people not to take RISK of bathing/swimming inside dam. There has been over hundreds cases of DROWNING and dam with full of boggy mud. Please don’t take the risk of venturing inside the water. However you can enjoy nature, birds, water, hills, trees around there

(With inputs from Suraj shah)—

A life left behind and we stepped into the shoe of another at 5 in morning with a bunch of people who were made up of the same trekking stuff as I was. It were Savanadurga and Manchanabele dam on our list next.

From Bangalore to Savanadurga hill base:

More Information:
Time to Trek: 1-2 hours
Total Trek distance: 2-3 Kms
Distance from Bangalore: 60 Kms
Permission: not needed
Guide: Not needed

SavanaDurga trek trail (GPS path):

What to carry?
Small and light backpack filled with energy bars, glucose, electoral, 2 bottles of water
And, don’t forget raincoat in monsoon
A nice shoe with high grip is highly recommended.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
– Allen Saunders

While we were busy in How to? When? Who all? The plan crafted herself beautifully.

5:30 early morning:

“Bhaiya! I am here at the college gate” and a few minutes later, two engines rev up. Vroooooooom- on the fly. We had hit the Mysore highway before the sun could hit the sky. With few more joined, we were cruising. New faces! sharing smiles and laughter with sparks in eyes, in a bunch of 10 on 5 revved-up bikes.

On the way to savanadurgaOn the way to Savanadurga riding through rural Karnataka

Let the wind brush your hair. Let the water feed your eye.
Wipe them out the, look out, the world is still too shy.

First lesson learned: With a Neta-like guy in team, sharing responsibilities becomes so easy. (Referring to Bibek Bhaiya )

Tough lesson learned: Sometimes, organizers (With whom decided to go for trek) are worse in organizing treks than newbies. Not paying proper attention to whole group makes trip a nightmare.

And, we were victim of the said above. Organizers, constantly following their own plan forced us to take a divulge from them. Thus, resulting in, we, following our own schedule and route according as our timings.

So, the cool weather also turned up with us. Since our fate was decided then and we were no more dependent upon organizers, we did what we wanted to. We flied; we ran; we shouted and lived a thousand years on a single day. Stopping at tea-stalls; enjoying biking in rural Karnataka; intercepting of the monsoon; taking photographs… so on and so forth…..

Oh! Yes! Here, comes the Machanbelle fresh water reservoir.

manchanbele dam and savanadurga in the backgroundFirst glimpse of Manchanbele dam and Savanadurga hills

You need to trust me. The first glimpse of this place was simply superb. The Savanadurga hill was easily spotted. We continued to Savanadurga hill. 3 hours of air-ride and we were there at base foot of Savanadurga hill.

9:00am (Under kajrare clouds):

I was over excited for trek since it were around 2 years since I had my last trek. And the journey begins….. The weather was perfect neither too hot nor too cold with dark clouds hovering over us all the time with cool inputs from cool hilly breezes. heaven.

The deep death walk:

savanadurga steep hikeSteeper side of Savanadurga

So, at the beginning, we chose the steeper route and we were victims of following symptoms:
Legs? Shaking
Eyes? Avoiding heights.
Backpack? Is a burden now
Curse the shoe, curse the wrong path

“Calm down, walk laterally”.
Whoa!
Three from our group had already crossed the steeper part and were sitting as cool as a cigar smoking shaikh from Arabia.
Frightened were we.(Akhilesh Bhaiya! If you could remember it).

So, if you let your feet slip or wanna try sliding, there won’t be any chances left for you to realize the trance that you would pass through until you hit the base which was almost 300 feet down below the hill.

12:00 noon (Hot sun started smiling at us):

It took us almost three hours to reach at the top with sufficient breaks, more than enough fun, extra photography sessions and little amateur wildlife exploration.
Route to the top was marked with yellow paints.

From the top:

savanadurga hill top

Machanbelle reservoir had shrunk smaller. Trees had grown shorter and even few smalls hills were standing lower to me. Wind speed was way off the charts. Just standing up straight became a challenge.

I removed my shoes and bags and sat in a corner. Sweats and wind were in perfect combination. Eat, wonder, roam, realize, shout, get afraid of heights, feel closer to the God, meet someone adventurous inside you- as much as you can and keep falling in love with that moment time and again.

Time to return (Never liked it):

savanadurga hillOn the way while returning

Packed with lighter bags (You know why?), back on same track. The descent was much quicker with no breaks at all. we were rolling like stones down the hill. This one hour journey lets you face the valley (Because while climbing up you face the rocks).
Wow! Green shawl laid over earth. Misty clouds, chilling winds, rocks popping out of the forests like rocky giraffe popping out of Africa dry forests.

Were I somewhere out of the earth?Walking and wondering in synchrony. Birds flying at par with you. Can you realize a totally different life from 3000 feet above the ground.

Time to say good bye to organizers:

from savanadurga to manchanbele damBike ride to Manchanbele dam through forests

We decided to break away from the whole bunch (Like we had enough of girl-friend stuff with them) and follow our own instinct to explore further. We, ten in numbers? Enough guys in a bunch. Come on, lets go then.
Biking through the reserved forest. Haha, superfluously, I had rather say, I was exploring dry Amazon river basin with Benhur’s motor chariots in a row. Hunked, Muscleed, tough headed and cooled inside.

Water, water, water.
– A large dam with fresh pool of water. Shallow in monsoon but enticing and deep enough to make you shiver like a guy holding the hands of a girl first time. Ah! its cold!
– An ideal place to enjoy Bird-watching, relish the beauty of the nature, photography and spending some peace time there.

Warning: I advise no one to venture inside the water as it has been a death trap of hundreds of people in last few years.

4 pm (Romanies under rain):

Weather is dark and cold. Few drops of water have begun kissing your chicks; pricking your eyes and whispering in your ears while we kicked in on the way to Bangalore.
We had not even covered 20 Kms and we were welcomed with pattering rains all over.

Take a break? or not to? Let’s keep moving soldiers.

So, the last element of success which we were missing was now with us- The rain (Remember the movie “The fifth element”, try to find an analogy even if you could not). Sun, wind, rocks, water and now rain.

Exciting but little apprehensive of skidding over highways.
The roads which were dry and sunny while going, were wet and dark while returning reminding me of new blackboard in village schools.
All dry small rivulets and hanging falls got a new life under heavy rain most probably after one year, as I had got a new life after the break of two years.
People standing under bridges and us?
Driving past them.

So, at Manchanbelle dam, everyone had got extra pair of dry cloths except me but now, their, so as to say EXTRA DRY PAIR OF CLOTHINGS, were WET now. hahahah.
Sigh! Nature balanced all.

This was one of the best trek i have ever had…. funny also i say…….

Also Read:  Madhugiri Trek from Bangalore: Madhugiri fort, Tumkur

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About trekkerp

Author of The Girl from the Woods and a Travel writer from India looking forward to collect quirky tales from around the world

10 Replies to “Savandurga hill trek & manchanbele dam: Weekend gateway, Bangalore”

  1. Minati Roy

    19th august 2013: Murali Kumar 28 year drowned in manchanbele dam.
    15 October 2013: 4 young people all around 20 drowned in manchanbele dam.
    Till no prominent board with warning signs in English/hindi has been placed near water site.
    No rescue measure not even a strong rope is available near water site.
    We are yet to get the list of deaths at this dam from tavakere P.S. though asked for under RTI.
    4 months completed since our personal loss and 5 more deaths in same place (as many I have gathered through internet)
    The gates have not been closed to prevent entry of unaware youths neither any measure taken to warn them.
    Young lives are of no value to the Police/grampanchayat/Irrigation department or administration as a whole. These are only our personal losses, these youths were of not any value for the nation.

    Reply
  2. Yin Leung

    Just wanted to add to the chorus to those who read this excellent blog, that it is not simply about not “swimming”. Even wading in for a short distance of 10 feet or so could get you into quicksand like mud and silt that can suck you under quickly. Do not take even a small chance. Enjoy the view and shoreline, do not even think about wading in. Thank you for taking these comments seriously and re-editing your blog so that others can enjoy this place of beauty safely. Our family is heart-broken over our loss of our loved one and we are actively on a campaign to get the word out in various forums and to help in posting signs and other warnings so this never happens again.

    Reply
  3. Minati Roy

    Manchanbele resorvoir is very dangerous, full of silt deposits which can drag a person treacherously into death. water has any poisonous snakes, crocodiles. not a single warning sign near the water site. Only few boards of green and white along the way in between green trees will mention ‘danger and rest in Kannada so that non Kannada youth can not read anything. Please enquire the number of deaths from Tavakere Police station and post them in these alluring travel sites.
    We lost our beloved Sambit on 16th June, not even a month leaving a 32 year widow a 2 year old daughter and a whole family of old parents relations mourning. please do something to make others aware of the treacherous death trap. local villagers are very much aware and they do not enter water. They know that only ‘engineers ‘ doctors, college students come and many are drowned here.
    Savandurga trekking track has more numbers of accidents than manchanbele.
    Please do something that no other family goes through the same ill fate as we are going through. Ours is not first but at least this could be the last if all readers put some effort to move administration.

    Reply
  4. trekkerp Post author

    I have updated the blog about the risk involved in going inside dam..thank you people of coming up with facts

    Reply
  5. Som Dutta

    Manchanbele dam is full of deep silt, slush just 2 feet inside from the shores and water snakes, so NO Swimming in those waters PLEASE. It’s a DEATH TRAP. The WARNING at the entrance of the dam gate is only in the local language. The warning in English is 1 Km ahead past the main dam entrance gate. Since 2006 till July 2011, more than 200 DROWNING cases have been registered in the nearby Police station (20 KMs away from the dam). In 2013 January till June, more than 10 drowning cases have been to the nearby police station, but yet no action to save lives have been taken by the police, tourism department or the administration. There is neither any Rescue team nor any signboards in English/Hindi on the shore nor any/limited mobile range.

    http://www.tripadvisor.in/Attraction_Review-g297628-d3530377-Reviews-Manchanabele_Dam-Bangalore_Karnataka.html

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/over-200-drowned-in-manchanabele-waters-since-2006/article2232746.ece

    The view of the dam overall is very mesmerizing and pleasant. It is good only for spending out a day and bird watching.

    PLEASE stay AWAY from the WATER. It’s a DEATH TRAP. No Immediate HELP!!!

    Reply
  6. Santanu

    Its well written indeed, but would like to put in a gentle reminder to whoever reads this blog after me, that the water of Manchanabele is a death trap. I lost my own brother in law in a drowning accident on the 16th of June 2013. There is a lot of slush and quick sand which is not apparent at the surface. Since 2005-06 there has been close to 300 drowning accidents. So guys please don’t get into the waters of the reservoirs even if you are a good swimmer.

    Reply
  7. Sathi Dutta

    SAVE LIVES at MANCHANBELE DAM
    Good to know that you guys had a good time but do not promote Manchanbele dam especially for venturing into water. The water is dangerous and tricky. Since 2006, more than 600 people have lost their lives there but Govt has not taken any action to prohibit the area or have rescue measures there. Help spread this information among more and more people.

    Reply

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