- Camping

Night-time Cave Exploration at Anthargange, Kolar

Sixty kilometers from Bangalore was our destination drive for the Saturday night; we couldn’t compromise on the activity either, given the ungodly hour we chose! Though each of us was extremely tired after a week-long toil at work, adventure was still the priority on every one’s list. And if not the adventure- thirsty souls, who would capitulate to night time adventure?

Forty miles from Bangalore, Anthargange in Kolar – a perennial spring in the east of the Kolar hills on a naturally formed hill of boulder sized rocks heaped together to form an excellent network of caves; heavily wooded near the foot of the hill but just dried thorny bushes into the climb – this was just about the perfect destination. The place had religious associations owing to the spring and a temple, and frequented by tourists and pilgrims alike in the day. But the night solely belonged to audacious traveler.

Few minutes into the trek, you would reach the spring that culminates in the mouth of a stone bull. About half an hour into the trek, you’re almost done reaching the top of the hill. Only, you just can’t find ‘the’ highest point on this hill, hence the name Satasringa Parvata, the land of hundred peaks. The view of the Kolar city from atop this hill at night – lights scattered across the city, like fireflies in the night sky – you should definitely stop for a drink. A can of beer should be fine, save the rest for later.

Once you’re ready to resume your trek, gear up to the true test of endurance. The night makes it a lot tougher to spot the one cave that is the most celebrated of all. Most other caves are small and rather not a choice for explorers. Camping is a popular choice in such caves, though as a word of caution, I’d add that fires are not to be lit. The bigger cave is what you’re in search of – narrow gaps, slippery boulders, vertical passages; you would truly be tested. It’s better to have either a guide who knows the path from entrance to exit, or someone who has visited the place before. Otherwise, you could end up on a giant boulder with nowhere to go further, and going back is not an option you could choose, if you’ve landed there after a few jumps!

One sight that you shouldn’t miss – the moon (it was full moon when we went) from deep inside the cave. After literally crawling your way out from between two gigantic boulders, you should be at the exit, but there’s actually more than one exit. The entire activity should take about an hour or two. So time yourself such that you get out at sunrise – something worth the trouble you took to trek through the cave! It was so wonderful that I actually dropped my cam trying to compose the setting while trying to reach a higher point!

Apart from that, I think the entire experience was enthralling. Climbing our way down, about fifteen minutes is what it takes. What had seemed devoid of any traces of life was now abounding with life; the place was infested with monkeys. The night had them confined to their branches I guess. I never happened to be so close to scores of monkeys, it was frightening to walk past them. Strangely, the monkeys seemed to be at ease with us, they were probably used to humans. Unless you are carrying any object that interests them, there isn’t a reason to worry; nonetheless they’re still monkeys – unpredictable is the word!

Stuff that might come in handy: Torch lights, First Aid kit, well packed food (make sure they’re well inside your backpacks) and some cans of beer and sleeping bags if you wish to spend the night star-gazing!