Putting the fire out, he signals all of us to start making our way towards the bus. It was 6 pm and it was time to head back to Bangalore. After spending too much time locked up in a cubicle doing a 9-5 job, I was in desperate need of a short break. After breaking my head for hours, I accidentally discovered a camping spot about 65 km from West Bangalore. A backpacker’s group on Facebook arranges a camping trip to Hutridurga every weekend. I got my name registered for the weekend, paid for the trip and now here we are sharing stories of best camping experiences with fellow travelers when our new friend aka our tour guide tells us “there is nothing that we haven’t seen in this jungle all these years”. As we wait for him to share his spooky stories with us, he signals us to start packing and move.
As described by our tour guide Brijesh, Hutridurga is one of the nine hillforts built around Bangalore back in the 16th Century. Our trip to Hutridurga started at 6 in the morning from Silk Board. We stopped briefly for breakfast and then continued our journey without any halts.
It took us an hour and a half to cover 65 km. The time was 7:45 am. Excited. Thrilled. I am beaming with happiness to be finally around the hills and trees. Brijesh gives us exactly 10 minutes to freshen up before we start the trek. I look around, the jungle is unsually silent. I grab my backpack from the boot of the traveler van and hang it around my shoulders. The silence here is deafening. There is not a bird in sight, not a sound of a leaf falling or an animal to be seen around. The sky is clear and the air here feels heavy.
We start the trek with Brijesh leading us through the difficult trails. He tells us “forests are the most welcoming places on earth if you treat them well”. And that started different versions of the “that’s what she said” jokes. Clinging to our water bottles and broken tree branches, the hike gets interesting with each traveler sharing spooky stories from their travel experience. From encountering a leopard to skinny dipping in the ice cold waters of Uttarakhand; in no time we reached the peak of the mountain. Perched on a hilltop is a temple and around it is a view so stunning.
Brijesh left us here to with a clear warning to meet him at 6 pm sharp. He adds “staying here after 6 is something you don’t want to experience”. Brijesh sounds like the shamans of villages. Well, i dont blame him either. He is a child of the nature, the forest and into the wild, he shall live (dramatic sound effect).
We spend the rest of the day roasting chicken, talking endlessly about our neatly laid travel plans, sharing more spooky stories, and taking a zillion pictures of the stunning view. By now we can see the sun setting beautifully by painting the landscape around in hues of orange, yellow and a little bit of purple. We hear the sound of birds returning to their nests. The chirping gets louder and I hear the calls of the flying squirrels. The air is getting colder, the rustling of leaves merges with other miscellaneous sounds of the forest and we start hearing footsteps everywhere. We call it a day and follow Brijesh who wants us to board the TT before it gets pitch dark. My eyes are getting heavy from all the trekking, but I am happy to have stepped out all by myself with a group of complete strangers. I am taking back way too many spooky stories from this trip which will surely keep me up all night as well as a little bit of disappointment for not having spotted a leopard 🙁