I believe even if one is not a medical student and has been a poor student of biology, the impact of DNA is not difficult to comprehend. I belong to the former group and yet I realized my daughter carried our genes alright when she started pestering us for a trip just before her vacations were about to end. We just needed the right motivation and our browsers and travel guides flipped open. We could just about afford a day trip and we decided on Nandi Hills.
One of the best things about living in Bangalore is the amazing accessibility it affords to convenient weekend and day trip locations. Nandi Hills is just 60 kms away from the city. We would never have imagined such tranquility could ever exist in the midst of this bustling IT hub. As our car took the turn towards Nandi Hills and left the busy airport highway road, it was as if we entered a whole new world. Quaint huts on either side fringed with coconut trees abetted with the cool climes, unique to the region, acted as the perfect appetizer for the day that lay ahead of us.
Located at a height of 4,851 ft (1, 479 m) above sea level, Nandi Hills is maintained by the State Horticultural Department. We left our car in the parking lot at the foot of the hills and started the trek up. There is a separate motorable path that leads to the top of the hills as parking is available on top as well. We obviously chose the trekking path which led us through the woods and through the pages of history. It was absolutely mesmerizing. Every nook and corner of the place was dipped in history. Nandidurg as it was also called was one of the most invincible hill fortresses of South India. However, in 1791 Lord Cornwallis and his army stormed the gates of this fortress and this is marked in history as one of the most notable incidents in the first war against Tipu Sultan. Relics of this past is strewn hither thither all along the trudge up the hill. Once you reach the top the view is enchanting. You get to see Tipu’s summer palace, the Horse way (a stone doorway that was used by soldiers to climb horses), secret escape routes used by kings and one that will send the chill down your spine Tipu’s drop. This was the point in his fort from where Tipu Sultan threw his prisoners to death. It is said that even today the cries of the dying men can be heard from the spot. That left my daughter wide-eyed as she imagined every howl of the wind to be a cry of the dead. Much as I tried drawing her mind from the idea it does lead you to think about the cruel times that our world witnessed.
Once you reach the top you feel like humming the Carpenter’s evergreen melody “I am on top of the World looking down on creation” because that is what you feel you are doing. The fantastic view from the towers located at strategic positions lets you feel how God must feel when he looks down on us.
There is a very precious and rarely available activity that you can engage in while you are in Nandi Hills – doing nothing. In the busy schedule that we maintain in our everyday lives, just staring into space and feel the wind blowing you away is absolute heaven. Atleast for me it is! Every soul becomes a singer and you feel like throwing you heart into your voice as you sing aloud your favorite tunes. Do not worry about being laughed at because the wind won’t let anybody else hear your voice. It will be your little secret with the hills.
It is a windy place no doubt. Dress intelligently so that you don’t have to busy your hands in pulling your clothes down and can engage them more productively with your camera. There is another way to engage them by picking flowers. Nandi Hills has some of the most amazing wild blossoms. There was a pink bloom which both me and my daughter fell in love with and picked in dozens. Unfortunately, by the time we reached home they dried up. I guess just like us they hated leaving their beautiful world.
There is a beautiful children’s play area on the way up. In addition to the usual swings and slides and merry-go-rounds, the place is scattered with interesting looking tree houses. You should just let your kids go loose and see their thrill as they run from one tree house to the next. They will have hordes of monkeys for company no doubt. These little chaps are quite willing to pose for your souvenir collection. I got mine as you can see here.
It is probably a good idea to carry your own food. A lunch hamper, playing cards and a big group of friends and family on the tree house would possibly be a much better idea than lunch at the only eatery provided. “Mayura” the restaurant jointly run by the State Horticulture and Karnataka Tourism Department provides one of the best views but definitely not the best cuisines. Though the place provides vegetarian /non-vegetarian options in its menu it however fails to interest your taste buds.
As we started on our way back the setting sun bid us goodbye to get ready for another day. I looked back at the hills standing up proudly against the fiery red horizon and felt them whispering Tennyson’s famous lines “For men may come and men may go, but I go on for ever”. How true it is. The hills have witnessed generations of human strife and struggle and yet they stand up tall and fierce ready to take on many more generations to come.