We have successfully started of our cleanup mission and are pleased with the results we achieved on 26.09.2015 by cleaning up Bananthi Mari Betta. With the help from Mr. Arun (Forest Official) and locals. Twelve trekkers from the Association cleaned up the temple surroundings at the base of Bananthi Mari Betta and the trekking trail.
This is how the day on 26.09.2015 unfolded –
Purnima and Prashanth drove their cars smoothly while others were busy picking up some talk and trying to know each other more. We were ten people in two cars and two others joined us at the base of the hill on a bike. It was a beautiful morning for a drive and even more thrilling for a bike ride on a well maintained curvy road towards Kanakapura. We departed from Banashankari at 6:30 AM in the morning towards our first cleanup drive which I was very excited about.
It was 8 AM when we arrived at a village which is at the foothills and parked our cars and the bike. One can get a clear view of the peak and a rock sticking out of the peak. We started our trek after a quick briefing by Prashanth, and the team quickly got into action by collecting plastic, polythene and wrappers enroute (on the sides of our trail).
The trail we treaded to Bananthi Mari Hill can be divided into two stages; first one is a hike till the temple through the temple for about 45 minutes and the later one is a moderate ascent from the temple to the peak for about 45-60 through the forest, grasslands and exposed rock face. Overall, it is couple of hours of hike ideal for a weekend getaway.
It took us more than 45 minutes to tread through a forest valley filled mainly with
Bamboo, to reach the temple. We had already collected couple of bags of garbage by then. Broken single soles were the highlight of the collection. People have left their broken slippers (in singles) and we couldn’t find the matching pair for them. We wondered what they did with the other single soles! May be, they saved it for remembrance or kept it as a memento!
We were greeted by Mr. Arun (forest official) and few locals near the temple who were busy preparing breakfast and lunch for us. Tea was followed by splendid breakfast (Upma & Kesaribath) which was cooked on firewood with lots of fresh vegetables, dry fruits and ghee; tasted like never before.
With the help of couple of young locals, we started digging couple of pits for the visitors/devotees to dispose the garbage while the team got busy collecting the garbage around the temple premises. Devotees flock the temple (Goddess Bananthi Mari) generally on Tuesdays, Fridays, Sundays, and the animals (goat or chicken) are sacrificed to please the Goddess. It is a common ritual around Karnataka to offer meat to some of the God/Goddess forms and then celebrate with their families by consuming freshly cooked meat accompanied by liquor at the temple premises. More than a ritual, I think it is an excuse to party & make merry!
Nevertheless it is good to worship, have a family get together and fun but on the other hand the place is dirtied sparing no inch. Hope one day; we will understand that cleanliness is Godliness.
So, we could discover several liquor parties on the ground as plastic glasses, liquor tetra packs & bottles, beer cans and what not have been thrown in heaps everywhere. We were spread across the ground in all directions collecting rubbish and calling out some of the interesting stuff we found, most commonly an Old Monk!
After we made some good progress in cleaning around the temple, we decided to head towards the peak of the hill to complete our trek, and to ensure we were back before lunch time. The peak lies in Karnataka State Reserve Forest which is also a sloth bear sanctuary. So, one needs permission from Karnataka Forest Department to trek further towards the peak. We had taken the permission in advance and the cleanup mission was carried out in collaboration with the forest department.
The initial stretch, for about 30 minutes is through the forest canopy passing by couple of small lakes. The forest was green and full with vegetation, thanks to recent rains. The landscape was definitely a good opportunity for photographers to click some insects, butterflies, flowers but needed more time and patience. We pursued our ascent as we wanted to come back and finish the cleanup. It was a gradual ascent with couple of short steep climbs on the rocks to the peak. It took us around 60 minutes to reach the peak, and we were keen to jump onto the jutting rock to have the view of the valley and landscape around.
Just when we were enjoying the serenity and watching a Brahmini kite diving up in the air from the jutting rock; Purnima checked her phone for data network, which was available, and read out that Bhumika (her daughter who is also one of our young trekkers in the team) got her much awaited admission into Veterinary College, Hassan to study veterinary science. Bhumi jumped with joy and wanted to fly off from the peak!
Everyone on the peak was delighted and we knew what it meant for both daughter and mother (Bhumika and Purnima). It was a dream come true for little Bhumi, who wants to become a Vet and she is passionate about animals, wild life and nature. The little girl had worked very hard over couple of years and written couple of competitive exams to get into Veterinary science. Everyone congratulated and wished best for Bhumi.
It was a perfect Kodak moment when mother-daughter hugged each other celebrating.
You know, lot can happen over a mountain…
We spent some more time on the peak clicking selfies & groufies, we started our descent which was more adventurous than the ascent as we had to rediscover our path again due to a thick forest grove enroute.
We returned to the temple around 2 PM for lunch and had items from local cuisine – Ragi Balls (Millet Pudding) and drumstick sambar, cabbage subzi, curd rice and pickles for the lunch. Once again taste had a never before feeling.
After lunch, we spent couple more hours cleaning and dumping the collected garbage into one of the pits, sticking out awareness sign boards which were beautifully drawn and painted by our young trekker Bhumika.
We started walking back at 4:30 PM to our parked cars and drove back to Banashankari by 7 PM.