Bengaluru might be the city of IT hubs, fast paced lanes covered with fancy cars and at least one million pubs and breweries, but beyond the tall building and the daily complains of morning traffic in the countryside of the pensioners paradise lies a quaint village filled with art, history and culture.
The Nandi village might not exactly be “a hidden treasure” for the local residents of Bengaluru, but as old tales and rumors would have it, there is more to the secrets of Nandi than a famed sunrise view.
The village of Nandi, in one word, is pretty. Even if coming from a flora cladded city like Bengaluru, one can’t possibly deny the picturesque magic and the old-world nostalgia the town oozes.
Of the many choices we make in our lifetime, one will always be how we choose to explore local regions – with prejudice or with hope.
A day that begins with good food can never not be a good day. If you’re heading to the countryside, before embarking on your hiking, cycling or driving adventure, do not forget to halt a stop at Discovery Village for a pampering breakfast amidst the prettiest café settings. With a tummy filled with scrumptious South Indian food, I began my tour with Unventured Expeditions through the valleys of Nandi. Taking a slow pace, we drove past beautiful vineyards on both sides of the lane, hearing stories of local wine and grape cultivation.
Irrespective of multiple questions from acquaintances regarding choosing to go to Nandi for a “hike” tour post “sunrise”, that sure fueled my doubts, it turned out to be an experience I wasn’t expecting.
Here’s why hiking in the Nandi hills with Unventured was one of the better travel choices of my life.
1. A View to Die For
As our car dropped us at the base of our Nandi hiking route, we began our ascent into the lush green trail climbing up the stone carved steps. As we passed one after the other interesting species of endangered geckos and lemongrass tucked away between moss covered rocks, our tour host continued to tell us the most interesting tales of the Mysuru kings and colonization, of the wars fought amidst these very mountains and of origins of the name “Nandi Hills”.
Mixed with history and anecdotes of the Hindu religion, our story-filled hike took us to the top where we could feast our eyes on the infinite land stretched across the brown horizon.
2. Wall Engraved Stories at Temples
After a stroll around the lovely gardens atop the hills, we drove down to visit a 9th Century Hindu Temple, where our tour host took us on a visual architectural journey as she explained the secrets and stories behind almost every stone carving. As I walked along the lengths, I could only wonder how prevalent the art of ancient storytelling still remains amongst the old structures, and how well the popular anecdotes of Hinduism that I’d heard throughout my childhood were captured through these same carvings.
3. The Local Influence
Connecting with any culture is hardly ever done via visiting monuments and gardens. What better way to learn of art and culture of a region than through the eyes and words of a local. As we made our way through the scarcely trafficked streets of the Nandi village and got off the cement roads to enter community mud lanes, I knew adventures were in stock for us.
No matter how beautiful the hike was or how engrossing the temple was, the highlight of my trip, as an art student myself would always be the visit to a 4th generation potter where I got to try my hand at some pottery and the best part was that I got to keep my second attempt at making a bowl (cause sadly, I broke the first one even before it was completed).
That bowl is going to be experimented later with colours and mandala designs.
4. Colonial Memories
As the day neared an inevitable end, we made our final stop at a railway station that had stood the tests of time. A colonial structure, and a memoir of the good old days of cheap transportation, the station provided a certain old-world tranquility somewhere lost within frivolous car honks and towering skyscrapers.
5. Beyond Cliché
The village of Nandi was something no one ever told me about. All the tales were of the hills and most importantly, the ever fawned over sunrise. And they were true, the hills were beautiful, and I would go on a hike up those mountains again in a heartbeat.
But Nandi for me was beyond those college group clichés. It was the temples and the history and vineyards off the beaten path with the local people and their colossal stories that make Nandi what it truly is: an undiscovered gem.
Maybe, someday in the near future more people are gonna stay back beyond the sunrise and actually watch the sun shine over the picturesque village of Nandi.
Author: Madhurima Dutta