Three Friends, A Lake, & A Monolith

“Hey, I’ve been here before!” I exclaimed excitedly as my friend slowed down the car and then pulled over. The still blue pool of water glistened in the afternoon sun like a piece of jewel in the crown of the surrounding greenery. It looked just the same as I had seen it 8 years ago – nestled right there down below amidst the green hills.

It was a Saturday when I was out on a long drive in the honour of my cousin, S, who was visiting me all the way from Shillong. The car belonged to a childhood friend, G, who also lives in Bangalore now. Our long drives together date back to Shillong during our college days when we would do the same in G’s Maruti 800. Yes, this drive was an attempt of recreating memories of the past.

Pic 1: Manchanabele Lake as I had seen it 8 years back. Savandurga hill is seen in the background.
Pic 2: Manchanabele Lake as I saw it today in 2020

It was a little before noon when we started from Bangalore and had no specific place in mind. While on the way, we decided to go to Savandurga, which is considered among the largest monolith hills in Asia. Driving in the outskirts of Bangalore is sheer pleasure. Well tarred roads in most places, intermingling green hills and valleys, sporadically dotted with rugged barren rocky hills, lush forests, and quaint hamlets.

The pool of water that we found on the way was Manchanabele Dam, which is a reservoir built across River Arkavati. Also spelt as Arkavathy or Arkavathi, it is a tributary of River Cauvery. About 40 km. away from Bangalore city, it is a man-made dam built mainly for the purpose of irrigation. After clicking a few pictures, we decided to proceed towards our destination and come back before sunset. A few meters ahead, we found fresh fish being fried and sold in makeshift shops. We helped ourselves on my cousin’s insistence and then proceeded to Savandurga, which was about 14 Km away.

Pic 3: At the lake 8 years ago. This plank is no longer there and the lake looks a lot different today.

The sun was at its peak and it was well into afternoon when we reached Savandurga. Any other day we would have climbed up the hill but we were late and weren’t prepared in terms of clothing and shoes. We spent some time in and around the hill exploring the temple at the base of the hill and the surrounding grassland. Thereafter, we set off to catch sunset at the dam.

Pic 4: A part of the monolith hill, Savandurga, behind the remains of a temple

Driving an additional 9 Km after taking two wrong turns, we arrived at the dam just before sunset. As we were about to turn the car onto the narrow muddy road going towards the lake, a guard appeared from nowhere saying public entry into the lake is prohibited. My argument of having been here a couple of times before fell on deaf ears. After a while he said he would let us go in if we pay Rs. 200.00. After haggling for a bit, we paid the amount. G asked for a for a receipt, which he obviously refused. So, it was a bribe – we are guilty.

G carefully maneuvered the car downhill through the broken and muddy road littered with small and big stones. Near the lake we met a family who had also paid bribe to the guard. We shared our apprehensions of doing something illegitimate. The ban apparently was implemented two years back after a series of drowning incidents when people attempted swimming in the water.

Pic 5: The gorgeous sunset at the lake.

Soon the colour of the sky started changing with rich hues of reds blending with oranges and crimsons. Our guilt and apprehensions were completely forgotten as our collective focus was unknowingly directed towards the yellow ball of fire that appeared to change scenes every second. Within a few moments the show got over. We bid goodbye to our momentary acquaintances and retraced our path to the car. As we drove back, S and G sang medleys of popular Bengali Tagore songs (Rabindra Sangeet) all through the way making for a soothing end to a beautiful day.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

25 thoughts on “Three Friends, A Lake, & A Monolith”

  1. I think the reason why we loosen the purse when it comes to bribing is that we all grew up in this system. This seems normal to us even when we know it is not right. Anyways, that sunset at the lake is worth making a day trip from Bangalore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it feels quite the done thing till we pause and think and even if we do we often choose to ignore, like we did here! We hesitated for a bit and then we thought that 200 is a small sum to pay, when actually it isn’t about the amount at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice day trip that was; it is good to have some scenic locales within reach from the city but which are not yet commercialized. I always have that apprehension of being disappointed when going back to beauteous places after a long time. The imprint left in our mind by the charm of the place is jeopardized if there have been drastic changes – especially due to human interference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. This place has changed too but not drastically. Apparently it looked just the same, but when I looked up the pictures clicked 8 years ago I could tell the differences. There was a beach kind of a place by the lake where we had sat for a long time, there was nothing like that this time. There was no place to sit. Then there were ducks, which again weren’t there this time.
      Thank you for reading, Narendra 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, about paying bribes I too think that it isn’t about the amount but the thing itself. However it’s a fact of life here. So better to make some peace with it, but definitely won’t resort to for just about any reason.

    Otherwise a nice little write-up about a nice little trip. But wasn’t it hot in the afternoon?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a wonderful piece about a very beautiful place and the sunset is stunning. It is a pity about the guard lining his own pocket but I know that is how things are in India or at least were when I was there many years ago. It seems little has changed in that respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like quite a scenic place. When I started reading this post, I thought this was Shillong. Then I realized it’s near Bangalore! Can’t believe I’ve never been here, though I’d seen the Big Banyan tree which seems to be nearby. Will try to check it out on my next visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s surprising. This place is just a few kilometers away from the Big Banyan Tree. This time, however, we took a different route and missed the Banyan tree.


  6. Sounds like you had a real fun day trip. This route and Magadi road, and also Kanakapura road are quite scenic drives. The end with the Rabindra Sangeet sounds amazing!
    We had done the same circuit couple of years back, including the big Banyan tree. Didn’t visit the dam closely, the sunset looks so beautiful! We had stopped for lunch in a shanty kind of shop in a village near savanadurga, the villager invited us to his courtyard where we sat on the floor, and were served the best lemon rice and chilli bajji I ever had at ridiculously low prices 🙂
    I wanted to climb the monolith, but we are less adventurous people, so spent time in the adjacent park and the driver back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a nice trip you had. The dam is nice if you can do up close. However, that may or maynot be possible and since you would have your daughter with you, such adventure is best avoided. I also want to climb the monolith and for that I do have to plan another visit.

      Liked by 1 person

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