Saturday was a quiet day as I intended initially to go to Nandi Hills or at least visit some famous temples around town, but was stymied by TATA Docomo’s 3G network being off the whole morning. Fearful of wandering without Google maps directions to the bus system, I instead went to the library to study and work in the morning, and by chance at lunch ran into Dr. Bhullar. He told me of a place nearby to buy quality dress shirts for men, which I sorely needed to replenish my stash here (I hadn’t brought enough of those things for work, it seems), as well as to buy high quality fabric on the cheap.
I followed his directions to a shopping complex right beside the Forum Mall, which was called Shopper’s Stop. Apparently it’s a high-end fashion retailer (eek, what have I become). And for the first time in my life I busied myself trying on various shirts, as choosy as any woman. Ironically enough, I felt an odd kinship to Mat Cauthon, whose chapters I had been covering in my audiobook, emphatically claiming to still be the same farmboy despite dressing in fancy robes. “There’s nothing wrong with a good coat for a man.” In the end, I picked out a dark red one and a white one with blue stripes. I would have preferred a different pattern in the end, but the fit of the shirts (size 39 from Austin Reed) was great and the material felt solid. I hadn’t heard of the brand before, but my contacts and wikipedia assure me that it’s solidly upper mid tier.
On the way back, I stopped to get some miscellaneous shopping done, picking up snacks for the next day, batteries for my shaver, and soap.
The next day I awoke early to catch the first bus at 8:30 to Nandi Hills. It was quite an ordeal asking around and trying to find the mysterious platform 13 where all the websites assured me the bus would depart from. Most Indians are useless with these inquiries, but eventually I found that I would have to leave the city bus stand and go across the road to the KSRTC, or long-distance inter-city transport stand. Bummer. Even there, I couldn’t find a sign for platform 13, instead standing between signs 5 and 14, asking around for the bus. Unfortunately all the signs were in Kannada (not even Hindi!) which I couldn’t read. It was only by $deity’s grace that I caught sight of a sign saying that certain platforms were in a new area a bit of a walk away. Great. It’s good that I arrived early anticipating this kind of problem.
And what do you know. As I walked through the tunnel, my eye caught a glimmer of a folded 100 rupee bill on the ground. I quickly, and hopefully surreptitiously, bent down to pick it up. It reminds me of the time in Dublin Airport when Wayne and I (well, mostly me) picked up 40 euros in bills right off the ground. This haul wasn’t nearly as lucrative, though the purchasing power is probably comparable. The find would end up paying for the round trip bus ticket to and from the Hills.
I bought a samosa for 8 rupees to augment my brunch and hopped on the bus. Again, it was labeled only in Kannada, but I was able to confirm with the conductor that it was heading to the Nandi Hills. What happened en route was a very irksome 2 hours of me trying to shut the window (to prevent dust from blowing into my face) and the person beside me on the aisle seat opening it for the breeze.
Luckily he got off a stop or two before the hills, and I was free to enjoy the marvelous open plains leading up to the hills. Then, from the wide expanse opened up a spire into the sky, with a narrow ledge of a road leading up to the top. The bus carefully honked its way around the corners up the slope and we eventually arrived at the top. Somehow I was let in without paying the 5 rupee entrance fee; the ticket seller just waved me on by when I said I was alone without a vehicle. *shrug* Can’t complain about it I guess, though that 5 rupee did go immediate to use paying for the privilege of using a bathroom.
Instead of noticing a map of the layout, I followed the sides of the fort, seeing the many arrow slits along the walls. Tipu Sultan also built a summer residence up here that was stark but opened down to a flight of stairs leading to the bottom. I went down about a quarter of the way before turning back. It’s apparently a path of entry for some visitors to this place.
From there, it was a matter of walking through gardens, old cottages (including former residences of Gandhi and Nehru), restaurants, scenic views of the surrounding countryside, a jungle gym where children roamed, and Tipu’s drop, where he executed prisoners. There’s not much specific to say until I have the pictures uploaded; the sites themselves were enjoyable but not strikingly unique. I guess the unique mix of everything offered on the hill makes it an enjoyable destination. With that said, by early afternoon I had seen everything on the hill, so I had ate a quick noodle dish before heading back to the main gate, viewing the gardens, and catching the 2:30 bus back to Bangalore. The half day excursion, make that full day due to transportation, is definitely worth it for the chance to see the impressive views and take in the relaxing vibe of the hill fort.