Ramanagaram is a sizeable village about 50 km south-west of Bangalore on the way to Mysore. It could have been like any of the thousands of villages in India, unknown and ignored by urbanites except for its sole attraction. The surrounding flat plains are dotted with rocks, boulders and hills. For nostalgic film buffs, this is where parts of the Indian classic Sholay was filmed. My colleague would not believe it until he could be shown the exact rocks and paths that Gabbar Singh and his men had trampled.
We could not show him those exacts rocks and paths because our purpose was different. Four of us from office had gone to Ramanagaram to climb some of the low boulders. A couple of us had decent rock-climbing shoes. I had to settle for my running shoes that are so unsuited for this activity. Only one of us had some experience in bouldering and we didn’t try anything challenging. The boulders we climbed today were at a height of 15 feet maximum.
The weather-beaten boulders must have been standing here for hundreds of years, even before Ramesh Sippy discovered it. Weathering has revealed chiselled points and edges of hard rock, many short ledges and little cracks. Although there is enough in the way of grip, the difficulty for me was to push myself up with my feet, along a route that is not so obvious when you start out from the ground. A lot of this depends on your level of confidence and technique but with the support of my colleagues I managed a small achievement today.
We did it without ropes, which is the usual case with bouldering. There are tall cliff faces and larger boulders in and around this area for proper rock-climbing. I have read elsewhere that people have climbed some of these cliffs and there are even graded routes.
On a different day, I would have come here to do hill walking and rock scrambling. These are much easier activities that involve little risk. But what I did today was fun.
Buses and trains are available but we drove from Bangalore and back along SH17. A little tarmac road leads off the highway through an archway. We parked the car hardly 100 meters from the place where we did the climbing. It took us 2.5 hours to get to Ramanagaram because none of us usually drive within Bangalore and we got terribly lost. It was much better on the way back.