Parents love for their children to play outdoors, but in an ever-growing urban jungle, they lament at the lack of opportunity to do so. Yogesh Londhe, the head of Indiahikes’ Eco Hiking Programme writes about his experience interacting with parents and children, and taking them on a trek to Handi Gundi Betta near Ramanagaram.
Recently, while talking to a few parents, I realised how much parents are concerned about their children missing out on open areas and outdoor activities.
As many young couples have come from smaller towns to settle in Bangalore with their jobs, they have begun to feel crowded by the concrete jungle. They wish their kids had the opportunity to play freely on open grounds, just as they did when they were children. Most of the parents I spoke to felt that even though there are parks in the neighbourhood, most of them are crowded and don’t provide the freshness that real outdoors do. There are very few playgrounds and they’re always overcrowded.
When asked what they do to spend quality time with their kids, they said they usually go to malls, as going to parks is not good idea anymore. What struck me was that although they want to go outdoors to challenge their children and help them learn, they don’t have many opportunities to do so.
Many parents said that they visit resorts that are growing around city once in a while to quench their thirst for open environs and fresh air. These resorts offer day packages with meals and some recreational games. Some take their kids to new-age sports clubs on the outskirts of the city, where they can play some games like badminton, cricket, football and table tennis. But sometimes, even these places tend to be crowded.
When asked whether they would like to send their kids on adventure sports like hiking, most of them were positive about it. Some of them did voice out their thoughts about ‘safety’, ‘proximity’ and ‘difficulty.’ But given a choice, these parents seemed ready to send their children on treks close to their homes, provided they were accompanied by responsible guides and promised certain safety measures.
In fact, I spoke to few of the children themselves and asked them whether they would like to go on a trek and they were gung-ho about it! Some of them even asked me when it would be possible to go.
Considering I have previous experience of leading groups of school children to climb hills around Bangalore, I offered to take a small group of children and a few willing parents on a trek. We decided to climb Handi Gundi, a hill near Ramanagaram, around 50 km from Bangalore.
You can take your children to Handi Gundi too. Here is how to get there.
Drive towards Ramanagaram. Before reaching Ramanagaram you will see a small bus stop at Basavanapura. There is a small restaurant on the opposite side of the road called Hill View Resort. Take the road that leads to Basavanapura village. Cross the railway track and continue along the road, until five minutes later, you get to a shrine of the snake god at a fork in the road. Take the road that turns right and leads to Basavanapura village. The village starts immediately at the fork, so it is not difficult to spot. It is a one-street bustling village, but is neat and clean.
Continue on the street, until a while later the cemented road turns into a dirt track. In a while, the dirt track abruptly turns right. It climbs over a few rough stones, past the last houses of the village, a cattle shelter, and gently veers left to end at a small temple with a water tank. This is the point where you start the trek. It is a kilometre to this spot from the fork on the road. Those using two-wheelers can park here at the temple. Now, you are almost at the base of Handi Gundi Betta. Find the way to the hill and enjoy the climb!
This is a very good trek for first time trekkers. It is easy to reach from Bangalore and a pleasant outdoor adventure for children.