India | The Nandi Hills are Alive

When I first arrived in India, my jetlag was so bad that I was waking up every morning at 3 AM. That would have been a good time to visit Nandi Hills for sunrise, instead of two weeks after, when my body had adjusted to the right timezone. But alas, I woke up for sunrise anyway that November morning, as a car was waiting for us at 5 – but yes, you know where this goes, as all early morning adventures are, it was worth it.

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Lauren, another Leave UR Mark volunteer, and I got in the car along with two of her friends. I’d met one of them earlier on Food Street and we’d all talked about doing more around Bangalore together. Nandi Hills seemed like the perfect trip because we’d go for sunrise and be back before noon so that I could still go to the girls’ home to volunteer in the afternoon.

It took about an hour and a half from our apartment in Bangalore to Nandi Hills and by that time, the sun was almost up. The line of people waiting to pay the entrance fee was staggering. We thought we were definitely going to miss the sunrise because we’d be in line, which was a shame after traveling for so long and being up so early. But then, a man appeared outside of our car, and our friend spoke to him. He came back in a few minutes with a ticket for us and we went on through, passing hundreds of people in the meantime. I don’t know if any of us knew what exactly transpired, but we stopped thinking about it and ran up the hill as fast as we could to get a spot.

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Most businesses and schools were closed that week for Diwali, so the hill was way more crowded than it is normally, but it was still nothing compared to what it would have been like in NYC. I found it incredibly peaceful to be sitting on the rocks staring into the clouds and watching the fog come off the hills. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t actually see the sun until it got much higher, because we could still feel the energy of the day beginning.

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I people-watched, fog-watched, took in the moment and I was happy. (Later I learned that way back in the day, the hills were called Ananda Giri – The Hill of Happiness.) Then I became even more delighted because some stray puppies who came over to us, with some coaxing from us. I know you’re not *supposed* to play with stray animals, but these guys were the cutest things I’d ever seen and it wasn’t going to be the first or last time I’d break these rules. {V. Important Sidenote: Yes, I did start an Instagram account for my pictures of stray dogs I’ve taken on my travels, and yes, you can follow me on @straydogsoftheworld.}

We sat for a while and then got up to explore the surroundings. There were lots of other viewpoints to check out and also LOTS of monkeys to watch. I hadn’t seen monkeys since I was in Malaysia at the Batu Caves and they seemed like the same exact kind to me, and I loved them immediately. I didn’t play with them as I did the dogs, because monkeys are way braver than pups and will climb on you and take your earrings and cameras sometimes if you engage with them too much, but I did take lots of pictures.

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Nandi Hills has so many areas to explore – you could definitely spend longer than we did there. There were gazebos, gardens, old government buildings, temples, fountains, a fort, and more. While there’s no way we discovered all there is to offer, we did find new areas that our local friend hadn’t been to before – for example, Tipu’s Drop – where prisoners were thrown off the ledge to their death upon Tipu Sultan’s command. (Yikes.)

After our wanderings, it was time for breakfast. If anyone has ever been more obsessed with dosa than Lauren and me after our time in Bangalore, I’d like to meet them. Of course we had to devour some on top of a hill after getting up for sunrise. We also had coffee and chai in India’s signature metal cups which I’d wanted to buy as souvenirs but thought it unpractical as I wouldn’t want such small servings once returning to the States – just another regret I’ll think about for the next ten years if all goes as it normally does.

What I won’t regret is that morning’s trip to Nandi Hills.

xx

This post was written about my time with Leave UR Mark, a social enterprise in Bangalore, Goa, and Mumbai that connects travelers with local internships and volunteer opportunities in India. Opinions are always my own.

{Thank you, @sanamjain0904 for some of these photos of the group!}

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