07-Dec-2003 -- After successfully visiting 13°N 76°E, our next target was 14°N 76°E. According to our maps this point lay east of the town of Channagiri.
From 13°N 76°E, we drove down a dirt road to join the road towards Belur. We turned right on to the road to Belur. It was a narrow single lane one and we had to drive slowly as the road was full of potholes and there was a steady stream of mini-buses and tractors to allow past. We had to drive through Belur, known for its temples with exquisite carvings, and head towards Chikmagalur.
A few kilometers before Chikmagalur, we had to stop as traffic was backed up for a little distance. We were trying to figure out what was happening when one of the bystanders on the road informed us that there was a religious procession on foot ahead of us. It was at the point that we realized that there a quite a few police vehicles ahead of us and all the policemen were in riot-gear. The procession was heading towards Bababudangiri, a hilltop near Chikmagalur that housed a Muslim and a Hindu shrine. After patiently edging forward for about a kilometer, we reached an intersection that led towards Chikmagalur and the police waved us through. It felt good to move away from those people and we continued towards Kadur and then on to Birur, Tarikere and Bhadravati. There was no direct road from the last confluence (13°N 76°E) and we drove north-west till Bhadravati and then turned north-east on to NH13 towards Channagiri. We saw the ruins of a fort as we passed through Channagiri and we also found the road turning east towards Holalkere. The maps showed our confluence midway between these two towns. About eight kilometers from Channagiri, the GPS displayed the confluence to be about 2.5 kilometers south of us. We found a dried up lake bed on the right and also found a faint cart track through it. We turned on to this track and drove slowly across the lake bed past a bunch of kids playing cricket. It’s not often that folks in villages see vehicles off-roading and received a cheer from the kids as we drove past.
Bordering the dry lake bed were fenced-off plantations of coconut, banana and arecanut. The cart track twisted and turned its way through some really narrow, steeply inclined sections. There were brambles on both sides of the path and we heard our vehicle getting scratched on many occasions. We finally found ourselves at the nearest point, about two hundred meters from the confluence. Unfortunately, the farm into which we would have to walk through was fenced with barbed wire. Somebody really wanted to discourage visitors! We walked a bit down the path and heard someone approaching us. It turned out to be Shivakumar, a villager from V. Bannihatti, which was about a kilometer away. After explaining to him that we wanted to reach a point inside the farm, he guided us towards a section of the fence where the barbed wire was wide enough for us to slip through. We walked through a banana plantation and then reached another fence. We still were 60 meters away from the confluence. Slipping through the second fence was easy(!) and we finally reached an arecanut plantation. Once inside the plantation, it took a little while for the GPS to stabilize and give me a reading. After ten minutes in one location, I found that I had to move just 3 meters to reach 14°N 76°E! It was 1533 hrs. The altitude recorded by the GPS was 692 meters. This was really exciting as it was our third successful confluence visit in a period of eight hours! (Has anyone done more than this in this time frame?)
Shivakumar told us that he was the caretaker of the 1.25 acre farm we were in and it belonged to Mr. Aneyappa. Shivakumar also told us that the dry lake bed we drove across was called Benkikere. After taking the mandatory photographs, he led us out of the farm towards our vehicle. This time, we did not have to cross those fences as he led us down a path that joined the road a little further away. I guess he felt that these four city slickers would hurt themselves if they tried slipping through barbed wire fences too often! He then gave us directions to reach NH13 on which we were to head to Holalkere and then onward to the fourth confluence; 14°N 77°E.