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Around Bangalore

Madhugiri Fort / Madhugiri Hills(Betta) Trip

Madhugiri is a small town about 105 kms from Bangalore, Karnataka and about 43 km north of Tumkur. The place is known for the Fort (Kote), Temples and for the adventurous climb the hill provides. Madhugiri Hill or Madhugiri Betta is one of the largest monolithic with a height of 3930 ft and provides for a very good adventurous climb to the top. The fort which situated on this hill is said to be build around 1678 during the reign of Raja Hera Gowda but is in a very bad state today due to poor maintenance.

View of Madhugiri Fort / Madhugiri Hills Travel Date: 18-February-2012 Location: Madhugiri Betta/Madhugiri Hills/Madhugiri Fort Mobile: Good coverage in Airtel and BSNL. Transportation: Take KSRTC bus heading to Pavagada from Majestic, Bangalore platform 4. There seem to be buses every 15 minutes. Food: Carry lots of water and snacks if required. Food available at KSRTC canteen, options limited. Travel Time: 2.5 hours to Madhugiri from Bangalore Climb Time: 1.45 hours upwards and 45 minutes downwards (including photo time)

Here are the details of the trip:
Friday night I and my friends decided to go a trip, after lots of discussion we finally decided on Shivagange for a fun Saturday. The plan was to meet at KSRTC bus stand in Majestic, Bangalore at 8:00am and take a bus which would take us to Dabbaspet (on the way to Tumkur) and then take another bus to Shivagange.

At 8:15am we were told platform #4 has buses which would take us to Dabbaspet. When we asked a bus conductor who was waiting in the platform he pointed at the bus and told it would go. We noticed that the bus was going to Pavagada, but what struck us that the bus was going via Madhugiri. Couple of years back when we had been to Savandurga, we had also planned to go to Madhugiri as well as both are know to be good trekking places and one of the largest monolithic around.

View of the city and bastion from Madhugiri Hills / Madhugiri Betta

So we started a conversation with the conductor to know more about the place, he mentioned that it would take us around 2.5 hours to get to Madhugiri and the frequency of buses to Bangalore in conductor’s words were “hedge-hedge ge sikkute” meaning you would get a bus every step you take :-)

Excited on the opportunity available we decide to head over to Madhugiri instead of Shivagange. The bus started at 8:30am from Majestic and the charge for the journey was Rs. 75/person. Once the bus passed Nelamangala the journey was a breeze till Dabbaspet where the bus took a right turn below the flyover, the roads after this was a bit bumpy but not bad. We went past Korategere and reached Madhugiri at around 11:05am. On the way we saw signboards for two places we had been to before Devarayana Durga (5Kms from main road) and Siddara Betta (11Kms from main road).

As we got down at the Madhugiri KSRTC bus stand, we saw the magnificent hill right in front of us waiting to be conquered. We filled our stomach at the canteen at the bus stand premises, the rates were reasonably and food was good. Idli (2 nos) – Rs. 12, coffee Rs. 6, Vangi Baath Rs. 20 were the options available.

Idli Sambar at Madhugiri KSRTC bus stand canteen

The entrance to the hill/fort is right after the KSRTC bus stand, you need to walk around 200 meters once inside to be greeted with the steps which is the start of the really big climb to the top. The hills is surrounded by walls of the fort and all through the climb up one can find the walls of the once glorious fort. As we started the climb towards the top we were greeted by the magnificent view of the town and the scattered hills around Madhugiri.

View of Madhugiri Hill/Madhugiri Fort

The initial climb is really easy and the fort and the magnificent view meant we spent a lot of time photographing. One thing that really hurt us was the way in which the walls of the fort were filled with people’s names. It is a shame that we are ruining such a good monument by scribbling all over the walls.

Portion of Madhugiri Fort

As we continued we came across the main wall of the fort and the entrance. We click a few more photo and continued further to be greeted a huge reservoir used to store water, unfortunately it was empty. But it is interesting to notice that people cared out water then, but now people follow rain water harvesting only when imposed by the Government. The reservoir in its filled state must have been a really good place to spend time.

View of the Madhugiri Fort Bastion and reservoir

We continued further to move through one more entrance from where the climb got a bit difficult, but there were railings to hold on to and small steps cut out of the hill to provide some footing which going up. We were hopeful of reaching the top very quickly since we had the railings for support. But with each milestone we crossed, the hill seemed to just get bigger and bigger and never ending, we realized we had not even come half-way and were deceived by the walls that blocked our view to the highest point.

Till this point we had not seen many people around except for a couple of lovers and a few school kids and it was lonely towards the top with no one visible, quite a strange thing for a place which was supposed to be a famous among tourists.

View from Madhugiri Hills / Madhugiri Betta

At each of the level (the fort has multiple rounds of defensive walls) there are many bastion’s. Heading over to the bastion gave us a complete view of the city. I was left wondering how the place would have been around 300 years back when it was under attack and how each of the bastion’s came the rulers army the advantage of seeing the attacker much before they arrived.

As we continued our ascent we came up to the last part of the climb. This part was really steep and the most challenging, the steps were going cross and railing were the only thing which would support us from a fall and help us reach the top. Please wear good footwear if you intend to attempt this, as one slip can be really break many many bones. Also avoid it if you have fear of heights.

Final climb at Madhugiri Hills / Madhugiri Fort

Moving one step at a time we finally reached the last level of defensive wall which we had thought to be the top, but surprise was waiting, the walls of the fort were hiding behind them one more climb the last one towards the very top where the granaries and the temple are situated. But this time without any railings and steps only till half way. By this time we had exhausted most of our water supplies we carried and it was around 1:45pm, yes we spent a lot of time on taking photos. At the top the ruined temple of Gopalakrishna is located. Note that there is nothing available at the top, carry whatever you require yourself.

We spent some time with the cool breeze hitting us and taking in whatever we could of the beautiful nature around and then headed downwards, once the difficult part of the descend was complete it was mainly like a stroll downstairs.

View from near the top of Madhugiri Hills / Madhugiri Fort

The most interesting part about the climb was that this was the first hill which we had been to in and around Bangalore which did not have monkeys!!! Yes, they have been our friends in all the climbs we had undertaken. One thought which was going through my mind was that had monkeys joined the endangered species list, but my happiness knew no bounds when we came towards the bus stand and I finally saw around 3-4 monkeys..

We reached the KSTRC bus stand around 3:10pm, headed over to the canteen and had whatever we could find, food was ok again. The menu available was Anna Sambar (Rs. 20), Bajje (Rs. 10), Tomato Baath (Rs. 20). We hydrated ourself with almost 2 liters of water by which time the bus to Bangalore arrived, we started back at 3:35pm and reached Majestic, Bangalore by 7pm.

Tree at the foot of Madhugiri Hills / Madhugiri Fort

Total cost per head came to Rs. 235, which includes the bus charges of 150. The rest were mainly on food, water and snacks.

To conclude, for an unplanned trip this went on smoothly. When starting it seemed a quick climb up, but we had obviously underestimated the height of the hill, each bastion greeted us with more never ending climb. But overall it is a very good place to spend a day if you love climbing. Lots of photo opportunities, a very good and interesting climb. Moreover the city is well connected by public transport and the hill is reasonably clean with very few people around and we could enjoy our hearts content.

Do let me know your experience or any queries using the comments box below.

Tips:

  • Carry plenty of water, at least 2 liters per person is recommended.
  • The last section of the climb is steep hence have footwear which provides good grip.
  • There are buses back to Bangalore every 15 minutes till 7pm, so take your time to look around.
  • Carrying biscuits or any other snacks from your starting point is recommended as the shop charges Re.1 extra on almost everything.

Savanadurga Trip

Savanadurga (Magadi Tq) is a Tall Granite Hill (11 Km from Magadi) formed by the union of two high peaks (4,024 feet MSL) called locally as the Kari Gudda (Black hill) and Billi Gudda (White hill). This is a very popular location with walkers, hikers and climbers due to the pure natural adventure it provides. It also has a famous old temple of Narasimha Swamy. The temple is located at the bottom of the foothills. The main temple has an adjacent temple dedicated to Laxmi.

Now coming to the details of the trip, we wanted to start well and early, but got delayed a bit, and we finally reached the Kalasipalya bus stand 10 mins before 9:00 am. We immediately got into an KSRTC bus going to Magadi. The distance to Magadi is 50kms, and the ticket cost us Rs 20/- per head. Around 10:50 we got down at a place which I can recall as Hospet and took a bus to Nayakanapalya. The distance to this place is around 8 Kms and the ticket was Rs 6/- per head. We got down at a place known as the Nayakanapalya Gate and took an rickshaw to cover the last 4 Kms of the journey this cost us Rs 10/- per head. We reached the foot of the hills around 11:40 am.

View of Savandurga Hill

The first sight of the massive hill that lay in front of me just floored all the thoughts I had in mind; that it would be an easy trip where we could climb a hill without much difficulty. The hill is just too huge, and the journey to the top is difficult but at the same time the other people around who were also climbing with us seem to have a great sense of humor and made climbing a lot more fun.

View as seen while climbing

Though we wanted to go till the hill top, we aborted the climb mid way mainly due to time constraints and our ill preparedness (inappropriate foot wear for the climb/decent) for this climb. We thought it would be best to climb early in the morning and best when we are well prepared for this climb. Hence we went ahead with information gathering to have a proper climb the next time round. We found that it take 2-3 hours for the climb/decent of the hill. There is also a direct bus from Bangalore which reaches here at 8:00 am, which would be ideal for our next trip.

On the climb up always follow the arrows marked on the large stones for the know routes. And also follow the electricity line, which has the proper way to the top. And have a nice sense of humor along, helps a lot. For example, while we were just hanging around midway and considering returning down, we meet a person who was coming down. We asked him if he went to the very top, he told yes. To which we asked what is there on the top. His reply there was nothing much just the electricity poles and the Basava statue!!

Couple of children taking a risky shortcut

Though we could not go to the very top, but still the views were absolutely superb and fantastic. The fun and excitement was much more than what we felt at Tippu’s Drop (Nandi Hills). We stayed there mid way for some time, talking to people and enjoying the view. We also had our packed lunch which we had carried and then finally descended down and visited the two temples which were at the bottom of the hills. We still had quite some time before the 3:30 direct bus, so we decided to walk the 4 Kms to Nayakanapalya from where hoped to catch some other bus or the same bus whichever came earlier. Finally at Nayakanapalya we ended up getting the direct bus. The bus went to Magadi and started from Magadi at 4:00pm and we reached Kalasipalya at 6:00pm.

A lake nearby the hills.

All in all a very good trip, would have had been excellent if we were better prepared. But we really enjoyed every bit of it and will go again soon and complete the climb sometime soon. So if you are looking for adventure and that too in the most natural form with limited budget then this would really suit you well.

Facts/Suggestions:

  • Savandurga is 60 Kms away from Bangalore.
  • Kalasipalya -> Magadi (50 km) -> Nayakanapalya (8km) -> Savanadurga (4km).
  • There are private as well as KSRTC buses. In these few are direct buses, but many buses are there to Magadi which run at regular intervals.
  • It is best if you carry the food items/lunch from Bangalore itself, since there are no hotels as such at the foot of the hills.
  • If you are not sure of how to go, then there are small boys who can be found around the Narasimha Swamy Temple who will take you till the top and back for a sum of Rs 50/-.
  • The over all cost for this trip came to around Rs. 100/- including the food items which we purchased in Bangalore. Excluding the food it would come to around Rs. 65/- for the travel cost.