Showing posts with label Chikkaballapur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chikkaballapur. Show all posts

Ambajidurga/chintamani Fort

Caution: An entry to this hill is strictly restricted and a board instructing the same has been put up in order to prevent people venturing into this hill. Updated: As per the comments by Umesh Sir and Sudhakar, the restrictions have been removed and people can visit this place.

Good Morning Ambajidurga
          Ambajidurga, the second fort we were on a look out for, between Kaivara and Chintamani, seemed so near yet so far way. Ambajidurga is situated atop a hill adjacent to the very well known cave temple of kailashgiri and the temple authorities have banned the entry to this hill fort owing to the unfortunate incidents that have taken place here a few years ago. long back, during our visit to Kailashgiri, we had inquired about Ambajidurga and temple authorities  simply denied its presence and refused to give any information, only saying that Ambajidurga was another name given to Kailashgiri. When we told them that the fortification on the neighboring hill was clearly visible and insisted on details about the fort, they replied that there was no route to the hill and no one can go there. So we did not bother much about it, and thought we will explore this place when the time is right. This day was not too far from the day that we conquered Rehmangarh! We were much eager to conquer Ambajidurga. We reached the spot from where the hill base from where fortification was clearly visible. An old lady who stopped by told us about the route to the hill top and gave us directions. We were glad that a route to the hill top existed and went ahead following her directions. The hill was gigantic and we looked too small in comparison to its massive size.
First tier of the Fort
Lord Hanuman Temple and The Fort Wall
Broken Gateway Arch
   Overnight rains had made the path slippery, but that didn’t matter much to us as we were engrossed in the thought of reaching the fort. Our initial climb was a little tricky as after reaching a certain point, we realized we were heading in a wrong direction. We halted and to changed our course of climb and headed in the right direction. After a few minutes of trek, we reached the first tier of the fort on the first hill (or the lower hill) and rested here for a while. Later, a short walk lead us to the  top of the first hill which was an open plain land having a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and a few fort ruins. We were able to view the fortification on the upper hill but found no specific route. After investigating, we finally decided to make our own path and succeeded in our venture within no time.  We were at the fort entrance, and had a bird’s eye view of the surroundings including the now dwarfed fort of Rehmangarh.
Fort Entrance and Rehmangarh

Water Tank
Lord Shiva Temple
  The hill rises to about 4400 ft above mean sea level and was initially fortified by the local Palegars, which was then rebuilt by Tippu and finally fell into the hands of the British. There is a small temple atop the hill dedicated to Lord Shiva and a few ruined structures and water tanks. We were quite happy for having explored this fort too. We spent some time at the top and started to descend slowly and carefully down the hill. Our descent was a little tiring but calm, until we heard a person standing at the hill base shouting and signaling us to come down quickly. Initially, we thought of him to be a shepherd boy   calling out to his cattle, but later realized he was indeed waiting for us! Once we reached the base, he literally started shouting at us asking whose permission we had taken in order to go to the fort and my wife retaliated saying, we had inquired and only at the old lady’s suggestions, we decided to climb as she had not warned us about any restrictions. While he forced us to accompany him to the temple authorities, we insisted him on showing his identity card and if he did, we would surely go with him. Somewhere, we thought he was boasting about himself being a guard to the hill we had just explored. He argued saying there was a big board put up right at the entry point which strictly restricted any further entry. Truly, we were not aware of such a board. There was an exchange of words between him and us, and on demanding him to show where the board was put up, he took us a little away from where we started our trek and alas! There was the board! We told him that we had taken the path present much before this board and therefore had missed seeing it. We also questioned him about his absence during the time of our entry at the starting point. If he were to be a guard, he should have done his duty and cautioned us. We would have not ventured further at all. Finally a person associated with the Kailashgiri temple management who by chance had come to pick him, spoke to us and warned us in a rough tone saying that the place we had just ventured was really not safe and we shouldn’t have gone so far. On saying that we were not really aware of the board as it was put up in a wrong place and  since we had already made a safe return, there was no use of telling us now not to have ventured. There was an exchange of words again. It was slightly upsetting as this was the first time we had encountered such a rude behavior. Though our conversation ended sourly, we were quite happy that we had already explored the fort before they came and realized we would have missed so much, just in case destiny had taken us on the route towards that board! 
Lord Hanuman
 Mt Kailashgiri

Dwarfed Rehmangarh
Kissing the Clouds
     This was our dual-fort-adventure that ended with destiny being on our side. With both the regions being popular tourist spots, it’s quite hard to believe the fact that these hills are actually unsafe. We personally did not feel so, but who knows. Many places in Kolar district are considered unsafe, including the Antharagange hills. 

Moonlit Sunrise Trek to Channagiri from #RTCBengaluru

RTC Bengaluru's plan for a drive-cum-trek to Skandagiri to witness the beautiful sunrise amidst the clouds was organized on the 20th of January this year. The event was led by us (teamgsquare), Prateek (Mystic Rider) and Shashank Gowda (localite). After many people showing their interest in joining the drive/trek, around 40 people were confirmed for the trek. While Trigo (Prashanth) along with his 4 friends were joining us from Hyderabad, the rest were from 'Namma Bengaluru'! After many discussions with the leads regarding the trek type and route, we finally zeroed in on the regular Sunrise trek to Skandagiri.  The D-day arrived and bang on! All the participants had gathered in front of Esteem mall, Hebbala by 1.30 am as per the schedule. It was quite surprising and rare to see all the trek participants gather within the said time. From here began our much awaited journey to reach above the clouds! We numbered 37 in total, traveling in 6 cars and 4 bikes.
All Set  to Vroom!!
By 2.45 am we reached the temple of Sri Bhoga Nandeeshwara  at Nandi and were waiting for Shashank's arrival. After waiting for nearly 25 minutes with no fruitful result, we decided to head on towards Skandagiri to secure a place for parking our vehicles. By the time we reached here, we were shell-shocked to see an ocean of people thronging to get the permit to trek. A rough estimate of the number of people would be around 2k,with each one trying to squeeze in and fight in order to secure a place for the trek. Meanwhile, Shashank along with his two friends joined us at the Skandagiri parking lot. Seeing the huge crowd of people assembled and the number of incoming people, the trek leads, without a second thought decided to forgo the scheduled trek at Skandagiri and instead trek the neighboring hill of Channagiri. Although our idea was good, we were now stuck in the parking lot as the chaos at Skandagiri had only started to build up. With the forest guard's denial of permission to trek and the increasing number of people, the parking was jammed with no movement of vehicles on either of the directions. Besides, time was running out as we were bent upon doing a sunrise trek, somehow! Finally Shashank along with a few locals helped cleared the mess and without wasting any more time, we drove towards Channagiri, located about 14 km from here.
Moon and his Reflection on Water
After reaching the hill base of Channagiri, we realised that the members of a car and bike who were supposed to be following us had missed their route. All of us were waiting for them to join us to start the trek. Although the biker was able to locate us, the ones in the car had driven off to some other place. Prateek and Shashank tried their best to trace the car back until they gave up, after Arvind from that car informed them about being run out of fuel and also being quite far away from the destination. Unfortunately, the four from Arvind's vehicle couldn't join us. Once the rest of the team were back to the hill base of Channagiri, the trek began under the moonlight. We were down to 36 plus +3 infants and had to reach the peak of Channagiri before Sunrise. Thus began our conquest of Channagiri hill. Though at the outset it seemed like a small hill to trek, we realized after trekking a while that it was no joke to conquer this peak. Having read about this hill before, I was quite sure that this was going to be one heck of a trek.
'Channagiri' is one among the 5 main hill peaks of the Nandi hill-range, the others being Nandi, Bramhagiri, Skandagiri and Kaurava Kunda. Channagiri is the second tallest peak of this range, only after Nandi hills. There are basically two routes to this hill peak. The easier route starts from Sultanpet via well laid steps and is taken during early morning treks so as to catch the sunrise. The less easier route is through the forest via Channapura, which is a longer and steeper trail. Thanks to Shashank who lead us to the second route via Channapura forest. Everybody started the trek and the entire hill belonged to us at that moment! This route was surely a blessing in disguise for us when compared to trekking at Skandagiri. It would've been more like walking in a fair amongst thousands of people had we trekked Skandagiri. It was a decision well-made and in-time, most importantly with the consent of all the participants. Our only goal now was to make it to the peak top of Channagiri. We were now racing against time for the sunrise!
Good Morning
Armed with torches and accompanied by the lovely moon-light, our trek went on smoothly. The terrain was quite steep and rocky mostly, while at a few places we had to pass through thorny vegetation.  The Trigo group were ahead of us while the rest of the team trekked together, until at a point where Ravi sir's wife started to feel a bit uneasy. As the terrain would only get more difficult to climb, sir made the right decision of halting their trek at this point and stayed by his partner. Kudos to you both sir for making it up till here! The rest of us continued our trek amidst laughter, fun, music and halts at regular intervals. We finally reached a point from where it seemed like the trek was complete. But it was a 'so close, yet so far' kind of a situation! We motivated ourselves to keep going and our final ascent to the peak top was quite steep. Slowly and steadily, one by one, all  the participants reached the top and picked up their spots for photography. We were just in time to catch a glimpse of the Sunrise, although coming in a few minutes earlier would've surely helped! Unfortunately for us that day, the skies were clear with no signs of any clouds. A small bonfire was set up to make ourselves warm.
Beautiful Morning Sky
There is a small beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya/Hanuman at the top. After taking his blessings and spending some time enjoying the sunrise, chit-chatting and munching on snacks, we began our descent from behind the peak. However, a few of them decided to stay back for photo ops. Our descent was quite tiring and as we were all extremely hungry, we wanted to make it to the base as early as possible. We met Ravi sir's family along, who were eagerly waiting for us. We finally  reached the place where we had parked our vehicles. A small lake besides our car park made the entire setup look more beautiful. We were now waiting for our breakfast to be served! While Shashank checked upon the breakfast arrangements, we all rested and waited for the others to join us. Though our initial plan was to have breakfast near the village of Nandi, we decided to serve the breakfast at the hill base only as a few of them were yet to complete the trek. While some team mates (Chaluve Gowda sir and family and Vishwa) decided to move on without having breakfast, the others spent time chatting and having fun. I and Shashank left to bring the breakfast. As we brought the breakfast, our last few team-mates had just made it to the parking and their timing was perfect!  The breakfast comprised of Idli, Vada, Chitranna (lemon-rice), Chutney and the famous Mysore Pak. The food was very delicious, especially the combination of lemon-rice and the spicy chutney. We were happy people now and turned pretty lazy and reluctant to leave this wonderful place.
Second Serving (PC : Prateek)
Munch Time (PC: Prateek)
The sad truth was that we had to head back home. We planned to take a small break over tea/coffee in between along the highway. However, due to a small confusion caused by me, we ended up reaching Shashank's farm instead. Prateek and the biker gang decided to ride ahead, halt by a tea shop and wait for us to join. Meanwhile, we dropped the Trigo group at Shashank's place from where they were heading back to Hyderabad. But by the time Prateek shared their location of the tea shop, we were already on the Rajanakunte road towards Yelahanka, much ahead of them! We somehow couldn't make it to our tea/coffee break to bid our good-bye's to the team. All of us headed back to our homes after ending one of the most memorable treks! Kudos to the team for completing the trek! If you wish to join us on such drives, kindly visit the website of Road Trippers Club for more information and be a part of many such fabulous drives across India.
Group Photo (Bigger the group, more difficult to organize for a group photo!; PC: Prateek)
The Trek Team
1. Teamgsquare (Me, Amrutha, Adhi and Diya) in our loyal Mahindra Xylo 
2. Abhyuday, Tarun and Arjun in Toyota Etios 
3. Chaluve Gowda and Family in Volkswagen Polo 
4. Satishewara with 2 kids in Mahindra Bolero 
5. Ravi Shankar and Family in Mahindra Scorpio
6. Arvind and his 3 friends in Maruti Alto 
7. Shashank, Rocky and Abhi in Mahindra Thar 
8. Prateek and Shikha in Yamaha R15
9. Gaurang, Maaz and Himanshu in their Bikes 
10. Vishwas and Hiren in Pulsar 150 cc
11. Chaitra, Anuradha, Madhu, Rashmi and Akshata, car pooled with others
12. Trigo Prashanth, Naveen, Sadik, Niranjan and Sachin, car pooled with others

Related Post:
1. A night trek to Skandagiri  
2. 101 places to visit around Bengaluru 
3. Channarayanadurga 

ಗುಡಿಬಂಡೆಯ ಕಥೆ/ The Story of Gudibande - A Short Movie

Our humble attempt to showcase another interesting fort at Gudibande via a short movie. This is as close as you can get to the fort! Hope you enjoy watching the video. 
The Story of 'Gudibande' dates back to the prehistoric times and its name is attributed to the temple embedded inside a rock, meaning "Temple rock". Do watch the video for the rest of the story. Also, kindly share and subscribe if you like.  

Places to visit around Bangalore/ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು/ Bengaluru - Part 12

Continued from here..
Type: Hoysala Temples
Distance from Bangalore: 220 km
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - NH 48 - Tumkur - NH 73 - Arsikere - Left turn - Mavuthanahalli
About: The Mahalingeshwara Temple here serves as a very good example of Hoysala architecture which  flourished during the 12th century. The temple is extremely beautiful despite being in ruins. The locals offer their daily prayers. More.
Mahalingeshwara Temple, Mavuthanahalli
Mahalingeshwara Temple, Mavuthanahalli 
Type: Hill Fort, Temple Town
Distance from Bangalore: 70 km
Trek Distance: 2 Km (One way)
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - NH 77 - Hoskote - Left towards Chintamani - Till Kaivara
About: The hill fort here was built by Tippu and later improvised by the local Palegars. Much of the fortification remains intact and is currently being maintained by the Forest department. There is a temple dedicated Lord Veerabhadraswamy and a water pond. More
Rehmangarh Fort, Kaivara
Rehmangarh as Seen from Ambajidurga 
Type: Hill Fort, Temple Town
Distance from Bangalore: 70 km
Trek Distance: 2.5 km (One Way)
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - NH 77 - Hoskote - Left towards Chintamani 
About: The hill fort here was built by Tippu and later improvised by the local Palegars. Much of fortification remains intact but this place is now abandoned. Trekking here is strictly prohibited. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. More
Ambajidurga Fort, Chintamani
Ambajidurga Fort 
Type: Hill Fort, Temple Town
Distance from Bangalore: 122 km
Trek Distance: 3 km
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - NH 47 - Dabaspet - Right towards Madhugiri
About: The hill fort here was built during the Vijayanagar period and later improvised by Hyder Ali. Though much of the fortification remains intact, the ASI have taken additional measures to restore this fort along with all precautionary measures in order to ensure a safe climb to people venturing this fort. More
Madhugiri Fort
Madhugiri Fort 
65. Nallur
Type: Bio-diversity Site, Temple Town
Distance from Bangalore: 50 km
Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore - NH 4 -  Hoskote - Towards Devanahalli - Nallur
About: Nallur's Tamarind Grove is regarded as the first bio-diversity heritage site in India. This site covers around 53 acres in area having more than 300 tamarind trees. The oldest tree here is confirmed to be around 410 years old. There are numerous ruined temples here which were built during the reign of Chola dynasty in the 12th century. More
Nallur Biodiversity Heritage Site
Nallur Biodiversity Heritage Site 

PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

A Night Trek To Skandagiri

Skandagiri, also known as Kalavara Durga is a very popular night trekking destination among Bangaloreans and is admired for the fascinating views of sunrise. Skandagiri is a  hill fort which was built by the local palegars and further improved by Tippu Sultan. Much of the fortification still remains intact. Owing to the illegal activities and unlawful acts that have taken place here, the forest department has strictly banned trekking at Skandagiri. Long ago (2009), when Skandagiri was just gaining popularity, we were fortunate enough for having an opportunity to trek. One evening, we acted on our spontaneous decision of exploring Skandagiri that night to see a beautiful sunrise next morning. Back then, witnessing the crowds present there and their unruly behavior, it seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
Good Morning from Skandagiri
We started from home at around 11.30 pm and after picking up a few friends who wished to join us, cruised along NH 7 towards Chikkaballapur. In less than 45 minutes we reached Chikkaballapur and stopped at a place where a few policemen were on patrol duty, to inquire for directions. We followed their directions and reached the hill base, where a person agreed to be our paid guide. We parked our vehicle as per his guidelines and started walking towards the other side of the hill from where the trekking trail began. After ten minutes of walk, we reached a small tea shop and took a much needed hot tea break.
Peaks Around Skandagiri
First Glimpse of the Sunrise 
 Queued Up to Get a Closer Look at the Sun
Nandi Hills as Seen from Skandagiri
 We ensured carrying sufficient lighting equipments such as torches and flash lights. Though the ascent was supposed to be easy, we struggled quite a bit as none of us had done anything of this sort. As this was our first trekking experience, we had to take breaks quite often and progressed slowly.  It  took us close to 3 hours to reach the top of the hill and we were glad to have made it! Our next challenge was spending time until sunrise in that cold winter night. We bade a good bye to our guide after paying his fee and found a nice place to settle down till the sunrise. It was a good two and a half hour wait for the sunrise and seemed to take longer for the sun to be completely out. The  views as the sun rose were simply out of the world and worth every single step we had put forward that night. After a  really long photo shoot, we descended down quickly feeling like achievers! Fortunately, we had another chance of trekking at Skandagiri two years later. While the crowd had grown five-fold this time around, the security personnel were more stringent about the rules.
Moon Lit Trek at Skandagiri
Floating Atop the Clouds
The Fort Wall 
Sati Stones and Hero Stones at the Base of Skandagiri Hill 
  Last weekend (December 2016) when we visited the Nandi hills, its counterpart Skandagiri attracted us for a trek. Later we came to know from our sources here that a strict ban has been imposed on trekking at Skandagiri, even during the day. Although trekking during the day was allowed previously, the forest department has completely banned since the beginning of 2016.It is worthwhile to note that Skandagiri falls under the reserved forest area and any illegal entry could lead to serious punishment. Measures such as restricting the number of people allowed to trek at a time, accompaniment of trained and certified guides, well marked routes, complete ban on smoking and alcohol consumption with strict enforcement, educating the locals about the importance of this hill reserve, setting up an organization for its development involving various trekking clubs, nature conservative clubs, forest department, local villagers and others need to be undertaken to ensure that the picturesque Skandagiri is well maintained and serves to be a sustainable tourist spot, only to make sure that such places are saved for our future generations. It lies within us to be a responsible trekker.
Latest Update: Trekking here is now conducted/regulated by Karnataka forest department under their new initiative "Myecotrip", check their website for further details. Many thanks to Thams Roy  for sharing this information with us.

Good Bye -2015

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."-Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Wishing all a very Happy New Year - 2016. Have a great, fun-filled and an adventurous year ahead!

Bandallidurga Trek
Ride atop Nandi Hills
Cycling around Sharavathi River Valley (Photo credit: Prashanth M)
Drive through Bisle Ghat
Walkway leading towards Bisle View-Point
Twin Hills of Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri at Shravanabelagola
Betteshwara Temple at Agrahara Belaguli, Hassan
Lakshminarasimha Temple at Javagal, Hassan
Chennakeshava Temple at Ambale, Chikmagalur
Asokan Rock-Edicts at Gavimatha, Koppal
Mahadeva Temple at Itagi, Koppal
Age no bar for travel-An inspiring young lady from Bengaluru at Itagi Temple
Venkatappa Baavi (Well) at Kanakagiri, Koppal
  Cave Temple at Amminabhavi, Dharwad 
The Fortress of Chitradurga  
The Mighty Gol-Gumbaz, Bijapur
World's Heaviest Medieval Cannon (weighing 56 tons)  at Bijapur, 'Malik-E-Maidan'