Showing posts with label Ramanagaram. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ramanagaram. Show all posts

Achchaludurga – Sri Kempegowda’s Military Outpost


‘Achchalu Betta’ or ‘Achchaludurga’ is a lesser known fort near Ramanagara, located off the Ramanagara – Kanakapura highway. This hill is believed to have been fortified by Sri Kempegowda II with the purpose of serving as a military outpost for stationing of soldiers and tying of horses. On a holiday during a week day, we decided to visit here and check out this place. Reaching this place was quite easy and upon inquiry about the fort, most people advised us not to venture here with kids. Not many people visit here as it falls under the limits of the forest department. However, later a local gave us directions to the hill.  And hereon we began to explore the hill.
Achchaludurga Fortress
Rock Cut Steps
Achchaludurga Entrance
 On the basis of the received information, we went ahead and reached the forest area from where we had to make a right turn to continue on the trek route.  But we lost our way and failed to track the correct route to the top. There were farms close by and the locals whom we met in the farms for inquiry also advised us not to venture here as they saw we were accompanied by kids. But since we insisted that we were geared up to complete the trek, they finally gave up and directed us to the trek route. We proceeded further with a lot of enthusiasm only to realize that we were not on the right track again! All our efforts in tracking the right route turned futile. Many a times we missed the route and tried different ones but in vain.  Finally a shepherd came to our rescue and showed us the right direction. Here on, there was no looking back! We reached the fort gateway in no time. We spent some time near the gateway looking for the presence of any carving of the guardian of the fort, Lord Anjaneya but found none. However, we were not ready to accept that the fort premises were devoid of any image or carving of Lord Anjaneya.  We decided to move on and explore further. 
Enter The Dragon
Fort-walls
Shri Bommalingeshwara Temple
Achchalu Forest
A little further from the gateway is a water pond and a small cave shrine believed to be dedicated to Sri Bommalingaeshwara. Most of the fortification here remains destroyed. We were able to see the lovely rock cut steps leading to the hill- top. There are footprints of horses belonging to Sri Kempegowda on these rocks cut steps. On the top, there is a big water tank which sadly today is in a state of despair and some recent structures, probably built by the Forest Department. One can get a bird’s eye view of Ramanagara and the famous Sholay hills / Ramagiri hills. We could spot a few Egyptian vultures flying around this place. 
Kite in the Flight
The Climb
At the Peak
 Horseshoe Imprint
While descending, Amrutha spotted an arrow painted on a rock near the gateway directing us to the other side of the gateway. We decided to go ahead and explore it. We reached a small cave and found a beautiful carving of Lord Kote Anjaneya. We were very pleased to see our beloved friend / trek partner! By experience, we have learned that wherever a fort exists, its protector also exists!  Quite satisfied after seeing the Lord, we descended quickly and realized that most of whom we had inquired for directions initially had only misled us, except for the first person and the good shepherd. Thus, another fort exploration concluded with destiny being on our side. The entire setting of the area is magnificent  though it seemed risky to venture alone during the early morning and late evening hours as spotting of leopards, bears, wild boars, porcupines, and monitor lizards is  common here.  
Anjaneya Swamy Cave
Lord Kote Anjaneya
Achalu Betta/ Achchalu Betta

 Related Posts:
1. Forts of Karnataka
2. Huliyurdurga
3. Bhairavadurga

Sunrise Trek to Huthridurga - Uttari Betta, Treks Around Bengaluru

'Huthridurga/Hutridurga', also popularly called as 'Uttari Betta' among the trekking community is one among the popular trekking trails around Bengaluru. It is rated as one of the easiest treks around Bengaluru suitable for all age groups. It is a great place for beginners who desire to trek. A word of caution for first time trekkers is to better be accompanied by people who are familiar with this place. Huthridurga is about 55 km from Bengaluru and is one of the Navadurgas (nine forts) built by Sri Kempegowda. This fort was built in the 16th century CE and has later undergone a few modifications during the reign of Hyder/Tippu and the British rule.  Click here for more details about this fort.
We, from #RTCBengaluru had planned a drive cum trek to Huthridurga this Sunday. Though initially many were interested to join the trek,  the number gradually decreased as the week progressed and after the last minute dropouts, our group comprised of 6 adults and 2 kids. We started our journey on time to Huthridurga and traveled in 2 vehicles. We started from home around 3:15am early morning although our scheduled time of departure was 3:00am. We were a few minutes late as we were waiting for one of our friends to join us. Unfortunately, he failed to pick our call and without wasting any more time we drove to our next assembly point which was Magadi Road. The rest of the group  were already present there. We joined them around 3:45 am and began our drive to Huthridurga, via Magadi.
Since it was that hour of the day when traffic is the least, we were able to cross Magadi in time and reach Huthridurga crossing at 4:45 am as per our plan. Here on we had to drive on a small section of ghat road and as we drove ahead, we were informed that Ravi Sir's vehicle had a break down. An inspection of the vehicle revealed that the issue was with one of the tensioner pulleys that had given way.  A wise decision of stopping the car was made to avoid any further problem. We were a little ahead of them and had to return to check on the situation. The vehicle was parked by the road side leaving enough space for the movement of other vehicles without any hindrance. All of us now drove ahead in one vehicle and reached  Huthridurga which was about 1 km from here. We decided to complete our trek first and check on the availability of a mechanic after our descent. 
Sunrise Trek to Huthridurga
Crescent Shaped Moon
We found a proper place for parking at the hill base and started our trek  at 5:15 am. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the top of the hill including a 10 minute break, under the clear black sky dotted with millions of stars and the lone crescent shaped moon. At the break point, I tried my hand at photographing the stars though I couldn't manage capturing a decent picture of the star lit sky. I realized that I should spend some more quality time to learn photographing the skies! We were greeted by a carving of Lord Anjaneya housed in a shelter a little further from here. We trekked  at a slow pace and reached the peak top comfortably. The weather was quite windy and chilly up there and amidst this, we patiently waited for the sun to rise. There is a temple atop the hill built by Sri Kempegowda dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is Sri Sankeshwara Temple which houses a shivalinga with an idol of Lord Nandi opposite to it. Attached on one side to the temple is a mantapa with pillars and roof covered with stone slabs. While my wife and kids took shelter inside the temple to keep themselves warm, the rest of us made ourselves comfortable and took respective positions so we could catch the first glimpse of sunrise.
Sunrise Trek to Huthridurga
Yes! He Finally Arrives!
Best Sunrise trek around Bengaluru
Lord Surya above Savanadurga Hill
Top Place to Watch sunrise around Bengaluru
What a View!
It was cold and quite breezy, and finally at 6:50 am the Sun made his appearance just like the description of Lord Surya arriving on his seven horsed chariot! Every Sunrise is a unique experience. For the next 20 minutes we enjoyed the showdown utilizing every opportunity for photo ops. After the sun rose and the weather turned warmer, we decided to explore the other portions of the fort. We spent some time between the boulders that acted as wind breakers for having snacks and chatting. Finally we descended and reached the starting point where we again halted for a short break to bask under the sun. It was time for breakfast as we all were quite hungry and drove down towards the town of Magadi for some hot Thatte Idli's (Plate Idli's) and filter coffee. After satisfying our hungry stomachs, our next job was to find a mechanic to fix the car, but being a Sunday most of the shops around remained closed. A few who were open were quite reluctant and refused to come along as the destination was quite far. Meanwhile Ravi Sir contacted his regular mechanic who agreed to come by and fix the car. We dropped everyone at the required stops and reached home safely. The weather turned pretty hot along our return journey and we were only reminded of how pleasant it was atop the hill amidst nature! We were informed by evening that Ravi sir got his vehicle repaired and reached home safely. He is quite an inspiration for all of us and his stories kept us engaged all through our trek and drive. It was yet another great experience. 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.
Hutridurga Trek
Kempasagar Lake
Uttari Betta Trek
Team on the Top
Trek, Trail and Tales

The Trek Team
1. Teamgsquare (Me, Amrutha, Adhi and Diya) in our Loyal Xylo
2. Ravi Shankar in Mahindra Scorpio
3. Vishwas Gowda, Natesha and Shiva Prakash, car pooled

Related Posts:
1. Moonlit Sunrise Trek to Channagiri 
2. 101 Places to Visit Around Bengaluru
3. Channarayana Durga Fort

The Tamarind Trees of Koongal Betta

Tamarind fruits
Tangy and Tasty Tamarind Fruits

Koongal hill
Koongal Hill 
One night while having my dinner, I experienced an unusually refreshing flavor and taste of sambhar  and with much compliments being generated, my wife revealed the secret of the tasty tongue-tickling sambar saying, the tamarind used for cooking/preparing the sambhar was that brought from Koongal Hills. They were the best of tamarinds used by us till now and the taste of its tanginess remained with me ever since. Though we generally use the tamarind grown locally, the tamarind this time tasted different. Whatever efforts we put in collecting the fallen tamarinds, carrying them back home, drying, dehusking and deseeding them to get the prefect fruit, ready to cook, were definitely worthwhile. Though majority of the tamarinds we get is naturally grown, the process of drying, cleaning and selection of the fruits itself makes all the difference. We thouroughly enjoyed the refreshing sourness of the tamarind courtesy of Koongal hill and savoured every drop of sambhar that day!! It was surely a tasty tangy treat for my taste buds!
Tamarind Tree of Koongal Betta
Traditional way of dehusking tamarind fruits
Traditional Way of dehusking Tamarind Fruits
That Sunday, we wanted to trek the small hill of 'Achalu Betta' located somewhere between the towns of Kanakapura and Ramanagara. However, on our way from Kanakapura to Ramanagara, a big hill with a small temple atop attracted us. We immediately decided to trek this hill and inquired the route to the hill. We parked our car under a tree near the Koongal hill. As we walked, we realized that the road has been laid up to half way to the hill. We were greeted by a beautiful murti of Lord Ganesha  installed in the recent years. Walking further we reached an open terrain full of Tamarind trees.
Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha
Road Way Up
Life! Finds Its Way
A Lovely Walkway
Tamarind Tree Groove
Entering The Tamarind Tree Groove
The real climb starts from here as the route turns a bit steep and narrow. In a short while we reached  a place where there was a big murti of Lord Nandi/Basavanna. We rested under its shade for sometime after offering prayers. Continuing our trek hereon, we entered a cave at the exit of which were rock cut steps leading to a small temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya Swamy (Maruti). The murti seemed to belong to around 18th century. The forest department has built a small view point where we spent some time. During our descent we sighted some ruins of the fort remains, though not much. We reached the area dedicated to the tamarinds trees and were tempted to collect the fallen tamarind. We collected the the fallen tamarind fruits as much as possible and carried it safely till we reached our vehicle.
The Hike
Nandi Murti
Inside the Cave
Maruti Temple, Koongal Betta
Lord Maruti
Panoramic View
Maruti Temple, Koongal Betta
Nandi Murti, Rock cut steps and Maruti Temple
How to reach Koongal Betta: From Bangalore travel till Ramanagara on Mysuru highway, enter Ramanagara town and take the Muduwadi road till Koongal. Koongal is about 60 km from Bangalore and 8 Km from Ramanagara.
Related Posts: 


Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta, Ramanagar

Our hunt for a place to trek around Bangalore along with our one year old led us finally to Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta, a hillock located off the Ramanagar - Magadi state highway. As we were aware of the presence of steps in order to reach the hill-top, we chose to climb this hill keeping in mind our little team partner. We drove to the hill base comfortably and after parking our vehicle in a mango orchard under a big tree, proceeded towards the hill. The hill looked bald, devoid of any kind of vegetation.
Shri Yathiraja Swamy Betta 
  The presence of rock cut steps have always inspired us to climb with more enthusiasm. The climb was fairly easy and we reached a point which is supposedly believed to have been the place where Ramanujacharya gave the  Vishwaroopa (Omniform / Universal form) darshana. A short descent hereon leads us to a small temple dedicated to Lord Yathiraja. The legends goes, "This hill was inhabited by saints who were doing penance for a long time in the caves. One day, it so happened that Ramanujacharya came to this place in the form of Yathi (Saint) and on asking the residing saints for a place to live in, they obliged by allowing him to stay with them. As days passed by, Ramanujacharya advised all the other saints to leave this place and go away. But the saints refused to do so and it was at this moment that Ramanujacharya exhibited the Vishwaroopa darshana. On witnessing this, the saints feared Ramanujacharya and were forced to leave this place".
The Rock Cut Steps
Hills around Ramanagar
Hills and More Hills
Remains of Fort 
Place Where Ramanujacharya gave Vishwaroopa Darshana 
  It is believed that the idol of Yathiraja here in the cave temple was installed by Ramanujacharya. Unfortunately, the cave temple was locked and there were no signs of the priest of this temple anywhere. There is a perennial spring besides the temple whose flow has reduced off late owing to this year's enormously hot climate. The spring water was clear and cold. We spent a good time resting under the shade of  the very beautiful tree of Plumeria.
The Spring 
Spring Water and Reflections
Shri Yathiraja Swamy Temple
Plumeria Trees
Directions - Bangalore - NH275 - Ramanagar - Right Turn at Ramanagar Traffic Signal - 8Kms - Take Left towards Koonumuddanahalli - 1Km Right side is the hill.

Reference - Ramanagar District (Book in Kannada) written by Prof. M. Shivananjaiah

Fort Bhairavadurga, Kuduru Betta

 Ever since we read about the existence of  Navadurgas (Nine Forts) around Bangalore, our hunt for these were on. It is rather surprising that information on the Navadurgas is limited along with the ambiguity about the nine forts and the basis of them being called as Navadurgas. We were confident about eight forts out of the nine namely Savanadurga, Kabbaladurga, Huthridurga, Devarayanadurga, Makalidurga, Channarayanadurga, Nandidurga and Huliyurdurga. The ninth one listed, Bandallidurga, did not sound convincing since its location ( M M hills) somehow seemed to be  far away from the Bangalore circuit. When we read about  Bhairavadurga , we thought that it fits this list perfectly, though not sure. Not much of history of this place is known except that it was built by Kempe Gowda II and later was conquered by Tippu Sultan and the British.
Bhairavadurga Hill
The Path
 Every now and then, we were haunted by our incomplete trek to Fort Bhairavadurga. On a early Sunday morning, we decided to conquer this fort second time around and set out towards exploring Bhairavadurga. Having chosen a wrong path along with a wrong time for climbing this hill last time, we ensured all was well during our ascent this time. We inquired about the right route to the hill top from locals . We began our climb slowly and steadily and after some time, we came across a fleet of steps which gave us some relief since the trek until then was quite tiresome.  The end of flight lead us to the first tier of the Fort. Hereon, we followed the trail up to the next tier and continued until  we reached a spot which looked tricky to climb without any support as it was very steep. There were remains of  iron rods embedded in the rock which probably served as a support system for climbing. After crossing this, it was a leisure walk to the top tier.  There is a water spring or Dhonne (in Kannada) in between two massive rocks on the hill top with well laid steps. The water in this spring never dries up even in the severest of the summers. There are big boulders and a few ruined structures on the top .The views from the hill top were outstanding.
Final Tier of the Fort
 Spring (or Dhonne in Kannada)
Balancing Act
Boulders and the Ruined Structure

Base of a Grinding Stone
Bird's eye view of Kudoor village
Glass/ Poly-House
Lord Anjaneya
There is a cave temple dedicated to lord Bhairaveshwara on the other side of the hill . The Antaragange temple in Kudoor village is considered to be more ancient than the Fort. Unfortunately, this temple was closed during our visit.
View of Shivagange
Crumbling Walls 
Panoramic View
Sun Basking
 Directions from Bangalore - NH 48 - Solur - Right Turn -Kudoor - Left Turn - Travel a kilometer, then take a Left Turn to find an Arch Entrance - Reach the Fort Base
 Distance from Bangalore - 55 km

References:
1. Navadurgas 
2. Deccan Herald
3. Fortmapper