How many of us are aware of the Navadurga or the nine hill forts around Bangalore? They are historic symbols and important treks near Bangalore, all within a 100 km radius of the city. A few of these are popular, a few others that make up the group of nine hill forts around Bangalore are yet to be explored. Navadurga or the nine hill forts around Bangalore are sure to kindle the interests of history buffs and adventure enthusiasts.
1) Nandidurga or Nandi Hills
The most explored of the Navadurga or the nine hill forts around Bangalore, the Nandi Hills, is a popular weekend getaway and just about 60 km from the city. True to its name, the hillock resembles a sleeping bull, Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, who is supposed to have done penance here. The Ganga dynasty developed Nandi Hills, which later became the summer retreat of Tipu Sultan. The fort here stands on the summit of the rock, about 1700 feet high. There are temples dedicated to Yoga Narasimha on the top of the hill and Boga Narasimha at the base of the Nandi Hills.
Nandi hills, apart from cycling and para-gliding, is one of the ideal places to trek near Bangalore. A trek from Sultanpet village on the straight path with well-laid steps offers an exhilarating experience. It’s a fairly easy trek. The sunrise here is captivating.
The fort of Makalidurga stands on a huge granite hillock at the height of 1,117 m, amidst a chain of hills. Makalidurga of the Navadurgas around Bangalore is about 60 km from the city, near the Makalidurga Village. On the summit of the hill, one gets to see the ruins of the fort and an old Shiva temple. It is a belief that Sage Markandeya has performed penance here.
Trekking here is of medium to difficult level and is about 4 km, which would fairly take about 3 hours to finish. One needs to make a prior booking for a cost in order to trek on myecotrip.com, managed by Karnataka tourism, which provides a guide and a local support. Trekking here during the night is prohibited.
At about 80 km from Bangalore, a fort, Kabbaladurga stands in a rundown state on top of which are a prison, ammunition storage godown and a garrison. There are also temples dedicated to Bheemalingeshwara and Kabbalamma on the summit. The pyramid shaped hillock assumes its name after the Goddess Kabbalamma. As per history, Hyder Ali defeated the Maratha chieftain, Murari Rao and detained him in the Kabbaladurga fort until his death.
Kabbaladurga is also one of the best treks near Bangalore. The trek, which is about 4 km, begins from the base near the Kotilingeshwara temple and is relatively easy to medium.
This fortified hill is about 65 km from Bangalore rising to 3708 feet above the sea level. There are eight gateways with several other outer gates as well, from the foot to the summit of the Hutridurga fort. On the summit or the Sankarakumbhi stands the Sankareshwara temple overlooking the Dodda Done or the ‘big spring’. Built by Kempagowda in the 16th century, Hutridurga fort, once seven tiered, was the military bastion of Tipu Sultan against the British.
Hutridurga is one of the popular treks near Bangalore. The trek, which is said to be easy, begins from Santhepet Village and passes through the fort. It does not end with the Sankareshwara temple on the summit, but leads on to a cave and later to an open grassland and a rock from where you can have stunning views of the sunrise.
5) Channarayana Durga
Of the Navadurga or the nine hill forts around Bangalore, The Channarayana Durga is about 100 km from Bangalore, owes its construction to a local king Chikkappa Gowda. The fort comprises a few temples and some old structures inside it. One of the not so familiar treks near Bangalore, Channarayana Durga, is a medium level trek, with the initial stretch being difficult, as the smooth rock is slippery. The scant number of visitors and the absence of sign boards leave the trekkers intrigued and interested to explore.
Huliyurdurga assumes the appearance of an inverted cup. Kempe Gowda erected the fort, which now has remnants of the past like springs, dilapidated houses, powder magazines, granaries, durbar hall, etc. The fortification is about 845 m above the sea level. The name Huliyurdurga translates into ‘The Fort of the Tiger.’ Still unexplored by the world outside, the trek to Huliyurdurga fort begins from the old temple. One can rather say it’s a climb than a trek owing to the rough route. Though with time the fort was ruined, the summit offers splendid views of the Hemagiri and the town below.
About 73 km from Bangalore lies the rocky hill of Devarayanadurga, which is surrounded by forests and its summit dotted by many temples. There are two temples dedicated to Narasimha, the Yoga Narasimha and the Bhoga Narasimha, one at the base and the other on the summit. The Devarayanadurga Hill thrills the motorcyclists owing to its hairpin curves. Of the Navadurga or the nine fill forts around Bangalore, the Devarayanadurga Hill interests the trekkers with its natural rocky and hilly terrain. The sunrise here is spellbinding and invites trekkers to have a glimpse.
Savandurga, the largest monolith in Asia, translates to ‘The Fort of Death.’ Karigudda (black hill) and Biligudda (white hill), form Savandurga. This is one of the most popular amongst the Navadurga or the nine hill forts around Bangalore. Samantha Raya, an officer of the Vijayanagar empire, built the fort in 1543. During the time of Hyder Ali, the prison was in the fort among the hills and an escape from it was an impossible task. Hence the name Savina Durga or ‘The Fort of Death.’ Savandurga is a favourite among trekkers, though there aren’t any paved routes or steps, making trekking difficult. One can find the remains of the fort as one treks along. It is a spectacular scene to behold the sunrise, especially when the sun’s rays reflect on the Arkavati River.
Bairavadurga, comprises two fortification walls and a temple on the summit dedicated to Lord Bairava. Kempe Gowda erected the fort in the 17th century AD and Tipu Sultan later captured it. Bairavadurga is one of the riskiest and toughest of the Navadurga treks, hence only recommended for experienced trekkers.