Trekking in Savanadurga can be a challenge as you climb up the smooth monolith which comprises of two hills, Karigudda and Biligudda. It is a great destination to try out your trekking and rock climbing skills
Located at a distance of 33 km from Bangalore, deviating off Magadi road, Savanadurga is reputed to be the highest monolith in Asia. Part of the Deccan plateau, this hill rises 1226 meters above sea level. Savanadurga actually comprises of two hills, Karigudda (Black Hill) and Biligudda (White Hill). This hill was first mentioned in the historical records of the Hoysala period, and was referred to as Savandi back then.
During the time of Hyder Ali, this hill served as the location of a fort prison, from which it was said there was no escape. Hence, it was called ‘Savina Durga’ which means ‘the fort of death’. In spite of this ominous name, this place is actually a pilgrimage center as it is the location of two temples – the Veerbhadraswamy Temple and the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple. These are located at the foothills. At the top of Biligudda is a small shrine to Nandi, Lord Shiva’s sacred Bull.
The Manchanabele Reservoir, created by the waters of the Akravathy River, is a lovely place from which you can get an enticing view of the Savanadurga Hill. Savanadurga is surrounded by a thick forest of scrubs and dry deciduous vegetation.
Trekking Along Savanadurga
There are actually two main trekking trails that run up towards Savanadurga. One is the Karigudda and the other is the Biligudda trail. While you need to get a permit to climb Karigudda, you do not need one to climb Biligudda.
Both Karigudda and Biligudda are tough climbs that run vertically up craggy rock faces. Biligudda is easier to climb and the trail is well marked out. Karigudda is tougher and less explored.
The Trail to Biligudda
The climb along Biligudda will lead you through the ruined fort built by Kempegowda. This climb will involve traversing some bare patches of rock, and places where you’ll have little vegetation to hold on to. Directions are painted on the rock faces, and there are four checkpoints on the way, at four different walls of the ruined fort.
The climb up to the fort tower can be a challenging trek, as you’ll have to scale a steep rock face. Once you reach the top though, you will be rewarded for all your hard work and get an exhilarating view of the surrounding region, including a view of the city of Bangalore. Another stretch of steep climbing from here will take you to the small Nandi Mantapa at the top of Biligudda.
The Trail to Karigudda
For adventure seekers and people who have adrenaline laced blood, Karigudda can be a satisfying trek. A sheer climb with less marked trails and much more difficult to scale than Biligudda, this can be hard even for experienced trekkers as the trek will involve the use of good rock climbing equipment.
How to Reach Savanadurga
- By Air: Bangalore is the nearest airport. Local transport can be taken from here.
- By Train: The nearest railway station is again in Bangalore.
- By Road: Savanadurga lies just 35 km from Bangalore. If you are traveling by bus, you will need to reach Magadi Road, and then take another bus to Magadi Road Junction, then another to Hospet Gate. If you are driving, take a left turn from Magadi Road junction and proceed in the same direction for 12 km to reach Savanadurga.
Savanadurga, the monolith with the ruined fort that has a checkered history, can prove to be a tough and challenging adventure for even professional trekkers and climbers. Within easy access from Bangalore city, it is ideal for a quick one day trip or as a weekend getaway.