One of the best hikes around Bangalore, the Uttari Betta is a 5 kms trek across a spectacular lush green landscape which offers a quite unique scenic views similar to western ghats. The trek starts from a small village, entering the fort wall and passes through seven doors of stone to reach the halfway point of the hike which has a temple of Shankareswar at the top. The view from the temple top is beautiful enough to seize your mind for a moment. Once we cross the temple, the trek continues ahead crossing a small jungle-cave, experiencing a whole new unexpected world and ends at the grassland top of the hill which is surrounded by huge boulders. This fort was built by the founding father of Bengaluru Kempegowda. It is said that this fort was impregnable from any side and infiltrating soldiers on horseback faced a lot of hardships to conquer this fort.
Chennarayana Durga is a hill near Tumkur. It is good place for trekking and rock climbing. The height is of about 1,188 mts. If forts or treasures that have evaded history’s books are the kind of thing that make you salivate, then Chennarayanadurga is where your next adventure lies. It is a solid granite of a hill fort that has borne witness to the rise and fall of several empires. Originally built by the lesser known Kings of Madhugiri, it was then passed into the hands of the shrewd Marathas.It became a sure bone of contention between the Marathas and the Mysore Wodeyars, who toyed with Chennarayanadurga and passed her back and forth for many long years until the culmination of the Third Mysore War. This, quite possibly, offers basis to the hundreds of attempts made by locals as well as intrigued travelers who aimlessly hunt the hill down for any semblance of treasure that might have also escaped history’s victors. Though not a single one of these attempts have met with any luck, their undying enthusiasm will keep them coming back for more. On the other hand, there are a unique breed of enthusiasts who try their luck at a different feat and also come back, hungering for more – they are trekkers. Now, Chennarayanadurga may not have any treasure left in her chest, but the stuff she is made of sure offers just as fulfilling a challenge to any trekker that attempts this trail. By itself, the Chennarayanadurga trek can be classified as moderate. The starting point of this trail begins from the quaint village that rolls right up to the foot of the hill. Almost immediately you begin scaling the bare rock face that presents a steep gradient. With absolutely no tree cover to offer you any shade, this part can be rather tiring.
A 130 km drive on the Mysore road towards Mandya and then a right turn, past sugar cane plantations with the characteristic smell of jaggery plants, will take you to Pandavapura. The Pandavas are said to have ended their 14 year long exile here, hence the name Pandavapura. With its steep rock faces and a stone pillar on its summit, Kunti Betta (950 mts) is hard not to notice from here. A short drive from Pandavapura to the temple at the base, and then a stair climb and you are on the trail to Kunti betta.
The Kunti Betta trail is a short but fairly technical one. It includes steep ascents and descents (sum rock faces require rope aid for the inexperienced trekker). Traversing first up and over a hillock and then all the way up Kunti Betta, you constantly have the Thonnur Lake in view. The terrain consists of volcanic granite rock and boulders, with brief stretches of moorland (short grass, shrubby trees and bush). You know you are at the summit when you see the Stone pillar. Great views of surrounding fields, hillocks and the Thonnur lake, make the Stone pillar the perfect viewpoint. If on a night trek, there are spots sheltered from the high winds by boulders that are great for lighting a campfire.
With its challenging yet interesting trail, naturally sheltered summit and close proximity to the Thonnur lake (you can trek down to the lake for a dip), Kunti Betta is an excellent trek for both the absolute novice* hoping to take up serious trekking, as well as for the seasoned trekker wanting to do a more laidback trek over the weekend.
Kabbaladurga is a hillock near 20kms from Kanakapura and is approximately 70 kms away from Bangalore. The peak is home to the temple of Goddess Kabbalamma and had derived its name from the temple and the ruins of a fort at the peak. It is green, rocky and serene. Ideal for a day’s getaway and some soul-searching. The view from the top is absolutely breath-taking, with the shadow of the clouds making patterns on the surface of the Earth. Perfect for new trekkers and climbing enthusiasts. Although the fort is in ruins now, the temple is still visited by the villagers around.
Forty-five kilometers from Bengaluru, ten kilometers after Dodda Ballapur on the road to Ghati Subramanya is Makalidurga. Also known as Gunjur Hill, Makalidurga is a great weekend trek for just about anyone wanting to do a fun, easy trek over the weekend. The trek begins with a kilometer long walk past some cottages and a temple, after which the entry into the hill-trail has to be located (small red arrows painted on rocks at intervals constantly point you in the right direction). The trail is a little hard to locate at the beginning but once you’re on it, its hard to get lost. The terrain consists of volcanic rocks, boulders, short trees and shrub that are typical of the deccan plateau region. The trail is slightly technical because of its steep incline and portions that require scrambling. The trail ends at the remains of an ancient pre-British era fort on the top of the hill within which there is a temple with the statue of Linga and Nandi. The Rishi Markandeya (mentioned in a number of stories in the Puranas) is said to have stayed here and performed penance for a very long time. Strong wind and fog is to be expected.