Makalidurga trek guide

DIY Hiking Guide To Makalidurga

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Makalidurga is a beautiful & eco-friendly hiking trail situated in the Doddaballapur district of Karnataka, 60 Km away from Bangalore. Makali Hills are under the Makali Reserve Forest and are under the supervision of the Doddaballapur Forest Department. It is one of the Navadurga (the nine hill forts) that surround Bengaluru. 

Known for its stunning views with a railway track at its base and pristine greenery, Makalidurga is one of the best short-day hikes from Bengaluru. If you are in search of the perfect blend of tranquility and adventure, this leisure hike is the chef’s kiss.

Makalidurga Hiking Guide

History of Makalidurga

The fort was under the control of feudalism from Doddaballapura. After him, it was controlled by the Maratha leader Mr. Shivaji, and by Mr. Peshwa Madhavarao in 1761 AD. Then Venkateshayya, the brother of Haider Ali’s chief Venkattapayya, seized this fort from the Marathas. 

“HyderNama,” which was written during Hyder Ali’s time, has several references to the Makali fort.

Makalidurga fort ruins

The famous Tippu Sultan has been credited with strengthening this fort during his administration. Secret ways, weapons, water containers, escape routes, and view towers that were constructed during Tippu’s time still exist, offering up a trove of information for a fellow history buff. Usmaan Saheb was the Amaldaar (revenue officer) of this place during that period. The same is also mentioned in a Gouribidanuru scripture.

On the 10th of September, 1790, Major Goudi orchestrated a surprise attack on this fort and seized it. Francis Bukan, who visited this place after Tippu’s reign, recites the Maakali fort in his reports. By that time, it had become a peaceful place and a hospitable place to many saints and sages.

Why The Name Makali?

Makalidurga is named after a woody medicinal climber, “Makali Beru” (Decalepis Hamiltonii). On the hills, the root extracts called “Maagali” are densely available even now. Over time, the name became “Maakali” or “Makali.” The roots from this endangered plant are used to prepare healthy drinks and in medicines for blood purification.

Makalidurga Forest Official Contact

We recommend Mr. Ganga Raju – +91 6362976110. Ensure that you have a functioning understanding and can communicate in the regional language, Kannada, as that is all the guide communicates with. Mr. Ganga Raju is punctual and opens the gate at 6 AM sharp every day. He is available at the base if you need any help or in case of emergencies.

Network Availability

Airtel and Jio are the only providers with decent reception of internet and cellular networks even at the summit. No signal was found with the BSNL operator.

ATM Availability

There is no ATM available near the trek starting point. However, you can find ATMs in Doddaballapur town, approximately 15 Km away, so ensure you carry sufficient cash. 

Languages Spoken

The regional language, Kannada is the only language spoken by the forest officials and the people in the region.

Parking Availability

A good amount of parking spaces are available at the base of the trek.

Restroom Facilities

Near the parking lot, clean and well-maintained restrooms are available.

Best Time To Visit

Best time to visit Makalidurga - view of lake from Makalidurga hilll top

During summer, it will be challenging to hike, given the unforgiving scorching heat. The rocks remain slippery during the monsoons and rains. So, the best time to visit Makalidurga is during pre and post-monsoons in the months of May, November, December, and January, especially in the morning hours when the temperature is not too hot. 

Although Makalidurga hills can be hiked throughout the year, during summer, we advise you to start the trek as early as 6 AM as it becomes increasingly hot and humid as the day goes by.

How To Reach Makalidurga From Bangalore?

By Train

The Makalidurga railway station (Station code: MKL, 2 Km) is the closest railway station. There are trains from the KSR station in Bangalore with a stop at Makalidurga.​​ The train journey is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

You have to walk about 2 km from the station to reach the base of the trek. Watch out for the yellow marking, 54/100 on the track. This signboard indicates the end of the railway trail.

Makalidurga trek starting point

Towards the left, you can find a Karnataka Forest Department gate, inside which you can see information boards detailing the Makalidurga hike. This is the entry point to the hike.

By Road

If you have a vehicle, search for the Makalidurga trek starting point on Google Maps. It will lead you straight to the parking area of the trek. Cross the railway track, and you can find the entry gate.

If you are dependent on public transport, there are BMTC buses every 15 mins to the Doddaballapur bus station from the Majestic bus terminus. From Doddaballapur, you can ask the locals, hop on a bus, and get down at the Makalidurga stop or the Makalidurga railway station. The journey from Doddaballapur takes around 20 – 30 mins.


Where To Eat?

There are no restaurants or snack shops at the base or summit of the hike. Bring food or snacks, especially if you are planning for the 6 AM hike as no shops will be open at that hour. Restaurants can be found after a 15-minute ride from the base.

Things To Do In Makalidurga

Given it is home to some of the most stimulating trails, Hiking is a popular activity, and it is done in the Makali hills. This is also a great place for photography enthusiasts as the trains meandering through the base of the hills offer a very beautiful canvas.

Hiking Details

Distance from Bangalore: 60 Km

Cost: Rs. 250 + GST per person

Registration: Only 150 people are allowed per day, and online booking is mandatory. So, ensure you register and pay online.

Permission: As Makalidurga is a reserve forest that comes under the jurisdiction of the Karnataka Forest Department, permissions are mandatory to hike this trail. At the base of the trail, the Forest Officer will check if you have registered for the trek and collect the contact details of any individual person in the group.

Timings: The gate opens at 6 AM and closes at 5 PM. The last entry is at 3 PM.

Duration: 1-3 hours for the ascend, 30-60 minutes to descend.

Summit Height: 1117 m

Hike Distance: 4 Km, one way

Difficulty Level:

Difficulty level of the trek - crossing boulders

While the trek is easy to moderate, it is however highly contingent on your fitness level.

Terrain: Stones, rocks, and boulders (slippery during the rainy and monsoon seasons)

Water Resources: No drinking water was found along the hiking route. Bring your own reusable water bottles.

Hiking Route: As aforementioned, you need to cross the railway tracks and you will find the entry-point gate. The trek starts from the Durga temple at the base and ends at the Makali Malleshwara (Shiva) temple at the summit, surrounded by spectacular fort ruins.

At The Makalidurga Summit:

View of lake from the hill top

Walk along the Makalidurga fort ruins to get the best 360° views of the surrounding hills, Gunjur and the Gundamagere lakes, and nearby settlements. You can spot the frequent trains crossing along the foothills.

Fort ruins found on the trail

You also get to inspect first-hand the dexterity of some of the architectural ruins, and the land makes up for some of the most refreshing trails that appear historic over the years.

Maakali Malleshwaram temple at the summit

Temples provide the most insights into what life was like at the time period it was built on. There is a historically significant temple of Lord Shiva with a ‘Nandi’, named “Maakali Melleshwara.” It is believed that Markandeya Rishi performed penance here, giving the temple more religious significance

Note: Beware of monkeys. They are notorious for stealing food from travelers.

Important Things To Remember

Leaving waste at dedicated bins
  • The use of plastics and smoking is strictly prohibited. As a hiker, it is incumbent on you to be responsible and not litter. Drop the waste at different collection points, which can be found all along the trail.
  • Illegal trekking is strictly prohibited, and trespassers will be prosecuted.
  • Follow the clearly visible white & yellow arrow marks on the stones to reach the summit.

Essential Things To Carry

  • Ensure you carry at least 1L of water per person.
  • Take sufficient snacks and energy bars, as there are no shops or restaurants nearby.
  • Cap, sunscreen & sunglasses are essential to ward off the summer heat.
  • Carry a poncho or raincoat in case of rain.
  • Above all, ensure you carry comfortable shoes with great traction and grip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Makalidurga a sunrise trek?

Makalidurga is generally not a sunrise trek as the gate for the trek is officially opened only at 6 AM. If you want to watch the sunrise, you have to get permission from the forest official (contact information shared above) at least a day before. You can also join trekking groups for a sunrise trek.

Is a guide required for the Makalidurga trek?

Makalidurga hiking trial route marking

No, you don’t need a guide for the Makalidurga trek. This trek can be done by yourself as the trail is marked on the stones throughout the trek, at every turn or every 25 – 50 m.

Is camping allowed in Makalidurga?

No, overnight camping is not allowed in Makalidurga.

The trail, view, and architectural ruin offer a fresh perspective and make this one of the most unique treks that you will undertake. If you have already undertaken this trek, or if you would like more clarity on the trek, do comment below. We tend to respond immediately. 

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Till next time, நல்ல பயணம்,

The Wandering Twins!

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