Rayakottai Fort hilltop

DIY Hiking Guide To Rayakottai Fort, Tamil Nadu

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The Rayakottai Fort is a majestic complex that harbors a rich history and is a haven for hikers. It is also known as Baramahal Hills and Riacotta and is located in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, in the eponymous village. The fort comprises ruined homes of the kings, queens, and a few ministers of a long-gone era. In this blog, we take you through all the details and information you need to embark on a hike to Rayakottai Fort and more. Let’s dive right in.

Rayakottai Fort Hiking Guide


Rayakottai Fort in the Baramahal By Hery Salt
Wash drawing by Henry Salt (1780-1827), of the Fort at Rayakottai in the Baramahal Hills, dated 3rd February 1804.

The hill’s name, “Baramahal,” translates to twelve palaces (Bara means 12, and mahal means palace). After the Pallavas, Cholas, and Pandyas, most of this region came under the Kingdom of Vijayanagar. It was later captured by King Jayadevaraya in 1578 AD, and he fortified the twelve hills surrounding the region. 

The Rayakottai Fort seems to have been built strategically. The place has good roads, and the fort also serves as a gateway to Mysore and the Southern region. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan identified this and ruled the region between 1782 and 1792 until the end of the Anglo-Mysore war. By the Treaty of Srirangapatnam signed in March 1792, he had to hand over the fort and hills to the East India Company. What’s fascinating is that Druva Maharishi meditated in the cave found en route to the fort complex.

How To Reach Rayakottai?

By Air

Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore (Airport code: BLR, 114 Km) is the nearest airport. From here, you must reach the Majestic Bus terminal and board a train or bus to reach Rayakottai.

By Rail

Rayakottai Railway Station (Station code: RYC) is the nearest railway station. Only passenger trains stop at the station. It is well-connected to places like Krishnagiri, Dharmapur, Salem, Karaikal, and Bangalore. From the railway station, the hiking base is within walking distance.

By Road

The buses are frequent, connecting the passengers to the nearby towns of Krishnagiri, Hosur, Dharmapuri, and Bangalore. You can travel by bus and enjoy the pleasant countryside views, coconut trees, farms, and more. Rayakottai Fort is at a walkable distance from the Rayakottai Bus Stand.

Alternatively, if you travel in your private transport, you can mark it on Google Maps and navigate to your destination.

Best Time To Visit Rayakottai Fort

Riacotta or Rayakottai Fort

The best time to visit Rayakottai Fort is during the winter months, between August and December. The summer months are too hot to explore. The ideal time is to hike early in the morning.

Network Availability

Rayakottai has good connectivity with Jio and Airtel.

ATM Availability

Many ATMs are available about half a km from the hike starting base. Digital UPI payments are also accepted in most shops.

Languages Spoken

Most people in the region speak Tamil and very few converse in English.

Parking Availability

A small parking space is available for two- and four-wheelers near the hiking base.

Restroom Facilities

We didn’t find any restrooms. You will have to attend nature’s call outdoors. These super helpful public restroom tips come in handy during travels.

Where To Eat?

There is only one snack shop just beside the hike starting point. Few restaurants are located near the Rayakottai Bus stand.

Where To Stay?

Usually, Rayakottai Fort makes up for an excellent day trip from Bangalore so accommodations won’t be required. However, if you’re looking for a place to stay, the only option is to stay in Krishnagiri or Hosur, 30+ Km away.


Things To Do In Rayakottai

Rayakottai Fort is also a pilgrim site for residents living nearby. Devotees usually hike halfway to the temple while the hikers climb the hilltop to see the fort complex and enjoy the panoramic views.

Hiking Details

Distance to the base: 31 Km from Krishnagiri, 42 Km from Hosur, and 80 Km from Karnataka

Cost: Free entry

Registration: No registration or pre-online booking is required.

Timings: 6:00 AM – 6 PM

Duration: 1 – 1:30 hour to ascend and 30 mins to descend

Summit Height: 2929 feet or 893 m

Hike Distance: 1.75 Km (one way)

Difficulty Level: Easy – highly subject to your fitness level.

Terrain: Rocky steps, boulders, grasslands

Hiking Route:

Rayakottai Fort hike entrance

The stone stairs will guide you from the base point. Follow the path with viewpoints on your right. Witness the numerous butterflies that fly past you along your path.

Route deviation to the cave temple

Keep climbing the stairs past the fort’s first entrance until you reach a diversion with arrows and holy symbols pointing toward your left.

Cave temple at Rayakottai

The left path will lead you to a Hindu cave temple and a dead end. If you want to offer your prayers, you can reach the end and return to the point where the paths diverge. This time, choose the right path. Move along the mix of stairs and grasslands in the visible path.

Rayakottai Fort Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu

After a few meters, you’ll reach the fort arch and several abandoned buildings.

Route deviation along the Rayakottai hike

You’ll have to take another deviation (as shown in the picture) where you must go left. After a few steps, you’ll find a pond on your left. Relax near the pond and admire the majestic fort walls. You’ll also see amazing views of the colorful Rayakottai City on your right.

Rayakottai Fort ruins

After crossing a couple more abandoned buildings, you’ll see a building that seems like a summit; but is not. Walk past the buildings and follow the path. Climb the huge boulder that stands in your way by carefully placing your foot on the half-carved steps.

A lamp and a light can be seen as a flagpole marking the summit.

At The Rayakottai Fort Summit:

A big fire is lit in the brown-colored vessel kept at the hilltop (cover image). A group of locals who worship Vallalar (a Tamil saint) lights the lamp every month on a full moon day. The practice has been followed for years.

View of Rayakottai town from the fort summit

From this viewpoint, you can see the old abandoned buildings built on the fort premises. Besides these, you’ll also see the vibrant city of Rayakottai, a lake, and the surrounding hills. The breeze at the hilltop is so relaxing that it revitalizes one’s energy levels.

Important Things To Remember

  • A guide is not required to hike Rayakottai Fort.
  • The use of plastics and smoking is strictly prohibited. As a hiker, it is incumbent on you to be responsible and not litter. Collect and bring back the waste and dispose of it in dedicated bins.
  • There are numerous monkeys all along the hike right from the starting point. Learn how to deal with monkeys.
  • Shops are available only at the base of the hike. And there is no water source en route. So make sure to carry some snacks and water before starting.
  • The trail and the region are pretty deserted. We recommend you tag a friend or partner along with you.
  • There is nil or very limited shade of the trees at the Rayakottai Fort hilltop. So, make sure to apply sunscreen to escape the scorching heat.

Essential Things To Carry

  • Ensure you carry at least 1 L of water per person.
  • Have your first aid kit handy.
  • Cap, sunscreen & sunglasses are essential to ward off the summer heat.
  • Carry a poncho or raincoat in case of rain.

Read the blog to know more about what we usually carry for day hikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a guide required for the Rayakottai Fort hike?

No, a guide is not required for people visiting the Rayakottai Fort. There are a couple of deviations (explained above). But beyond that, the hike is pretty much linear until the summit.

Is camping allowed at the top of Rayakottai Fort?

Camping is strictly prohibited in most of the hills in Tamil Nadu.

Can the Rayakottai Fort hike be done in a day?

Absolutely. Rayakottai Fort is a small hill that can be hiked in half a day.

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