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Navadurga – Trek To The Nine Hill Forts From Bangalore

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Banglore is a mysterious city. It is a conundrum that is waiting to be explored. A garden City and home to India’s greatest tech empires. But perhaps most exciting of all its attributes is the proximity of the Western Ghats. This inspires adventurers and travelers to become frontiers and discover the different facets of the ‘nature gem’ that Banglore cherishes. This effect is much more pronounced on us and always fuels us to trek and witness wondrous sights. After all, it’s not the destination that drives us but the journey. 

Navadurga – ‘Nava’ means nine and ‘Durga’ means fort. The forts are reminders of rich history and some are even thousands of years old. We feel that these monumental structures are quickly being forgotten in the annuals of history. So, in this blog let’s explore the nine hill forts (Navadurga) surrounding Bangalore, located within a radius of 100 Km.

Important Tips

  • As the hill forts are formed on the mountain rocks, it’s very difficult to climb in the scorching heat during midday. It is always wise to go early and as an added perk you get to enjoy the breathtaking golden sunrise.
  • Since Bangalore has a pleasant climate throughout the year, the best time to visit Navadurga is anytime except during the rainy season as the rocks might get slippery.
  • You won’t find any food vendors during the hike. So, carry enough water and energy bars.
  • There is no direct public transport to reach the base of the hills. So, hire a vehicle of your choice.

Navadurga Treks, Bangalore

1. Nandidurga/ Nandi Hills

Nandi Hills-navadurga

Nandidurga is an ancient hill fortress in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka. During the Chola period, it was called “Anandagiri” meaning the Hill of Happiness. There is also a Nandi temple at the top of the hills. The fort was built by the Ganga dynasty, which was later enlarged and strengthened by Tipu Sultan. Tipu Sultan used to drop traitors and British sympathizers from a high point in the fortress called the Tippu Drop. Tipu Sultan’s summer palace is not open to the public but you can take a scenic stroll along the fortified wall. 

Nandi Hills is one of the more fairly known places so is mostly crowded. The motorable road takes you to the top of Nandi Hills. But hiking from the Sultanpet village offers an enriching experience. The path is straightforward with well-laid steps. It is truly a feast to watch the beauty of the sun, rising leisurely above the floating clouds. It is also popular among cyclists and bikers. 

Related: Complete guide to Nandi hills, all the 3 routes explained in detail.

 

Additionally, make sure to visit the 9th-century Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple located near the base of the Nandi Hills. This place is very peaceful and you can have some uninterrupted me-time.

  • Entry Ticket: Rs. 20 per head
  • Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
  • Trek-Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Distance from Bangalore: 50 Km
  • Route: Bangalore – Hebbal – Yelahanka – Devanahalli – Nandidurga
  • Trek length: 3 Km in total
  • Special Permission: Not required
  • Altitude: 1440 m 

Note: Beware of monkeys.

2. Savanadurga

savanadurga-navadurga

Savandurga is a hill fort that is considered to be the largest monolith in Asia. ‘Savanadurga’ or ‘Savinadurga’ translates to the ‘Fort of Death’. It is formed by two hills locally known as Karigudda (Black Hill) and Billigudda (White Hill). The two temples at the foothills, Sri Srivandi Veerabhadraswamy temple, and Sri Lakshmi Narasimha temple are regularly visited by the locals.

There are no paved routes or steps. You have to follow the electric lines to reach the summit. Although the climb is steep, it is one of the highly recommended treks for passionate adventurers. You can find a few remains of the fort en route. Start early to watch the sunrise reflecting on the Arkavati River. The distant view of Nandi Hills is a pretty sight to be remembered. On your way back, you can stop at the Manchanabele dam to indulge in water sports.

  • Entry Ticket: Free
  • Trek-Difficulty Level: Hard 
  • Distance from Bangalore: 48 Km
  • Route: Bangalore – Kengeri – Manchanabele – Savandurga
  • Trek length: 4.5 Km in total
  • Special Permission: Not required
  • Altitude: 1226 m

For more information, read the detailed guide to Savanadurga.

3. Channarayanadurga

Channarayana Durga fort

Channarayanadurga is a hill fort in the Tumkur district of Karnataka. The fort was originally built by the lesser-known kings of Madhugiri. Many battles were fought for its possession and it changed hands several times between the Marathas and the Mysore Wodeyars. During the third Mysore war, the British took over the fort and then abandoned it. 

This is one of the not-so-popular treks around Bangalore. The initial climb is steep and slippery until you reach the fort walls. You will find a reservoir, small temples, and old ruined structures inside the fort. However, for us, the splendorous view of the Madhugiri fort in the backdrop made the trek a rewarding experience.

  • Entry Ticket: Free
  • Trek-Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Distance from Bangalore: 99 Km
  • Route: Bangalore – Nelamangala – Dobbaspete – Koratagere – Channarayanadurga
  • Trek length: 1.43 Km, one way
  • Special Permission: Not required
  • Altitude: 1053 m

For full details, check the DIY hiking guide to Channarayana Durga

4. Huthridurga

huthridurga-navadurga

Hutridurga, also known as Uttari Betta, is a fortified hill in the Tumkur district of Karnataka. It was built in the 16th century by Kempe Gowda. Historically, the fort was the military bastion of Tipu Sultan against the British. It was later conquered by the British later in 1791. 

The trek starts from Santhepet village and passes through the seven-tiered fort. The paved steps take you to the Shankar Eshwara temple. The trek does not end here, it continues through a cave, and an open grassland, and proceeds further to the rock structure at the top, from where you can witness a great sunrise reflecting on the lakefront.

  • Entry Ticket: Free
  • Trek-Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Distance from Bangalore: 77 Km
  • Route: Bangalore – Nelamangala – Solur – Huthridurga
  • Trek length: 4 Km in total
  • Special Permission: Not required
  • Altitude: 1130 m

Read more for the full guide on the Hutridurga trek.

5. Kabbaladurga

kabbaladurga-navadurga

Kabbaladurga is a ruined hill fort in the Bangalore rural district. In the 18th century, Hyder Ali captured the Kabbaladurga Fort from Murari Rao and kept him, prisoner, in the fort till his death. It is said that the convicts were thrown off the cliff as punishment.

The trek starts from the old Kotilingeshwara temple at the base. It is relatively easy and the initial path has steps carved out of rock. The markings on the rocks will guide you to reach the peak. The old and crumbling buildings on the top represent a prison, garrison, and storage godown. The Bheemalingeswara and Kabbalamma temples are popular among the surrounding villages. 

  • Entry Ticket: Free
  • Trek-Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Distance from Bangalore: 82 Km
  • Route: Bangalore – Kengeri – Ramnagara – Chanapatna – Kabbaladurga
  • Trek length: 4 Km in total
  • Special Permission: Not required
  • Altitude: 637 m

6. Makalidurga

makalidurga-navadurga

Makalidurga is a hill fort located in Bangalore’s rural district. Unfortunately, there is not much information on the history of the Makalidurga fort.

For this trek, it is mandatory to book your entry tickets as it come under the Makali Forest Reserve. As soon as you cross the railway track, a forest officer will approach you to verify the tickets. Walk a few meters to reach the open ground with the mountain view. The sight of the lake and the vast green fields from midway instills a new appreciation for nature. The trek path is marked along the way to the fort ruins. There is also a small abandoned Shiva temple at its peak.  

  • Entry Fee: Rs. 250 per person + GST
  • Trek-Difficulty Level: Easy 
  • Distance from Bangalore: 57 Km
  • Route: Bangalore – Hebbal – Yelahanka – Doddaballapura – Makalidurga
  • Trek length: 4 Km in total
  • Special Permission: Not required
  • Altitude: 1117 m

Read more for a full guide on the Makalidurga trek.

7. Huliyurdurga

huliyurdurga-navadurga

In the native language of Kanada, ‘Huliyurdurga’ translates to the ‘Fort of the Tiger.’ It is located in the Tumkur district of Karnataka. It is a solid rock of mass that appears to be an inverted cup. The fort is said to have been built by Kempe Gowda. 

The trek to Huliyurdurga Fort starts from the old temple. The route is a bit rough as it is more of a climb than a trek. Few markings can be found on the rocks. Although the fort is completely ruined now, the summit features one of the best views of Hemagiri and the town below.

  • Entry Ticket: Free
  • Trek-Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate
  • Distance from Bangalore: 92 Km
  • Route: Bangalore – Ramnagara – Channapatna – Huliyurdurga
  • Trek length: 3 Km in total
  • Special Permission: Not required
  • Altitude: 845 m

8. Devarayanadurga/ DD Hills

DD hills or Devarayanadurga temple

Devarayanadurga is a temple town in the Tumkur district of Karnataka. Devarayanadurga translates to the ‘Fort of the God’ and true to its name, the hilltop is dotted with several temples. The fort was captured by Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar on one of his victorious campaigns.

DD Hills is well known among motorcycle enthusiasts for its hairpin curves. You can take a refreshing stop at the Devarayanadurga lake before proceeding to the hill. The road to the left takes you to the Yoga Narasimha temple from the prominent intersection where entry fees are collected. Go straight along the spiral road and ascend a few 100 steps to arrive at the Bhoga Narasimha temple at the top. The path beside the sacred pond leads you to the pinnacle but nowadays visitors aren’t allowed for unspecified reasons.

While the place is great for sightseeing, there is not much trekking to do. Opposite the regional food stall, there is a small open ground from where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the place below. To hit the famous Instagrammable cliff, you need to go past the Yoga Narasimha temple and take a left. From there, you can capture stunning views encompassing the region. 

You can also visit Namada Chilume which is nearby. It is a historical place that boasts its uniqueness as a place where the spring water never dries up.

  • Entry Ticket: Rs. 10 for bike, Rs. 20 for car
  • Distance from Bangalore: 71 Km
  • Route: Bangalore – Nelamangala – Dobbaspet – Deavarayanadurga 
  • Special Permission: Not required
  • Altitude: 1204 m
  • Note: Beware of monkeys

Read the detailed guide to DD Hills here.

9. Bhairavadurga

bhairavadurga-navadurga

The Bairava Fort was built by Kempe Gowda in the 17th century AD and was later captured by Tipu Sultan. The fort has two fortification walls and a temple atop dedicated to Bhairava, a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva.

Bhairavadurga is one of the most difficult and harrowing treks among the Navadurga. This trek is not advised if you are not experienced. There are two routes to land up at the fortified hilltop. One, is through the shrubs and dense forest, while the other, is through a steep rocky ascend. Although there is not much to see at the top, the hike is an adventure in itself.

  • Entry Ticket: Free
  • Trek-Difficulty Level: Moderate 
  • Distance from Bangalore: 63 Km 
  • Route: Bangalore – Nelamangala – Solur – Bhairavadurga
  • Trek length: 3 Km in total
  • Special Permission: Not required

Trekking is more than just lugging along a long journey. It is a surreal experience that allows you to be one with nature and makes you appreciate life and the world around you. It is a journey that lets you discover and find out things about yourself that you would have not done before. Best of all at the end of the journey, you have a story to share with people, you are filled with fond memories and some kickass pictures to go with them.

Have you ever been on a trek? Have you been to any of these Navadurga forts? Have you trekked through other historical sites? We greatly appreciate your stories, so go ahead and comment below. Also, do let us know if want a detailed guide for each of these treks. 

As always stick with us for more great content on travel and adventure.

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2 comments

Pranav 09/17/2022 - 10:27 PM

Nice blog.. I have completed 5 out of these 9 treks.. and now that I’ve completed more than 50% of them, I wanna complete all of them now. Looking forward to complete it all within this year end!
I enjoy trekking, I’ve trekked in about 10 places.. Kudremukh which I did last year was one of the most beautiful and challenging treks which I’ve done till date.
It’s always so amazing to get out of our monotonous city life and go to a mountain and go on an adventure!!

Thanks for your post.. very informative 🙂

Reply
Twins 09/21/2022 - 9:02 PM

That sounds awesome Pranav. Keep exploring new places!

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