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August 2, 2013
Nandi Hills- The Hill Fortress...!!
It was a spur of a moment decision to take the road to Nandi hills. It had been five years since I last visited the nice little hill and six years since I rode to it. The cloudy cold climate fueled it further and before we could plan anything, we had crossed half way, gobbled an Ambur biriyani and had taken the detour off NH-7. After the deviation, it was a ride through the villages with small gatherings and shops popping up at intervals. The route was adorned with wine yards all the way till the base of the hill. Distant hills confused us as to which was the actual one that we were about to climb and the guessing game went on till we reached the top. However the road that led us had no such qualms and we rode on past the villages on to the ghats.
Eucalyptus trees, chill breeze, bonnet macaques and magnificent vistas welcomed us as we went higher past the curves on the smooth tarmac. There were no big hair pin bends but a couple of them were steep. The wayside view points made us break for a photo session before lunging forward towards the hill fortress. We were soon at the entrance of the fort which lies atop the hill. The 18th century fort which belonged to Tipu Sulthan has a beautifully carved entrance gate. We went inside, parked our bike, bought tickets and then strolled inside the fort.
Tipu's summer lodge was the first place we visited. It looked slightly dilapidated and neglected. The rooms were locked and after peeping through the windows of the same we walked ahead to the stepped tank, Amrita Sarovara. Though it is devoid of carvings and architecture, the steps looked beautiful as it goes down to the waters. There is also a small park near the tank. Arkavathy river and Pennar river has its origins in these hills.
From the tank it was a climb up the steps through thick vegetation. Though it was not raining, the effects of monsoon were clearly visible as the place was green, looked fresh and smelled of the earth. The hike took us to the top of the fort which has many elevated resting places. Further up its rocky and there is a temple right on top, the Yoganandeeshwara swamy temple with beautiful carvings and stone works. The authorities have also created a seating area which gives brilliant vistas of the plain below. We found it a bit tough to sit there for long due to the strong cool breeze. However to sit there and stare at the horizon, the blue sky, the grey clouds, the green paddy fields and the greenish brown hills below was truly a surreal experience. To its left there is a small sky walk to help the visitors get a different angle to the vistas. Another interesting point of visit is the Tipu's drop. Tipu Sulthan used to punish his captives to death by pushing them down a 2000 feet drop. Though exciting, it might not be a very safe place to wander around. The edges of the rocks have also been fenced for the safety of tourists. This also gives everyone an opportunity to get close to the fences and gaze at the vistas in oblivion.
There is a restaurant next to the sky walk which faces the plains below. It also provides options for stay. Boghanandeeshwara swamy temple at the base of the hills is another popular point of visit and has numerous visitors during the day. The ride back was equally exciting with winding roads and the cool breeze.
Signing Note- Head up the hill and listen to the chimes of the wind...!!
Route- Bengaluru- Devanahalli- Nandi Hills
Distance- 60 Kms