Trek to Savandurga Hills – Challenging your Grit and Guts 10/01/2016

Place: Savandurga Hills, off Magadi Road, Bangalore

Distance:  70 x 2 = 140 kms
Route:  PathPartner ->  Mysore road -> Take right at Rajrajeshwari    college -> Dodda aladamara -> Manchinbele dam -> Savandurga Hills
Type: Trekking
Terrain: Solid rock
Ideal for: Friends
Transport:  Tempo traveler
Crew:  Me and other 15 collegues
Budget: 550/Head

Best of the beast: Fist fort wall
There was a buzz trekking plans at office so I jumped in to plan trek to the one of the most visited hillock around Bangalore – Savandurga. We were 16 on the confirmed list, Naresh helped with booking the vehicle while Krishna took care of arranging snack.

Brief about the place:
  • Standing as tall as 4000 ft Savandurga is one of the largest monolith in Asia
  • Savandurga is formed by two hills known locally as Karigudda (black hill) and Biligudda (white hill).
  • Savandi Veerabhadreshwara Swamy temple and Narasimha Swamy temple, situated at the foot of the hills.
Sunday Morning: Everyone started from the office at 6 am, I was about to join them at Vijaynagar. Cab arrived at 6.30 am, the energy and enthusiasm was clearly visible on everybody’s face. Its very rare to see your colleagues at 6.30 in the morning 😛 Driver didn’t know the route so I sat on the first seat with GPS guru to help him with the directions while everybody was busy playing Antakshari. Pulled over for tea at Big Banyan Tree. Though there are many ways to reach Savandurga I intentionally chose this route as we can see Big Banyan Tree and Manchinebele Dam enroute but unfortunately we were running out of time so we skipped visiting these two places. After crossing Manchinbele dam the road turned out to be pathetic, never take this route if Manchinbele dam is not on your watch list. 

Manchinbele reservoir: The photo is pulled from my previous visit to reservoir

After going through bad road we could finally see the hills. We finally reached the base of the hills at 7.30 am much delayed by the scheduled plan. None of us had breakfast but energy didn’t seem to be down even by a bit.

Narasimha swami temple at the base of the hills

The Trek: Unlike most the hills I had climbed this one offers true trekking experience as there are no support rails or stairs for the entire stretch which makes ascend thrilling but risky. I will be dividing the trek in 4 parts. 

First fort wall: The initial stretch is the toughest one. The slope is very steep which makes it very hard to climb and makes one exhausted at the beginning of the trek itself. Since the rock is steep a good grip shoes is mandatory else a small skid could lead to serious injuries. The slopes can get really treacherous if it starts raining. The untrustworthy nature of these slopes earned them the name Savandurga (Savina = death + Durga = fort) which means the Fort of Death in Kannada. As you climb higher you will get used to the terrain. Many of us had a tough time negotiating the steep stretch, finally after half an hour we reached the first fort wall which is indeed a sign of relief as trek becomes little easy from this point.

Trek trail starting point.
Massive inclination at the very beggining of the trail
Almost 60 degree inclination, needs body balance and good grip shoes

Gravity is a bitch: Everyone feels like Michel Jackson 😀 
First fort wall.

2nd fort wall: After crossing the first fort wall the slope becomes gentle and trail passes through scanty vegetation. Big group of 16 people was soon divided into fast ascenders, photo freaks and acrophobics. After a lot photo stops we finally reached end of the second stretch where the steepness is sharp. There are steps carved into the rock which helps to ascend easily. Finally we hit the second fort wall which is apparently more popular as most of the trekkers take a quick break here. One does not cross this point without taking crazy photo.

Just follow the electric poles, which finally leads you to the peak
You find many such arrows which guides to the peak
Final stretch before the second fort wall. Observe the steps carved in the rock
I don’t know what pose it is bit it was the craziest pose of the day
Kallina Mantapa: After the second fort wall the trail is simpler and less interesting until you encounter a flat land. There is a big pond, a stone mantapa, and a solid rock building. You can see the summit from this point. Though it might seem far it will take less than 20 minutes to reach. 

Selfie time!!!!!
The first building you encounter near Kallina mantapa
Kallina Mantapa
Trying some photography. Observe Manchinbele dam at the background.
You can see the summit earmarked by the Nandi temple
Summit: The final stretch is the quickest one, you pass couple of caves then ascend very steep boulder. Finally you can see the Nandi statue which marks the end of the trail.

Admin team from my office were already waiting for us atop. We had a group photo before they left. The clear blue sky and the expanse of green below it make for a mesmerizing sight. Excellent place for photography, trekking in Savandurga provides an excellent vantage point for landscape photography. It was 9.45, none of us had breakfast. Fruits and chocolates helped us survive through the hunger. We spent an hour more taking pics, eating, meditating and just exploring the surroundings. There was a local guy who was selling juice at the peak, obviously at the double price. I think they deserve the over price they charge as its not easy to trek all the way up. But on the darker side there were a lot of litter around the place because of this. It was 11 am and we decided to leave the place.

Nandi Mantapa
Kallina Mantapa you can see from the peak
Another adjascent hill called as Karigudda (Black hill) Which is tougher to climb and very rarely climbed by the people
View of the surroundings and base temple.
Real meditation or drama I am not sure 😛
Savandurga hills conquered by the PPties
Descend: The descend was quit easy as the gravity did the rest of work. Negotiating the steep terrain near the base was challenging. Took around half an hour to reach the base of the hills. We had tender coconut water and were ready to leave.

While descending
You can see the manchinbele reservoir
Descending could be tricky at some places where steepness is high
Back to the base
It was already 12 pm so we decided to have lunch directly on out way back. I don’t want to mention it but sadly I broke my LG G2 mobile screen while trying to call someone 🙁 🙁 🙁 We had lunch at hotel Athiti near bidadi. I got down at Vijaynagar, everyone was home by 3 pm.

Important Notes:
  • Carry water and food as there is nothing available on the hill or on the way.
  • Wear a good shoe with better grip as some part of the route are steep
  • Start early as to avoid sun as the hill will get heated as time passes
  • There are no proper washrooms available but you can request at Kalyana mantapa halls near the temple who would allow you to use the washrooms.
  • Please do not litter the place
UPDATE 8/8/2016: Trekking to Savandurga is banned.
Previously night trekking to Savangurga was banned but recent news from the forest officials said that even day trekking is banned at this place because of various mishaps. Please confirm with the forest officer or locals before planning to trek to Savandurga. Source:Bangalore mirror

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  1. Awesome blog.. Thanks for making the time to jot down so very well. We too did this Trek as a group of 3 families and kids aged between 6 to 13 yrs and we thoroughly enjoyed the challenging experience.