Adichunchanagiri Hills – The only Kalabhairava temple in South India

Place: Adichunchanagiri Hills / Adichunchanagiri Matta, Markonahalli Dam, Kunigal Lake

Distance: 111 km from Bangalore
Type: Temple and optional trek
Ideal for: Family and serenity seeker
Trek Difficulty:  Very easy
Trek Length: Less than 1 kilometer
Trek Duration: 45 minutes

I’m running out of places around Bangalore to visit on a weekend 🙁 that said, planning a trip around Bangalore has become more difficult for me now than it was ever. Well, Adichunchanagiri was on my list since long but since it was a more of a devotional place I’d skipped it until now.

Best of the beast: Blood in the tank, Fuel in the veins

Brief about the place: Adichunchanagiri in Nagamangala taluk of Mandya district is the holy land, engulfed with divine resonance and vibrant nature.  It is believed that Lord Shiva performed penance here, during which he devoured two demon brothers, Chuncha and Kancha. Who were pestering people in the nearby villages for a long time. Thereafter, the place came to be known as Adichunchanagiri and Chunchanakote. Lord Shiva also assured that he would reside at Adichunchanagiri in the form of Panchalingas — Lord Gangadhareshwara, Chandramouleshwara, Malleshwara, Siddeshwara, and Someshwara. The place thus came to be known as ‘Panchalinga Kshetra’.  This temple is the only one dedicated to Lord Kalabhairava in south India and no such temple has been constructed in the past 500 years.

National Highway 75 was a treat to ride

Saturday Morning: I got up and 5.30 and I hit the road at 6.30 in the morning. The first thing I do soon after the ride starts is – have a hot cup of tea to kick start the journey but today was I was not in that mood. After Nelamangala I took a left turn which leads to the Hassan-Mangalur highway. This was the first time I was riding on this stretch, the 4 lanes national highway was a treat to the riders like us with less traffic. After around 60 kilometers I saw this beautiful Begur lake to the left so decided to take the first photo break. This obscure place was a heaven for photographers like me. There were so many different kinds of birds by the lake and the lake itself was spellbound by the morning sun rays.

Begur Lake
Locals starting their work in the morning
Mesmerizing view of the lake

After half an hour of break, we started riding back at 9 am. It was an ideal time for breakfast and that hop cup of tea which I missed in the morning. There were so many restaurants on the highway and fortunately we stopped at this interesting place called “Kicchana Halli Mane”. Great ambiance was complimented by tasty food. We ordered Idli-Vada and Mangalore buns to please our tummy. The tea was excellent here. We resumed the ride soon after breakfast.

The buns look like a human face. isn’t it?


Found this cute little puppy near a lake

Beautiful lotus flower
Me giving a swag pose everytime we stop for a break

Adichunchanagiri: After another break for a photo shoot, we finally reached Adichunchanagiri. Surprisingly, there were not many people around given the fact that it was a weekend. I parked the bike under shade and started walking towards the temple. After climbing around 200 odd steps we reached the main temple. We deposited shoes and luggage at the shoe counter (better to get rid of the heavy backpack as you have to do a little bit of trekking later on). It was 11 am in the morning but the sun rays were sharp. We started walking towards the main temple.

View of the Adichunchanagiri hills we will be covering today

Statue of  Sri Balagangadharanatha Swamiji, who has immensely contributed to the field of education, medicine, and other fields through the mutt.
Nicely constructed stairs to reach the temple atop
Gigantic statues of dwarapalak at the entrance
As you climb you can get a complete view of the surrounding place
Kalabhairava temple
Dasoha hall

Kalabhairava Temple: In 2008, a magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Kalabhairaveshwara has constructed at a cost of Rs 85 crore by Sri Balagangadharanatha Swamiji. As many as 1,200 people, including sculptors, toiled round-the-clock over nine years to make Swamiji’s dream temple a reality. It is entirely constructed using stones. Doors, pillars, ceiling, everything at the temple is in stone and there are about 64 different varieties of Bhairava statues.

Inside the kalabhairava temple
Kalabhairava statues in different avatara. There are totally 64 avataras displayed in the temple

We were lucky enough to witness the aarti performed for the lord. After aarti, we proceeded to have a look around the temple and its architecture. Well, it was time for a little workout, so we came out of the temple and started ascending towards the summit. En route there were a couple of more temples and a beautiful Nandi statue. 

The new temple which was under construction
Gigantic Ganesha statue caved on a single rock
More steps leading to the summit of the hill
The Nandi statue and the Kalabhairava temple gopuram in the frame
People try to climb this poles to ring the bell
Gangadheshwara swami temple en route
Even though the climb was simple, walking barefoot was little challenging.  It’s been ages since I walked without footwear so my feet fragile. After a bit of walking we reached a fort wall (keep this as a reference) from there we had two options. One route would take to the place where we would have to climb using the iron chain to reach the peak. And another route would have to cross the boulders holding the iron rods embedded in the rock (called as ghuta in Kannada) to reach the peak on the other side.

I stepped on a sharp rock edge injuring myself. Walking barefoot can be challenging sometimes
View of the entire temple
Panoramic view of the temple
steps were steep and irregular at places
The path splits into two from this fort wall

The most difficult part of the trek: I opted to try out the chain one first. After 2 minutes of walk, we reached a boulder which looked quite scary. I had to negotiate steep boulders holding small iron rods embedded in the rock. Even more challenging was to reach ‘Akasha Bhairava’ on a vertical rock holding a long iron chain. The crevices between boulders looked unfathomable and very dangerous. I decided to return back from this point as I was scared to climb any further.

This is the toughest part of the trek


While I stepped back to climb the chain, few others climbed till the peak

Yet another cave temple at the peak
Shivalinga inside the cave temple

I decided to go to the other peak which was relatively easy and need to cross boulders using iron roads only. There was a small cave temple on the way beyond which the second toughest pass of the trek was waiting for us. In the beginning, it looked scary but wasn’t much difficult to cross. We reached a large flat area where there was a big lamp on the right. Maybe it will be lit up during auspicious occasions only. We sat there for some time enjoying the cold breeze and mesmerizing view.

Oil lamp at the peak. This is the end point of the trek
Disconnect from the world to connect to yourself
Me enjoying the view of the surroundings


It was 2 pm by the time we decided to descend. The descent was quick and easy. After having lunch at dasoha we left the place. I was happy to see the bike and helmets were safe and sound. I did want to visit the pushkarani but somehow we forgot about visiting it. 
Markonahalli Dam: I navigated to Markonahalli Dam on the way back to Bangalore. We reached the dam in 40 minutes. There was a medium crowd at the place most of them were families with kids. The place was beautiful, the backwater was looking serene. It was sunny so we struggled to find a shaded place to sit and relax. I took a power nap for 15 minutes. I really wanted to watch the sunset from this place but it was just 4.30 in the evening. Waiting for more than an hour to watch the sunset didn’t feel like a good idea so we decided to visit Kunigal lake which was another 25 kilometers away.

Markonahalli Dam
Markonahalli Dam
Watching sunset would be amazing from this point
It was almost sunset time but we decided to go to Kunigal lake in the meantime

Kunigal lake: If you are one those 90’s kids then definitely you would have heard the song moodal kunigal kere. It was a very famous song in Kannada during early 2000. I did want to see the lake just for this reason. GPS navigation wasn’t much help to find the exact entry point to the lake so we inquired locals for the directions.

Anybody remembers this song?
The lake wasn’t as beautiful as expected though

The lake was huge but it wasn’t as beautiful as I had imagined while listing to the old song. Neither we could get a good view of the sunset from this point. This lake is not much popular with the tourists but there were so many localities who had come near the lake for the evening walk and to chill out with their friends and family. 

It was dark already so we decided to head back to Bangalore. another 70 kilometers didn’t feel like a big deal to me. I wanted to have a hot cup of tea but sadly there were no restaurants on the left side. Though there were many good restaurants on the right. I reached Bangalore at 7 am and my home at 8 pm. It was an amazing ride 
Conclusion: Adichunchanagiri is an excellent place to visit with your family. Or even if you are a devotional person this is a perfect place for you. You can’t expect much on the trekking side but overall the place is a good call for a day’s trip.
Important points:
1. How to reach on Bus: Catch the buses going towards Mangalore, Hassan, and Chikmagalore and get down near Bellur Cross and take an auto or other buses to reach Adichunchanagiri, which is around six km from the Cross.
2. The temple would be open from morning 6 till evening at 8.30 pm. there is no closing time in the afternoon
3. Dasoha will be open till 3.30 in the afternoon so make use of the facility.
4. Climbing the hill could be difficult for aged persons.
5. Markonahalli Dam is an ideal place to witness sunset so plan your trip accordingly and don’t miss it like the way I did.
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