Monday, November 09, 2009

Savanadurga, Bangalore.

It had been almost a month since I hit the road and I was beginning to develop an itchy feet. Bad health and family commitments had kept me off road all this while. So the first chance I got, I was away. I announced to my partners-in-crime that this weekend was a biking and trekking getaway. 60 kms of biking and 4050 ft of vertical trekking. The Destination – Savanadurga. As I stepped out of the house at 6 in the morning and saw the steady drizzle coming down, I thought about all the blogs I read by those who have vanquished this mighty giant of a hill. Every blog I read warned of the danger surrounding the terrain during the rains. Now looking at the drizzle I must say I was elated. Yes, you heard me. Elated. I mean, what fun is an adventure without some danger!

The Savanadurga is 14 kms from the Manchanbele Dam. There are two routes to reach Savanadurga. The first and fastest being taking the Magadi Road. The second and highly recommended is the Dodda Alada Mara-Manchanbele Dam route. I recommend the later because the 14 km stretch road leading from MD to Savanadurga is simply exhilarating. No, Im not talking about the quality of the road, but the beauty of the surroundings. Immediately after the dam is a village and after that you enter a forest reserve. The drive through the forest makes the slow-paced and time-consuming drive worth its weight in gold. After entering the reserve I could not but take my helmet away to breathe-in the fresh air. It’s a totally invigorating experience. Not for miles and miles away from Bangalore can one breathe such fresh air. It sure can rejuvenate your body to no end.

One more reason why you need to take this route is the umpteen number of hamlets you will cross. These are places where time stood still. It also brings back memories from my own childhood - memories of the humble village I’ve come from. Inhabitants here stare at you, like you’ve come from outer space.

The final 4km stretch – where all you do is circumvent the hills - to the foot of Savanadurga is a biker’s nightmare. Back-breaking is an understatement in this road - or what is left of it.

Just before you reach the foot hills you go past an ancient Nandi Temple (yes, there has to be a temple wherever you go). Outside this temple you will find an equally ancient Stumba and next to it, what looks like a giant swing with two mighty heavy iron chain hanging from the top. Also on the ground next to this giant-swing-like thing you’d find two mighty perfectly-circular boulders with a hole in the centre. Personally I have no clue what this is all about. A few more meters further and you reach ground-zero, where you’ll find a temple…again.

It’s always a good idea to have some coconut water before the long and demanding climb. Keeping yourself hydrated is the key. Traveling light is also a good idea, so we finished whatever water we had and threw away the bottle.

Wikipedia Corner:

Savandurga is a hill 33 km west of Bangalore off the Magadi road. The hill is famous for a temple and is also believed to be among the largest monolith hills in the world. The hill rises to 1226 m above mean sea level and forms a part of the Deccan plateau. It consists of peninsular gneiss, granites, basic dykes and laterites. The Arkavathi river passes nearby through the Thippagondanahalli reservoir and on towards Manchanabele dam. Savandurga is formed by two hills known locally as Karigudda (black hill) and Biligudda (white hill).

The climb to the top not surprisingly is tedious. No amount of yoga or umpteen hours on the treadmill will make the climb a cakewalk. While you are huffing and puffing your way up this monster of a hill, remind yourself to enjoy the breathtakingly scenic view. The silver lining is the Akravathi river winding its way down to the Manchanbele Dam. You could also get a good look at the ISRO Satellite Dishes situated near the dam. Further behind the ISRO you also see the concrete jungle that Bangalore is.

Barely a few feet away from the top of the hill and it started raining. But we were not in the mood to quit the mission after having come this far. Hence we quickly rushed to the top (the final stretch being the most difficult), took a few seconds to catch our breath, one last look at the scenic beauty laid before our eyes and we started our way. Almost immediately we realized the danger all those bloggers were talking about. Yes, it’s very real and very imminent. The slippery wet surface of the hill brought back memories of the day I decided to do a little bit of ice-skating. This is the best time to tell you that, Savanadurga is one real large, bald rock. It’s so bald it can put Pritish Nandy to shame!

We crawled, slipped, slid, skated, fell and sometimes walked our way to the foot of the hill. Getting down the hill was one of the most exhilarating episodes of my life. And it will remain etched in my mind for a long time to come.

Getting-there: Mysore Road -> Left at Raja Rajeshwari Dental College -> Big Banyan Tree -> ISRO -> Manchanbele Dam -> Right at village immediately after the Dam -> Through the Forest -> Right at the T-Junction Main Road.

  • Keep yourself hydrated. Carry a backpack for carrying water and other liquids. Otherwise, there are boys who sell juice at the top of the hill – for DOUBLE the MRP.
  • The bag pack will also help in carrying your trash, there-by not littering the place.
  • Get your Trekking shoes on – preferably those by Woodland!
  • Breathe the fresh air of the forest.

Must-Don’t: Carry things other than a bag pack. You need two free hands along with your legs for the climb.

Road report:

  • Mysore Road – Paradise in the city.
  • Raja Rajeswari Dental College to ISRO – Good
  • ISRO to Manchanbele Dam – Bad.
  • Manchanbele to Main Road connecting the Hills – Drivable but narrow.
  • Final 4km stretch to the foot of the Hills – Nightmare!

My Rating: 7/10


  1. hey our visit to savandurga... couldn complete it as there was police inspection , a couple had died a few hours back :(

  2. It was worthreading. we were in Ooty-Msyore-Bangalore from 9th June, to 16th June, 2012. Ooty is really a nice tourist place. I am also a big fan of Msyore city for its pleasent weather through out the year.