These spots are perfect for nature lovers and history buffs.

Photo of a trekker at the top of Madhugiri Betta
Features Travel Saturday, February 13, 2021 - 18:27

The routine and clamour of city life can often make you feel the need to escape into nature. If you live in Bengaluru, you are in luck, because there are a number of choices for a quick getaway around the city, which ensure a thrilling holiday. Here’s a list of five locations that are a short drive away from Bengaluru, where you can escape for the weekend.

Huliyurdurga


The aerial view of the Huliyurdurga hillock which is part of Navadurgas (Wikimedia Commons/Gopakumar V R)
 

The Huliyurdurga fort hill, a part of Navadurgas (Nine forts) near Bengaluru, is said to have been erected by Kempe Gowda, the founder of modern Bengaluru. A two-to-three-hour bus ride away from the city, this trek makes a perfect getaway for nature enthusiasts. Surrounded by greenery, the hill assumes the shape of an inverted earthen pot, which earned it the title of ‘Kumbi betta’. 

The trekking trail starts from the nearby village of Huliyudurga. The only way to climb to the top of the hill is via a vertical wall made of rocks. Be wary of the steep gradients on the 30-minute hike. The hill is also a popular pilgrimage spot; many flock here in the month of February to visit the temple of Lord Malleshwara. Despite being 847 metres above the sea level, the hill offers an amazing sight of the nearby village, green cover (if you visit in Monsoon) and the ruins of the fort wall on the top. 

Though the climb is easy, it has its share of tricky spots during the ascent and descent.

Nandi hills


The magnificent view of sunrise from Nandi Hills it is widely known for (Wikimedia Commons/Yasmeen syeda)
 

Atop the Nandi Hills is an ancient hill fortress built when the kings of Ganga Dynasty ruled over the region. This fortress is known for the enchanting view of sunrise shining over the town surrounding the hill. Experiencing the foggy weather here at the break of dawn is reason enough to get an early start to the day and head to the hill, which is 60 km from Bengaluru.

The hill houses to several monumental structures, temples and Tashk-e-Jannat, or one of Tipu Sultan’s summer retreat. The archways laced with intricate patterns, high pillars and crafted ceiling attracts tourists regularly. One can either drive to the top or use stairs to reach the summit. While walking the trail, the small Sri Gavi Veerabadhra Swamy temple is seen nestled in a cave formation. Further into the climb, you will also come across Amrutha Sarovara, a stepwell reservoir built in 1928. The trek is not difficult to undertake, given the availability of the stairs. However, it would be advised to be cautious of a few slippery rocks.  

Savandurga


View of the Akravarthy rivier from the top of Savandurga (TNM)
 

Located just 50 km away from Bengaluru off Magadi Road, the trek up Savandurga is taxing but well worth the effort. Touted to be the largest monolith in Asia, it rises to 1226 m above mean sea level. Trekkers start traversing the trail at 5 am, to catch the sunrise which illuminates the Arkavathy river flowing nearby and views of Magadi. Savandurga is formed by two hills known locally as Karigudda (black hill) and Biligudda (white hill). Savandurga fort was the second capital of Kempegowda from 1638 to 1728,

When you reach the base of Savandurga, there are two temples at the base - Savandi Veerabhadraswamy temple and Sree Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple. The trek begins from a temple at the base to the top of the hill. It starts off as a gentle slope before challenging climbers in some parts. The entire trek up the hill is 2 km and it leads travellers to a brilliant view at the top of the hill. Be wary while climbing down the hill, it may seem easy but is actually more challenging in some parts especially if it has rained and the rocks are slippery. 

Bannerghatta


A tiger in a cage at Bannerghtta National Park which is a short drive away Bengaluru (WikimediaCommons/MGA73bot2)

Another option is the Bannerghatta National Park located 22 km south of Bengaluru, which means you can reach the park in less than an hour. On the way, there is also a Meenakshi Temple, similar to the temple built in Madurai. Travellers can reach the national park and take entry tickets, which also gives the option of a safari. The vehicles inside the park have grills on them and the safari allows travellers to glimpse lions, tigers, deer and bears from a close range. There is also a zoo with a variety of animals, birds and reptiles. 

The highlight of the park is the sight of the tigers roaming in the vast enclosures. Sometimes they are also spotted sleeping. There are also enclosures with emu birds and varieties of deer and bears. There is also a butterfly park which also displays fossils of various butterflies. 

The park is part of a wildlife corridor for elephants which connects the BR Hills and the Sathyamangalam forest. You can travel here easily, and spotting a tiger on the safari is worth the visit.

Madhugiri


The trail towards the top of the Madhugiri Betta (TNM)

If the ruins of a historical structure fascinate you, Madhugiri Betta is the place for you. Just 107 km away from Bengaluru, the monolithic hillock is nestled in Madhugiri city of Karnataka. The 1.6km-long trail is replete with steep slopes, and is widely known for the view it has to offer. The fort ruins atop the hillock and breathtaking views of the Thimmalapura forest and surrounding lakes from 1200 metres above sea level is a rejuvenating experience. The fort was constructed by Raja Hire Gowda circa 17th century. 

The 2-2.5 hour-long trek can be risky, for there are parts of the trail that includes crossing the steep rock horizontally. The trail, however, has stairs in other places, making it only a moderately difficult climb. Deriving its name from the local bee farmers of the ancient times (Madhu-Giri which translates to Honey-Hill), the hillock is surrounded by temples of historical significance. Descending from the top is relatively easier.

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