9 legendary forts around Bangalore -Navadurga

9 legendary forts around Bangalore -Navadurga

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By Amoga Vigram P

At Indiahikes, we keep visiting these fort treks time and again, and we realized that there was a lack of information to celebrate these treks, so we brought out this article.

The Navadurgas are a chain of 9 forts in the western part of Bangalore. These forts were built for the protection of Bangalore from its enemies. 

Most of these forts offer beautiful trekking trails to the top. While on these treks, you would be transported back in time to when kings and their armies used to march up and down these magnificent forts. 

On one such trek, Savandurga, you get to trek on Asia's largest monolith. Which means the entire structure is formed by one huge rock, and you will be trekking for kilometers on it. On another such trek, Channarayana Durga, you get to see the complexity of the design of the fort. The actual entrance of this fort can never be seen from the bottom, and all the entrances that you see are false entrances that are dead ends. The last time I did this trek, I took one of the false entrances and reached a dead end.

Two treks among the Navadurgas, the Nandi Hills and Devarayana Durga, have road networks all the way to the top, allowing you to immerse yourself in the culture of Bangalore without having to sweat a lot.

These majestic ruins are just a stone's throw away from Bangalore. Imagine if the same forts were in some other country, they would be celebrated and in better condition. We haven't done that enough. So this article is for all those explorers out there who are curious to know more about these forts and appreciate them.

1. Savandurga

Distance from Bangalore : 48km

District : Ramanagara district

Highlights : Trek on the biggest monolith in Asia. toughest trek around Bangalore

Savandurga-Indiahikes

View of Savandurga Hill. Picture by Suhas Saya

The Savandurga trek takes you up Asia's biggest monolith hill. The entire structure is formed by one huge rock. The first sight of the hill makes you wonder about its formation.

It's found 60 km away from Bengaluru in the Savandurga state forest. You would love this trek not only for the great views but also for the satisfaction of summiting. 

The forests and reservoirs stay with you for the entire trek. All it takes is a head turn to get panoramic views of nature.

You can get to Savandurga Hill easily from Magadi Road, using buses, cars, or bikes.

View Savandurga Trek

2. Channarayana durga

Distance from Bangalore : 100km

District : Tumkur district 

Highlights: a reservoir; an ancient fort to explore.

Reservoir enroute the Channarayana Durga fort. Picture by Jothiranjan

The Channarayana Durga Trek is situated near Madhugiri in the Tumkur district of Karnataka. This trek holds a special place in our hearts at Indiahikes because it offers many surprises as you climb through each layer of the fort.

The trek is easily accessible, close to the SH 9 state highway linking Madhugiri and Dabaspet. The magnificent fort transports you back to medieval times, when it served as a strategic stronghold in the Madhugiri and Tumkur regions. It's one of the Navadurgas near Bangalore, with the entire fort divided into multiple layers and sections.

You can appreciate the ingenious design and structure of this 16th-century fort right from the start of the trek. The climb through the granite rocks adds to the excitement. The fort features false doors that lead you astray, a reservoir for year-round water storage, and ancient passageways, making it an exploration worth undertaking.

The view from the top of the fort is breathtaking. You can see the famous Madhugiri monolith and other surrounding hills in a different perspective. 

View Channarayanadurga Trek

3. Makalidurga Trek

Distance from Bangalore : 57 km 

District : Bangalore rural district

Highlights : View of Gundamagere Lake; unique experience of walking on the railway track;

Ruins of Makalidurga fort. Picture by Sourabh Sawant.

Makalidurga got its name from two stories. The place is named after a plant called "Makali Beru," or Makali Root, used to make a healthy drink. Some use its juice in medicines because it cleans the blood, which is usually found on this hillock. 

From the top, you get excellent views of Gundamagere Lake, which is in the shape of South America, and the surrounding villages. 

The fort at the summit takes you back to the time when the fort was full of life and lets you imagine its grandeur in ancient times. At the summit, the temple dedicated to Makali Malleshwara is still worshipped by devotees who climb up all the way to get a glimpse of the idol. This is a rare sight for a fort that is in ruins.

Makalidurga is easy to reach by road and train. It's a great trek all year, suitable for both beginners and experienced trekkers, and a good choice for a quick weekend trip.

View Makalidurga Trek

4. Huliyurdurga

Distance from Bangalore : 105 km

District : Tumkur District

Highlights:The temple and view of the surroundings from the summit of Huliyurdurga

View of Huliyurdurga and the surrounding mountains. Picture by Suhas Saya.

Huliyurdurga is one of the least explored Navadurgas around Bangalore. At the top, you would be standing on a hill that's about 845 meters high, surrounded by the remains of an old fort. 

The word Huliyurdurga is derived from the words "Huli," which means tiger, and "Durga," which means fort, since tigers used to roam the area back in the 16th century.

Today, when you visit Huliyurdurga, it's like stepping back in time while also enjoying some awesome nature vibes. You can wander around the ruins of the old fort, imagining what life was like back then.

View Huliyurdurga Trek

5. Kabbaladurga

Distance from Bangalore : 82 km

District : Ramanagara district 

Highlights : Panoramic views from the summit.

View of Kabbaladurga Peak from the base. Picture by Suhas Saya

Kabbala Durga, situated approximately 70 kilometers from Bangalore city, is a hill fort renowned for its historical significance and scenic beauty. Translating to "horse hill fort" in the local Kannada language, the name aptly reflects its geographical setting and past military importance.

The ascent to Kabbala Durga involves a trek through forests and rugged terrain, ending in a rewarding panoramic vista from the fort's summit. 

Beyond its historical and scenic beauty, Kabbala Durga also presents you with an ideal setting for stargazing. Thus, it serves as a captivating destination for astronomy lovers and stargazing enthusiasts.

Kabbaladurga would be your perfect weekend getaway, with a variety of experiences along the trail.

6. Hutridurga

Distance from Bangalore : 80km

District : Tumkur district

Highlights : good for all age groups. Great view point.

Hutridurga-Uttaribetta-Indiahikes

View of Hutridurga. Picture by Suhas Saya.

Hutridurga, also known as Uttari Betta, is a famous trek near Bangalore, close to Kunigal. The trail to the top is well-marked, making it easy for you to navigate. Lately, the peak of Hutridurga has become a famous pilgrimage spot in the area.

The views of the surrounding areas while you climb to the top are amazing, with views changing with each step that you take. 

When you reach the summit, you'll get to see the beautiful countryside all around you. 

Uttari Betta offers more than just a trek. It's a chance to experience nature and the local culture. So, if you're looking for an easy adventure close to Bangalore, Uttari Betta is a great choice.

7. Bairavaa Durga

Distance from Bangalore : 63km

District : Ramnagara district.

Highlights : Toughest among the Navadurga. Dense forest along the route.

Bhairavadurga is the toughest trek among the Navadurgas. Named after the mighty Hindu deity Bhairava, this 17th-century fort boasts a challenge that will test even the most seasoned adventurers. Picture this: you're faced with steep climbs and dense forest paths. But the payoff at the summit is absolutely breathtaking. Trust me, those views are worth every drop of sweat.

Now, as you make your way up, you'll stumble upon a temple dedicated to Bhairava himself, adding a spiritual vibe to your journey. 

Unlike some of the other Navadurga forts that are more developed and tourist-friendly, Bhairavadurga remains pretty much untouched. That means you've got to come prepared for the trek.

8. Nandi Hills/Nandi Durg

Distance from Bangalore : 56 km

District : Chikkaballapur district 

Highlights : perfect trek in winter, source of a few of the major rivers in the region perfect trek in winter, source of a few of the major rivers in the region.

Sunrise from Nandi Hills trek. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Nandi Hills, close to Bangalore, is a famous spot known for its beautiful views and pleasant climate. To reach the top, there are two options. Most people use the road, but it's very busy on weekends, so the government doesn't allow private vehicles then.

The other way is a lesser-known path with steps. Not many choose this route. These steps are part of the ancient route to the top. If you take this path, you'll see stunning views of Chikballapur and nearby hills that you can't see from the regular road. If you're lucky, you might even see a sea of clouds below you, which feels like magic. It's a special feeling to trek along with the clouds. 

I wouldn't recommend this trek on weekends since it gets extremely crowded at the top. . The trek is located very close to Bangalore, with a road connecting all the way to the top, its one of the top weekend and holiday destinations for Bangaloreans.

View Nandi Hills trek

9. Devarayana Durga trek

Distance from Bangalore : 73 km

District : Tumkur

Highlights : easiest trek; road all the way to the top. 

Base of the Devarayana Durga Trek. Picture by Suhas Saya

Devarayana Durga Trek is one of the easiest treks among the Navadurga forts around Bangalore

 Devarayana Durga isn't too tough to get to anymore because there's a road that takes you pretty close to the top. You only have to trek the last 100 meters or so, which is like a tiny bit compared to the whole journey. So, it's perfect for those who want a taste of adventure without too much sweat.

The Devarayana Durga Trek would be the perfect weekend drive out of Bangalore. You can start early in the morning, drive through the outskirts, and finish the trek with excellent views with very little effort.

Amoga Vigram P

Trek Documenter

About the author

Amoga Vigram is a Trek Documenter at IndiaHikes.

Amoga is an engineer by qualification. He trekked to Beas Kund and Kuari Pass with IndiaHikes. It impacted his mind, body, and spirit. So much so that he joined IndiaHikes as a trek documenter. His love for trekking encouraged him to complete the Basic Mountaineering Course from NIMAS in Arunachal Pradesh.

Amoga has also extensively trekked in the western ghats of Karnataka. Kumaraparvatha is his favourite trek. Along with this, he has also explored treks in the Western Ghats. He firmly believes in the vision that 'everyone must trek' and aspires to add new trekking trails to the map.

Outside of work, Amoga enjoys playing chess and working out.