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The Complete Guide to Madhugiri Fort Trek

Madhugiri Trek is one of the most spoken- about treks, among the treks in Karnataka. This trek is to the peak of the second-largest monolith of Asia. The highlight is the rock dome, atop which stands a fort!

Madhugiri is a town in the Tumkur district of Karnataka surrounded by the Thimmalapura forest. The name Madhugiri which means “Honey-hill” is borrowed from the Honeybee colonies that existed on a few parts of the fort which was constructed by Raja Hire Gowda in the 17th century.

The trek will take you through a plethora of historical structures; half-ruined and through three walls of defence or gateways, before you reach the topmost fort, unveiling extraordinary views of the town; the forest; a few small lakes and the surrounding hillocks.

The trek can be done by intermediate and experienced trekkers. If you are a beginner, prepare well, since the trail is cited pretty difficult because of the steep slopes in a few sections of the trek.

Table Of Contents

Just like you, we love trekking! And this is a trek we’ve documented in great detail to help you do it on your own. Drop-in comments at the end of the page if you need any help!  You will get all the information required to do the Madhugiri fort trek on your own.

To navigate through the documentation easily, use this section of the Table of Contents

  • What to Watch out for
  • Trail Information
  • GPX File of the Madhugiri Fort Trek
  • Best Season to do the Madhugiri Fort Trek
  • How to Reach the base of the Madhugiri Fort Trek
  • Is Madhugiri Trek Difficult
  • How To Get Fit For The Madhugiri Fort Trek
  • Things to Take on the Madhugiri Fort Trek
  • Frequently Asked Questions About the Madhugiri Fort Trek
  • Nearby Places to Visit after the Madhugiri Fort Trek

What To Watch Out For

1. The Deceptive Architecture

The trek takes you through 3 defence walls or gateways. For every gate you cross, it seems as if what you see ahead is the highest point of the trek but as and how the journey unfolds; the topmost fort is seen only at the end after crossing the third gateway. 

Intricate carvings, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

The structures were built with intricate carving a lot of which is still intact and is beautifully constructed. Picture by Suhas Saya

On the way, you can also spot quite a few pillars and storage racks that were used to store grains earlier.

2. View of the Thimmalapura Forest when climbing to the top

At a maximum altitude of 3,930 feet, the views while climbing are spectacular! The lush greens of the forest subtly mixed with the Madhugiri town from afar are exactly the kind of quick mountain escapes needed from the daily hustle.

View from the top, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

View of the green, dense Thimmalapura forest. Picture by Suhas Saya

In the post-monsoon season, you can also sometimes spot peahens and bears while looking at the view from different sections of the trek.

An early morning trek also entails the view of a splendid sunrise. If you’re planning to catch the sunrise, don’t forget to pack some tea! 

3. A fully functional rainwater harvesting system

One more very interesting part of the fort is a rainwater harvesting system that is visible as you trek. You will see that a small canal is dug out on the hill at various places that connect to the pond at the entrance. This system still works and during monsoons, the pond is filled with accumulated rainwater from the hill.

I guess the ancient were, after all, living ahead of their time!

Trail Information

Madhugiri Trek can be divided into three sections:

  1. Entrance to Antaralada Bagilu or Gateway one
  2. Antaralada Bagilu to Diddi Bagilu or Gateway two
  3. Diddi Bagilu to the fort through Mysore Gate or gateway three
Route Map, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

Trail Map of Madhugiri trek. Source: Google Earth. Picture Courtesy Suhas Saya

Section I: Entrance to Gateway one

Trek Distance: 522 m
Trek Duration: 30 minutes
GPS coordinates of Entrance:  13°39’29″N 77°12’25″E
GPS coordinates of Gateway one:  13°39’20″N 77°12’24″E

There is a pond and a grilled gate that aptly marks the start of the trek. The trail is easy to follow and has a series of steps built that will take you to the first gateway. This is the easiest section of the trek. 

Stairway at the entrance, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

A well-built stairway at the entrance of the Madhugiri Trek. Picture by Suhas Saya

The trail then consists of a mix of staircases and plain ground and as you go further, you can already start seeing the surrounding views of the town of Madhugiri.

Boundary wall, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

A glimpse of the boundary wall built around various parts of the fort. Picture by Deepa Bhat

As beautiful as these walls are, it is very sad and disappointing to see people leaving marks on them. And whether it’s the markings on these walls or trash on the mountains, it is our responsibility as trekkers to conserve our ancient heritage and co-exist with the environment by not indulging in any such activities while trekking.

Be on the lookout for various pillars; racks and arches that represent the age-old skill and art of ancient India.

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A beautiful window like arch encountered on the main trail. Picture by Suhas Saya

Once you go through gateway one and start walking ahead, you will see a dried-up pond amidst the flatland. This is a good rest point to take a look at the beautiful setting around the hill.

A dried pond, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

A dried pond on the Madhugiri hill. Picture by Suhas Saya

Spend some time and explore the surroundings at the first gateway to see different views from the fort. There are bastions that you can check out and various watchpoints from where you can click some amazing pictures from the high viewpoints.

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The sun rays reach inside the doors of the gateway. Picture by Suhas Saya

Section II: Gateway One to Gateway Two

Trek Distance: 405 m
Trek Duration: 45 minutes
GPS coordinates of Gateway one: 13°39’20″N 77°12’24″E
GPS coordinates of Gateway two: 13°39’15″N 77°12’15″E

The trail now starts to gradually ascent with rock-cut steps on the way. This section is a short distance but will easily take around 40-45 minutes, due to some steep parts ahead. 

It becomes very slippery during the monsoon season. Watch out for the weather predictions when going on the trek. If it has rained the previous night, be careful on these rocks. 

Eventually, the trail turns to plain rock with supporting iron rods to catch hold of and walk along, following this path towards gateway two.

Rock trail, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

A flat rock trail towards gateway two. Picture by Suhas Saya

Now, a very tricky part comes along as you go further, with no rope for any support in a few places and an inclination of about 75-80 degrees. If there is a strong wind blowing, it becomes a challenge to traverse this particular section. 

You will carefully have to walk horizontal, maintaining your balance through the narrow foot space on the rock. Ensure that you place one foot at a time carefully and go slow.

Steep trail, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

Trekkers walking along the steep trail. Picture by Suhas Saya

This is the most challenging part of the trek. Navigate carefully and take your time. It is alright to take about 5-10 minutes to cross.

| Tip: Make sure you wear proper trekking shoes with a good grip to make the walk easier. Also, pack light, since it is a one day trek, pack only essentials. This will help you climb better because of the reduced load, however small.

Further, there are no cut out stairways but only plain rocks to trek on. You need to maintain good steadiness and climb slowly.

Narrow trail, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

One of the sections with a narrow space for climbing that adds to the thrill. Picture by Suhas Saya

Once this part of the trail is done, walk to defence wall two or gateway two following the well-marked route.

The scenery surrounding the hill now starts to open up a lot more and the locale is picturesque. Enjoy the stunning landscapes and the calm of the wind, while you rest.

View of the nearby hills, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

A scenic view of the nearby hillocks and the town of Madhugiri. Picture by Suhas Saya

Section 3: Gateway Two to the Pinnacle of the Fort

Trek Distance: 739 m
Trek Duration: 55 minutes
GPS coordinates of Gateway two: 13°39’15″N 77°12’15″E
GPS coordinates of Fort: 13°39’06″N 77°11’59″E

From gateway two, once again, you will encounter staircases till about when you’re halfway through the section. After that, the trail is plain rock, and arrow marks are drawn that can easily be located.

Follow the arrows and climb up the rocky section to gateway three. 

Gateway two to the fort, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

An arrow mark leading from gateway two to the fort. Picture by Deepa Bhat

Just before you reach gateway three, there is a small section that is very steep, so be careful and take your time.

The fort is just a little further from the third gateway and you’re now entering the final stretch of the trek! 

If you are trekking post-monsoon, you might be able to see a bed of flowers at places where you have some greenery amidst the rocks.

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Wildflowers growing in some patches. Picture by Suhas Saya

However, the topmost section of the fort is still not visible when you enter the gateway. You have to walk for another good 5-10 minutes, to get the first glimpse of this section of the fort and the temple. 

Temple entrance, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

Entering the temple. Picture by Suhas Saya

Inside the fort, you see the ruins of the Gopala Krishna Temple. Even though the temple seems to be in ruins, the place gives a whole new calm vibe. There is a backdoor to the temple that leads to the splendid views of the surroundings! This makes the tough climb worth it.

Spend an hour at the top. Go around to see the views from the other side of the fort and have your lunch while looking at the stunning views.  

Soak in the panoramic views of the Thimmalapura forest, reaching far and wide into the horizon and the blue skies that blend in flawlessly, making the whole experience feel like you’re in a movie!

Views from the other side, Madhugiri trek, day hikes near Bangalore, treks around Bangalore, Indiahikes

Views from the other side of the fort that make you go speechless. Picture by Suhas Saya

Your descent will be by the same route. It will take about an hour to reach the entrance. However, be careful on the steep slopes while climbing down and walk with caution.

Best Season To Do The Madhugiri Trek

The best months to do the Madhugiri fort trek are from September to February. Post monsoon or the winters are the best seasons to do the Madhugiri Trek.

Post monsoon, you will witness the lush greenery of the Thimmalapura Forest in its full glory. 

The trek can be extended till the pre-summer season before the rocks start getting too hot to climb on. You will have much clearer views compared to the post-monsoon season in the absence of mist. 

The region receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon season. Hence we recommend you avoid it during monsoons as it gets really difficult to cross the steep sections.

How To Reach Madhugiri Fort

Madhugiri town is about 107 kilometres north-west of  Bengaluru, in the Tumkur district

Reaching Madhugiri by your vehicle

If you plan to drive to Madhugiri from Bengaluru, it will roughly take you around 2.5 hours to reach the trek entrance. You can use this link to help set up navigation on Google Maps.

You can take the highway from Bangalore and via Nelamangala to reach the Dabaspet junction. Take a right at the Dabaspet junction to head towards Madhugiri via Koratagere or you can go to Tumkur and then drive to Madhugiri.

Reaching Madhugiri by Public Transport System

Various KSRTC buses go to Madhugiri every day from Majestic that will drop you directly at the Madhugiri bus stop which is right by the entrance of the trek. You can take an early morning bus to Madhugiri. It takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Madhugiri by bus. It will cost around Rs 150 in total.

If the direct bus to Madhugiri is delayed or not available, take a KSRTC bus from Bangalore to Pavagada and then to Madhugiri.

Alternatively, you can also take the bus to Tumkur and then reach Madhugiri. The cost is almost the same for this route too. But this route takes a little longer as you have to catch another private/government bus from Tumkur to Madhugiri.

Nearest Railway Station

Tumkur Railway Station – 44 km

Nearest International and Domestic Airport

Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore – 100 km 

Is Madhugiri Trek Difficult

The Madhugiri trek is of moderate difficulty. If you are a first-timer, then we recommend you prepare well for this trek as it will test your stamina; balance, and endurance.

One way, the trek will be close to 1.5 km. It will take you roughly 2-2.5 hours to reach the top and about an hour to descend. 

There are a few difficult climbs in section 2 of the trek, so proceed cautiously and at a slower pace. Here are a few things to keep in mind while trekking.

  1. Trekking on the steep rock section horizontally can be slippery. Make sure you wear proper trekking shoes and carry a light backpack
  2. Make sure you stay well hydrated during the trek as there are no regions with proper shade.

How To Get Fit For Madhugiri Fort Trek

The Madhugiri Trek is classified as a Moderate grade trek. 

The trail is pretty steep from the base up to the top of the fort. This requires good stamina and endurance.

Training yourself for a moderate grade trek

Here’s a guide to help you get fit for the trek in 4 weeks:

➤ Cardiovascular Endurance

In case you’re just starting with a fitness routine, start slow and increase your pace every day in the following manner –

  • Target completing a jog of 5 km in 45 minutes when you begin.
  • Gradually increase your pace by running 5 km, 4 times a week.
  • As you become more comfortable, introduce another day of running to your routine. 
  • Progressively increase the distance you run in a workout until you can complete 5 km in 40 mins.

If you prefer cycling over running, target covering 15 km in 60 minutes when you begin.

  • Progressively increase your pace to cover 20 km in one hour.
➤ Strength Training

This is an important area you need to work on.

Strength training is equally important to trek comfortably. Work on your glutes, calves and knees. Additionally, work on strengthening your core.

You must strengthen your core muscles. For strengthening your core muscles, holding a plank and its variations (elbow, side planks) are the best exercises to go about doing it.

Also, try these exercises for strength:

Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each set.

– Squats (Mix it up with sumo squats)

– Lunges (Forward, backward and lateral lunges)

– Planks

➤ Flexibility

Flexibility determines the amount of movement your bones can make in any direction around joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.

It is an aspect that will help you trek comfortably. Carrying a backpack, however, light can become a strain. Stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and lower back muscles regularly, promotes relaxation in the tissues reducing the strain on your back.

If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.

What To Pack For Madhugiri Fort Trek

  • Basic First Aid kit*
  • Identity Card
  • Cap/ Scarf/ Bandana & Sunglasses
  • Water (Minimum two litres)
  • Lemon and salt OR Electrolyte Powder/Drink (Electral/Gatorade/Glucon D, etc.)
  • High-calorie snacks (Nuts & dry fruits, home-baked cake, etc.)
  • Safety Pins, Rubber bands & Whistle (Useful in emergencies.)
  • Quick Dry T-shirts are preferable over cotton tees.
  • A warm layer (Pullover, sweater or a jacket)
  • Poncho, only during post-monsoons
  • Plastic sheet to wrap electronic devices, only during monsoons
  • Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
  • Trekking poles
  • Tent (3-Person or 2-Person – Depending on the number of people sharing)
  • Sleeping Bag
*First aid kit:
  • Scissor
  • Band-aids (Regular & Waterproof)
  • Analgesic spray (Relispray, Volini, etc.)
  • Antiseptic Liquid (Savlon, Dettol etc.)
  • Antiseptic powder (Povidone-Iodine based powders like Cipladine, Savlon, etc.)
  • Cotton roll & Bandage
  • Crepe Bandage
  • 1-inch wide medical tape (paper or cloth.)
  • Micropore tape
  • Tablet for motion sickness (Avomine), Acidity (Gelusil, Digene, etc.).
  • Mild pain relief tablet (Crocin)

| Note: Always consult a doctor before taking any medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions About Madhugiri Fort Trek

1. Do I need permission for the Madhugiri trek?

You don’t need any permission for the trek. However, there is a small office at the entrance of the trek so keep a government Id proof handy.

2. Is camping allowed on the Madhugiri fort trek?

There is no restriction on camping on the Madhugiri trek but you will not be able to pitch a tent since the ground is all rocky. However, you can stay inside the ruined Gopalakrishna temple. 

3. Are there any stay options near Madhugiri trek?

If you want to stay overnight, there are quite a few options in and around Madhugiri Town. You have a few good hotels and guest houses to pick from. You can click on this link to check out some options to stay near Madhugiri Trek. 

Tip: Combine this trek over the weekend with Channarayana Durga or Siddara Betta which are close by day hikes and stay the night in Madhugiri.

4. Are there any timings on the Madhugiri trek?

There are no particular timings as such for the Madhugiri Trek.

The best time to start your trek will be early in the morning or before noon. This will ensure you are back down before dusk. It takes easily about 3 to 4 hours overall to complete the trek.

It is not advisable to start your trek in the afternoon as the rocks get heated up. 

5. Are there any sources for Food and Water on the Madhugiri Trek?

There are no food stalls or water sources along the trek to the fort. There are small shops at the entrance of the town of Madhugiri with some basic snacks, nothing fancy, and no restaurants.

We recommend that you carry a minimum of 2 litres of water with you and enough food, snacks, and energy bars that can suffice throughout the trek.

If you are driving early in the morning to Madhugiri, you can find a few restaurants along the highway towards Dabaspet junction for breakfast.

6. Where is Madhugiri located?

Madhugiri Hills is located in the Tumkur district of Karnataka, around 100 km away from Bangalore. It is the Asia's second largest monolith, first being Savandurga located around 65 km from Bangalore.

Emergency contacts for Madhugiri Trek

Hospital: Sri Ranga Hospital (09448970926) and Government Hospital are the nearest hospitals on the Madhugiri trek

Police Station: Madhugiri Police Station (08137282381) is the nearest police station to the Madhugiri Trek. 

ERSS: For any kind of emergency help, you can contact the Pan-India Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number- 112

ATMs and Networks on the trek

ATMs: There are a few ATMs near the fort in Madhugiri. However, It is better to carry cash with you than rely on any ATMs on the way.

Mobile Networks: You get good coverage of all networks throughout the trek, up until the very top. 

Places To Visit After Madhugiri Fort Trek

❖ Jayamangali Blackbuck Conservation Reserve

The Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve is one of only two reserves dedicated to the antelope in Karnataka.

There are about 80 species of plants that have been recorded and around 67 species of butterflies that have been sighted along with the gorgeous blackbucks in their natural habitat. Apart from blackbucks, the area consists of Acacia and Eucalyptus plantations. 

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve. Picture by Suhas Saya

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve. Picture by Suhas Saya

The reserve is an absolute delight for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers or simply anyone who wants to spend a day amidst the fresh countryside air!

 There are no safaris as such so you will have to move around in your own vehicles.

 Channarayana Durga

Channarayana Durga, a perfect destination for a day hike, lies in the Tumkur district of Karnataka.  This fort is situated on a hill at a height of 3734 feet

There are three stages of the fort, the lower portion is covered with steep rocks, the upper portion contains a pond that is filled with water and thick vegetation. The middle section is damaged and dug up by the treasure hunters over the years, in their quest to find any hidden treasure that may have escaped the hands of the various rulers.

The Monolith of Madhugiri at the backdrop from top of the Channarayana Durga fort. Picture by Suhas Saya

The Monolith of Madhugiri at the backdrop from top of the Channarayana Durga fort. Picture by Suhas Saya

This fort lacks any explicit signboards so as to guide the trekkers; however, villagers from a small village at the foot of the hill are available as guides.

You might as well do some treasure hunting while you trek and irrespective of whether or not you find anything; this experience is sure, a trekker’s treasure!

❖ Siddara Betta:

Siddara Betta in Kannada means ‘Hill of Saints’. It is one of the most popular places to visit around Madhugiri.

This is an appealing hike for Trekkers and Pilgrims. The pilgrims come to visit the Shrine of Lord Shiva at the top of the hill. There is also an ashram situated at the base.

One of the entrances to the caves of Siddara Betta. Picture by Suhas Saya

One of the entrances to the caves of Siddara Betta. Picture by Suhas Saya

The rocky trail and the caves add a lot of thrill to the climb. The route from the caves has uneven rocks and boulders, allowing only a single person to cross at a time.  Exploring the caves is a cherry on the cake, as the view from the peak is equally rewarding as it is surrounded by the lush greens of the Devanarayana Durga Forest.

➤ Trek Contribution

Trek done and documented by Suhas Saya and Nayana Jambhe

Special thanks to Suhas Saya and Deepa Bhat for the pictures in the documentation

The trek was written by Megha Bheda