Madhugiri Fort

Trek To The Second Largest Monolith Of Asia
Difficulty
Difficulty
Moderate
Duration
Duration
1 Day
Trek type
Trek type
Day Trek
Altitude
Max Altitude
3,930 ft
Required Fitness
Base
Madhugiri
Best time to visit
Best time to visit
End of September-January

Madhugiri 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 that actually 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 experienced trekkers. If you are a beginner, prepare well, since the trail is cited pretty difficult because of the steep slopes in 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 Table of Contents

What To Watch Out For

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. 

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

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas (2)
The structures were built with intricate carving a lot of which is still intact and is beautifully constructed. Picture by Suhas Saya

View of the Thimmalapura Forest when climbing to the top

At a maximum altitude of 3930 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.

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! 

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas (3)
View of the green, dense Thimmalapura forest. Picture by Suhas Saya

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
Madhugiri Trek - Trail Map of Madhugiri trek - Indiahikes - Suhas Saya
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. 

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas
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.

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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.

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas
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.

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas (12)
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.

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas
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.

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas
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 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.

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas
Trekkers walking along the steep trail. Picture by Suhas Saya

This is the most challenging or difficult 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 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.

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas
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 all the way 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.

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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. 

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Nayana (2)
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.

Madhugiri Trek - Wildflowers on Madhugiri trek - Indiahikes - Suhas Saya
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. 

Madhugiri Trek - Entering the temple - Indiahikes - Suhas Saya
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 totally 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!

Indiahikes Madhugiri-Suhas (14)
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.

GPX File For The Madhugiri Trek

We go to great lengths to ensure you have a safe trek. So here’s a GPX file of the trail to help you navigate without getting lost. Click here to download the file

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Best Season To Do The Madhugiri Trek

The best months to do the Madhugiri fort trek is 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 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.

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How To Reach Madhugiri Fort

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

Reaching Madhugiri by your own 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 alternatively you can go to Tumkur and then drive to Madhugiri.

Reaching Madhugiri by Public Transport System

There are various KSRTC buses that go to Madhugiri every day from Majestic that will drop you directly to 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 two hours to reach Madhugiri by bus. It will cost around Rs.150 in total. Take a KSRTC bus from Bangalore to Sira and then to Madhugiri. Alternatively, you can also go to Tumkur and then reach Madhugiri. The cost is almost the same for this route too.

Nearest Railway Station

Tumkur Railway Station – 44 km

Nearest International and Domestic Airport

(Banglore) Kempegowda International Airport – 100 km 

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Difficult Sections On The Madhugiri Trek

The Madhugiri trek is rated moderate. 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.

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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 in 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 it’s 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

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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.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Madhugiri Fort Trek

Permission and Camping on 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.

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. 

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.

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. 

Food and Water source 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, no restaurants.

We recommend that you carry a minimum of 2 litres water with you and enough food, snacks, 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.

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 Network on the trek

ATMs: There are a few ATM’s 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. 

Madhugiri Trek - Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve - Indiahikes - 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 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.

Madhugiri Trek - Top of Channarayana Durga - Indiahikes - 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.

Madhugiri Trek - Caves of Siddarabetta - Indiahikes - 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 done and documented by Suhas Saya and Nayana Jambhe

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

The trek was written by Megha Bheda

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Complete trek guide

Last updated: September - 2020

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