Nandi Hills Trek

Nandi Hills is a very popular hill station near Bangalore. It's famous for its great views and pleasant weather. To reach the top, there are two ways. The most common one is by road, but it gets very crowded on weekends, so the government stopped private vehicles on weekends.

Nandi Hills, situated in Karnataka, India, holds significant historical importance as it served as a strategic stronghold for various rulers throughout the centuries.  The fort was part of the ancient Navadurgas, or 9 forts around Bangalore. The hill fortress was later a favored retreat for Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, who utilized its vantage point for military purposes during his reign in the 18th century. Later, Nandi Hills became a favored summer retreat for British colonial officials seeking respite from the heat of the Indian plains. Its history is also intertwined with various legends and mythological tales, adding to its mystique and allure. 

Today, remnants of these historical periods, including fortifications, temples, and colonial-era structures, can still be found amidst the natural beauty of Nandi Hills, offering you a glimpse into its rich and storied past.

The other way is a less known path with steps. Not many people take this route. These steps are an ancient way to get to the top of the hill. If you take this path, you can see amazing views of Chikballapur and nearby hills, which you can't see from the regular road. If you're lucky, you might see a sea of clouds below you, which feels like magic. It's a special feeling to trek along with the clouds.  This documentation has the second option, the peak by the stairs.

The Five Peaks of Nandi Giri, Brahmagiri, Channagiri (Chandragiri/Nandi Two), Skandagiri, and Hemagiri are what make the Nandi Hills range. On this trek, you get to view them all.

➤What to watch out for

The View of Skandagiri through Sea of Clouds below you

Imagine this: if you're fortunate, you could witness a breathtaking scene where a sea of clouds blankets the landscape and the Skandagiri Betta emerges majestically from between those clouds. This sight is so magical that it will leave a lasting impression on your memory.

The rocks around you. They're not just ordinary rocks; they originated from volcanic activity, which means they were formed by hot lava from the Earth's core. These rocks are incredibly ancient, as old as the Earth itself, predating the time when India was even part of Asia. It's mind-blowing to think that you are walking on formations that predate the existence of familiar creatures like dinosaurs.

Picture the immense span of time these rocks have witnessed—the changing landscapes, the evolution of life on Earth, and the countless years that have passed. Walking among these rocks is like stepping into a geological time machine, allowing you to connect with the ancient history of our planet in a unique and tangible way. It's a humbling experience to realize that the ground beneath your feet has stories to tell that stretch back millions and millions of years.

View of Skandagiri. Indiahikes. Treks around Bangalore. Nandi Hills Trek

Skandagiri Peak as seen through the clouds. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Picture the immense time these rocks have witnessed—the changing landscapes, the evolution of life on Earth, and the countless years that have passed. Walking among these rocks is like stepping into a time machine, allowing you to connect with the ancient history of our planet in a unique and tangible way. It's a humbling experience to realize that the ground beneath your feet has stories to tell that stretch back millions and millions of years.

Trekking through the beautiful forest 

The trek stands out as one of the most beautiful treks outside of Bangalore, especially when it comes to forests. The trees along the way are enormous, their canopies creating this incredible green cover that you won't see on many other treks near Bangalore.

Nandi Hills Trek, Forests, Indiahikes

The forests of Nandi Hills will remind you of forests found in western ghats. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Picture this: clouds touching the tree line, creating these thick dew drops that hang from the treetops. It's like nature's own magical show. The air is crisp, and the surroundings are so serene that it's hard to believe that this place is so close to Bangalore.

➤Trail Information

Route map

The Nandi Hills Steps Hike can be divided into four sections. Buses go all the way to the base of the hill but are not feasible since the frequency is very low.

  1. A gentle ascent from the forest entrance to the first ruins.
  2. Gradual Trek from the first ruins to the second ruins.
  3. Steep ascent from the second ruins to the temple.
  4. Gradual ascent from the temple to the peak.

Section 1: Forest Entrance to First Ruins

Trek Distance:400m

Trek Duration: 10 minutes

 Park your vehicle (Click here for the location) and start with the trek. The path is well laid out, with steps. The steps are made out of granite stone slabs, which are found abundantly on the hill and the surrounding hills.

After a gradual ascent of 60 meters, you will reach a clearing with a small Hanuman Temple on your right. If you are lucky, you will find the doors of the temple open. Offer your prayers and continue on the path.

After a gradual ascent of 90 meters on the steps, you will reach an arc made of granite. This arc, along with the steps, is part of the ancient Nandi Durg, an ancient fort built on this hill.

Another gradual ascent of 95 meters will take you to a small, narrow path. Here, on your right, you will see a board that shows the list of flora and fauna found in the forests around. 

Here you will also find a bench made of granite. Take a moment to sit down and observe the silence around you.

After a gradual ascent of 130 meters, you will reach the ruins. The ruins are a structure made of granite with a roof. The ruins show the might of ancient construction techniques. You can find an old Nandi statue in one of the corners. This place can be used for resting since there is good shade available.

Section 2:First Ruins to the Second Ruins

Trek Distance:200m

Trek Duration: 5 minutes

Take a proper break at the ruins. Admire the ancient architecture and start with the trek. After a gradual ascent of 80 meters, you will cross a similar arc that you had crossed earlier.

If you look back, you will know the height you gained in the last kilometer. Now you have tall trees and boulders all around you. 

After a gradual ascent of 120 meters, you will reach another ruin on your left. There is a huge boulder along with the ruins, which have a few prehistoric artifacts. Take a short break here. You have a steep climb ahead of you.

Section 3: Second Ruins to the Temple

Trek Distance: 590m

Trek Duration: 15 minutes

After a steep climb of over 90 meters, you will reach a point where the steps are carved out directly from the rock. Take care in this section during the rainy season, since this area can get slippery. After climbing for some time, you get excellent views of the mountains around you, Skandagiri being the most prominent one. 

Nandi Hills steps Indiahikes

Steps carved rocks. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Continue the climb, and the view improves with each passing step. You get to see the hills of Dodballapur and the surrounding villages. Continue with the steep ascent until you see a huge rock on your right. 

Nandi Hills Steps. Big rock. indiahikes

The trail continues along the huge boulder on the right. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

After climbing for another 15 meters, you reach a cutting right beside the rock. Here you will find a temple arc in front of you. Once you cross the arc, you enter a small forest with the mountain on your right.

Nandi Hills Trek. Indiahikes

The small forest section begins once you cross the temple arc, until you reach the temple. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Now this forest feels more like the forests you find in western ghats. During the winter, with the clouds striking directly at you, the entire experience is magical. Continue along the path for another 190 meters, and you will reach a temple. This temple right on the cliff, carved from a rock, is truly a sight to behold. Now you get an even better view of Skandagiri, with clouds crossing over it and tiny villages all around. This temple might be a bit crowded on weekends since its very close to the peak. This is the place where clouds strike the mountain. Early in the morning, it feels more like walking inside the clouds.

Nandi Hills Trek. Indiahikes. Temple

The temple will be on your right while you are coming up the mountain. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Section 5: Temple to The Peak

Trek Distance: 270m

Trek Duration: 10 minutes

You will again get steps once you cross the temple. These steps are steep and continuous. The steps may be wet due to fog in the winter and monsoon mornings. Care must be taken while climbing these steps since they may be slippery. 

During the ascent, notice the flowers on both sides of the section. And the dew drops fall from the trees. Its a refreshing climb after the temple. After a steep ascent of 270 meters, you will reach the entrance of Nandi Hills—the Tipu Sulthans summer residence. This building was used by Tipu Sulthan during the hot summer months. 

Nandi Hills Trek. Indiahikes. Tipus summer palace.

Tipu Sulthan Summer Palace. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Once you cross the entrance through the summer residence, you will reach the porch of the summer residence with an information plaque on your left. Climb another 100 meters to reach a tank. The tank is surrounded by huge trees on all sides and is a sight to behold.

The peak is a huge area to explore, with a viewing gallery and cafes on the other side of the hill. A walk along the edge of the fort to the viewing gallery is an experience on its own. This path is not used by the majority of the crowd. 

You can either trek down the same way or ask for a lift from someone's vehicle down the road. 

Nandi Hills Trek. Treks near bangalore. Indiahikes. Pond

Pond very close to Tipus summer palace. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Nandi Hills Trek. Treks near Bangalore. Indiahikes. Viewing gallery.

Viewing gallery on the other side of the peak. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Nandi Hills Trek. Treks near Bangalore. Indiahikes. Wild Mushrooms

Mushrooms growing on the ground on the forest floor near the summit. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

You can either trek down the same way or ask for a lift from someone's vehicle down the road. If you are trekking back down, the turn-around time (TAT) would be 3pm, so you can safely descend safely back down to base before sunset.

➤The best season to do the Nandi Hills Trek

 Nandi Hills during Winter (November to February)  Winter is the most beautiful season to visit Nandi Hills. In winter mornings, you get the feeling of walking amongst the clouds.  

Nandi Hills Steps during the Monsoon (June to September)- During monsoons, the trek to the peak will be challenging due to the slippery surface of most of the rocks. And you won't get any views from the peak.

Nandi Hills during the summer (March to May). During the summer months, the hills get too hot, and trekking becomes a bit difficult.

➤How to reach Nandi Hills Trek

Reaching Nandi Hills by your own vehicle

To reach Nandi Hills in your own vehicle, take the Bangalore-Ballary Highway. Cross the airport diversion, , you will reach Devanahalli town. As soon as you cross the town, take the diversion on the left, SH 104, towards Chikballapur. Drive along the road until you reach Nandi village. Here you will find an ancient 9th century temple. Take the left at the village. Take another left from the main road from Sulthanpet to reach the base of the hill. There are no good parking spots at the base. If it gets too crowded, you might have to park a little away from the base and walk the remaining distance.

Reaching Nandi Hills by Public Transport System

To reach Nandi Hills from Bangalore, take the memu/demu to Chikballapur. Get down at Nandi Halt. There is a Kolar memu (16549). At 6 in the morning, from Majestic, we reach Nandi Halt at 7:30. Its a 2km walk from the station to the base of the hill. 

For the return journey, you can take the Kolar- Bangalore cantt demu at 15:13 to reach back to Bangalore by evening. 

Another option is to take Ksrtc Karnataka sarige buses to Chikballapur. There are buses running frequently from Majestic from early in the morning to late in the evening. From Chikballapur, you can take a shared auto to Sultanpet. the base of the trek.

 Nearest Airport

Bangalore International Airport- 

➤Permission on the Nandi Hills Trek

No permission is required for the Nandi Hills trek. Go to the base directly and start with the trek.


➤Stay Options near Nandi Hills Trek

 There are a few good stay options available at Chikballapur, 7 km away.

Timings on the Nandi Hills Steps Hike

Nandi Hills is open from 6 am in the morning to 6pm all days of the week.

➤Food and Water sources on the Nandi Hills Trek

There are no food or water sources on this trek. Carry at least 2 liters of water from Bangalore. Carry packed food in your own steel dabhas. Always remember to take reusable water bottles and dabhas, at least on a trek. Try not to produce plastic in the first place and litter the mountain. you can read more about it here

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants once you reach the summit.


Nandi Hills Trek. Treks near Bangalore. Indiahikes.

You will find a lot of cafes and restaurants on the summit. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

➤Emergency contacts for Nandi Hills Trek

112 - Nation wide ERS

Chikballapur police station – 094808 02509

District Hospital Chikballapur – 081562 72388

➤ATMs and Network on the trek

 ATMs: There are a lot of ATMs along the way to Nandi Hills. But its always better and safer to carry cash from Bangalore. There are a lot of stalls and cafes near the peak, and UPI works well in most of them.

Mobile Networks: You get all the major network services on this trek.

➤Places to visit after the Nandi Hills Trek

Skandagiri.  Skandagiri is located less than 60 km from Bengaluru and just 3 km from Chikballapur and is well connected by road and railway. Therefore, it is an ideal year-round trek for first-time trekkers as well as seasoned ones and can be completed in 5 hours comfortably.

Nandi One Trek.  Nandi One or the Brahmagiri Trek will bring out the inner child in you. The lush green vegetation and patches that require boulder hopping are a treat to the senses. The viewpoints offer a bird's-eye view of roads cutting through farmlands below. The Eucalyptus groves on the trail will de-stress you right away and the region is filled with amusing stories, both real and mythological.

Harihara betta. Harihara Betta Trek is situated right off the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway and is located in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka

Chennagiri Trek Channagiri, towards the northwest of the Nandi Hills chain, is a less-frequented trail in Chikkaballapura. Locally, it is better known as Channakeshava Betta. It is the source of the North Pinakini River and has an Omkareshwara Temple at the top. But there is more to this hill than its famous landmarks. It’s a great day trek.

➤Trek Contribution

Documented and explored by Amoga Vigram P, Akshay Kevin

Picture credit - Amoga Vigram P