The Complete Guide to Ratnagiri Fort Trek
Ratnagiri Fort trek is one of the lesser known treks right across the Karnataka-Andhra border. It is located in a small village called Ratnagiri just 25 km away from Madhugiri town of Tumakuru district. This lesser known trek is a perfect place for those seeking solitude and an offbeat adventure.
The fort expands to multiple surrounding hillocks. But the main fort structure can be found on the twin hillocks. Though many of these structures are ruined, some are still intact.
If you’re a history enthusiast, you’ll find this place even more interesting. The fort stands as a testimony to the time when Cholas and Nayaks ruled the place. The ponds, temple, fort walls, watchtowers, armories and ruins - every structure here tells stories of the glorious past.
For a short 2 km trek, the experience and the views it offers are very rewarding. It is a mixture of adventure, exploration, and a test of endurance.
The trek can be done by fit beginners and experienced trekkers alike. However, at one section, a 70-degree incline poses a challenge and you need to be extra careful.
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 if you need any help.
Table of Contents
- What to Watch Out for
- Trail Information
- Best Season To Do the Ratnagiri Fort Trek
- Difficult Sections on the Ratnagiri Fort Trek
- How to reach the Ratnagiri Fort Trek
- Frequently asked questions about Ratnagiri Fort Trek
- Places to Visit after Ratnagiri Fort Trek
What to Watch Out for
1. View of the Anantapur forest range from the top
View from the peak of Ratnagiri. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Standing at a height of 3,085 ft, the view from the peak is stunning to witness. The lush greenery of the Anantapur forest amidst the rocky hills adds for a nice contrast. On top of it, the sight of a small lake surrounded by these mighty hills is surreal. The aerial view of Ratnagiri village gives you a glimpse of the peaceful life of the villagers. This is exactly the kind of escape you need from the daily hustle.
2. The ruins and structures that tell stories of the past
Ruins at the Summit. Many such structures can be seen along the trail. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
As you pass through the village, a huge arch at the entrance awaits you. It acts as a gateway to an empire you’re about to explore. As you go further towards the peak, you witness the ancient Bhagwan Prashwanath temple, many ponds, ruins of the Ratnagiri Fort and Shiva temple. The trail and the structures here remind you of the boulders and ruins of Hampi.
3. An adventurous 70-degree steep climb to the summit
Steep climb to the summit. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
The narrow, rock carved stairs leading to the summit is almost 70 degrees steep. This is the kind of adventure you wouldn’t usually come across on similar short hikes. As you climb these stairs, you’ll witness an aerial view of all the surrounding hills gradually unfolding right behind you.
Route map of the Ratnagiri Fort Trek. Screenshot on Google Earth Pro
Ratnagiri Fort Trek can be divided into five sections
1. Ratnagiri village to Ancient Bhagwan Prashwanath Temple Pond (Village trail)
2. Ancient Bhagwan Prashwanath Temple Pond to Gateway Two (Courtyard trail)
3. Gateway Two to Gateway Three (Stage I climb)
4. Gateway Three to Stairway (Stage II climb)
5. Stairway to Summit
Section I: Ratnagiri village to Ancient Bhagwan Prashwanath Temple Pond
Trek Distance: 557 m
Trek Duration: 20 minutes
From Ratnagiri village, there is a way for vehicles to go till the Prashwanath Temple via the main entrance gate. But as this road is very narrow, it is best to park your vehicle here and walk.
Start point of the trek. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
As you walk along the road, talk to the villagers and engage in casual conversations. They are pretty welcoming. This gives an exposure to their culture and lifestyle. This also enhances your experience. You would miss this opportunity if you choose to drive till the temple.
While navigating through the village trail, do not forget to spot this ancient well on your right.
Ancient well located on the village trail. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Just about 100 meters into this road, you find the main entrance gateway. Walk past this for another 230 meters and take the road that goes to your left.
A huge gateway welcomes you to the Ratnagiri hills. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Continue walking straight for another 170 meters and you’ll find the Ancient Bhagwan Prashwanath Temple to your left. It is a very old temple but has an interesting architecture. Spend some time here before proceeding further.
Ancient Parshwanath Bhagwan Temple at the end of the Village trail. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Right next to the temple, you’ll find a temple pond. Here you’ll find one road to your left and another one going straight. Take the straight road.
Section II: Ancient Bhagwan Prashwanath Temple Pond to Gateway two
Trek Distance: 519 m
Trek Duration: 30 minutes
As soon as you start walking on the courtyard trail, notice a small stone pond to your left. These fascinating structures make the walk in the village and courtyard interesting.
Stone pond ruins found next to the Prashwanath Temple.. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
As you walk in the courtyard, don’t forget to look around and soak in the beautiful hill views this trail offers.
Views from the courtyard trail. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Continue to walk for another 200 meters and you’ll encounter a deviation on the left. This is an alternate entry to the fort. Do not take this route. This route doesn’t have a defined trail and it’s not possible to trek from here. However, if you have some time, go till the base and explore the ruins of temples and other structures that you find here.
Temple ruins and other structures found on the way to alternate fort entry. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Come back and take the road that goes straight. Walk for another 75 meters and take the trail that goes left. This is a very narrow trail that leads to the Gateway Two. From here the Stage I climb begins.
Gateway Two that takes you into Ratnagiri Fort. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Section III: Gateway Two to Gateway Three (Stage I Climb)
Trek Distance: 198 m
Trek Duration: 15 minutes
This is a very short trail. But it is a bit steeper compared to the previous sections. Near the end of this section, you’ll encounter a check dam to your right. It was usual practice to build check dams during fortification. This was to make sure that they have enough water sources to sustain inside the fort throughout the year.
Check dam built to prevent water scarcity. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Right after this, there is Gateway Three. This is the entry to Stage II Climb.
Section IV: Gateway Three to Stairway (Stage II climb)
Trek Distance: 375 m
Trek Duration: 20 minutes
From Gateway Three, hike through the rocky terrain for another 160 meters. This is an entrance to the smaller of the two hillocks.
Follow the same terrain for another 200 meters to reach the top of a smaller hill. There is a watchtower here. It offers a good view of the village and courtyard trail that you’ve navigated through.
Watch tower on the smaller hillock. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Section V: Stairway to the Summit (Stage III Climb)
Trek Distance: 258 m
Trek Duration: 20 minutes
From this hill, there are rock carved steep narrow stairs that take you to the summit. These stairs are almost 70 degrees steep. Be extra careful while navigating through this section.
Stairway to the summit. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Spend an hour or two at the peak depending on the time you have. Have your breakfast/lunch here.
There is a watchtower here as well. It’s not just the good views that you get here. The hilltop is quite vast and the fort is spread all over. You get to see the ruins of armories, stone ponds and a lot of other structures. Do not forget to notice how the fort walls extend along the hills in many layers. This gives a glimpse of its glorious past.
An areal view of the watchtower at the summit. Picture by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Descend through the same route. It’ll take about an hour to descend. Be cautious while descending through steep sections.
Best Season to do the Ratnagiri Fort Trek
There are no restrictions to do the Ratnagiri Fort Trek. However, the ideal seasons are post monsoon and pre summer, that is from October to February.
Post monsoon, you get to witness the lush greenery of Anantapur forest range. But there are possibilities that you might not get to witness clear views.
Pre-summer, the views are much clearer. But during this time, make sure you start your trek as early as possible and reach the summit for breakfast. This is because as the sun rises, the rock gets too hot to climb on.
Difficult sections on the Ratnagiri Fort Trek
The Ratnagiri Fort Trek can be classified as easy. It is close to 2 km of climb one way. It takes around 2 hours to reach the peak and 1 hour to descend.
The only difficult section you’ll encounter on the Ratnagiri Fort Trek is the steep stairs to the summit. Be extra cautious here.
Tip: Navigating through rocky terrain can be slippery. Make sure you wear proper trekking shoes.
How to reach the Ratnagiri Fort Trek
Ratnagiri village is about 127 km from Bengaluru. It lies on the Karnataka-Andhra border and belongs to Andhra Pradesh.
Reaching Ratnagiri by your vehicle
If you plan to drive to Ratnagiri from Bengaluru, it’ll roughly take around 3 hours to reach the starting point. You can use this link to set up navigation on Google Maps.
Reaching Ratnagiri by Public Transport
There are KSRTC buses that run from Bengaluru to Pavagada. From Pavgada APSRTC Bus Station, you may find the local transport to Ratnagiri. It is best to ask the locals who will guide you on how to reach Ratnagiri from here.
Nearest Railway Station
Madakasira Railway Station : 31.6 km
Hindupur Railway Station : 47 km
Nearest International and Domestic Airport
Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru – 132 km
Frequently Asked Questions about Ratnagiri Fort Trek
Permission and Camping on the Ratnagiri Fort trek
You don’t need any permission for the trek.
It is not advised to camp on the Ratnagiri Fort Trek as the place is very deserted. Also, it is not easy to get food and potable water on the trek.
Stay Options near Ratnagiri Fort Trek
If you want to stay overnight, there are quite a few options in and around Madhugiri Town which is 25 km from Ratnagiri. 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 in Madhugiri.
Tip: Combine this trek over the weekend with Madhugiri Fort Trek or Channarayana Durga or Siddara Betta treks which are close by and stay the night at Madhugiri.
Timings on the Ratnagiri Trek
There are no particular timings as such for the Ratnagiri Trek.
The best time to start your trek is 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 become quite hot under the sun.
Food and Water sources on the Ratnagiri Trek
There are no food stalls or water sources along the trek to the fort. There are small shops in Ratnagiri where you can get some basic snacks and eateries, nothing fancy.
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.
Green Trails Tip: While packing food to last for the whole duration of the trek, make sure you use your own tiffin boxes and avoid packaged food.
Emergency Contacts for Ratnagiri Trek
Hospital: Rolla government hospital is the nearest hospital on the Ratnagiri Fort Trek.
Police Station: Agali Police Station (084932 84833) is the nearest police station to the Ratnagiri 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 in Ratnagiri. 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.
Places to Visit after Ratnagiri Fort Trek
Madhugiri Fort Trek
The Madhugiri Fort Trek is one of the most popular treks around Bangalore. This trek is to the second largest monolith of Asia. The highlight is the fort which stands atop the rock dome. From the peak, you get the best views of Thimmalapura Forest range.
Madhugiri is a town in the Tumkur district of Karnataka surrounded by the Thimmalapura forest. Located around 18 km away from Ratnagiri, after the Ratnagiri trek, you can stay for the night in Madhugiri and combine Ratnagiri trek with Madhugiri Fort trek.
Madhugiri Fort. Picture by Suhas Saya
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.
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.
Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve. Picture by Suhas Saya
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.
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!
The Monolith of Madhugiri at the backdrop from top of the Channarayana Durga fort. Picture by Suhas Saya
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.
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.
One of the entrances to the caves of Siddara Betta. Picture by Suhas Saya
Trek explored and photos clicked by Manjunath Krishnamurthy
Trek written by Manasa N L