Tuesday, May 29, 2018

ChannaRayanaDurga - A long Drive and a Trek up the Hill Fort

Destination: ChannarayanaDurga
Distance: 100 x 2 = 200Kms.
Car: Ford Aspire
Route: Bangalore - Dobaspete - Uridgere - Koratgere - Channarayanadurga
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/tshVD16zuDT2
Cost: 800-900Rs



It was a Saturday evening and I felt like taking my ZMR(Karizma) out for a short Ride. I  had not used the Bike for a long time so, was not sure if all was well with the Bike. There was lot of dust on the Bike, it was looking very dirty. I was thinking if I should get it washed and serviced.

I thought of first cleaning it myself and checking the battery etc. As soon as I started dusting the bike, it started raining and I wondered if it was because I had touched my Bike after a loooong time :D

The Bike started in one go without any hiccups even though I had not used it for a few months. The engine tone was as good as new. The battery was alright too. There was enough fuel for a  Short Ride. So din't even have to go to Petrol pump. It felt so good. By the time I was done with the cleaning and filled some air in the tyres, the rain had reduced to a drizzle and I thought it was a perfect time to take the bike out for a short spin.

I always Ride with the Helmet on and some Jacket/Gloves even if its a short Ride near the house. But this time took the Bike out without the helmet as I wanted to feel some fresh air and also wanted to check if there is any noise/vibration coming from the Bike. But the Bike was perfect. The Ride was smooth and I was happy. The feeling of Riding your Bike in open Roads when its drizzling is the best feeling. Its pure Bliss. The short Ride felt so good that I just can't express that in words.

Later I went to the gym and while I was working out, I thought why not go for a short early morning Ride or drive the next day, Sunday. I called up my Ride partner, Nithesh and he said his Bike was not in good condition but he can join for a drive and that he would confirm by night. My GoPro cam was with him, so I thought that way we can meet and I can collect the GoPro and even record some video of the drive.

Also called up my dear friend, Harsha to check if he's interested. He's a Car guy. So he's always up for short/long drives. At night, I took the Bike out again and me and Harsha went out to have some Benne dose for dinner. We were discussing about T
echnology, Cricket, Politics etc and then the question popped up, where to go tomorrow morning? I did not have any specific place on my mind, I just wanted to wake up early, go somewhere out of the city, relax and come back. But Harsha said, lets go to some trekking place. He's a lazy guy and unlike me he's not into trekking/exploring at all and always prefers comfort and luxury over adventure. So, I was somewhat shocked. I was like, is it you or is it the Benne dose which is making you talk like this?? :p

 Anyways, few places came to my mind like DD Hills, Nandi Hills, Ramnagara etc. But we've been to those places many times. I did think of Channarayanadurga which was in my bucket list for a long time. But it was quite far and would involve some trekking and exploring. Was not sure if Harsha would really be interested. What if he sees the hill and says, its such a huge hill man, no steps to climb, lets go back :D

To be honest, even I was not interested in a long drive and hardcore trekking this time. Basically wanted to have a relaxed outing. Anyways after reaching home I thought lets just take the Tumkur Road and drive till Dobaspet. If interested, we can go to Channarayanadurga or some near by place like Mandharagiri, Nijagal Betta, Sidhgange, Shivgange or DD hills. If it rains or something, we can just have Breakfast and come back.

By 10:30pm, Nitesh said he won't be joining since he had some work. So it was just Harsha and me. We thought we can start by 6am. I still wanted to collect my GoPro so asked Nitesh if I could collect it early in the morning. He said yes, so asked him to keep the batteries for charge. Now that was a good thing.

I packed my gopro gear(the suction mount, the housing case, mic etc), air pump, puncture kit etc in the bag. Kept 1-2 towels and also filled up two water bottles just in case we need it. Since it was car and not Bike, I could stuff in all that I want, whether or not we would need it.

Kept the alarm at 5:30am and slept but woke up at 4:15 itself, couldn't sleep after that. Got ready slowly, cleaned the car and got all set. Thought of calling Harsha at 5:30am, coz I dint want to disturb his sleep. Called him a few times from 5:30-5:35. But he din't pick up :D Finally he only called at 5:40. He was still sleepy and his tone was like, should we go?? where to go?? I told we'll go somewhere you first get ready. He was like- "you are ready is it??". I told I'm ready to leave to your house now, its already late, you get ready fast and give me a miss call.

Called up Nitesh (woke him up :P) and we thought of meeting at Domlur so I can take the Old Madras Road or ORR (Outer ring road) to reach Yeshwanthpur.


Part 1 of the Drive: Vijaynagar -> Domlur->Tumkur Road

Reached Harsha's place around 6.30am and we started  for Domlur from Vijayanagar driving through Goripalya and Mysore Road. The traffic at Residency Road was more than usual. There was huge crowd in front of some schools even at that hour. May be because of new admissions. Parents had gathered like crazy and were waiting for the school gates to open. It was like the crowd in front of some movie theaters.

After some time we reached Domlur, took the deviation towards Indiranagar and parked near Barbeque Nation. Nitesh showed up soon and we din't have to wait for long. Collected the GoPro and started towards Tumkur Road. Thought of taking ORR to avoid city traffic. But google suggested the route through the city itself. It indeed had less traffic. All through the Route, we were chatting and the music was off. Din't feel like listening to music at all.


Part 2 of the Drive: Gorguntepalya->Dobbaspet

We soon reached Gorguntepalya and carried on the Tumkur highway. Turned on the music to listen to our favorite songs. The drive was smooth, even though there was some traffic we were covering distance at a good pace.

It was around 8:30-9 am and we felt a bit hungry, so pulled over for Breakfast at "Sri Rathnam Veg Restaurant" just before Dobbaspet. It has a huge board and there were lot of cars parked in front. There's another restaurant, "Shri Vrindhavan Restaurant" just beside. We actually parked the car at Shri Vrindhavan, but it had less crowd and looked empty. So we went to "Sri Rathnam" :P

It had both Dining and Self Service. It had toilet facilities as well. Probably thats why the breakfast was quite expensive here.

We took a long break here, fixed the Suction mount to the car's windscreen and attached the GoPro. It was the first time I was using the Gopro in the car. In that excitement, I missed the turn towards Dobaspet and went over the flyover. I soon realized and took a U turn on the service road as soon as we got down from the fly over. Google map will suggest you to carry-on further ahead for a few more kms and then take u-turn on the highway. But I was familiar with this route since I've taken this route many times for DD hills, Shivagange, Siddagange, Madhugiri, Siddarabetta etc. You've to go under the bridge and take a turn towards Urdigere and Koratagere. By this time, we had somewhat decided to visit ChannarayanaDurga itself.


Part 3 of the Drive: Dobbaspet->Uridgere->Koratgere->ChannarayanaDurga

The road from Dobbaspet to Koratgere is in Very good condition now. Earlier it was a pain to drive the stretch before Koratgere since it was all muddy and patchy. But the road work is completed now and its a smooth sail all the way.

Since the route passes through some villages, there are well marked speed breakers to limit the speed. Good thing is that the speed breakers are not wide. You won't even feel it if you are in a SUV. As in, they don't unsettle you. You can just lower the speed to 30kmph or less and glide over it. The route is somewhat scenic. Watch out for some curves and the vehicles coming in opposite direction since its single lane throughout.

Just 2 kms after Koratgere, you have to take a left turn from the main road towards Siddarabetta and go under an arch. From here, the road is a bit patchy. There are few humps as well. So go slow. After few kms you'll see a board to Channarayanadurga village on the right. If we take a turn here, after few hundred meters we'll get the first glimpse of Channarayanadurga Hill in the background. As we drive towards the hill, it gets bigger and bigger and looks huge from a distance.


Bangalore - Dobaspete - Uridgere - Koratgere - Channarayanadurga

The Garland of 9 Hill Forts


ChannarayanaDurga is a fort on the top of a hill in Koratagere Taluk, Tumkur district which is around 100Kms from Bangalore. Its one of the Navadurgas, the 9 forts around Bangalore. The popular ones being Nandi durga or Nandi Hills, DevarayanaDurga and Savanadurga which is the largest monolith in Asia. All these hill forts are within a distance of 100kms radius from the Bangalore City.

Channarayanadurga falls in the same vicinity as Madhugiri and SiddaraBetta. In fact after Koratagere, from the main road, you have to take the same left turn towards SiddaraBetta and then take a right turn towards Channarayanadurga. 

This fort was built in 17th Century by the ruler of Madhugiri called Chikkappa Gowda which later fell into the hands of Marathas. There were many battles fought for the possession of this fort. The Mysore Wodeyars and the Marathas continuously fought with each other for this place. The control of the fort changed several times between Marathas and Mysore Wodeyars. The British took over the fort during the third Mysore war and within a short span of time, they abandoned it. 

Channarayanadurga has an elevation of about 3,734 ft. and was one of the strategic fortress during medieval times. The trekking level here is moderate. I would say its one of the ideal trekking destinations around Bangalore and its much easier than climbing Savandurga or Madhugiri. But inspite of all this, the place is not well known and is less popular among travelers compared to Madhugiri and Siddarabetta. Most of the people don't even know that such a place exists. Even my mom who hails from Tumkur is not very familiar with this place. 

So even on a Sunday morning there would be hardly be one or two groups of people visiting this place. Do not be surprised if you are the only one visiting this place. Also there are no signboards to guide the trekkers which makes the climb more interesting. In fact, many people who take the wrong route, get stuck and return back after climbing only half of the hill. 

The trail begins at a small village that’s located at the foot of the hill. You can park your bikes or car at this village beneath the shade of a peepal tree. There's a small shop here where you can have cold drinks as refreshment. Mineral water is not available. Though you can fill up your water bottles with drinking water for free on request at this small shop. The trek will definitely be quite tiring so one needs to carry ample amount of water and snacks.

Starting Point of the Trek at the base of the Hill

My Friend looking like a Terrorist. It was damn Sunny out there. So he covered up his face with the Towel to prevent Sun Burns. Smart Terrrorist!!


The Hike Begins..

When we reached this village it was around 10:30am, there were 2-3 cars parked beneath a peepal tree. Those two groups were already leaving the place after completing the trek. We spoke to them and they said they had started from Bangalore from 4:45am and started the climb by 6:30am itself.

Harsha asked how long it will take to climb? They said it will easily take 3 hours to climb and get down. Hearing that Harsha was like - "Oh Shit!! It will take 3 hours itseems.. Who will climb for 3 hours in this heat?" I was like- "I Know. Relax! Lets have some tea first".

Once those people left, I parked the car properly in shade, below the peepal tree. Mine was the only car there now.

Tea was not available in that shop. So I asked -"bere en ide?" Shop guy- "Maaza, Fanta etc". Harsha asks-"Mountain dew idya???" :p The shop guy gave a look and said "Illa Sir". So we had Maaza. Now Harsha asks-"betta hathbekadre steps idhya?? Shelter idhya?". They said- "Steps ella enu illa". I was about to laugh coz he had asked me the same question and I had told-"ya ya Shelter, Steps everything is there". Then he asks the shop guy-"Sunscreen idhya???" :D :D I was like - "Sumniroo.. Halli idhu. Eneno keli baiskobeda" :p The shop guy politely said No.

Harsha - "Its so hot man.. You should've told before that we are coming here, would have atleast got a Hat, towel and all, we should have come directly without going to Domlur, see those people already came and left. Its damn hot now. Can't climb for 3 hours. There are no other people. So lets go back." (as expected :P)

Me- "Don't act like a girl. We've not come 100kms far just to drink Maaza :P Atleast lets go and climb for some time". I have water bottles and one towel. He was like "Thank God, atleast you got that. I'll put that towel on my head and climb". :P

Just as we were about to start, another car came and they parked beside our car. There were two guys (IT) from Bangalore who had come late just like us. So I told Harsha-"See even they have come for trekking just like us." We asked them-"You've come here for the First time ah??" They said yes and asked us if we have any idea about the Route. We said-"Its our first time as well :p" So these two guys dint stop for us and went ahead while we were setting up our camera and gopro and taking some pics.


There are three stages of the fort.


Part 1 of the Hike :

You can ask the villagers for direction to the starting point here. There are three stages of the fort. 

There is a certain level of mystery surrounding the place because unlike other forts, there is no well defined path to reach the top. There are numerous routes, right and wrong and the left over ruins of the fort makes the place more interesting and intriguing. 

The initial stretch is very steep and covered with rocks. There are some markings of some letters in yellow to indicate the right path but there are no arrows or other signs.

This initially stretch was very tiring, specially after a long drive and more so since I was carrying a  bag with 2.5 ltrs of water, DSLR etc. We were soon gasping for breath. The sun right up on our heads and this initial climb was quite steep and indeed tough as I had read in some blogs. There was a small mantap on the left and Harsha was the first to get in there. I was like- "So finally you found your Shelter."

During the monsoons, this initial trek would be difficult as the smooth rock would become slippery.


You get this View after just a few mins of Trek which goes to show the steepness of the climb at the Start.


The Mantap. The only place which offered some shade.

The Initial climb left us sweating and gasping for breath.

Several attempts have been made by the locals as well as treasure hunters to hunt down any treasure left over at this place. In their search for treasure, they have dug up, damaged and destroyed various structures within the fort. 

After you climb the initial stretch, keep looking for the fort walls and the door opening/entrance in the stone walls. Keep going towards the right. Because if you go towards the left you'll be on the other side of the fort and there is no way to get inside the fort. The elevation would be higher on that side and you might get stuck.

This is where some people get stuck and return back or get frustrated. Whenever you get stuck like that and do not find an easy way, just be determined, do not take any risks of climbing any steep rocks unnecessarily. Instead, just trace back and look for an alternate route.

Glimpse of the First Fort Wall.

Part 2 of the Hike :

Once you reach the first fort walls and the stone structures, the trek becomes easy. By the time we reached here, it was already 12pm and it was damn hot and we were sweating a lot. But beneath the stone structures(roof), it was like A/c. So damn cool. Took a break there and it relieved us of all the strain. Also since we had had our breakfast and were carrying enough water, it was not very tiresome.

View after entering the First Fort Walls

You go through many fort walls and door openings(stone structures). The upper part consists of some vegetation and a pond filled with water. This pond would have served as water source for the people in the fort. There is a small temple/mantap next to the pond.

From the Pond, there are two ways to climb higher. One which goes towards the right and one towards the left.

The Pond. Pictures don't do justice to the beauty of this place.

While climbing up, we had actually missed this pond. We had taken the route that is to the left of the pond and we had spotted the pond later from a mantap. But from there we had moved right and somehow reached the main entrance of the Fort wall.

The Pond picture was taken from here.

The Ruins. Must have been the Storage area for food/ammunition

The second stage of the fort is severely damaged by the treasure hunters. There were few structures which were probably used for the storage of ammunition or food grains. 

The view gets better and better as you climb higher. And surprisingly the colors become more vibrant as in the green vegetation, brown fields, the lakes everything appear clear from the top. The altitude is not much as compared to some other Hills. But the surroundings are such that, right from the start of the climb, you can clearly see the surrounding hillocks(like Madhugiri), the lakes etc. This is because there are no large buildings/trees or forests in the surroundings, So you get a clear, uninterrupted view.

We took lots of pics at this Place


Ideal Place for a PhotoShoot :p


The Road which leads to this Hill.

The two guys we had met earlier were way ahead of us and in fact they had disappeared at the start of our climb itself. We were climbing at a much slower pace and taking more breaks for rest, pictures etc. But when we were taking pics at the second stage of the fort, we saw them climbing up. We thought they've already been to the top and just exploring now. But itseems they had actually got stuck, taking the wrong route and had to trace back. Hence they were behind us. They had taken a route which goes to the left. So remember to keep right and look for the entrance to the fort walls.

From here, we explored the Fort together and got chatting about our jobs, technology etc.

The Two guys we met. We were the only people on the Hill even on a Sunday morning.


Part 3 of the Hike:

Since we were chatting and climbing together with those two guys, we did not feel the strain though it was quite hot. We soon reached the top of the fort and we took a walk around those fort walls. The view from here was Amazing. I climbed up the wall at one place to take a video and it came out really well. This is the shot you see at the start of the video.

The Descent:

We started descending down together and soon reached down to the other side of the pond. This was not the way that we had gone up. So we were not sure if there was a route to go down. And we were thinking of going back. But I thought there must be some route for sure and there indeed was a route behind the bushes(around the pond). After crossing the pond, the actual descent started and we had to watch our steps. After some time those two guys had disappeared. So it was just me and Harsha again. At one point, we lost track of the route and got stuck at a place where we could not get down further. So, had to climb back up and then trace back. All this took a lot of time and effort. It was around 1:30-2pm then. Finally we found a route. But the descent was steep. So we had to be really patient and carefully climb down the rocky surface. It was a good leg workout. Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Heels, Toes everything :D

Finally, we reached down and walked back to the parking.

The Drive back: Channarayanadurga->Dobbaspet->Bangalore->Bytu Coffee->Home

There was another car and a TT(Tempo Traveller) parked beneath the peepal tree. We again had maaza in the same shop in front of the parking. Our 2 water bottles were totally empty. But to our surprise mineral water was not available at the shop. I asked if we can get some drinking water. The shop keeper obliged. Got the water filled in our bottles. We did not have to spend a penny for drinking water in this trip.

While fixing the GoPro in our car, the TT driver peeped in and he was totally drunk :D He asked few questions and I patiently answered him. We thought of having lunch somewhere in Dobaspet. We both were literally tired after the trek. Also it was quite hot, So I drove slowly till we reached the Koratgere main road. Midway my car's mirror's cap flew off :p It was loose. I quickly noticed and got it fixed back. We took a break here and washed our face. It was somewhat refreshing.

All through the drive, we were chatting and I was driving carefully at a slower speed than normal. As we reached Dobaspet, we were looking for some Hotels but did not find any good ones. So we thought we'll carry on and have something on the Highway. The traffic at Dobaspet junction was bad. Harsha said he'll sleep for sometime and asked me to Drive carefully. As soon as he said that he was Snoring :p Once on the Tumkur highway(NH48) , the traffic built up. I got the company of many cars and the speeds increased. Although I was careful while overtaking.

Soon, we crossed the tolls and entered the city. Harsha also woke up. Did not find any place to stop on the highway. Neither did we want any break. Just wanted to drive home. Harsha said lets go to Bytu Coffee in Hampinagar, we'll get nice dosa, Olge(Obbattu) and all. That sounded like a good idea. It was already around 4pm then. We had yummy Olge(carrot olge, coconut olge), masale dose and then dropped Harsha at his place and bid goodbye.

After coming home I noticed that I had got a Sunburn. The skin around my neck had turned red and the strap of the bag I was wearing had left a burn mark on the Shoulder. The dark skin stayed on for a month and then got dry and peeled off. The last time I had got such tanning and burns was in Delhi during our Ladakh Trip. Thats when I realized why my friend was asking for Sunscreen, hat, towel etc :p and wrapping his face and neck completely like a terrorist.

All in all it was a great day!! A good long drive plus a good trek. Ticked off yet another place from the Bucket list. But as I always say- "One's destination is never a place but a new way of Seeing things. Its not the destination that matters, but the journey".

Part2 of the Video will be up Soon. Subscribehttps://goo.gl/7B4JS4

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Watch my other Videos:

Must visit Place | Solo Bike Ride GaviRanganaBetta -1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNDZLZHvUdA

Must See Place | Virtual Tour | GaviRanganaBetta -2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9imbkgt2FVU

The Himalayan Adventure (Trailer): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aLDloVeehI

Ladakh Trip Montage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoglVzwL76Q

Ride to Hogenekkal Falls(Niagara of India): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbjczqajUrE

Ride to Thimmappana Betta - Kootagal Hill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwtSG9hOAsY

Best 4K Music Video | Top 4 CopyRight Free Songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvxcLwG1fhU

Most Scenic Places Within 100Kms | Must Visit from Bangalore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n56CEmZNjRQ

CopyRight Music: https://goo.gl/Fuis95

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One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.