The view from the top at Savandurga is breathtaking, especially at night with the city lit up
Trekking, as they say, is an experience you struggle through, but somehow manage to romanticise. “Why would anyone ever climb this?” I wondered as I wheezed my way up one of Asia's largest monoliths, 33 km west of Bangalore, off Magadi Road.
Two hills on a rock
Savandurga is a single rock, which has two large peaks known as Biligudda and Karigudda, and broken fort walls.
“According to the Gazetteer of 1897, the fort dates back to 1543 and was built by Samantha Raya, who was a feudatory of the Vijayanagar kings,” says Meera Iyer of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Rulers such as Tipu Sultan and Kempe Gowda, and British Governor Lord Cornwallis were among those associated with the fort.
Depending on how adventurous you are, you can reach the base of the hill by bus, car or bicycle.
Approaching the hill, you come to realise how massive this rock actually is.
During the monsoon, glimmering lines of water make their way down all the way from the top of the hill.
Savandurga is a great place for birdwatchers. Oriental honey buzzards, yellow-throated bulbuls and blue rock thrushes are just some of the birds sighted. Among other fauna are species of snakes, butterflies and spiders. In the forest around the hills, there have been sightings of elephants, bears and even leopards.
Path less travelled
There are two main routes that lead to the two peaks.
Not many people choose the overgrown route that lies behind the hill. That is perhaps what makes it a better route with lush tree cover most of the way, and broken stone steps.
The more commonly used route is challenging, but you get to rest at two parts of the fort wall that are still intact. Unfortunately, you may have to sit amid garbage.
After what might seem like forever, you reach a small shelter on the top beside a huge rock-pool. The view from the top, along with the whipping wind, is breathtaking, especially at night with the city lights in the distance.
A short walk takes you to the highest point in the hill where there is a small Nandi shrine.
“Between 1,800 and 3,000 years ago, a community buried some of its dead here and then built huge stone memorials for them,” Meera says. “That makes Savandurga a megalithic site.”
The memorials were arranged in circular forms, and in archaeological digs, skeletons, copper coins, and terracotta pots have been found.
Despite Savandurga becoming highly touristy, a visit to this place is certainly worth a full day.
Exploring the forests around requires permission from the Forest Department.
Adventure sports and packages are offered by groups, which include rock climbing, caving and camping.
Some of them are Thrillophilia: (9686020000, 9686120000, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nature Admire (9845079414, 9482894170).