Skandgiri is a beautiful hill town near Bangalore, which is famous for trekking and sightseeing and is also known as Kalavara Durga among the locals. Surrounded by the Nandi Hills, it lies at an elevation of 1450 metres.
The trek to the hilltop location is a thrilling one with a moderate to high level difficulty for trekkers. It is known that people often spend the night under the stars at the hilltop which provides a splendid view of the surrounding hills.
It is known that Skandgiri was once home to a majestic fort built by Tipu Sultan, who was the ruler of the kingdom of Mysore in the eighteenth century. When the battle between his kingdom and the Britisher’s was lost, there was a shift in the power to the British officials.
The fort did not manage to thrive under their administration. Today, only a few walls of the fort remain erect while a major portion of the fort is now in ruins. Notable among the landscape are two temples, one at the bottom of the hill and another at the top, which did not come to any harm, while everything else lies in rubble today.
Also, this is one of the notable trekking spots in Bangalore, which can be visited not only during the day but also at night. In fact, undertaking a trek on the trail up the hill on a night of full moon is one of the adventurous things that you can do at Skandagiri. At the top of the hill, the display of natural beauty around you will be an enchantment to cherish!
Trekking in Skandagiri:
1. Papagni Mutt: This temple is a one of its kind, devoted to Goddess Parvati and other deities which are local to this place. It is believed that the spiritual vibrations of this temple are so strong that the devotees can feel them right from the moment they step foot in the temple. A special Pooja is held on Saturdays at the temple to please the Goddess Parvati. When visiting Skandgiri, you will find a throng of trekkers who make it a point to visit the temple before starting their trekking journey.
2. Shiva temple: The temple is situated on top of the Skandagiri Hill. Most people visit the temple to witness its splendid architecture. Lord Shiva, who is regarded as one of the prime deities in Hindu culture, can be worshipped in his seated avatar. Trekkers give their regards to the holy deity after reaching the top.
3. Tipu Sultan Fort: The fort, which was built by the ruler of Mysore, lies in crumbles today but the few walls that remain standing, still manage to garner the interest of many trekkers. The grand scale architecture of these walls seem to emanate the beauty with which the fort might have been built. A deeper exploration of the fort reveals two caves and up to six 'samadhi’ inside the structure. Exploring these caves is a must if you have a thing for adventure. Once your trek is complete, you might retire to a stone house structure at the top.
4. Sleep under the stars: The beautiful and enticing surroundings of Skandgiri give you a unique opportunity to rest under the shadow of the stars, while gazing around the scenic surroundings. This is the perfect rest for a trekker who undertakes physical effort to embark on this journey. Moreover, Skandgiri happens to be one of the few places which allows trekking during the night time.
How to Reach SkandagiriFrom Bangalore Airport:
The nearest airport to Skandgiri lies in Bangalore. The hill town lies at an approximate distance of 70 km from Bangalore. Visitors have the option to ride on a bus, serviced by KSRTC bus service, which runs at regular intervals between the two destinations.
The bus drops the passengers at Chikballapur, which is the last stop on this route. From that point, they may either take a leisurely stroll to reach Skandgiri or hire an auto to drop you off at the foot of the hills, 15 minutes away from the stop, while walking might take up 45 minutes of your time.
Best Time to Visit Skandagiri
Winter season: The period between the months of November and March are the best time to visit Skandagiri. During this time, the weather is quite pleasant and the atmosphere turns into a lovely display of ambient colours.
Summer: Not the best time to visit the place, the months from April to June are a bit too hot to undertake the trek.
Monsoon season: From July to October, the hilltop witnesses rainy season, which must be avoided when visiting Skandagiri.
The beautiful surroundings of Skandgiri are enjoyed mostly in the winter season, which is when most people plan their trip to this hilltop haven.
What Not to Miss at Skandagiri
Places to visit near Skandagiri:
1. Grover Zampa vineyards: This is the place to be if you are a wine connoisseur. This place is located 40 km towards the north side of Bangalore. The vineyards span a region of 410 acres and offers a chance to view the elaborate wineries, undertake wine tasting and enjoy lunch buffets.
2. Nandi Hills: The scenic adventure spot will take 3 to 4 hours of your time during which you must either witness the sunrise or sunset at the spot. Located at a distance of 60 km from Bangalore, some of the prominent attractions to view while you are here including the Nandi Durga fort, a special horticulture garden, the Nandi temple, and a special Shiva Parvati temple. The hill top is also famous among cyclists owing to its altitude and trails.
3. Ghati Subramanya: This is a famous pilgrimage spot, located a few kilometres away from Skandgiri. It is a famous Hindu temple known for the deities Lord Subramanya and Lord Lakshmi Narasimha, which are part of the same idol and face two opposite directions, east and west. The temple is highly popular among pilgrims, especially during Brahmarathotsava.
4. Nrityagram: This is an offbeat historical destination, located approximately 50 km away from Skandgiri. It is famous as the dance village near Bangalore, and is devoted to the worship of dancers. Teachers from all over India arrive at the place and provide training across multiple regional and traditional dance forms which are prevalent in the country, like Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi.
A special festival which is organised in the village, Vasanthahabba happens to be a prominent event in the village which witnessed many dancers and travellers arriving here to view the dance performances. Located near this place is the Hessarghatta reservoir which adds on to the overall scenic beauty of the landscape.
Other Essential Information About SkandagiriLocation: Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
Timings: Open 24 hours
Difficulty level: The 8 km long hiking route poses moderate to tough difficulty which requires a physically fit person to undertake the trek.
Altitude: 1450 metres.
Tips For Visiting Skandagiri:
1. The monsoon season is not one of the best times to visit Skandagiri. The wet roads and slippery trails make it very tiresome and difficult to stay afoot. The slippery terrain can be a major problem to traverse.
2. Always carry enough water with you to avoid incidents of dehydration.
3. Make sure that you are wearing comfortable clothes and footwear to avoid unease.
4. Since the trail is a long one, make sure that you are physically fit to undertake the trek. Exercising and stretching activities a few days before the trek might be helpful.
5. For a night trek, make sure that you are equipped with adequate torches and batteries, which will be very useful during the trek.