It was a short climb but was the toughest of all the treks I had done around Bengaluru. It tested the flexibility of our body and gave a complete workout!! But we came back completely satisfied. It is not everyday we get an opportunity for such adventures.
The outskirts of Bengaluru has nine fort hills or Navadurgas – Savandurga, Nandidurga, Devarayanadurga, Hutridurga, Channarayanadurga, Kabbaldurga, Makalidurga, Huliyurdurga and Byravadurga. Having completed the first seven of those fort hills, I decided to climb Huliyurdurga. Subbu was also mentioning that we had not gone out for a long time. This seemed to be an ideal place to go. Subbu’s friend Srihari and his daughter Shravya also joined us for the trek.
Huliyurdurga is a small town in Kunigal taluk of Karnataka. Wikipedia says “The hill is a solid mass of rock and has the peculiar appearance of an inverted cup. The fortification of the hill commanding the place is about 845 metres above the sea level and were said to have been erected by Kempe Gowda, the Magadi chief. There are springs, ruined houses, powder magazines granaries, durbar hall and other remains. The temple close to this hill is said to have been built by Kempe Gowda or by Chikkadeveraya Wodeyar. It has well worked granite pillars in the navaranga. The temple of Mallikarjuna is situated on the summit of Hemagiri hill which is by the side of Huliyurdurga. A shrine of Varadaraja locally known as Hemagiriyappa is on the eastern slope of Hemagiri where the object of worship is a round stone and on the southern slope is a shrine of Bhairava. The hill is loftier than Huliyurdurga but not fortified.”
Our plan was to climb both hills.
The drive till Huliyurdurga was uneventful. We took the Magadi Road and found that it was hard to find good restaurants for breakfast on that stretch. Finally, we had breakfast at a small hotel on the outskirts of Magadi. It was decent. As we approached Huliyurdurga, we got the first glimpse of the fort. It had steep walls on all its sides with no weakness!! We wondered how could we manage to climb such a fort.
After parking the vehicle, we started walking towards the fort. The initial stretch was very simple as the steps guided us to the Kote Ganapathi temple. The main climb starts after this temple. The path on the left and the right of the temple led to nowhere. The remaining path was the vertical climb over rocks. The arrows drawn pointed to that direction!! The challenges started.
It took us some time to figure out the easier way to climb up. I somehow managed to push myself up the vertical stretch to reach a safe spot. Others also managed to come up. The gaps in the stone and the trees provided some support to maintain balance while climbing. We had crossed the first hurdle. The path continued up through a narrow stretch of rocks and mud. At one place, we had to enter into a narrow hole. But this was short and we came to an open area. The second but a bigger challenge was awaiting us!!
We had to climb over a rock which eventually leads to the top section of the fort. The challenging part was to cover 10-15 feet on a steep section and the gap in-between made the task extremely difficult. A rope would have really helped. Even a couple of steps carved on rock have made the task easier. But those were the luxuries that were not at our disposal at that time. The little girl Shravya easily climbed up!! But the adults were struggling. My track record of climbing such rocks has dismal. As Subbu supported me, I managed to hold on to cracks in the rock. But it took me lot of time to muster courage to make that final “push” to climb up. I was relieved when I managed to cross that stretch.
I wondered how could I climb down. But immediate goal in mind was to bring Subbu up. Like me, he also took some time. We were just few feet apart but it looked like we were separated by continents! It was amazing to see how such a short stretch could pose such a challenge. It looked like Subbu was giving up at one point of time. But his long trekking experience did not allow him to retreat back and finally he managed to climb.
Top of the fort
The further climb was steep on the rock but thanks to rough surface we managed to cross it easily. The rest of the climb to the top of the fort was very simple. The single structure standing on top welcomed us. But the fort was completely in ruins. The rest of the buildings had only foundations left. It looked like the fort was constructed for defence purposes. The grass in the fort was burnt and the whole area looked dark. It seemed as though we were visiting the place immediately after destruction by invaders.
Climbing down the second hurdle was challenging. I dropped my bags and shoes to get down the tricky stretch. Subbu found it very difficult but luckily some local boys were climbing the fort. They showed an alternate route to climb down. Subbu mentioned that it was much easier.
But the day had not yet ended for us. There was another hillock to climb. Opposite to Huliyurdurga was Hemagiri hill with a temple on top of it. Having come so far, we wanted to climb that hill. We drove to the base of that hill to reach a spot where the climb started.
Hemagiri is a bigger hill compared to Huliyurdurga but the climb to Hemagiri was easy. Steps were constructed for many parts of the route and arrows clearly indicated the direction all along. But the entire stretch was devoid of shade. We had started to climb at noon and sun was out in clear. A mantapa and a small temple on the provided some shade where we rested.
We managed to reach the top in 40 minutes inspite of resting on the way. All along the route we could see the imposing structure of Huliyurdurga. It was relieving to climb it first. At the top of the hill was a temple. We rested for some time enjoying the silence of the place. The best part of the trek is the feeling you get after reaching the top.
Getting down was straightforward and within half an hour we were at the base of the hill. This time we took the Maddur route. The road between Huliyurdurga and Maddur was awesome!!