Makalidurga, one of the toughest treks that I have completed till now. It is a great option to all those who want to test their fitness level on a fine Sunday morning and get an amazing view in return.
The motivation for this ride is same: to cover all nine Durgas(forts) around Bangalore in our single day ride weekends. Last weekend we covered Channarayanadurga and it was so much fun that it boosted my confidence to go for trekking.
- Nandidurga (Nandi Hills)
Most of the people of our gang were not in the city for this weekend, so we decided to select a place which already has been covered by others. It took us a whole day to convince Chang for the trek as he had just come back from his North East trip. In the end we were 4 people (Baanke, Chang, Anu and I) to explore Makalidurga.
Distance : 70 km x 2
Baanke and Chang came to our place on Saturday night. We decided to start early around 5:00 am to save later half of the day unlike our last trip to Channaraynadurga. “I swear, I had set the alarm last night”, I told Anu, when we woke up after Baanke knocked on our door at 5:15 am. All four of us missed the alarm with different reasons ending up being late by one hour. We managed to leave home by 6:15 am after having a small breakfast of bread toast and tea.
There was not much traffic on the road and we managed to reach Yelahanka in 45 min and then we waited for next 20-25 min for Baanke and Chang. They didn’t use the Google Map and missed an exit from the Airport highway. Meanwhile, I purchased bottles of water and a packet of Parle-G. Next stretch of 40 kms was mainly a two lane road, with no divider, through villages/towns full of traffic. Construction work was going on to expand the road to four lane, so ride may be smoother in near future.
We stopped for breakfast at a restaurant, just 10 kms before the destination. There was nothing special except a clean seating space and quick service. We ordered Masala Dosa, Idli and Tea. We missed Puneet for food recommendations on the route.
Last 8-10 kms of the ride were great with awesome scenic view, good roads and very less traffic which compensated for previous 40 kms. After Makalidurga Railway station, we took a left exit into a dirt road. There is a Railway line at the dead end after continuing for one km on it. Contrary to my expectation, several bikes and cars were parked near a tree shade.
Where is the starting point ?
I could recognize the hill from the pictures but wasn’t sure about the starting point. We crossed the railway line and started towards the hill. After several failed attempts to ask people about the way to climb the hill, who were as lost as us, we met two guys who were coming back from the trek. They explained us the route, which involves a hike to go towards the other side of the hill and then climb the top. We checked on Google Map and to our surprise there was a route named Makalidurga trail, exactly same as they described, so we finally decided to follow it.
Through out the whole way, we had a feeling that we took a wrong route. There was no one on the route except us but Google Map was giving us some confidence to move forward. We walked downhill and then along a lake with a nice view. After more than one hour of hiking and posing for all crazy selfies, we reached the base of the hill.
We had to confirm the route in broken Kannada with local shepherds whenever GPS signal was lost. Everything worked against us : sun was really bright, temperature was high, very less options of sitting in a shade while climbing, we were completely dehydrated and to make situation even worse, we ran out of water.
Finally reached the top
After around an hour of trek, we saw the first glimpse of the fort wall. After we reached the top I had a feeling of achievement which can’t be described in words. There is a small Shiva temple at the top and 2-3 guys were sleeping under the shade of two savior trees near the temple. We occupied a place under the shade and crashed.
We woke up after half an hour and decided to explore the place. The view was amazing and one particular spot on backside of the temple was a great location for panoramic shots. We could have stayed for longer at the top but we were so thirsty and there was no water option available uphill.
TIP : You need at-least one bottle of water per person.
Explored another route to go down
We saw a guy coming from the other direction. I asked him, “Where are all other people, I saw many vehicles parked downhill ?” and he replied, “Raaste mein bikhre pade hain (they are scattered on the way)”. We confirmed the route to go down and start descending. That guy was right, we saw multiple groups resting under tree shades on the way down. Descension was really hard and sometimes there is no specific path to follow, you have to follow your instinct. Although there are few places where people mark the arrows which is really helpful. It took us one hour to reach the base.
Descending side of the hill is much more scenic with view of a lake and railway line. There are multiple spots to take a break and make use of your heavy DSLR which you are carrying on your back.
We were dying to get a sip of water. We immediately started the bikes and stopped at the first shop on the way. Our energy level regained after every sip of water. We saw another shop with a refrigerator some 50 m ahead and the temptation for the much needed sugar water boost up. I bought a Fanta and had a bottoms up. That’s how I compensated for all the calories which I burnt in last 4.5 hrs :P.
We decided to meet next at Hebbal for lunch. I was feeling very sleepy while riding back and managed to reach Hebbal somehow. We were still full with so much water content, so decided to skip the lunch plan and directly headed to home.
Overall it was great fun to cover both the routes to climb the hill. We realized that the longer route is much easier to climb as compared to another route and offers a combo of nice hike along the lake and an easy trek to top. Although, it would be much better experience if weather was cloudy.
How to Identify the Longer Route vs Shorter
When we came back to the base from another route, we tried to figure out that how we missed this route in the starting. The problem is that the route is going to the bushes and its hard to guess that there is a way ahead through bushes. However, if you go towards the bushes there is a marking as well to confirm the route. I tried to click a panorama to show both the routes in one picture to help fellow travellers in future, it may be helpful. You will find this after 500 m from the Railway trek (starting point of trek).