In order to feel the holiday vibes of the last week of 2021 , we landed at the base of Makalidurga hike on a foggy-winter morning of Christmas Eve. Though not very commonly hiked, this place for trekking near Bangalore was a perfect choice, we must say !!
Why? Please read on…
Before we start, please note this place comes under Karnataka Forest Dept. Hence you should book your tickets (INR 250 per person) from the MyEcoTrip Website
Prior online booking confirmation is mandatory. There is no provision of on-spot booking. There is a check at the base and it is illegal without the permit to hike here. By default in the system it shows only 6 a.m. slot. However you can book that and land up there as per your convenience. You need to show the confirmation mail and one government id proof at the start of the trek.
History behind Makalidurga hill:
As per few, it got its name from the ayurvedic plant Makali Beru” or Makali Root. Few others believe, it got the name from the ruler Makaliraya who used the fort as his granary towards the end of 1800. There is also a third belief that says it got the name from Markandeya Rishi who performed penance here.
As for the rulers, Makalidurga was initially the base for Vijayanagara Empire during 1600s. Later Chatrapati Shivaji’s father Shahaji Bhosle took control of this fort.
Why it is an unique place for trekking near Bangalore:
Lush green forestry trail, the view of a lake, rail track at the base,360 degree view of horizon and an ancient fort wrapped in history – aren’t all these form the definition of an ideal hike. If like us, your answer is also yes, then Makalidurga trek is waiting for you.
To elaborate more on why it is unlike any other trekking places near Bangalore – here are the the main things come to our mind
- The offbeat nature of this trail – Only 60 km away, Makalidurga is a very easily accessible place for trekking near Bangalore. However, it is much less crowd-puller than Sravanadurga, Madhugiri or Skandagiri. We have seen total at the most 10-15 people in the whole 4 hours we were in the trail. The silence, eerie feels and solitude will be your only companions throughout the hike
- The rail tracks being a great addition – If we say the uniqueness of this hike is the rail track at the base, you may not agree with us. But when you climb on the top the sight of the winding lines and the train speeding past through the surrounding silence at the foothill will let you speechless.
- The panoramic view from top – Once you reach the top all sweaty and grasping for breath, turn back and feel the scene. The view of Gudamagere lake (which resembles the shape of South American continent), the small village beside it and the highway little far will soak all your tiredness. A perfect visual therapy to rejuvenate your body and soul
- A ruined ancient fort and a temple– Once you reach the fort at 4430 ft and spend some time in this area, you will start feeling the space. The ruined walls will remind you of the time when this place was at its peak. There is also a temple of Makali Malleshwara with idols of lord Shiva and Nandi, giving a glimpse of ancient times
- The challenge this trail poses – Well, we are not saying this is not a trek for beginners. Anyone can do this without a guide as the trails are very well marked. However it is not a walk-in-the-park hike. This trail will challenge you in order climb uneven boulders continuously and you may need to use your hands as well to strengthen the grip
How to reach:
The easy accessibility can make Makalidurga hills an ideal choice of place for trekking near Bangalore
- If you are driving, you can simply put “Makalidurga Parking” in the google map and reach here directly. There is a very well maintained and spacious free parking zone to park your car. You can then just cross the rail lines and enter the gate of Makalidurga starting point
- If you are coming by train, you can board a train from majestic railway station get down at Makalidurga station. From the station, the starting point of the trail is 2 km walk. You can walk along the rail tracks. Once you see the marking “54/300”, start looking for forest department board of Makalidurga Fort towards your left. Within 100 meters, you should see it.
- If you are coming by bus, from majestic take a bus till Doddaballapur and then get into a bus of Gaurbidanur for getting down in Makalidurga station
Everything about the trail:
The trail can be segmented in three sections. Starting from the entrance of forest department area till he top. It took 2 hrs for us to climb up with lot of photo breaks and 1hr to climb down. Each way the trail is of 4km long.
Section I of the trail is fairly easy. Walking through red soil right after the checkpoint, you can see a temple of Lord Krishna and bunch of monkeys. Before you enter the forestry trail, you should see the entire granite hill of Makalidurga from top to bottom. An ideal place to click few pictures of the entire hill. Once you take right as the arrow marks are laid out, the climb will start gradually. However for first 10-15 mins it will warm you up and prepares for the sharp climb ahead
Section II of the trail is when the trail starts getting tricky and strenuous. You have to keep climbing series of boulders which are fairly tall. It will be activate your leg muscles perfectly. Perched among the trees, this section is the longest one of this hike. Don’t forget to take occasional breaks, click few pictures. You can also hold on to the shrubs around for some extra support while climbing. This section ends up in a big barren rock. Where you get a glimpse of the lake, surrounding village and a clear view of the fort at the top. Before you start the final push to the summit, sit here, relax your muscles a little and enjoy the gushing wind, clear sky and 360 degree views
Section III is the last part of the trek gets a bit more strenuous and demanding however it should get over in 20 mins. Once you reach the top, the fort welcomes you. The view of entire long trail from the top makes you proud of yourself. The long fort walls, the entire region, the temple all makes it worth the climb. Spend some time here to grab a bite and enjoy the amazing panoramic views all around.
Before you start climbing down, makes sure you have taken all pictures, rested enough and enjoyed the place fully. Our only suggestion downhill will be your both hands should be free and you must be completely cautious about your stepping. Climbing down is not tiring but tricky. Watch your steps and if needed use both hands to take support.
This hike can be done year around, but you can avoid peak summer and rainy season for a favourable weather. We also recommend to start early as the gate opens at 6 am (closes at 5 pm). The earlier you start, better of you are to avoid the midday sun !!
We started hiking at 8 am and by the time we were coming down, the midday sun was too unforgiving.
Things to carry:
Though it is just a day hike, we recommend carrying the following items for a comfortable experience. A good hiking shoe, comfortable outfit (preferably avoid jeans alternatively use track pants), shades, sunscreen, cap, food and water. There is no shop for food and water in the nearby area and this hike is going to be demanding. Hence all the mentioned items are absolutely must to carry.
Before ending, we just want to mention that hike to Makalidurga hill is a must-do for those in search of history, nature, and adventure in one. Makalidurga is going to be our top recommended place for trekking near Bangalore
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