Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Nandi Hills - Yet another ancient hill fortress of southern India

It was 31st of August and me and my wife were browsing several posts and travelogues in the Internet since evening ... to find a spot near Bangalore for a weekend trip. http://www.bangaloretrips.info/ is a very well documented portal from which we got several ideal spots, namely Agumbe, Yelagiri, Nandi Hills etc.
  Ooty, Coonoor, Kancheepuram are proven places for weekend trips. But we wanted mostly a one day trip and that too withing driveable distance(according to us, drivable distance is within 250 km up+down).

  We were discussing Nandi hills some days back, so it anyway had a priority. But when we looked into some blogs regarding Nandi hills, we were sure that it could be done, in a day.

  So it was around 1:30 am of 1st September when we finalized Nandi Hills. Too late, because according to several blogs, the place opens for travellers around 6:30 am and to catch the much-talked-about Sunrise, we had to be there by 6 am, because there would be a long queue.

  We never drove up any hills, and I mean any. So we decided not to catch the Sunrise, rather get there early in the morning to catch the ambience of drizzling forest uphill. Because, anyway the top portion of the road to the hill would be cloudy and if we get there by 5:30 or 6 am, we have to drive in very low light.
  We got up around 5 am the same day, and went out by 6:30 am.
  Google map came up handy. We looked up the map and jotted down certain major turning points to the Spot.

  To put it simply, we got to Nandi Hills from Whitefield pretty much like this:
  WhiteField -> Kadugodi (towards Hoskote) -> NH 4 -> NH 207 -> NH 7 -> Nandi Hill Road -> Hill Station
  (I will provide pointers later in the post)

  It was us and our good old Sparky (Chevrolet Spark) and the unknown road.

  Whitefield To Nandi Hills -- The Road:
  You have to drive past Kadugodi (towards Hoskote) and take NH 4 to follow it to the right.

  Within 1.3-1.5 km, you will see a Police station on your left. Take the road(NH 207)
  next to this Police station and head for Devanahalli
  You have to travel around 13-14 Km on NH 207. Keep your eye to the right to find a place called Sulibele. Just after 15-20 seconds from Sulibele you will reach a circle; take the left from there to stay on Devanahalli Hoskote Road.
  Now you have to drive around 12 Km to reah Devanahalli. You can spot it immediately as you will find big shops, makets, buildings etc. From far, you will be able to see a Bakery Shop called Mayura Bakery. Take your right from here and you will soon reach NH 7.

  Pretty much all the left bound roads on NH 7 now will lead you to Nandi Hills. We took the 1st one at Nandi Cross. After you get into NH 7 its about 500 mts to Nandi Cross, Take the left there.

  I do not need to elaborate the road from here as within 3-4 minuites you will see the Nandi Hills. You will see vast greenary, lots of grape hanging from the trees. Enjoy it.
  You will also see several people by the road selling fresh grapes. We would sure suggest
  buying those as these are as fresh as they can be.

  The Drive Up Hill:
  The hill road is very well maintained. You won't have much trouble driving there.
  As we reached the mountain base by 8 am, we found several down-bound vehicles, bikes, cars etc. crossing us. Probably they enjoyed the Sunrise and are getting back now.

  The curves in this road are all numbered. You can see the numbers on each curve/turn.
  Its smooth till turn 29. But from 30 it gets really steep. And there are around 10 steap turns like this. We maintained 2nd gear in each of these curves. Don't forget to honk and keep the headlight on as it gets very cloudy here.

  The Entrance, Fees, Parking:
  We reached the entrance around 8:35 am. The drive to the top from the bottom of the hill is around 8 km.
  You have an option here if you are in a 4 wheeler. You can buy a Rs.90 ticket for the vehicle and you can drive to the top of the hill, around 1 more km, by your car and you won't have to buy separate tickets for the people in the car.
  Or else, as we did it, you can park the car in the first entrance, buy parking ticket of Rs.30 and buy Rs. 5 ticket for each traveller. We did chose this option as we wanted to enjoy the walk to the top and the road was even steeper and slippery, so we didn't dare to drive.
  For bikers, you have to walk from here as bikes/scooters are not permitted after this point.

The Ticket Counter and Parking lot at the 1st Stop
(The toilet is behind this building)


  The Walk To The Top:
  Monkeys. Look out for monkeys. There are so many monkeys here. But they are basically harmless. Just don't carry any food packet and they won't bother you. Eat your supply in the car before walking.

  When we started walking up from parking lot, it was around 9 am. It was completely couldy. And the weather was fantastic. It was very chilly too. The wind was quite high.
  And you will feel drizzles now and then all the way up.
  You can take two roads to the top. One goes through the forest. And the other was following the motorable road/main road. As we didn't want to get much adventurous,we used the main road. Well, you have the benefit of having the sights of other hills if you follow the main road.

The forest road

The main/motorable road
   The road to the top is beautiful, but keep in mind that other vehicles go straight up from the same road. So keep your ears open.
   You will see several parks, sitting areas all the way to the top.

A park

When you see this brick road, you know you are near the top
  Our suggestion is, don't rust the way to the top. Sit and walk and relax all the way up. Enjoy it.
  As the hill was historically a fortress, you can see some watch stations by the road, these are good places to have a look at the surroundings.

The parking lot at the top.
(Tea stalls, restaurants etc are all up here)
  The Top:   
  The top is very beautiful, windy, cloudy, and the cloud is all around you. 
  There is a place called Tipu's drop. Its a steep cliff which used to be used to execute prisoners as we found in wikipedia.
  Apart from the temple at the top, you can find several parks. The most fascinating thing at the top is the weather, the fresh air. We miss it a lot in the croud of the city, so we enjoyed that to the fullest.
  You can also find the origin of a river up here.
  The boundary of the top is well fenced and well maintained. You can have a cup of tea and enjoy the enviornment. You can also stroll aroud into the bushes and feel fresh air.

  Here are some of the shots we took at the top:

  Places To Lodge:
  We found 2 lodging spots. Perhaps several others are there.
  Both of these are at the top.
  1) Hotel Mayura Pinetop (KSTDC)

  2) Neheru Nilaya Guest House

  Words of Advice:
  Please don't feed the monkeys. Don't beat them up if they try to snatch food from you.
  It is anyway forbidden not to bring plastic bags up there; but people do carry them and when some monkey comes for a bite, they use stone to target them. We found one idiot doing the same.

  Please use the dustbins. There are several dustbins up there, but most are empty.

3 idiots
  Please don't act like a hero. We found a group of tourists doing daring but foolish acts on the top just for a daring shot to be posted in social networking sites. We think there should be police appointed up there to stop such activity. But your safety is in your hands.

Please don't act like this
  Sum up:
  We stayed at the top for about 3-4 hours. Then headed home.
  It takes around 2 hours to reach Nandi Hills from Whitefield. It took a little more
  for us as we missed some directions and we drive very slow.
  Its a fantastinc day outing and if you want to enjoy the night also, I believe you can book the guest houses there and enjoy. For any other specific query, please post comments.
  Here are some more shots:

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