Nandi Hills, Bangalore

It’s the morning after Diwali, the festival of light. We – my sis, cousin and I – had planned a whirlwind trip to Nandi Hills. I am not sure anymore if I insisted on this plan after getting drunk or when I was still sober.

Whatever it was, it was planned and my cousin called mom to wake us up as he was all geared up for the trip to Nandi Hill. He called at 5 O’ Clock on that chilly morning! Can you believe that?

“Uth jao. Jana nahin hai kya.” (Wake up. Aren’t you going?) My mother is saying even as I feel tiny pangs of hangover from last night.

After procrastinating for an hour I finally get up. It’s 6 O Clock in the morning. The sky looks ominous with dark clouds hovering over the Leela Palace Hotel (which BTW is a stone throw away from where my Sis lives).

Yet another call from my cousin and I give the green signal to come pick me up. My sis has already backed out. I tell you she’s lazy and crazy when it comes to sleeping late in the morning and when mother’s around, she could well wake up at 9 in the morning and make it to her office without a fuss.

But not I! I am an early riser. Even in Delhi I have made it a habit to wake up early and go for a jog or cycling (a new habit). But that morning in Bangalore, I wasn’t just prepared. The weather of Bangalore – I found to my surprise – was exactly as most of the people I know told me to expect. It was pleasant, cool and awesome!

I get ready and soon my cousin arrives. We head out with me as the pillion rider on his scooty – yes scooty. Nandi Hill is located at a distance of over 60 kilometers from the city of Bangalore. The Highway that leads you there is the same you’d take if you’re heading to the new swanky International Airport (The best I have been to thus far).

Palaces to visit in Bangalore

Entrance to the Nandi Durg, the summer fort of Tipu Sultan

Riding the pillion is both literally and metaphorically a pain in the ass. Believe me! When I rode my Royal Enfield for trip to Ladakh by Motorcycle I never felt as tired or uncomfortable as I did during my ride to Nandi Hill.

That apart, we left for Nandi Hills well after the dawn and we were already late. From the information available on the internet, I gathered that the best time to reach Nandi Hills a.k.a. Nandi Durg is just when the police remove the barricade and open the road to the hill top fort complex or in one word 6 O’ Clock in the morning.

Nonetheless, we rode and I was having good time with overcast weather and the cool breeze blowing across my face. The vistas after leaving the city and especially after reaching Devanahalli, the town from where you leave the Bangalore – Bellary Highway and take a left turn to reach Nandidurg are incredible.

On the either side of the road, the lush forestesque trees and plants are mentally and spiritually uplifting so much so that the ride to the hill becomes a rejuvenation exercise in itself. And who am I to complain, riding as a pillion on scooty as I am.

A see a few lofty peaks – meaning not to confused with what I mean when I write lofty to describe Himalayan peaks. And I get excited. Communion with nature is something that invariably uplifts my mind and faculties. I say to myself that it’s looking lovely I ask my cousin “Yahi hai kya” (Is this it?) and he replies “arre abhi kahan abhi to kaafi durr hai.” (No, not yet It is still far)

We cross many grape plantations and tiny settlements. In between we also come across some cool bunglows. The area due to its favorable weather condition and picturesque setting is rapidly developing. I am not sure if I’ll find it as unspoiled as I did this time when I visit Nandidurg next time.

Digressions apart, let me also tell you that even as I am riding I am keeping my eyes open for shops – yes that shop. Whenever I see any settlement approaching, my eyes lights up. After crossing several such settlements, I have lost hope.

I wanted to have just one. You see! The thing is that even a single tin savored and sipped in ambience like this is well amrit; a single tin entrancing enough to make a Kubla Khan out of you. It just heightens the senses making you more receptive to the foliage and the humming sounds of the birds and the bees that thrive in this area.

The road that leads up to the hill top is long and sinuous, with rock with outcrop of moss on the one side and the view of distant signs of civilization and the verdant green slopes stretched on the other. I told my cousin to halt and he readily obliged. I soak in the surrounding for quite some time. The view is stimulating and I decide to move on.

After parking, we bought the ticket and entered the fort complex and thus begun my excursion to Nandi Hills. Located at an altitude of 1478 meters MSL (4,850 feet), Nandi Hill is an ancient hill fortress located 60 km away from the Bangalore City.

This is an ancient place inhabited since the times of Cholas and was later reinforced by Tipu Sultan as his summer palace. Today only few odd ancient structures remain and even the Tipu’s Lodge is a modest sight.

Attractions here include a few temples with the two temples on the top – dedicated to Ugar Narsimha and Yoga Narsimha – which are hewn out of rock showcasing a fine specimen of Chola and Hoyasala architecture.

A scary place here is the famous Tipu’s Drop, a steep hill 600 meters high from where capital punishment was executed by throwing convicts to death. I wonder why there’s no story of headless ghost or any other haunting shrouds this place despite this gory past.

Yet another must visit place at Nandi Hills is the Amrit Sarovar with its emerald water and lush yet tranquil setting. Amrit Sarovar or “the Lake of Divine Nectar” is fed by perennial streams that never let it run dry. It is also the source of three perennial rivers – Pennar, Palar and Arkavati that originate from this lake.

Amrita Sarovar, Nandi Hills, Bangalore

Amrita Sarovar Lake shrouded in sylvan beauty

So what did we do at Nandi Hills?

We embarked on a walk of sylvan beauty. There are stairs – modern construction – leading up to the top. I am already humming Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, my favorite song and the setting is so magical. We keep walking sometimes silent, sometimes talking and around us the sounds of bees humming, birds chirping and leaves rustling and…nothing else.

Nandi Hills Bangalore

Stairs leading up to Tipu’s Lodge

The entire stretch is rich in foliage. There are many monkeys too and I cannot go as close as I wanted to a beautiful thrush chirping. The forest as we roam around the path less traveled is dense. The gentle rays of sun filtering through the foliage endowed this stretch with captivating charm. Now this is what I call a beautiful autumn morning!

Nandi Hills, Bangalore

An ethereal sight: Nandi Hills, Bangalore. Photo courtesy Clement M. Francis

The only disappointment was that I could not get a view like the one above and capture it in my camera. Ok I wasn’t actually carrying my camera and my cousin’s small point n shoot was all I had at my disposal.

It was a day well spent as we left after feasting on Dosa and Sambhar. It was awful actually. And I never thought that I won’t be offered any coconut chutney with South Indian Dish that too in South India.

But food was least of my concerns. It was a necessity as I was hungry… very hungry.  After refilling my empty stomach with adulterated fuel, I headed out again to the top to partake in the breathtaking panorama.

I stand there watching the sky interspersed with cloud formations. ?It’s all so hushed and it is peaceful and ever so striking. I wonder if you ever take time to be silent and peaceful and be one with nature and surroundings.

I wonder if you spent time on a hill amidst the nature’s bounties. I wonder if you liked the smell of the early morning breeze and the sound of the zephyr …I wonder if you liked to float while standing still… All these wonderings as I quietly sit here motionless…at peace…in trance.

I feel the gentle breeze brushing my face and ruffling my hair, I feel the warmth of the gentle sunshine on my face as I soak in the sights and the sound.  I could feel the chattering of the other visitors slowly fades away and I could only hear the soft murmurings as if the birds fluttering away.

Have you ever sat quietly on a mountain top enveloped up in the pervading calm…watched the birds soar and glide? If you have then you know what I am talking about. Here…at this moment, we are all in harmony with all life. It calms me to behold and realize that there is so much beauty and joy even in solitude. But it’s not the solitude I realize, it’s the communion with nature…it’s about becoming one with the One.

Panoramic View, Nandi Hills

A view to thrill, Nandi Hills

Ah! And if you are wondering what this jabber is all about when all I had to do was talk about Nandi Hills then let me divulge a secret. I had one tin too many 🙂

Useful Information

Entry Tickets: INR 10 per person

Timings : Open from 6 in the morning till 10 in the night.

Bus : Government buses ply from Bangalore, Chikkaballapur and Nandigrama. It takes 2 hours from Bangalore and one hour from Chikkaballapur to reach Nandi Hills.

Climate : The temperature is 25 to 28 centigrade during summer and 8 to 10 centigrade in winter. Nandi receives a rainfall of 100 to 150 cms every year.

Accommodation: Nandi Hills provides modern, well-furnished accommodation for tourists. Nehru House, formerly Cubbon House, build by Lord Cubbon has 18 rooms and available for tourist. Gandhi House, where the Mahatma himself stayed, is under the management of DPAR (Protocol) Government of Karnataka and is reserved for the stay of important dignitaries.

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