A Bangalorean, especially a newcomer who wants to go on a day trip, will be advised by local friends to go to Nandi Hills. The lure of the hills is not limited to just the breath-taking vistas or the historic importance. It has the capability to cater to a large variety of visitors.
People go there for the lovely sunrise views and for the thrill of a youngster’s first bike ride or car drive. There is a large park area if you wish to picnic. There are specially designated sunrise and sun set points. The view of the surrounds especially in the cooler months after summer or after the first rain is simply amazing.
These days, along with the young bike-riders and cars that ferry families up the hill, you will find many bicyclists trying to conquer the hill. While the novice huffs and puffs and pedals up the last couple of kilometres, the professional cyclists whiz past up and down several times! The energy and enthusiasm is awesome and some of it rubs on you as well. The pro-cyclists are a concerned lot and check in on the novice rider giving them words of encouragement and sometimes a simple thumbs-up that injects the debut riders with an extra ounce of energy to carry on.
Walking the trail up the hill is a different kind of adrenaline rush. Trust me, it gives a certain sense of accomplishment. It is not a difficult trail, but having a certain level of fitness helps. Some 20 years ago, the path was literally a road less trodden and completely neglected. I remember we once attempted the climb and abandoned as the path grew narrower and after a while there was no real path at all and we were not too keen to chart our own course – we were worried about snakes. Today it’s a well-maintained path with hoardings that give information about the flora, fauna and history of the place.
Once you reach the top of the hill, you enter the fort through a narrow and low entrance. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were the last pair of Indian rulers to add to the fortification of the hill before it fell to the artillery power of the British. Tipu had a hunting lodge here, it still exits but is now not open to tourists. Tipu’s drop – called so because it is believed that those who were to be punished would be thrown down the cliff at this point, the Yoganandeeshwara temple from the Chola period, the holy tank (a step-well, sitting on the steps for a few minutes is therapeutic for the senses) are points of interest on the hill.
Sultanpet, a small village behind the Nandi Hill is home to quaint mosques and temples, a kalyani or step well, graves of the British that died here, and the Bhoganandeeshwara temple. I recommend that this temple be visited with a guide who can tell you about the history of the temple and the different layers of architectural influences from different time periods that have left their mark on the temple.
The little village of Nandi, and several other hills in the vicinity have all borne testimony to the passing of time and have silently watched the metamorphosis of the entire area. A lot of positive actions from the government and concerned local citizens have made inroads in the development of the place. It is such a pleasure to visit this quaint little village. As the day progresses, many local fruit and vegetable growers line the stretch of road between the foot of the hill and the main highway selling their fresh produce. I always stop to buy something from them! We never tire of the place and are always up for a trip to Nandi!