If you mention ‘Savandurga’ to a Bangalorean, one half will ask you if you have trekked there and the other half will not know about it. I belong to a category that knows about the place but have never been there in all these years of calling Bangalore home. It is a shame that it took me so long to visit there!
My family and I more or less self-imposed a go-out-only-for-essentials lockdown even before the official lockdown was announced by the Government of India. We have been confined to the house for about three and a half months now. Even after the lockdown was eased a bit, we still step out very cautiously. Last week, we felt this sudden urge to get out and do something different. It had to be somewhere where we would not have to be in close proximity to people. So we decided to go on a drive and set GoogleMaps to take us to Savandurga.
With the sun behind clouds it was a perfect afternoon for this little getaway. We took the Mysore road and turned right onto the State Highway at Kumbalgodu. We cruised along the winding, well-laid road and suddenly a water body came into view. It turned out to be the Manchanabele Reservoir which stores the waters of river Arkavathy that originates in the Nandi Hills and is a tributary of river Kaveri .
This waterbody is not only a tranquil spot and a photo-op point, many others like us, who wanted to break away from the monotony of staying indoors were there. The little hillocks on either side of the road gave people a place to picnic and take more pictures with this backdrop. We hopped right back in the car and drove on.
A few minutes later we got a sneak peak of what’s to come. Rocks and boulders seemed to make up the geography thereon.
The set of peculiar shaped boulders (pic above) was followed by this sight below:
This huge single chunk of rock is supposedly one of Asia’s largest monolith. If I were to make a rough approximation, we were rewarded this view from a straight line distance of about 3-4km! That should give you an idea of the girth and height of this monolith.
Further on, we left the State Highway and got on the Savandurga Road. We passed by a little village and caught glimpses of the Savandurga Hill (as the monolith is called) behind the little houses.
Past the Savandurga Park (closed now due to the COVID 19 pandemic) which you will find to your left hand side, you realise you are driving literally at the foot of the hill and suddenly when you ease out of a curve in the road you see the rock right in front of you! This peekaboo with the hill reminded me so much of Meteora in Greece!
Once you get to the foothills, if you wish, you can visit the Veerabhadra Swamy temple and the Laxminarasimha Swamy Temple. Locals I chatted with told me that the temples are atleast 500 years old! There is a Dargah too. The temples are open but i am not sure about the Dargah.
The area is scattered with remnants of the past but I have not been able to find out much about them. Probably, I may require to make another trip another day to know more.
Readers might be interested to know that some parts of the 1984 movie A Passage to India were shot on the hill and during that time, the cast and crew stayed here 😉
I tried very hard to capture the enormity of the hill with, well, my cellphone, without much luck 😦 I tried to kneel, squat, bend this way and that way….my family has captured all those eccentric postures but I will spare you all from those cartoons.
The Savandurga Hill is about 55km from Bangalore. There are two ways to get there:
1) Via Mysore Road – more scenic, especially after the rains!
2) Via Magadi Road – tolled and boring.
We took the first to get there and the second to get back.
The place is popular among trekkers who get there really early in the morning to get to the top to watch the sunrise. The hike is not exactly a walk in the park, getting to the top and back takes about 3 hours; lesser, only if you are an experienced hiker. Locals told us that the place is typically crazy crowded, more people than the temple festival (Jaathre) would attract! In sharp contrast there are very few people visiting now as the place is closed for trekking. A few road side carts sell local produce, eats and tender coconuts. We could not stop ourselves from buying some 🙂
Local produce included (pic above) wood apple, pomelo (chakotha in local parlance) and fresh beans (alasande kalu). The fruit has been devoured, the beans cooked into a curry, the wood apple still sits in the fridge. I will let you know when I find a good use for it! Until then, ciao and stay safe!!