Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ascending Savandurga monolithic rock hill

It has been long time since we climbed the monolithic rock hill. Finally here are some ramblings from our experiences :-). Hope you enjoy the same!

23 Nov 2013,

Following our candid visit to Hogenakal waterfalls, this was another one. People in internet world were commenting about complexity of the hill climb and many of them had retreated. We were bit skeptical again as to go or not suspecting our own strength. However Rajesh was still confident of making it and we decided to give it try. Since distance from city was mere 50-60kms, we planned to commute by bike. Eventually it was climbing the one of largest monolithic rock hills of Asia this saturday. The Saturday morning was unusually cloudy. I believe it was effect of cyclone 'HELEN'. The calm snippy weather from past few days was masked by somewhat humid and gloomy weather all of sudden. We planned to reach early since the rocks get heated up as day prolongs to noon. However the cloudy weather provided some favorable conditions to climb during odd hours of day. Even this time, me and Rajesh were the only candidates for travel.

Myself and Rajesh started our journey towards Mysore road around 9AM. As expected, the city roads were already clogged with vehicular traffic and we had snail ride till Mysore road. Later on, the ride was very smooth and reached Macnhinbele Dam around 10:45AM. The reservoir did not seem to have water storage as compared to our last visit. I took some shots here and we moved on. The day was very hazy due to presence of clouds and consequently bad day for photo shoots. Despite having good CPL filter this time, the photos turned out to be too much hazy :-(.

From here Savandurga is 13kms. There is proper signboard which guides vehicles to divert along appropriate route. After manchinbele reservoir, keep watching for signboards installed by Tourism department. The last 13kms is ride along the forest. The forest is moderately dense with feeble civilization. This area is marked as reserved forest which mean no agricultural, plantation or human related activities are permitted. Some people have also spotted leopards and bears along this route. The road is tortured with humongous amount of potholes. It was not at all smooth ride till we reached Magadi main road. The road from Manchinbele dam meets Magadi Road 2kms just before Savandurga. From this junction, the diversion point is half a kilometer away. One can spot arch leading to Savandurga with many shops as landmark. From here 2kms along the muddy road, leads to foothill of Savanadurga. Around 11:30PM, we were in Savandurga and ready to climb!


Savandurga is one of Asia's largest monolith rock hill. The peak is around 1200m above sea level. This is prominent among adventurous rock climbers. There are many paths leading to peak however we moved along designated trail where one can climb without any gears. The department has marked the trail on the rocks and boulders and hence no question of losing direction. As we started our climb, we could see many people climbing down. It means that people prefer early morning trek to avoid heating up of rocks by Sun. The cloudy weather provided conducive environment to climb the rocky hill. At times, I felt only two of us were climbing and others have already finished the trail :-). Just before the climb, we enquired the people who had already the finished the climb. On an average it was 90mins as we heard from people.

We started climbing slowly towards our destination. May be I started in hustle and consequently got tired at early stages itself. Rajesh suggested me to climb the grade comfortably so that I don't suffer early tiredness. That worked out as well. Within few moments I converged :-). Since Rajesh is experienced trekker, his heuristics had helped me here ;-). We were slowly climbing towards the peak. There is nothing on the way except for boulders and tiny protective walls. These structures were constructed early during Magadi Kempegowda regime to combat enemy lines. The structure is made of red stones and stones are bound using mixture of egg, limestone and other ingredients. It is really surprising to note as how materials were transported in olden days. We finished the first stage of climb and here comes toughest among all stretches! The gradient is bit steep here and authorities have carved small imprints of foot to allow smooth climb. Still I had to  crawl for some distance to reach the finishing line ;-). It does not end here :-). Later on, one has to careful walk through narrow lines to reach peak of second level! Do not dare to look behind. It will be too much intimidating and earth's gravity tends to pull you down ;-). Along the journey, we came across group of kids belonging to scouts and guides returning back from successful climb. Rajesh warned me not to compare ourselves with kids since they can easily climb up and down due to lesser weight :-). Even my nephew climbs these grades pretty easily :-).


We were toiling towards peak and sweating hard. Even in cloudy and bit cool weather, the river of sweat was all over body. By the time we reached second stage, entire shirt was under sweat. At times we felt like removing the shirt and progress further :-). The ridge before second stage was bit difficult to negotiate since it was very narrow. At last we managed to reach second stage. Our only concern was now the return journey. We were quite mystical about climbing down the steep grade. Eventually we threw our anxiety and decided to think about it during return journey.

The third stage is much easier than rest of two. The steep is around 60degree in slope and can be managed very easily. After you climb this stage, you will find abandoned structures and small pond. This is not the last point :D. From here one can view the Nandi temple. There is proper marking and trail to reach the place. This path not so straight forward too! We need to walk through the narrow boulder openings sometimes [bit hard for heavyweights like me ;-)]. There are also chances of sliding! Again a healthy 20 minutes walk+climb for short distance. Just before we reach the nandi, there is again small steep slope one has to cross and narrow passes.




At last here we are in peak and there were good number of people resting at this place. Rajesh checked the time and it was 12:50PM. Wow! We had reached finishing line in 80 minutes which was less time than normal person takes ;-). To be honest, we would have reached early if I had climbed sanely :-). My pit-stops added bit of delay ;-). Nevertheless, we were happy to reach the peak since many had retreated in middle ;-). The view from top is breathtaking with earth's gravity tempting you to jump ;-). But please do not jump or else you will end up in heaven :-). I took some pictures but again haze added too much noise to photographs. We also enjoyed the view of Manchinbele reservoir and Thippegondanahalli reservoir which are clearly visible from peak along with cool breeze. We had oranges and water after reaching peak. After some time, myself and Rajesh were the only people left in peak. We had healthy 60 minutes break in solitude and sky showed signs of downpour. 2:10PM sharp we started climbing down. It was slightly drizzling too! Even gentle drizzle will jeopardize down-hilling. There are also marshy regions along the way at some places. Beware of them and avoid since they tend to cause slippery. Good thing about the place is the rocks itself have so much grip on them. Unlike smooth rocks found in waterfall area, the asperity on rocks here adds much more grip to your footwear.



While climbing down, huge boulders once again attracted us. Also there were marks of desperate lovers craving for attention :-). It is difficult to understand psychology of such stupid attention seekers spoiling beautiful nature. Moving on, climbing down was pretty much easy that we easily went past the steep grades. We never felt fatigue too! All our worries were rendered futile :D. A smooth crawl along steep slope will easily get through them. We had unnecessary apprehensions about the same and eventually nothing was complicated as predicted. I remembered sayings of my father to never regret past and not to worry much about future. Everything takes its own time to calm down! Even Rajesh is such calm and down-to-earth person who never hesitates to criticize even me :-). I have learned lot from him (and still learning) to be yourself than impressing others.

Enough of fable :D. There are so many lizards matching the texture and color of rocks and difficult to spot unless they are moving. Nothing to worry since they are harmless and run away seeing humans. The last stage of journey, we spotted monkeys looking out for food :-). They are fun to watch unless not attacking you ;-). Overall, a moderate trek altogether despite of above mentioned complications (do not compare with Kumara-Parvata or Kodachadri ranges). The only lamenting part was the haze which provided untidy atmosphere for photography. Not a good for photography at all since most of them were filled with tremendous amount of haze. End of day the climb, crawl and bend provided great workout for entire body and we were excited after returning successfully. Also we were thankful to mother nature for holding natural umbrella for us by covering sky with clouds without any rains.

Beneath the hills there are two temples. One is Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple situated right beneath while other is Veerabhadraswamy temple situated a few meters away. Most of the people usually visit Savandurga for temples than climbing. There are many petty shops nearby foothill selling tender coconut, liquid stuffs and light food items. Gift your body with refreshing tender coconut after completing the trek ;-) and we had it too! Myself gifted with churmuri as bonus item :-). There are no hotels nearby. If you finish the trek by 3PM, it is possible to have free meals in Veerabhadraswamy temple. We were slightly late around 3:15PM. Prior to that we had consumed good amount of season's fruit which was orange. Again it was Rajesh's suggestion to have season fruit. He was right when said, it is healthy to have particular season's fruit which grows in abundant naturally. Nature yields proper fruits for respective seasons to counter seasonal changes.



Some tips:

1) Rajesh had good grip shoes while I was wearing chappals. But do avoid chappals and get good grip shoes if you wish to climb. I did that mistake but got through smoothly but please do not commit that mistake.
2) Avoid rainy season and hot Sun. Rains transform the rock to marshy surface and it will be too mcuh slippery. Start as early as possible and target to finish by 11AM.
3) Many vendors sell glucose powder here. If you foresee energy drain, please carry one for you!
4) Carry your own lunch if you do not wish to have it in temple.
5) Last but not least, there is no trash bin atop hills or along the way. Please carry the garbage back and dump in the garbage area near foothill.

We started back towards Bangalore at 3:45PM along Magadi route to visit Tippegondanahalli Dam. Unfortunately, the place is closed for public visit and we had no choice to contiue our journey towards the city. The state highway is from Kunigal to Sunkadakatte which was very evenly laid. We use to take this road during the time of NH-4 6 lane construction near Nelamangala junction to avoid traffic. As expected we faced traffic snarls. It started raining near Nagashettihalli and took shelter for sometime nearby a shop. The rain gained intensity as we neared BEL circle and one more shelter under the underpass. Furthermore, we rode with the drizzle and it persisted till K R Puram. Later on, there was no rain at all. Next day was all history which was Bangalore's highest rain in Novemeber after 44 years recording 106mm. Fortunately for us, there was no rain past KR Puram and we reached niche pretty comfortably.

The blog turned out to be pretty quite lengthy. Even though I strive to trim it down, I cannot refrain from scribbling those unique moments of journey. Finally the integration of small things creates a lengthy writeup. Hope you enjoyed the write-up. Any constructive critiques are always welcome [images + literature]. Since the day was full of haze not much things could be done. Here is a HDR and panorama composed during the journey. Most of the part is covered with haze and nothing much to brag about! I did capture timelapse but went in vain due to presence of haze.



Time taken for trek:
2hours (80minutes for ascend and 40minutes for descend)


  • One more time Rajesh for his thorough review and riding majority of distance.
  • Also my beautiful and sturdy bike for bearing the journey despite not being overhauled for many months
  • All those rural people who guided us to find the route.


SilkBoard->Mysore-Road->Big-Banyan-Tree->Manchinbele->Savandurga (60 kms)

Fro: Savandurga->Magadi->Sunkadakatte->Gorugontepalya->Hebbala->Marathahalli->SilkBoard (80kms)
Total Distance covered: 140kms (80kms Rajesh + 60kms myself)

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