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The Nine Hill Forts Around Bengaluru

Many amongst us are unaware about the Nine hill forts, also known as Navadurgas, which are on the outskirts of the garden city of Bengaluru. The forts are located within a radius 100 km from the city. These forts are the standing examples of Karnataka’s rich and diverse history. It helped protect Bangalore for siege of British. Each fort name has its own meaning. These nine forts comprise of one of the largest monoliths in Asia and was once upon a time a glorious structure used by the Kings as a summer retreat.

Basically Durga in kannada means fort. In these few of them can be reached by vehicle and few of them have to be reached by trek. All of the forts have been surrounded by villages and people living around. The saddest part is that all of the forts are ruined and only left of sculptures and other ruins are present.

Some of the forts are very popular amongst the public, like Savandurga, Nandidurga alias Nandi Hills, Makalidurga and Devarayanadurga. The lesser known ones amongst them are Hutridurga, Huliyurdurga, Channarayana durga, Kabbaladurga and Bairavadurga which are visited by the villagers surrounding the place or by avid trekkers, who are on the lookout to experience the thrill of the off beat path.

1Nandidurga
Nandi Durga is an ancient fort situated on top of the Nandi Hills is one the most popular weekend getaways for the people at a distance of 60 km from Bengaluru. According to legends Yoga Nandeeshwara is said to have done a penance here. The place was known as Anandagiri during the Chola rule. The fort here is said to have been built during the rule of Tipu Sultan, which used to be his summer palace. The hillock is also believed to be the point of origin of the Arkavathy river.

2. Makalidurga
At an elevation of 3664 ft, Makalidurga is located amidst a chain of hills. The hillock has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and a fort at the summit. According to legends, Sage Markandeya is said to have perfomed penance here. The place is also a major hub for medicinal herbs and plants. Night trekking here is illegal.
 
3. Channarayanadurga
Located at a distance of 100 km from Bengaluru, Channarayanadurga is home to the ruins of a 7 storied fort. Even though it was known for hidden treasures, this fort hill sends chills down the hiker’s spine with its spookiness. It takes the hiker through this ancient time lapse and leaves him spell bound. The initial stretch is the toughest after which it is pure exploration. The small lake in the first tier of the fort is a great refresher.The fort belonged to the Marathas before being conquered by the Wodeyars of Mysore and later passed hands to the British. The construction of the fort is very complex in nature, and it is very much visible. As a matter of fact, one cannot find the way out or the hillock’s shape until one crosses the first gate.

4. Devarayanadurga
Devarayanadurga is well known for the shrines of Bhoganarasimha and Yoganarasimha, which are at the base and the summit, respectively. Originally, the hillock was known as Anebiddasari, and then was renamed as Jadakanadurga and later as Devarayanadurga. The place was named as Devarayanadurga during the reign of Chikka Devaraya Wodeyar.

5. Bairavadurga
 Located at a distance of 60 km from Bengaluru, Bairavadurga is located in Magadi. The fort atop this hillock is said to have been built by Kempegowda. Trekking up to the summit is a thrilling experience; once atop, one would be able to have breathtaking views of the surroundings. The temple of Lord Byraveshwara attracts a large number of visitors. Bhairavadurga turns out to be riskiest of all the climbs till date as the climb is steep. Not much of fort to see at the top, but the actual trail leads the hiker through the forests and open lands.

 6. Huliyurdurga
 At a distance of 80 km from Bengaluru, is Huliyurdurga. The hillock has a very peculiar shape of an inverted cup. The fort is said to have been constructed by Kempegowda. Access to this fort is not a very easy one due to which the fort up here is in ruins. Huliyurdurga stands for “Fort of the Tiger”. Lot of mystery revolved around this fort hill because of its 360 degree steep rock phases. But the hillock does offer pretty good challenge.

7. Savanadurga
Is one of Asia’s largest monoliths; the hillock was known as Savadi during the Hoysala rule. Savandurga (Savina-Durga) when translated to Kannada means the fort of death. This hillock is the largest monolith in Asia.  This hillock is visible from Bangalore as well. This hillock is pretty famous as it offers a decent challenge for a hike and also is pretty close to Bangalore. Manchinbele reservoir is a top spot to combine during your trek to this Navadurga. The place is one of the popular weekend getaways from Bengaluru; due to the rich forest cover, the place attracts a large number of visitors.

8. Kabbaladurga
The hillock gets its name from the Goddess Kabbalamma whose shrine is found atop the hill. The hillock is pyramid shaped and is a favourite destination among the amateur trekkers. The fort atop lies in a forgotten state and damaged. The place is located at a distance of 80 km from Bengaluru in Kanakapura.

9. Hutridurga
65 km from Bengaluru in Tumakuru is the hill fort which was built by Kempegowda in the 16th century. The seven storied fort was the summer capital of Kempegowda; one can find the ruined soldier homes, a cot made of stone, an umbrella, a durbar hall and powder magazines here. The place is a very popular trekking destination for the fact that James Bristow (Bengal artillery man) a captive of Tippu Sultan escaped this fort by making a hole in the fort wall.It offers 10-12 gates and takes the hiker through an amazing journey. Deceitful in its construction it still is an amazing fort hill. Savandurga can be seen very clearly from the top of this hillock.

Beyond the walls of steel, glass and concrete offices, there exists a Bangalore which awaits to be explored and the magnanimous forts in Bangalore should be acknowledged as they add definite charm to the city. With a great mix of history, culture, nature, and man-made wonders, the city of Bangalore boasts a truly enchanting architectural finesse in its forts.

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