July 2015 | Bike Rides Bangalore

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Avalabetta Hilltop and Gudibande Fort - Exploring the Unexplored 25/07/2015

Places: Avalabetta Hilltop, GudiBande Fort and Muddenahalli , Karnataka

Distance: 220 km round trip
Route: Vijaynagar -> Hebbal -> Paresandra -> Avalabetta -> GudiBande
Bikes: Discover 150, Pulsar 200 and Yamaha R15
Crew:  Abdul, Girish, Vishwanath, Naresh and Sagar Sakre(Myself)
Type: Trekking, Sight Seeing
Ideal for: Friends and Family
Budget: 400/Head

Best of the Beast: Gudibande Fort
It's time to reveal the hidden secrets of two mighty hills - Avalabetta and Gudibande fort. Since there are broken pieces of information about these places, I tried to explain in depth.

Brief about the places:

Avalabetta a.k.a Avalakunda:
Ages ago, when the ocean was churned by the gods and demons, many creations both good and bad surfaced. One of them was the holy cow and it is believed to have landed here. The hoof marks of the cow can be found on a rock.  In later years large numbers of cows frequented this hill which gave the place the name Dhenugiri (Dhenu: cow & giri: hill)
  • => The hill houses Lakshmi Narasimha temple, villagers offer the first milk of their cows to the deity worshipped here.
  • => For explorers and adventurers, the place offers enough opportunities for climbing, bird watching or simply learning about its mythology.
  • => Years ago the only way to scale the hill was to take a trail covered in bushes. Now, however, there's a good road constructed.
  • => The State Forest Department which has taken the initiative to develop and maintain this place has also built a guest house here. I am not sure if its available for all the people or only for the govt officers.
  • => The unique shaped cliff makes it an ideal spot for visitors to capture the photos, the cliff makes Avalabetta stand unique from the rest of the hills near Bangalore.

Gudibande / Gudibanda Fort:
  • => Gudibande, a multilevel fort was built by local chieftain Byre Gowda some 400 odd years ago in the 17th century.
  • => The fort’s main feature is the rainwater harvesting with 19 rock ponds at different levels of the fort.
  • => On the top of the fort is a Shiva temple, which is believed to be one of the 108 Jyotirlingas.

Saturday Morning: Since it was a long ride we hit the road as early as 5 am, Giri joined us from Hebbal. After a formal greeting, we headed on National Highway.

The Ride: Ride in the misty weather was a chilling experience, there were hundreds of bikes rushing in the same direction who were going to Nandi Hills. After Devanahalli where all those people took the left turn to Nandi Hills, we continued straight in the same direction. We stopped for a while to see mighty Nandi hills covered in clouds looking beautiful than ever. For a minute we had a second thought to turn the bike around and go to Nandi hills but we somehow convinced ourselves to stick to the plan and continued towards Avalabetta.

The GPS instructed us to take the left turn at  Paresandra, the national highway turned into small road cutting through many villages. The road from here was full of potholes and patches which cost us 40 minutes to cover 15 km (Update: One of my friend who visited recently said the road has been repaired and its smooth now). Though locals and direction signs were helpful we relied on the GPS (which was a bad idea). After Mandikallu Google maps showed two routes one which takes left turn at Thirumaladevaradinne and other one go straight. Since the left turn was in recommended route we took a left turn at Thirumaladevaradinne and ended up at a dead end (actually there is a rough road where vehicles can't go).

You should take Route 1 marked in the blue line,
Navigate from Peresandra and choose Route 1 instead of Route 2
We took help from locals and followed the other route ( Route 1 - refer image above). There were signboards at every turning which helped to find directions easily. Finally, we reached the base of the hill, an arch at entrance welcomed us.

Arch at the entrance of Avalabetta
Avala Betta Hilltop:  2 km of cement road with steep hairpin bend turns offered a thrilling experience. Fist we visited Govt Guesthouse, to my surprise there were already 4 - 5 bikes parked, needless to mention they were from Bangalore. I wasn't expecting anybody else as it's not a well-known place. We were standing on the terrace of the guest house, the sun was shining from a far distance.  It offered a decent view with a lake guarded by rocky outcrops and the horizon marked with a band of blue hills the panoramic vistas were a treat to the eyes. We spend a couple of minutes taking photographs and enjoying the cold breeze.

Guesthouse at the peak maintained by Forest Department Govt of Karnataka

View from the Guesthouse
The Laksmi Narasimha Temple behind
It's time to explore the temple and its premises. One has to walk a couple of steps to reach the cave temple where Lakshminarayan Swami idol is installed and worshipped. However, the temple was closed and there were no one around. The staircase behind the temple leads to the summit of the hill where the most stupendous views can be seen in all directions. There is another temple at the summit. We saw pound behind the temple and decided to go there.

Few steps to reach Cave temple

Laksminarayanswami Cave Temple
Guruda idol at the base of Pillar

The zigzag cement road which connects the base of the hill to the peak

Temple at the Summit of the hill

Naresh Trying to climb the Rock :D
Panoramic view from the summit 
The pound behind the temple
Right diversion from cave temple leads to the pound at the backside. There was a warning written on the rocks - "Beware of  Bears" which scared the leading guys but I think those animals are long gone for now because of human's interference. The rock on the edge was broken I don't know who made that but it was a beauty at the place. The pound, pointy rock, and beautiful landscape offered a perfect background for photography. Oh yeah, that's all we wanted!! Everyone lined up for photos. It was already around 10.30 am we had one more place to explore so we decided to leave. The temple was still closed, locals said the temple should be open by 9 am but today priest was late. We could hear the noise of hundreds of school children walking towards the hill, seemed like a school trip. Children waved hands shouting "Bye!!" we waved the hand in return and continued towards our next destination.

Beware of Bear

Pound behind the Temple
Pound with a pointed rock
Chalo Ek group photo to banti hai
Note: This photo is taken on my second visit to Avalabetta. This time more daring to live the life on the edge
Note: This photo is taken on my second visit to Avalabetta. The rock is solid enough to carry our weight

Avalabatta to Gudibande: GPS guru helped us with directions to Gudibande, it's merely 24 km to Gudibande (search for Gudibanda in maps instead of Gudibande) from Avalabetta. We pulled over for a tasty breakfast at a hotel near a village. Again the bumpy road cost us golden 45 mins to reach the fort. 

Gudibande Fort / Gudibanda Fort: At first fort looked smaller than I thought, it wasn't massive like many other forts near Bangalore. As expected there was not a soul in sight, that said we had the whole fort for ourselves. Since the fort is smaller the trek should be easy. There are reconstructed steps at the beginning which is helpful for the climb but ruins the beauty of the fort. Seemed like the steps at the beginning was a dark spot to the fort, but the rest of the fort was a beauty to express. Though the trek was short we got tired quickly as it was already 12 in the afternoon and the sun was upon us, dehydrating us at every step. Though cold breeze helped us restore our energy the enthusiasm to explore the fort had vanished. At the normal pace, it should take less than 30 minutes to reach the summit. The fort offers a good opportunity for the architects and explorers. After crossing a couple of turrets, we finally reached the summit where Lord Shiva is worshipped. It is believed to be one of the 108 Jyotirlinga. The temple here is in good condition and maintained very well. We didn't get much opportunity to learn about the deity worshipped here. One could see villages with colourful houses from the peak, most of the buildings had vibrant colours like blue and yellow :D. It's actually a Taluk so calling it a village would be wrong. The fort was a  spot for awesome photography but we were tired and had a long road to cover so we soon left the place.

Gudibande Fort

Well preserved walls of the fort
Hanuman carved in one of the fort walls
Fort has several such gates
Turret at different levels for guarding the for in those times

The outer wall of the fort
View from the fort
Heart of the fort - Temple at summit guarded by massive walls and gates

Steps carved on the rocks
Shiva Temple - Believed to be one among 108 Jyotirlinga
16 sided tall monolith pillar with a square base

Shanmukha and Bedara kannappa sculpture on the pillar base
Byarasandra Reservoir
Colourful houses of Gudibande town
While coming back we entered Chikballapur city for lunch. Abdul insisted that we visit Muddenahalli - the birthplace of one of the greatest sons of India, Bharat Ratna, Sir M Visvesvaraya. It took less than 15 minutes to reach Visvesvaraya museum where various honorary degrees, Bharat Ratna medal, mementoes and other belongings are showcased.   We saw visited Sir MV's Samadhi(grave) in a nearby well-maintained park. There is also a famous Bhoganandeeshwara Temple nearby but we decided to skip it.

Sir. M Visvesvaraya Museum

Sir. M Visvesvaraya house where he spent his childhood
Sir. M Visvesvaraya Samadhi

Slow!! You are driving too fast!!: We headed back to Bangalore, Near Devanahalli there will be police with speedometers so I signalled everyone to slow down. I guess most of the people would get a ticket for over speeding here. Remember speed limit is 60 kmph for Bikes and 80 kmph for cars. And not to forget near "so and so Tollgate police would be checking for all Bike documents and Licence so remember to keep Documents with you.

Conclusion: Though both places are little far they are worth visiting. It saw Avala betta is referred as Nandi Hills without crowd which I found to be untrue. Yes, Avala betta wasn't crowded but it didn't have the same beauty though. Nandi Hills and Avala betta are incomparable both have their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Important Notes:
1. For reaching Avalabetta just ask locals for the direction don't get lost following Google maps, I have explained above what route to follow above.
2. Search for Gudibanda in maps instead of Gudibande
3. When you reach Devanahalli reduce vehicles speed below the limit and carry all the documents.

Update 21/11/2016: The cliff at Avalabetta is banned now :( 

I have been getting a lot of comments and messages regarding the cliff is getting banned at Avalabetta now. Though I haven't seen any news regarding mishaps at the cliff, the officials of Avalabetta have decided to ban visitors from going near the cliff and getting dream photo of their life :( You can explore rest part of the hill as usual but the cliff is what made the Avalabetta special spot for Bangaloreans. My advice would be to visit Avalabetta on a weekday very early morning if you really want to get the photo at the cliff.

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