What comes to your mind when you think of a weekend trekking/hiking spot around Bangalore? For most of us it would probably be the popular ones such as Nandi Hills or Ramanagara Hills. While these places have their own charm and are great for a weekend getaway; they have lately been suffering from over-tourism with commercialization on a rise. Moreover, if you’re reading this article, we’re sure that you’d have covered at least one of those places.
If you’re looking for an offbeat trekking spot near Bangalore, you should definitely consider a trip to Shivagange Hills. This quaint pilgrimage-cum-adventure spot offers majestic views, conducive temperatures and most importantly – tranquility. Being a secluded place away from hustle and bustle, it’s an ideal place for your mental rejuvenation over weekend. The temples along the ascent are an added bonus for the spiritually inclined. The ascent is not as difficult as that of Savandurga Hills and neither an easy hike as that of Nandi Hills – it simultaneously challenges and refreshes you.
Let’s explore this offbeat devotional spot near Bangalore!
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How to Reach
Shivagange is located at a 54km ride from Bangalore in the North-Western direction, taking Majestic as reference. You need to cross Nelamangala in Bangalore along the metro line to reach NH75 leading to Tumkur District. Just before the town of Dobbspet (Dabaspet locally), you’ll see a signboard with directions to Shivagange and in no time you’ll be able to see the hill at a distance partially hidden behind the mist.
The nearest airport is in Bangalore and the nearest railway station is that of Dobbspet. It is easily reachable by road and is well connected with a highway up until the main entrance. It is better to start early to avoid Bangalore traffic. The early birds can also enjoy a good parking spot at the base of the ascent. Parking is chargeable while entry is free.
Talking about the topography and history of this place, the peak of Shivagange Hills (known locally as Shivagange Betta; Betta being Hills) is located at a height of around 2600ft. As mentioned on Bangalore Rural District’s official website, Shivagange appears as Nandi from the East, Lord Ganesha from the West, Cobra from the North and Shivalinga from the South and hence, called as Chatushmukhalinga. It is also known colloquially as ‘Dakshina Kashi‘, meaning Kashi (Varanasi) of the South.
The temples on the hill were built by King Vishnuvardhana of Hoysala Dynasty and are currently protected under the Karnataka Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1961.
You’ll encounter multiple temples enroute with Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple at the top. It is said that ghee turns into butter when rubbed on the Shivalinga placed here and there are many video evidences depicting the same. On one side of the summit, you’ll see Ganga Stambha and it’s said that river Gange appears on this stambha every Makara Sankranti festival in January. On the other side is Shanthala drop. It is said that the queen of the king Vishnuvardhana – Rani Shanthala took her life from this place.
Shivagange Trekking Experience: What to Expect
Trekking to the summit is moderately difficult and can be easily done by a physically fit individual. The ascent is a combination of natural and man-made steps. All along, the path it’s mostly inclined with a few flat hiking trails along the way. The total trek is 2.3km long which can take up to 2 hours depending upon your speed, stamina and stops.
You start from the base with a long shaded flight of concrete staircases opening up to the view of Nandi statue at one end overlooking the nearby villages. Without even realizing it, you’re already scaled a few hundred feet vertically. But, that’s just the start. After every 20 minutes of your ascent you experience unique exquisite terrain and a panoramic view of the nearby towns. The temperature begins to drop, breeze speeds up and the mist intensifies. You begin to see more colors in the wild flora and start to find new hiking companions – monkeys and snails.
Shiva Parvati statue sitting behind a Nandi idol should be a mandatory pit stop to catch your breath and admire the views as trekking gets slightly tougher from here. A little further however, you have rusted and dilapidated railings to support your ascent. Right before the summit on the left you can see another Nandi statue carved out of a single black stone facing the main deity of Shivagange. Once you reach the summit, you’re engulfed in thick mist and cloud which often clears to give a mesmerizing view around.
There are a few stalls put up by the locals along the way up selling fruits, packed snacks, cigarettes, biscuits and drinks. There’s also a tiny stall at the summit specializing in the local version of bhel puri. While all the items sold come with a small altitude premium, these stalls make good pit stops during your climb.
- Plan your visit during post-monsoon days to experience the best of the views
- Avoid visiting during scorching summers (April-May) and around Jan 14-15 (Makara Sankranthi festival)
- Wear sturdy running or preferably, hiking shoes to comfortably conquer the boulders
- Carry a light waterproof jacket as it can get chilly and wet during pit stops
- Wear decent clothes as it’s ultimately a pilgrimage center