March 23, 2011

Fort Madhugiri : An Impregnable Maze

With so many multi day bike trips under our belt it was time to return back to the basics, i.e. single day bike rides from which it all began and it was nearly a year since I had one. The destination this time was Madhugiri Fort in Tumkur District, touted as the second largest monolith in Asia and having a climb considered to be a bit difficult. As always with bike rides there were innumerable dropouts and finally we were left with a headcount of just 3 (Jenny, Prasanna and Me), but that didnt deter us and we went with the plan.

First View
Got up pretty early as compared to saturday(19 Mar 2011) morning standards and gave wake up calls to others. Left home at around 6.40 am and moved towards Tumkur Road via NICE ring road. Waited for the fellow bikers at Tumkur road and by around 7.30 am everyone had arrived and we were on our way to Fort Madhugiri. Initial ride was along the 4 lane Tumkur Highway (NH4) a not so enjoyable means for biking, but having no other alternates we were forced to take this route. Had breakfast in one of the Kamat's on NH4 but the service left a lot be desired.

Guard Of Honour
Similar to our initial rides we did almost zero research on this place or the ride, hence had no clue about this place.Not that we wanted to be surprised by this place but no one had enough time to do proper research. All that we knew that we were to take a diversion from Tumkur and head towards Madhugiri. But as we reached Dobbaspet there was diversion marked towards Madhugiri and since we were raring to enter a 2 lane highway, we were in it in no time.

Water Tanks

The initial part of this stretch (SH-3) was really good and I expected the same all the way to Madhugiri. But as we started to get nearer to our destination the roads too started going downhill with the worst section just outside the Madhugiri town. Enroute we came across innumerable lakes filled with clean deep blue water and we couldnt resist riding to its banks and enjoy the view and while returning back from one such lake Prasanna lost control of his bike on a kuccha road and had a fall along with Jenny who was riding pillion with him. Prasanna got some bruises in his leg and this pretty much satisfied his requirement of one accident per bike trip :P. Jokes apart having endured so many falls while biking and  still he is game for biking. This is a sign of a true biker,  if not of his biking skills :P.

Multilayered Defence: Layer No 5,6,7 and 8 visible

As we approached nearer to the town the entire landscape is covered by boulders and one that dominates and captures your entire attention is the humongous monolith. Truly majestic and  intimidating at the same time. Reached the foot of this giant , parked our bikes changed into trek gear and we were all set to conquer this mountain. Long back I had read about the deceptive nature of this fort, and people climbing for the first time will have no idea whats in store for them. Perhaps this was what the original builders had in mind.

The Squeeze
The history of the fort has some of the big names associated with it, like the Ganga dynasty, Vijayanagar Empire, HyderAli-Tipu Sultan, the British and finally the Mysore Wodeyars and I was wondering how the fort changed hand so many times , with the majority of the times it being annexed by force, since I had never seen a fort which had a better defensive structure than this one. Overall there are a total of 10 defensive rings thrown around the mountain and at no time are all the rings visible. So when you start expecting the end is near, one by one the defensive rings start appearing. Imagine the frustration the enemy soldiers would have to endure while climbing, not just physical exhaustion but mental frustration. A prime example of psychological warfare :P.

We started the climb at around 10.45 am , and the initial section has some well layed steps and we expected the same till the end. But within the short distance start the actual means of traveling to the top, a small box shaped step etched into the boulders to give the much needed grip for the legs. And at most of the places the elevation was in tune of 50-65 degrees. But of late ASI has introduced iron grills for support for most of the route which makes climbing this hill not much of an effort even though it looks scary. The weather was surprisingly pleasant for a mid-march afternoon accompanied by heavy winds which increased in intensity as we gained altitude.

Fort No 10: The Final

Inside Barracks
There are a lot of nooks and crannies to be explored in this fort and we went at our own pace absorbing every little detail. And the fact that there were very few people who were game for climbing this mammoth gave us more or less the sense of isolation even though the town is just at the feet of this mountain. There are no guides, or shops anywhere near the monolith making it a completely noncommercial destination.

When we started climbing we thought that this trek can be completed within an hour , but as described earlier the climb was never ending. And we took nearly 2 hrs to reach the top , where a depleted temple complex is situated and behind it are some well preserved buildings which resembled like barracks. Also the view from the top is very good, with the landscape dotted with much smaller mountains, fields, lakes and the town below.. picture perfect. The only complain is that there is a lot of graffiti on the fort walls, "Mr A Loves Ms. B"... what is the point of  damaging our heritage like this, as if the love is made immortal by such cheap acts.

Nithin Anand Baba :D
After spending time exploring the ruins we returned back and had our packed lunch en route. The downhill was done at a fast pace since there was nothing to explore and we reached back to the base at 1.45 pm , taking a total of 3hrs for the entire trek. Had a refreshing drink at a petty shop, a mocktail of mosambi and pineapple juice, an awesome combo. Soon after this we left the town and started towards Bangalore. Just a few kms from Madhugiri we were stopped in middle of the road by a few stick wielding villagers , and they demanded money on pretext of some tradition and festival on this particular day. Even though they were adamant they were quite respectful at the same time and having no other option we paid up(10 bucks) considering that we were outnumbered 1:6 :P. The much bigger vehicles such as bus and cars didnt even bother to stop at this human roadblock. As mentioned earlier we bikers are more exposed to the elements of nature.

Flower On Rocks

The ride back was good (Nelamangala Corridor Rocks :) ) and reached home again via NICE road at 4.45 pm making it a short and sweet trip , a long time since we had one amid all those heavy weight touring.

Self Shadow Portrait

Ride Details :

Trip 'O' Meter -> 232 kms
Total Cost Per Head -> 400 bucks

Trek Details : (Thanks to my new GPS enabled droid)

Total Distance --> 2.7kms (up and down)
Total Elevation Climbed --> 444 m
Difficulty Level ---> Easy (for seasoned trekkers)
Total Time Taken --> 3hrs (1 hr 43 mins for the trek, remaining for relaxing, photography, exploration and lunch)

Snaps Link :

Route Map


  1. Game for Biking!!! u have covered every bit of trip :)

  2. Is that possible to go with 8 month baby?

    1. I would say no to tat... if u want to trek with a 8 month baby try Siddarabetta nearby... it is much more safer with proper steps till d top....

  3. Nice blog, I have added your link as reference to my ride blog


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