All of us were totally clueless about Madhugiri fort and had no idea how tall or how complex it will be. I had thought it to be a small to medium height fort which would take couple of hours to cover. However it was not possible to get complete height of the hill in one view, we under-estimated its height and soon embarked on what seemed like a never ending climb. Initial part was easy and soon we could get nice view of Madhugiri town, other hills around it and few water bodies at a distance.
Fort is typical of any Indian forts- deteriorated over time, damaged further by graffiti of senseless people. A few attempts of restoration could be seen. Buildings which were supposed to be part of palace appears to destroyed completely. Tree roots could be seen in between rocks that made fort wall. Steps were carved on rocks to make climbing easy. But at many places there’s nothing to hold on to and steps are very tiny-can be risky if someone sees the down and gets nervous. There isn’t much shade, except few spots like entrances or big rocks under which one can take shelter. As expected there’s no water source either-A Kalyani is all dried up. Fort has a total of 7 or 8 rounds of defensive walls, numerous watch towers, inverted domes which looked like store house and several buildings which were either barracks for soldiers or were used as warehouses.
Half way through we came across a highly sloped rock with some very tiny steps carved on it and absolutely no support to hang on to. (Actually this looked like top of the hill, only after crossing it we realized we’re just midway). At this stage we almost thought of giving up and returning, more so because a few who returned from top declared that there’s nothing exciting over there. However Arun Bhat continued to climb, called us from top and encouraged us not to give up. With some hesitation we managed to cross this risky section . Thirst and tired legs notwithstanding managed to reach to the top of Madhugiri fort.
(Quick Trivia: Refer image above of the fort wall- Don’t you think it is a bad idea to leave projected stones like that-Will it not be easy for enemies to climb up fast?)On top we found a ruined temple, a large warehouse, and a big man hole- which could be an escape tunnel. View on top is typical to any hillock. It was a little disappointing that after reaching all the way to top there isn’t much to see-the exercise and fun we had in climbing is the core advantage.
Wikipedia says Madhurigi fort is at about 3930 feet (that is 1200 meters- higher than Burj Kalifa) The fort is built by the Gangas and eventually ruled by VIjayanagar Dynasty, Mysore Wodeyar and then by Hyder Ali. There’s no entry fee and no petty shops selling stuff. We came down and had two sweet tender coconuts (Rs 10 each). Guess we took about 4 hours to climb up and return. This meant there wasn’t much time left for Shivagange.(absolutely no regrets) We returned to Tumkur, had a feast at Kamat Upachar and returned to city by evening, as I had to return the car and catch train for Chennai.
Madhugiri is an excellent trekking spot, non commercialized and drivable from Bangalore for a one day activity. However this place can be made more tourist friendly by creating wider steps, some support structures, rope way etc. Displaying some relevant information near the base will also help.
Route: Bangalore-NH4-Right turn at Dabaspete-Pavagada route. Approx 130 kms from Bangalore. Road condition is excellent till Devarayana Durga- thereafter it is pretty decent with occasional bad patches/pot holes. Pavagada, another popular and historical fort town is about 50 kms from Madhugiri.
Update: Arun Bhat's write up on Madhugiri *
Related: Keladi Fort * Bekal Fort photos * Monkeyman in Chitradurga Fort * Skandagiri * Nandi Hills *Alamparai fort and backwaters * Mattur near Shimoga * Kodachadri * Gingee Fort * Golconda fort, Hyderabad * Hampi * Bidar * Chandragiri Fort, AP *