Ancient man made shelter: Huliyurudurga
Located close to Savandurga, the hill is a solid mass of rock and has the peculiar appearance of an inverted cup. The fortification of the hill commanding the place is about 845 meters above sea level and were said to have been erected by Kempegowda, the Magadi chief. Maybe the warlords back in the day wanted a fort here on this hill because of the elevation, or perhaps, they just lost interest along the way. But the stones of the fortifications show no sign of ever being dressed. This is an incomplete fort that was abandoned midway. There are springs, ruined houses, powder magazines, granaries, durbar hall and other remains. The temple close to this hill is said to have been built by KempeGowda or by ChikkadeverayaWodeyar. It has well worked granite pillars in the Navaranga or the nine colors. The temple of Mallikarjuna is situated on the summit of Hemagirihill, which is by the side of Huliyurudura. A shrine of Vadiraja locally known as Hemagiriyappa is on the eastern slope of Hemagiri where the object of worship is a round stone and on the southern slope is a shrine of Bhairava. The hill is loftier and greener than Huliyurudurge and easier to climb, but not fortified.
The ideal way of getting to Huliyurudurge is to leave Bengaluru early, and stop along the way, after Magadi, for a roadside breakfast picnic. It is a short drive, and it is best to reach the destination before the sun is high in the sky. The climb can get treacherous under the hot sun. There aren’t any easily marked routes and markers along the way, but locals and farmers are friendly and will happily guide you along to the Betta.
Once you get a view of Hemagiri, rest assured that you aren’t far away. There are beautiful ponds and water bodies along the way, which are teaming with water lilies in the right season.
The climb itself can be a little treacherous for the novice climber. The hill’s sides are pretty steep and covered with dense vegetation. Steps are made till the Ganesha temple, about quarter way up. There are guiding painted arrows pointing the way up from here. It is not an easy climb and there are several feet tall vertical hurdles that need to be ascended. This is an ancient flagstone path and has been washed smooth and slick by many centuries of monsoons and can be difficult and slippery along the way. Good climbing and bouldering shoes will make the climb easier. Many a times, you will find that the path ends and the steep rock face is the only way up. The ruins of the fortifications and the fort walls are visible from many spots along the climb. Climbing up is fairly easy, but climbing back down will often require climbing gear.
Along the climb, one will come across many quaint little landmarks. A beautiful Basavanna temple with the Nandi inside or the crumbling fort walls, this man made rock formation appears to be an ancient shelter. A temple complex with a towering shikhara or dome, a deepastambha or lamp pillar, walls on four sides and a Dwarabagilu or Nandi, KumbiBetta and the first water little pond all are easily visible from many points along the climb. On the summit is the Mallikarjunadevasthana or temple with a small tank right opposite it. During monsoon the tank is full of water and teaming with little water wildlife.
Preparations for travel:
The nearest town is the Kunigal district, which is about 20 kms from the little hamlet that is the village of Huliyuru. The facilities, in terms of boarding and lodging, even in the town of Kunigal are minimal. Tumkur, which is nearly 45 kms away from Huliyur is the next town and there are some mid to high range hotels available, which can cost you anywhere between Rs. 2000 to 8000 per night. The ideal way to travel to Huliyurudurge however is to camp during the night. The village of Huliyur and the bottom of the hill provide some good camping spots, but this is also bear and leopard country, so it is good to be prepared accordingly. Carry your rations, precooked and ready to eat food is ideal. During the monsoon season, the place can get a little soggy and marshy, and carrying a flashlight, mosquito repellent ointment and plenty of drinking water won’t be a bad idea. There is no source for camping gear nearby, so it is best to bring your own, along with first aid kits, because the village itself is very sparsely equipped and the nearest medical facility is in the town of Kunigal.
The climb is a satisfying one, both for a nature lover, a connoisseur of history of one just looking for a little excitement and adventure. This is one of those hidden treasures of the state of Karnataka, that needs to see more people and it needs to be explored a little bit more.
Located 95 kms west of BangaloreKunigal tehsil of Tumkur district in Karnataka, it is situated 22 kms away from the sub-district headquarter Kunigal and 52 km away from district headquarter Tumkur and has a village code 612728.The easiest way of getting there is by road.
It is best to carry overnight camping gear as well as climbing gear as the fortification is a tough climb and requires a little expert handling. There is no accommodation close by, except for the villages of Kunigal or Tumkur, but it will take a traveler away from the hill that has to be climbed.