Madhugiri fort was in my list of places to trek since a long time. And last weekend (April 16th) I finally planned to cover the Madhugiri taluk. My research showed a fort hill, few temples and a blackbuck sanctuary that made this trip defined under more than just “A” tag. Friends S, M and I left home at around 6AM and reached Madhugiri at around 8:30AM. We stopped by a very quiet and serene place just before reaching the town, to have our packed breakfast. Beneath a banyan tree, overlooking a few hills, we boosted our energy with some food.
As you enter the town, you can see the tall magnificent monolith – Asia’s tallest. You can drive inside the fort gates and park by the Kodandaram temple. The priest told us that there were few temples at the top but the idols have been reinstalled down as it was difficult to climb up.
The trek up, was excellent and very interesting with several false summits. Initial flights of stairs disappear into plain rocks or some cutouts to climb but there are grills to hold on to. Several entrances within the fort lead to old structures and temples. There is a nice pushkarani type of pond inside.
After about two hours we reached the summit where you can find a temple in ruins (with almost no hint left of a temple) and a nice long shelter by its side. I assume the soldiers rested here. We relaxed at the top for a while experiencing the cool breeze and a beautiful view of the town and surroundings.
There is not much option for food here, after several enquiries we finally had our lunch at a hotel in the KSRTC bus stand. We enquired about the Maidana halli Jayamangala black buck sanctuary with a shop keeper and he directed us with a warning - “Every time I have been there, I have had a flat tire.”
The sanctuary is a left deviation on Madhugiri-Pavagad road. There are good directions everywhere and hence one won’t find much difficulty getting here.
The sanctuary is something i did not expect to see within 100kms from Bangalore. It was vast 100's of acres of land. We were lucky to spot some as soon as we entered. We took a drive on the mud road. The forest guard informed us that he could take us on a guided tour and there were guest house if one wanted to stay overnight. Most of the black bucks, he says are now migrating out of the sanctuary to the farms nearby and shall return during rain, which would be the best time to visit, he says.
Some photographer had pictured several birds and animals in the sanctuary; impressive pictures of which hang on the guest room walls. We thanked the forest guard and left. We were lucky to spot some more blackbucks that seemed to keep an eye on us and run away as we moved any closer. Apart from them, several birds were more approachable for some good photograph.
M had to leave to Chitradurga and he had to board a bus near Nelamangala at 6:30PM. With little time we had, I drove very fast. In the hurry no one noticed that we had taken the Tumkur route which actually turned out positive as we had more time now for him to board. We stopped at Pavithra hotel, Tumkur which is famous for Thate idly and awesome masala dosa. Just when we were about to leave, someone pointed at our flat tire. I recollected the warning from the shopkeeper. A little more than the speed at which they change tires in a F1 race, we three jumped at the process. As one set the caution board, one set the jack and other loosened the nuts. The tire was changed in no time and we quickly dumped everything back and drove to the toll booth were M had to board his bus. The last ten minutes of this trip was the most eventful of it all.