Gautam and I had met at Badeladaku, 3 years ago. He had stayed there for a month helping Stefan and Yulia who were setting up a computer lab in a small village near Kudligi. I had visited them for three days, to conduct an art workshop for the kids. We had not met since then. Initially, we had planned to revisit the village but when that did not happen, we quickly made this trekking plan. Over call, I mentioned to him that we would be trekking Channarayana Durga. Immediately, he responded by telling me that he knew the place very well as his brother in law hailed from the same place. He had apparently climbed up till the temple at the summit. In the blogs that I had read previously, there was no mention of an active temple at the peak. A day later, he called me saying that he had arranged for lunch at the Ragavendra swamy mutt that is situated midway. I was a bit surprised that how the bloggers could have forgotten to mention such a detail but seeing that Gautam knew it well, I did not bother much.
So, on the 29th of April, 2017, Gautam and I drove towards Tumkur. We had a lot of catching up to do after 3 years. We setup his new Go-pro equivalent camera on the car hood and set off. We had a quick stop at Dabaspet for breakfast. Channarayana Durga is situated at Koratagere Taluk of Tumkur District. The easiest route would be to take a right deviation at Dabaspet, towards Madhugiri. I missed the deviation and took a different route.
It was almost when we passed Tumkur that the major miscommunication between Gautam and I got cleared. He kept mentioning a route to the fort via Tumkur and I kept wondering why. He then mentioned how he would always take the route via Tumkur to Devarayana durga. Well, that was the confusion, he had assumed it to be a different fort. We laughed a lot about it. Devarayana durga is a much smaller hill and one could drive all the way up so, trekking Channarayana Durga was more challenging and interesting but we surely missed a good meal at Raghavendra swamy mutt.
There is a small village at the base of the fort and the villagers are more than happy to direct you towards the trail. We parked our car and walked towards the base of the fort. On our way, the villagers directed us to the track in case we missed it.
There are no designated routes. A lady from the village suggested that we walk zig-zag up the boulders and reach a steep climb. We did that. Many previous trekkers have regarded the first stretch as strenuous, specially during the rainy season when the rocks are slippery. We found it to be easy though.
When you reach the top of the big boulder, you shall see some cactus plants to your left. A blue plastic, if it still remains, would be your direction. There awaits another huge rock to climb. On your left you shall see impressive cave like structures cut on the rock.
You can then see some entrances that lead you to the first level of the Fort. On your right, you shall find a small temple in ruins with a pond next to it. They say, gold was found in this fort and people explored the fort to find treasure, so much so that today, it stands in ruins.
Right next to the temple is another entrance covered in bushes, you could take that and enter the second level. Or, you could walk around the temple and the pond to reach the entrance at the far end. But we were misled by another track going left that climbs a steep hill. But we were glad we took that. The path led us to a really nice view point at the base of the highest wall of the fort. You simply cannot climb the wall and enter the fort from this end but it was a beautiful spot to relax.
We got back to the temple. Here, we met two other guys from Bangalore. All four of us trekked via the entrance by the temple. At far end of this arch are the steps that lead you to the final level of the fort.
At the summit, you find yourselves surrounded by the mighty fort walls. The structure is very impressive. We climbed the walls using steps made by sandwiched rocks extending out of walls.
There was a India flag that had fallen off so, one of the guys we had met, wanted to fix it. Climbing up the walls, he and I tried to fix the flag.
After a quick chat at the summit about our different trekking experiences, having this sour fruit; the name of which I do not recollect, we headed back.
We drove to Koratagere and had lunch at Laxmi Bhavan, a restaurant owned by Gautam’s friend’s relatives. After a quick meal and a tasty sweet pan, we drove to Akkiramapura village and visited the Anjanya and Venkateshwara temple.
From here, we took a shortcut that connects to Kyamenahalli. The road passed by fields and brick factories. It was an unpaved road and at times we doubted if we were on the right track.
Anjanaya temple at Kyamenahalli is an ancient temple and the main idol is said to be installed by King Janamejaya, the grand son of Abhimanyu (Pandavas of Mahabharatha).
From here, we drove back directly to Bangalore. It was an amazing trek. The scorching sun made it tiring but the trek itself is not very tough. Do not let the relatively tougher first stretch discourage you from exploring this beautiful fort.