Located at a distance of 62 km from Bangalore, at Chikkaballapura, Karnataka, are the magnificent Skandagiri hill. Also known as the Kalavara Durga, this mountain fortress is popular for its Night trek or the Sunrise trek. An adventurous climb in the darkness of the night, followed by an epic sunrise – this is one unique experience you shouldn’t miss! The Skandagiri hills stand at an elevation of 4757 feet above sea level and is one of the best sunrise viewpoints in South India. Skandagiri night trek or Skandagiri sunrise trek is a unique night trek experience to try near Bangalore.
How to Reach Skandagiri Hill?
Visitors can drive easily to the Skandagiri base since it is just 62 km from Bangalore and avail a paid parking service at the base. You can take the Bellary road towards Airport from Bangalore and then turn to Chikkaballapura road to reach Skandagiri Hills.
You may also opt to take up the pickup and drop services included in the Namma Trip Skandagiri Sunrise Trek package. One can take a train or flight to Bangalore, which houses the closest railway station and airport. Frequent buses are available from the Majestic Bus station to Chikkaballapura. The Papagni Temple at the Skandagiri base is easy to reach via an auto-rickshaw which takes around 15 minutes.
What to pack?
Since this is a night trek, it is good to carry a jacket or sweater to keep warm. Other trekking essentials like flashlights with extra batteries, enough water (at least 2 L) and high calorie snacks, emergency medications and a basic first aid kit, bandages, sunscreen, cap/hat and a light weight bag to carry everything in. Wear good quality trekking shoes with breathable socks to have a comfortable trekking experience. Phone connectivity can be difficult past the Papagni temple.
The Skandagiri Night Trek
The trek to the Skandagiri betta covers approximately 4 km (one way), and it take around 3-4 hours to complete the ascent. It can be considered to be of moderate difficulty and anyone with a basic fitness level can do this. The Skandagiri Night Trek starts at the Papagni Temple located at the base of the Skandagiri Hills in the Kalavara village. The trek can be a bit difficult, especially if it is your first time, since there is no well laid out trail to follow. But you will find many signs and signboards that point you towards the right direction all through the trek.
The Skandagiri sunrise trek starts with an easy walk to the Forest Checkpost from the Papagni temple which is about 800 meters. The next stretch is mostly hopping over boulders and rocky terrains, followed by a very steep climb to the hilltop in the final stretch. Stepping over huge and sometimes slippery boulders will be the main part of your trek. The trail can get quite dusty and the vegetation are mainly shrubby along the way. But the entire journey up is just as refreshing as you walk listening to the sounds of the nature and chill of the night with stars shining above you. Bring your flashlights (with extra batteries) as there is no other source of light along the dark trail. Make sure to take enough breaks and pack up enough snacks and water to keep yourself energized and hydrated.
Take care to wear comfortable fitted clothes to avoid any discomfort during the trek. Avoid resting near any vegetation to avoid insect or reptile bites. One should be extra careful while resting or stepping on loose boulders.
Namma Trip usually assigns a guide per group to help you throughout the trek and keep everyone together. It is wise to stay with your group since sightings of wild animals in the area is not unheard of! The trek will get steeper at some points along the way, so make sure to watch your step and take help when necessary. This is where a pair of good quality trekking shoes would come in handy – they will give you good grip and a strong step.
Once you reach the peak, find a spot for yourself to view the sunrise! The splash of reds and oranges on the sky as you witness the sunrise are some of the best ever. So, make sure to capture the memory well. This point will also give you a great 360° view of Chikkaballapura village and the surrounding hills (if the day is not too cloudy).
Things to do at Skandagiri Peak
Take a look at the Skandagiri Temple
After the sunrise, you can explore the ruins of the Skandagiri temple located on the hilltop. Once dedicated to Lord Siva, the ruins are now a photo spot for visitors. Trekkers also rest inside the temple after the rigorous climb.
Visit the Tipu Sultan Fort
Even with just a few walls standing, the fort built by Tippu Sultan does not fail to showcase the grand structure it may have been in the past. The existence of caves and other structures within the fort adds to the mystery, and this attracts may visitors to the spot. Built in the 18th century, the fort went into ruins after loosing the battle against the British raj.
You can trek back to the Papagni Temple the same way you came up. The journey would feel as new as the trek up, since it all looks different under the sunlight. It could be slightly trickier to descend, since it is easy slip under the wobbly dusty rocks. Makes sure to reach the endpoint on time if you are using the drop service!
Entry Fee and Permission for Skandagiri Night Trek
The Skandagiri Night Trek can be done only with the permission of the Forest Department of Karnataka. Namma Trip covers all the necessary formalities of Skandagiri booking including fees and permissions for your trip.
Places to visit near Skandagiri Hills
1. Nandi Hills
Nandi Hills is the most popular place to visit near Skandagiri Hills at a distance of 22 km. Trekking, cycling and camping are some of the activities to try here. The Tippu Drop, Tipu Sultan Guesthouse and the hilltop temple are some of the sights to visit at the Nandi Hills.
2. Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple
Located at the foothills of the Nandi Hills, the Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple is one of the oldest temples in Bangalore. With beautiful architecture and a mystical ambience, this is a great place to visit for a spiritual experience.
3. Avalabetta Peak
At a distance of around 38 km from Skandagiri Hills is Avalabetta, another popular trekking destination. Apart from a breathtaking view, the Beak rock, Lakshmi Narasimha Temple and the hilltop pond are some of the sights to look for here.
The best time to visit Skandagiri Hills is during the winter months of November to March. Make sure to avoid the summers and the monsoon season since they are not suitable for the Skandagiri Night Trek. Rainy seasons are mostly the most difficult and dangerous time to try this trek, so it is best to avoid it altogether. Overall, this is one of the best trekking experiences to indulge in while visiting Bangalore.