Skandagiri Trek- A Perfect Weekend Escapade Under the Starry Sky
Night view from the mountains, towards the twinkling sky, towards the twinkling cities, shows promising dreams!
Does the idea of venturing in the eerie silence of night entice you? Are you upbeat about delving into the deep secrets of nature? The best way to explore nature in the sparkle of the night is by embarking on a night trek.
Skandagiri trek is one such trek touted as the ultimate haven for night trekkers. The trek allures you with the thrill of night trekking as well as the beauty of an early morning sunrise. It is one of the prime trekking locales near Bangalore. It is an ideal 1-day weekend getaway that takes you to the summit of Skandagiri mountain.
Skandagiri mountain is also called Kalavara Durga or the fortress hill. This fort was built by Tipu Sultan in his battle against the British. The fort was, however, demolished after Tipu Sultan faced defeat in 1791. Historically, the mountain is also called Kalwar betta. The ruins of the fort and ancient walls impart a haunting ambiance to this highly popular trek.
About Skandagiri Hills Trek
Skandagiri hill lies at a distance of 70 km, north of Bangalore. The Skandagiri trekking trail is an uphill ascent and downward slope of 8 km (up and down). The trekking trail is moderately tough but the pathways clearly marked. The route journeys along with some steep ascents, rocky patches, and narrow trails. The trail necessitates careful maneuvers as the terrain is loose at some spots.
The trek is an ideal weekend getaway in the laps of ancient Skandagiri hills. One has to seek permission from the forest department at the entrance of the trek point. The entrance fee per head is Rs. 450 per person. Parking charges are Rs. 50 to 100.Quick facts about Skandagiri Hills
- Region- Bangalore, Karnataka
- District- Chikballapur
- Altitude- 4,757 feet
- Distance- 8 km ( both ways)
- Trek Time- 7 hours
- Duration- 1 day
- Start Point- Papagni Mutt, Bangalore (base camp)
- End point- Papagni Mutt, Bangalore
- Difficulty Level- Moderate to tough
- Water Availability- Carry enough water with you.
- Phone Connectivity- There is connectivity only till the base camp. There is no connectivity after Papagni Mutt.
- ATM Connectivity- ATM is available at Chikballapur town, located 5 to 6 km. from the base of the trek. It is better to carry enough cash with you before embarking on the trek.
How to reach
- By Road
- By Rail
- By Air
Bangalore is well-connected with all major cities of India by road, rail, or air. You have to reach Bangalore first and then head to Papagni Mutt, the base camp for the trek. The distance between Papagni Mutt and Bangalore is around 62 km. Bangalore is well connected to the Mutt by road. You can take buses, cabs, or even drive down from Bangalore.
Bangalore is a big city and well-connected with all major cities of India by rail. You can reach Bangalore by train and then reach the Skandagiri base camp (Papagni Mutt) by road.
Bangalore airport is well connected to any part of India as well as the whole world. Once you reach Bangalore, hire a cab, take a bus or drive down to the Skandagiri base camp (Papagni Mutt).
Some highlights Skandagiri trek
Night Trekking Experience- Skandagiri trek is one of the few legal night treks of the region. If you are a travel enthusiast with some spunk for adventure, then Skandagiri should be top on your list. You will enjoy walking on the rugged terrain under the canopy of twinkling stars. The silver cascade of shimmering light reflecting on the night landscape will leave you spellbound. You can also participate in the bonfire under the starlit sky. It is indeed a memorable experience!
Historical Importance- The trek traverses along with the mountain fortress which holds a historical significance. The fortress played an important role in the war against the British. Even though the fortress is dilapidated now, it still beckons tourists to revel in the beauty of its ruins.
Skandagiri Hills- The ancient hills of Skandagiri are a beauty to behold. With time, these awesome creations of nature have become more alluring and inviting for the trekkers. On a clear day, the magnificent Nandi hills seem to be under the blanket of white cottony clouds. It makes for a simply spectacular scene.
Skandagiri Sunrise View Point- It is the most pivotal attraction of the trek. In fact, many trekking agencies start the trek near dawn time (3 Am-4 AM) to witness the most beautiful sunrise of the region. For this reason, it is also called the sunrise trek to Skandagiri. Sunrise can only be witnessed from the summit and not before. The sun rises from the misty clouds and reflects its beautiful aura on the encompassing hills. It is a picture-postcard scene that the trek is so famous for!
Spiritual- The trek also has a spiritual essence to it. The trek starts from Papagni Temple (Mutt), nestled at the foothills of Kalawara village. The temple houses some idols of Goddess Parvati. At the summit, there is an ancient Shiva temple where trekkers can take a breather and savor the beautiful landscape. You are also treated to the beautiful sculpture of Nandi enroute.
Then there is the Skandagiri temple, also known as Kukke Subramanya Temple. It is a Hindu temple devoted to God Kartikeya, God of all serpents. According to the belief of the local populace, Vasuki, a divine serpent and various other serpents took refuge here after being threatened by Garuda.
Best time to visit Skandagiri
This trek can be undertaken throughout the year. However, the best time is during the fall and winter months of October to February. The landscape is lush green and the hills look picturesque in the dawn of winter season.
One can also embark on this trek during the summer months. As this trek is mostly done in the night time, you can get respite from the daytime summer heat.
Avoid trekking during monsoon months as the trails become very muddy and slippery.
Weather and Temperature at Skandagiri
The temperature ranges from 23 degrees to 17 degrees between the winter months of November and February.
The summer months of March to May see a temperature variation between 33 degrees to 26 degrees.
In the monsoons months of June to August, temperatures range between 28 degrees to 22 degrees.
The temperature ranges from 28 degrees to 19 degrees between the fall months of September and October. There may be sporadic rains during the month of September.
Itinerary of Skandagiri Trek
Day 1- Trek to the summit and back to Bangalore
- Altitude- 4,757 feet
- Distance- 8 km
- Duration- 7 hours
You reach the Skandagiri base, get a briefing of the day before starting your trek. The trek distance is 5 km on the way up. You start from Papagni Mutt at 3 am. There is a steep hike amidst boulders, thorny bushes, and wildflowers. The route moves along some rocky patches and muddy trails. One has to carefully negotiate these rough patches.
A straight trail leads you to a midpoint where a ruined fort, Kalavara Durga gate’s welcome you. Some mystic caves flank the fort gates.
Next, a narrow path brings you to the edge of a hill. A sharp right turn leads you atop the summit of Skandagiri. After a tiring trek, you are welcomed by Nandi, the vehicle (vahana) of Lord Shiva. The beautiful sculpture of the revered Nandi is such a soothing grace after a 5 km trek. There is an old Shiva Temple atop the hill where you can offer a silent prayer.
The view from the top is truly rewarding. If you are lucky, then you witness a sheath of clouds floating under the hilltop. You also get a glimpse of a lake with the hills in the background.
Wait at the top for the sun to rise from the mountains covered with clouds. The mesmeric view is worth the wait. Enjoy the moment, click some memorable snapshots before heading back to the base. It takes around 1.5 hours to get down.
Once you are at the base, you can travel back to Bangalore on the same day.
Note: Downhill trek is not very easy as the route has uneven and loose gravel that require careful negotiation. It is advised to start the downhill trek by 9 AM otherwise the sun becomes too unrelenting.
Difficulty level of Skandagiri Trek
The trek is short, but unlike the general opinion, it is not an easy one. Skandagiri trek starts with a gradual incline and is interspersed with muddy patches and steep rocky ascents sporadically. It is a moderately tough trail with pretty abrupt ascents and descents that may cause fatigue. One does require some prior trekking experience to be able to undertake it without much difficulty.
Moreover, night trekking requires one to be very agile and alert.
Fitness level of Skandagiri Trek
Like any hiking activity, Skandagiri trek entails a good level of physical and mental endurance. Start building your physical stamina by doing stretching and cardio exercises 3-4 weeks before the trek.
Also, you must have normal blood pressure and no underlying conditions such as heart problems or asthma.