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Skandagiri

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Skandagiri, also known as Kalavara Durga, is an ancient mountain fortress location approximately 3 km from Chikballapur, Karnataka, India.

Understand[edit]

Skandagiri is known for its moderately difficult night trek and beautiful sunrise among rising clouds.

History[edit]

Skandagiri used to be the location of one of the many fortresses Tipu Sultan built for fighting against the British Raj. After Tipu Sultan lost to the Raj, the fortress was dismantled around 1791 ACE. Now all that remains of the fortress are some unrecognizable walls and remains of a abandoned temple.

Get in[edit]

The nearest city from Chikballapur is Bangalore, which is around 50 km away. There is hardly any public transport, just like the rest of India. You can either take motorcycle or rent a car. Parking fees should be less than or at most Rs. 50. The locals are known to exploit any unsuspecting stranger, so beware of fraudulent parking area manager, fraudulent guides and vehicle thieves. In fact, the village at the bottom of the hill is known as Kalwarahalli Betta (Kalwara=Thieves, Halli=Village, Betta=Hill). There has been many reports of engine, carburetor, helmet or even petrol theft. Thieves pretending to be guides will charge you Rs. 300 to Rs. 800 for walking through a straight road for some 100 meters. Some will take you at the top of hill as well for 50/person (they may ask more) but the best adventure is to find your own way. They are probably in cahoots with the police so simply avoid them. Go in groups of atleast 5 people and get sticks which will help you to climb hill and also protect you from any animals(monkeys). Remember to get light torches (1 per person atleast) during night.

Since some people fell down the steep hill while drunk, night trek is sometimes not allowed. You should find out about that beforehand. If you are not against working around the system, you can mostly maneuver around the couple of police grunts by going through the fields and directly head on to the trek without much problem.

By Motorcycle[edit]

It is inadvisable to use motorcycle to go to Skandagiri due to the risk of theft.

By Car[edit]

You can get cabs round the clock from Bangalore to Skandagiri. You may get a qualis, in which nine people can get in for around Rs2500. GPS works perfect and will draw right to the temple situated at the start of the trek. Avoid fraudulent parking area managers like plague. Only if you have a driver in the car for the whole time is it safe to leave the car.

Get around[edit]

Don't take any guide's or local person's help as they may ask around Rs1000 as the real adventure will be only when you find the path to hill yourself. If you really want them, you can bargain. They will demand around Rs100/person but you can easily get the deal with Rs50/person. There is a temple (Papagni matt) at the bottom of the trek. Go to the right side of the temple, take immediate left and go further for 100 m on plain path before the trek starts to rise up. Remember to take left from planes into a very narrow path to hill. There are arrows all around on rocks which will let you know you are on track.

At the top there are couple of makeshift shops sellng eggs, tea, noodles and cigarette. These are not available during night trek.

Try to haggle with independent sellers, they mostly charge 3-4 times the original price. Avoid the typical 'I am hungry' appeal to your emotions by underaged children (who are selling food, by the way).



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