Avalabetta and Gudibande fort – One Day trip from Bangalore
One scenic road trip, two treks, and three amazing views – that’s the least you can expect from a day trip from Bangalore to Avalabetta and Gudibande fort. Avalabetta is a hillock 90 km away from Bangalore which is famous for a hanging cliff, aka the “beak rock”. Gudibande fort is a 17th-century structure that dominates the skyline of Gudibande town, 10 km away from Avalabetta. Naturally, it makes sense to club them together for a full day outing near Bangalore. So join us as we embark on another one day trip from Bangalore.
Bangalore to Avalabetta – The route
We didn’t intend to wake up early for this trip. We ordered a heavy brunch at home and started at 10 am. Both Avalabetta and Gudibande fort are located in Chikballapur district in Karnataka. The route from Bangalore to Avalebetta is smooth and the 90km distance can be easily covered in 2.5 hours on a weekend. The road is butter-smooth on the route via Hebbal flyover and NH44. Granite Hills, whispering forests, vineyards, and beautiful village scenes accompanied us throughout the road to Avalabetta right after we left the city.
Quick note: entry to both Avalabetta and Gudibande fort is free. Parking charges are applicable for Avalabetta.
Avalabetta – Expectation versus Reality
Avalabetta is known as the obscure alternative to the Nandi Hills. However, if you expect it to be really obscure and free of crowd you couldn’t be more disappointed. We reached Avalabetta by noon and found many other cars parked at the foothills.
Throughout the trek, we are accompanied by notorious monkeys who were on the lookout for carbonated drinks. It was the first week of January but the scorching heat reminded us of summer. Thanks to the dense forest cover, the heat ceases to bother us after some time. There are a bit too many hawkers there for my liking. It means you can easily buy a glass of buttermilk, lime water and some snacks from the hawkers. However, it just makes the place a bit too commercialized for a place marketed as “obscure” or “offbeat”.
So in contrary to all the flowery descriptions of Avalabetta let me say it once and for all – Avalabetta was underwhelming. Yes, it’s a great trekking spot and a nice day out, but it is no longer obscure. With the highlight, the beak rock blocked to prevent accidents, you are indeed can’t help feel despair after reaching the summit.
The dense greenery and the panoramic views were indeed beautiful as can be seen from the pictures above. Just that I expected a lot more! There is a Lakshmi Narasimha temple at the top of the hill. It’s just a small living temple where people come to offer their prayers. Legend has that this is the hill-top where Lord Narasimha married Goddess Lakshmi. From a historic or architectural standpoint, there is nothing special in the temple to see.
However, there are two travel tips I have for a better experience-
- Trek during the early monsoon, or just after the monsoon when the weather is cool but rains are not frequent. I can imagine the mist and the dense green forests look spectacular at that time of the year. Maybe I will visit again to confirm this.
- Anytime outside the rainy season in and around Bangalore is now hot. It’s not as hot as other parts of India, but it’s dry and sunny. So try to reach by 7 am to avoid the heat as well as the crowd.
- The Avalabetta peak faces the west so it is a very popular sunset point. You can expect a large crowd at that time. I would rather be at the Gudibande fort or the Gudibande lake at that time to watch the sunset peacefully.
Read about the best monsoon destinations to visit in India.
Maybe when I visit before sunrise or in the monsoon, I will have a different story to tell. It’s, of course, a good place to hang out with friends and family. For me, what made the day special was the family outing and fun conversation we had. The thief monkeys are also very entertaining to watch. The way they imitate humans and try to open the wrappers is amusing to watch.
Gudibande Fort – the real obscure beauty
If Avalabetta turned out to be a bit overhyped, Gudibande fort was just the opposite. I first saw the enormous fortified walls on our trip to the blackbuck sanctuary. That was over a year back on our first long drive in our new car. At that time, I didn’t know the name of the fort, but I knew I’d come back again.
Gudibande fort is just 10km away from Avalabetta but not many people know about it. After our trek to Avalabetta, we drove through the narrow roads cutting through a village and parked our car at the foot of the Surasadmagiri hills. Gudibande fort stands tall at the top of this hill. We reached Gudibande fort sometime around 3 pm. There was not a single hawker and not even another tourist in the area when we started.
A brief history of the Gudibande fort
Gudibande fort is a 17th-century structure built by chieftain Byre Gowda, who is fondly remembered as Robinhood of those times. The one who looted from the rich and donated to the poor, Byre Gowda was a small-time chieftain who ruled Gudibande for just 3 years. But within this short time, he left a legacy that still stands the test of time. Not only did he built this massive fortress famous for the rainwater harvesting system, but he also built a water reservoir in the town. Historical records suggest that Byre Gowda was inspired by the design of Madhugiri fortress (also in Karnataka) and intended to replicate the same. The resemblance between the two forts is uncanny.
The structure of Gudibande Fort
The 500 stone steps led us through several narrow pathways between the boulders. The path is dotted with turrets, ruined temples, and caves until you reach the summit. The Narasimha Swamy temple is a rock temple in the fort that dates back to the Chola dynasty. It is older than the fort itself and is responsible for the name of the town. [Gudi- temple, Banda – rock]. At the top of the hill is old Shiva temple which is believed to be one of the 104 jyotirlingas in Hindu mythology. Byre Gowda built19 rock ponds in the fort for rainwater harvesting. Three years is all it took for this little-known ruler to build a fort and a huge water reservoir. He was certainly way ahead of his time and but didn’t have an heir to carry his lineage.
Exploring the fort
Climbing 500 stone steps in scorching heat does not sound easy. But there was so much to see and so much to explore in the seven gates each of which led to a page in history. We stopped at several places to observe the carvings on the rocks and gates. However, the best is saved for the last – the summit. As we reached the summit we were greeted with gushing wind and scenery that looked like a painting. The view of the Byrasagara lake and the green vistas and hills all around was awe-inspiring.
But more surprising was the color-coordinated houses, something I had never expected in an obscure place like this. It reminded me of the pictures of pink city Jaipur that I had seen so often. The houses here were different shades of bright blue and stood out beautifully in the picture-perfect scene. There was hardly anyone around but it didn’t feel unsafe. I did what I don’t do normally. Just laid down at the summit and closed my eyes to feel the wind brushing on my face.
Byrasagara lake is popularly described as a lake shaped like the map of India. I have seen it from many angles at the top of Gudibande fort and honestly, I don’t see the resemblance. Maybe you can look at the pictures and decide.
The lake gets its name from our Robinhood king Byre Gowda who built it in the 17th century as a water reservoir. It’s nevertheless one of the most pristine lakes I have seen, undisturbed by crowd and tourist activities. The rocks and boulders around the lake reminded me of the magical land of Hampi. After two treks on a hot sunny day, watching the sunset at the Byrasagara lake was the best thing we could do.
General tips for this trip
- Carry at least 1 liter of water per person
- Take some snacks with you
- Start early morning to avoid the sun
- You can also club this trip with a trip to Bhoga Nandishwara temple on your way back. It is an architectural marvel of the 9th century, an old Hindu temple which is an iconic example of Hoysala art.
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When in Bangalore check out one of these organized trips in and around the city.
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