A highly regarded an early morning trek, Skandagiri trek is an epic journey through strenuous terrains that is as rewarding as it is tiring. Nothing compares to the sunrise that you witness among clouds at the summit. It is an ideal one day trip very close to Bangalore.
There are old ruins of the fortress of Tipu Sultan and dilapidated ancient fort ruins. That adds a haunting appeal to this trek. Skandagiri hill which overlooks Nandi Hills is also known as Kalwarbetta or Kalavara Durga. Walking among clouds here is an experience to relish. At night, you can enjoy a bonfire and camp under the sky and marvel at the unparalleled view of the morning sun.
- Location: Chikkaballapura, Karnataka
- Starting Point: Kalwara Village
- End Point: Skandagiri Hilltop
- Altitude: Approximately 1350 metres
- Trek Time: 5 hours
- Distance: 8kms
- Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate
- Starting time: 4:00 AM
Best Time For Skandagiri Trek
Anytime is a good time for this trek. Winter, that is from November to January, is usually considered the best time to go on this trek. On a winter’s night, nothing quite beats the stargazing after a difficult climb and in monsoons, the flora and fauna provide a fresh appeal to the trek. Summer trek to Skandagiri is doable if you have the stamina to withstand the treacherous summer heat of South India.
How To Get There
You need to reach the village of Chikkaballapur first.
- Road: You can take a bus from Bangalore to Chikkaballapur. From there you could take a 15-minute auto-rickshaw ride to the base point in Kalawara village or walk on foot. Or hire a cab from Bangalore to drop you to Chikkaballapura. You could take your own car/bike and arrange for parking in Chikkaballapur village only if you know someone you trust or if you’re taking a driver along who will remain in the car as you trek. It’s best not to take your own vehicle to avoid fraudulent parking assistant.
- Rail: Bangalore to the nearest railhead and multiple trains run to Bangalore. From Mumbai, you can try the Udyan Express or from Delhi, you can book Bangalore Rajdhani.
- Flight: Fly to Bangalore airport which is connected to major cities in India and then take a cab to Chikkaballapura.
When to begin
You should begin your trek at around 4 in the morning since it is a relatively shorter trek. The trail is well-marked throughout the trek so finding your way to the top would be easy.
The trek starts from Papagni Temple near the village of Kalwara. The first few minutes is a semi-dry trail but soon after lush greenery begins. You can see the Kalwarbettar fortress right ahead of you during your trek. After walking through some dense foliage, you will reach the fortress, but the fun has just started. There are six such ruined fortresses which lead to the ancient temple at the top. The view throughout is glorious and along the trail, there are small samadhi caves where you can rest for a bit.
The route is safe and no snake attacks have been reported. After a 4 to 5-hour hike with intermittent fort ruins marking your way, you will reach the summit and witness the majestic sunset.
Descent & Return
The trek is especially undertaken for its appeal at night and most people camp overnight to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise, however, there are a few who begin their trek early in the morning and return by sundown. We recommend night camping under the stars and nature as it makes for a more rewarding experience. To return, you can follow the same trail back, visit Nandi Hills nearby if you like or proceed to Bangalore.
- Travel: Bangalore to Chikkaballapur bus fare (one-way) is Rs 600 if you choose a private operator. KSRTC bus fare is around Rs. 350. From there to the base point in an auto will cost around Rs. 50. Self-drive cab (return trip) will cost around Rs. 5600.
- Food: Food will cost around Rs. 300 to Rs 600 for a day.
- Accommodation: You can camp overnight in your own tent at the summit campsites.
- Other: Recently, the government has started charging Rs. 450 for the Skandagiri trek. This decision was made after certain irresponsible trekkers would litter the place and treat the area with disrespect and neglect.
- Skandagiri Trek Package: Trek operators will charge around Rs. 1000 and above for the trek. But the trail is really simple, you don’t need a guide.
Places To Stay
If you’re booked with a trekking operator, staying arrangements will be made for you overnight. Otherwise, you can take your own tent and camp there. If you’re choosing not to do the night trek, you can stay in budget hotels (tariff starts at Rs. 1500) in Nandi Hills, which is close by. Try Mount Palazzo or Discovery Village.
There are several shacks and tea stalls on the trek trail that sell snacks, cookies, tea and cold drinks/ water. You can also have lunch at quite a few restaurants in Chikkaballapura such as Kamat Upachar Restaurant, Chandru Hotel, Hotel Babuji and Swathi Restaurant.
Places of Interest
Visit the gorgeous Vivekananda Falls in Kethenahalli village, 12 km away from Chikkaballapur village. Also, visit the pretty temple 5 km away from Chikkaballapur called The Ranganatha Swamy Temple.
Nandi Hill Attractions
There are many amazing places in Nandi Hills to explore, such as Tipu’s Drop, a historic death cliff, and Tipu’s Summer Residence. You can go mountain biking in Nandi Hills and even enjoy some paragliding. Other notable places are Amrita Sarovar and Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple. Also, visit Brahmashram Cave to enjoy some quality me-time.
Safety & Travel Tips
- Carry lots of water while night camping and stay hydrated.
- Take a comfortable backpack.
- Carry a raincoat in monsoon and a windbreaker in winter.
- Wear good hiking shoes or canvas shoes.
- Pack energy bars and light snacks.
- Carry a torch with batteries to help see at night.
- Wear a hat & sunglasses.
- Carry basic toiletries.
- Permission from the Forest Department and online ticket from the Karnataka Eco-Tourism Board is essential to gain entry. Ensure to get both of these before reaching the trekking spot.
First-time trekkers should really want to start their trekking experience at Skandagiri. It will be an easy and memorable trek that will make you want to explore even more hiking spots in the future. Leave comments & questions below.