Savandurga Trek

Savandurga is one among the largest monoliths in Asia. In kannada, Savinadurga means - "The fort of death". This indeed is a test for inexperienced trekkers. With nearly vertical climb in several parts of the trail, Savandurga trek is one of the most challenging treks around Bangalore.

Some inscriptions in the fort date back to AD 1340, during the reign of Hoysala Kingdom. During those times, the hills were called Savandi. However, as per records, the fort is said to have been built by Samantha Raya, a chieftain under Vijayanagara Empire around 1543. The fort then went on to the hands of Kempegowda, the founder of Bangalore city. During his times, Savandurga was one of his capitals. The fort changed hands again and it came under the ruling of Dalavayi Devaraja (Under Mysore King), then to Tipu Sultan and finally, post the third Anglo-Mysore war, under the Britishers, till independence.  

Savandurga hills comprises of two rocks – Karigudda (Black hill) and Billigudda (White hill). People are allowed to trek up Billigudda. In order to trek Karigudda, you will have to take permission from the forest department at the base of the hill and rock climbing equipment may be required for this climb. 

If you are looking for a refreshing or a workout trek, not so far from the city of Bangalore, then Savandurga is your go-to place. Read through to find out more about this trail and trek. 

Basic Information

Altitude: 1266 m (4153 ft)

Location: Magadi, Ramanagara Distrcit (55 KM from Bangalore)

State/Country: Karnataka / India

Total Distance: 6 KM (Return)

Time Taken: 1-2 Hours (Climb)

Difficulty Level: Moderate


Until recently, Savandurga trek was absolutely free. But in April 2023, the forest department has mandated an online booking and a fee payment of Rs 300 (Rs 250 + GST). You can make your reservations at this website - Karnataka Eco Tourism.

Best Time to Trek

You can do the Savandurga trek any time of the year. However, it would be better to avoid the trek during peak monsoon season as the rocks get slippery. In such a condition, it is sometimes impossible to climb. I find late August to October the best time to trek as it provides beautiful views of the lush green surrounding. But, you can trek anytime of the year and the views are always charming. 

On weekends and on public holidays, you will find a lot of people trekking here. There will be a guard at the entry point, who will take your personal details. There is no entry fee. The guard might ask for a small tip. It is up to you to give or not. 

It is advisable to reach there as early as possible. I would recommend that you begin the trek at least by 7:30AM, if not early. That way, you will be at the summit at around 9AM, depending on your speed. Once the sun goes up, this trek can be twice as difficult. 


Trekking Gears Required

As this is a day trek, you will not need a lot of trekking gears. However, a good trekking shoe is always a must. Please do not try to trek with sport shoes or ones without grip. The rock can be slippery and difficult to climb even when in dry season. 

Carry some basic food, some water and a daypack. On weekends, you will find villagers selling water at two or three locations along the trail, including the summit. 

How to reach Savandurga?

The only way to reach Savandurga from Bangalore is by road. The most comfortable way is to take your own vehicle – Either a bike or a car. From South Bangalore, you will have to take the Mysore Road and turn right towards Doddallada Mara Road. The road will then pass through Manchanbele dam and reach Savandurga. Google maps will easily guide you to the location.

There is a BMTC bus 241-M that ply between KR Market and Savandurga. There are two buses each way in the morning and evening. For timings, please check the latest details on BMTC website. You can also take bus number 227VA (From Majestic) to Veeregowdana Doddy which is located 4km from the base of the hill. But you will have to find a ride till Savandurga.


Facilities Available

Since Savandurga houses two ancient temples, it witnesses a lot of people during weekends. Sri Lakshmi Narasimha temple is located at the dead end of the road. You can park anywhere around the temple complex. There is one restaurant by the temple. The owner often volunteers to store the helmets or other belongings at his place. In return, he expects to have some customers. There is also a public toilet at the right side of the temple. 

While driving to Savandurga, you will find several villagers selling their farm products (Fruits or Vegetables). Some have also setup a mess that offers good home-made breakfast.

On weekends and public holidays, the villagers setup stalls in two or three locations along the trail, including the summit. They sell water and other basic refreshments.

The Trail

Though this is a short trek, do not take Savandurga trek lightly. I have seen even the fit ones struggle to climb. If you are facing the Lakshmi Narasimha temple, then the trail begins on your right side. There is a hoarding that speaks about Savandurga forest area and the trek. Get down the platform and walk down to the mud path next to the hoardings. Continue on that path until you reach the base of the rock. 

From this point onwards, there are arrow marks painted on rocks for guidance. You can also follow the electric line, which passes over the trail. The entire trail of 3km (one way) can be divided into 6 stretches. 

Stretch 1 – Savandurga trail does not begin easy. The very first stretch is steep and can be challenging for beginners. Do not experiment and take off route. Follow the markings on the rock. 

Stretch 2 – The second stretch is a gradual incline but becomes steep towards the end. But this stretch is relatively easier than the previous.  You can rest to soak in some good views of the manchanbele backwaters and the surrounding hills. 

Stretch 3 – This short but steep climb is almost vertical. Take a deep breath and try to do it in one go if possible. There are paw like steps cut for grip. 

Stretch 4 – The fourth stretch is a long and gradual incline, but can be tiring. This is the final difficult portion of the trek. On the other end of the trail is a fort entrance in ruins. 

Stretch 5 & 6 – This part of the trail is the easiest of all. Most of this stretch is flat. When you reach the structure as seen in the above picture, pass through it and continue towards the jungle that lies straight ahead. There is some incline along the way. At the end of this stretch you will pass through a beautiful cave. 

Stretch 7 – This final stretch is short but challenging as the rock is slippery. It is especially difficult to descend. But if you have a good trekking shoe, you should be fine. After that last climb, you are at the summit of Biligudda; by the Nandi shrine. Enjoy the magnificent views and hopefully of the clouds brushing past the hills. 

Other Places to Visit

There are two ancient temples at the base that I think you must visit. You will park your bike or car at the parking lot of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. The temple often has lot of devotees during weekends. 

Sri Savandi Veerabhadraswamy temple, has an impressive architecture. The temple is built of granite. 

There is also a waterfall near the hill. You will have to reach the village and enquire about the trail that leads to waterfall. It is either referred to as Savandurga waterfall or Manchanbele waterfall. 

On your way to Savandurga, you will pass by Manchanbele dam built over Arkavathi river. The dam backwaters is a great place to view sunset. Fish lovers can find a few stalls around the dam selling fish fries.   

My Experience 

Savandurga trek is one of my favoutire treks around Bangalore. It is also my workout trek. I go there at least once every month and time my climb. My record thus far has been 35mins. Though I know the trail very well, every time it is a different experience. I have lost count of how many times I have done Savandurga trek. So, if you are looking for some good endurance test, this trek is for you.  For more details, check out my vlog on this trek. 

My Film on Savandurga Trek: