Single Day Trip Near Bangalore: Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve and Madhugiri Fort

With a weekend in hands, bike in garage and camera lying next to me on bed, the only thought that woke me up that night was what to do with all of these? The answer was floating around in Google and hence I decided  Jayamangali Blackbuck reserve is the best place to exercise everything. With none of my friends willing to join, I was almost sure to go alone, but just one day before the actual plan, I decided to put it up on meetup.com. To my surprise I got great responses, and finally two people Rajath and sameena were ready to join me on the visit. I asked my college mate Anupriya also to join and hence we were four to rock towards Madhugiri. We left bangalore by 4 am to make sure we reach the place by sunrise, probably the best time to spot animals.

So in a famous saying sannate ko cheerte hue we were riding towards Madhugiri. We took the NH4 tumkur road and followed it on till 40 km from bangalore, where there is a right turn below the fly over for Madhugiri. The temperatures were too low and thanks/curses to a mad driver who showered filthy water on me and Anupriya. We stopped there and that was the moment when Rajath realized how badly he was missing his Jacket. Had a cup of tea and went ahead on the dark roads to the destination. For about 20 km the road was fine but then the Karnataka government showed it true colors and the state highway adventure was on. Dawn was at the corners and the graphite monsters of the region were haunting with their black shadows. The road gives a feeling of riding along a valley and the pre-morning weather really adds to the flavor. To avoid freezing breezes from making us senseless we were riding slow and hence saw the sunrise before reaching the reserve. Around 6:30 we reached Madhugiri another 30 km from there was the blackbuck reserve. The road starts vanishing after that as the local farmers use it to dry hay, and I wondered, am I the first one to use this road as a road?  We reached to the last 4 km for the reserve which is marked by a sign board. As soon as we took that right turn, the curious Blackbucks welcomed us. We saw a huge group running from us, and decided to reach the place with thoughts that they will be more there. The forest office there is just one room, which even offers place to stay. We went ahead for a walk along the forest and discovered there is no water here and hence pretty hard to actually observe any creature out here. We saw an observation tower and rushed towards it. The view from there is ecstatic, for few moments you would just be with yourself, no disturbing sound, no signs of pollution and a lush green spread of crops enhancing the view.

Air Sentry

Air Sentry

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

Paddy Field in the Reserve

There we got the first close looks of a blackbuck grazing, but that was probably the lone grazer there. With the sun proving Rajath’s decision of not bringing jacket good, we decided to get out and look for blackbucks where we originally spotted them. To our surprise even after 9 30 they were waiting for me take their clean shots, and this time I didn’t miss out.

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

Bucks running around, our first spotting

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

Finally a BlackBuck

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

Herd of Bucks & BlackBucks (No Racial/Color Discrimination)

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

And They Ran Away From Us

We kept on walking on the small trails of path in the jungle to spot more and more of them. The calmness of that place was making it hard for us to decide leaving it. But we eventually did and left for Madhugiri. Reaching there we realized there is not even a single decent place to eat out. We ended up having dosa and idly at a chai shop/restaurant and it did turn out tasty. It gets pretty hot by the noon and all the locals suggest to start the trek by morning 8 something so that you have ample time to spend there and come back. We decided to go ahead and let’s see what this place has to offer. From the base of the fort one can not make out how hard and long the trek can be to the top. There are in fact nine levels of walls to the top of the fort, and after reaching to the 3rd we were already looking towards the way down.

Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

On The Way Up To the Madhugiri Fort

Well, hope is a wonderful thing and is a must grab tool too, be it come from any source, come on any moment, come from anywhere. There He walked down where we sat down with a fickle mind whether to proceed or not. He looked like an ordinary man, carrying a backpack with a 1 litre bottle, head shining like a aura in sun, spects crowning like a jewel on Him, and a determination to climb any fort in vision. And as expected He rides on a THUNDERBIRD. We asked Him how far is it going up from here, and He replied in simple words, “2 hours of continuous walk up and 1 hour of a smiling walk down”. We just kept listening to His stories, He kept on sharing his experiences, and within few minutes of interaction He was a hero. Trekking alone just to make sure He climbs every fort He knows exist. He motivated us to the brim of our taking and we were all set to see what’s there on the top. We were short on water and with every level up we tasted water pretty slowly. There we saw the mighty walls of the fort, standing tall through times and weather, without APEX ULTIMA :p.

Madhugiri Fort

The Fort Wall at the Top

Madhugiri Fort

Shades Around the Wall

The view from the top was pretty cool, but the cooler thing was the availability of water there, not sure whether was drinking water or not, but yes we did drink it. Ignoring the crawling creatures on the sides of the tank we went ahead drinking the sweet cold water. Sat there for an hour, shared stories, discovered lot of common interests among us, promised to travel together again and started walking down.

Madhugiri Fort

The View From The Top (Madhugiri The highest Monolithic Hill)

Madhugiri Fort

Madhugiri Reservoir From The Top

Madhugiri Fort

Ruins of The Fort

Ruins of the Fort

We were on our way back as soon as we touched the ground. On way back to bangalore, there were few beautiful lotus ponds and a small lake which was quite a photogenic place, and me and my camera just love such places.

Madhugiri Lake

A Beautiful Lake Near Madhugiri

The trip ended with a nice interaction with some fellow travelers, joyous exploration of a scenic place, and some unforgettable memories to cherish forever.

22 Comments

  • Vipin says:

    Wow, what an adventurous entry, Ashu bhai! Your pen and your camera did a wonderful job presenting a lesser known jewel so beautifully…all the photos are just awesome, my favourite is the last shot! You also portrayed the spirit of ghumakkari so beautifully by wandering with the ghumakkars you had probably not known before, this is the spirit of ghumakkari, you not only make friends, but also great fellow travellers who share some of your best memories of life…:)

    You can surely work on some more details (e.g., distances, directions, fooding, lodging options, timings & fee at reserve, trek duration, what all to carry or any other relevant info that could help fellow ghumakkars who wish to visit this place after getting inspiration from your brilliant work) in the coming posts. A warm welcome to ghumakkar! Keep wandering, sharing & encouraging…:)

  • Ashu Saxena says:

    Thanks Vipin for your input. I will keep these things in mind for my next post.
    Now here are some more details about the trip plan to Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve. It’s around 100 km from Bangalore near Madhugiri. The best time to reach there is after monsoon in the months of October-December. During the morning you can find blackbucks running around everywhere. There is no place to eat at the reserve and the ticket charges are around 20 per person. You can enjoy the scenic beauty of the place at the observatory tower inside. The attendant at the office can cook things for you if you plan to camp during the night which is feasible and would be great too. The place is quite safe and you can even get guides to take you around a nature walk. Feel free to contact me if you are planning to visit this place anytime.

  • Vinay Rajput says:

    A very well written post with tremendous photography.
    I loved all the pics.. Thanks for sharing.

  • venkatt says:

    Ashu, thanks for introducing Madhugiri. Yet another addition to little known beauties of Karnataka. You did very well to go the whole hog in the searing heat. And because of your effort, we could get the beautiful views from the top of the fort.

    • Ashu Saxena says:

      Thanks Venkat, this is just one of the many trips I had done in karnataka. I’m preparing posts for other trips too. Karnataka is a beautiful state with a lot to offer at every 50 km, with the biggest asset being that the places are less explored and still untouched by the urban pollution and civilization. The sheer beauty of nature is there to stun you with the calmness of breeze flowing around when your motorcycle is just above the clouds.

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    A warm welcome Ashu.
    A true Ghumakkar style entry…in your bike and some marvelous shots.
    Loved the way you started your post…such a true expression for so many of us!
    Wherever we stay, there are a plenty of places to explore within a range of 100 KMs and this post is an example of that.

    The bikers club and Nikon D5100 club is getting stronger here too!

    Look forward to read your next stories.

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Welcome to Ghumakkar Ashu. Both write up and pictures are captivating. Keep on sharing………..

    Thanks.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Ashu.

    You know what, I have been visiting Blr for last 10 years or so (usually not more than once a year) and everytime I have at least one complete day but my local contacts never ever mentioned about the fort or the blackbuck reserve. If I am not wrong, this is a FOG (First on Ghumakkar) here. So many thanks for sharing this with us.

    You, your machine and your camera are doing wonders. We love to read more from you. Wishes.

  • Good job !

    Inspite of so many visits to Bangalore only visited only Lal Bagh in Bangalore.

    • Ashu Saxena says:

      It took me 4 months to find nice places around Bangalore. Here are some suggestions for your next trip:

      1. Manchanabele Reservoir (A very good and beautiful Picnic Spot) Usually found empty but you can relax to hell there. Even can be used for Kayaking if u r into it.
      2. Savandurga (2nd highest monolithic hill in Asia) if u r into trekking then u will seriously enjoy trekking here.
      3. Mekedatu (Cauvery river fearsome flow) another nice picnic spot
      4. Chunchi Falls
      5. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
      6. Shivsamudram falls
      7. Balmuri Waterfalls
      8. Pyramid valley (for meditation, a beautiful building around 40 km from bangalore)

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Ashu,

    Welcome to Ghumakkar!

    My first post on Ghumakkar was from Karnataka – Chitradurga Fort – a few kms up north from Madhugiri Fort. I did not know a fort existed between Bangalore and Chitradurga.

    I am currently a big fan of Karnataka – there is so much to see here. You can never go wrong with a fort. It apparently has connection to Vijaynagar Kingdom and the levels of security walls are similar to Chitradurga Fort.

    A lovely start and beautiful photos. Hope to read more posts from you in the future.

    Are you referring to hills as graphite monsters?

    • Ashu Saxena says:

      Hi Nirdesh,

      Thanks for a warm welcome. I have been to the Chitradurga fort too and have been following the history of the fort complex in Karnataka precisely. There are 9 such forts all at the top of hills, where Madhugiri is the highest. On the way to Madhugiri you can find Devnarayana durga too. The closest to Bangalore is Savandurga fort. There are stretches of the fort complex till Tamil Nadu where in Rayakottai you can find a fort, but that is a Shivaji fort.

      And Yes the graphite monsters were the hills in my post :p

  • sujay says:

    HI ashu
    just gone through your post i just wanted to know weather food & any guide is available near madhugiri fort and also can we go the Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve after having a look @ the fort on the same day

  • Ashu Saxena says:

    Hi Sujay,
    Well this can be done and you will be able to reach back to Bangalore also by evening, though would be a bit tiring. Food is available at the bus stops in the city, small Chai shops and one major restaurant serving Veg Meals (Classic old rusty looking restaurant at the turn to Fort base). There is as such no need for a guide as the way is marked all along, it would be hard for you to be lost there.

  • sujay says:

    thanks for your reply ashu

  • Informative. Will try visiting

  • Shyam Mukundan says:

    Hi Ashu,
    I’m planning to conduct a ride from office to Jayamangali Reserve. From your review, I understood the place what you can do, however would like to know few things in detail.
    Do you have to take any prior permission from the forest dept?
    Also need to know few other details. Do contact me
    Regards,
    Shyam

  • Bengaluru is my home town and trust me when I am saying I wasnt aware of this place! Gosh, I need to explore more!

    What a nice getaway it is! I loved the pictures and makes me plan a quick trip to Jayamangali blackbuck reserve!

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