Have you ever been to a place knowing it is unexplored only to find you’re the only one exploring it? How did that feel?. Over the past few years, I explored many unexplored treks around Bengaluru. I have written about many of them vividly. But the place I’m gonna take you today is so unexplored, so unexplored that in the entire duration of my climb to the top and back, I didn’t spot a single human being. But I had that much needed time away from the crowd of Bengaluru despite it being scary and adventurous. And not just that, this place is very close to other stunning natural and man-made beauties that it’s definitely worth a weekend trip from Bengaluru. Excited? Come let me take you on a trek to the historic Gudibande Fort and all the surreal beauties surrounding it.
What’s The Fuss About Gudibande Fort?
It all started when I was looking for a place to explore for a weekend. Hemanth and I were talking about my trips and he asked if I had been to Gudibande. I said No. He said, it’s a good place and has an ancient temple, supposedly home to one of the 108 Jyotirlingas. It must be crowded then? I quipped. Nothing like that, in fact, it’s one of the most unexplored places around Bengaluru. I didn’t listen to anything he said after that. I just focused on the words “unexplored place” and I decided to ride to Gudibande fort.
So I filled up the tank, quickly checked the bike’s condition and after confirming everything was fine, I went to sleep.
Come Saturday, I hit the road by 5:20 AM. The drive on Bannerghatta road was horrible in the morning. It rained heavily the previous night. So water filled up the entire road. What a start, I told myself and continued pulling the throttle. Thankfully there was hardly anyone on the road, so within 25 minutes I was in on the Hebbala flyover racing on the Hyderabad highway.
Sun wasn’t out yet, but the myriad of shades of blue that filled the sky which changed every minute of me driving on the highway that chased away the sleep hanging on the edge of my eyes. It was like the nature holding my head, looking straight into my eyes and saying, Bro, you woke up so early for something, witness it while it’s happening. Enjoy the purple piercing through the black canvas.
So, as instructed, I watched. The purples gave in to the oranges and blues.
The Golden Hour On The Road
Then the sun peeked out into the sky and I stopped. I’ve seen so many sunrises on the road, but I never saw it so vividly. So I stopped for a brief moment around Devanahalli to look at that beauty.
And soon the bright blue sky followed. Honestly, if not for these magical colors, the ride would’ve been boring.
The scattered clouds continued to accompany me brightening up the surroundings. Once I crossed Devanahalli, the hills pushed themselves into the frame. The scattered clouds extending till the hills with the plantations stretching all the way was another sight that made me stop.
Accompanied by the views, I continued riding. I stopped in the middle to check the maps. The fort was still quite some time away. I continued the ride remembering the route. But when I reached Varlakonda, I saw a board that said GudiBande-18 KM pointing towards a narrow road. I knew the turn wasn’t this close. But that appeared to be running alongside a hill.
So, I thought I had enough of the highway for that morning and took the turn towards that narrow road. It was running alongside the hill.
It went through smaller villages and villagers were already on with their lives. Soon after crossing Myakalahalli, there were few farms and there was a muddy road running between the farms and a huge rock. It was still early in the day and I had ample time. So I went off to explore that trail.
Off Trail Explorations Near Gudibande
I rode through the dusty trail and thorny bushes and reached the end. I parked my bike and walked ahead. This spot was away from the road, so I was away from the noises of the vehicles passing by. There were quite a few birds as well, fewer of which I could identify as Black Winged stilts, swifts and a Pond Heron. But the most beautiful thing isn’t about that place wasn’t the isolation or the birds, it’s a perfect reflection.
I guess the light was perfect, the lake became a mirror reflecting everything in the vicinity creating a perfectly symmetrical view. I was simply awed and I could even count the clouds very distinctly. Wonders of Nature I say. One can also see the Gudibande fort in the background.
After spending some time at the lake, I was off to Gudibande village. I also witnessed the vastness of Bhairasagara that appeared to be endless. So it is in circulation among the natives that usually in monsoons, the water from Bhairasagara overflows on the road to the other side.
Gudibande village was about 1 KM from Bhairasagara. Once in Gudibande, I had tasty thatte idlis for breakfast.
Where Do I Enter The Gudibande Fort From?
I was riding back and forth on the main road clueless as to where the entrance to the fort was. Then, I randomly took a turn and there were kids who were playing Kabaddi at the foot (not the entrance) of Gudibande Fort. I asked them about the directions and they asked me to take a left turn near a movie poster.
I didn’t question. I assumed some poster would be there. Or maybe I didn’t pay much attention to them as I stared at the massive fort on front of me. Anyway, I am not sure how timeless this signage is, hence would recommend asking a local about the exact turn to take to reach the footsteps.
Turns out the kids were right. I took the right-left turn and reached an empty parking space. The steps to Gudibande fort started from the parking lot. I didn’t see any other vehicle nor any signs of people. But I thought they might have worn their footwear till the top.
I started the climb. It wasn’t tough, in fact, it was a breeze. The steps passed through a lot of narrow spaces and the whistling wind scared the shit out of me. I continued the climb to see what was in store for me. Soon I heard the noise of steps behind me. I thought finally someone dared to enter the fort and turned around. There was no human.
The Uninvited Partners In Climb
Two little puppies were following me. Perhaps they were expecting me to feed them. So halfway through, I found a nice spot. That was out in the open with enough shade and fed the puppies.
After about 20-25 minutes climb I reached the temple standing tall on the top of the fort. The fort supposedly has 9 levels with interconnected secret escape routes and a rock pond on every level, but I could spot only one escape route and one rock pond respectively.
I went around to the front of the temple and surprised to find it locked. Like how on earth is a temple housing Jyotirlinga locked until 8 AM?
I looked through the door and even the Sanctum Sanctorum (Garbagudi) was also locked. That’s when I realized why I didn’t see anyone on the trek
Without anything else to do, I set out to explore the fort. Most of it was in ruins. Anyway, I walked up to the periphery of the fort beside the temple. I was stunned looking at the Gudibande Village and the massive Bhairasagara lake from the top of Gudibande fort.
The wind was too heavy on the top, wiping off the tiredness of the climb. With the whole world under my feet and no one else on the fort, I felt like a king of the fort for the moment.
I wasn’t hungry so I fed the rest of the biscuits to the guests who accompanied me on this lonely climb.
Never Too Late To Switch Trails
It was only 9:50 AM by the time I climbed down. I had around 100 Kms to cover, averaging 80 KMPH for 80 Km of that stretch will make me reach home by lunch. But I didn’t want to. So I pulled out the maps.
A quick look at it and I realized I was very close to Lepakshi. I didn’t realize that I was so close to the Andhra border. So, without further delay, I added that to the itinerary and started the trip.
The maps showed two options, one that was running through hills and another the highway that I rode so far. I would be riding on the highway on the way back anyway. So might as well explore the country roads.
After a few Kms ride, another lake presented itself. But this time with a huge hill in the background. The view was really pretty. So I stopped there for some more time before I picked up the pace to reach Lepakshi.
The road was really good until it became worse. It was worse than Bangalore roads. I didn’t expect it to be terrific either. But I was averaging 20 KMPH on this stretch. Added to that the gravel filled the entire road. So, my bike passed all kinds of vibrations onto my hands.
Thankfully, we reached Lepakshi in one piece. But I was very close to dumping my bike anywhere and walk the rest of the way. I had not researched Lepakshi, so I just asked around about the places to see.
There was a tiny map showing the prominent places to see. Veerabhadra Swamy temple, Pakshi and the Nandi caught my attention.
Veerabhadra Swamy temple, Lepakshi
I entered this beautiful temple and instantly mesmerized. The stone carvings reminded me of Hampi. The carvings were similar so similar, that at once I was shocked when someone spoke Telugu. I learned later that Lepakshi was part of the Vijayanagara Empire. The empire that ruled from Hampi for 200 years.
I had no clue about the purpose of the structures around the main temple. So I took a wild guess while looking at the stone arrangements.
Out of all the arrangements, this one appeared to be a place to perform rituals. The carvings on the pillars appeared to be of various gods and goddesses. I paid close attention to the carvings. Sort of kickstarted my journey into appreciating and noticing the architecture.
After seeing the architecture up close, I moved to Pakshi.
Pakshi in Lepakshi
Even from far, a huge statue atop a rock caught my eyes. According to Indian epic, Ramayana, Jatayu fell down at this place after Ravana shot it. And then Rama commanded Jatayu to get up. The locals say that Lord Rama uttered, Le Pakshi, which translates to “Get Up Bird” in Telugu. Now I find it odd that Rama said these words in Telugu as he belonged to Ayodhya. Perhaps, I can give the benefit of doubt to the folktales passed on from centuries.
So the Andhra Tourism board built a huge theme park at the spot where Jatayu fell down. Beautiful place but crowded so I didn’t spend much time there.
Nandi In Lepakshi
Next up was Shiva’s Nandi. Which is about 50 Mtrs away from Pakshi. This is said to be the second largest monolithic Nandi in India. First, one being in Mahanandiswara Temple in Kurnool District.
Lepakshi is also famous for the handicrafts but unfortunately I couldn’t explore those. I continued the ride towards the highway. The sun was too harsh, so I had some coconut water. Started the ride and held the throttle at 80 KMPH. It was boring all the way but there was 126 KM to cover. The first 100 KMs took about 1 Hr 10 Minutes. However, the last 26 km stretch took 1 Hr 30 Minutes. All thanks to the glorious traffic of Bangaluru.
With a lot of patience, I navigated through the traffic and reached home. So I was back in the concrete jungle, waiting for the next avenue to get out of it and come back stronger than ever.
Until then, these memories will keep me going.
Thanks for sticking with me till the end. Hope it was worth your time.
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