A Trip to Nandi Hills in Bangalore, India
Last week, I went on my second visit, or should I say, drive, down to Nandi Hills. This place lies about 60-65 kms out of the Bangalore city limits. Planning a trip here on a lazy weekend is a good idea, when time is short and when one needs a change, time constraints not withstanding. Nandi Hills, is historically significant because Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore,( 1750-1799 A.D.) had built a fort here, and had a particular high point ear-marked to punish wrong-doers: it is named ‘Tipu’s Drop’, and the reason is not hard to imagine. Later, during the British Raj, Lord Cubbon made Nandi Hills as his summer retreat. The white-washed and unassuming bungalow, now a hundred years old, still stands testimony to this.
Geographically, Nandi Hills is a part of the old-fold mountains, and is therefore not very high, by mountain standards. It’s height is a mere 1485 ft. above mean sea level. The drive to the Hills is interesting, as one passes sleepy villages and farm lands.This is a satellite township of Bangalore,called Devanahalli. Vineyards dot the area, and locals stand near the speed-breakers (typical of Indian roads), holding out succulent, juicy bunches of grapes to lure customers. We bought a batch of purple grapes. They were sweet, and had a lovely flavour. In fact, the vineyards today produce enough grapes to put the state of Karnataka on the wine map of India.
The wine boasts of a quality of international standards, and not surprisingly, since the grape variety grown here, has been specially brought in from France, the original wine producing zone of Europe, and indeed, the world.Bangalore’s wonderful climate supports a wide range of flora and fauna.What is upsetting is, that the ruthless land developers had reached their tentacles to this lovely, green and unspoilt rural land. “Purvankara Property” claim ugly boards hung on steel fencing, which ran on for nearly half a kilometer. One wonders how the government readily agrees to part with agricultural land, and invite city dwellers to spoil the beauty of such lush and verdant surroundings?
One starts the ascent up the Nandi Hills quite suddenly, soon after farmlands end. The roads are good, and I have no complaint here. However, as with all such drives, one is cautioned to go on a vehicle in good condition, and a spare tyre, to meet any emergency. Once you’re up, there is a ticketing office which sells entry tickets for Rs. 80/- per car, which is really very reasonable. Your car can be taken on higher still from this point onwards, till there is no more vertical limits to climb. Above, the weather growsnoticeably cooler. The first time I had gone here, taught me to go well -equipped this time around, with a warm jacket. There are pleasant walks, and great view points, offering you a wonderful view of the plains below. The British had made Nandi Hills their summer getaway zone, and the Bungalow of Lord Cubbon, is now named after the Indian ex-Prime Minister, Nehru. It was a delight to see the well maintained gardens, with exotic flowers and old trees. We spent a long time clicking pictures with our cameras.
It was getting to be lunch time, so we checked into the small government-run restaurant there (run by Karnataka Tourism Development Authority. The crowds were still thin, so we bagged the best table, near the window, offering a wide view. The food offered at this restaurant is good,offering multi-cuisine fare and is very reasonably priced.
For those with more time on their hands, one can visit the Nandi Temple here. I couldn’t, as time was running out, and we had a journey back home to be covered in a stipulated time limit.
It is advised not go with very high expectations to Nandi Hills. It is not a hill-station in the strict sense of the term as we know it in India, although it does provide you with a feel of going to one. For one, it is a very small area, and secondly, it is entirely government run, so commercialisation is kept at a minimum. There is no shopping to be done here (thankfully!) and neither will you be spoiled for choice for accommodation. It is a very easy trip to undertake for people in a hurry or those on a shoe-string budget. Beware the resident monkeys here; they are crafty and get pretty wicked if they are in the mood for mischief. Do not tease them or carry food items in your hands which they can snatch away easily. Keep windows of your car always up, for these mischievous creatures know how to look in through the window and check out the contents inside.
Lastly, Nandi Hills is a great place for nature lovers. You can sight many different species of birds, and hear many fascinating bird calls. Worth a visit at least once, and a good idea to take friends to, if you’re bored of the usual partying-shopping-cooking-at-home routine, and are thirsty for some good, fresh,mountain air!