Sixtyeight kilometres from Bengaluru, good roads to drive & reach the scenic place close to Bengaluru is Devarayanadurga. Proceed towards Tumkur, nice toll roads – reach Kyatsansandra – the famous Tatte Idli place get off the elevated highway just ahead of Kayatsandra – take the service roads on to the left of the highway, ask around and take a right turn and then flank off left and that’s the road to the popular retreat Devarayanadurga. Vehicles can go right up to the hillock, but a steep climb of steps await you to the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple. And for the adventurous another steep climb to the Garuda shrine, the peak of Kumbi hill.
Anebiddasari or Janakadurga was the name of this place named after the chieftain ruler. Today it is called Devarayanadurga, then named by Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673 – 1704) the Wodeyar king after capturing it from the chief & tribals. The highest peak here has the Garuda (eagle) shrine. A few feet below is the Lakshmi Narasimha temple built by the Wodeyar king Kanteerva Narasaraja Wodeyar I, the same temple was repaired and restored by his following linage king Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. The hill where these temples are situated is called Kumbi. The foot hills have a few more temples, the famous one is the Wodeyar family deity temple, Bhoga Narasimha Swamy temple. This temple opens to the devotees from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm. Whereas the hilltop temple opens at 10:30 am and closes by 5:30 pm. This area is a habitat of Jackals, Sloth Bears and Leopards apart from other small wild animals as it borders a 50 kms reserved forest since 1853 and is a declared state forest from 1907. This area is called Karigiri & Kusumadri. It also involves the Jayamangali Black buck conservation reserve.
Devarayanadurga is a haven for bird watchers too. Dr. Salim Ali (1896 – 1987), the renowned Padma Vibhusan recipient Orinthologist who was also known as the Bird Man of India used to stay in this area in a Forest Guest House, which can be seen in a dilapidated condition today. 3000 bird species noted by him have dissappeared today.
Devarayanadurga has some amazing sunrises & sunsets. Every nook and crannie is a beautiful picnic spot. It is advisable to carry your own lunch & snacks. A few tuck shops selling snacks, soft drinks and bottled water do exist. Beware of the boisterous monkeys who may leave you hungry snatching off your goodies. The hilltop had three ponds – Narasimha theertha, Parasara theertha and Pada theertha. One has disappeared the other less said the better – polluted with time and people. But Pada theertha an underground spring is 20 feet below kept barricaded with a metal gate under lock and key. The water from this underground spring is blessed and has immense medical and curative properties. Umpteen stories run of faith and miracles are circulated about it. Faith really moves in these mountains. It is believed that Devarayanadurga is considered a divine garden of the saint’s and God’s and no harm should come to any living creatures in this area including rocks and trees. If done the sinner will die a miserable death.
Namada Chilumae is just 5 kms from the bottom temple of Devarayanadurga. It is an eternal spring with constant trickle of water. This is attributed as one of the sources to the river Jayamangali. Mythology has it that Lord Rama stayed here on his way to Lanka to rescue his wife from the evil king Ravana. During his morning pooja he wanted some water to apply his ’tilak’ on his forehead. Not finding water… he arched his bow and shot an arrow on to the rock bed and an eternal spring broke up, which exists to this day. This spring is protected guarded in an enclosed area which has a deer park by the Karnataka Forest Department. Across the road there is a medicinal plant garden cultivated with about 300 species of valuable plants & herbs.
Devarayanadurga is 25 kms from Dobbespet ( named after a British Collector William Dobbes)and 11 kms from Tumkur. A beautiful road of 68kms connects to Bangalore. A lot of buses too ply to the area. The nearest train station is Dobbespet and Tumkur. This place is worth a day picnic with family and friends.
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography