Shivagange is a hillock shaped like a ‘shivalinga’. It’s 800 metres in height and towards the end of the climb, it gets challenging and steeper. The hill climb up & down is about 4 odd kms, and takes a good 4-5 hours. The path are rough cut steps interspersed by loose mud and gravel paths. Railings at places are missing. Preferred time to start your challenging trek would be at 6 am.
Hot sunny day wears you down and rainy weather gets the hillock slippery. A good sunshade cap, glasses and hiking shoes are ideal requirements here. This place is an ideal one day trip for fit people. Beware of aggressive monkeys, they snatch your bag of food stuff, however they keep off the vendor stalls selling water, biscuits, softdrinks and juices. It’s advisable to replenish your electrolytes once or twice during your duration of your trek at Shivagange. The hillock is chequered with temples of Shiva, Parvati, Devis and Nandis – the bull. The notable ones are Patalgange at the beginning of the hillock… an eternal spring which is miraculous, the water here is high during summer and receeds during rainy season. It is said that this spring connects Antragange at Kolar, 50 kms from Bangalore.
There is a big well sculpted bull of Nandi at the beginning of the climb – graceful, it matches the one on the top. The hilltop Nandi is perched on the rock edge and carved out with grace and beauty of a single monolith rock. There’s hardly any place for people to go around it.
The other important temples on this hillock is Gangadheshwara temple, where the pooja ghee turns to butter and has medicinal value. Olakal teertha is another cave temple where one puts his/her hand in a small hole seeking water from an underground spring. It is believed that the pious and the faithful can feel the water. Yours truly was lucky !
There’s a Honnadevi temple, the favourite goddess of the dancing queen Shantala -the wife of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhan. During the times of the Mysore kings – the Wodeyars, the Sringeri mutt pontiff stablished a Shardhambha temple.
During Sankranti, you can witness a spring erupting on top of the hill, this happens only on that day and once in a year. Shivagange sees a festive fair. It’s advisable not to visit this place during this time because of the crowds. The best time to visit this trekkers paradise hillock Shivagange is during the months between September & January.
Shivagange was under the Hoysala Kings Vishnuvardhan & his beautiful dancer wife Shantala who was powerful & dabbled in administration during the 12 century. They were believers in Jainism. Ramanuja Charya – the Vaishnava guru was sheltered by the Hoysala dynasty at Belur when he was driven out of Tamilnadu by the Cholas. Under his influence Bittideva converted himself from Jainism to Vaishnavism and took on the name – Vishnuvardhan. Ramanuja Charya got his two daughters married to him. This became a sore point with his heir queen Shantala and took ‘Salekhana Vratha’ – fast unto death in the hills of Shivagange. However another word of mouth tale and story circulated is … that queen Shantala unable to bear a heir – a male child she flung herself off the cliff into a 500 feet ravine killing herself. This place is aptly called ‘Shantala Drop’.
After the Hoysala – Vijayanagar kings, this hillock became the bastion of Shivappa Nayaka, he built a small fort on it. Even today one can see his palace at Shimoga. Bekal fort at Udupi – Mangalore was his. Towards the middle of 17th century, the Mysore king – Wodeyars took control of it and gave it to their allies Hyderali & Tipusultan clan. The last ruler of this hillock was Magadi Kempegowda, the founder of Bengaluru aka Bangalore. He fortified it further, he would keep his treasure here, making it his treasury. He also burrowed a tunnel 50 kms long from Gavipuram, Bangalore.
Arkavaty tales it’s birth in Nandi hills, one of its tributaries Kumudvaty takes it’s birth on Shivagange. Tippagundanahalli reservoir is built on the confluence of these two rain fed rivers. This reservoir runs dry today, otherwise it fed the needs of Bangalore city’s drinking water requirements. Today river Cauvery does it.
This trekkers hill climb challenge hillock Shivagange is 54 kms from Bangalore, near Dobbespet and 8 kms from Tumkur. The roads are toll applicable and good to drive. One can reach this place in an hour early morning. The nearest railway station is Dobbespet and is well connected by buses. Eateries are average. Particular about food? – pack your own – beware of monkeys! Worth a day trip.
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography