For those who are looking to keep it a light weekend, with a delicious breakfast and a small yet picturesque hike then, Rayakottai is the place that fits perfectly. And that was exactly how we had planned to spend our Sunday after a late Saturday night.
What was assumed to be a quiet Saturday night at a friend’s house, turned to be more eventful when we stepped out to a restaurant in Electronic city playing the retro Kannada and Tamil songs. Naturally we turned into bed a lot later than expected. And what was supposed to be a 3 member hike on Sunday morning turned to just me and another friend of mine. We got into the car and headed out on the NH44 Bangalore-Chennai Highway, with my brain begging me to get in a few more hours of sleep. We stopped for some delicious breakfast at Shri Krishna Inn. I had half a mind to ask my friend to make a U-turn right after breakfast, but the love for hikes, kept me going even though I could see a bed float infront of my eyes the whole way. And within an hour we reached the starting point of the hike.
Reluctantly I got out of the car dabbed on some sunscreen, and we started the hike. There are about 100 steps at the beginning and is covered in all kinds of trash and odour (none were pleasant whatsoever!) This was not encouraging to the already half dying spirit of mine. But again the love for hike was stronger and we kept going, and the moment we covered all the steps, everything took a turn both literally and figuratively. We had to turn a little to the right and then everything changed! This path seemed less frequented by the hooligans, and the trash were replaced by green plants and trees, the unpleasant odour by the fresh gust of wind. And as if there was a switch in my mind, it just switched from dying enthusiasm and throbbing headache to a pumped with energy and What’s a Headache?!?
Although it was a Sunday, I was surprised and delighted that there was no one there but us and abundance of nature! Every step I took, I had a surge of 2 emotions: Grateful for not turning back and Surprised how nature heals! It was a refreshing hike. The path is very easy, even if there’s no clearly laid out road. There are small elevations but nothing challenging. We were followed for a long time by a friendly face on 4 paws wagging her tail and keeping us company. We soon reached a junction with 2 paths to choose from. There was a boulder there, with arrows in each direction and a label that was in Tamil which we couldn’t understand.
So we just took the one that went to the left and within a couple of hundred meters, came across a shrine for Lord Shiva among a couple of other idols, in what seemed like a cave formed by natural positioning of the huge boulders. There was so much tranquility in the place that I stood transfixed.
After spending about a half hour here. We wanted to go discover where the other path would take us. And one was more magical than the other. While along this second path that led to the right, we came across many sections where we thought it would lead to nowhere, because of the wild grown lantena cover, and hovering boulders, it made our hike more interesting, for we got to discover out own path and what greeted us at each turn were more surprises – The ruins of the fort at every turn, the wide landscape of the hill and the vast agricultural land and a village beneath it, and wind ruffling our hair.
The place was so abandoned and filled with so many tiny cave like structures that at some point my friend asked “What happens if a bear comes chasing us?”. At the surface I laughed that thought away with a “Maybe even a leopard” remark, but on the inside I was practising how to play dead. I also realised I didn’t have to “play” dead, cause I would’ve literally died the minute either of these animals decided to greet us and be a part of the reels.
Throughout the way we kept stopping at some vantage points of the surroundings thinking that this was the best view we could get, and also breathing in as much fresh energy as we could. But we couldn’t be more wrong, as every place we pit-stopped at turned out to be equally competing about the energy of the place. And when we reached the peak, it was a typical cherry on the cake moment for us. Yet again, there were absolutely no one but my friend and I, the wind blowing hard enough to force a smile on our faces but soft enough to keep our feet grounded. There was a place the housed a Giant Lamp at the centre of a mound at the peak. This looks like the ones that they light atop a hill during festivals and the whole village at the foothills can see the light. This lamp was surrounded by some Tamil inscriptions and when I asked a friend he said it read Arut Perum Jothi which roughly means infinite and limitless energy go the light. More details in here.
And from there we went around a little bit exploring some of the fort ruins, and scouted some chambers that looked like they were designed to keep artillery. After making up our own stories about what might have been there and dissing other humans for littering and scratching their names on those ancient walls we, heavy heartedly started to descend. Once we reached our car, I turned back to get one final look at the place that gave us so much joy exploring and the one I almost skipped!
Best Time to Visit Rayakottai!
- The best season to go is during and post the monsoons or in the winter
- The best months would be between Mid July – End of January
- Best time of the day is early morning before the sun decides to get up and get all enthusiastic, that would make this hike very unpleasant
Difficulty Level: Easy-Peasy
Distance: ~ 2km
Time taken: 1 hour each side
Elevation Gain: 231M
Trail type: A combination of rock steps, and rugged mud path amply surrounded by green plants and bushes
Distance from Bangalore: ~75kms
History of Rayakottai
Legend has it that this fort was built by King Krishna Devaraya of the Vijayanagar empire and is one of the ancient forts in Krishnagiri. And like all our precious monuments, this fort was captured by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in the 18th century on the instructions of the King of Mysore. Later it seems Hyder Ali and the King of Mysore had a break up and retained these regions. The British then attacked this fort during the first Anglo-mysore war, but could not capture this but eventually was taken over by the British after the Treaty of Srirangapatana. For more details you check check the Wiki page Here.