It has been a while now, I have stopped going on some serious trekking expeditions which I used to do in the past, mainly in Sahyadri range(I am tracing that here). But I still take time to visit forts or hills whenever I find time during my travel for other reasons. Vellore is a place which I never had in my travel bucket list. I had to visit it last year for personal reasons. But when I was looking for information as to what tourist attractions this place has, and my curiosity arose, after I noticed mention of a fort on the top of the list. I decided to I take some time out to visit Vellore fort.
The town of Vellore is about 2 hours drive from Bengaluru, towards south east and is located in southern state of Tamil Nadu. The road is beautiful and it is a good drive generally. In the last few years, some non-descript towns have suddenly achieved fame due to growth of educational institutes. Vellore is one such town. But it also has come to be known as premier medical center which developed during pre-Independence days, much to the efforts of Ida Scudder, one of Christian missionaries in India in 20th century. Marathi biography of Ida Scudder by Veena Gavankar talks of her life and work in Vellore. I have not read the book yet though-it is in my list.
Vellore fort is at the center of the town itself. It was hot, humid day of month of May. We still braved into it to visit the fort. The fort is a land fort and is in decent condition. The rampart wall is still intact. There is water filled ditch on the outside of the wall all around, obviously, for protection. It was interesting to know that it was under Maratha rule for some time. The ASI board at the fort tells that it is 16th century fort built during Vijayanagar empire. The most impressive building inside the fort is the temple. It is temple of Lord Shiva known as Jalagandeeshwar. It houses huge and intricately carved gopur.
We spent about an hour or so at the fort and hurried back to Bengaluru same evening to reach by late evening. I could not stop by Golden temple which has become famous since few years, situated outside Vellore.
During my stay in Bengaluru , we decided to visit Nandi Hill which has been skipped by me during many of past visits to Bangalore. Nandi Hill(also called as Nandi durga) is situated in the north-east area of the city. This is the only hill around Bengaluru giving some opportunity for trekking and even some rock climbing adventure.
There is a motorable road all the way up there. The name of the place is derived from Nandi outside Shiva temple. Much of the rampart wall and bastion is in good state, which is built by Tipu Sultan. It is not a full-fledged fort. It probably was used as residence for Tipu because of its weather, and hence there was a need to build some defense. Nonetheless, it provides good hike and a walk. The hill also has a cliff with a steep fall to the base, which, as told by locals, was used as a point of from where Tipu’s prisoners were sentenced to death by pushing them off the cliff. Beware of local self-declared guides, who might be after you to avail their services.
There is good amount of greenery on the hill and provides panoramic view of surroundings. No doubt that it is popular place among the people of Bengaluru seeking some solace from city life. It was late afternoon, when we started our journey back to city, as we wanted to reach home before traffic picked up! We took city bus both ways and was not bad experience at all.
I also had visited Chitradurga, another fort in Karnataka, during my trip 2-3 years back, when I drove down to Bengaluru from Pune. More about it in the next blog. Stay tuned!