Friday 15 February 2013

The hill with sloth bears

Trekking and Weekend Getaways

This is one of the forts where the sloth bears still rule by the night. They are highly elusive during the day though some sightings have been reported. The fort atop this hill is in itself a spectacular sight as is the surrounding countryside from the ramparts and the peak.
Several decades ago, the entire hill was fortified but today, only a three foot high structure of the once massive fort remains. The fort, which once withstood the onslaught of the enemies, is slowly falling prey to official neglect and Government apathy.
Yet, whatever remains of the magnificent fort is a sight to see. There is also a temple on the peak and this is open only on Saturdays. This is so as the path to the temple is rough and climbing though is a fairly arduous task. The roughly hewn steps carved on the granite face afford a little respite to the old and women and those who are not able to trek to the temple.
The hill and its surroundings are home to several smaller species of wildlife like monitor lizards, mongoose,  and even snakes and peacocks. The thorny jungle is a perfect camouflage for the reptiles and smaller birds. Beware of the thorny forest. A little carelessness on your part can lead to deep gashes as the thorny bushes are pretty strongly entrenched and pulling away from it can lead to torn clothes and injured limbs.
At 3845 feet, this is perhaps one of the tallest in the vicinity and one can see the silhouette of other hills in the surrounding. This is the  Narayanagiri or Jalamangala Hills at Jalamangala near Ramanagar off the Bangalore-Mysore highway.
The hill presents a challenge to climbers and trekkers. The peak has the remains of a fort wall which locals will tell you once encircled the entire top.
The peak has a temple dedicated to Laxminarayana and it is open only on Saturdays. There are two accesses to the temple-one by the roughly hewn steps and the other by a fairly tough trek.
The temple has been renovated recently with a cement gopura. The original temple is made of brick and stone and it has beautifully carved pillars. The main deity is Lakshminarayana. This is made of black granite. There is s small pond beside the temple.
The hill has everything you can ask for. Caves, rocks, huge boulders, small ponds, animals, a temple and most of all a breathtaking view of the country side.
Jalamangala is 76 km from Bangalore and it is easily accessible from Ramanagar. It has several names such as Narayana Annappana Kalluddurga and Ankanakote. The fort was initially constructed by a local chieftain Annappa Nayaka in the 16th century with help from the Wodeyar kings of Mysore.
As you begin to near the midway of the hill when you trek, you find a large cave. The climb from here is a little arduous.
As mentioned earlier, Jalamangala is easily accessible. The best route to the hills is from Ramanagar. There are plenty of local buses from Ramanagar to Jalamangala.
However, if you are in your own vehicle, travel upto the main circle in Ramanagar. As soon as you reach Ramanagar bus stand, turn right (if you are coming from Bangalore) and continue for some more time. You will come to a for where the road divides.  Take the left and you come to a village. Pass the village and travel onwards for nearly 20 kms and you will reach Jalamangala.    
The village is rather small and there are no facilities for an overnight stay. Stay back at Ramanagar or even Channapatna if you want to spend some more time.
If time permits, check put the other hills in the vicinity.

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