“Look left, look right, the hills are bright,/ The dales are light between,” what the poet. A E Housman wrote aptly describes the hills of Chikkaballapur.
The dry flat land of Chikkaballapur with neither rivers nor canals has been deemed to be a backward region. Despite being located close to the capital city, signs of progress are few.
However, it is blessed with the beauty of nature. A climb atop the hills of the border district will reveal the secret of its beautiful landscape. When you enter Chikkaballapur via Devanahalli, the first thing one notices is the Nandi Hills.
When you go further, you will find equally interesting hills like the Skandagiri, also known as the Kalavara Betta. Skandagiri is one of the hill forts in the Nandi Hill ranges. The dilapidated walls of Tipu Sultan's fort can be seen even today .
This was built to be a sturdy, self sufficient fortress. It was built several centuries ago by a local king. As the story goes (told by the local people of the area), the king along with his soldiers defended the fort from Tipu Sultan for many days.
After getting tired of taking the fort in this way, Tipu's generals bribed a couple of milk women who used to carry milk to the fort everyday. For several days after this, the milk women started carrying some seeds which they used to spread in the way so that Tipu's army will know the way in which to go up.
On the day of the planned attack, the women added poison to the milk. Lot of the king's soldiers died after consuming the poisoned milk and the rest were killed by Tipu's invading troops.
Tipu used the fort as a military base in his fierce fight against the British. It surrendered to British troops on October 19, 1791 and was later dismantled. It remained in British hands until the peace treaty of 1792, which concluded the third Anglo-Mysore war.
There are two caves on the mountain. One starts from the base and as per locals, leads to the temple and fort at peak and another one is somewhere midway which is about 30 feet only. Both are yet unexplored, especially the first one. Locals say that there are pythons in the caves and have swallowed their goats who wander in the caves.
Another hill, Channarayaswamy Betta, also known as Channagiri, next to Nandi Hills, has a kalyani on the top of a hill. Though Nandi Hills is the origin of the Arkavathi river, it is the stream from Channaraya-swamy Betta that is a major feeder of the river.
Nandi Hills has a motorable road to the summit, but Channarayaswamy Betta does not even have a foot trail, and devotees and trekkers have to negotiate bushes and boulders on the way up. Doddarayappanahalli serves as a base camp to go atop the hill, a climb of two kilometres.
The pushkarni atop the hill has been shaped out of the rocks and the water is found here throughout the year. During the rainy season, the water appears clear, but the rest of the year it is greenish due to the moss.
Elders of the taluk have interesting stories to tell about Channarayaswamy temple. It is not definitely known when this temple was built along with the pushkarni.
Hundreds of years ago the palegars who ruled this regions as well as the devotees were mystified with the hills and built temple, forts and other structures on top.
Therefore on most hills in Chikkaballapur one can find a temple or some other structure. People visit less frequently to Channarayaswamy Betta as it is quite high.
Great efforts have to be made to reach the top. Therefore it is more greener. There is also water in the pushkarni throughout the year.