The enchanting Nandi hills don the beautiful rising sun as its majestic crown and later in the evening, the valleys bathe in the golden gleam of the setting sun. The mornings and evenings are equally breathtaking in the Nandi hills whose summit exchange pleasantries with the floating clouds. This haven of pristine natural beauty is about 60 kilometres away from Koramangala in Bengaluru. It is believed that the river Arkavati originates at the beautiful peaks of the Nandi. A small village called Nandi welcomes the tourists with its enchanting pine forests and fragrant flower gardens. The majestic view of the Nandi betta or the hills could be enjoyed from this bucolic countryside. The visitors have to climb up about 10 kilometres, past the forest check post, to reach the entrance to the Nandi hills. Deep gorges and steep rocky hills on both sides of the road give you the chill. The tourists often stop their vehicles at every beautiful sight, enjoying the mist and clicking pictures of the mesmerizing landscapes. The Nandi, meanwhile, keep beckoning you like a benevolent enchantress, from afar.
The dew drops on the leaves shines like precious diamonds when the early morning sun rays fall on it. The road that leads to the Nandi meanders through the mountain pass is covered in snow. Tourists could be seen clicking countless selfies at all the view points. There are 40 hairpin curves on the way to the entrance, where the boards of the Karnataka tourism welcome you. The entry fee is Rs 10 per head.
Located on a cliff, around 1479 feet above the sea level is the Tipu Drop, from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding hills. This hill had earned notoriety in the olden times as the place where Tipu Sultan executed his prisoners and British sympathizers by flinging them off the cliff. This place is where Tipu Sultan had his summer residence. Many wall paintings and stone statues here depict the eventful times of the great ruler of Mysore. It truly is a special feeling as you get caught in the thick and smoky mist while climbing up.
The pavilion erected on iron rods is the view point from where one can enjoy the scintillating beauty of the sun rise. Crowds gather at this point to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing golden rays of the rising sun. The sacred chanting from the nearby Yoga Nandeeshwara or the bull temple elevates you to an enchanting realm of spiritual surrealism.
The Yoga Nandeeshwara temple looks like a small shrine from the outside. The beautiful stone carvings on the entrance are truly spectacular. Lord Vishwanath is the idol of this centuries old temple. The breathtaking statue of Nandi, the bull - calf which is the vehicle of Lord Shiva, carved on a single granite stone, in 4.6 feet, is the highlight of the temple premises. This temple which reflects the magnificence of the Dravidian culture was built, in 1537, by the ruler of the province, Nada Prabhu Hiriya Kempe Gowda. It is believed that the Viswa Bharathi River was born from the feet of the huge Nandi statue here. The farmers would offer the first grains of the harvest season in November - December, at the feet of the Nandi statue. They believe that Nandi, pleased by the offerings, would grant them amazing harvests throughout the year.
The villagers sell boiled corn cobs for Rs 50. Herds of monkeys would give you company while enjoying the hot and spiced corn cobs. However, these monkeys may turn nasty and try snatching the corn away from your hands.
The Nehru Nilaya, a guest house which boasts of the classic elegance of the colonial architecture, was the summer residence of Mark Cubbon, who was the commissioner of Mysore. This building was later taken over by the government and turned into a guest house. Tourists from faraway places are given lodging facilities at this majestic colonial building. Just a few steps below this area, you could see a huge pond that is surrounded by stone steps. This pond, called the Amritasarovar, was once the main water source of the province. You could see the more complete and majestic version of this pond at the Boga Nandeeshwara temple which is about 18 kilometres away.
The Tipu Lodge near the exit gate of the Nandi hills may look like a dilapidated structure covered in moss, from the outside. You would, however, be stunned by the beauty of the wall paintings and the carvings that adorn the walls of this old structure, built in perfect square shape using mud blocks. This building, where Tipu Sultan used to stay whenever he visited the province, is a scintillating piece of history. A few very old statues of the snake Gods too could be seen in front of this building.
The country sides
The famous Boga Nandeeshwara temple is at a bucolic countryside which is lined by grape orchards on both sides. The incredibly beautiful nature in this serene countryside looks as perfect as an impressionist painting. The residents of this small village are mostly farmers.
One would be astonished by the impeccably wondrous sights that welcome you at the entrance of the Boga Nandeeshwara temple. The verdant meadows set the perfect backdrop for the timeless stone carvings on the entrance. On the right side, a pile of broken stone statues is seen, as a remnant of the past. Two huge pillars adorned with beautiful carvings could be seen inside the temple. Lord Shiva is the central deity of this shrine as well. On the south side of the temple is an amazing statue of Lord Shiva in his dancing posture and on the north side is the majestic Goddess Durga standing victorious over the buffalo demon.
What sets this temple apart from other prominent temples in South India, is the deity in its three forms. The first deity is Lord Shiva as a child; the second one is a young Shiva and the third is the Uma Maheswari deity, which exudes incredible grace. It is believed that young couples who offer special prayers in front of the deity of Uma Maheswari would be blessed with good luck and happiness. This temple features the unique Dravidian cultural traditions and is surrounded with beautiful stone sculptures with intricate etchings and carvings. The famous pond here has amazing stone pillars and figurines on all sides.
The birth place of Tipu Sultan is a historically significant place that draws crowds. A majestic fort is what welcomes you into the quaint village where the legendary ruler was born. This fort called the Devanahally fort houses a small village inside it, with dwelling places and temples on both sides. Tourists can enter the fort at any time. The mind blowing architecture of the fort that sprawls in 20 acres is intriguing and stunning at the same time. The lush greenery that surrounds the fort is another feature that attracts the visitors.
The Nandi hills are situated in the Chikkaballapur district which is around 60 kilometers away from Bengaluru. One should reach Hebbal first, from where you can easily travel to the Nandi hills. Bus services, operated by the Karnataka State Transport Corporation, are available everyday from the Majestic Kempegowda bus stand in Bengaluru up to the entrance of the Nandi hills from 6 am onwards.