Channagiri Trek lying among the Nandi Hills range is a perfect trek spot for beginners from Bangalore. I visited the hills out of a pure coincidence. Our initial plan was to go trekking in Nandi Hills, but we realized it was closed on the weekends. However, the Nandi Hills have a range of other elevations around like the Skandagiri, Channagiri, and Kalavarahalli hills.
The closest one next to Nandi Hills is the Channagiri Hills or ‘Channagiri Betta’ as we pronounce it locally in Kannada. Some call it Channagiri, Chennagiri, or even Chandragiri hills – all of them refer to the same elevated peak. The maps all point to the same hills from different start points.
The last trekking I’ve been on is the Mt. Batur trek in Bali and even after the long gap, it was barely a climb to the top. I’d say the Channagiri Trek is perfect for beginners. Here’s my Channagiri Trek 1-day review and guide based on my trek experience!
Channagiri Hills Trek Start Point
The hills are open between 6 am to 5 pm every day and it takes around 2-3 hours for the whole trip. I’d recommend visiting it at dawn between 6-7 in the summers as the trek gets too hot and sticky in the daytime. Evenings are considered to be unsafe here.
Channagiri Hills trek start point: The Channagiri hills have two starting trek points via two different roads. From Bangalore, the closest start point is the one right opposite the Nandi Hills trek start point after crossing the Shree Bhoga Nandeeshware Temple.
We arrived at the start point around 8 am and it was already sunny. Coming to the start point, the place stood deserted with no signboard around except for a large mansion with tall compounds on our right. But with the Chandragiri hills on the left, standing at 1300 – 1400 meters height above sea level, it was no doubt the hills we were going to hike.
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How to get there from Bangalore?
Located 50-60 km from Bangalore, it’s around a 1-hour drive to the Channagiri Betta. From the Kempegowda airport, it’s 34.1 km. Getting there by public transport is possible but for an early morning trek and landing at the trek’s start point, private transport is preferable.
However, here’s how to get to the Channagiri hills from Bangalore:
By car/bike: From Bangalore, it’s a 1-1.5 hour drive (50-60 km) to Chikkaballapur depending on which locality you stay in. It’s a straight neat route via the Bellary road and then the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway.
By train: Get to Chikkaballapur from Yeshwanthpur, Bangalore via Yeshwanthpur train station. From the CBP, get an auto to the hills. The two trains available for the route are Channapatna and KSR Bengaluru Kolar DEMU specials.
By air: As mentioned earlier, the nearest airport supporting international and domestic flights is the Kempegowda airport close to the Bellary road and is only 33 km away from Nandi and Channagiri hills. From the airport, getting to Chikkaballapur via public buses and train is possible but is a time-consuming route.
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Trekking Permission and Restriction
Channagiri Trek Permission: Most sites say no permission is required to trek the hills. However, there’s a signboard at the start point that says trespassers shall be fined by the forest department.
Most travel sites, including Karnataka’s tourism organization, have guides about the Channagiri trek and many even mention that no permission is required here. However, recent Google reviews tell about trespassing fines imposed on them. So it’s unclear as to how well the forest rules are implemented here.
When we visited the Channagiri Hills, upon arrival two forest officials approached us and threatened to complain and fine us for trespassing of Rs. 2000. I chuckled at them, “But the websites say it’s open now.” They denied it.
But after stalling a while, one official said if we paid Rs. 1000 for all the 5 of us, he’d let us go. I asked him, “Is the top view worth Rs. 1000?” He laughed and said, Absolutely!
We glanced at each other. Was the trek worth a bribe? After a while of discussing among ourselves discreetly, we took out all the 10s, the 20s, and 50s we had in cash, summing up to Rs. 430 rupees and handed it to him. Counting it, he exclaimed, “430 for 5 people! How can I accept this?”
I told him that it was all the cash we had. We didn’t carry cash because it was unnecessary anyway. After a while of convincing him, he said, “You have 1 hour.”
And off we went!
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Through Steeps, Shrubs, and Boulders
The beginning of the trek was easy with a moderate elevation angle through short shrubs and ascendable rocks. It was a pleasant climb with the trees over our heads. The other infamous hills loomed behind us as we climbed up, the Nandi Hill itself.
But the initial climb lasted only 20 minutes. Some of our team were tired, so they settled down to rest for a while. I was still jumping around with excitement. In the near distance, we could see some large rocks heaped on one another away from our trail route. I, along with another guy decided to check it out ourselves. With not much elevation here and short shrubs, we raced up the place to the rocks.
Upon reaching, I couldn’t climb the gigantic rocks here. But he did! Look at this cool picture of him.
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Beyond the Chennagiri trek midpoint
We returned to the others still resting within 20 minutes. From here, we only had half the hike or so left. And we decided to ascend again. Here the elevation was higher, rocks became steeper and we had to tread carefully. It’s best to visit only in the summers as the trek can get dangerous if it rains here.
Halfway up we had trees covering our heads. But the rest of the tramp was bare where there was nothing but climbing rocks. The trail here was easy to figure out with the stone laid in an orderly fashion up the hills. While we could go faster, it was too sunny and we decided to climb at our own pace.
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With no trees around and the view of the land below starting to peek out, the cool breeze touched our faces. The hike got easier as we ascended but we finally came to a stop under the only tree we found around and felt the coolness beneath as we sat. The heat was unbearable, we settled down under the shade. One of us (the same guy who’d climbed the rocks) proceeded ahead and made it to the top.
But the rest of us settled, I called it a day – the trek was sweet enough for me.
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Things to Wear and Pack
With Channagiri hills being a beginner’s trek of no more than 3 hours, there’s not much to pack on your trip. Keep your clothing light and your bag light with only essentials to make your climb easier. Here are some essentials to keep in mind:
- Light clothing: Summer t-shirts, pants/shorts, and caps should be more than sufficient for the Channagiri trek. Get a light jacket if you’re visiting early or worried about skin tans.
- Sports shoes: Don’t miss this out! There are a lot of tiny shrubs, thorns, and even snakes around. Equip yourself with sports shoes and socks. Sorry if I sound like a dad.
- Backpack: No, no huge trek sacks, just one enough to carry your water bottle and some food.
- Water bottle: Obviously.
- Snacks and food: You know this best. Pack your food for the top view picnic. But make sure to clean up after you finish.
- Trashbag: Pick up your waste after you pack up. Let it be an enjoyable experience for others after you as well :)
Yep, that suffices on all the things to bring along on your Channagiri trek. Apart from your backpack, get a stick along if you feel need additional support for the climb. But again, sticks are all over the place anyway. On a serious note, here are some tips for your trek to Chennagiri.
Tips for Visiting Channagiri Hills
- See, don’t look! Sure, the hills are scenic to look at as you climb but observe the tiny things around you for a better experience. While there are no exotic wild animals to see, you’ll find many chameleons, snakes, and cute tadpoles in the water cracks between rocks. We even found a clutch of pigeon eggs nestled under a rock! You’ll spot a Peregrin Falcon, Woodpigeon, or the Shaheen falcon if you’re lucky.
- Visit in a group. Visit in at least groups of 4 or 5. Sites like Thrillophilia and MadTrekkers group host trekking trips on the weekends and I highly recommend taking them up in case you don’t have anyone to come along.
- Tread with care. While the trek here is easy, don’t get too excited. I did at one point and got minor scratches on my knees after I tripped. One of our friends got a sharp stone pierced through his shoes. Luckily, there was nothing major. To be extra careful, bring a small first aid kit along.
- Don’t visit in the evenings for safety reasons. Besides the locals of the remote area, the tiny insects and snakes can get dangerous in the evenings.
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Places to Visit near Channagiri Hills, Chikkaballapur
Apart from Nandi Hills and Channagiri hills, there are some more things that are worth checking out in Chikkaballapur. Taking in a few closest spots around our trek points, here are other places to visit near Channagiri hills:
Shree Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple: Many people visiting Nandi Hills are bound to visit this temple at the foothills of the infamous peak too. You’ll find it on the way before you get to the hills at the Nandi hills road junction. Its 9th-century build and adorned pillars are impossible to miss.
Nandi Hills and the KSTDC stay: With the infamous betta opposite the trekking spot, it’s bound to make it to this list. I’ve visited Nandi Hills a couple of times and some things I’d recommend checking out here are the Nandi Hilltop garden and the walk up the hills by the Tipu Old fort overlooking the town below instead of driving up.
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Also, did you know you can stay at the Nandi hilltop? The KSTDC operates a number of guesthouses (KSTDC Hotel Mayura) with reasonable pricing and facilities. Check out the pricing below on Booking.com and get your best deal!
Other hills to check out nearby: Besides these two hills side-by-side, other hills popular among visitors for treks and sunrise points within a 10-kilometer radius, are the Skandagiri, Bramhagiri, and Kalavarahalli hills.
Channagiri Trek: Tailpiece
That sums up our visit to the Channagiri hills on a weekend. It took us no time to get down the hills, we had begun the hike at 8 am and we returned back to the start point by 11:45, making a wholesome 3-hour trek and almost an hour of just lazying at the top and stopping a lot for those pictures. But it was all worth it.
Initially, we’d planned to trek Nandi hills itself, but we didn’t realize it was closed on the weekends. With no plan of backing out on the whole trip, our closest alternative was these hills – the Channagiri/Chandragiri hills. But in the end, it was a sweet adventure.
We’d come by car so the transport wasn’t a problem. We returned to Bangalore within an hour or so and back to our homes before lunch.
Hope this post was helpful in some way. If not, at least worth the read I hope. Going trekking somewhere yourself? Have a safe trip and tell me how it went!
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