Even a single shower in Bengaluru can have a refreshing effect on the city. Last year, when the monsoon set in, a heavy downpour lashed through the night, leaving it incredibly green. Since it coincided with a weekend, I knew it would take very little to convince my husband into an impromptu getaway, not too far from Bengaluru. Add to that the attractions of a forest, ancient temples and countryside roads to drive on, and my trump card, of a short hike, wasn’t even needed.

It was a perfect day to drive to Devarayanadurga, a cluster of rocky hills surrounded by a forest, with stunning views and ancient temples in close proximity. Once we left the smooth Bengaluru-Pune highway at Tumkur, the road narrowed, slowing us down. Trees, their cover throwing deep shadows speckled with the morning sunlight, flanked much of the road as it meandered through villages waking up to a glorious day: lush green paddy fields, washed clean by the night’s rain, an occasional cow being milked by the roadside, a farmer driving a pair of oxen to his fields.

Gradually, the road began climbing up, slowly revealing the Devarayanadurga state forest, a 42 sq. km designated spread of jungle protected since 1853. I had read that the highest point was at 3,940ft—high enough to prompt you to retrieve a jacket from the bag. The forest is known to contain an astonishing variety of wildlife, from langur and chital to wild boars, leopards, even the occasional tiger. But they remained elusive, though the trees seemed to be alive with bird-calls.

A short drive ahead was Namada Chilume, a perennial natural spring, considered to be the starting point of the Jayamangali river. It gushed out of a hole in a massive dark rock, fenced off by high iron rails. According to legend, Lord Ram, on his journey to Lanka to rescue Sita, rested there for the night. The next morning, when he wanted to make a vermilion paste for his forehead, he shot an arrow into the rock, and a spring burst open. Namada Chilume translates to “small spring for forehead paste".

Every bend in the road now presented spectacular views of thick, forested rolling hills and green valleys studded with rocky outcrops stretching out to the horizon. A crumbling fort wall runs along the road: The fort was built by Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar , the 14th king of the Wadiyar dynasty of Mysore, in the 17th century. The fort also led to the name Devarayanadurga, which means “fort of Devaraja". Not much is left of it now, but the place called for a short stop.

We decided to stretch our legs, and a short but steep walk later, arrived at the standout feature of the hills, a temple dedicated to Yoganarasimha Swamy—a part-man, part-lion avatar of Lord Vishnu. The temple is believed to have existed from the time of the Cholas. It has beautiful pillars and carvings and a large circumambulatory passage surrounding the inner sanctum. A slightly arduous trek via a steep curving road, rocky terrain and steps led to another temple, Bhoganarasimha, from where you get a panoramic view of the hills and valleys.

Though we were on a day trip, we met others who had chosen to spend a night at Tumkur and explore the nature trails.

Bengaluru to Devarayanadurga

Distance: 86km
Time:
2 hours

Route: Take National Highway 48 out of Bengaluru, on the Pune highway till Tumkur. Turn right; Devarayanadurga is 15km away.

Stay: Camp Linger (Linger.in); starting from Rs5,250, double occupancy, for a weekend, including meals and all activities.

Top tip: There are no food stalls on the way, so carry food and water.

Weekend Vacations offers suggestions on getaways that allow for short breaks from metros.

Anita Rao Kashi tweets from @anitaraokashi.

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