Davalappana Gudda : An Adventure Underground
A hillock situated, in Chitradurga is ideal for weekend treks and suitable for caving activity. It is located about 200 km from Bangalore. A place for religious, and adventurous all rolled into one. Davalappana Gudda is a place you should give a try!
Every Stone in Chitradurga is telling the Rise and Fall.
the heroic deeds of Nayaks.
Giant Stones, Boulders still stand as sentinels at Chandravalli …!
Folklore saying prevailing in Chitradurga, still reveals the history of a bygone era and echos their valour in the nook and corners of 7 Circular hillforts till today. Monolithic rocks here beckon the adventurous and rock climbers.
Be it history buffs or those seeking adventure, the place needs no introduction. Though had visited and climbed the fort many times. My curiosity doubled when I was planning to explore the untrodden routes. After a discussion with Manu, a localite of Chitradurga, I decided to explore in his leadership, a less known impressive Hillock called Davalappana Gudda, who was familiar with the route.
Once decided, I had to form a small team, which I normally prefer for an explorative trek. I shared the information with Sapna, first who was enthusiastic, and willing to trek with us for a long time I had disappointed her by postponing due to inevitable reasons, but she immediately confirmed. Other friends Ananth, Vinay, and Thimmarayappa never asked for details, shook their heads since they had been with me for such explorations earlier.
We a bunch of 5, reached the ramparts of the fort. I was looking forward to meeting Manu and start the trek and explore before it gets hot. After a sumptuous breakfast, we met Manu, exchanged plans, and marched towards Thimmanayakana kere – A waterbody behind the famous Aadumalleshwara temple.dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Initially, we walked through the lantana bushes for more than 2 -3 km, with no soul around the place, was secluded. I could see bee-eaters busy, fluttering in the bushes, and spot some scats of carnivore too. Soon we bypassed a metalled gate and walked uphill. The path was full of thorns, we managed to squeeze in the bushes and finally were below a huge monolithic hillock. We had no idea of, the trail took and manu added that we are in the Jogimatti Reserve forest, which is a biodiversity hot spot. Popularly known as Ootacamund of plains, because of pleasant climate After a short recap about do’s and donts, chucking some water we followed the footsteps of Manu.
After a few steps, we entered a cave-like formation and squeezing our body, in between the rocks, and in no time we were in a narrow passage which resembled a chimney. I really was amazed to see such high rocks and light, inside the dark cave. After passing through. rocks and moving sidewards, with our forehead literally rubbing the rock face. The golden color of the rocks, in the morning sun, reminded me Gregory pecks Hollywood movie Mackennas gold. of yesteryears, We passed through huge boulders and finally reached the first balcony.
The First Balcony
Holding a fig tree, grown profusely on a rock with balancing feat, I stood on the flat rock. I could witness the dry deciduous forest of Jogimatti 3803 feet and rocky cliffs, bastions of Chitradurga fort. We did not get a clue about the weather, though it was a bit warm and bright outside.
Manu cautioned of a beehive dangling from the overhanging rock, he reminded us to maintain silence and gave few instances of members badly bitten by them. The bees were going around and were busy. We took, a few photos and though we had the intention of spending more time, we resumed our exploration.
Going further, we climbed the rock, it was pitch dark. Manu, walking in the front, used to caution us of sudden rocky steps. The caves looked eerie and were dwelling place for bats, The could smell the pungent smell of them. He even mentioned spotting leopards in his previous visits. A feeble whisper was a mode of communication for us. All were in an energetic mood and Manu was very impressed with group mannerism.
After walking through the narrow, path for a while we reached the second balcony. The panoramic view of the valley, blue sky, a lungful of air was refreshing. Space was very less to even stand and with a deep gorge in the front. We had to Manouver the stretch and take a turn here, to reach the gully.
We were carefully walking one behind the other, traversed the stretch cautiously, and were finally at the gully. The narrow entry, rough surfaces, and trails, along with pits and low ceilings, mean that you should often be ready to crawl, wriggle and cautious without banging your head in absolute darkness!
It is said that few monks of the Natha community did penance in the caves, I could see rocks carving on one of the rocks at the entrance. Ananth you was in the front encouraged and was in discussion with Sapna. After seeing a rock sculpture of Shiva linga, he shared one of the folklore saying of Ardhanarishwara - Lord Shiva. We rested here for a while.
One of the interesting phases of activity is negotiating a pitch dark stretch about 100 feet long, a very narrow passage facing rock gully known as a passable passage, accessible from one end, mouth of the cave, in one direction only, nose nearly rubbing the rockface. Even to change position one has to return and come out. Here to gain exit and to come out of the final, hole successfully to reach out to the balcony. You have to negotiate the passage that involves tricky ascent in 2 stages. There is no scope to turned around. If you have a tummy, literally it the place you really curse it !.
If one is not successful here, then retreat is one and only option. Initially, Sapna had bit difficulty, and few attempts later emerged out successfully. Thanks to Manu being supportive !. A small oval opening indeed, after seeing the light gives gets faith, gives a sense of relief after being in dark, and few furious attempts. After emerging out successfully a mindblowing panoramic view awaits you, at the hilltop, and greet you.
The cool breeze, will not motivate you to go further, rather than sit for a while.I could smell the sweet smell Crape Jasmine white flowers and of whitish-yellow frangipani flowers, I was indeed surprised to see a flowering tree on rocks and bearing flowers. The view was a perfect silhouette and a bit shady!
We resumed our climb higher and higher on all 4 legs and reached the summit. With no single soul around and the presence of Shivling carved inside the cave, gave a feeling of the religious place and few carvings on the rocky bed made us thank almighty being with us, for a safe summit
The cool breeze made us feel fresh and was greeted with amazing views of the Jogimatti reserve forest, Haddina Gundu, Ranganatha Swamy betta, and a series of other hillocks. rocky boulders, water bodies, ramparts of Chitradurga fort, and Chandravalli down below.
After quenching our thirst, and munching some fruits, we rested below a huge rock, and after sharing experiences. We started the descent.
Manu reminded of loose rocks and slippery slope!. Though the hillock seems impregnable, access can be done from Chandravalli, we climbed down through the steep rock face cautiously, of 60 – 70 deg gradient, through broken stairs holding natural holds, cracks. Sometimes creeping, and finally traversing the boulder-strewn path. After a successful descent, we could see the hillock and we, in fact, had no sense of direction. After walking through the steep rocky path, we reached the base of the hillock.
The forest was green and ablaze, with colorful flowers, dotting the landscape I noticed a bunch of yellow flowers in bloom, which was eye-catching resembling a foxtail and later deciphered the name as Senegalia Senegal belonging to Acacia family which is said to be native to Africa. In the meanwhile, a Great Eggfly butterfly a male diverted my attention. The fellow team members called for a group photo. I felt I should come again for recording the flora of the place.
After a short walk, under the canopy, we sighted a huge water body. Adjoining to the lake is the prehistoric site of Chandravalli, Sandwiched between 3 hills namely Chitradurga, Kirabana kallu, and Cholagudda surrounded by numerous water bodies, is a short description for a slice of heaven. Chandravalli popularly known for Caves is ideal for hiking and nature exploration.
Situated about 3285 feet above sea level in Chandravalli is a non-descript hillock known as Davalappana Gudda is a trekkers delight. We could finally see the heap of rocky boulders, resembling a cairn and conical in shape. It was impressive to see the tip of the rocky peak and adjoining hillocks mirrored in the crystal clearwater of Chandravalli lake and was a feast to eyes. Not much information is available about the name and history behind it. However, locals say, there is an idol of a local chieftain called Kattige Sankanna in the surrounding hillocks. and their belief is that he was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, who is said to have created the lingas.
We felt that the climb is not as easy as witnessing the reflection of the hillock. It tests one’s endurance level.!
Reflections of Glory
- Chitradurga is one of the popular historical Hillforts of Karnataka
- Davalappana Gudda is Impressive hillock and ideal for trekking and caving
- Jogimatti is one of the top biodiversity Hotspots of Karnataka
- Chandravalli is a prehistoric monument with innumerable caves. Popularly known for Ankli mutt and caves
Suggestions & Safety Precautions
Caving can be fun & of low-risk, if planned and executed properly. But the main risks associated with caving include hypothermia, dehydration, physical stress, flooding, tripping and falling, the threat of falling rocks, beehives, and bats, and also getting lost (more common in long dark cave systems). When going caving, always carry a first-aid kit, along with emergency gear and sufficient food supplies.
Do keep in mind following and adhere to safety rules:
1. Advisory for Caving
- Caving should not be done alone. It is always advised to go to a small group of 7 - 8, if anything should befall one of the cavers, there’s always someone who can go in search for help
- Update people outside on your anticipated time of return (So that they are prepared to help you or a send a search party if the team doesn’t return)
- Keep a track of weather conditions and plans. Before venturing into the cave, make sure that there is no danger of flooding. Caves can fill up with water pretty quickly and become slippery to ascend or descend.
- Go armed with sufficient headlamps and batteries
Check, and double-check, that you’re well – well protected – and that your gear is in order like a dress, head protection, and footwear
Make sure you’re up to speed on single-rope technique (SRT), because you might have to negotiate passages that involve tricky ascents and descents
- Stick to established trails and make sure local guide is escorting you
And before you head into a cave, it is important to know your limitations. And remember the 3 basic rules and Ethics of caving
2. Jogimatti Reserve forest which is home for a wide range of flora – fauna medicinal plants and prior permission from the forest department is required.
3. Go with experienced and qualified guides.
4. Shoot nothing but pictures
5. Follow, leave no trace policy and carry back any plastic or trash you carry
6. Kill nothing but time