Bangalore's backyard hill station: The historic Nandi Durga or Nandi Hill


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A stitched image of three pictures providing about 150 degree view of the forests surrounding Nandi hills towards west and south west.
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A 'Google earth' snapshot (seen from east) of the small range of Closepete granite hills that has Nandi Hill to its south 
Introduction
Nandi Hill is one of Bangalore's best known outdoor and wilderness areas and considered as the closest hill station to this city. Although it is located inside Kolar District, it was never considered far from Bangalore. But the rapidly expanding state capital has literally brought urbanisation right to Nandi Hill's doorsteps - foothills in this case. Fortunately much of the wooded area around is a reserve forest which is far more difficult to denotify for non-forest purposes or to be encroached upon, given the fact that the Forest Laws of India are among the strictest and are mostly implemented in earnest by the forest officials.

Nandi's human history is centuries old. It precedes the history of the erstwhile state of Old Mysore. It has hosted for history its share of dramatic events. Some of them have been captured on canvas, like the firing of artillery on the slopes of Nandi hill in 1791 by the forces of British East India Company which led to the capture of this hill fort from the Mysore state during the III Anglo Mysore War.
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View of Nandidrug (Mysore), with the batteries firing during the siege; 1791,  MacKenzie, Colin (1754-1821)
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On the left is the painting View of Nandidrug (Mysore) with three English soldiers in the foreground; 1791; Allan, Sir Alexander, 1st Baronet (1764-1820). On the right is a view of the hill in January 2006. 
In and around Nandi are picturesque temples that are hundreds of years old. One can combine their trip to this hill with a trip to some of these interesting temples.

As one exits the Bangalore - Hyderabad Expressway (National Highway 7) to approach Nandi hill, visitors can have a glimpse of the calm, serene rural life that once surrounded much of Bangalore. In the month of May the road decorated by the gulmohar (May flower) beckon the visitors. Till May 2014 fortunately this road had escaped the wrath of development and the axeman has spared his blows on the roots of the many magnificent trees lining it.

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The approach road to Nandi Hill from National Highway 7 near Devanahalli. 
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The hill road to Nandi Hill.
Geological background
Geologically, Bangalore district (so is Tumkur District) sits on the archaen complex born during the Archean Eon about 3.5 Billion ago. Right over this complex are many metamorphic rock formations of crystalline schists, the granitic gneisses and the newer granites.

A prominent hill chain made up of metamorphic rocks known as 'Closepet granite' stands on this complex and run roughly north to south. Closepet (or Closepete in Kannada) is the former name of Ramnagar town near Bangalore. This hill chain is a part of Dharwar group of rocks and has some monoliths shooting over a thousand metres which include Madhugiri, Devarayanadurga (DD Hills), Nandi Durga (Nandi Hills) etc. These hills host many important reserve forests of the districts of Tumkur, Bangalore and Kolar like Madhugiri state forest (Tumkur Dist), Devarayanadurga (Tumkur Dist), Itikaldurga state forest (Kolar Dist) and Makalidurga state forest (Kolar Dist). 
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View of a granite hill crop on the drive up to Nandi hill.
A view on a clear morning from Devarayanadurga in Dec 2007. The hill in the middle of the outcrop of three in the far background is Nandi.
Inside the Nandi fort
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The last major fortification of Nandi Hill was under the father-son rulers of Mysore state Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Here is the entrance to the hill station towards the hill peak. 
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A plaque commemorating the construction of this road.
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At over 200 years old these bricks still stand intact on the fort walls.
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The main entrance of the hill station as seen from inside. The arch is an example of Islamic architecture often used by rulers affiliated to Muslim faith. 
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This is the second entrance to the hill station through the stone fort. It is an example of Hindu architecture with pillars and the carvings on the same.
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The stone fort and entrance with 18th century canon guns. 
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The cast iron canon guns are still intact centuries later.
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Carvings on stone on one of the pillars of the second entrance. These flower carvings can be seen on many forts and temple entrances in Old Mysore state. 
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The view inside as seen from the second entrance.
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This kalyani  (step well) was built in 1936 by the Government of Maharaja of Mysore. 
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The foundation stone of the Nandi Hill step well.
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This summer lodge is one of the remnants of Tipu Sultan's lifestyle here, a protected monument by the Archeological Society of India (ASI).
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Description of the 'Tipu Sultan lodge' by ASI.
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Interiors of the Tipu Sultan lodge.
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Parapet wall of the Tipu Sultan lodge.
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A view of the Nandi Hill fort.
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The fort has musketry openings running along its length for gunmen to fire at the enemy.
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Wild lemon grass grows on the hill slopes.
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This pine tree opposite Tipu Sultan lodge is over a hundred years old. 
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Spring at Nandi Hills is a riot of colourful flowers.
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The area around the step well is full of greenery. 
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Nandi Hill is a bird watcher's and bird photographer's delight. The area around the step well is considered an 'bird island' where many birds usually found in the moist forests of western ghats can be sighted and photographed.

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