As weekend approaches, there’s a new rush of energy that builds up to celebrate the end of work week. Living in Bangalore, Nandi Hills pans out to be a brilliant option to tap that energy. It’s a complete experience with an overnight drive, midnight snacks and coffee at the Airport, scenic drive up the Nandi Hills, a beautiful sunrise to welcome the day, and breathtaking views from the hilltop to begin your weekend!
Bonus: If it seems too challenging to execute on a Friday night after the hectic work week, you get another chance to run it through on a Saturday night! That’s so much better than getting the usual brewed beer (or coffee for the teetotalers) every Friday/Saturday! 😛
Nandi Hills is about 50 KMs from the Hebbal Flyover on Airport Road (Bellary Road). Since the charm of the place lies in the drive towards it and the sunrise which greets you, it’s best that you leave for Nandi Hills a few hours before the sunrise.
Preferred mode of getting there:
Since we lived near Whitefield, we left around 2 AM in our own car and started driving towards the Kempegowda Airport. The drive to the airport was smooth, and once we had parked our car in the parking area, we proceeded to grab some late night snacks and coffee. Even though the work week had just ended (Yes, it was Friday night!), we saw lots of small groups at the airport snacking, just like we were. At around 4.00-4.15 AM, it was time to leave the airport and head towards Nandi Hills.
Driving quite peacefully, we reached the first checkpoint of Nandi Hills at 5 AM (which is about 25-30 KM from the airport). By the time we reached, around 25 cars were already queued up ahead of us. Since the barrier was closed, we parked our car in the queue and stepped out to feel the chill in the air and take a short stroll. There’s also a parking area here where one may park their vehicle, and trek all the way up.
In just a half hour that we waited there, we saw the queue slowly grow up to 100+ cars. While the notice on the barrier says that vehicles are allowed post 6 AM only, the cars were allowed to ride past this barrier at around 5.40 AM. It’s about 10-15 mins of drive to the last gate. The drive is absolutely amazing, with stunning views for the passengers and an added bonus of wavy hill driving for the drivers. There are lots of instances where the incline is quite tricky for rookie drivers and unless the driver knows how to stop their vehicle, restart and then climb slowly on the incline without slipping, it’s likely that the driver will either burn the vehicle’s clutch and/or ram his vehicle into one of the cars following him.
If you’re going to be driving the car, I’ll highly recommend you watch this video – How to effectively use Handbrakes to climb up steep inclines with ease
Since the last gate to enter the top-most part of Nandi hills opens at 6 AM only, all the vehicles queue up there next. The climb just before the last gate is quite steep and hence you’re advised to be extra careful. It’s a potential site for minor accidents and we saw 2-3 vehicles slip and ram into the vehicle directly behind them. There’s another parking area near this gate, so you may also choose to park here and then trek upwards (about 1000m uphill)
We noticed a few groups riding in their ‘Zoomcars’. Almost 15-20 of them. A majority of these cars were driven by rookie drivers who were unable to climb the inclines without burning the clutch or were driven by drivers who knew how to drive well in the hills but their cars were already in poor shape due to their earlier drivers. Either way, almost each of the zoomcars was struggling to climb up. For your own safety, maintain distance from them. If you’re driving one, please make sure you watch the videos mentioned in this article to avoid damage to the cars provided by this awesome service.
At the last checkpoint (which opens at 6AM sharp), we purchased a ticket for Rs 100 which allowed 1 car (inclusive of all passengers) to enter the topmost area of the hills. Once at the top, we parked our car and stepped out to enjoy the sunrise.
The Breathtaking Views
The views are breathtaking from almost sides of the hilltop. While there’s a specific viewpoint to enjoy the sunrise, we found the views to be great from other locations as well. My friend Rahul, who has been here several times, told me what’s special about Nandi hills is that often the clouds cover the hilltop giving it a very foggy appearance. Sometimes, the clouds are even below you when you have reached the summit of the hill. While we missed this on our trip, the views made our trip worthwhile. We also realised that this was one of the coldest points in Bangalore. Suggest you to take a light jacket to brace yourself from the chilling breeze.
Even if you’re reaching here late, or plan to stay for a few hours this place can be a brilliant picnic spot. There is enough area, various view points and parks that one can spend the day there, if the weather gods are in your favour. You can also go for short treks or find new trails. Get a picnic basket from home or choose to eat at one of the few options available here but the day will be spent away from traffic and in the lap of Mother nature.
The drive back
When we finally took a start back at about 7.30 AM, we realised the ride downhill had a completely different ambience from the one that we experienced when climbing up around 6 AM. Driving downhill was quite an effortless drive and we drove quite slow to soak most of the beauty that the drive offered.
If you’re the one driving the car downhill, suggest you watch this video – Using engine braking to extend the life of your vehicle’s brakes (while driving downhill)
As we hit the highway back to Bangalore, we were welcomed by two awesome breakfast options – Adyar Anand Bhavan (on the left side) and McDonalds (on the right side of road), both of which lie just after crossing the tollbooth towards Bangalore. A brilliant breakfast later, we were off to the last leg of our trip – Drive on the Bangalore Airport Highway back towards the city limits.
Have you been to Nandi Hills or plan to do so sometime soon? Share your experiences or engage in a conversation below. (Alternatively,here’s a link to the discussion on our facebook page)
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