A Day Trip To Mandaragiri Hill, Tumkur
In a quaint village an hour away from Bangalore, there is a Mahavira statue and a stunning Guru Mandir shaped like a fan made of peacock feathers. Although off beat, it’s got great potential to be a very popular photostop in Karnataka! So, we decided to visit the place and put together this travel guide for you! Ready to travel to Mandaragiri? Lets go!
In this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan a trip to Mandaragiri Hill, or Basadi Betta as it is locally known. This guide contains details on what to see in Mandaragiri including that beautiful peacock feather temple that is slowly becoming Insta-famous!
Our experience of visiting Mandaragiri
Ah, the weekend. Everytime it comes by, we’re all so eager to go out. And thats how daytrips come to the rescue! During the pandemic, after lockdowns were eased, we decided to do a safe trip out from Bangalore. And thats how we landed here, an off beat gem just an hour away from the city.
It was absolutely refreshing! We left home at 6 am and drove there. Reaching at 7 am, we saw not one visitor (just the caretaker) at the temple and the meditation hall. We spent nearly two hours there and then climbed to the top of the hill. Atop, it was so amazing! The views were good, but it was the cool wind that really made the day amazing! We sat there for so long – we didnt feel like leaving the place until mid-day. The scenery around, the teal temple in the village below, the fleeting clouds – oh you can imagine, right?
With that small account of our experience, we’ll tell you a little more about enchanting Mandaragiri and then you should definitely see it for yourself!
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Mandaragiri Hill or Basadi Betta
A giant monolith rock stands tall in the village of Pandithanahalli, or ‘Village of the Priest’ a few kilometres outside the city of Tumkur, Karnataka. A Jain Temple or Basadi is located atop the hill and that’s how the name Basadi Betta ‘hill’ came to be.
The Jain temple at the top houses smaller temples or Basadis in honour of three saints – Bhagwan Chandranatha, Bhagwan Parshwanatha and Bhagwan Suparshwanatha. In fact, it is believed the two of the smaller Basadis inside date back to the early 12th century, and the other two are from the 14th century.
Tip: The climb to the top is easy. There are 430 steps leading from the entrance at the base of the hill. Take small rest-breaks as you climb – it takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the top.
The Basadi or Jain temple is still not a popular tourist destination. It belongs to the relatively smaller Jain community. However, the Basadi is one of the most important pilgrimage spots for Jains, in south Karnataka. Jains from different parts of the country visit the hillock in piety. Inside the temple, there are many murals of tales from Jainism that promote peace and non-violence.
Bonus Tip: Walk to the back of the hill and find youself near a beautiful pond with some really cool rock pools! Another great place for photography.
The Statue of Chandranatha Thirthankara
In Digambar Jain traditions, it is customary to be dressed in man’s most natural form. Digambara monks cherish virtues like non-attachment and non-possession of material objects. That is why they wear no clothing. But the monks carry a community-owned pinchi (or picchi). This pinchi is a broom made of fallen peacock feathers. Its used for removing and thus saving the lives of insects in their path or before they sit.
At Mandaragiri, there is a giant statue of a Mahavira lookalike. It was actually built in honour of Chandranatha Thirthankara. He was one of the ascetics who came upon Mandaragiri and propagated the Digamabara sect in South Karnataka.
Worship is offerred everyday by the local priest. In fact, we were fortunate to witness a prayer being offered by a few pilgrims! They circumambulated the statue multiple times, braving the cold in their natural attire, and chanting vibrant prayers.
The Mandaragiri Dhyana Mandira
This is one of the most beautifully designed meditation halls we’ve ever seen! The Dhyana Mandira or mediation hall is 81 feet tall and shaped like a Pinchi. It is the first of its kind in the history of Jainism, that such a dome has been built! This particular temple was built in honour of Sri Shantinsagarji Maharaj, a Digambara Jain ascetic.
The beautiful teal hues, orange feather centers and one shining golden ring atop characterise it wonderfully. The colours look especially pleasant in the early morning hours. Even the gardens are so beautiful, you’ll feel like staying there all day long.
See other interesting getaways from Bangalore
The Guru Mandira at Mandaragiri is open for visitors to use and mediate at. Even though the doors are kept closed, there is a board at the entrance gate which displays contact details of the attendant. You can freely call the attendant and request for the door to be opened. They also carry the keys to the temple at the top of the Basadi Betta.
Tip: The best time to visit Mandaragiri Hills and the Guru Mandira is before 9 am This is the least crowded time and also the time to see in its best colours! You can visit anytime during the year. But, Tumkur can be especially hot during summer months.
Getting the best photographs of the Dhyana Mandira
There are so many incredible spots to shoot photos from while framing this architectural beauty:
- the central path way in front of the hall
- the right and left flanks of the pathway at the entrance of the park
- the lawns in the garden
- You can even shoot from the Chandranatha statue next door, from where you can get a commanding view of the Guru Mandira.
We visited in early June and the plants were lush green and flowers had bloomed too!
How to get to Mandaragiri Hill
Mandaragiri Hills or Basadi Betta is located 10 kms outside Tumkur City on the Bangalore-Tumkur Highway (NH75). From bangalore, it is about 60 kms. Follow this map marker to reach Basadi Betta or Mandaragiri Hills. The beautiful temple and meditation halls are located at the base of the hill.
Although it is best to drive here using your own vehicle, you can go by a Bangalore to Tumkur bus and get down at Pandithanahalli cross or ‘Basadi Betta Cross’. From there, cross the national highway and walk through Pandithanahalli for about 1.5 kms. Then you will see Mandaragiri hill.
Important: There are no shops or hotels near Mandaragiri Hill. You have to either bring your own snacks (and carry the trash) or go out to the highway to buy food. Please carry water as the climb can be a little tiring.
Day trip or stay nearby?
Mandaragiri Hills or Basadi Betta is best visited as a day trip from either Bangalore or Tumkur. We recommend staying in either city. Although, if you want to experience the rustic life, you should consider finding a home stay at the outskirts of Tumkur city.
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If you have more questions or want to explore Karnataka with us, write to us – we’d be very happy to help and plan anamazing getaway with you!
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Shishira & Navneeth