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Kunti's haunt

Kunti Betta offers a break for stretched city nerves



PANORAMIC VIEWS The top of Kunti Betta PHOTO: KISHORE PATWARDHAN

Tired of Bangalore's traffic snarls? Seeking some tranquillity and adventure? That is exactly why we headed towards Pandavapura (130 km) from Bangalore off Mysore Road. Pandavapura is a quaint town situated at the base of the tall, rocky hill known as Kunti Betta or French Rocks. The place was used as the camping ground by the French army, which came to help Tipu Sultan in his war against the British.

Kunti Betta comprises two rocky hills separated by a valley accessible via flight of steps. The valley houses an antiquated temple and large monolithic rock cut images of Nandi and Ganesha. The Mallikarjuna Swamy temple here dates back to the period of the Pandavas, but the current one, appears modern.

After marvelling at the antiquity of the place and soaking in the rugged beauty of the rock formations around, we decided to climb the steeper left flank of the hill. The initial part of the ascent had a gentle gradient but the thorny bushes troubled us. As we ascended, the path got steeper and after a while, we had to boulder hop our way to the top. The small plateau houses Kunti kola — a small rock depression where rainwater gets collected and nearby is a giant formation resembling a footprint known as Bheemana Pada (Bheema's Footprint).

The top of the hill offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside, lakes and manicured agricultural expanses. After spending a few hours at the top, resting and feasting our city-sore eyes on the pristine countryside, we embarked on our return journey, deciding to come again another day to climb the right flank of Kunti Betta.

Mythology states that the Pandavas during their period of exile stayed here for sometime, and Kunti, mother of the Pandavas, liked the hillock so much that it became one of her favourite haunts. The town is also named after the Pandavas because of their brief stay in this region.

How to get there

By bus: Travel to Mandya or Srirangapatnam and head to Pandavapura. From there, take an auto to the base of Kunti Betta.

By Road: Drive on Mysore Road past Mandya till you reach a circle at Wellesley Bridge, just before Srirangapatnam. Turn right and travel for 10 km to reach Pandavapura and turn right at the main circle. Three km ahead is Devegowda Koppal. Half a km to the left towers Kunti Betta.

KISHORE PATWARDHAN

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