The months of June-July-August saw us going against our life’s policy – drown ourselves in work ! The three holiday dry months, made worse by Independence Day falling on a weekend, only added to our woes. But as they say, you can take a traveller out of a travel but you cannot take travel out of a traveller ! So, giving ourselves an ultimatum, we decided we had to go somewhere on Independence Day even if it was a day trip.
Igneous landscaping of the Deccan
You can never exhaust all travel options in a lifetime, the more you travel, the more places you realise you are yet to explore. Everytime we think we there are no other places to go on a day trip from Hyderabad, a new place seems to crop up, one such place is the Rachakonda Fort. We had read about it sometime last year but a trip never really materialised. This time Rachakonda it was ! Rachakonda is a historical fort located near Nalgonda.
Our trip began at 10.30 AM, way behind our scheduled start of 9 AM, what is the use of being Hyderabadi if you adhere to timeplans ! We had two bikers in the group, to keep them company, we took the city route instead of Outer Ring Road. By the time we Choutuppal, it was lunch time. We stopped for an elaborate lunch at Village Aharam on the highway, so heavy was the lunch that some people even had thoughts of driving back home and sleeping !
From Choutuppal, we faithfully followed Google Maps, the drive took us through the amazing landscape of the Deccan Plateau. The igneous rocks that are the trademark of the Deccan Plateau look like someone has done a great job in nature landscaping ! The road passed through villages of Nalgonda, a refreshing experience to drive on roads surrounded by earthy looking mud houses and vegetable fields.
An article on Rachakonda published in The Hindu, said the fort was only about 35 kms from L.B.Nagar in Hyderabad, however, we drove close to 2 hours but there was no sight of any Fort, Google Maps told us the secret, Rachakonda Fort is actually around 60 kms from L.B.Nagar. But we weren’t complaining at all, the scenic beauty was worth the long drive !
The roads were decent and it was a fun drive. Enroute, near one of the villages, we spotted ruined temples on the roadside at intervals, that was a sign that we were reaching closer to the Fort. Finally, with Google Maps indicating that we would reach the Fort any moment, we arrived at the base of a hill on top of which we could spot the fort wall. The only problem was, there did not seem to be a way up to the hill !
We stopped at what looked like a small temple and asked round. We were told, we could drive down the narrow path near the hill, park our cars and from there, we had to find our own path upto the fort. Driving down a small clearing near the base of the hill, we arrived at the entrance of Rachakonda Fort wall.
Driving a little futher up, we came face to face with a gateway, probably, one the several gateways to the fort.
We parked our cars and bikes near a clearing on the other side of the gateway and began our trek up the fort.
A forgotten trail of History
The Rachakonda Fort is spread over to adjacent hills, there are two different paths, each one leading to one of the hills. Since it was a hot afternoon, we decided to take the easier looking trek path. The other hill looked quite steep and we felt it would be strenuous, not something you wanted to do on a sultry afternoon after a heavy meal !
Before we go further, a brief history lesson according to the internet. Rachakonda Fort belonged to the Recharla Padmanayaka kings who were chieftains of the Kakatiya kings and later became independent when the Kakatiya Dynasty lost its glory in the beginning of the 14th Century A.D. The legendary Bammera Pothana lived during the times of Singabhoopala of the Recharla clan and the internet says, one of his earliest works, Bhogini Dandakam has a description of the Rachakonda Fort !
We had no idea of the history until we returned from the fort and read up its history, no history textbook even mentions the Recharla kings or the Rachakonda Fort, there are so many links in our history that are simply forgotten. The Rachakonda Fort must have been quite an important strategic fort, considering its size, spread across two hills, wherever you turn, you can see the fort wall and it looks unending !
We began our trek along the easy looking hill. There was no clear path to the top, we had to explore and find our way, which meant we would trek to some place, find a dead end, retrace our steps and look for another path.
The trek was not too strenuous and it was fun finding our way by trial and error. After a short climb in the hot sun, we found another gateway that looked like a Mandapa.
There were steps leading to the Mandapa from the base, which meant the route we had taken till then was not the official one ! We took a break and had a tough time stopping ourselves from taking a nap in the cool hill breeze ! Oh, the joy of sitting in the middle of greenery and hearing the rustle of the leaves and feel the cool breeze !
Masonry magic !
Further up, there was another gateway, you can see this particular gateway from the base of the hill. It is probably the halfway point up.
If you notice the construction of the fort walls and gateways in the above picture, you will find that the walls have been built by piling stones lined up and fitted together without using any kind of mortar. This kind of architecture is called Cyclopean Masonry and the entire fort has been built this way. To build such a huge fort without masonry is nothing short of magic ! In the above picture, check out how a natural boulder has been used as a support for the gateway ! Genius, isn’t it?
Some more climbing later, we stood before a wall that looked like a mysterious pathway, the kind that you often read about in Dan Brown thriller novels.
Check the perfect setting of the stones without using any material and they have stood intact for 6 centuries now ! The mysterious wall ended in yet another gateway, this one seems to be the icon of Rachakonda Fort on the internet because when you search for the fort, this is the first image that comes up.
You can climb up this particular gateway, there is an access to the top on the other side.
Every gateway, every wall seems to have some story to tell you of the days of glory of the Rachakonda Fort !
Though the climb was easy, we were slowly feeling the tiredness as we had been trekking for about an hour, we had to stop to catch take a breather, or soothe this writer’s muscle cramps, time to accept the fact, we are now officially middle aged ! Gateways seemed to be magically cropping up, whenever we needed to stop, we would spot a gateway !
Ruined mandapas covered by overgrowth, a history loving photographer’s delight !
Some more steps and a bit of trek got us to the top of the hill and the fort. We were greeted by this ruined but rather cute looking Mandapa.
Rachakonda Fort was a strategic fort and is also probably why one can’t find royal chambers or quarters. You only have gateways and watch towers. We don’t know if there were any living quarters or they have all collapsed and are lost forever.
Here is a preview of what’s on the other side !
The gateway opens out to a stunning view of the valley and the hills surrounding the Rachakonda Fort.
Out in the sun, under the sky, cool breeze blowing around you and nature in abundance, it was absolute bliss !
Except for the sound of the breeze, everything else was silent. All you wanted to do was lay down on the rocky surface and drift into a dreamless sleep !
We lost track of time as we simply sat there and did nothing except gaze at the scene before us. It was almost 5 PM when we decided it was time to leave and began our trek back. On the way, we spotted a small pond that looked very pretty from our vantage point.
We climbed down to the pond but didn’t find it as pleasant as it looked from above, we only liked this view of the fort wall from the pond.
Climbing down the fort was easy and we did not stop for any breaks because it was almost sunset time and we had a long way to drive back home. By the time we reached the bottom of the hill, we were tired but our bodies felt refreshed after the physical exertion. We were ready to go back home except for a glitch, one of our guys had left his helmet on his bike before beginning the trek and somebody had stolen his helmet ! We wanted to give humanity a chance but no chance, it’s the same everywhere !
It was time to take leave of Rachakonda, there was one more gateway, probably the main entrance, waiting to send us off !
We spent about 4 fun hours amidst history, nature and some adventure, we will go back to Rachakonda again in the future, this time to explore the other side of the fort.
While driving back to Hyderabad, we took the Ibrahimpatnam route, most of us were starving and just as we said “tea and snacks”, lo ! a hotel appeared right before us ! It was time to feast on piping hot Mirchi Bajjis, samosas and chai. Since we had bikers in our group, we couldn’t take the ORR, so we tried the service lane instead and it was absolutely fun drive in the darkness, the service lane was deserted for most part, the drive was a great finish to our thoroughly enjoyable trip.
Stopping for dinner at one of the dhabas on the Chilkur Road, we reached home after 10 PM. It took us about 4 hours to reach home because, we spent about 2 hours for snacks and dinner !
- Rachakonda Fort is 2 hours drive from Hyderabad and a popular trekking, rock climbing spot. You could take the Ibrahimpatnam route or the Choutuppal route. Follow Google Maps and when in doubt, ask.
- As we said, you simply have to go trekking and explore the fort. There are no facilities for food and washrooms. There are a few villages enroute that sell water and snacks. Carry enough water with you.
- We are not sure if you can find too many buses or other transport to Rachakonda Fort. Take your own vechicle. May not be advisable to combine any other place with Rachakonda fort, the trek up and down the fort will itself take about 4 hours.
- Ideal day trip if you have a group of 3 or more and enjoy trekking. We had a 4 year old kid in our group, who was a great sport, kids can be taken along if they can handle some physical activity but you need to be careful along the slopes or if they slip and fall on the trek path.
- There is nothing specific to “see” at the Rachakonda Fort, it is all about walking, trekking, exploring some history and relaxing in the lap of nature.
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