A weekend drive to Ramanagaram, the silk city

Ramanagaram, a rock climber’s paradise, better known for the cult film Sholay’s action, just 50 kilometers drive southwest of Bangalore.

Ramanagaram shot into fame with the film Sholay in the 70s. But this small town just outside Bangalore has been the hub of silk-industry, rock climbers’ haven and home to several temples.

Panaromic View from one of the hills. Pic: Usha Hariprasad

A peep in to the history:

Ramanagaram known as Closepet before independence has seen a great many rulers. It has been ruled by Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara, Mysore kings, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.  During Kempegowda rule the place was also referred to as Ramagiri and Ramagiridurga.  The district is surrounded by seven majestic hills Shivaramagiri, Yatirajagiri, Somagiri, Krishnagiri, Revanna Siddeshwara hill, Jala Siddeshwara hill and Sidilakallu hill. Thus Ramanagaram is a haven for rock climbers. Ramanagaram is also famous as the Silk City due to its silk cocoon industry.

Kanva Reservoir. Pic: Usha Hariprasad

The history of this place goes as far back as Ramayana. It is believed that Rama along with Sita and Lakshama stayed here during their exile period.

Things to do here:

Pattabhi Rama temple at Ramagiri hill: About 4 kilometers from Ramanagaram is the famous Ramagiri hill; the shooting location of the famous film Sholay. This hill, which resembles Hanuman, is known by other names like Ramadevara-betta, Kaakasura-betta etc.

The top of the hill has an ancient Pattabhi Rama temple. The climb is not very strenuous and there are nearly 450 steps to reach this lovely temple. The climb is quite pleasant and the view spectacular. You can see the panoramic view of Bangalore, the distant chugging of train on tracks as you start climbing towards the top.

Displays at the Janapada Loka. Pic: Usha Hariprasad

Before you reach the main temple there are other smaller temples of Shiva, Hanuman and Ganapati on the way. Once you reach the top you get to see a beautiful pond. On the right of the pond you can see a couples of shrines and a community hall constructed during the time of Kempe Gowda.

JanapadaLoka: After crossing the Ramanagaram town, you will see Janapada Loka on your right side. Founded by Shri Nage Gowda, Janapada Loka is a treasure house of folk culture of Karnataka showcasing folk art, culture and lifestyle of traditional Karnataka.  Spread over 15 acres of land it has been a cultural hub for the past 16 years.

How to get there?

Ramanagaram is 50 kilometers from Bangalore. Just travel on the Bangalore Mysore highway until you get the sign board "Welcome to silk city-Ramanagaram". You will then have to take a steep right turn soon after Ghousia College of Engineering that will take you to the foothills of the Ramagiri hill/Ramadevara Betta. Once you reach the foothills of Ramagiri you will have to ascend the 450 steps or so to reach the temple.

For Janapada Loka: After you cross Ramanagaram town you will see the see the popular Kamat Loka Ruchi hotel. Right next to it is the Janapada Loka. 

For Kanva reservoir: Moving forward from Janapada Loka towards Channapatna you will see the famous Kengel Hanuman temple towards right. Just right of this temple is the road leading to the Kanva Reservoir. Drive on this road for about 6-7 km to reach the Kanva reservoir.

Kanva reservoir: 10 kilometers from Ramanagaram is the man-made lake of Kanva reservoir formed by the waters of river Kanva.

Rock climbing: Bouldering, Rappelling, chimney climbing can be tried out at the rocky outcrops of Ramanagaram hills. For adventure activities in rock climbing contact Thrillophilia adventure tours, Bangalore. Their web site is www.thrillophilia.com.

Elderly visitors and family with children can easily visit Janapada Loka, the Hanuman temple and Kanva reservoir. Some may need help climbing the steps leading to Pattabhi Rama temple (which closes by 2.30 pm).

Food and accommodation:

There are plenty of roadside eateries on Bangalore Mysore highway. The best place to have lunch and snacks is of course Kamat Loka Ruchi hotel. Try their delicacies like Shavige, pathrode etc to get a taste of authentic Konkani and Udupi dishes. The Jolada roti is also worth savouring here. You can also opt to have your lunch at MTR. You can also stay overnight in Ramanagaram if you have plans to indulge in adventure activities. Some hotels where you can lodge are Hill View resorts, Kanva nest near the Kanva reservoir etc.  You can also camp near Kanva reservoir pitching your tents.

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