Horsley Hills, the name itself sounds energetic. I somehow always visualized horse stables and sometimes race tracks when I heard the name. I had read about it being referred to as a small hill in Andhra Pradesh - Karnataka border, good to be visited in the summers. The article about Horsley Hills on Wikipedia gave some more information about the place.
The decision to go was abrupt. We finalized in the afternoon, called up the Governor's Bungalow to book rooms, packed up stuff in the evening and left Bangalore by 7PM. Just 170 kms from Bangalore, we had estimated around 4hrs of drive time.
Governor's bungalow: +91-8571-279323/24
Or at Bangalore via AP Tourism: +91-80-41136373
Bangalore -> Hosakote -> Kolar -> Rayalapadu -> Madanapale -> go towards Anantpur, turn left after a short distance to Horsley Hills.
Driving time at night - 5hrs (including break for dinner)
- Good highway till Kolar
- Get into the city at Kolar, narrow roads with traffic till you cross the city
- From Kolar good roads till Rayalapadu
- From around Rayalapadu small potholed road till Horsley Hills
We had dinner at a place between Hosakote and Kolar. Eating places could also be seen till Kolar, and some at Rayalapadu. But none beyond that... if they were there, they were all closed for the night.
The thing I like about driving in the night is empty roads. And the cool breeze. That's about the only two things probably... Everything else becomes difficult; like avoiding stray dogs, finding tea/coffee, and reading road signs. The turn towards Horsely Hills on Madanapale - Anantpur road is easy to miss in the night. There is a big arch way at the entrance, but it is sort of hidden by adjacent trees and not lighted at all. We missed the turn and went further for about 10kms till we started suspecting it. Luckily we found some villagers still chatting by the roadside and turned back after taking directions from them. The climb up to the hills is a very gentle one. We chanced upon a rabbit on our drive up that scurried away under the glare of our headlights.
The complex has some cottages and rows of bungalows. The bungalows were mostly two floors high and each floor having around 6-8 large sized rooms. The rooms were spacious and airy and bathrooms huge. The construction is old and has been renovated recently. So don't expect any swanky fittings, but the place is clean.
(The picture to the right is of a cottage at the same complex. These were not the bungalows where we stayed. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the bungalows.)
The best part of the room we stayed in was its huge balcony. It was an awesome place to sit and watch the stars. Being high up and with its open surroundings, it was really windy out there. In the silence of the night all we could hear was the wind. The winds are probably a regular feature of the place, because all the bungalows were named after different forms of wind.
Next morning we got up early to watch the sun rise. After roaming around the hill in circles to find a good spot, we finally walked up a small hill near a temple (just adjacent to the Governor's Bungalow complex). There was a small pond at the base and a few houses where the staff of the bungalows and their families stay. The hills were barricaded with barbed wire, but a kind lady standing at the veranda of one of the houses there pointed us towards a break in the wire through which we could cross over to the other side. This place was not crowded at all, in fact, we were the only ones there. The sun rise from there was beautiful. We sat there for long and experimented with our cameras.
We would probably have stayed there the whole day, but pangs of hunger drove us back to the bungalow. It was easy to find the canteen - the place with most crowd and noise. The breakfast was ample with decent variety of south indian items.
Horsley hills has a bit for everything for everybody - comfortable stay, good food, natural beauty, a temple, a small zoo, a swimming pool, and a bit of adventure sports including a bit of zorbing, rappelling and short treks. Not everything was open that day and the place was under heavy renovation. Later during the day we discovered another place with magnificent view of the valley where we spent a couple of hours relaxing.
We started back late evening, and picked up some pottery on our way back. This area is also known for its pottery and terracotta work. We took a slightly different route on our way back, avoiding Kolar. Roads on this route were better.
Horsley Hills -> Madanapale -> Rayalapadu -> Chintamani -> Hoskote -> Bangalore.
Driving time - 4hrs
Horsley hills is one of the perfect places for a laid back weekend - perfect for doing just nothing. Not my regular kind of place, but I sure enjoyed it for the short while I was there.