Rock Climbing Series-4: Kunti Betta and Tonnur Lake


Overview: Thinking about offbeat places around Bangalore, I came across Kunti Betta, which is around 120 kms from Bangalore. Going by the name of the place, this place was visited by the Pandavas during their exile, with mother Kunti. The nearby town Pandavapura is also named after the Pandavas. This place was also called French Rocks by the Britishers.
We set off from our place pretty early to avoid Mysore road traffic. We had our breakfast on our way at Maddur Tiffaney's. After crossing Mandya, there is a board which directs us towards the right to Pandavapura. We took that road. It was a heavenly ride with lot of twisted roads even though there is no climb. After riding for around 15 kms, we came across a board which leads us to Kunti Betta. We reached the base of the hill and visited a small temple and a kalyani there. We asked the villagers the way to start the trek. We were instructed to follow the pathway and watch out for a pump house which is the base for the climb. We somehow managed to reach the pump house passing through dense bushes and streams of water on the way. We started the climb from there and it looked not too tough. At places we had to really watch out for the correct way, but it was definitely not too difficult. It was amazing to see all weird shaped rocks on the way. All looked so mythical that one rock was in the shape of a frog which was cursed and turned into a rock by someone. We found shapes of a bear, crocodile, all giant sized.
It was a delight to watch. Not to mention the breathtaking view of the lake from the top which looked straight out of Europe. We have a footmark on a small broken temple which is supposed to be Bheema's footmark, translating to 'Bheemana Hejje' in Kannada. The top of the hill had ruins of some old temple built during some ancient dynasty. Gentle breeze and cloudy conditions made us forget all stress of city life. And we were alone at the top which made it perfect without noise. We had packed some eatables which had some biscuits, fruits and juices which we had on the top.We sat at the top for sometime before starting our descent. We came by the same route and made it fairly quickly. We reached the base in around 45 mins and it was a really light trek.

As we had plenty of time left, we decided to visit a couple of more places around Pandavapura. One was the Gopalaswamy temple and the other was Tonnur Lake. We first reached the ancient temple built by the Nolambas. We had Nambi Narayana temple and Yoga Narasimha temple opposite to each other. Both temples are maintained by the ASI. The idol looks very appealing and the temple built in stones gave it a classic look. This temple doesn't have many carvings as it belongs to the Pre- Hoysala period.

We advanced towards Tonnur Lake or Thondanoor Lake which is even more interesting. The lake is situated on a height and we have to climb a hill to reach the lake. On reaching the top it is amazing to see a vast lake in front of our eyes, Its really an eye catching sight and we can see water across miles. There is a small waterfall below the hill where many kids were enjoying.
This concluded our day trip which was very satisfying. Highly recommend this circuit.

How to reach:  By own vehicle- SH17 towards Mysore, after crossing Mandya, turn right towards Pandavapura. Watch out for directions. On the way look out for a board showing directions for Kunti Betta. For Tonnur or Thondanur, cross Pandavapura and ask the local villagers for directions. 
By public transport: Plenty of direct buses ply from Bangalore to Mandya. From Mandya private buses are available to Pandavapura. 
Food/Accomodation: Better to carry food from home. Restaurants available only on Bangalore-Mysore highway.
Map: View Larger Map


  1. What a wonderful compilation of photos. The place looks devoid of any touristy rush and I can almost feel the peace.

  2. It's amazing the number of places the Pandavas and Kunti visited. :-)

    But seriously, I loved your description of the places and your photographs. They are wonderful.

  3. @Arti: Thanks for dropping by..Have been going thro ur blogs. Yes.. Indeed its a silient and serene place.

    @Sudhagee: Yes.. 14 yrs is a long time.. So they had lot of time to visit all of India.. ;)

  4. Is the place really this good?

    1. Yes, it is. Do visit it to believe. :)

  5. It is really a very nice blog with mind blowing Photographs .... I really Liked It to the core .... Pallavi (

  6. I went to Kunti Betta in July, 2014 for Trekking and it was an amazing experience. A must go place for a 1 day trek and other activities like kayaking, rock climbing, rapelling, camping etc.

  7. Thanks Arun for great post. I did this with my girl friend on Saturday(2nd july 2016). The place is good for a day, takes 30 mins to trek the hill, the temple is good, view of the lake and farm fields from the top of the hill is good, a very relaxing experience. But we have come across a dangerous yet funny experience. One local guy came on top with an old empty beer bottle in hand and tried to threaten us. He was telling you guys are doing bad this on hill top where there is a temple in middle, but we were not doing anything(why do we have to go all the way there to do any such thing). We were just enjoying the cool breeze and the view. So, this guy wanted some money, he threatened us saying there is a gang of guys drinking on the hill and may do something to my girl friend which scared me, he told give me 1000 bucks now i will take you from different route to save, but we forgot our wallets in my car below the hill, he checked the entire bag and couldn't find any money. Then he came down some distance with us down the hill and stopped at some place and asked us to get money by keeping my mobile as assurance of our return. I went down with my friend and left her near the car and started going to the guy, that's when i found out that there is no one on the hill drinking to threaten us. He was trying to make money by threatening us, so when i went back to give him money he was trying to hide himself behind rock so that he will not be spotted by few localites who were shepherding their herds. I took that as a chance and raised my voice and asked him to come down near the car to take money, i pulled of my mobile from him and started coming back to car, this guy got scared that i will people and ran off. So this was a dangerous moment we faced. The place is deserted and you will hardly find anyone on top of the hill, these kind of goons take this as a opportunity to make money, I tried capturing his photo when i pulled of my mobile but it didn't come clearly. Be careful when you are on top but there is nothing to scare. Better go in a group.

  8. Lovely Arun ! And , you know I'm saying so for a good reason :-)


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