From atop Horsley Hills, the terrain seems beautiful yet bleak. Dry, rugged hills and stony plains stretch as far as the eye can see, burning under the harsh summer sun. But when you’re at the summit of Horsley, the heat and parched land are a distant apparition. Horsley Hills is a destination that is mournfully rare in Andhra Pradesh – a hill station.
This elevated outcrop rises steeply to altitudes of 4,000ft, which ensures cool climes throughout the year and misty vistas in the monsoons. The hill was initially known as Yenugu Mallama Konda after a young girl who is said to have been reared by elephants and cured the various ailments of the area’s residents. One day she disappeared and ever since then, people began worshipping her as a goddess. A small temple stands in her honour atop the hill. In 1863, WH Horsley, the British Collector of Kadapa, built a forest resthouse here to escape the heat of the plains. Subsequently, various other bungalows were added, which are still extant. In the southern dry deciduous forests here, the British planted exotic plants such as mahogany, coffee, eucalyptus and silver oak. Several species – wild boars, bears, monkeys, jungle fowls and snakes – once thrived here, though in recent years, their numbers have dwindled.
Things To Do
Get Some R&R
Horsley Hills is rather tiny – in 15 minutes you can walk from one end to another. There is not much to ‘do’ here apart from enjoying the delightful weather and taking in the views – ideal for a lazy vacation. Go for long walks, enjoy the sunsets over the hills, have some local food, watch life play out.
Hang Out At The Environmental Centre
The Environmental Centre, built around Horsley’s forest resthouse, is basically a park. There is a zoo near the entrance with a modest assortment of animals such as deer, peacocks, rabbits and crocodiles. Further ahead is the forest resthouse built by Horsley. The tiles used in the bungalow were imported from Britain and can be seen in the structure even today. A mammoth eucalyptus tree known as Kalyani stands proudly next to the resthouse. It is more than 150 years old. On clear days, you can see it from the MadanapalleKadiri road, about 70km away. To the south of the resthouse is a viewpoint from where you can see the urban sprawl of Madanapalle in the distance. A trail behind the resthouse takes you to a small pavilion with a statue of Krishna. This is the highest point on the hill. To the north of the resthouse is the Nature Study Centre, which is usually closed.
Manasa Sarovar, the only freshwater source atop the hills, is next to it.
Watch The Sun Rise Over Horsley Hills Viewpoint
There is a large rocky slope with a gentle decline on the western side of the hills. This is known as the Horsley Hills Viewpoint. There are a few benches and sunshades here for visitors to enjoy the vistas and the strong breeze.
Trek To Gurramkonda Fort (36km)
From a distance, Gurramkonda seems as if a mountain-sized turtle were resting on the ground. The mammoth hill, consisting of a monolithic chunk of rock, is quite extraordinary, even for the boulderous terrain that characterises this part of Andhra Pradesh. The perpendicular face of the mountain is impregnable, which made it ideal for a fortification. Not much is known about the antecedents of the fort – it was probably constructed under the reign of the Vijayanagaras. In the 18th century, Hyder Ali and the Marathas often sparred to gain control of the citadel.
Meer Ali Raza Khan, the brother-in-law of Hyder Ali and the commander of the fort, was buried in a mosque at the foot of the hill after his death in 1781 CE. The mosque was heavily damaged after the British took shelter behind it, thinking that the Muslim rulers would not fire at the sacred shrine. In 1792 CE, the fort finally became a territory of the Nizams under the Treaty of Srirangapatnam.
The fort has three distinct layers of fortification – the lower that has 20 bastions and covers an area of 1,680sq m, the central that has 13 bastions and encompasses 1,270sq m and the upper that is built on top of the hill. The present entrance of the fort is near the Rangini Mahal, a three-storeyed building that seems like the archetypal bhoot bangla (haunted house) of Indian