The very first thing that I'm gonna do is warn you a bit about your expectations from this trip. The dam is as it should be :-), so no surprises there ( although I do have a bit of a surprise for you, just read below ) ! What you must not expect is to see much of a fort in rayakottai. Only a few remnants of the fort remain here, with some buildings at the summit. You will get a good view though ( and quite some wind ! ), and you can sit 'aaram' se and relax before you start climbing down again ! These places, again, are not on the usual touristy circuit, but they're good to explore once you've covered the usuals around Bangalore !
That being said, we started off leisurely at around 7am in the morning from silk board junction and drove past Hosur on a bit of a busy highway I'd say ( tolls slowing our speed a bit too ... I guess we encountered 3 of them on our 100 km journey, the last of them being somewhere before Krishnagiri ). Once near Krishnagiri, we had our breakfast and then guided on by the GPS, took the right turn from the highway on towards the dam. The road is in pretty good shape and we were at the dam in no time. Got out, took the usual shots, and roamed around a bit. We tried to look out for a vantage point higher up to take in a good distant view of the dam, but couldn't manage as we were stopped twice while going up. Never mind !
There's a temple near the dam park-area where lot of people from nearby villages come up to bathe and indulge in some divine holiness. The place started looking like a picnic spot soon after ( more like a market near the temple, it was literally a sea of ppl out there; so you may do well to arrive a little early to avoid the crowd if you so feel like it ! ), with people arriving in droves, cleaning up the area and lighting those cooking fires ... We did see a goat being skinned too, so looks like Sunday is really party time for these folks !
The park is also a decent place to roam around, and has been maintained well. You can climb up on the dam from here, and get a view of the 'other side', the 'Then-Pennai' river. We decided, however, to drive a bit further on that side, after being edged on by a kind soul who advised us to go check out the place where 'fishes are being caught'. Yes, that's the keyword for you when you venture out on to that side, coz you need to steer clear of the main road after sometime and take the 'kuccha' road towards the 'fishing' area. It really helps if you know the local language ( tamil/kannada I presume ).
Once you manage to reach this place, which is basically the catchment area of the dam, spend some time sitting around and enjoying the view. It's really worth it I'd say ! It's actually a huge lake-view, and the windy conditions, if any, give you some waves too :-). 3 of those hills jutting out on the other side add to the interesting landscape ( check the pic above ! ).
We spent almost 45 mins at the place, and after some photography, retraced our path on to the highway once again, and in to krishnagiri this time for a lunch place well known to my trip-mate. There's a famous Jain temple complex nearby on the highway ( Padmavathi is it's name ), where you can stroll for a bit if you have time. No cameras, and no black dresses please, and no shorts either ( that is what the guard told me and I had to change then and there ! ). Follow your GPS and it will guide you exactly.
After the temple, it was time to head to head to rayakottai, and so we did ! Once again, good roads all along and I guess it'd have taken us around an hour to do so. It was a pretty nice stretch actually, and on our way we learnt that there is a direct route to this town from the krishnagiri dam itself, and it's quite a short one ( I can now see it on the map as well ! ). So, if you so decide, you can actually save on some time here.
Once you reach rayakottai, be slow and ask around for the 'kote' ( fort ), as the GPS may not lead you exactly. It's a huge hill and you should be able to identify it once you reach close. and btw, don't be surprised if some of the town folk say they don't know about it. It's more probable that they don't understand you ! What will surprise you really, is that this place is closed on Sunday. There's nothing much at the entrance ( there's not much of an entrance as such, a blue metallic gate and some barbed wires ), except for a ( decrepit looking ) Archaeological Survey of India board. Perhaps, they have given up on maintaining this place anyway !
Trekkers and adventurers, don't be disheartened. Others, please don't care to come here in the first place ! Once you guys start climbing, the beauty of the view down below will unfold in front of you, and if the sun is not merciless, you will love it I'm sure ! Although there's quite some vegetation on the hill so the sun up above should not worry you too much ! There are stone-steps to guide you and you won't get lost trust me ! Move up and ahead a little, and you will see the path now bifurcating in front of you. Take left and it will guide you to a small temple tucked up beneath the confines of a huge rock ( sorry I deleted those pics accidentally ). Enjoy the view from here, but don't venture much inside. The place is closed at least on a Sunday, and the 2 times that I went there, I could not see a single soul in the temple ( although it looks decently maintained ), or even in our trek route for that matter !
Trace the route back from the temple, come back to the place where it had bifurcated previously, and this time keep going straight ahead ( the right turn here will take you down from where you came in. I hope you understand the directions properly ). There's only a single path which will lead all the way to the summit. Have a good time while up there .. You will I'm sure. The whole of this climb up is no more than 1 hour from the base ( including your visit to the temple and back ).
I do have a doubt though. I guess there are 2 summits. From the place where I led you to, I could see a rock higher above us, and on top of which was something like a makeshift structure resembling another temple. We didn't have enough time to climb up that rock but I'd recommend you do that. That is when you get to capture some of the pics of this place that you see on the web I'm sure.
Good luck and do let me know if you do !
Summary: The rayakottai 'fort' may interest only those who are up for some climbing and such activities. Not for others, as there is nothing much to see 'on' the top after almost an hour's climb. You can, however, see quite a bit 'from' the top ! There's a railway line below near the town, and you may see a train skirting past ... I did !
A one day trip from Bangalore. We were back in about 12-13 hours after our round-trip. Rayakottai has it's own connection to Bangalore, so you don't have to retrace your steps this time. You will also steer clear of the krishnagiri toll ( the last of all on ure way to the dam ), so take only a one-way ticket there :-P !
Safety issues: Won't recommend for girls in the group, as the 'fort' is practically deserted all the way up !
Have fun and explore more !