The rocky terrain at Ramanagara has several tales to tell. It was here that the iconic Indian film Sholay was shot in the early 1970s. The town of Ramanagara became the Ramgarh village in the movie. It were these rocks that formed Gabbar’s den.
The sleepy village that hosted the crew of Sholay four decades ago has transformed into a bustling town in the periphery of Bangalore on the Mysore Highway.
Ramanagara is located about 50 kms from Bangalore on the way to Mysore. A small detour from the highway brings you to the Ramadevara betta, better known as Sholay rocks.
Much of the area which formed part of the movie, is now out of bounds to visitors and consists of private residences and farms. An old man who had worked as a helper staff in the Sholay crew told us that the rocks which formed part of Gabbar’s den are now hidden within the vast green stretch that now is also a Vulture Sanctuary. He also pointed towards the area where the temple and the mosque shown in the movie were set up. He pointed in another direction towards a place he says the water tank was set up. He also showed us the place the wooden bridge was constructed where several fighting scenes of Sholay were shot.
Some 346.14 hectares of the rocky terrain was declared as vulture sanctuary in 2012. It is home to the endangered Long-Billed Vultures. Only 6 such vultures are left in the sanctuary which was once home to more than 2000 of these endangered birds.
There is a temple on the top that can be reached after climbing 400 steps.There are several viewpoints along the way up the hill. The temple is said to be more than 1000 years old.
Ramanagara drew a lot of attention after Sholay was released in 1975. Nearly a decade later, David Lean’s ‘A Passage to India’ was shot there as well. But over the years, the town’s cinematic past has been forgotten. Barring a few handful Sholay fans, curious tourists and movie buffs, Ramadevara betta is now visited mostly by trekkers and nature enthusiasts. Many adventure groups come here for face climbing, boulder climbing, chimney climbing, hill climbing, rock climbing etc. Ramanagara is best visited early morning. Some areas are under the forest department and by dusk, the gates to the sanctuary area are closed.
The view from the top is amazing, probably still as nice as what Gabbar would have had from his den up on these rocks. The rocky terrain and the greens extend as far as the eyes can see, till they merge with the clouds in the distance