Chitradurga Fort is a historical site which boasts its mention in Indian mythology as well. This fort is in Chitradurga district, Karnataka, near Bangalore (now Bengaluru). The fort has its mentions in one of the Indian epics, the Mahabharata. Various folk tales of bravery, courage, treachery and mythology are embedded in every stone of this grand fort. The site has lost its grandeur structural value that it once boasted, but surely is still as much respected as valued like before for being witness to many legendary occurrences.
The site is just a few hours away from the business town of Bangalore. The fort itself and many other natural beauties around it along with the quite atmosphere of the downtown Chitradurga makes it all worth visiting. Not much is written about the place in travel guide books, thus this place is yet to be unleashed of its true glory.
Chitradurga fort is situated on the hills of Chinmuladri range, which is 200 km from the business town of Bangalore. The fort lies amidst a valley that was formed by River Vedavati. River Tungabhadra ripples through the northwestern side of the fort. The hills of this range are encircled by the seven circles of the fort.
Picture 1 – Chitradurga Fort
Highest point of the hills abide by the fort is 3202 ft. The rocks on which the fort and city stand are one of the oldest granitic rocks of India.
The town of Chitradurga is a five hours journey by road from Karnataka’s capital city, Bangalore. Way to the fort leads via Bangalore-Pune highway, popularly known as NH4 (National Highway 4). Nearest international airport to the Chitradurga district is Bengaluru International Airport which is just 30 km from the business district of Bangalore.
Volvo buses ply to and fro Bangalore to Chitradurga town. Car service agencies also rent out chauffer driven cars to the town and can even be hired for a couple of days.
The grand fort of Chitradurga envelops a total area of 1500 acres along with innumerable tales of bravery and honor in every corner of it.
Chitradurga Fort was built by Nayakas. These Nayakas were the feudatory chieftains empowered under the Vijayanagar Empire. The fort was built in 1568 B.C.
Many historical inscriptions have been unearthed in and around the Chitradurga Fort that dates back to different ruling clans of different eras. Influential ruling dynasties like Vijayanagar dynasty, Hoysalas and the Chalukyas ruled from and around this fort. Archeological findings even date back to the Ashokan period. But this fort gained importance only during the Nayaka dynasty.
The fort stands witness to tumultuous period from 1500 AD to 1800 AD when Vijayanagar Empire gained control over the fort from the Hoysala dynasty. It was the Vijayanagar dynasty that handed over the charge of this fort to the Nayaka chieftains. After the end of Vijayanagar Empire in 1565 AD, the Nayakas gained independent control over the fort and ruled the entire Chitradurga region for 200 long years from there.
The last Nayaka ruler was defeated by Hyder Ali of Mysore. The Nayaka ruler allied with both the Marathas and Mysore alternately. However, such foreign policy did not work out for him and was finally defeated in 1779 by Hyder Ali after 2 previous battles.
In 1799, with the death of Tipu Sultan during the 4th Mysore War (son of Hyder Ali), the British gained control over the fort.
This fort has been mentioned in the great epic of Mahabharata. It says Hidimba and Hidimbi, asura clan siblings, resided in this area. Bhima, second amongst the five Pandava siblings, defeated Hidimba and married Hidimbi in order to restore peace in the region.
Tales of bravery of the soldiers and even their families mark every stone of the fort. Story goes that a woman named Obavva was keeping a watch from the towers of the fort while her soldier husband was having his lunch. She saw enemy’s army trying to secretly break through the strategic wall cracks of the fort. She single handedly killed many soldiers through that wall crack by a fat wooden rod. When her husband returned and saw what was going on, he alarmed all the soldiers. Her statue was also built inside the fort.
Nayaka chieftains built the fort with utmost efficiency keeping administrative, defensive and daily needs of the inhabitants of the fort in mind. A very fascinating feature of the outer walls of this fort is absence of any cementing material to put the granites together could be found.
Picture 2 – Chitradurga Fort Picture
Chitradurga fort loudly boasts on 19 gates, 35 secret gateways, 38 back gates, 4 invisible passages and 2000 watch towers. The fort stands tall on seven main walls. All the walls have a gate each. The four gates of the four outer walls are known as Rangayyana Bagilu, Siddayyana Bagilu, Uchhangi Bagilu and Lalkote Bagilu consecutively starting from the first one. The gates open into extremely slender corridors that helped them to keep away elephants of the attackers from entering the fort. The eastern gateway has architectural features that emphasizes on the art style of Bahamani Sultanat.
The walls have small, inverted keyhole like hollow structures in them, called embrasures. These structures were used for arrow shooting by the archers. Depending on the height of the altitude of the height of the fort’s walls vary. Heights of the walls range between 16 ft and 45 ft. The walls are 8 km long covering 1500 acres in total.
In the upper fort, which was the main fort, eighteen temples were built. Hidimbeswara temple, Gopala-Krishna temple, Hanuman temple, Sampige Siddheswara temple, Phalguneswara temple, Ekanathamma temple, Nandi temple and Subbaraya temple are the most renowned ones amongst the those eight temples. Inscriptions on the idol Gopal-Krishna temple claim to date back to early 14thcentury.
There is only one temple in the lower part of the fort of family deity, Uthsavamba, of the Nayaka dynasty. A religious institution called Murugarajendra Matha was also built inside the fort. Later it was shifted outside and stands somewhere around 2 km from the town.
There was a damn with a cascade where rain water was stored in large amount. The inhabitants never faced any water shortage, even during wars. Ankhi Matha area is reached by stone-steps. Many ancient underground chambers are found in this area in descending order. Various podiums and prayer halls are also there in this place.
To the west of Ankhi Matha is the Panchalinga cave. Many historical inscriptions have been unearthed from this cave that date back as old as 1284 AD.
During Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan’s reign in this part many official buildings were constructed in this fort. Amongst many other interesting buildings and structures in the fort one deserves special attention, a quadruple mill of around 23 ft in diameter and 9.8 ft depth which is a gun powder grinding machine. These machines were rolled by bullocks and elephants.
The fort is usually open throughout the day. But it is safer not to go there post late evening.
There is no parking space avalable for vehicles near the fort. All the vehicles need to be parked at the foot of the hill range. Local boys take care of the parked vehicles in an organized way and charge nominal fees for it.
Tourists do not stay over-night in this region. But if someone wants to rest in the calm, tropical, small town then there are plenty of small lodges and guest houses. These lodges are quite affordable ones.
Hotel Ravi Mayur International offers both AC and non-AC mid-budget accommodations for those who want a more lavish stay over the weekend or business trip. This cozy and classy hotel is on NH4 (Bangalore-Pune highway). It is right near to the Rural Police Station.
Many vendors wander inside the fort with various local snacking items. These are good options to try to get a complete local flavor of the tour inside the fort. At the foot of the hill and even around the fort small makeshift eateries can be found. At the foothill there are many local dhabas or road side thatched hut type eateries.
Another option for those who want to make sure that they eat right and nothing out of the regular classy things will be the restaurant at Hotel Ravi Mayur International.
Apart from the fort there are many places around the Chtilmuladri range that hold immense historical, geological and mythological values. Jogimati is a well known hill resort of the district. It is located about 10 km towards south of Chitradurga. It is on an altitude of 3803 ft at hill top.
Himavatkedra waterfall ripples down these rocks. This waterfall had initiated a natural cave in the hill. Idols of Basavana and Veerabhadra and Shiva-Linga are inside the cave. Many folklore revolve around this cave and idols in it.
Visiting the fort and places around it once can quench their 'travel thirst', but the soothing ambience and mystic feel of being amidst history is surely to make anyone come back. This small town is a perfect weekend get away from the hectic life of India’s tech city Bangalore (Bengaluru). For those who look to visit historical sites, Chitradurga Fort is a must visit to feel the tales that every stone of the fort tells.
Check out to pictures of this historical fort below.
Picture 3 – Chitradurga Fort Photo
Picture 4 – Chitradurga Fort Image
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