When I published my 50th blog recently, I started taking stock of all the writing I have done in the last 4 odd years. I realised there are over 10 pending blogs and stories of some places I have not attempted at all. So, this is hopefully first of the series of completing what I left half way. This is my first incomplete blog.
I visited Chitradurga twice in the last 2 years. In 2014, I went there to see the place and visit a dear friend, Madhu and in 2015 I took Shreya to see the place and to meet Madhu 🙂 In my first visit, I did not have a great camera as I had just lost my Point and Shoot and hence was fully motivated to visit Chitradurga the second time. In 2014 I took a Volvo and realised the roads are great and in 2015, Shreya and I drove down – Our first road trip!
Every trekker knows, the nature of mountains vary. Some are rocky, some are dry, some seasonally green, some evergreen and some white. After coming back to Bangalore, I have experienced a lot of rocky mountains because that’s mainly what you get around here. Evergreens happen if you go on a 2 or more days trek. Pune mountains are full of shrubs which get painted with green as soon as monsoons arrive and get back to being brown when winter begins. What I LOVED about Chitradurga is I got to see all 3 ranges here. I saw hills with boulders on one side, green pretty mountains with windmills on the other and a huge range of evergreens behind these 2 ranges. I’m getting everything I like in one glance. Felt like Christmas 🙂
Chitradurga is a fort about 200 kms from Bangalore. The 7 layers of this fortification straddles several hills and a peak (elu suthina kote). This fort was built and expanded between 15th ad 18th century is most admired for the administration of Nayakas. Britishers dreaded having to capture this fort as it was known to be impregnable and were relieved when Hyder Ali managed to capture it (They defeated the Mughals and got everything that was theirs including Chitradurga).
The fort is built in a series of seven concentric fortification walls with various passages, a citadel, masjid, warehouses for grains and oil, water reservoirs and ancient temples. There are 18 temples in the upper fort and one huge temple in the lower fort. Among these temples the oldest and most interesting is the Hidimbeshwara temple. The masjid was an addition during Hyder Ali’s rule. The fort’s many interconnecting tanks were used to harvest rainwater, and the fort was said to never suffer from a water shortage. Source – Wikipedia and the Guide who took us around 🙂
There is a brave story that is famous among Kannadigas of Onake Obavva who was the wife of the watchtower guard. I am borrowing this well narrated piece from wiki. During the reign of Madakari Nayaka, the city of Chitradurga was besieged by the troops of Hyder Ali (1720-1782). A chance sighting of a man entering the Chitradurga fort through a hole in the rocks led to a plan by Hyder Ali to send his soldiers through that hole. The Guard (Kahale Mudda Hanuma, who was on duty near that hole) had gone home to have his lunch. During his meal he needed some water to drink, so his wife Obavva went to collect water in a pot from a pond which was near the hole in the rocks, halfway up the hill. She noticed the army trying to enter the fort through the hole. She used the Onake or pestle (a wooden long club meant for pounding paddy grains) to kill the soldiers one by one by hitting them on the head and then quietly moving the dead without raising the suspicions of the rest of the troops. Mudda Hanuma, Obavva’s husband, returned from lunch, was shocked to see Obavva standing with a blood stained Onake and several of the enemies’ dead bodies around her. Later, the same day, she was found dead either due to shock or having been killed by the enemy soldiers. Though her brave attempt saved the fort this time, Madakari could not resist the attack by Hyder Ali during 1779, when the fort of Chitradurga was lost to Hyder Ali. She is considered to be the epitome of Kannada female pride. The hole through which Hyder Ali’s soldiers sneaked is called Onake Obavvana Kindi. Here’s the song from a Kannada movie which narrates this story.
Here’s a glimpse of Chitradurga Fort and a few places around. One must visit the place and hire a guide to know the story of Chitradurga. There is something that will impress you are every turn, near every boulder. The story of this place needs to be told more often and this place must be visited by many more!
The architecture and planning of Chitradurga is so meticulous and elegant, you will be in awe of the engineers of those days. They have accounted for almost everything and not just for human beings but for animals too. There are places where grooves are made for elephants to get a grip, there is rain water harvesting to make sure the fort has drinking water throughout the year, the rocks are cut to build the fort using unique mechanisms, there is a small oil pond right at the top – the makes last bit of the climb impossible for enemies as the entire rock will become slippery once the guard is made aware.
Chitradurga is a beautiful wonder and you will come back enriched with captivating stories from our rich Indian history.