The Magnificient seven folded fortress of Chitradurga …..

A Glimpse ….. The picturesque “Chitradurga” is presently a district located a distance of 202 km northwest of Bangalore, in the heart of the Deccan Plateau in the southern state of Karnataka, India.

Oil painting by British Artist in 1804 AD (Courtesy:Colin Mackenzie’s unaccounted documents)

Chitradurga owes its name to “Chitrakaladurga,” or “Picturesque castle”. This is a massive fortress on top of granite hills that rises dramatically from the ground. Metamorphically it is also known as “Kallina Kote” meaning Fort of stone,  “Yelusuttina Kote” meaning Seven circled fort, and so on.

Site History ….

Hidimbeshwara Temple


According to a story in the Epic Mahabharatha, a man-eating giant named Hidimbasura lived on the Chitradurga hill and was a source of terror to everyone around. When the Pandavas came with their mother Kunti in the course of their exile, Bhima had a duel with Hidimba. Hidimba was slain by Bhima and peace returned to the area. Legend has it the boulders were part of the arsenal used during that duel. The boulders on which major part of the city rests belong to the “oldest rock formation in the country”.

Archaeological Importance:

Stone carvings of stone age period

It’s very prominent archaeological site trace it’s history to the 3rd millennium B.C.A rock-cut edict of Emperor Ashoka, near Bhramagiri, reveals that Chitradurga was part of the Mauryan Empire dating to the 3rd century B.C. After the fall of the Mauryans, this land was under the rule of royal dynasties like the Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, and Hoysalas.

Between 1500 -1800 CE, Chitradurga Fort witnessed a tumultuous history starting with the Vijayanagar Empire after fall of Hoysalas. Vijayanagar rulers engaged the Nayakas, the traditional local chieftains of the area as the custodians till their reign ended in 1565 CE. Thereafter, the Nayakas of Chitradurga took independent control of the region and their clan ruled it for more than 200 years until the last of their rulers, Madakari Nayaka V, was defeated by Hyder Ali of Srirangapattana,   then annexed by Mysuru Kingdom, in 1779.

The ruined royal Mint centres

The fort has 19 majestic doors, 38 smaller doors, 35 special entry points, and four secret entrances. The fort is entered through four gateways of the outermost wall. The foothills of the fort constitute the main residential area of the town.

The Mel Durgas, forts on the hill are embellished with extensive fortifications, ramparts, bastions, batteries, watchtowers, and entrances located at strategic points and house fourteen temples. The main entrance to the fort, Kamanbhavi, has carvings of the seven – headed cobra the legendary twin-headed bird, Gandaberunda, the royal swan, Rajhamsa, and lotus flowers.

It is a seven concentric folded stone fort built by the Nayak Palegars as an invincible fortification for defense purposes with many gateways, entrance arches, water tanks, and several watchtowers ( in Kannada known as Buruju ) to guard and keep watchful eye on the enemy invasions. the storage warehouses, pits, and water reservoirs were designed to ensure the food – water availability and military supplies required to survive a prolonged attack/siege.

We found that all these facilities are still well in-tact and fairly conserved. Each fort wall has a gate with ascending access through twisted narrow corridors which would make it difficult to use elephants for attacking the fort or the usage of battering rams to break open the gates. Small embrasures in the parapet fort walls were provided for use by archers to shoot arrows at the enemies  Four gates were provided in the outermost walls called Bagilu in Kannada, The Rangayyana Bagilu,  Siddayyana Bagilu, Ucchangi Bagilu, and Lalkote Bagilu.

Akka Thangi Pond

Legend of Onake Obavva(A Brave woman from Chitra Durga)

During the reign of Madakari Nayaka, the town of Chitradurga was besieged by the troops of Hyder Ali. A chance sighting of a woman entering the Chitradurga fort through an opening in the rocks led to a clever plan by Hyder Ali to send his soldiers through the (kindi)hole. The guard on duty near that hole had gone home for lunch. The wife of that guard, Obavva was passing by the hole to collect water when she noticed soldiers emerging out of this opening. She killed Hyder Ali’s soldiers one by one as they attempted to enter the fort through the opening and quietly moved the dead. Over a short period, hundreds of soldiers entered and fell, without raising any suspicion. Obavva’s husband, upon his return from his lunch, was shocked to see Obavva standing with a blood-stained Onake and hundreds of dead bodies of the enemy around her. Together both wife and husband beat up most of the soldiers. But as both of them were about to finish off all the soldiers of Hyder Ali, Obavva dies. The opening in the rocks remains as a historical witness for the story, beside The Tanniru dhone (Dhone means a portable water source like a pond)the well which Obavva was making her way to when she found the soldiers of Hyder Ali.

Some of the well-known temples noticed in the fort are the Hidimbeswara, Sampige Siddeshwara, Ekanathamma, Phalguneshwara, Gopala KrishnaLord Hanuman, Subbaraya, and Nandi.

Sampige Siddeshwara Temple

A temple dedicated to the patronage goddess of the Nayaka Palegars, the Uchchangiamma was built amidst the rocks of the fort complex on the hill.

Uchangiamma Temple:The main diety for the local chieftains

There is a Veerashaiva Math was eastablished in the 17th Century at the top of hill, the below a Gadduge(Celestical abode)of Gurusiddha Swamiji and he was honoured by Hire Madakari nayaka as Raja guru.

Gadduge(Celestical abode) inside Mutt.

Site conservation and upkeep ….

Presently, the fort is managed by the Archeological Survey of India. It is open from dawn to dusk to the visitors and on payment of an entrance fee to explore the fort.

Many guides are available at the entrance of the fort. Exploring the fort requires climbing. The best time to explore the fort is in the morning when the temperature is comfortable. A hotel managed by Karnataka Tourism Development Corporation is located near the main entrance.

The grand and spacious temple complexes and courtyard adjoining them standing in peace and serenity from centuries and on-looking all the happenings. The way the old monument has been maintained and upkeep of the ancient structures for the present generation to witness.

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