Chitradurga Fort is a fortification in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka. It was believed to be one of the impregnable forts of its time with seven lines of concentric walls. Three lines of walls are around the hill and four rows are on the slopes of the hill. The lower most fortification has four main entrance gates which you will cross to reach the current day fort.
Chitradurga is formed of two words in the Kannada language. Chitra means picture and Durga means fort and is tagged with the English word fort to form the name Chitradurga Fort. The town and district in which the fort is located takes the name from the fort.
The fort was built in stages between the 11th and 13th centuries by the dynastic rulers of the region including the Chalukyas, Hoysalas and later the Nayakas of Chitradurga of the Vijayanagar Empire. The Nayakas of Chitradurga, or Palegar Nayakas, were most responsible for the expansion of the fort between the 15th and 18th centuries. The fort was taken over for a short while by Hyder Ali in 1779. The fort was captured by the British forces twenty years later, when they defeated his son Tipu Sultan.
Temples in the Fort
There are a couple of temples within the fort. Some of them are Sampige Siddeshwara temple, Gopalaswamy temple, Ekanatheshwari Temple, Onti Kalu Basava temple, Kasivishanatha temple and Hidambeswara Temple.
The fort has a lot of watch towers at many strategic locations. There is a watchtower at the tallest point inside the fort and climbing there always looked scary to me. That is one reason why I will have to come to the fort again.
This is one of the less visited places in the fort. This circular complex has a jail and the view from here is very beautiful. It is a bit low lying and can provide a 360 degree view of the town. There are a couple of canons lying around here. Was curious about the writings on the canon and Google was able to decipher the writings on the canon. Looks like the canon was made in Ireland.
This part of the fort was not only a centre of religious and ceremonial activity, it was also a space where people of this fortified city came together for entertainment and social interaction. One can see the board games etched into the floor here. Two of the games most commonly seen here are a game with square grids, called Navakankari in Kannada, and a triangular shaped hunt game called Aadu Huli, involving tigers and goats. Both are 2 person strategy games that require logical thinking. Both have been played in India for centuries and are still popular in many parts of India. Like most other traditional games, these games are usually played with tamarind seeds, sea shells, stones or other locally available items.
Legend of Onake Obavva
No writing of Chitradurga is complete without the story of Onake Obavva. Obavva is said to be the wife of a soldier guarding the walls of Chitradurga. He is believed to have gone away for his lunch break when Obavva took charge of his duty. And the enemy soldiers had learned of a small opening in the walls where one person can enter at a time. They used it to enter the fort. Obavva understand what was happening and used a wooden long club meant for pounding paddy grains (Onake or Pestle) as her weapon to hit the soldier entering through the hole and quietly dragged them away so that the enemy is not aware of what was happening there. When her husband returned, he found her amidst blood and have killed multiple soldiers. This is one spot in the fort which attracts a lot of crowds.
We were also curious about the opening and tried to squeeze in ourselves within the hole. Was not a tough one considering I have faced more smaller caves in Antargange.
Discovery of a cave
Next to the palace complex, we found a small path not well used leading into the green shrubs around. Our first guess was, might be this path will provide us another easy way to climb to the watchtower at the top of the hill. But few meters into the path, we found a small cave like structure. There was a brick wall which made the cave look like a room. We climbed to its doorway and found it dark. Initially we thought it was a dead end and thought to return back but then we discovered that there is a way into the place where it leads to somewhere else. We were able to follow this path and come out the other side of the structure. Definitely try to find this structure when you visit the fort.
The fort is managed by Archeological Survey of India and visitors are required to buy entrance tickets. Few guides are available at the entrance of the fort. Exploring the fort requires some 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 fort is around 200 km from Bangalore on the Pune highway and around 140 km from the world renowned Hampi. The first time I visited the fort was on our way back from Hampi towards Bangalore.