Maharajakadai - The Mighty Hill Fort Near Krishnagiri

Our hunt for the 12 forts of Baramahal led us to 'Maharajakadai', situated about 10 km from Krishnagiri towards the border of Andhra Pradesh. This place was ruled by the Vijayanagara Kings until their downfall and later fell into the hands of Jagadevaraya, one of the strongest Palegars who had his capital in Channapatna of Ramanagara district. Later this place came under the rule of the Nawabs of Cuddapah, then was ruled by Shivaji, after which it was captured by Hyder Ali and brought under the state of Mysore. Finally after the death of Tippu, the British occupied the entire region. As per the Chola inscriptions found here, Maharajakadai was called as "Arsar Nilai" meaning the "King's Market". It was only during the rule of Shivaji Maharaja that this place was named as Maharajakadai.
Pre-historic Painting
Though some information about this hill-fort was available, we were unsure of it's size. The Sri Anjaneyar Temple on the hill is quite popular among the locals, attracting many  visitors on  the day of Amavase (no moon day). The visitors on the other days are mostly local grazers who come here with their cattle for grazing purposes. Our regular visits to Krishnagiri and its environs this year only made it easier for us to reach the village. It was only after reaching here that we realised this hill is massive and weren't prepared for this long a trek! Our friend Sunil had accompanied us for this trek and as suggested by him that we carry breakfast, so we did. We actually had to wait for the breakfast to be ready as it was an early hour of the day, but in no case would we go ahead without it! We waited patiently for the food to be ready and finally got the parcel. Thanks to Sunil, we surely would have starved otherwise owing to the length of trek!
The Beginning of the Trek
Lord Anjaneya
The hill on which this fort is situated is called "Angana Malai". At the base of this hill is a temple dedicated to Lord Muneshwara Swamy and upon inquiring with the priest about the directions to the fort, he straightly replied in the negative saying the trek is not possible by us as it was a forested area and to top it, we were seen with two young kids! Little did they know that we weren't new to such an adventure and would take the risk to reach the peak! Their behavior was justified as they wanted us to be safe. As we got ready to start the trek with not much information regarding its route, one elderly man who takes charge of the parking here helped us with the start point of the trek and also volunteered to guide us to the start point on request. He told us to follow the directions marked thereon. One hard rule we follow religiously while trekking is to find and follow the existing trail and not create any new routes until its really necessary! Thus began our trek to the mighty fort of Maharajakadai.
Maharajakadai Fort Wall
The Climb
The site of Maharajakadai is declared under the Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department as a prehistoric site. Many prehistoric artefacts have been found here. During our trek, we were also able to spot a prehistoric rock-painting, thus confirming this to be a prehistoric site. We surely wish to revisit this place to explore further on these lines and find out other prehistoric evidences. Further into our trek, we found a cave that seemed perfect for finding more paintings but after exploring the cave, we found nothing. We moved ahead only to be welcomed by the first tier of the fort. From here, we spotted railings high atop the hill which made our trek more interesting. A little further we were greeted by a small murti of  Lord Anjaneya and after taking his blessings we continued our trek.
Colorful Climb
The trek turns difficult hereon and one needs to ensure the directions are carefully followed. We reached the second tier of the fort and much of the fortification here was pretty much intact. We were able to see the peak of this hill from here. It was a 'so near, yet so far' kind of a situation! In no time we reached the next tier and then we were on the top of this hill, close to reaching the Lord Rama temple situated at its summit. As we observed the surroundings from here, we realised there is more to explore and moved towards the area carrying the fort ruins. One of it was the Mahal as the locals call or the palace, where we also decided to take some rest and have the breakfast we carried. Two significant features of hill forts are the presence of water harvesting structures and granaries, required to help them overcome adversities and wartime.
Lord Rama and His Abode
Lords Rama, Lakshmana, Goddess Sita and Lord Anjaneya
Ruined Building
Fortification
Mahal and Granaries
Our next task was to find the huge carving of Lord Anjaneya as per the details shared by the person who guided us with the route. It was supposedly situated close to the Lord Rama temple. We thus back tracked to finally find the ruined gateway of the fort and as per the usual practice, Lord Anjaneya swamy was carved in the premises of the gateway as the mighty guardian and protector of the fort. We offered our prayers to him and looked around for the presence of other ruins. It was now time for our descent as we had a long way to reach the base. It took us a good one and a half hours to descend, thus ending another day of fort quest!
Fort Gateway
Nature Finds its Own Way When Left Alone
Lord Anjaneya Swamy

References:
1."Hill Forts of Tamil Nadu"- A book written by Vittal Rao
2. East Indian Gazetteer

Related Posts:
1. Krishnagiri Fort
2. Periyamalai/Gaganagiri Fort
3. 125 Forts in Karnataka 

Ankushagiri – A Forgotten Fort


While researching on the ‘Baramahal’ (erstwhile name of Krishnagiri), I stumbled upon the Fort at 'Ankushagiri' situated close to Shoolagiri of Tamil Nadu. Last Saturday, we went ahead to check out this place. Surprisingly no information about this place seemed to be available either on the net or in the books. Though a book titled ‘Forts of Tamil Nadu’ mentions about this fort, not much information is revealed apart from its location. Initially, I thought of this fort as one amongst the 12 forts constituting the ‘Baramahal’, but while searching for more details about this place, I came across a book titled ‘The East India Gazetteer’ which gave detailed information about the ‘Barramahal/Baramahal’ (more about them in other posts) and Ankushagiri was clearly not a part of it.
Ankushagiri Hill Fort
Since we were familiar with the location of this fort, reaching here was quite easy and being located close to Bengaluru, we planned to reach here in the early hours of the day to avoid the harsh sun. This part in general is prone to harsher summer than Bengaluru. But thanks to the overnight showers, the weather in the morning was cool and the drive through the last stretch of the road to Ankushagiri from the National Highway was simply awesome. We enjoyed the drive stopping by at a few places for photo ops. We finally reached the base of the temple where we also found a good place to park our vehicle. We at first visited the ‘Sri Thimmaraya Swamy’ temple located at the base of this hill. This temple is very popular among the locals and many from Bengaluru and its surrounding areas also visit here regularly. There was a decent crowd for a Saturday morning at the temple and after offering prayers to the Lord and relishing the prasadam served, we decided to head further to explore the hill fort.
Sri Thimmaraya Swamy Temple - Ankushagiri
Almost There
Learning to Blend With Nature
Finding the path to the fort was easy and in a short span of time we reached a place where two big temples were seen in a ruined state. Though unsure about the names of these temples, a vague guess would be that it may have been dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort owing to the presence of Shaiva dwarapalas. What a pity it is to witness such grand temples in a ruined state. After spending some time investigating the temples for the presence of any inscriptions and murtis, we moved ahead. The climb was easy and the route was clear. We crossed two layers of fortification (mostly destroyed), giving us an indication of what a mighty fort it was at once. Then we reached a plateau region from where the walk was simple up to the peak of the hill.
Ruined Temples
Remains of Fortifications
Shaiva Dwarapalas
There was a structure, probably a temple in complete shambles. We investigated the ruins but failed to figure out who the temple was dedicated to.  We found a spot under shade to rest for a while and finished all the eatables we had carried along. Here on we sighted a place which seemed like the remnants of a Palace or Mahal.  It must have been a really grand structure and was built close to a water pond. There are many water ponds here on the plateau which served as life lines for the army stationed here. While descending, we found ruins of another temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his forms. Only the pillars of the Garbhagriha (sanctum) remain with a Garuda Khamba (Garuda pillar) fallen in front of it carrying carvings of Lords Garuda and Anjaneya and Sanka- Chakra. Thus we could recognize that this temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu. 
Million Legs
Not Your Cup of Tea
Please Don't Bother Me!
Ruins of the Temple
Fallen But Not Lost

As we did not find any inscriptions here, it is very difficult to state the period in which this fort was built. It was probably built in the 16th century under the patronage of Vijayanagara kings as the brick work here resembled that adopted by the Vijayanagara kingdom. The descent was uneventful and we headed to explore the other temples scattered at the hill base of which one was dedicated to Lord Anjaneya and the other to Lord Venkateshwara. After this, we decided to stop by and check out the famous ‘Podi Idli’ at Murugan Idli shop which is a restaurant not to be missed. The Idlies were really tasty and a good value for money though a bit pricey. Only the filter coffee was not up to the mark! Overall another fort in the region of Krishnagiri was explored by us!!
One of The Many Water Ponds Here
Entrance to the Palace
Exploring the Ruins
Ruins of Palace or Mahal
Once a Grand Temple
Lord Garuda
Sri Venkataramana Swamy Temple
Tasty Podi Idlis at Murugan Idli Shop
Lord Anjaneya Carved on the Pillar

 Related Posts:
1. Balagondarayanadurgam
2. Ratnagiri
3. Krishnagiri

Night Trek to Doddabetta, The Big Hill Quest

The past weekend, we, in collaboration with RTC Bengaluru organized a night trek to 'Doddabetta' or 'The Big Hill' near Krishnagiri. Our plan was to begin the trek on Saturday evening to watch the early morning sunrise. We had planned to reach the water spring present mid-way which would be our first resting point. Due to the presence of a natural water spring, this location was also to be utilized for dinner preparations so we could proceed further to reach the peak top and pitch our tents for the night, only to wake up to a beautiful sunrise. We numbered 20 in total with Sunil leading as our trek guide.
Periyamalai - The big hill
Periyamalai - The Big Hill
One group who were supposed to join us had booked for a self driven Tata Hexa with Drivezy which  unfortunately was carelessly cancelled by Drivezy without any prior notice. The group then had to book freshly for an alternate vehicle using Ola outstation. This entire process took much time and the group was delayed by more than an hour. After waiting for them patiently for close to an hour and a half, they finally arrived and we started driving towards our destination. After driving for sometime, we received a message about another car having a flat tyre and had stopped by a mechanic for repair. We waited for them at Krishnagiri toll who arrived after a good 45 minutes. We realized that in this process, we were already delayed for the trek easily by more than 2 hours! While we took a small break just ahead the toll, Piyal rode ahead of us on his bike and lost the route. We helped him back track to our location and driving together hereon, we reached the hill base of Periyamalai around 11:30 pm which was our original target time to reach the hill peak! Gosh we were late!
Star Lit Night
After the formalities of distributing equipment for camping and cooking to all the participants, Sunil helped everyone pack their bags right after which we began the trek. By 12:45 am, we reached the water spring and decided to halt for dinner preparations. The menu for the night's dinner was a cup of hot noodles and some tangy Puliyogare (tamarind rice)! With combined efforts from all in the team, the preparations were complete and dinner was served in the background of music. Some even danced to the tunes of music. With much energy restored, we continued our trek further and after halting for a minute or two at regular intervals, we managed to reach the peak by 3:50 am. It was a good 4 hour trek including an hour for dinner preparation time and multiple breaks. While Sunil helped the others pitch their tents, Dr.Anand, Karthik, Sameer, Nilesh, Me, Adhi and Sunil wished to sleep in the open. The weather was favoring as it was less breezy and not very cold as expected.
Pitching the Tents
Peacefully Sleeping
Morning Scenes
While everyone were busy settling into their tents, I and Karthik tried our skills at photographing the wonderful night sky. Though I managed to click a few pictures, I was less happy with its outcome and realised I needed more practice to perfect the art of capturing the stars. Gazing at the star studded sky was just an out of this world experience! All were asleep in sometime except for Sameer and Nilesh. I woke up early to catch the sunrise and was accompanied by Dr.Anand and Karthik. We took our positions to capture the sunrise and patiently waited making sure not to miss even a glimpse of its gorgeousness! Meanwhile Maneesh and Vishwa woke up and the rest were deeply in sleep. We witnessed the gorgeous sunrise and a few whose tents were pitched exactly facing the sunrise caught a glimpse of it from inside. As everybody woke up one after the other, we packed our tents and all the luggage and started our descent. We reached the base of the hill around 9:45am. While a few who had bookings with Ola decided to leave the place without having breakfast, the rest traveled with us to our usual breakfast point at Krishnagiri. After a relaxed breakfast and greetings, all of us headed back to Bengaluru. It was truly an amazing trek experience for all of us! Kudos to the team for completing the trek. If you wish to join us on such drives, kindly visit the website of Road Trippers Club for more information and be a part of many such fabulous drives across India.
Here He comes
Gorgeous Sunrise
The Enlightened One
Love is in the Air
Ek Selfie Tho Banti Hey
Yes, We did it in Style!
Plumeria Alley - On The Rocks!

Trek Team:
1. Me, Sunil and Adhi in our Xylo
2. Vishwa and Family had car pooled with us
3. Dr. Anand in his Ertiga
4. Nilesh and Sameer had car pooled with Dr. Anand
5. Maneesh and Family in their KUV
6. Mayank and Friends had taken Ola outstation Innova 
7. Karthikeyan in his Yamaha R15