Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Huliyurdurga Fort - A Legacy of Sri Kempegowda

'Huliyurudurga/ Huliyurdurga', literally meaning 'the fortress of  the tiger town' is located about 28 km from Magadi and 75 km from Bengaluru. Huliyurdurga is currently a hobli of Kunigal taluk in Tumkur district. A visit to this place was long time pending for us and after reading many articles about the failed attempts to reach the peak, we were a bit skeptical to step ahead. While our dear friend Prashant (popularly known as Payaniga) who has spent considerable time in this town confirmed that very few have made it to the top, we only imagined how challenging the trek would be!! Also, most of the locals acknowledge that it is quite difficult to reach the top. Last week, while doing a research on the same, I came across an article that gave details about the completion of Huliyurdurga trek in 20 minutes! Inspired by this, we  were bent upon reaching the peak top of Huliyurdurga. There was  no looking back this time around!!
Huliyurdurga Fort/ Kumbhi Betta
 The Fort of Huliyurdurga is popularly known as 'Kumbhi Betta' and the hill fort here was built by Sri Kempegowda, who was the then chieftain of Magadi town. This hill though small in size, carries natural advantages of being incorporated as a hill fort. The fort later came under the rulers Chikka Devaraya Wodeyar, Hyder Ali, and Tippu Sultan in turns, after which finally in 1792 the Marathas and the British together laid siege to the fort. They eventually captured and destroyed the fort as they believed it was not worth saving it. Up to 1873, Huliyurdurga remained as the taluk headquarters after which it lost its prominence and currently serves as a hobli. This place was surrounded by thick forests and we still get the feel of the same while traveling along the Magadi - Huliyurdurga highway. The name Huliyurdurga is attributed to the tiger (huli in Kannada), which was a frequent visitor to this place. There are a few ancient temples at the base of the hill believed to have been built during the reign of the Wodeyar's.
Huliyurdurga Fort Entrance
Sri Kumbhi Ganapathi
Vertical Limit 1
The Climb
Reaching the hill base of Huliyurdurga was quite an easy task and the fort seemed inviting. We parked our vehicle at the entrance of the fort. Hereon, steps are laid up till the temple of Lord Sri Kumbhi Ganapathi. We had a casual conversation with a local who was involved in work in his cattle shed. He informed us that climbing up till the fort is not advisable with kids around. Hence we decided to climb as much as possible and then take a call. We reached the Sri Kumbhi Ganapathi temple in no time and investigated for the trek path here on. Finding two routes, we took the one of which had which had directions marked, while the other path went around the hill. We reached a point where there were multiple arrows pointing towards 3 directions! We took the route as per directions towards the left and reached a point from where the route seemed to disappear. The only way up was to climb the steep hill from here or return to explore the other two paths. We continued to hang on, take time to strategize and challenged ourselves to trek further. While our 3.5 year old team-mate Adhi climbed up quite easily on directing him for multiple stops and then proceeding, our 1 year old was very cooperative and we three joined our team-mate in some time. Though the ascent was somewhat possible, we knew that getting down would be definitely challenging!! Meanwhile, Adhi led us to a door way and we followed him to another hill with gradual slope.
Path of Ascent on the Steep Slope
The Fort Wall
Final Frontier
Ruins of Building atop Huliyurdurga Fort
Ragi Grinding Stone

The upper most tier of the fort had ruins of a few buildings, springs (water ponds), powder magazines, durbar hall, granaries, etc. We spent some time here exploring the ruins. In the meanwhile, my wife wished to climb the brick wall of a ruined structure and did so. On spotting a dead leaf mantis on the inner wall, she spent time capturing the mantis who seemed really dead (owing to its name) and happily posed for us. After some time, we decided to head back and reached the spot from where the descent was challenging. Fortunately, our team work was fruitful and we were able to reach the safe spot without any mishap. The rest of our descent was easy. After reaching down, we visited the Sri Gopalakrishna/Venugopala temple built at the base of the hill. The temple architecture resembled that of the Mysuru Wodeyar style and must have been built during the17th century. This temple is a Trikuta and houses murtis of Sri Guru Shankaracharya and Goddess Lakshmi in the two garbhagrihas. Besides this temple is the Sri Lakshmi temple built during the same period. Sadly a few years back, owing to the greed of the people, this temple has been damaged in order to find hidden treasure, if any. During this incident, the main murti of Goddess Lakshmi Devi was damaged and now the temple is not in use. From here on our way back towards the town, we sighted the Kote Anjaneya Swamy temple and a Nandi Mantapa, probably indicating the presence of a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva on the hill. Thus ending another successful quest, which coincidentally also was our last capture of all the Navadurgas, the nine forts built around Bengaluru by Sri Kempegowda.
Dead Leaf Mantis 
Water Pond
Base of the Damaged  Murti of Goddess Lakshmi Devi
Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple
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  1. Fascinating... Our country never ceases to amaze me.. there is so much to see and so much of history...

  2. wow that's amazing.
    Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year.

  3. Glad to know about this fort. Amazing shots.

  4. The climb does not seem that easy !! :D The next time I visit Bangalore this fort would be in my list.