Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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
History of Ankushagiri Fort: This fort was built by King Ankusha Raya after whom the place is named. King Ankusha Raya was the successor of King Jagadeva Raya of Channapatna. Being a weak king, Ankusha Raya started to lose control over the area expanded by king Jagadeva Raya. He was defeated by Masti Palegar (chieftain of Masti)  Chokka Gauda. Later when the town of Masti was captured by Maratha king Venkoji (half-brother of Shivaji Maharaja), Chokka Gauda shifted to Ankushagiri, making it their capital. The Marathas then became successful in capturing Ankushagiri, although a few years later it was recaptured by Chokka Gauda with the help of the Magadi Nadaprabhus. After four months of siege in 1766-1767, Ankushagiri fell into the hands of Hyder Ali and the Palegar ruling Ankushagiri escaped to Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh) which was under the Marathas. However, Ankushagiri was returned to the Masti Palegars (then called Ankushagiri Palegars) after a peace treaty between Hyder Ali and the Peshwa. Later the Palegars joined hands with the British under Colonel Smith. On Colonel Smith's withdrawal, Hyder re-attacked this place and captured it. In 1799 after Tippu's death, this place came under the British rule and was added to the state of Madras. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Ankushagiri migrated to the village of Bastala-palli, otherwise known as Ankushagiri Kottur (new town). 

1. Madras District Gazetteer - Salem Vol I - Part -2 
2. The Imperial Gazetteer of India
 Related Posts:
1. Balagondarayanadurgam
2. Ratnagiri
3. Krishnagiri


  1. Another awesome find, Dhiraj. Good to know about these unexplored forts.

  2. Great job! It was very interesting to know about this place...also this is our Family' moola devaru...Thank u very much for sharing such a great History.