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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