‘Rayakottai’ or the ‘King’s Fort’ is one amongst the popular fort treks near Bengaluru at a distance of around 100 km. One Sunday we decided to check out this fort and our journey to this place was quite uneventful. We reached the base of the hill fort and after enquiring about the route, we proceeded further. Steps are laid until the top and it’s a pretty straight forward climb. In no time we reached the first gateway of the fort. This arched gateway seems to have been renovated during the reign of Tippu Sultan as we can find a similar pattern for the gateway at Nandi hills. The fort was initially built by Jagadeva Raya, a Palegara of Channapatna town in Ramanagara district, thus the name Raya Kottai. A common misconception however is that this fort was built by Tippu Sultan.
|Bird's eye View of Rayakottai Town|
|Way Up to the Rayakottai Fort|
|Enter The Dragon (Rayakottai Fort Entrance)|
Jagadeva Raya had control over the entire regions of Hosur, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. He served as a vassal king under the Vijayanagaras and also won the battle of Penukonda for them. Rayakottai was a strategic fortress connecting Mysore to the Baramahal. Post Jagadeva Raya, none of the Kings were strong enough to hold the entire territory and hence started to lose their territories to Hyder Ali. Later, Major Gowdie under Lord Cornwallis captured the Fort from Tippu Sultan in the year 1791-92. Hereon, they marched towards Srirangapatna and killed Tippu in 1799. Rayakottai then was held by the East India Company until independence. The East India Company made a few additions to the fort, which remained popular among Military Pensioners. Ruins of buildings constructed by the British can still be seen here. There are many water tanks built here for providing water for the people. At one such big water pond, we found a carving of Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga along with Lords Nandi and Ganesha. The carvings are very much similar to the ones present at Krishnagiri fort; probably indicating that this fort existed even before the reign of Jagadeva Raya and may have been originally built during Lord Krishnadeva Raya’s rule.
|Rayakottai Fort Entrance|
|Ruins Spread Across|
|One of Many Water Sources Here|
|House With A View|
Interestingly, on our way back to Bengaluru we also found a carving of King Krishnadeva Raya accompanied by his two queens offering prayers to Lord Shiva. There is no evidence for the presence of any temple in the fort premises. However, there are chances that the same was destroyed during Hyder/ Tippu’s period. There exists a big cave Ashram used during 19th century saint, maintained in good condition. This gives us an indication of things that have occurred here. Overall, Rayakottai is a lovely fort to explore and preferably best when visited during early hours of the day to avoid sun’s heat. It is also better to carry along some snacks and lots of water to stay hydrated. Today, Rayakottai is a small sleepy village fairly well connected with Bengaluru by roads and rail.
|Lords Shiva, Ganesha And Nandi|
|Fresh Sweet Water Pond|
|Trichodes alvearius (bee hive Beetle)|
|Monkey Puzzle Butterfly (Rathinda amor)|