Monday, September 16, 2019

Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri - History with Mystery

'Ooria-Durgam' is one of the 12 forts that constituted the 'Baramahal' (the earlier name of Krishnagiri). Locating this place with the name of 'Ooria-Durgam' was quite a difficult task for us as the Google search engine failed to show any results for the same. However, I came across an article that mentioned that Ooria-Durgam was the erstwhile name of Hudedurgam, and is today being called as Udedurgam. Udedurgam is a nondescript village near Kelamangala and we reached this place without much difficulty. The fortification on the hill was quite evident and when we drove in its direction, we missed a right turn and went further. After realizing that we were heading in the wrong direction, we inquired with a passerby and tracing back as per his instructions, reached the missed turning point. On finding it inappropriate to drive, we took the available deviation and reached a dead-end, where we found an elderly person involved in his farm chores. When asked about the route to the hill of Udedurgam, he kindly replied by telling us to park our vehicle under good shade after which he volunteered to accompany us till the start of the trail from where the route seemed clear and the ascent quite comfortable. He was a very interesting and joyful person, hailing from the state of Andhra and having settled here long ago.  Since he spoke the language of Telugu, our communication with him was easier.
Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri
Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri
The pattern on the Rock
 As we started walking towards the hill, I happened to notice a structure similar to the prehistoric stone circle and Bingo! I was indeed right! It turned out to be a prehistoric cairn circle. 'Cairn Circles' are a type of megalithic burials, which was constructed using rough boulders with cairn/ urn packing at its center. It turns out very difficult to date these structures and can be roughly assigned to a period anywhere between 2000 B.C.E to 500 B.C.E. Only a proper and systematic study can help reveal the exact or the closest date. Sighting a cairn circle only doubled our excitement as it seemed to be a perfect ' History with Mystery ' kind of exploration. Many hidden secrets were waiting to be discovered. We continued to walk towards the hill and were welcomed by a ruined fort gateway. It was also pleasing to witness some portions of the fortification intact. The environs here had an endless vista of hills and valleys apart from its history/ pre-history. It looked like a place where every layer of history remained evident and exposed.
History with Mystery
Megalithic Stone Circle
Butter Ball
 This place may have been inhabited from a very long time back, as tools found here belong to different periods - the Neolithic, Mesolithic period, and Megalithic periods. The site is perfect for carrying out pre-historic studies, as it is quite evident from the environs that it is a perfect place for pre-historic human settlement. The ascent was pretty much straightforward and easy. It was a first for our youngest trek partner Ms.Diya who took it up on her own and trekked covering a decent distance. However, this was just her beginning and she proved to be a good learner! After some time, we reached a big boulder that carried a painting of Lord Hanuman. A little further was another gateway with much of its fortification intact, after which the terrain turned flat. We passed by a small water pond and a little further from here was a damaged structure that looked like a room, probably constructed during the British period. We continued to explore this region and stumbled upon another intact stone circle! Simply wow! This sighting deviated us from following the original route as we spent some time exploring this area. However, we were unable to find anything apart from a few ruins of the fort. We returned to our trail and spotted a big stepped water tank or Kalyani that remained empty.
A Water Pond
Young Trekker Leading the Way
Bless Me "Lord Anjaneya"
Lovely Vista
 We continued our climb and came across the third gateway, which eventually led to the topmost tier of the fort. Atop the hill were two temples dedicated to Lords Hanuman and Shiva. While the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is at the summit, at a much lower elevation is the temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. While the Shiva Linga seems to belong to a period much older than the fort, the temple structure belongs to the 15th and 16th centuries. The temples were surrounded by many water ponds which remained clean. Many broken pieces of pottery were seen fallen all over the place, probably belonging to the historic era of the 15- 16th century CE.  Although not much history is known about this place, it is very clear that the fort existed much before the 16th century. Later during the third Mysore war, Tippu garrisoned this fort and surrendered it to the British in 1791. After the peace treaty between them, the fort was returned to Tippu. Finally, in 1799 it fell into the hands of the British and was annexed to the Madras state.
Lord Anjaneya Temple, Udedurgam
Lord Shiva Temple, Udedurgam
Panoramic View 
Om Namah Shivaya
The view from atop the hill was simply magnificent and the lovely moving clouds added the required glamour. We could spot various other forts from the hilltop, some of which are Ratnagiri, Rayakottai, Anchettydurgam, Krishnagiri, and many such. After having the snacks and bananas that we had carried, we spent a good amount of time at the top. The surroundings seemed to have many hidden mysteries. We spotted a cave that resembled a shelter for prehistoric humans and hence wished to check it out. However, we could not find any trace of prehistoric humans. The place may have been used by the soldiers who guarded the area. We then headed towards our parked vehicle. We greeted Mr. Venkatesh, the person who had guided us in the morning,  and thanked him. It was lunchtime and he insisted we join them for lunch. We were hesitant initially as we had to return home and the weather was extremely hot, but later agreed to join them as we were hungry. And we were pleased to have joined them for lunch. It was one of the best lunches we have had, sitting under the canopy of tamarind trees and amidst people with big hearts, who were more than happy to feed our children and us by sharing their food. The elderly man also gave us the freshly harvested beans and tomatoes from his farm. Finally, we bade goodbye, after thanking them. Exploring Udedurgam was an amazing experience overall. Another day, another adventure!
Cave Bunker
The Lost Wood

Forts of Krishnagiri:
1. Thattakaldurgam 
2. Krishnagiri 
3. Jagadevi 
4. Ratnagiri 
5. Balagondarayanadurga
6. Maharajakadai
7. Rayakottai 
8. Periyamalai
9. Ankushagiri 
10. Anchettydurgam
11. Thrayandurgam
14. Veerabhadradurga

1. Madras state gazetteer - Salem
2. Archaeology of Krishnagiri District