Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Trident Fortress - Shoolagiri

The Trident Hill - Shoolagiri
The trident shaped hill in Shoolagiri on the Bengaluru - Krishnagiri highway can surely not go unnoticed! Shoolagiri / Sulagiri is located mid-way between Bengaluru and Krishnagiri and derives its name from the presence of a hill resembling the shape of a trident or a trishula. This hill fort was always on our list of places to visit, but never materialized due to various reasons. Our last attempt to trek this hill was abandoned due to the presence of police who were in action in and around the hill to nab a gang of thieves. It was intriguing to see a few police vehicles parked at the base of the hill and moreover the locals advised us not to venture then. For reasons of  safety, I decided against proceeding further and headed back.

 View of the Hill 

A Panoramic View 

This Deepawali weekend, we decided to explore a hill fort situated at the other end of Krishnagiri and drove towards it. Although we left quite early in the morning, we realized it was too late to reach our planned destination due to the bad traffic. As we were about to cross shoolagiri, my partner suggested we could explore shoolagiri instead, as it was pending  since long on our to-trek list. We stopped by and parked our vehicle at a place which we thought could be the starting point of the trek. Upon getting a confirmation of the trek route, we proceeded further and the path was quite easy through shrubby forests, initially with a lot of mosquitoes and later, on the rocks. We crossed a tier of crumbling fort wall and a few minutes later realized that this hill was detached from the main hill and we were on the right most portion of the trident hill. Here on the peak was a small temple dedicated to Goddess Devi and a water pond. After spending some time here and exploring the environs, we decided to get down and find the right route to explore the main hill. 

Entering the Forest 

Temple and the Water Pond 

There was another deviation from the main route at the hill base apart from the one we had taken to reach the right most portion of the trident hill. Now that our aim was to reach the other portions of the hill, we decided to trek along the other route. After a while, we realized that this route was not taking us in the right direction and hence decided to back track and reach our vehicle. We met a shepherd there who gave us details about the right route to reach the fort. For this, we had to drive through the village of Shoolagiri for about ten minutes and reach an ancient temple dedicated to Sri Varadharaja Perumal (Shri Vishnu). This is a  beautiful temple lost in the by-lanes of history  and we were glad to see that the temple remained open. We had the darshan of  Shri Vishnu and  Lakshmi Devi. It is believed that the murti here was installed by Arjuna, one of the Pandavas during their exile. The temple is a classical example of Vijayanagara architecture/Karnataka Samrajya. 

Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple
Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple
Kote Anjaneya Swamy
Kote Anjaneya Swamy
On inquiring about the route details for reaching the hill top with the locals around the temple, we were advised to step back from attempting our climb as the route was supposedly left unused for a long time and was completely covered with vegetation, mostly thorny shrubs owing to the good rains in the region. However, we had made up our minds to continue further and see whats in store for us here, and thus began another interesting trek in search of the abandoned fortress of Shoolagiri. As we started our trek and began to walk for a while, we reached dead ends on two different routes and it appeared as though we were going nowhere. We weren't ready to give up this early and tried to investigate a few other routes. While our little partners decided to save their energies by resting, we both began to inspect at different places for the possible route and as the saying goes we tried till we succeeded! We found a possible route hidden amidst vegetation and signaled our little trekkers to join in. It was a quite hot noon and due to the vegetation, there were a lot of mosquitoes around making the trek more uncomfortable. We continued our trek, playing hide and seek with the sun. Reaching the first gateway filled in some confidence in us about being on the right path and here on followed our gut to cross the second, third, fourth and fifth gateways.  We reached a point that is always visible from the highway and resembles a vantage point with a cannon placed, although there are no traces of any cannon today. Hereon, we reached a dead point from where we could not find any possible route to climb up further to the fort top. 
In Search of the Abandoned Fortress of Shoolagiri

The Crumbling Fort Wall 

The Right Pathway 

The First Gateway 

The Second Gateway 

The Vantage Point View of Shoolagiri Town 

Our real adventure began here as we found a foot route in between which later vanished into thin air. We reached the 6th gateway amidst thorny vegetation and shade. Crossing this stretch was more exciting as we had to maneuver by crawling at a few places. After a while, we reached a point from where the hill top was visible. This was the last stretch of our climb on the slippery path and bang on...we were at the top of the left most portion of the trident hill.  There were a ruins of a small structure on the top, which possibly was a  storage place for ammunition. We rested for a while here and looking around, we spotted the 7th gateway which we missed during our ascent. We realized we had made our own path to reach from the sixth to the seventh gateway.  After spending sometime at the top, we started to descend. During or descent, we realized that the route to the central portion of the hill was less accessible and a little risky to attempt. Therefore, we decided against attempting the central portion of the hill and tried to reach the base at the earliest. Thus capturing another fortress in Krishnagiri. 

The Rock Shelter 

The Way Up 

In Search of the Path 

Traces of the Fort 

Walk on the Edge 

Forest Pathway 

The View 

History of Shoolagiri Fortress: Shoolagiri Samsthana was probably formed by the rebels of Ankushagiri Palegars and led by Sri Hirannya Gouda after taking over both Shoolagiri and Ankushagiri in the end of 17th century, during the fag end of  the Vijayanagara Empire. Later it came under the rule of the Marathas, the British, Tippu and later returned to the British rule after the death of Tippu. The British handed over the fort back to Palegar Rana Chokka Gouda's son, Hirannya Gouda III and their family ruled till the attainment of independence.

Ammo Room 
7th and the Last Gateway 

  Related Posts: 

1. The Forgotten Fort - Ankushagiri 

2. The Mysterious fort - Udedurgam 

3. Forts of Karnataka 

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