Saturday, March 25, 2023

Sunrise Trek - Veerabhadradurga Fort

The Golden Dawn
Veerabhadradurga Hill Fort 

Our quest to complete the ‘Baramahal’ or the ‘12 Forts’ took us to our next destination, “Virabhadradurga/Veerabhadradurga”. Our first task was to get the location of this fort since not much information regarding the same was available on net or elsewhere. However a few months ago, while glancing through g-maps, we accidentally came across the coordinates of this place. At our next possible outing, we decided to check this place out and reached here without any difficulty. Our concern now was to find out the right hill amongst the many hills around on which the fort was located. The first hill looked quite inviting and we wanted to inquire about the route to the top. The local person, who stopped by to respond gave us the correct location of the hill-fort we were in search of. We reached the place and inquired for the trek route from the locals present around. On getting the required information, we parked our vehicle and started the trek. 

The First Gateway to Veerabhadradurga Fort
Sri Kote Anjaneya Swamy

The trek was pretty straight forward with steps laid all along. The route was comparatively clean due to the regular movement of people. The fort of Veerabhadradurga is 7 tiered, with much of its fortification and gateways still intact. There is a beautiful rock carving of Sri Anjaneya Swamy between the second and the third gateway, which is still under worship by the locals. The second gateway opens into a small plateau where minor agricultural activities are undertaken by the locals. The third and fourth gateways are more for the purpose of defense and devoid of any other structures. The fifth gateway opens into a bigger plateau area. 

The Engulfed Fort Walls 
Intact Fortifications

After crossing the fifth gateway and trekking for a while, our eyes were greeted by two ancient temples, one dedicated to Sri Veerabhadra Swamy and the other dedicated to Sri Chennakeshava Swamy. The temple dedicated to Sri Chennakeshava Swamy is a grand structure, but sadly is in a ruined state now. There were no signs of any efforts towards its restoration. Although both the temples were built under the rule of the Palegars, it is very difficult to ascertain who built them and when.

The Fifth Gateway 
Sri Chennakeshava Swamy Devasthana
The Royal Chieftain's Residence 

As this fort is one amongst the 12 forts constituting the Baramahal, its association with the Channapatna Palegar Sri Jagadeva Raya cannot be ruled out. However, strangely, a local legend goes on to say that Sri Jagadeva Raya who was then a vassal king under Tippu, jumped into the natural spring well present in the fort premises along with his wealth when Tippu was defeated by the British and the fort was about to be captured. It is believed that the spring is very deep and is difficult to ascertain the depth of it. Hence the wealth was never found. Such folklore was documented by the British and spread across many places. This natural spring well is called Rama Lakshmi Jonai (Jonai: natural spring). 

Rama Lakshmi Jonai (Spring) 
Sri Kote Anjaneya Swamy 
Team G Square 
Rama Lakshmi Jonai, a beautiful and serene natural spring well is situated about a 100 meters from the temples. Water here was clean and clear. We spent some time here and decided to explore the top-most tier of the fort. We had to cross the sixth gateway and the route was a bit slippery due to drizzle and the up slope of the hill. We reached the top of the fort (we assumed this was the top most point) and spent some time here enjoying the scenic views and wondered how beautiful it would be to view the sunrise from here.

The Rock-Cut Steps 
Way to Heaven 
The 7th Gateway 
Top Most Tier of Fort Wall 
The Top most Point of The Fort 
The View 
Coincidentally, a few months later, on the 1st of January 2023 we decided to redo this trek to witness the sunrise. The picturesque sunrise was worth every effort taken by us to reach the hill-top in the early hours of the morning. There was another small peak visible from the sixth gateway, apparently the highest point of the hill which we had missed during our last trek. We managed to complete this peak and reach the highest point this time. This fort is also known by other names such as ‘Itikalldurga’ and ‘Sendirayanadurga’.

The Gang
The Early Risers 
The Sun Rise 

At the base of Veerabhadradurga is a grand temple dedicated to Sri Chennakeshava Swamy which is fully functional. Thus another fort from the Baramahal was captured by us! 

The Harvest 

1. Madras State Gazetteer - Salem

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