Showing posts with label British. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Anchettydurgam Fort, Krishnagiri - Unravelling the Past

Anchetty is a well known destination located on the route to Hogenakkal waterfalls. However, we were pretty sure that this place had no fort as we have traveled quite a few times along the same route. A visit to "Anchettydurgam" however remained pending for a long time. While researching for Anchettydurgam on the net, I realised it has got nothing to do with Anchetty, and is situated much closer to Bengaluru. On a late Sunday morning we decided to explore this place and little did we know that this place was going to unravel its past. Not much of history of this place is known or available on the internet. The fortification here is similar to that at 'Balagondarayanadurgam', and was probably built during the period of Ankushagiri Palegars. Later, it fell into the hands of Tippu and finally the British in 1799. This fort acted as a military outpost to Kelamangalam.
Anchettydurgam Fort
 Thanks to the wonderful weather that day, we were able to start our trek late. This being a small hill we were able to trek slowly and enjoy the place to the fullest. At the outset, this place seemed like a prehistoric site. But surprisingly it does not find its mention in the Archaeological sites of Krishnagiri. There are two temples in the village of Anchettydurgam dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Mallamma probably built during the same time as the fort. Walking through the small lanes of this village, we reached the base of the hill fort from where the path lead us to the top of this hill. The trail is pretty simple and remains of fortification were quite evident. Most of the gateways here are of a much simpler type and sadly remain damaged.
Ruined Mandapa
Rock Cut Steps
Under the Rock
 We inspected every rock for the presence of any kind of rock art. Unfortunately, we weren't successful and there were many such probable rock sites which were out of reach for exploration.  Once we passed by the second gateway, we came across a small cave temple which consisted of many small stones that represented the local guardian deities of the village. We came across debris of pottery all through our trek, most of which belonged to the historic era except for a few. Some carried interesting design patterns on them along with others which had color. We reached the third entrance on either side of which were present carvings of Lords Anjaneya and Garuda. The artwork was simple and seemed quite different.
Layers of History
Third Gateway to the Fort
 Hereon the trail turned interesting and at one spot, we felt that this place was a prehistoric settlement. Though dating it will be a very difficult task, some of the stones found here resembled prehistoric man made tools, especially that used as a hand axe. Also spread across the site were many pieces of pottery. However, it is quite difficult to ascertain whether they belong to the historic or pre-historic period.  This place needs a thorough investigation and should be excavated for further details. We inspected the nearby rocks for any carvings, but found none. Further from here we reached the top tier of the fort where there was a small temple like enclosure on our right. We decided to check it out. There were seven stones lined up next to each other. To our surprise, five out of the seven stones closely resembled polished hand axes belonging to the neolithic period. Thus indicating that prehistoric people indeed lived here. Hence a scientific study of this site needs to be carried out and this place needs protection.
Neolithic Polished Stone Hand Axes
Lord Shiva Temple, Anchettydurgam
Clear Water Pond
Keep Me Clean
There was a small rock at the top which had a carving of Lord Hanuman, most likely carved in the recent years. We could find many stones of different colors and shapes along our way and this sight left us puzzled. We wondered about what they could be and how could they get there!? Many such questions kept us engaged while we reach a small temple on the peak of this hill, dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is believed to have been built during the Chola reign and has undergone renovations during the Palegars rule. We rested for sometime here at the top, while I was scanning around the area to find out if I can spot any area of interest. Overall, a beautiful and serene place to explore. Thus completing another adventure.
Fort and the Farm
Zebra Blue Butterfly (Leptotes plinius fabricus)

Related Posts:
1. Mallachandram - Largest Dolmen site of Tamil Nadu 
2. Kurugodu - Fort, Prehistoric site & Ancient Temples
3. Gudekote - Fort, Prehistoric site & Bear Sanctuary

1. Madras State Gazetteer - Salem    

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

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
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

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 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Jagadevi Fort, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu

Our inquisitiveness to explore the 'Baramahal or the '12 forts' only increased with every passing minute and led us towards the fort at Jagadevi. The Jagadevi/Jagadeo/Jagadevu Fort is believed to be the second capital of Baramahal along with Krishnagiri. However whatever information is available on the internet regarding this fort seems to be incomplete. We had read about the fort at Jagadevi being a small one and built by Tippu Sultan which seems to be inaccurate information owing to what we witnessed here. Jagadevi fort is quite considerable and spread across 2 hills with most of its fortification being intact. We were also excited to find 2 inscriptions engraved in Kannada, giving details about the King Raja Raja Sri Jagadevaraya and Jagadevu durgam. Thus making it clear that this fort was built much before Tippu Sultan's reign by King Jagadevaraya.
Morning Scene at Jagadevi Fort
Jagadevi Fort, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu
Jagadevi Fort
King Jagadevaraya was a feudal king under the patronage of the Vijayanagara king Venkatadri of Aravidu dynasty. His ruling period can be assigned to 1570 - 1615 C.E and he is said to have brilliantly defended his kingdom against Ibrahim Adil Shah during the war of Penukonda. There are many interesting stories related to this war. Although the Krishnagiri government website mentions about a Hoysala king Jagadevaraya, none of books we have related to the Hoysalas carry any information about the same. A further research about him revealed that he belonged to Channapatna which was also his capital city. He was one of the strongest Palegars of this region and sadly with none of his successors being strong enough to maintain the kingdom, it eventually came under the control of the Wodeyars of Mysore around 1630 C.E. King Jagadevaraya belonged to the Telugu Banajiga sect and even today people belonging to this sect are referred to as Kote Banajigas or Musku Banajigas. Tippu captured this fort from the Wodeyars which was later seized by the British in 1792 who later abandoned the fort. The Hoysalas at one point ruled the entire region of Krishnagiri along with Dharmapuri and other surrounding areas.
The Ascent
Why Fear When I'm Here Appa!
 Lush Green Patch
MId-way View
We were keen on exploring this fort and on the last Sunday we decided to do so. Meanwhile our companion Sanidhya expressed his interest to join in for the trek along with his 2 friends Harshal and Ankitha. We started quite early in the morning with an intention to complete the trek before the weather turned extremely hot. We reached the base of Jagadevi Fort at around 6:30 am and inquired about the route to the fort with a local. We parked our vehicles under the shade of a tree which was quite a blessing, thus beginning our quest to explore the unexplored!
Sri Netrikan Selva Vinayakar (PC Harshal)
The Lord Ganesha
The initial stretch of the climb has rock cut steps carved out recently and leads us to  Sri Netrikan Selva Vinayakar temple. There is a beautiful and unique carving of Lord Ganesha here who is seen with 3 eyes. This is quite rare and reminded us of  Sri Kumbhi Ganapathi of Huliyurdurga. A little further is the Sri Kote Anjaneyaswamy temple. The route hereon turns less conspicuous and interesting. As we entered the third tier of the fort, we got a clear picture of how big the fort is. We sighted fortification spread across the 2 hills at many sites. As we walked around inspecting the area, we found a Kannada inscription on the rock. We rested here for a while trying to decipher the script.
Kannada Inscription of  King Jagadevaraya
Fortification on the Right Hill
Fortification on the Left Hill
Cacti Flower
Periyamalai in the Background
As we trekked further, we found fortification on both sides of the hill with the left peak dominating. We changed our initial plan of exploring the right peak first and  headed towards the left. The climb was steep and  slippery at a few places. We reached the fort entrance which was in complete shambles. I could relate the scenes from here to the painting of this place from Oriental Scenery (Thomas Daniel and William Daniel) which mentions about two forts, Jagdeo and Warrangur in the same painting, probably having mistaken the fortification on the other peak to be that of Warrangur fort.
Painting of Jagdeo Fort from Oriental Scenery
Breakfast Time
View of Cannon Point
Mahal or the Royal Residence
Water Pond

We climbed up till the cannon point of the fort. However there is no cannon present now. The view from here is magnificent as we could spot the other hill forts of Periyamalai, Thattakal, Kondappanayakempalli, Krishnagiri and many others. We rested for a while at this point and had snacks. After sometime, we continued further on to reach the next higher level of fortification where there was a small natural water pond (Dhone). It was good to see so much water in which a snake seemed lying dead. It was quite a long one accompanied by another little snake. Though it remained still for a while, it swam into the waters as soon as it felt disturbed due to our movement. There were many tadpoles and a few small fishes too. A little ahead of this pond was a ruined structure resembling a palace. Though the walls of the palace remain damaged considerably on three sides, it seemed obvious that this place was used as a residence for the Royal's. We stumbled upon another fort gateway which probably was the entrance to the original route. We spotted a large pond here which had turned almost dry, but surprisingly had ensured that its surroundings remained green. During our descent, we found a second Kannada inscription that clearly mentions about Raja Raja Sri Jagadevaraya and Jagadevu durgam. 
2nd Kannada Inscription of King Jagadevaraya
Inscribed Jagadevu Durgam
Natural Water Pond
As we descended further, we came across a lush green patch which was home to many birds including the very colorful woodpeckers. We spotted many varieties of birds among which were the yellow throated bulbul, green billed malkoha, fly-catcher and other common birds. While descending,  we decided to clean the plastic trash from this place. Though the fort area and its surroundings had very less or literally no plastic, the areas in front of the temples of Sri Anjaneyaswamy and Lord Ganapathi were totally littered with plastic and paper. We collected and carried as much as trash possible. Thus ending our quest of Jagdeo/Jagdevu/Jagadevi. With this quest, we have covered 7 out of the 12 forts that constitute the Baramahal! 
Trash Collected
Thriving Granite Factories
Rampant Granite Quarrying
It was unfortunate to witness the rampant quarrying in the immediate vicinity of Jagadevi fort. This fort does not come under the limits of the ASI and is maintained by the Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department. Some amount of restoration work seems to have been carried out initially, but now is left to the mercy of god.

1. Oriental Scenery (wiki source)
2. Forts of Tamil Nadu Book from
3.  Rayakottai 

Related Posts:
1. Balagondarayanadurgam
2. Ratnagiri Fort, Hosur 
3. 125 Forts of Karnataka