Showing posts with label Palegars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Palegars. Show all posts

Nagamalai Fort- A Lesser Known Fort Near Krishnagiri, A Good Weekend Trek From Bengaluru

The Mighty Hill - Nagamalai 

Our search for the twelve forts constituting the “Baramahal” or “the twelve Palaces” this time lead us to Nagamangalam, situated in Krishnagiri. We had spotted a hill fort from Jagadevi fort during our visit to that place but we were unable to explore this fort.  Finally, this year, on a fine Sunday morning we decided to explore this hill. After having a good breakfast at one of the hotels in Krishnagiri and packing enough food to survive during the trek, we headed towards Nagamangalam. Reaching this fort was easy as were aware of the location. Confirming the route again to the hill base with the locals to ensure we were on the right track, we reached the base of the hill fort. The locals helped us find the start point of the trek.

Nagamalai Fort 
Not much of the history of this forts seems to be documented in the English literature. The only reference we were able to find was the “Madras District Gazetteer - Salem”.  It is mentioned in this that Nagamangalam was one among the twelve palaces constituting “the Baramahal”. This information was sufficient for us to explore the fort. The fort seems to have been built during the rule of Channarayapatna Palegar, Sri Jagadevaraya who also built the fort at Jagadevi. Although the fort of Nagamangalam has more resemblance to Thattakaldurgam in terms of its location and architecture, the absence of any temple here signifies that it was built during Sri Jagadevaraya's rule, similar to the Fort of Jagadevi.

The trek initially is through the forest path after which we had to cross a small hillock to reach the base of the main hill. Hereon, the trek turned more adventurous. We had to climb a 70-degree inclined slope and without any proper route nor support while ascending, it was quite a challenge to overcome this stretch until we reached the ramparts of the fort. Here we were welcomed by a small door, probably used for emergency escape during any contingencies. Moving further along the walking path lead us to a point which deviated into two routes, one leading downwards and another leading upwards. We decided to take the downward route first to explore the main portions of the fort.

The Young Trekker

The Wild Trek Route
A nicely laid staircase led us downwards to the main entrance of the fort. Half-way down the staircase, we spotted the living area of the fortress on the other side. However, we wanted to explore the gateway area first and come back to exploring this later. The gateway here is very beautiful with Lord Ganesha sculpted on its lintel. Lord Ganesha seems to be the istha devata of Sri Jagadevaraya, which is quite evident across the forts built during his period. This fort gateway is associated with a building probably one that served as a guard’s room for the soldiers to rest. The top portion of the gateway made of brick and mortar seems like a later addition. After exploring the gateway, we walked along the ramparts to reach the living area of the fort.
The Slope

Enter The Dragon Moment 

The Well Laid Steps

The Gateway 

We headed straight towards the structure that looked like the base of a Mahal/ royal palace/ residence of army chieftain. This beautiful structure is made of locally sourced stones. Besides this structure is a huge granary. Further ahead are 2 structures resembling an armoury, a place to store gun powder and other ammunitions. There is a big rain water harvesting pond which probably was the main source of drinking water. The water here was clean and clear except for the fallen leaves. There is a big bastion overlooking this living place, which served as the vantage point to keep an eye on the enemies. This single tiered hill fort probably served more like a military outpost to Jagadevi fort. The Bastion gave clear view of Jagadevi fort; any attack over there seemed to have alerted the army here. We now halted for some rest and food under a shade.

The Remains of Palace

The Structures inside the Fortress

The Major Water Source
We emptied our packed food in no time since we were dead hungry. After resting for a while, we headed towards exploring the upper part of the fort and started to back track. We came across a beautiful carving of Lord Anjaneya on a stone. As we get down from here, there are remains of the foundation of a structure resembling a mantapa, the foundation or the base platform was seen having some carvings of animals. Now, it was time for us to start our descent.  While descending the 70-degree slope, we were very cautious and carefully got down the slope. Rest of the descent was uneventful.

The View From Big Bastion

Remains of Structure Probably Residence

The Other View of the Residence

Inside the Armoury 

The Ruins of Armoury

The Bastion 

The Mantapa

Kote Anjaneya Swamy
One of the interesting aspects of this place was finding a dolmen on the inclined slope. Although we did not sight or find any rock art or cave paintings apart from the dolmen, this place seemed perfect for prehistoric settlement owing to the presence of numerous caves and rock shelters. The Fort is well preserved naturally due to its location and not many people venturing here. The overall route is easy except for the slopy stretch, but is quite lengthy being about 8 km (to and fro).
Fort Gateway & The Trekker 
Related Posts: 

Ambajidurga/chintamani Fort



Caution: An entry to this hill is strictly restricted and a board instructing the same has been put up in order to prevent people venturing into this hill. Updated: As per the comments by Umesh Sir and Sudhakar, the restrictions have been removed and people can visit this place.

Good Morning Ambajidurga
          Ambajidurga, the second fort we were on a look out for, between Kaivara and Chintamani, seemed so near yet so far way. Ambajidurga is situated atop a hill adjacent to the very well known cave temple of kailashgiri and the temple authorities have banned the entry to this hill fort owing to the unfortunate incidents that have taken place here a few years ago. long back, during our visit to Kailashgiri, we had inquired about Ambajidurga and temple authorities  simply denied its presence and refused to give any information, only saying that Ambajidurga was another name given to Kailashgiri. When we told them that the fortification on the neighboring hill was clearly visible and insisted on details about the fort, they replied that there was no route to the hill and no one can go there. So we did not bother much about it, and thought we will explore this place when the time is right. This day was not too far from the day that we conquered Rehmangarh! We were much eager to conquer Ambajidurga. We reached the spot from where the hill base from where fortification was clearly visible. An old lady who stopped by told us about the route to the hill top and gave us directions. We were glad that a route to the hill top existed and went ahead following her directions. The hill was gigantic and we looked too small in comparison to its massive size.
First tier of the Fort
Lord Hanuman Temple and The Fort Wall
Broken Gateway Arch
   Overnight rains had made the path slippery, but that didn’t matter much to us as we were engrossed in the thought of reaching the fort. Our initial climb was a little tricky as after reaching a certain point, we realized we were heading in a wrong direction. We halted and to changed our course of climb and headed in the right direction. After a few minutes of trek, we reached the first tier of the fort on the first hill (or the lower hill) and rested here for a while. Later, a short walk lead us to the  top of the first hill which was an open plain land having a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and a few fort ruins. We were able to view the fortification on the upper hill but found no specific route. After investigating, we finally decided to make our own path and succeeded in our venture within no time.  We were at the fort entrance, and had a bird’s eye view of the surroundings including the now dwarfed fort of Rehmangarh.
Fort Entrance and Rehmangarh

Water Tank
Lord Shiva Temple
  The hill rises to about 4400 ft above mean sea level and was initially fortified by the local Palegars, which was then rebuilt by Tippu and finally fell into the hands of the British. There is a small temple atop the hill dedicated to Lord Shiva and a few ruined structures and water tanks. We were quite happy for having explored this fort too. We spent some time at the top and started to descend slowly and carefully down the hill. Our descent was a little tiring but calm, until we heard a person standing at the hill base shouting and signaling us to come down quickly. Initially, we thought of him to be a shepherd boy   calling out to his cattle, but later realized he was indeed waiting for us! Once we reached the base, he literally started shouting at us asking whose permission we had taken in order to go to the fort and my wife retaliated saying, we had inquired and only at the old lady’s suggestions, we decided to climb as she had not warned us about any restrictions. While he forced us to accompany him to the temple authorities, we insisted him on showing his identity card and if he did, we would surely go with him. Somewhere, we thought he was boasting about himself being a guard to the hill we had just explored. He argued saying there was a big board put up right at the entry point which strictly restricted any further entry. Truly, we were not aware of such a board. There was an exchange of words between him and us, and on demanding him to show where the board was put up, he took us a little away from where we started our trek and alas! There was the board! We told him that we had taken the path present much before this board and therefore had missed seeing it. We also questioned him about his absence during the time of our entry at the starting point. If he were to be a guard, he should have done his duty and cautioned us. We would have not ventured further at all. Finally a person associated with the Kailashgiri temple management who by chance had come to pick him, spoke to us and warned us in a rough tone saying that the place we had just ventured was really not safe and we shouldn’t have gone so far. On saying that we were not really aware of the board as it was put up in a wrong place and  since we had already made a safe return, there was no use of telling us now not to have ventured. There was an exchange of words again. It was slightly upsetting as this was the first time we had encountered such a rude behavior. Though our conversation ended sourly, we were quite happy that we had already explored the fort before they came and realized we would have missed so much, just in case destiny had taken us on the route towards that board! 
Lord Hanuman
 Mt Kailashgiri

Dwarfed Rehmangarh
Kissing the Clouds
     This was our dual-fort-adventure that ended with destiny being on our side. With both the regions being popular tourist spots, it’s quite hard to believe the fact that these hills are actually unsafe. We personally did not feel so, but who knows. Many places in Kolar district are considered unsafe, including the Antharagange hills. 

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
Meditating
 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.
Ramparts
Layers of History
Stairway
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.
Colorful
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

Reference:
1. Madras State Gazetteer - Salem