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

Udedurgam Fort, Krishnagiri - History with Mystery

'Ooria-Durgam' is one amongst 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 google search engine failed to show up any results for the same. However, I came across an article which  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 whereon the route seemed clear and the ascent quite comfortable. He was a very interesting and a 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
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 were constructed using rough boulders with cairn/ urn packing at its centre. 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 an exploration. There were many hidden secrets 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 to carry out pre-historic studies, as it is quite evident from the environs to be a perfect place for pre-historic human  settlement. The ascent was pretty much straight forward 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 sometime, 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 strucutre 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 sometime 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 lead to the top most 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 the fort, the temple structure belongs to 15-16th century. 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 15- 16th century CE.  Although not much of 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 hill top, 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 the prehistoric human, 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 our vehicle. We greeted Mr. Venkatesh, the person who had guided us in the morning and thanked him. It was lunch time and he insisted us to 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 for having 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 a good-bye, after thanking them. Exploring Udedurgam was an amazing experience overall. An other 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

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

Thattakaldurgam – Vanagiridurgam Part -1

As per records with regards to the Baramahal or the 12 forts built in Krishnagiri district, one of them was the 'Thattakaldurgam' or the 'Thattakal' fort. As not much information was available (including its location), finding this fort was a real challenge.  We finally managed to get some reference to this fort and its location. On a Sunday, we, accompanied by one of our friends headed towards exploring the fort. After enquiring at a few places, we reached the village of Thattakal. The locals informed us that not many visit this fort; and the 2 routes leading to the fort are equally difficult to trek. Now, trekking here with kids was our next challenge and after looking at the massive hill, we felt it was next to impossible! We then tried to find a guide who knew this place well and would take us around the hill. But sadly none agreed. One person even confessed that reaching the hill top was a tedious task for them too and hardly anybody ventures. However, we took the details of the route and decided to explore it on our own.
Thattakaldurgam Fort
Little did we expect that this would turn out to be one hell of a trek! While there are many reasons for why this trek is a difficult one without being accompanied by a guide, the most important is the absence of a proper trail and much of the trek is through thorny shrub vegetation. With whatever information we gathered, we began our trek. Locating the starting point of the trek itself became a major challenge. We finally zeroed in on a point that seemed like the best one to begin. We kept following the track and reached a big boulder, which was one point that the locals had told us to keep in mind as the route from here takes a path from behind this boulder. We did find the trail as informed and following it, we reached the place from where the thorny shrub vegetation began. 
In Search of the  Hidden Path
The Never Ending Trails
Young Trekker Leading The Way
We took a short break here and after a while, I went in search of any traces of the route hereon. I went ahead and found the presence of two trails. While one was a straight path and led us to the portion of the final stretch of the hill (which was quite steep and this we only realized after climbing it half way), the other went through deep forests. Obviously, we preferred the hill route as visibility was high and the route seemed shorter.  I hurried back to my trek partners to take their suggestion about the route to proceed and finally in unison, we agreed to go by the hill route. Thus began our misadventure, and as we reached another big boulder walking through the thorny vegetation, we realised that a short climb from here would lead us to the fort, although unsure about this being the correct route. However, we started to climb the boulder which was almost a 70-degree inclined slope. It was only after we ascended cautiously half way of this extremely steep portion that we concluded it would be stupid of us to even think of climbing further as the terrain only turned steeper. With two young ones, venturing further was risky. We were five of us in total (three trekking independently plus one carrying the youngest partner) and each one was at different levels of ascent. It was our friend who was ahead and was almost nearing the hill-top. As she climbed, she realised that it was impossible to cross the  further portion in order to reach the fort and all of us would get stuck if we proceeded. We immediately decided to withdraw our trek and slowly started our descent on the steep hill.  We had to be extremely cautious and watch every step as any wrong step could lead to a  mishap. With nobody around except us, it was indeed a wise decision to retreat. Looking back at that portion of the steep hill, it was hard to believe that we had actually even tried climbing it!
The Impregnable Fort of Thattakaldurgam

This post is also our 350th one and we are excited to put forth this adventurous place!


Rayakottai Fort

Rayakottai’ or the ‘King’s Fort’ is one amongst the popular fort treks near Bengaluru at a distance of around 100 km. One Sunday we decided to check out this fort and our journey to this place was quite uneventful. We reached the base of the hill fort and after enquiring about the route, we proceeded further. Steps are laid until the top and it’s a pretty straight forward climb. In no time we reached the first gateway of the fort. This arched gateway seems to have been renovated during the reign of Tippu Sultan as we can find a similar pattern for the gateway at Nandi hills. The fort was initially built by Jagadeva Raya, a Palegara of Channapatna town in Ramanagara district, thus the name Raya Kottai. A common misconception however is that this fort was built by Tippu Sultan. 
Bird's eye View of Rayakottai Town
Monsoon Clouds
Way Up to the Rayakottai Fort
Enter The Dragon (Rayakottai Fort Entrance)
  Jagadeva Raya had control over the entire regions of Hosur, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. He served as a vassal king under the Vijayanagaras and also won the battle of Penukonda for them. Rayakottai was a strategic fortress connecting Mysore to the Baramahal. Post Jagadeva Raya, none of the Kings were strong enough to hold the entire territory and hence started to lose their territories to Hyder Ali. Later, Major Gowdie under Lord Cornwallis captured the Fort from Tippu Sultan in the year 1791-92. Hereon, they marched towards Srirangapatna and killed Tippu in 1799. Rayakottai then was held by the East India Company until independence. The East India Company made a few additions to the fort, which remained popular among Military Pensioners.  Ruins of buildings constructed by the British can still be seen here. There are many water tanks built here for providing water for the people. At one such big water pond, we found a carving of Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga along with Lords Nandi and Ganesha. The carvings are very much similar to the ones present at Krishnagiri fort; probably indicating that this fort existed even before the reign of Jagadeva Raya and may have been originally built during Lord Krishnadeva Raya’s rule. 
Rayakottai Fort Entrance
Fort Wall
Ruins Spread Across
Young Trekker
One of Many Water Sources Here
Hidden Treasure
House With A View
British Bungalow
Ruined Beauty
 Interestingly, on our way back to Bengaluru we also found a carving of King Krishnadeva Raya accompanied by his two queens offering prayers to Lord Shiva. There is no evidence for the presence of any temple in the fort premises.  However, there are chances that the same was destroyed during Hyder/ Tippu’s period. There exists a big cave Ashram used during 19th century saint, maintained in good condition. This gives us an indication of things that have occurred here. Overall, Rayakottai is a lovely fort to explore and preferably best when visited during early hours of the day to avoid sun’s heat. It is also better to carry along some snacks and lots of water to stay hydrated. Today, Rayakottai is a small sleepy village fairly well connected with Bengaluru by roads and rail.  
Lords Shiva, Ganesha And Nandi
Fresh Sweet Water Pond
Lord Anjaneya
Trichodes alvearius (bee hive Beetle)
Monkey Puzzle Butterfly (Rathinda amor)
 Related Posts:

Raichur Fort / ರಾಯಚೂರು ಕೋಟೆ

Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರ ಕೋಟೆ
Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರು  ಕೋಟೆ
A visit to Raichur was pending for a long time and had remained as one of the districts which was less explored by us in the state of Karnataka. Hence we decided to visit the magnificent fort of Raichur at the least. This time we chose to travel by train in order to reduce the driving load and more importantly, to test our ability of having to travel with our little partners!! Raichur is one of the blessed districts of Karnataka in terms of it geographical positioning owing to its location between the two mighty rivers of Krishna and Tungabhadra, making it one of the most fertile regions of Karnataka. Raichur today is most famous for its Thermal Power Station at Shakthinagar situated about 18 km from Raichur and is also known for trading of cotton. This place is of considerable antiquity, right from the prehistoric period to the period of struggle for Independence. The village of Maski is very well known for the Ashokan edicts found here which is believed to have been inscribed in the 3rd century BCE. This is one of the rare edicts where King Ashoka has been referred to as Devanamapriya and Priyadarshi. Also, the Hatti Gold Mines is the only operational goldmine in India and is located in Raichur.
Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರ ಕೋಟೆ
Bala Hisar and Fortifications
Raichur Lake
While 'Raichur' was earlier known by the names of 'Rachavoor' or 'Rachanoor', it was later called as Rayachooru. The Fort of Raichur was in existence much before the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana captured this place in 1150 CE. The fort was built by the Kalyana Chalukyas and later expanded by Raja Vitthala under the able leadership of Kakatiya Queen Rudramma Devi in 1294. The same has been documented in the long inscription found near the second doorway of the fort, inside the Mecca darwaza.
History of Raichur Fort
Telugu Inscription Describing the Construction of this Fort
While most of the fortification was built by the Kakatiya and Vijayanagara Kings, a few later additions and repair works were undertaken by the Bahmanis and Adil Shahis. Though Malik Kafur captured this fort in 1312, it was subsequently captured and strengthened by the Vijayanagara Kings. Post the fall of Vijayanagara kingdom, the Bahmanis occupied this place and was later ruled by the Bijapur Sultans, Mughals and the Nizams.
Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರ ಕೋಟೆ
Top Most Fortification
Fort Wall and Raichur Town
Exiting the Dragon
That Sunday morning after having a  good breakfast at Hotel Udupi near the railway station, we took a rickshaw up to the base of the fort.  The driver dropped us behind the fort which was a slum like colony that slowly crept into the fort area. The ascent from here was quite easy along the well laid steps built during the 15th century. Within no time we reached the first entrance of the fort and a short trek from hereon took us to the top most portion of the fort. The Bala Hisar (citadel) situated here, which is occupied by the durbar hall which is a double three arched and triple domed strucutre. There is a big damaged cannon in the premises.  There is also a small mosque built in Bijapura style, with a single arch and two slim minarets. Besides this is a structure that seems like the remains of a small Mantapa associated with a temple, though no traces of any temple were found around. Behind the durbar hall and amidst the rocks is a beautiful carving of Lord Nandi in a seated position. It was very disheartening to see that only the lower portion of the Bull remained intact with no trace of it's head.
The Cannon
Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರ ಕೋಟೆ
Bala Hisar
Small Mosque built in Bijapura Style
History of Raichur Fort
Broken Nandi Murti
We started our descent in the other direction, towards the Mecca Darwaza. On reaching the bus stand, we stopped by for a tea break. While we were walking towards the Mecca Darwaza, I spotted a few carvings on the walls inside the recently built Indira canteen campus. I decided to go ahead and check them out only to find inscriptions in Telugu which speaks about how the large boulders were hauled by buffaloes for building the fort walls. It then struck to me that the official website of Raichur district gave a description similar to what I had witnessed.  It quotes, "A little distance to the right of the above epigraph, is depicted the process by which the large inscribed slab was brought from the quarry to the site, laden on a solid-wheeled cart drawn by a long team of buffaloes with men driving and cudgelling the animals and applying levers at the wheels to push the cart forward. The artistic treatment in delineating the line of buffaloes in perspective, and the lively and graphic expression of the strain on them as represented by means of depicting some with tongues lolling out of their mouths, some with bent waists, and others with tails curled and lifted up as is usually seen when these animals are put to extra strain, is indeed a marvel of the art of drawing, particularly when the age of the work is taken into consideration. Further to the right is carved a procession scene of six chariots, drawn by humped bulls with decorative collars round their necks, and a little distance to the south is carved a forest scene with palmyra trees. On various other slabs in the same wall are incised floral and foliage designs as well as numerous figures of men engaged in various activities, and also animals and birds, like bulls, elephants, boars, jackals, cocks, peacocks, geese, etc., all executed in the same delightful manner".  Hurriedly and with excitement, I went back to bring my wife and two little partners to witness this marvel. My wife was stunned after looking at the carvings! It surely was an amazing experience for all of us to see these beautiful and unique carvings that gave us a clear picture of how the huge sized stone slabs were actually laid one above the other and how the fort wall was really built.
Long Team of Buffaloes Pulling the Rock Slab on a Solid Wheeled Cart
6 Chariots, drawn by Humped Bulls
Notice the Huge Size of the Rock Slabs used for Constructing the Fort Wall
Close up of the Solid Wheeled Cart
Hereon we reached the Mecca Darwaza which has been neatly restored by the ASI and has 2 two security personnel in charge of taking care and maintenance. After entering the necessary details in the visitor's book, we proceeded further. The entire gateway and the fort wall of Mecca Darwaza was built during the reign of the Vijayanagara kings, which is quite evident by the presence of carvings such as elephants, peacocks, Lord Anjaneya and other gods/goddesses on its walls. There are a few cannons belonging to the later period kept for display. We explored further on the other side of the fort wall along the moat and found more Hindu carvings. Owing to the persian inscription found atop the fort entrance, some historians claim that the fort walls were built by the Bahmanis, although it is much clear that it belongs to a much earlier period than the Bahmani rule.
Cannon placed at Mecca Darwaza
Mecca Darwaza and the Moat around it
Elephant Carvings on the Wall of Mecca Darwaza
Lord Garuda
Lord Bhikshatana Murti with various Mystical Animals
Our next destination was the most beautiful fort entrance named 'Navarang Dwara' or 'Navarang Darwaza'. This is probably one of the most beautiful fort entrances we have seen till date. It is a classical representation of Vijayanagara Art and Architecture. However, this place now has been converted into a museum and photography has been prohibited. 
Navarang Dwara, Raichur Fort
Navaranga Dwara
Navarang Dwara, Raichur Fort
Interiors of Navaranga Dwara
Intricate Carvings
After spending some time here, we inquired about Gowdra Mane (the royal house) which supposedly houses many beautiful murals belonging to the 19th century. The ASI staff at the museum were kind enough to give us directions to this place. We managed to find an auto rickshaw with great difficulty and the driver agreed to drop us at the old house. Surprisingly not many were aware of such a place around. After many inquiries with the locals, we landed right in front of this beautiful royal house. The exteriors of the house seemed very grand and we were much excited to have a look at what was in store for us. However, the house was locked for interior repairs and we were informed that the family had shifted only recently to another house in the town. We met the neighbors and exchanged our phone numbers so we could try and visit the house the next time. After watching our curiosity to enter the royal house, the auto driver too turned equally curious about the entire situation! Unfortunately, we couldn't make it into the royal house that day. We had to catch our train and hence requested our auto driver to drop us back at our hotel.
Koti Darwaza 
The Royal House of Raichur
The Royal House - Gowdra Mane
Projected Balcony of the Royal House
1. Karnataka Tourism Gazetteer - Gulbarga
2. Raichur Official Website
3. Journeys across Karnataka

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1. Mulbagal Fort
2. Madhugiri Fort
3. Tumkooru Fort