Showing posts with label Tamil Nadu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tamil Nadu. 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 
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The Sacred Hollows of Thrayandurgam, Thenidurgam Fort, Krishnagiri

The hollows of the rock mysteriously secreted honey in order to replenish the lost energy of Lord Hanuman! Wow, what an interesting legend associated with this place. The story goes like this, 'while returning with the Sanjeevini hill, Lord Hanuman felt exhausted and decided to rest at the nearest place and thus reached Thrayandurgam. Here he found honey that was secreted in the curious hollows of one of the rocks and got refreshed after which he flew back to save Lakshmana, the brother of Lord Rama. ‘Tiyaranadurgam’/ ‘Thenidurgam’/ ‘Thrayandurgam’ is a small lesser known hill fort near Kelamangala.
The Sacred Hollows of Thrayandurgam
 One Sunday morning, we headed in search of Tiyaranadurgam as per our sources, but in the map of Google this place was marked as Thrayandurgam. However when we reached here, the sign board carried the name of Thenidurgam! It was quite interesting to see that the place had different names, out of which two were from government sources. We parked our vehicle at the base of the hill and started walking towards the hill. At the outset, this place seemed perfect for prehistoric settlement. The fortification was visible right from the start. As steps have been laid till the top, reaching the peak was comfortable and did not take much time. At the beginning of the trek, we met a shepherd and inquired about the presence of any cave paintings, for which the reply was negative. So we moved ahead but kept a check for rock art all through our climb.
Thenidurgam Hill Fort
In Search of Rock Art
Fort Gateway
 We reached the remains of the second gateway whereat the fortification is very similar to that of Balagondarayanadurgam and probably built during the rule of the Ankushagiri Palegars. Sadly not much history about this place is documented. Here we found a nice spot to sit and munch on a late breakfast. While the rest were enjoying the breakfast, I went ahead to explore the environs. The presence of a peculiar rock around attracted me, as also reminded me of the Ghante kallu” (bell rock) of Sanganakallu and so I decided to check it out. It was a bit tricky to reach here amidst thorny vegetation. And to my surprise it sounded like a bell when struck, pretty much similar to the action of the Ghante Kallu. The rock produced different notes of sound when struck at different places of the rock. Yes! Our ancestors were very much interested and had immense knowledge about music from time immemorial.
The Musical Rock " Ghante Kallu" 
Break the Fast
Small Cave Temple En-route
Gateway to The Final Tier

I descended further to investigate its surroundings for any evidence to support the above findings. The small cave found here did not find help us much. I returned to my trek partners and had my share of breakfast. We continued our trek and reached a small cave temple which housed small murtis of Lords Ganesha and Hanuman. There were a few stones placed behind them, probably representing the local village deities. Continuing from here, we reached the third gateway or the top most tier of the fort. There were remains of a few structures here amongst which a brick structure probably a mansion or a royal house was in a comparatively better shape than the others. Then, we reached the rock with mysterious hollows and sat underneath wondering about their origin. The hollows in various patterns and shapes were quite unique and intriguing. It was in these hollows that Lord Hanuman found the honey that was magically secreted by the rock itself.
Royal House
The Hollows that Secreted Honey
Inspecting the Hollows

So many wonderful hidden stories exist that if one tries to interconnect these, a beautiful narration can be carved out as almost every place in India has its association with Lord Rama or the Pandavas. Under this rock was a shelter that was built probably during the time of fortification and was in use until recently. We found pug marks of two animals probably that of a mother and its child. However later, a shepherd confirmed that it was that of a bear and its cub which were captured by the Forest Department on request by the villagers a few weeks back. From here there was another small cave shelter of the same period probably used by royal priest back then and now abandoned. We then reached the main temple of Lord Hanuman; where the lord is beautifully carved on a rock. There is a beautiful water pond besides the temple from where water is used to perform abhishekam for the Lord. The water pond is home to many colorful fishes of different sizes and kept us engaged for a long time. While the kids and Sunil were busy spotting the fishes and tracking its path, we went around exploring the other remnants of the fort. Overall it turned out to be a wonderful outing apart from being a short and interesting fort-trek accompanied by a lot of mystery.
The Cave
Pug Marks
Lord Hanuman
Colorful Fishes
Spotting the Fishes
Bird's Eye View of Thenidurgam
Fort Walls

1.  Madras State Gazetteer - Salem     

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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)

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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