Showing posts with label Tamil Nadu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tamil Nadu. 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 

Bhringi – The Story of Devotion and Curse

Parangi (The Wanderer), a sage was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva. His Bhakti for the Lord knew no bounds. Every morning he offered prayers to Lord Shiva earnestly at Mount Kailash. He exclusively worshipped Lord Shiva, ignoring goddess Parvathi.  The goddess, who failed to get any attention of any kind from Parangi grew jealous and complained to Lord Shiva. The next day, goddess Parvathi was seen seated on the lap of Lord Shiva by Maharishi Parangi who had then come to offer prayers to the Lord. Parangi was dumbstruck at this situation and using his yogic powers transformed into a snake (some accounts mention this form also as a rat) to circumambulate only the Lord in the gap between him and the goddess, in order to avoid the goddess.
Ardhanareshwara - Badami Cave
Bhringi - Shri Kedareshwara Temple, Nagalapura
 Goddess Parvathi was very hurt at his behavior and complained to Lord Shiva as follows, “When you and I are one, then why should Rishi Parangi ignore me and offer prayers only to you”? The Lord smiled and replied, “His (Parangi’s) behavior should not bother you”. However, to please his beloved, Lord Shiva unites with his goddess to form Ardhanareshwara” (a composite form of Lord Shiva and Parvathi). On seeing this form of the Lord, Rishi Parangi again used his yogic powers and this time turned into a beetle (some accounts mention this form as a bee) to bore hole through the navel of Ardhanareshwara and go around Lord Shiva’s half only, avoiding the goddess again. Thus he gets the name Bhringi, meaning bee/beetle.  Parangi’s devotion only towards Lord Shiva and ignorant attitude towards her added to the goddess’s agony, who was now enraged enough to curse him.  She cursed him to lose the parts of his body received from his mother. According to our Puranic beliefs, the bones and nerves come from the father and blood and muscles come from the mother. Though this may not be completely true as per genetics, it signifies the importance of both parents equally contributing to their child’s physical characteristics. Due to this curse of goddess Parvathi, Parangi (Bhringi) loses all his muscles and blood and falls down at the feet of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva then blesses his ardent devotee with a third leg to provide support to his body, similar to a tripod.
Monkey Faced Bhringi
Lord Nataraja with Nandi, Shri Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, Gangadevanahalli
 Bhringi is usually seen with folded hands, in full devotion standing besides Lord Ardhanareshwara, which is beautifully depicted at Cave No.2 of Badami. Bhringi is also considered as the ‘Dance Master of the Gods‘and is associated with many nritya murtis of Lord Shiva. One such beautiful depiction can be seen at the Natya mandapa of Sri Veerabhadra Swamy temple of Lepakshi.  He is also said to have a monkey’s face, owing to the curse of goddess Parvathi. Bhringi is also classified as a form of Lord Bhairava; the same is depicted on the outer wall of Sri Veerabhadra Swamy temple at Gangadevanahalli. Also, Bhringi is one among the 8 Commanders/Ganas of Lord Shiva, along with Devi, Chandesha, Mahakala, Vrishabha, Nandi, Ganesha and Murugan. He was also entrusted with the administration of Lord Shiva’s troops. He along with Lord Nandi guard the doors of Lord Shiva’s residence at Kailash. 
Dance Master Bhringi, Lepakshi
Nataraja Panel, Mandapeshwar Caves, Mumbai
Master "Dance Master"  -Bhringi
There are many such beautiful stories of devotion/bhakti.

1. Pratima Kosha - A book 
2. Iconography of Shiva - T A Gopinath Rao  

Related Posts
1. The Great Destroyer - Samharamurtis
2. The Divine beggar - Bhkshatanamurti 
3. Lepakshi Chitra Katha

The Impregnable Fort of Thattakaldurgam – Vanagiridurgam Part 2

After returning to the place from where there was deviation to two routes, we all rested for some time. Meanwhile, we decided to call off the trek. However, I wanted to continue and check on the other forest route, so we could complete the trek next time. While my other partners rested, I followed the forest route and was confused more as every now and then, other routes popped up!  I took an initiative to check every route in order to ascertain the right one and reached a point from where the fort was visible and route was clear! I was sure of completing this trek on our next visit. I decided to go back as I was pretty sure about this being the right route. Somehow, while coming descending I missed a turn and went ahead finally getting down on the opposite side of the place where my partners were resting. I immediately made a call to my wife and informed them to start their descent and reach the starting point of trek.  In the meantime, I walked towards our vehicle. As it was quite long since I made the call and there were no signs of them, I decided to wait for them at the start point of the trek. Time was ticking but they had not yet reached. I got a call from my wife saying there had missed the route and will take some time to reach as they were exploring around for the correct route. As I waited, they finally managed to reach the starting point. Oh yes! It was one hell of an experience and one after a long time of this sort! In a few Weeks times, we had organized a trek cum drive from RTC to Thattakaldurgam. This time we were 8 adults plus 2 kids and were bent upon completing the trek to this hill-fort successfully! We knew beforehand that the trek was definitely going to be of a difficult level and the forest route was surrounded with thorny vegetation. However, we ensured to keep track of the right route this time.We halted for breakfast at our regular hotel in Krishnagiri and also packed some for later as we knew the trek was going to be long. We started the trek around 8am in the morning.  The weather then was perfect to climb, although it turned hot as noon approached. 
Introduction and Discussion about the Previous Trek to this Fort
 After a brief introduction and discussion on the session, we started our trek and reached the point from where we had missed our route during our last visit. Here on, we proceeded in the forest route. As we moved forward, the hill of Periyamalai was visible and looked great. The route to the top is clearly marked from mid-way of the trek. I still wonder why someone would mark the route from mid-way onwards rather than from the start point of the trek. However, our heartfelt thanks go to the person who marked along the route. The trail is tricky as there are numerous routes in between that intersect with the main trail. Hence, keeping order of the track is very important. We took regular breaks for drinking water and keeping ourselves from dehydration. Finally after trekking for almost an hour and a half, we reached the first gateway of Thattakaldurgam!
First Look of The Fort
Notorious Two
Break Time Discussion
In the Jungle
The Young Trekker
This part of the climb was quite tricky and a bit slippery. Here it was! We were entering the impregnable Fort of Thattakaldurgam, which stands tall as a perfect example of Vanagiridurgam (forest hill fort). The feeling was just wow! It is a wonderful fort and worth the climb! It was really good to witness that much of the fortification up here was intact, which would surely give us an idea about the fort architecture that prevailed here. Although not much about the history of this fort is documented and it is very difficult to ascertain who built the fort, the architectural features of this fort can be easily assigned to 15th-16th century and in all probability, built by the Vijayanagara Kings or their feudatories. 
Probably the Main Gateway
The Fortress of Thattakal
The First Gateway
The Top most Gateway
 As we entered the gateway, we found another gateway on the left, pretty much built in Vijayanagara style. A little further is a big and beautiful carving of Lord Kote Anjaneya Swamy on the fort wall, carved on the lines of the Fort styles of the Baramahal. Here on, many remnants of various buildings and palaces are scattered across the terrain. There is also a small temple dedicated to Lord Rama. We found a good spot under shade to rest and munch on the food we had carried, after which we spent some time exploring the ruins of the palaces around.  Our descent was quite easy without any issue. Thus another day and another adventure accomplished! However, this trek was definitely a difficult one and one that will always remain closer to our hearts! 
Lord Shri Rama with Sita, Laskhmana and Hanuman
Brick Temple Dedicated to Lord Rama
Kote Veeranjaneya Swamy
Remains of the Mahal/ Palace
Water Storage Structure
The Climb
At the Peak
The Impregnable Fort of Thattakal
The Gang

Related Posts:
1. Rayakottai fort 
2. Ratnagiri fort
3. Periyamalai Fort