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

 References:
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
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    

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

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