Today was my colleague Gnaneshwara’s wedding in Harihar. Me and some of my colleagues attended and on the way back we visited the chitradurga fort. It was ok kind of exp I would say. Nothing really great but quite interesting stuff. Before I start, quick acknowledgments. First of all, thanks to Chandrakala, one of my colleagues who had arranged for Innova to travel from here to Harihar and back. Thanks also to her family. They have been absolutely wonderful all through. Thanks to Kangol Balakrishnan for his help. I came to know abt chitradurga visit only last night. I was deliberating till last night but then thought it would be fine to visit once. Thanks also to Chinappa.
To start with, Chitradurga fort was built by Palayegar. We found a guide, who was impatient with us but explained things here and there, some of them believable, others not quite believable.
The fort has two entrances at all the gates. One big one and the other small one. The bigger entrance was used by the king and the smaller one was used by general public and other officials. All the entrances are built in the same way like the one on the left. The two hole type structures on the top of the bigger entrance were used for guarding the gates it seems. They used heavy wooden gates which could be rolled up and down from these two holes.
The main entrance (mukhya dwara) is however a little different. It is a bit more fancy with welcome signs and the idols of the local deity guarding the palace. Our guide tells us that main entrance is more of a sign of harmony between Hindu and Muslim kings. But to me it looked like it was just another betrayal of Mulsim Kings to Indian architectures (just like the Redfort or the Taj Mahal). This is quite a personal thought but it is quite visible from the main entrance how Muslim Kings tried to make the entrance look like their making but I guess they didnt finish only because they would damage the entrance further.
It seems the local deities are Narasimha swamy (Vishnu god with head of a lion and rest of body in human form), Ekantheswari, Hidimbeshwara etc. There are some 12 temples inside the fort. There are also 35 underground entrances into the palace. The interesting part is that ASI couldnt yet find the actual palace. They could however find many places where people stayed in the fort. Who stayed has not yet been figured out. These places are not open for public viewing yet.
Chitradurga fort also had many watch towers. Palayager, the samantha king (under Vijayanagara rule), declared himself an independent king when Haider Ali conquered Mysore and declared complete control. It is said that Haider Ali wanted to obtain chitradurga becuase it was one of the major administrative control centers in the Vijayanagara kingdom. It is also said that Haider Ali Chitradurga fort attacked 3 times and succeeded the third time by attacking in an backstabbing and unethical manner (just like any other muslim king I would say). Legend has it that before any attack or retaliation, the priests of Ekantheswari temple held special pujas and homas for the success of the king. By this time, the army technology of cannons was very much penetrating into all the kingdoms in India and it seems the nayakas (the kings of Chitradurga are called Nayakas) were not far behind. The fort is also designed with some ingenious drainage and water supply system it seems. Since the fort is built on a hill and is surrounded by hills all around, it was easy for them to see the enemy way before they reached the foot of the hill.
It seems there is a mantapa in the fort called Bombe Mantapa. Here, dances and plays of different kind used to be performed for entertainment of the kings. The mantapa looks like this
Now, forget abt all these things which seem quite believable, some things as I said were quite not so believable. The fort it seems was built after a King Cobra was left in from main entrance. They built the whole fort along the way King Cobra traced, explained our guide. Well, I dont know whether to believe it or not. Our guide also showed some deep grooves along the path in the fort. He says they were made by the King’s horse. He also shows us a deep single groove on the wall as if some explosion had created it. He says it was created by canon ball when Haider Ali attacked the fort. But there is no sign of another such groove any where else. Do I believe it? I don’t know!!! Except for some of these hiccups most of what we saw there looked quite logical.
Please view all the pics here
In any case, the visit was good except for some things which didn’t seem logical. Chitradurga is around 4 hrs from Bangalore and is worth a visit if you are a traveler and are interested in history subjects especially revolving around Indian Kings.