Chitradurga ( meaning a picturesque fort ! ) makes for a pretty convenient weekend trip from Bangalore. Your 250 km drive should be a comfortable one, what with the highway being a breeze. Take the Tumkur road from Bangalore and enjoy the ride ! The town falls bang on the highway and once in, it doesn't take much time to reach your destination: The Mayura Yatri Nivas; a pretty nice option to stay put. A govt run place, its quite clean, and the food delectable. You need to book online through their site ( http://www.karnatakaholidays.net/ ), and I must add that there are only few rooms and dormitories, so long weekends fill up pretty fast.
The prime USP of this accommodation, however, is that it's just opposite to the fort, and you can simply walk in. You can keep revisiting the fort as much as you want from here. The fort itself is a huge area to cover and will take one full day of ure time ( I'd recommend multiple sessions ), depending on how much exploration you do. We could not cover it entirely even in a day, but off course ours was a photography trip, so we had to think about the light, positions etc.
There are guide services available in the fort, which are not very pricey, and highly recommended so that you don't miss out on the sights as well as interesting tid-bits about those days gone past ! There is a particular legend of this lady named 'Obavva' who had clubbed quite a few enemy soldiers to death ( Hyder Ali's army; for those who remember their history lessons well ); a secret entrance to the fort still bears testimony to that incident which occurred in the late 18th century. The fort, made famous by the Nayakas of Chitradurga, eventually fell into Hyder Ali's hands, and then on to the British ( after slaying of Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatna ).
Having your fill of the fort, which is the prime attraction of this place, you can now move on to another historical wonder nearby; a cave complex called chandravalli. It is said to be as old as the iron age, and more recently as a secret rendezvous point for the kings and the sages of the ankali mutt nearby. A place for clandestine meetings I'm sure ! Inside, it's an entire building complex, what with bedrooms, living area, bathing chambers, a teaching room, meditation rooms, and some more. Off course, a guide is necessary here coz of the intricate maze of rooms with waist-high entrances at most ! And it's pitch dark inside ! This cave complex, along with the lake and gardens in it's premise, will take up at least 1-2 hrs of your time. There's a path leading further in to the jungle if you have time !
Situated in arid and rocky terrain otherwise, Chitradurga does have a hill station of it's own. Your refuge once you are done with all the historical stuff ! Jogimatti, a reserve forest as well, must be the town's refuge from the incessant heat of this otherwise rocky landscape. You can drive all the way to the summit, although only once the gates open after sunrise. The road till the gates is of very good quality, but it is closed for vehicles till the sun comes up, so you will definitely miss your sunrise view. Once you cross the gates, the summit is a further 10-15 kms inside, and the road is just ok. The drive will take somewhere between 30 - 45 mins. Once you are at the summit, though, the view is worth it all ! Caution: If you want to have food here, you must carry your own. There are no eating joints nearby.
On your way back, you can take another path near the gate, to go towards the mini-zoo, and a trekking path which takes you to a waterfall and a temple inside the forest. We could not try the same due to time constraints, so there's nothing much that I can tell you about it.
Once out from Chitradurga, on your way back to Bangalore, do not forget to cover the Vani Vilas Sagar dam, on the vedavati river. The dam is a good 40 kms inside from the highway, but the road is good. You can try reaching the dam during evening hours. Afternoons would just be too hot. Once you are there, enjoy the view and click some pics. It's a pretty decent experience there, so it's advisable to try it if you have time at hand.
Summary: A historical place this, with a bit of nature thrown-in. Definitely for people interested in history and such structures. A weekend ( 2 full days ) ride from Bangalore.
When to go: Definitely not during the summer months
Stay/Food: Mayura Yatri Nivas is highly recommended. Food is basic fare but good. 'Sri Laxmi Bhavan' is well know for breakfast. It's walkable from the fort. One can also try a place called 'Hotel Aishwarya Fort' ( food as well as liquor; for groups as well as family ), which is very close to the highway, and hence, definitely recommended on your way out/in from/to Chitradurga.
To/Do: Roam around in the fort, visit Chandravalli caves; Try jogimatti hill for morning views; Vani Vilas Sagar dam on your way back if you get time. There are some other places to visit as well, so do check them out on the net. What I mentioned above, though, will keep you fully busy for 2 days !
Lastly, for a detailed account of my trips, please do visit: https://myfreewanderingspirit.wordpress.com/.
Better quality pics: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27741849@N03/with/16279483027
More pictures: https://www.facebook.com/raj.abhishek/media_set?set=a.10153071984989761.1073741837.667394760&type=1&pnref=story
Do leave your comments !
Good Luck !