Since the day I visited Chitradurga fort, I received many texts asking when the is blog coming up on this? Firstly, thanks a ton for all the anticipation shown. It is this sort of support that keeps pushing me always. Well, any of my trips aren't only for the purpose of blogging. I only blog on my visits which I enjoy the most and feel satisfied of. With no doubts, my visit to Chitradurga fort was one of my best travels in the strange year of 2020.
Chitradurga is one of the loveliest places in Karnataka which deserves more credit than it's been given. The seven circled fortress which is truly impenetrable for the trespassers stands as an epitome of the highest skill and workmanship. Its one of the very few hill forts in the country which is standing strong till date. The history dates back till 12 th century along with many exciting facts. But not just the history, this fort has lot more to off you.
So here is a complete travel guide which can help you make the most of your visit and also look at the fort with quite unique perspectives.
How to reach? This should be the easiest of questions about Chitradurga fort. The best option would be to hit the roads.
Either by Bus or by your own Vehicle, take the express National Highway-47 which connects Bangalore to Pune. Chitradurga is 200kms from Bangalore and it's a good ride of 3 hours.Chitradurga Fort is exactly 1km away from Chitradurga bus stop. Private vehicles are allowed till the foothills of the fort with enough parking space for visitors. If you are on bus, you can either walk or take an autorickshaw.
Best time to visit: The best time would be in the months of October to February with a good weather. The monsoon/rainy seasons would still be good if you are visiting only the important attractions, but you can miss the fun of hiking inside the fort because of slippery rocks and boulders. In any case summer months of March to June is not at all advisable where temperature can reach up to 40°C
How much time? This is the trickiest question here. Chitradurga fort is not like any other historical temples or structures with limited boundaries. This is a huge area. Of course, there are major marked attractions which every tourist visits. It would take around 3 hours to see all those places.
But as said earlier, the fort offers lot more than that. If you wish to enjoy the fun adventure of open landscapes, hiking and some peaceful time, it would easily take a day and its totally worth it. Starting at early morning hours is the best option here.
The carvings of Cobra across the fort walls symbolize that the path inside follows a zig-zag way ahead.
What to expect? History, Architecture, Adventure, Serenity, Nature, Tranquillity, an exciting experience and what not! It's a wholesome package. Whatever you expect out of travels, you can find it to enjoy your tour. If the fascinating history of the land blows away your heart, the calmness of the land would take you to a different world filled with peace.
Should you take a Guide? If you want to know the minute details of the history, Yes! The guides here will accompany you for one way of your journey from the main gate. Obviously, you will get to know more about the historical facts and some good stories about the land. But the downfall is, that the guides would cover that one-way journey by 45mins to 1 hour. You would have to stick to the routine path of theirs and follow them. But, that 1 hour is too less to enjoy the beauty of this fort. If you manage to know a bit of history of the land beforehand, then below is the detailed travel guide which could enable you to take the trip all by yourself😊
Enrouting the Impenetrable Fortress:
Wandering over a vast area of 1500 acres guarded by 7 circles of walls is as adventurous as beautiful it is. But for any first-time visitor it's not an easy job. So, here are few pointers that might help to make the most of your visit.
Where to Start from? There is one main entrance to the fort from which the tourists are allowed. Enter the fort through the main entrance and procced further climbing the steps on your way. You will get a small junction with destination marked Yenne Kola (The well, used to store oil). Would be a better option to take right and proceed inside the fort. Let us come back to go left later.
How to proceed further? Once you walk further from Yenne Kola, you will get another entrance after about 300mts. Before entering in, go little right to witness the hidden mandapa popularly called 'Bombe Mandapa' where you can see the idols from ages of History. Come back to the same entrance again and proceed further.
Once you enter this circle of fort, the true architectural carnage begins. You will witness many delicate carvings along the fort walls with each symbolizing a hidden meaning. Enjoying those little architectural marvels, proceed along the way until next circle of fort, which has a Ganapati Temple at the spot, carved out of a huge boulder which also marks as back wall of the temple. You can climb on the walls of this entrance and the view of the city from here is impressive.
Proceed further through another two circles of Fort to come to the exact center place of the fort which marks the destination for Ekanatheshwari Temple, the main goddess for Chitradurga Kings. Opposite to the temple is the Uyyale Kamba and Deepa stamba. This is one of the most photogenic spots inside the fort, take as many pictures as you want😊
Kudurehejje Hills, the soulful spot of Chitradurga fort - From Ekanatheshwari Temple area, take left to proceed towards Gaalimantapa. But before going in there, take a small right on the small pathway around old Muruga Mutt to get to the foothills of Kudurehejje Hills. Climbing this hill is a tricky business and doing it in morning hours is advisable before the boulders get too hot. Not only the weather is supportive, but also the morning views from the top of this hill is simply mind blowing. The sights of the fort from here are beyond any explanation and will definitely leave your heart filled with satisfaction. That's my personal guarantee. This is also the famous spot, shot in the climax of famous Kannada movie Naagarahaavu(1972).
Hike through the vast landscapes - Behind the Kudurehejje hills is actually the most spacious, adventurous and serene part of the fort. Most of the visitors don't mind coming here. But if you want to add some adventure to your ride, you should definitely choose this place. There are 2-3 different hills in the huge grassland area with many old structures & ponds in between, proving that all those places were an integral part of the fort once up on a time. As it is still inside the guarded walls of the fort, there is no fear of trespassers. A journey through these landscapes is really worth the views it offers and would also give you a chance to look at the site in a very different perspective which most people would miss.
Sampige Siddeshwara, Gaalimantapa & Hidimbeshwara temples are the sites where you can witness the architectural masterclass in the fort. To the right of the foothills of Kudurehejje you will come across Sampige Siddeshwara temple which is rich in historical carvings with many inscriptions of centuries old. This is one of the coolest places inside the fort. Right next to it is old Muruga Mutt, though its non-functional, its very spacious and relaxing.
Opposite to Siddeshwara temple is Gaalimantapa & Hidimbeshwara temple. As said, these structures are very rich in architectural beauty and would impress you with their sturdiness till date. The mythic history of this temple dates back till Dwaparayuga, connecting to the Hidimba, the brother-in-law of Bhima. The 360° view of the fort area from Hidimbeshwara temple is worth not missing.
Gopalaswamy Honda, Temple & a Hike would come in the next set of attractions that can be covered in one stretch. From the huge veranda of Uyyale Kamba, go straight to pass parliamentary site of the Nayaka Kingdom. About 400m later, you would come across twin ponds famously called 'Akka thangi honda'. Take left from there and start ascending the next hillock to reach Gopalaswamy Honda. The lake is quite serene and soothing. This is also one of the most interesting places for photographers. Ascend further to reach Gopalaswamy Temple. The temple might non-functional, like many others inside the fort but it is still worth visiting for the peace and beautiful sights it offers.
You can continue your hike, towards another side of the fort which marks the north-western corner of fort through huge grasslands and beautiful landscapes. This is also less crowded and would give you some real fun of hiking and adventure. The pathway is distinctive and you can keep following the same trail.
Onake Obavvana kindi is still the most reputed spot in the fort. There is no chance that you would want to miss it. Anyone from the land of Karnataka would have never missed to hear the heroic story that happened here. For my blog followers from outside the state and country, the history of this place represents the brave courage shown by Obbavva, the wife of a common solider in the in the fort. When the fort was under siege hundreds of trespassing soldiers from enemy kingdom tried to enter this impenetrable fortress through the small hole (which was actually a drainage outlet). She waited inside the fort at the hole and killed each solider as he entered and dragging his body out and waited for next solider Reading through the history pages of this story will give anyone goosebumps.
From the Akka Thangi Honda walk straight for 300-400m to witness this place. You would also come across Thanniru Bhavi (the place where Obbavva comes to get water for her husband) and also a small cave, said to be their home. Obavvana kindi also marks the southern corner of the fort.
Walk back, enjoy the little beauties along the way. Once you start walking back from Obbavvana kindi, try and visit all the small beauties along the way. There are places like Vishwanatha temple, Phalguneshwara temple beside Akka Thangi honda, multiple watch towers and number of small structures. The real beauty of this fort is actually in this small structures. The more and more you want to see the minute details, the more and more it offers.
End with Banashankari temple and Maddu Beesuva Kallu. Remember we proceeded straight from Yenne Kola at the beginning? Now, come back to the same spot and take right. You will come across a temple, dedicated to Goddess Banashankari. Walk further to witness the site where gun powder was prepared. . It is believed that horses and elephants were made use of to grind the gunpowder at this place.
When my Historic visit turned into a Wild Adventure:
As said, visiting Chitradurga Fort was one of my travel goals of 2020. Though it happened as late as in the last month of the year, it is one of the visits to be savoured for longer and longer time.:
All my plans were centred around that spectacular view of Gaalimantapa & Hidimbeshwara temple from Kudurehejje hills. I made plans to reach by 6am and catch the sunrise from top of the hills. But once I entered the fort, the beauty of it would stop me at every step. The history lover inside me was not letting the nature enthusiastic to reach his destination😉 Still enjoying the beauty of the fort I dragged myself to reach foothills of Kudurehejje by 7am. The hike to this hill is unlike other hikes. The elevation is moderate but steep is very high and you would need support of your hands in the marked dents. But I was holding my partner, my camera in my hands. Taking care of her was my first priority. After that challenged hike for 15mins, when I reached the top, I was spell bound. All the anticipation I had for one view in the whole trip was right in front of me. It surely was a golden moment in the golden hours of nature. I sat alone for more than half an hour enjoying the serenity of the place. It surely was one of the most satisfying moments of my travel life❤️
After that, it was all about some unexpected wild adventure all alone. Instead of coming down from hills, I tried reaching the adjacent hills straight from there. I don't think no one ever does that there and I realized it why few minutes later. It looked easy to cross those boulders from far, but when I went near them it was different. There were huge gaps between them and slope was too high. But I had come half way. There was no going back then. I had to plan my next path and proceed carefully with lot of jumping and rock climbing. But you know, when you take the paths not taken by any others, you will witness the sights not seen by any others. I was very fortunate to spot a number of peacocks along the way. There were hundreds of natural caves beneath huge boulders which were quite but held that wilderness in them. That was the most enjoyable moment inside the fort for me.
Somehow, I managed to reach the foothills of adjacent hill. But I was still high on adrenaline. I started hiking through the huge landscapes and hills behind Siddeshwara temple. Though the trail is marked well here, it was only me who took that path at that time of the day. And this hike offered some of the unique and beautiful sights. I came across many abandoned old structures and a couple of ponds. Again, it was time to sit on the banks and enjoy the tranquility of the moment.
After visiting Siddeshwara temple, Gaalimantapa, Muruga mutt and Hidimbeshwara temple I reached the centre place of Ekanatheshwari Temple. I was joined by my localite friend Thejaswini here (special mention to the incredible hospitality from herself and her mom). We continued towards Obbavvana kindi and later took the last hike towards Gopalaswamy Honda. I had to be more responsible with my friend around and there was no place for my monkey business. But still, the hike behind Gopalaswamy temple through grasslands was very soothing one. This part of the fort was much cooler and we enjoyed the hike just like other hikes in the surrounding hills.
Finally, we started heading back around 4PM and now I tried to visit all the small & beautiful structures I missed earlier. Clicking enough pictures along the way, with heart filled with lots of satisfaction but stomach still empty we reached back the main gate. But bidding adieu to this land was tougher than I expected. Within a day, I felt so connected to the fort. If the history of the fort was what fascinated me before going in, it was unique combination of peace and adventure what impressed me while coming out. The lone adventures I tried, left me wanting for more. All I could do was to make myself a promise, I would come back again and kiss a good bye to this trip while the sun was going down in the west behind the fort walls and kissing a goodbye to the day.
Must know things before visiting:
1. The guides are only for one-way of the journey from Main entrance to Obavvana Kindi. The places of Hidimbeshwara temple, Sampige Siddeshwara temple, Gopalaswamy honda are not covered with guided tours. Not even Kudurehejje hills.
2. Pack your food. Pack lunch and breakfast even if you are starting very early. There is only one small store inside the fort which sells light refreshments. But you won't get food anywhere. So, pack your food and carry at least 2 litres of water. It's a long walk inside the fort. One way of journey through main attractions alone would be around 2kms. If you plan to hike and sightsee its lot more than that.
3. Carry adequate baggage and don't overload. Sunscreen lotions are must. It's a rocky area and the temperatures are usually high in this part of Karnataka. The boulders keep reflecting the heat too. Take enough care of your skin and eyes in the hot Sun.
4. Beware of monkeys at Hidimbeshwara and Ekanatheshwari temples. They are so used to people and try snatching anything you are holding in your hands. Even water bottles.
Where to Stay? The number of good hotels are very limited in Chitradurga. With personal experience I would suggest you to pick any one of the below two hotels for your stay.
1. Hotel Mayura Durga (KSTDC) - Just right opposite to the fort, managed by Karnataka Tourism Department is pretty well maintained. Overnight stay would cost around 2000rs per room.
2. Hotel Aishwarya Fort - 2.5KMs from fort. This can be your second option. Would rank it as just above average.
Booking your stay is a must for any of these hotels, especially for weekends as the demand is quite high.
1. Chandravalli caves and lake: 5 km from fort, is the Chandravalli caves with rich history dating back till Kadamba period. The lake in the site is one of the most peaceful lakes you would come across.
2. Jogimatti Forest: It's a hidden jem in Chitradurga. Mornings are the best time to reach, before 8am. It would be chilled and foggy giving you the feel of hill stations. Its around 10kms from fort, but the route is not that great which would make the journey about 30mins. Place is still accessible by 4 wheelers of your own.
3. Vanivilas Sagar Dam: Popularly known as Marikanive dam is around 60kms from fort the direction towards Bengaluru. 40kms from Chitradurga in NH4, take deviation and travel for 20kms more to reach the dam. Its quite a famous tourist destination now a days and there are few water sports also in the backwaters of dam.
4. Aadumalleshwara temple & Mini Zoo: This is in the same route of Jogimatti forests with a right deviation quite some distance back. It's one of the very old temples in the surroundings. There is also a mini zoo with very limited number of animals and birds. Its still worth visiting for family & kids.
Take Away: It's a unique travel experience in Chitradurga fort. Travel with open mind. Enjoy the fort in the way that interests you the most. Either it be history or adventure or nature or quietude, it has everything in it. Pick your choice. But, whatever you choose, you will never be disappointed. Such is the beauty of the place.