Kavaledurga is one of the most awe-inspiring ruined forts in the wilderness near Thirthahalli, Shivamogga district. This fort has more than 1,100 years of history, but lies in ruins today. Negligence by the government and a rampant destruction by treasure-hunters are adding to the fast disappearance of this beautiful fort that’s set amidst scenic nature. Most worrying is the senseless behaviour of tourists: plastic strewn everywhere, polluted ponds, broken glass bottles.
You can reach Kavaledurga easily from Thirthahalli or Nagara. This fort is not for the weak-hearted, you have to trek at least 5 km to reach the summit watchtower. In some places, steps are quite steep. You must take a guide if you are new to this place, or you will miss some spots. Cobbled stone roads, robust fort walls, several wide entrances (which allowed elephants to pass through in earlier days), ancient temples and a ruined palace are not to be missed here. Inside the palace, you can find a durbar hall, multiple rooms, a puja room, bathrooms, and even toilets of that era. You will see a scientific stove also. Intricate artworks in the temples and palace are amazing. Beautifully crafted stone idols will make you proud of your ancestors.
You have to hike a bit to reach the watchtower, where there’s also a small temple. This fort has seven main entrances and three walls. Each door is sculpted differently but intricately. One could also find ruins of a mosque and a Jain temple here (as per historians). Also, the fort has several deep wells, large ponds and stone troves, and a beautiful Nandi (sacred bull) statue.
Earlier, this fort was known as ‘Kavalu Durga’ and also ‘Kaurava Durga’, but Dodda Sankanna Nayaka of Keladi dynasty renamed it as Bhuvanagiri. He renovated and strengthened the walls. Keladi Rani Chennamma was crowned in this fort. Keladi kings ruled their kingdom for 60 years from this fort. It is also said that Rani Chennamma defeated the mighty Mughal army and protected Shivaji’s son Rajaram from this fort.
Away from all the hustle and bustle of the urban cities, Kavaledurga makes for a scenic getaway.