Remains of another day

Remains of another day

Karnataka is home to many hillforts (giridurga) and forest forts (vanadurga), constructed by successive dynasties. The fort in Hosanagara near Shimoga is one such example. It was built by the famous Keladi Nayaka, King Shivappa Nayaka (1645-1665). Another name of the fort is Bidanur fort, which means the ‘city of bamboos’.

According to local legends, the dynasty was founded by two brothers named Chauda and Bhadra, who were sons of a farmer. The Nayakas ruled under the powerful Vijayanagar empire, but after the fall of the empire in 1565, the Nayakas were independent. The kings later shifted to their capital in Bidanur, Keladi and Ikkeri. King Veerabhadra Nayaka had to face the rebellion of the other chieftains and shifted the capital to Bidanur. He was also defeated by the Bijapur sultans and accepted their lordship. He had also formed ties with the Portuguese of Mangalore.

Shivappa Nayaka was the most distinguished ruler of the dynasty. He expanded his kingdom to Kodagu and defeated the Portuguese. Apart from Hosanagara, he also built forts in Chandragiri and Bekal. The last ruler from the famed Keladi dynasty was Somasekhara. All successive rulers from the dynasty used this fort as their residence apart from the Shimoga palace. Hyder Ali defeated Somasekhara and captured the Hosanagara fort. Later, Tipu also ruled Shimoga.

The ruins of the fort are now a tourist attraction. The Hosanagara fort was once a majestic fort. There are many entrances to this fort. While the northern and southern entrances were called Diddi bagilu and Hanuma bagilu, the eastern and western entrances were called Durgada bagilu and Dodda bagilu, respectively. There was also a small fort inside the Hosanagara fort named Ola kote.

The structure near the main entrance still stands as a reminder of an era gone by. A reservoir named Akka tangi hola is inside the fort. On the left side is the auditorium, where the royals watched entertainment programmes. The ruins of the durbar hall can also be seen. The drainage systems, water channels and wells are testimony to the engineering traditions of that time.

The fort is situated near the road which connects Shimoga and Kollur. The ruins of temples also can be seen inside the fort.  There are seven tanks in the area built by the Nayakas.
The road leading up to the fort is a winding path and the area is surrounded by a thick jungle. The Gangadhareswara temple built by the Nayakas near Hosanagara is still used for worship.

The fort can be a major tourist attraction, but more attention needs to be paid towards the maintenance of this historic structure.

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