A fort that redefines valour & acumen

A fort that redefines valour & acumen

Chitradurga, which literally means ‘picturesque fort’, is an apt description for a beautiful fort located on the city’s outskirts. Popularly known as Yelu Suttina Kote (fort of seven rounds), this ancient structure was built in 1562 AD by Kamagetti Timmana Nayaka and was taken over by Hyder Ali in 1779. 

The vision of those who designed the fort is amazing. They have utilised locally available materials like rocks to the maximum here. In what can be described as  cutting-edge technology, they made a number of small holes close to each other and inserted iron wedges in them.

It turns out by gently tapping these iron wedges, the rocks could be easily split. Pouring water into the holes helped loosen the rock. In the ancient days, mud was a very popular building material, being easily available and cheap. And the builders knew the technique of mixing earth with broken pottery, straw and jaggery to create a strong material to work with. It is worth noting that mud houses are strong enough to withstand earthquakes and are perfect for harsh summers.

Cutting-edge technology

The walls of the Fort are mostly made of stone blocks, rising to a height of 8-15 metres. There are four main gateways, 38 poster gates and 35 secret entrances. The Fort is surrounded by a moat, which is barely visible now.

The front of the Fort wall has sculptures of serpents and Ganapati carved on stones. Apart from this, you can find circular, square, hexagonal and octagonal shaped bastions all along the hill, built to allow defensive fire in several directions. As a defensive structure, Chitradurga Fort was impregnable.

The hill houses many temples like Banashankari, Ekanathswamy, Ganapathi, Gopalswamy and Sampige Siddeshwara, some of which are abandoned now. Hidimbeshwara Temple is a fine example of rock architecture.

An interesting spot here is Onake Obavvana Kindi, where the brave woman Obavva single-handedly killed many enemy intruders emerging out of the hole in the Fort by her onake (wooden pounding staff). There are also a few water bodies such as Enne Kola and Akka Tangiyara Honda here. A few other interesting structures are Basavana Buruju, Bombe Mantapa, Jodu Bateri (dual battery) and Ontikalu Basavanna. One of the best aspects of this hill is that you get to experience a spectacular view of the sprawling city and its surroundings from the top.

The Fort was also a vital point for social interaction and entertainment. Some of the popular games played were navakankari (Nine Men’s Morris) and aadu huli (goats and tigers), in which people used sea shells and small stones as gaming elements. To make it easier for players, square grids were chiselled on rocks at certain places in the Fort. 

By and large, cleanliness at the hill is satisfactory, although regular cleaning would help. There is a need for a few more dustbins to be set up all along the route. But drinking water as well as toilets are available here. For refreshing snacks and drinks, a small restaurant on the hill is your best bet.

Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, this Fort has signboards all over, that helps the visitors locate various spots worthy of a visit. While in one corner, details of the defensive steps taken to guard the hill are detailed, in another, a board indicates how ingenious technology was used to shape the rocks found on the hill.

A visitor to Chitradurga Fort will find lots to appreciate. A half-day outing to this place would be a rich and enjoyable experience. The Fort is at a walking distance from the city and has well-defined steps that take you up the hill easily. It is open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

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