The historical town of Chitradurga, punctuated by rocky hills, is situated in the district of same name, about 200 km from Bangalore. Once called Chinmuladri, the region was ruled by the Badami Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Hoysalas, the Nayakas, the Vijayanagar emperors and Hyder Ali under the Wodeyars. In addition to the prime attraction that is the ruins of the fort, the 19 imposing gateways, 18 temples and the prisons are also a reason for drawing tourists in huge numbers.
Taste for art
The fortifications were done by the Hoysalas during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana (1108–1141 AD). Subsequently, the area was ruled by the local chieftains and later the Vijayanagar emperors.
During the rule of the Vijayanagar ruler Saluva Narasimha (1486-1491 AD)
Timmanna Nayaka an army officer was appointed as the nayaka or governor of Chitradurga region.
It was during that time that the fort was renovated. After the fall of the empire, his son Obbanna Nayaka (1588 AD) became the independent king of Chitradurga. He was also known as Madakari Nayaka. He was succeeded by his son Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka.
Rangappa Nayaka’s adopted son was killed during a war with the powerful Mysore Dalavais, following which the people of Mysore refused to accept Madakari Nayaka II as their King. Hence, a distant relative, Bhramappa Nayaka (1682–1721 AD) was made king. He reconstructed the Nirthadi Ranganatha Temple destroyed by the Mughals.
He joined hands with the Marathas in the battle (1695 AD) against Mughal Army chief Kashim Khan, during which he was killed. After his demise, Hiri Madakari Nayaka IV (1721), Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka II (1748) ruled for sometime, before Madakari Nayaka V (1758) became king. But during Madakari Nayaka V’s reign, the king of Mysore, Chikkakrishnaraja Wodeyar II was not a powerful ruler.
As a result of this, Mysore Army chief Hyder Ali defeated the Marathas and became de facto ruler. Madakari Nayaka V joined Maratha Peswa Madhav Rao in the battle of Annavati and defeated the Mysore force led by Hyder Ali. But the latter attacked Chitradurga.
During the siege, many of his soldiers were killed by Obavva, wife of the fort’s security guard. She used a onake (wooden pestle used to beat the paddy) to kill soldiers who tried to sneak into the fort. She and her husband together killed more than hundred soldiers. The path is now called Obavva’s Kindi.
However, Chitradurga lost the battle at the end.
The last King Madakari Nayaka V was imprisoned in Srirangapatna in 1779 AD. The ruins of the Mud Palace inside the fort is in an extremely neglected condition. The temples of Hidimbeswara, Eknatheswari and Sampige Siddheswara, however, have been maintained well.
According to legend, the Hidimbeswara Temple was built by the demon Hidimba, who was killed by Pandava prince Bheema.
In the Eknatheswari Temple, a molar tooth of Hidimba is supposedly housed in the sanctum sanctorum. In this Temple, the idol of Bhairava and a painting of Mysore King Krishnaraja Wodeyar has also been exhibited. The imposing King’s Balance is yet another attraction near the temple.
The Sampige Siddheshwara Temple, situated at an elevated position, is home to idols of the Sangama dynasty founders – Harihara and Bukka Raya. A 500-year old sampige (champaka) tree still stands here, spreading its fragrance.