While travelling between Hosanagar and Kollur, one can pass through Nagar Fort. Though not huge, this majestic fort in Bidnore has a long tryst with the important dynasties of Karnataka. Bidnore (or Bidanur or Nagar) was shot into prominence during the reign of Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka of Ikkeri. It attained the status of a capital during the time of Veerabhadara Nayaka, who was succeeded by Shivappa Nayaka, considered to be the most benevolent among the Keladi rulers. Shivappa Nayaka put in efforts to improve and extend the capital. His successors ruled from there until its fall in 1763 AD when they were defeated by Hyder Ali. Though Hyder Ali renamed it as Hyder Nagar, it became a practice to call it simply as Nagar, a name that remains to be popular to this day.
The fort, which is also known as Shivappa Nayaka fort, is built on an elevated ground with high walls and one can get an excellent view of the fort and surrounding areas as well. In fact, from here, one can get excellent views of the Western Ghats, Kodachadri Hills in particular.
The fort was built by Honne Kambali kings of Hosangadi and was later taken over by Venkatappa Nayaka of the Keladi dynasty in 1618 AD. It was then developed by Shivappa Nayaka. The fort is built of stone masonry with a series of musket holes. The entrance of the fort is marked by a sloping pathway that leads to its gate. There is a large open space and a terrace from where one can see some ruined constructions that have been identified as that of the durbar hall of Shivappa Nayaka.
In the centre of the fort, there is a temple, twin water ponds known as sisters’ pond (Akka-tangiyara Honda), and a dried well, and some caves which were probably meant for the safe exit of the royal family in times of emergency. Moving away from this, one can see a broken canon on the ground and four grinding stones.
It is said that the palace of the Keladi dynasty stood nearby. Though the palace structure does not exist anymore, one can imagine how grand it might have been. It is said to have had 18 rooms, a big durbar hall, and a huge wall running all around it for protection. Alongside, there is a stone mantapa that is supported with stone pillars. On one of the pillars, there is a stone structure of Hanuman sitting on his tail. There is a pathway beside this mantapa to proceed to the top of the fort.
Though the fort has a glorious past, it is not well maintained. Some parts of the fort have collapsed. Though the authorities are trying their best to restore the fort, there is a lot that needs to be done and, swiftly. As many do not know the importance of this fort which is located in a picturesque location, it is necessary that steps are taken to make it a major tourist attraction. Apart from visiting the fort, one can also consider visiting Devagange, said to be the bathing place of the royal family, located near Nagar. The water that flows into Devagange comes from the hills and gets collected in seven ponds of different shapes. Ancient Neelakanteshwara Temple situated in the vicinity is also worth seeing.
With so much to see and learn, it is a must visit for those who love history and are looking for unique places to visit. So, take some time out to enjoy the sights and immerse in the natural and heritage wonders of the State!