In the historical town of Chitradurga

Long associated with valour and struggle, the historical city of Chitradurga is home to many stunning monuments, including forts, temples and caves

Chitradurga Fort

The legendary Onake Obavva was undoubtedly the most well-known personality associated with Chitradurga until 1972, when the characters of the blockbuster Kannada movie Naagarahaavu — Ramachari, Chamayya master, Alamelu and Margaret — became household names across Karnataka.

On the big screen

Directed by the celebrated Puttanna Kanagal, the movie, set against Chitradurga Fort, would go on to to win eight state awards and become, perhaps, the first Kannada film to run for 100 days in three major centres. The movie would also catapult to stardom Vishnuvardhan who essays the role of Ramachari, a short-tempered village boy, and Ambareesh who plays a local rowdy, Jalaala.

Obbavana Kindi
Obbavana Kindi

Popular songs like ‘Kannada Naadina Veera Ramaniya’ (which beautifully captures the valour of Obavva), ‘Karpoorada Gombe Naanu’, ‘Haavina Dwesha Hanneradu Varusha’, ‘Baare Baare Chendada Cheluvina Thaare’, ‘Sangama Sangama Anuraaga Sangama’ and ‘Kathe Heluve Nanna Kathe Heluve’ are still etched in the minds of the people. The movie has such a strong connect with Kannadigas that when it was released again recently after a gap of 46 years, it ran to full houses.

Chitradurga Fort

A mention of Chitradurga is not complete without a reference to Naagarahaavu and Onake Obavva, whose life itself was no less filmy. Chitradurga Fort, spread across several hills, was built between the 11th and 13th centuries by the Chalukyas and Hoysalas, while it reached its zenith during the rule of the Palegar Nayaks of the
Vijayanagar empire from the 15th to 18th centuries. An impregnable fort with seven layers of walls and 2,000 watchtowers, it was self-contained to withstand long sieges with well-stocked granaries and rain-fed tanks which never went dry. Madakari Nayaka was the last of the Palegar rulers, before Chitradurga fell into Hyder Ali’s hands only to be recaptured from his son Tipu Sultan by the British in 1799.

It was during one of the three wars waged by Hyder Ali that Obavva shot to fame. Obavva’s husband Mudda Hanuma was posted as a guard at a chink which served as a secret passage to the fort. One day, the guard came home as usual for lunch when Obavva realised that the water pot was empty and rushed to a nearby pond. At the secret opening, she noticed that the soldiers of Hyder Ali were making a bid to enter the fort and hurried back home to inform her husband. Noticing that Mudda Hanuma was still partaking his food and not wanting to disturb him, Obavva picked up an onake (a pestle used to pound grains) and stood guard at the hole. As the enemy soldiers entered, she hit them on the head and dragged them out one by one, thus saving the fort. The chink is named Obavvanna Kindi, in honour of the brave soul.

Jogimatti

Another famous spot in Chitradurga is Jogimatti, the tallest hill in the city covered with dry deciduous forest, shrubs and medicinal plants. Known for its salubrious weather, the hill hosts a century-old guest house built by the British, which is in immaculate condition having been renovated recently. The hill also has a waterfall, Himavatkedara, which has formed a natural cave where a shivalinga is consecrated.

Jogimatti
Jogimatti

Chandravalli Caves

Another place of interest is Chandravalli Caves at the valley formed by the three hills of Chitradurga, Cholagudda and Kirabanakallu. The pre-historic caves, which were once a popular centre for meditation, hold many secrets to the past, including the period of Shatavahanas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Kadambas. Though the caves are pitch-dark with no signs of ventilation, a cool breeze wafts through the passages. It is advisable to utilise the services of a guide as one could get lost in the maze of corridors. A picturesque lake in the vicinity enhances the ambiance of the location.

Chitradurga is a dry area dotted with numerous lakes and tanks, some of them interconnected, built by its erstwhile rulers to meet the water needs of the town. Besides conserving rainwater, the tanks also helped maintain the groundwater table. Many of these tanks are now filled with silt after being abandoned when the city began receiving water from the nearby Vani Vilas Sagar Dam.

Vani Vilas Sagar Dam

Vani Vilas Sagar Dam, located at Hiriyur taluk, 40 km from Chitradurga, is the oldest dam in the state. Initiated by Diwan K Seshadri Iyer of the Mysuru Kingdom, it took about nine years to construct the dam, which was commissioned in 1907. Named after Maharani Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana, the regent-queen of Mysuru, the dam is a picturesque location that definitely merits a visit.

Another scenic location is Gayatri Jalashaya, a reservoir across River Suvarnamukhi, also built by the Mysuru Maharajas.

Veerashaiva centres

If you have a religious bent of mind, Chitradurga has two important Veerashaiva centres,  Bruhanmutt, also known as Sri Murugarajendra Mutt, and Sirigere Mutt of Taralabalu Jagadguru. You could also visit Adumalleshwara Temple where a perennial stream flows through the Nandi’s mouth; the temple dedicated to Sage Thipperudraswamy at Nayakanahatti; Ranganathaswamy Temple, which can be reached after a trek through the Doddahottrangappa Hill in Holalkere; the famous Teru Malleshwara Temple on the banks of River Vedavathi in Hiriyur taluk; or the wishing well at Halu Rameshwara Temple in Hosadurga taluk.

Chitradurga could be a one-day quick getaway, or you could extend your stay if you are keen to explore the entire district and neighbouring areas in leisure, but whatever your plans, Kallina Kote or Chitradurga Fort is a must on the itinerary. Closing your eyes for a minute and imagining the heroics of Obavva is certain to give you goosebumps.

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In the historical town of Chitradurga

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