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IN PICS: India's hidden gem, the Chitradurga Fort

Last updated on: October 16, 2012 17:44 IST

IN PICS: India's hidden gem, the Chitradurga Fort

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Nirdesh Singh

Rediff reader Nirdesh Singh discovered a hidden gem in the form of the Chitradurga Fort. Read on.

The British called it stupendous and impregnable and for once you cannot but agree with them -- the Chitradurga fort is indeed stupendous. As it happens the fort is also one of the biggest hidden gems from India's monument treasure trove. The Archaeological Society of India (ASI) maintains it beautifully and all they need to do now is to promote it.

You are in Karnataka, biding your time to hit Hampi. You drive into this small town of Chitradurga when you see this sign for the fort. The laptop comes out, wiki whirrs and pulls out this fascinating information. The fort seems to be at the centre of action from the Mahabharata era to the time of the Chalukyas, down to Mauryan Empire and Hyder Ali's regime and all the way to the British.

You finish your work on the double and enter the fort's first of the several gateways.


Image: Chitradurga Fort
Photographs: Nirdesh Singh/for Rediff.com

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IN PICS: India's hidden gem, the Chitradurga Fort

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So far the forts one has seen have been found sitting on hilltops where the hills have been used for the strategic height factor.

In Chitradurga, the hill is a collection of boulders of varying sizes. The fort is a perfect duet between nature and man. As a matter of fact, the fort is built around the boulders. The boulders serve as natural defence.

The fort starts from the ground level and goes through a succession of gateways and fortified walls of increasing defence. In all there are seven concentric fortifications. As seen in most forts, the approach to all the gates is at 90 degrees with surrounding high walls designed to slow down the invading enemy.


Image: Chitradurga Fort
Photographs: Nirdesh Singh/for Rediff.com

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IN PICS: India's hidden gem, the Chitradurga Fort

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Most of the forts you visit are often predictable. But this fort has a surprise waiting at every gateway corner and beyond every wall.

It is like being rewarded for your huffing and puffing at every level of this Wii game.

You feel like a child bounding up every which way -- there are water storage tanks with elaborate planning for rain harvesting, granaries, oil pits, natural sources of clean cold water and temples.

There is a gun powder mill where the huge grinding stones were pulled by elephants. It is nothing like you have seen before. Also, never seen before is the totally contemporary signage which blends with the surroundings. For once they are not eye sores that foul up your photo frames.

It had rained during the day and the sun keeps flitting through the clouds. The cool breeze has picked up and you have trouble keeping the camera still. The weather is perfect to discover the perfect fort.


Image: Chitradurga Fort
Photographs: Nirdesh Singh/for Rediff.com

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IN PICS: India's hidden gem, the Chitradurga Fort

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As with every fort there are associated legends. Chitradurga has some really interesting ones.

Mahabharata says that two rakshasas (giants) named Hidamba -- who found humans a crunchy snack -- and sister Hidimbi lived here. When the Pandavas came here for exile, Bheem duelled with Hidamba and killed him. He later married Hidimbi. And they had a son called Ghatotkacha.

Another story is about the brave woman called Obavva. Hyder Ali's soldiers saw her squeeze through a small hole in one of the walls. They figured they could do the same.

Every time a head popped through the hole, Obavva would batter them with her pestle. Soon there were hundreds of enemy soldiers killed by this woman brandishing her grain pounder.

The hole still exists in the wall reminding everyone that shortcuts taken through a hole in the wall can cost you your head. Next time take the gate...!

Even as the fort remains in an immaculate condition with almost no littering and the walls unscratched and free of love declarations, the monuments down south are better maintained for which the ASI deserves all the credit.

Getting There: The fort comes highly recommended. Next time you are in Bangalore, keep a day free for Chitradurga. Zip up northwest on NH 4. You will never have so much fun on a 400km round trip.


Image: Chitradurga Fort
Photographs: Nirdesh Singh/for Rediff.com

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