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Map of Chitradurga, Karnataka
Bold rock hills and picturesque valleys. Huge towering boulders in unimaginable shapes. That is Chitradurga for you. This is Chitradurga for you. A unique haven for tourists. This place is not known as the "Place of stone fort" (Kallina Kote) for nothing. The landscape looks much like a mischievous giant's playground - with boulders thrown around, forming awesome silhouettes against he sky. And that could be true! According to a story in the Epic Mahabharatha, a man-eating gaint named Hidimbasura did line here on the Chitradurga hill - a source of terror to everyone around. And then Pandavas came here with their mother Kunthi in the course of their exile and Bhima had a duel with Hidimba. Hidimba was slain by Bhima and peace returned to the area. These amazing boulders could well be part of the arsenal used during that duel! Seriously though, these boulders and the major part of the city rests on belong to the oldest rock formation in the country. Rich in mineral deposites, you could also try your hand at gold prospecting at Halekal, Kotemardi or Bedimaradi, etc.
Chitradurga has the distinction of having had open cast copper mines at Ingaldhal too.
Having come under the rule of rulers as diverse as the Nayak Palegars and Haider Ali, this strategically placed town was ideal from the military point of view. The city of Chitradurga itself is said to be named after the Fort of Seven Rounds (of walls).
Walk around this practically impregneable capital of the Nayak Paleyagars and scrutinize the fascinating battlements and bastions.
Each successive ruler has made his own addittion to improve the vantage position of this fort. See if you can find atleast one of the four "invisible" enterances.
This marvel of military architecture has 19 gateways and 38 postern entrances too, of hich the fourth gateway is indeed the best. Rising 25 feet in height, the ornamented pillars and walls contain fascinating relif figures.
Don't miss the cave temple to the west of the wall. You'll probably wonder what happened to the head of this Shakti figure. Nobody knows the story - if only stones could talk! There's a Ganesha Temple close by - one of the 14 interesting temples in the upper fort. Tipu Sultan built a palace, a mosque, granaries and oil pits here, after he took over. Of this stark palace, only the lofty pillars remain.
Browse through the Archaeological Museum to glean more of the historic wars, coins and manuscripts.
The Hidimbeshwara temple is the oldest one on the hill. The other temples in the hill fort are those of Ekanathamma, Phalguneswara, Gopalakrishna, Anjaneya, Subbaraya and the Siddeswara. A huge kettle- drum, in one of the temples, 6 feet in height and 1 0 feet in circumference is said to be Bhima's. Walk across to the circular well and check out the millstones that ground the gunpowder for Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan. Move down to the lower fort and don't leave before paying your respects to Goddess Uchchangimma, the patron goddess of the Paleyagars, who built this impressive two- storeyed building with its unique swing-arch and tall lamp-pillar. It also happens to be the largest temple in the town.
You will be amazed at the unique system devised by the rulers of Chitradurga to ensure constant water supply. Those ingeniously placed set of 'keres' (tanks) and 'hondas' (reservoirs), one below the other collected all the rain water that fell on the Jogimatti hills and the upper fort before finally filling the moats.
Creep through the -'Onake Obavvana Kindi", the secret entrance, and salute the valiant Obavva who saved the fort from Haider Ali's invasion by sin9 le-handedly killing a number of soldiers while they tried to slither in through this entrance.
On the way to Jogimatti (one of the highest points in this area) to beat the heat and probably enjoy a picnic, you will pass a lovely waterfall -the Himavat Kedaya. But not before visiting the Murugarajendra Matha and the fascinating Ankli Matha. The Former was founded by Muragi Shanttaveera Swami, an eminent guru of the linguist. With an impressive colonnade, a lofty outer-gate, an elephant door and an ingenious water wheel, it will be time well spent. The Ankli Math is on a hillock across the cool Chandravalli valley. Walking up the path. you will come across a large cave with remains of paintings on the walls and 10 lingas, which are said to have been set up by the Pandavas,according to the local folklore. The Ankli
Matha, a large pillared court, was once the residence of a Veershaiva Guru and his followers. Explore all the caves behind the matha and don't miss the seven Paradeshappa caves underground. A flight of stairs from the matha will get you to the unusual residence of a hermit who used to live here two.or three centuries ago.
A trip to Chitrodur!ga district would not be complete without a visit to the ancient town of Harihar. You will pass the busy, populous city of Dayangere on the way, through green rice fields and swaying sugarcane stalks. If you are fortunate enough to be there just before the cotton picking season, you'll see all the soft white tufts of cotton gleaming in the sun. Fields and fields of it. After all, this is a major cotton belt.
Take a detour from this important business centre to the quaint Anekonda. Small gold coins have been picked up here after heavy rains. You could be lucky too! The tiny Ishvara temple is built in the typical Hoysala style. Step through the intricate doorway into the first half of the 12th century. Built then, the figure of Gajalakshmi on the lintel of the door deserves a keen look.
And now to Harihar. An ancient town situated on the right bank of the great Tungabhadra river. Dip into the cool waters here - it is said to be purifying, no doubt because of the association that this river has to Lord Vishnu. One legend has it that when the demon Hiranyaksha seized the earth and bore it away to the nether world, Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar, entered the lower world. destroyed the demon and got the earth back again. The exertion is said to have resulted in profuse perspiration that flowed down the tusks of the boar and formed the two rivers - Tungar from the left trunk and Bhadra from the right. Harihar is full of such legends. According to another one, a demon named Gulhasura who lived here managed to please the gods Hari and Hara by his penance and obtained a boon from them by which he could not be killed by either of them. He was finally killed when the two appeared in the composite incarnation of Harihara (Hari+Hara). This episode is supposed to be the reason for the name of this place. In fact, you can see the god's ‘footprints' at this confluence of the Tungabhadra and the Haridra. Visit the famous Harihareshwara temple here. Built in the Hoysala style in 1223, the image of Harihara stands 4 feet tall with its left portion representing Lord_Vishnu and the right, Shiva. Scrutinize the fine scroll-work on the friezes. The high standards of the Hoysala artists is evident in the microscopic Goddess Lakshmi represented on the lintel of the doorway. The lotus flowers in her hands, the elephants by her side - so delicate, so distinct.
You will have to backtrack via Davangere and cut across the northern part of the district to get to the center of pure silk fabric - Molakalmuru. Passing barren stony hills on all sides, you can look forward to a good shopping spree here. To recover, you could go up to the large reservoir on the hill next to the town and take a breather. Built by a Harthi chief after his mother. The cool air is truly invigorating here. The shouting rock alongside ensures a good echo. Scream out loud and test it! Check out the curious "yamake" verse in praise of Kalidasa engraved across the legs of an elephant drawn on the boulder close by. Further north-west you'll chance upon a remarkable enclosed valley with no visible outlet at either end. The most dominant feature on this hill is the Nunk-bhairava temple.
For a real feel of historv, not to mention awe, don't leave before visiting Brahmagiri which has earned a prominent place on the archaeological map of India, ever since B. Lewis Rice made the famous discovery of Kinq Ashoka's three edicts around this place. Situated on the hills on the right and left banks of the Sanna Hagari river, the best preserved of the lot is the Brahmagiri inscription, engraved on the top of a huge boulder. Known locally as the 'letter rock' local folklore believes that it has medicinal virtues. The second inscription is less than a mile away on a ledge close to Siddapura and the third one is on the western summit of the Jatinga - Rameshwara hill. in front of the stairs leading to the Jatinga - Rameshwara temple. Right in the path of pilgrims for centuries. in the shadow of an overhanging boulder, it was the favourite spot for bangle-sellers during the annual festival. It is therefore known as the 'bangle sellers' rock. You can still see the holes punched into the rock to hold the poles of the booths or tents.
Cut across to Hiriyur on the right bank of the Vedavati river. Dotted with ancient temples, the most famous of them all is the Teru-Malleshwara temple. Its lofty tower poses a commanding sight and the 45 feet high lamp pillar is one of unrivalled beauty. Consisting of eight lamps, each capable of holding 10 seers of oil, it is lit only once a year. Climb up to the top of the pillar with the help of the slight projections which serve as steps, and you can appreciate the paintings on the temple walls better. If you are lucky to make a visit here in January-February, you can witness the car (ratha) festival, when the large images of Lord Shiva, Parvati, and Uma-Maheshwari seated on Nandi are taken out on procession. Then take a detour to the picturesque Sri Gayatri Reservoir close by. The ideal place to recharge the city batteries and enjoy the quiet, secluded charm. Or you could make a trip to the Vanivilas Sagar, a the Vedavati river, near Marikanive in Hiriyur Taluk. Incidentally, this is the first reservoir in the State to be with modern engineering techniques. What better place to relax and take in the natural attractions? And reflect on your discovery of Chitradurga. A place now so familiar, yet elusive. Where history plays such an integral part among these rocky sentinels. And think about coming back again.
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