Trip to Chitradurga, Chandravalli – Ankali Caves and Holalkere

Our first trip in 2010 was to Chitradurga. Chitradurga is about 200km from Bangalore and is quite hot in the summers so this is the best time to visit if you intend to.

We had done the required preparations for the trip – mapping out all the places that we intended to visit and the distances to each of them and the things that we had to carry.

We left Bangalore at 5am in the morning. Our plan was to reach Chitradurga by noon with a visit to Vanivilas Sagar Dam on the way. The road to Chitradurga is very good; it is part of the North South corridor. The driver of our car felt like we had paid the price (toll) to rip on the roads and he was treated to a wonderful road where he was easily reaching 120-150 kmph (the maximum speed of an Indica).

We visited Vanivilas Sagar Dam around 10:15. Vanivilas Sagar Dam, aka Mari Kanive, is the oldest dam in the state. I had been to the dam just a couple of months back and so I knew that there is a way to the top.

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We clicked quite a few snaps and experimented with our cameras for about an hour’s time. We then headed to Chitradurga. On the way you can see quite a few wind-mills.

We reached Chitradurga around noon. We had made bookings in Fort Resort.

We wanted to have a quick lunch and then head to the fort, so were asked to check out the Khanavalis just outside the fort. There is one street which is full of them and you can get a full meal for as much as Rs. 25.

Post lunch, we toured the Chitradurga fort. We took a guide because we didn’t want to miss anything. The guide took us to all the important places in the fort – it took more than a couple of hours for him to give us just a brief overview of the history of the fort. The guide started with an explanation of the 7 circles (Elu suttina kote) and said that 2 of the circles were lost to the city expansion. The main entrance of the fort is close to the 3rd door. The doors are positioned in such a way that you could easily lose your way inside; you cannot see one door from another. There are quite a few watch towers (batheris) and the watch towers are positioned such that any information can be passed on from one tower to another. Enemies would have a tough time inside the fort because the people at the watch towers can see the enemies while the enemies are unaware of the fact that someone is watching them. Some of the important batheris in the fort are visible near the 4th and 6th doors.

One of the first things you see after you enter is ‘Yenne Kola’ – a small tank where they used to store oil required to illuminate the fort.

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Beyond this is the 4th door. A popular way of attacking forts was to use logs to pierce through or use elephants to barge through the doors. In order to prevent such attacks, the doors were built with a wall in front.

The sixth door has an Islamic style on one side and a Hindu architecture on the other. This was done by Hyder Ali after his victory to show the unity between the Hindus and the Muslims.

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The place is filled with temples. One of the first ones you come across is the Meludurga Siddhi Vinayaka Temple. The statue is carved out of a stone which has the resemblance of an elephant in the back.

Chitradurga is named after “Chitra” “Kallina” “Durga” which means “art in rock forms in the fort”. Near this temple, you can see quite a few such artistic formations – the elephant, the rabbit, the frog, the fish, and the turtle.

You also see the famous Jhanda Batheri from this place – a watch tower where they hoisted a flag to commemorate the victory in the battles and wars.

Once you enter the seventh door, you see quite a few temples and monuments. On one of the hills is Tuppada Kola – a place where they used to store a special type of ghee, used to sharpen the swords. Then there is Gaali Gopura, Muruga Math, Hidimbeshwara temple.

You also see a mud fort near the center of the fort – this was to absorb the heat from the otherwise rocky fort. In order to withstand the attack of water, the mud was solidified with egg shells, pieces of pottery, jaggery etc and was mixed together by stamping on it, using horses for this purpose.

Beyond this, on the other side of the fort, you can see Akka Tangiyara Kola – place where there was natural rain water harvesting, Obavvana Kindi etc.

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The walls of the fort have been built in such a way that you cannot remove a single rock from the bottom without dismantling it from the top.

One of the attractions in the fort is a person who is popularly called Kothi-raj who climbs the walls and boulders in this fort without a rope. Kothi-raj has an international reputation in climbing and has 9 gold medals to his credit.

We returned to the resort after a long and tiring day, feeling accomplished!

The second day, we started with a visit to Holalkere. Holalkere is about 33 km from Chitradurga city. It is famous for the Ganesha statue which is more than 500 years old.

We then visited Chandravalli caves (or Ankali Math). This is one attraction that you should not miss if you are to visit Chitradurga. This place has 3 things – a trek to a hill closeby, the caves and the huge rocks. The caves were inhabited by the saints of Ankali math who used to meditate here. The caves are pitch dark inside and you need a torch to visit these places. You can get guides to show you around.

This was followed by a visit to Adumalleshwara temple – about 10km from the city. This place has a zoo and is a popular picnic spot for the locals.

Finally, we visited Himavat Kedaya – this is a short trek of about 1km from Adumalleshwara temple. You see a water fall and a nandi. They say, water flows from the Nandi’s mouth 365 days a year.

The only place that we had planned to visit but couldn’t was Jogimatti. You need permission of the forest officials to visit this place and we couldn’t get it.

I have included a map of the route to Mari Kanive, and to Chitradurga from Bangalore, and the route to Holalkere, Jogimatti and Chandravalli caves here:

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All in all, it was a good start for the year.