Chitradurga Fort, a beautiful unforgotten history

Visiting Chitradurga fort had been my childhood dream. I have grown up listening to the stories of Chitradurga fort and the brave lady who singlehandedly managed to kill many enemy soldiers who were trying to get into the fort illegally. So, going and visiting the historical landmark where the lady once stood was a special moment.

Read – 2 days in Chitradurga.

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About Chitradurga Fort

Also known as Elusuttina kote (means fort of seven circles in Kannada language), the Chitradurga fort is one of the most iconic and important historical landmarks in Karnataka state of India. Built between 11th and 13th centuries by various rulers of the region, the fort straddles on many hills and a peak that overlooks the valley and villages in Chitradurga district. The fort is located between the valley formed by the Vedavati River.

Chitradurga is an amalgamation of two Kannada words, chitra meaning picture and durga meaning fort. Other notable names for the fort include Kallina kote meaning fort made of stone, Ukkina kote meaning fort made of steel.

According to folklore, the fort is associated to the Hindu mythological story of Mahabharata. It is believed that a man eating giant named Hidimbasura lived on Chitradurga fort and tortured everyone who lived around. When the Pandavas came to the place with their mother during their exile. Bhima, the second son among the Pandavas, had a combat with Hidimbasura, which led to the killing of the giant and peace returning the area. Legend also state that the boulders were part of the weapons used during the fight. There is also a story that Hidimbi, who was the sister of Hidimbasura, fell in love with Bhima. She married him and had a child named Ghatotkacha.

Pillar at Chitradurga fort
Pillar at Chitradurga fort

History of Chitradurga Fort

The fort has seen a long history and change of rulers over several centuries. Chitradurga fort was built by many rulers, including the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas and later by the Nayakas of the Vijayanagara Empire. The fort was also taken over by Hyder Ali for a short period of time. It was also captured by the British forces.

Onake Obavva

Obavva was a brave housewife and a legend who singlehandedly fought the soldiers of Hyder Ali with a long pestle (known as Onake in Kannada). She is one of the most celebrated women in Karnataka and is applauded for her bravery.

During the reign of Madakari Nayaka, Hyder Ali wanted to conquer the city of Chitradurga. At a chance of sighting a man entering the fort through a small hole in the rocks (known as kindi in Kannada), he made a plan of cunningly sending his soldiers through those holes. The guard Kahale Mudda Hanuma was on duty near that hole. He had taken a break from watching the area and gone home to have his lunch. During his lunch, his wife Obavva realised that there was no water at home and went to fetch some water for drinking. On her way to the nearby pond, she noticed a soldier entering the fort from the hole. She immediately grabbed the pestle from her home and killed the soldiers one by one with the pestle by hitting them on their head. She quietly moved each of the dead soldier to avoid raising any suspicion.

After lunch, Mudda Hanuma returned to find a pile of dead enemy soldiers and Obavva standing with a blood stained Onake. He then intimated the other soldiers in the fort to attack the enemy soldiers. Unfortunately, she was killed by one of the enemy soldier who attacked her from the back. because of her bravery, she saved the attempt of Hyder Ali conquering the fort at that time.

The hole through which the Hyder Ali soldiers sneaked in is called Onake Obavvana kindi. And one can walk up to the hole in the fort to relive the moments and cherish that bravery. You can also visit Obavva’s home and the pond where she was going to fetch the drinking water.

Onakke Obawa kindi
Onake Obavvana kindi

Structure of the fort

The fort is built in a series of seven strong and stoned walls with passages, temples, masjid (mosque), citadel, water reservoirs and warehouses to store food such as grains and oil. There are many ancient temples in the fort out of which 18 are in the upper fort and one major one in the lower fort. The oldest temple is the Hidimbeshwara temple.

The fort initially had 19 gateways, 38 posterior entrances and 35 secret entrances. It also had 2000 watch towers for the soldiers to guard the fort. Each wall has a narrow corridor that would make the usage of elephants during any war. The total length of the fort walls is around 8 kilometres, covering an area of 1500 acres.

Visitor Information

  • The fort is open everyday between 6 AM and 5 PM.
  • There is an entrance fee of INR 20 for Indian nationals. It must be paid online using a QR code that is available at the entrance of the fort.
  • Cameras are allowed inside the fort but any tripods or gimbals are not allowed.
  • The best time to visit the fort is in the morning as the day can get very hot.
  • Ensure to carry sufficient water as there is no source of water inside the fort.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved.
  • Carry a good pair of shades and a cap to protect yourself from the sun.
  • DO NOT throw garbage anywhere. There are dedicated bins so only dispose your rubbish in those bins.
  • The fort has a lot of monkeys so be careful of your belongings.

Also, visit Chandravalli archaeological site when you are in Chitradurga.

Guide details

The guide we took is a Karnataka government associated guide. His name is Narayana (+91 9886799773). He was knowledgeable and knew the history of the fort. I found him okay even though he was not the best of the guides but yes manageable. He charged us around INR 500 for 1.5 to 2 hours of trip in the fort.

  • Ensure to check for the guide identification card before hiring anyone as a guide.
Guide for Chitradurga Fort
Guide for Chitradurga Fort

How to get to Chitradurga Fort?

The city of Chitradurga is very small. The whole city revolves around the Chitradurga fort and the street on which the fort is located is the Fort Road. Auto rickshaws are the common way to travel in the city. Note that there are no metres for the autos and one needs to haggle with the drivers for the accurate fare. Anything between INR 20 to 40 depending on the kilometres you are traveling is the correct price.

The auto driver that we hired was the best. Very nice person and very trustworthy. His name is Nagaraj and his contact number is +918197226554.

Safety for solo female travelers

Even though I did not have issues in the Chitradurga fort, I still did not feel very safe for solo female travelers. The fort is massive and has some isolated spots where it can get unsafe at times. The guide that we took was okay but I am not 100% comfortable with him. If you are solo female traveler, then visit the fort in the morning and avoid getting locked in places alone with the guide.

Chitradurga fort

Closing Notes

The Chitradurga fort must surely be on your must visit places list when you are in Karnataka. If you are a history lover, then this is the place to be as the fort is absolutely stunning. Listening to the stories and seeing each one of the structures built is divine. I loved it and I do hope I can go back for a longer period of time to see it.

Have you seen the Chitradurga fort? What did you love about it? Let me know in the comments below.

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