Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bangalore to Chitradurga trip

I had been planning a trip to Chitradurga for almost a year. While returning from Goa, where we had been to last Christmas, my friend showed me the dim outline of a fort and a mountain beyond and said “that fort is awesome, you should plan a one day trip here”. I vowed to myself to answer the beckoning calls of the awe-inspiring fort.

My swift was raring to go and so was I. I only had to persuade four other software engineers that this would be a worthwhile trip. No easy task this! After weeks of politic maneuvering and cajoling, pointing them to other blogs praising Chitradurga, they agreed. My troupe was now ready: Anand, Malai,Sandeep and Rajesh.

Being the only driver in the group, I had my task cut out. Chitradurga is around 230 kms from Bangalore and I had never driven around 500 kms in a day. We left home at around 7 a.m. I usually drive like my life depends on it (which in a city like Bangalore- it does). The speedometer touched 150 kmph in NICE road. My grey beauty zoomed on and we soon hit the Nelamangala stretch where even going at 15 kmph was an achievement. We had breakfast at Kamat( near Tumkur) and reached the fort at around 11.30.

The impregnable fort is designed in the shape of a snake to confuse invaders. The outer walls of fort are surrounded by a large space that would have been filled with water along with a few crocs and poisonous snakes during an attack on the fort. Our guide next led us to the first landmark in the fort: The gun powder grinder - A marvel of ancient engineering this. Young elephants were used to rotate giant wheels which churned gun powder.

This fort seems to be battle ready even today. Secret locations from where defenders could repel and shoot at invaders, giant walls that still bear the marks of Hyder Ali’s cannons - you can imagine how tough it might have been for Hyder’s soldiers to attack this place.

On the way to the top, we were able to see Jothi Raj (a.k.a Kothi Raj – Translation: Monkey Raj) perform some breath-taking stunts on the ramparts and boulders. A stone quarry worker who struggles to make ends meet, he practices rock climbing with a burning passion and desire. If you visit Chitradurga, find some pity in your cruel city hearts and leave this guy a good tip.

We next visited Onake Obava point, where a brave house wife killed Hyder’s guards to thwart a surprise attack and save her homeland using her onake(a pestle - iron pole used to grind rice). I could imagine a husky housewife dispatching soldiers in that narrow entrance in what can only be described as a grim and macabre fashion. Women those days seemed to be made of sterner stuff! Alas, we all know the fate of such brave souls: death. At least they had the decency to name that fort entrance after her.

The final part of the trek included a climb to the top of the fort. More like a crawl in which I held on to dear life on one hand and my sneakers on the other. Three of the guys backed out even before we got started and arguably missed the amazing 360 degree view from above. I realized it would take at least a day cover the entire fort, our guide had conveniently shown us only the most important locations.

We later visited Chandravalli caves – Dark (don’t forget your torch), dank and the smells of bats is pervading. There is a narrow path in the deepest location that leads to the treasury (If you can consider bat barf treasure!). Personally I did not have the heart to make that wretched crawl.

We had lunch in Chitradurga and later headed home to our beloved Bengalooru. I was totally tired by the time we reached home after the hectic drive, rock climb and cave exploration; a pleasant and satisfied tiredness that hits you only during such an amazing trip


bhavyashree said...

nice description of the fortress and I didnt know about caves in chitradurga,interesting...
reading in between the lines,I quote
"Women those days seemed to be made of sterner stuff! "
so are women these days made of wishy washy stuff???

Karthik said...

Our trip to this place was an immense learning experience i must say
^ our visit to this place.