In the southwestern part of Karnataka is a place whose history and geography are riddled with boulders, Chitradurga. Known for its fortress and the stone boulders in it, this castle is indeed poetry in stone.
Karnataka is home to diverse geography. From rich tropical forests to golden beaches and sprawling metropolis, the state has many things to offer for an intrepid traveler.
Legend of Chitradurga
Mention Chitradurga to anyone from Karnataka, and the first thing that pops up in their heads is the legend of “Onake Obavva”.
During the period of Madakari Nayaka, Chitradurga was attacked by the troops of Hyder Ali.
Stone walls of the fort acted as a natural defense and Hyder Ali’s troops could not enter the fort.
After learning about a secret opening between the boulders from a traitor, Hyder Ali sent his force to attack the fort from this passage.
Coincidentally, at the time of attack, the guard at the passage was on lunch break. The guard’s wife Obavva served him lunch and realized there is no drinking water at home.
When she headed out to fetch some water, she saw Hyder Ali’s force entering the fort through this passage. She ran home to grab a pounding stick (Onake in Kannada) and killed 100’s of soldiers from the enemy force.
Her husband joined her in a short while and alerted his army. Madakari Nayaka wins the war. In the process, Obavva was backstabbed to death by the enemy soldier.
If not for Obavva’s presence of mind, Chitradurga fort would have been lost to the enemy that day. Her sacrifice is remembered until this day and she is known as “Onake Obavva” since then.
The below picture illustrates how an enemy soldier entered through the passage and how Obavva killed them all. My brother playing the part of Hyder Ali soldier and me Obavva :P. My brother will kill me for putting up this picture. 😛
How to reach Chitradurga from Bangalore
1. By road
Chitradurga is about 200 km from Bangalore. You can reach there by state bus (KSRTC) which operates from the city bus station, Majestic.
If you are driving, you can take NH 48 via Tumkur. The roads are very nice and the drive will be a breeze.
2. By Train
There are about 13 trains from Bangalore spread all throughout the day to Chitradurga.
You can check more train details here: Train information
3. By air
Bangalore International airport is the nearest airport to Chitradurga. From here you can either take the road or rail to reach there.
Top things to do in and around Chitradurga
1. Chitradurga Fort
This fort was built in multiple stages between the 11th and 13th century by Chalukyas and Hoysalas.
Later the Nayakas expanded it between the 15th and 18th centuries.
Hyder Ali conquered the fort in 1779 and finally British acquired it 20years later from Hyder Ali’s son Tippu Sultan.
The fort comprises 7 concentric fortification walls: 18 temples in the upper fort and 1 huge temple in the lower fort.
You will need a good pair of shoes, sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, and a hat to explore this fort as there will be a lot of walking around.
I would highly recommend taking state government-appointed guides to understand history better.
A minimum of 2-3 hours is needed to cover all the major points of interest within the fort walls. The Chitradurga fort timings are from 6 AM to 6 PM from Mondays to Sundays.
Don’t miss my other Karnataka travel posts where I talk about the western ghats
Located at about 3 km from Chitradurga town this place is of great historic and archaeological importance.
This is a valley surrounded by hills and the cave temple is one of its kind.
You might want to take a powerful torch with you. I would again recommend hiring a guide here as well, for you would just not want to miss the details of this cave.
This place in Chitradurga is famous for the rock inscription of the first Kannada dynasty. Kadambas, in one of the temples.
The water body adds to the beauty of the place.
3. Jogimatti and Aadumalleshwara Zoo
Located at about 3,800 feet above sea level this is one of the coolest places in Karnataka.
It’s a 10kms drive from Chitradurga and houses a century-old British bungalow at the hilltop.
This forest reserve used to house tigers and sloth bears once upon a time, which are no more here.
This reserve also has a small temple and Zoo which goes by the name Aadumalleshwara.
In the drylands of Chitradurga, this is an oasis of fresh air and chill atmosphere. It is popularly known as “Mini Ooty” for it can get really windy.
This again involves a lot of walking around, now you know how to be prepared.
4. MariKanive / Vanivilas Sagar dam
Vanivilas Sagar dam is popularly known as the Marikanive dam. This is in the Hiriyur taluk. This is the oldest dam in Karnataka.
Built by the Maharajas of Mysore over river Vedavathi, this dam provides water for many of the surrounding towns and villages.
This is one of the few dams where tourists are allowed to take a stroll on the actual dam. You might not want to miss this opportunity.
Let me know in the comments if there are any other must-see places in and around Chitradurga that I may have missed.
Also, you can check out more pictures from my travel here: Intrepid Indian