Oct 3, 2015

Basavana Gudi and Kannada Shilashasana at Nidgal Betta

December 29, 2014

Nidgal Betta was found while scanning Pavagada area. From Google terrain I could estimate the height as 200 meters. Nidgal Betta is a stepped hill; roughly half way up is the step- a small plateau with ruins of a fort. Climbing Nidgal Betta's steep face was a tough task! The second bit was particularly difficult climb because of the slippery surface and few hand holds. My guides Thippesh, Nagesh and Naveen, teenage boys climbed effortlessly while I was gasping for breath and sweat dripping down my head and neck. At times its uncomfortable with the camera bag dangling from the shoulder. The struggle finally came to an end as soon as this shrine was in sight :) This little temple is dedicated to Basavanna aka Nandi, Lord Shiva's mount.

Its a small, beautiful  statue of a seated Basavanna. Its a sweet little calf. This statue is definitely ancient, probably 600 to 800 years old.

As you see.. there are two inscriptions. The grey tablet leaning on the wall. The second inscription is on the rock itself. There's a third inscription, also on the rock.

All inscriptions are in Kannada. The rock inscriptions must be the earlier ones while the tablet inscription seems recent.

The third inscription is on this boulder. You can see a rectangular outline, within it is the inscription.

The floral art on the tablet seems like Hoysala. Is it an age old custom to have Shivalinga, Sun and Moon accompany inscriptions?

These dressed blocks hint at a plan to build a temple here, for some reason the plan was abandoned. Today these blocks serve as steps to Basavana Gudi.

Right next to Basavanna temple is this rock, a small lamp pillar stand on it. My guides told every year a fair is held on this hill, that's when the lamp is lit up. Looking towards west.. Nidgal Betta is one of the many hills in this area, probably is the tallest.

And on the east is plain land. If not for this railing I might not have gone around the temple.

My guides spoke a mix of Kannada and Telugu. Naveen barely spoke Kannada.

Nagesh, Thippesh and Naveen,
Behind the temple is a sheer cliff. and these rock formations, they are part of Nidgal Betta. The standing rock is amazing. It looks as though the round boulder was placed there by some one.

Looking towards north from the temple. These twin rocks look like a pair or bullock heads.

We climbed down from the temple and stood close to edge of a rock.. the fort comes into view. This is the upper level of the fort. Ruins can be found on the lower levels too right until the base.

Do watch this video; I go around the the temple and then climb down to the neighbouring rock.

On the way up our guides take a taken a short break by clambering up to the ridge.

Nidgal Betta is a beautiful place. At the base of the hill is Nidgal a historic village. There are three other ancient temples; Narasimhaswami temple, Rama temple and I can't recall the third one. Close to Rama temple is a an Kalyani. Going by the looks of the temples and fort ruins, I think they were constructed during Hoysala and Vijayanagara rule. Even Chalukyas might have left their signature at Nidgal.


Sep 30, 2015

Fort Nidgal - part 2

...continued from Fort Nidgal - part 1.

December 29, 2014
This is the view of Nidgal Betta peak as seen from three fourth way up. I\m standing in the the inner most fort. In the foreground is a temple and next to it the water tank. On the peak is Basavanna temple.. reaching that temple requires some serious effort. The peak is close to 200m (about 700 feet) from ground level. I had lost lot of fluids and felt dehydrated My three teenage guides, boys from Nidgal village- Nagesh, Thippesh and Naveen -seemed tired and thirsty. We sat down in shade, relaxed 10 minutes, had water, then five more minutes of rest.. felt better.

The east facing temple has a black granite slab with inscription in Kannada script. The inscription starts with Shiva Linga, Nandi, Sun, Moon and Vishnu's symbols- Shankha & Chakra. The inscription is neat, small letters formatted into neat straight lines. This inscription is probably from Vijayanagara period.

This is water tank has stone lined wall. When full water can be pretty deep here.

A stone's throw from the temple is this flat-top boulder with a series of holes.. quarry marks. This boulder was to be broken into smaller pieces for some construction work. From the crack has grown a clump of grass.. I told my friends this looks like a poojari's head with a juttu; they smiled back :)

View of the rampart wall from a spot next to the boulder.. a small gateway in the wall. To the left is a bastion (see inset) on the bastion is a damaged cannon. The bastion is basically a dirt mound, enclosed by a layer of dressed granite blocks however most of the blocks have fallen off.

The barrel is quite similar to the ones seen at forts of Bijapur, Raichur, Gulbarga and Bidar districts. It seems to be an assembly of several forged cylinders. Thippesh is inspecting the cannon's barrel

Few pieces of the cannon have separated out, while one is on the bastion (see inset), the second one has rolled down and covered in a layer of dirt. The muddy piece seems to be rolled down by human forces.. probably someone must have tried to take it out of the fort.

We take a walk towards the gateway.. the wall is not really high nevertheless even a low wall can delay enemies' entry into the protected area.

View of the wall from outside. Naveen was camera-shy, caught him escaping. Thippesh and Nagesh were fine.

Photo of the day: Nidgal peak through the fort's gateway.

There are two structures, very similar to the buildings seen at Ratnaghiri and Midigeshi. Especially the two perpendicular bands. Close to these buildings is a grinding pit.. rubbo-kallu in Kannada.

The other side of the structures. The one on left seems incomplete.

Time to leave, we slowly head back towards the  way we came. Soon we will be going down a steep gradient and reaching a spot just below this spot.

Earlier we had passed by the ruins of a palace, here'e a bird's eye view of the plains. Next to the ruins is a large pit.. probably a well or a water tank. This plain land is enclosed between two hills. On the opposite hill runs ramparts walls.

In this picture you can see part of the hill I'm shooting from, the plains and the opposite hill and the village beyond, You can see rampart walls all over the hill and plains.

Descending was not as strenuous as ascending but I had to concentrate on the path, very step had to be considered with care. We took exactly the same path as we had climbed. At the one of the gateways, I found another symbol.. overlapping rectangle and triangle.The rectangle's center line is the triangle's median. What's the significance of this figure?

By the time I reached the plains I was exhausted, I thanked my friends for their time and patience. The cabby Vinayak had brought his cab closer to the the last gateway.. it spared me another kilometer walk. I got into the car, pulled out a water bottle and took mouthfuls of water, trying to quench thirst..

Nidgal is one the forts I wish to come back to, I have to visit all the ancient temples here. Also, I would like to see Shirdi Sai Baba's temple.

Our next destination was Pavagada but when I saw the hill, I dropped the idea of climbing it. It was too hot and I was dangerously low on energy. I decide to head back towards Tumkur to my host's place..