Saturday, August 24, 2013

Uchchangi Durga

Uchangidurga was in my sights almost three years, somehow a visit to the place had not materialized. Uchangidurga, a hill fort is about 22 kms North-East of Davangere, in Harapanahalli taluq. Research in Wikimapia had revealed two sets of fort walls, one small and one large separated by two kilometers. I assumed it was one single fort built on one hill. My interest here is historical however, Uchangidurga is popular for Uchangamma temple, perched at the hill top. The temple deity is also known as Uttangi Durga and the hill as Uchungi Betta.

March 6, 2013
After a satisfying breakfast at Sri Revanasiddeshwara temple at Dodda Bathi hill we resumed our journey. At Davangere, I made a mistake by taking the market route; instead we could have driven through the main road until the new bus-stand and then turned left towards Uchangidurga. Anyway, that little adventure gave a quick tour of Davangere market area to Malatesh. Once out of Davangere the progress was consistent. The hill came into view with 10 kms to go, but the road isn't a straight line; coming from Davangere we see its western face but the road going up the hill is on the eastern face.

The road on the hill is about 800m long. For vehicles, this is the end of the road; a gateway on the eastern face..

We are half way up the hill and what's seen on the right is the inner fort. Seems like this fort had several rings of walls. This hill has two peaks, on ahead and the other behind.

We climb up the other peak to get a good view of the surroundings. You can see three gateways in this picture below.

Western face of the hill and ruins of the fort on the slope and top.
View towards the South; we clearly see another hill with a fort. I start having doubts if that fort is a part of Uchangidurga. To the bottom right, out of sight were several tombs, simple tombs made of granite slabs but it seemed ancient. We did not venture below and disturb the day's itinerary.

The other peak, the wall runs right to the top till that tower. A small temple can be seen just below the tower.

Uchangidurga surely was an important center, the hill offers a commanding view of the surrounding plains. Probably it was a tax collection center in this region.

The second peak offers a clear view of the first peak, hence it would have served as a watch tower. Attacking this fort wouldn't be easy.

That's Uchangamma temple right at the top. Sadly the structure is modern and having so many extensions. To the right is a tower of the inner most fort.

Having seen overview, we climb down to the gateway and start climbing the main peak. An ancient stairway makes our climb easy. This part of the fort has been taken care of, thanks to the people who put in efforts. Notice the bastions are squarish, the typical circular bastions are not seen on this hill.

We go pass through that gateway. It is a custom here for pilgrims to smear squashed banana on either sides of this gateway (see inset), as a result the columns of the gateway are yellow.

We are looking up towards the next gateway. This hill looks dry and barren, this is the effect of drought over the last few years.

A large water tank, for local people this is an important source. Centuries back, surely this tank would fill up and provide the fort occupants through the year.

We noticed something not seen often; a drove of donkeys (see inset). Sadly, they do not have anything to graze :-( Probably they belonged to the folks washing clothes in the tank. Now we are the hill top, on the left is a fort within the fort. This structure has circular bastions, perhaps this is much older than the structure with squarish bastions. This might have been built during Vijayanagara rule.. I could be wrong though.

Past the older structure is the newer fort. This seems like an addition by some Muslim ruler. On the left, part of the temple is visible and the path to the temple is on the right, under that flimsy looking metallic arch.
Between the two inner forts was this idol. I could not guess it was Hanuman until one of the residents told me. Lord Hanuman is carrying Sanjeevini mountain in his left hand while the right arm is raised and the tail has formed a circle behind him. This was created during the annual fair, which had happened some days back. The place would be packed during the fair!

As we went around the inner fort, we saw a small town here, small houses packed together closely. There's even a nursery here! We walked past the nursery, distracting the kids for a moment, I could hear the chorus, kids were singing a rhyme :-) The fort's interior is just open space with one Shivalinga and a bunch of stone balls. I lifted one but did not try putting it.

That's the temple; very disappointing to see so much concrete and poor quality construction :-( I wish people learn to see beauty in simplicity.. like our ancestors.

Photography inside the temple premises is banned. The floor was oily, result of the recent fair. Well, cleanliness is not a priority here. Anyway, we got a good darshan of the goddess and stayed up there for a while, enjoying the cool breeze and the view of the surrounding plains.

Time we moved on, we still have two, or probably three more forts to conquer. We had almost taken the road towards Hosadurga, our next destination, but a question to a local man about the other hill with a fort changed our plans. That hill is called Karadidurga. We thank our friend and reversed our cab... destination Karadidurga ~ bear's fort.

Uchangidurga as seen from Uchangipura
Uchangidurga fort coordinates: 14°33'41"N   76°2'52"E

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1 comment:

MRITYUNJAY said...

Wonderful pic my friend..Awesome location, thanks for uploading....keep it up