Jan 25, 2014

Fort Makalidurga

Makalidurga was on my mind for almost 3 years. The fort is situated north of Doddaballapur town, on the southern tip of Makali hills. Its a hill range 8 kilometers in length with multiple peaks.The hill is a mix of dirt and rocks, covered by woods. Bangalore - Hyderabad railway line runs parallel to the range.

October 16, 2013
Vivek and I left Bangalore early morning in a cab. Sky was heavy with dark clouds, between Yelahanka and Doddaballapur it rained, what started as a light shower became a heavy shower and it stopped abruptly. We went around Doddaballpur and took Hindupur road. Country side was green and fresh, it had rained the previous night. At Ghatisubramanya cross we stopped for breakfast, hot thatte idli and tea. As we drove further the sky was still cloudy and Makali hills came into view; it was covered in a thick veil of mist. We went past Makali Railway Station and located the dirt road leading to a Hanuman temple at the base of Makali hills, its situated very close to the railway tracks. For few seconds there was a gap in the misty screen and through it I could see the hill top.. towering high and seemed unreachable. With that glimpse of the hill top I knew the climb would not be an easy one.

We asked our cabby Siddaraju to wait for us, we should be back in 3 or 4 hours. It was barely 7-30 AM when we hit the trial, it was cold and damp. We found the temple and a small house, few dogs started barking. I was hoping to find someone so that we get proper directions but the only other creatures we saw were few chicken. Folks must still be sleeping.. who would want to leave their warm beds in such weather. We saw a path going up behind the temple, we followed it. A minute later we were at a fork.. right or left? We decided to go right, we followed the path which was getting steeper, wilder and wetter.. let's 'keep climbing' was our mantra for the time being.

Half an hour later, we were lost, no trial in view and mist would not go. Our trousers were wet with dew and to add to our misery it started raining! Luckily we had umbrellas, which prevented us from being completely drenched. The rain lasted some 10 minutes. The tall wet grass just got wetter and Vivek said he feels as though he's walking in water. We checked our position in Vivek's Samsung Galaxy; we were barely 100 meters north of the fort on the map but those 100 meters in reality would be some 300 meters steep climb. We took a real steep and narrow path hoping to reach the fort but we hit a hurdle. We could have climbed up the hurdle but climbing down that hurdle would be too risky. We trace back the way down and took another path, here we found a trial of different sort - fallen grass - it was like some creature has walked though the grass, moving uphill. Good we found something to follow :)

We tried to check our position but mobile signal was too weak. We kept following the trial of fallen grass.. another vertical hurdle in our path. This time we decided to go up, no matter what. The 15 feet was really tough we got over and voila there was a small wall. Ash, we are close. Through the mist we could see the outline of the walls.

Here grass was even more taller and denser. We had to feel every step before placing our foot. 10 minutes later the fort wall within reach. We did it! The climb was one helluva challenge. Vivek is looking for an entrance.. I was skeptical of finding a gateway here.


A short distance away, we found a crumbling wall, we clambered up the heap of stones and gained entry to the fort. This spot has been marked in line diagram of the fort's plan. This is the northern part of the fort.

Here's the rough plan of Makalidurga, no particular shape to it. There's an outer fort and an inner fort.

The base to fort route we took is not the regular one, it a round about route. On the way we definitely had cut across the regular path without even realizing it :( 3 hours climb, it was 10-30 AM.

We took left and followed the path on the wall. That's one of the bastions.

We reach a corner, northern most corner of Makalidurga. That domed structure (marked B in plan) must have been a sentry post, looks like it was built during Tipu Sultan's rule. We inspected the structure from outside, it was used as a camp few days ago, was littered with plastic bottles and paper. The wall turned right here.

Looks like raw material for this wall was sourced from this hill itself. Perhaps we walked through ancient quarries during the ascent.

Small gap in the misty screen gives a glimpse of foot hills. Looks like guards here had tough time carrying out their duty while mist and fog played around the hills.

I let Vivek lead the way to the fort's center. Those walls ahead are marked C in the plan. This fort is said to have history going back to the times of Vijayanagara. After the fall of Hampi, the fort would have come under other rulers before Tipu took control.


one of many ponds, water has turned green because of lack of maintenance
the eastern wall
Kote Devastana ~ fort temple dedicated to Shiva. Architecture seems like Vijayanagara. The deities are damaged. Looks like folks from surrounding villages perform rituals during important festivals. Close to the temple is a 6' tall rough cut granite pillar.

We go exploring the southern tip of the fort but tall grass and hunger forces us to cut short the plans.

looking towards the temple
That bastion at the farthest point would be the southern most tip.

Past noon mist clears off. Our cab parked in shade partly visible. A small group of people alighted from the white WagonR.. looks like there are here to climb. Glimpse of the railway track at the bottom-right corner of the picture.

From the fort we looked down the slopes and planned a route, we decided to leave the well tread path at one point and turn right thinking that would be a short cut to the base... the railway crossing. However, I abandoned the plan and instead followed the well tread path.. looks like this is a cattle route. Vivek mentioned few times that we were heading opposite direction but I told him that we it might turn right somewhere..

The path descended to the plains but our attempt to search a short cut put is trouble, we ran into a area full of thorny bushes.. those curved needle like thorns tore into my skin through fabric too.. menacing little thorns they were. Sun was bright, we were warm, re ran out of water and our tummies were growling. Aagh our plight was pitiable. Luckily we found a man grazing cattle who told us we were on the other side of the hill. He pointed at a dirt path and asked us to follow it until we reached a village.. I think the village name was Basavanahalli. From there we'll have to go to Thondebhavi and hit Hindupur road. Now, the solution to our problem would be to call Siddaraju and ask him to drive down to Basavanahalli.

We hoped for some clean water as we walked and lo, we found this boy in his fields. He was a good host; let us rest in his hut's shade and offered water. Our friend Laxman, told us its not 'Makalidurga' as most people say, the correct spelling is 'Maaklidurga'. He then he took us to his fields where his three sisters were harvesting groundnuts. Laxman handed us a bunch each.. that would appease our tummies for time being. Laxman gave us directions, we thanked him and bid bye.

Fifteen minutes later we in the car driving back towards Doddaballpur via Thondebavi village. It was 2-30 PM. For lunch I asked Siddaraju to go find a mess where buses do not stop. On the state highway we stopped for a minute to capture this view of Maakli Gudda and Kote.

Maaklidurga perched atop Maakli Gudda
We found a mess on the bypass road next to a petrol/diesel bunk; it was 4 table eatery offering home made lunch. We relished the meal- chapati, palya, anna, saru, hapla and mosaru. Aah, felt great. Back in the cab, we sank into the seats while Siddaraju took us towards Devanahalli.

Maaklidurga coordinates: 13°25'58"N   77°30'5"E
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2 comments:

Aarushi singhaniya said...

Hello Siddeshwar, I read your blog and loved it. Actually, I am planning a trip to Makalidurga with my family. Reading your blog has given lot of new ideas for my trip. I really appreciate the way you have explained the entire trip. It is quite interesting as well as informative.

siddeshwar said...

Thank you Aarushi. Wish you an enjoyable trip.