Aug 31, 2013

Fort Kardidurga

March 6, 2013
Kardidurga as seen from Uchangidurga, at a straight  line distance of two kilometers in southwesterly direction. Road distance is about 4½ kms. The name Kardidurga is made of two words Kardi + Durga ~ bear + fort.

We drove right up to Kardidurga village situated at the base of the hill, Ravi chose to stay back in the car. Malatesh and I climbed the not so steep gradient but it was pretty rough. The hill had a feel of a prehistoric site. We followed the foot path.. seems like the hill has regular traffic.

We reached the fort entrance in less than 15 minutes. Though the terrain was dry, we did see one interesting looking flower (see inset).

Fort entrance as seen from inside. Close to the entrance are two Neem trees and a temple. The place had a nice ambiance.

That's the temple; small and tidy. There were half a dozen men discussing some village matter.

Lord Hanuman, the temple deity and a Kannada inscription within the temple. It realized much later that I could have asked the poojari to move the bench before taking the picture of the Lord. The copper colored sculpture is beautiful, isn't it? Notice the Shankha and Chakra close to the head -  this seems to be a unique idol because of the presence of Vishnu's symbols.

The spoke to the men about the purpose of our visit and stepped out of the temple, to explore the fort. It has only one round of wall, with seven bastions on the perimeter. The walls are not very high, perhaps twenty feet at the maximum.

The damage seen here might have occurred in the last 50 to 60 years. Weather was hostile, it was blistering, even our sweat would evaporate in minutes.

At the center, just behind the temple is a tower - which is damaged badly. Many of the damages seem intentional, perhaps work of treasure hunters. Within the fort were houses, probably belonging to one big family who owned lands around the hill.

We went along the fort perimeter, checking out different types of structures- tower, bastions, houses, and then the circular structures marked in black ovals whose purpose we could not guess.

That's Uchangidurga, we were on that hill an hour ago.

These houses remind me of few forts in Bagalkot district such as Akkargal and Guledgudda. Here we can see two types of walls; 1. built entirely of stones and 2. mud used as a binding material

One more type of structure was a stone wall forming a 6' tall cylinder, we could count eight such cylinders in various levels of damages, grouped together closely. They seemed like granaries - I'm not sure.

The fort interior was quite packed, however something was missing. Guess what? Source of water. So many homes and no water?

Well, the water tank is at a lower level. Notice a ring of wall around the lower level, that would have been built to protect the water tank, I guess.

Though hungry and tired, we decided to check out the water tank before descending the hill. The spot was well suited for a picnic. I was tempted to call Ravi and ask him to fetch the lunch bag but then I felt it would be too much load for on person. The spot under the Neem tree was perfect for having lunch.

One last look at the fort before we head down to the cab. Lovely place!

Do check out the video by Malatesh.

Back in the cab, we took out cucumbers, washed them and started munching.. aah what a feeling after being roasted in the Sun. Within the next 15 minutes we found a silent spot close to Uchangidurga. We had our lunch of jolada rotti, salad, greens, sprouts and curds. While on trips, yeli-adkee is a must :-)

We got directions for Uchangipura ~ Hosadurga and resumed our journey.

Karadidurga coordinates: 14°32'51"N   76°2'19"E


Aug 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


Aug 21, 2013

Arani fort

March 6, 2013
Our four day trip to Davangere and Bellary district started this day, we left home around 5 AM. NH4 was some what calm and Ravi drove consistently at 80 kmph. By 7 AM chimneys of  Harihar Polyfibers factory came into sight. The road to Arani was on the left about a kilometer before the factory. The road was narrow and pot holes every few meters. we passed through several villages, people getting on with their routine. The 12+ km drive lasted almost 30 minutes! The ruins came into sight, situated on a hillock right next to river Tungabhadra.

No sight of any path going up hill to the ruins. So, we'll have to find our way through the maze of Jaali-kanti. We had a tough time negotiating a short steep stretch of loose soil and stones to reach the summit. We had plan our route to reach the structure by checking gaps between these thorny plants. Even the ground was littered with thorny twigs; poke by Jaali-mullu can be really painful and the pain can last for days.

The look of the building says it is a recent construction and built by some Muslim ruler. The structure could be 300 to 350 years old. The high walls are designed to discourage attempts to scale it.

The interior has evidence of two levels and rooms. Perhaps this was a house of a landlord or a jagirdar. The house had to be secure for obvious reasons, hence the high walls.

On the side is the entrance to the stairway, narrow and low, designed for security.

The royal house has a great view of Tungabhadra, flowing North. If you follow this river, you get to see three ancient temples on the left bank- Muktesvaragudi of Choudadhayanapura, Somesvaragudi of Haralahalli and Galagesvara temple of Galaganatha. Of course, it would be easier to reach them from Haveri. Also there are two forts- Havanur fort & Shakhara fort, situated on left and right banks respectively.

Turning our attention back to Arani fort, the structure looks better with Sun behind our backs.

Close by we saw this small conical structure, hollow inside. This might have been used to stored food grains or canon ammunition.

Vandals have turned this into a gambling den; we found playing cards, cigarette packs and liquor bottles inside. In the background are couple of walls, perched at the edge of the hillock.

If this fort had any canons, few would have been placed here to thwart any attacks from the river side.

Looking towards the south. On the right, close to the horizon is a speck sticking out of the greenery. That's the Gopura of a Shaiva Matha.. sorry, cannot recall the name of the Matha.

Panning to the right; Malatesh negotiates the unfriendly slope. Towards the top-right corner of the picture is the round structure, makes me wonder why that location.

Besides the large structure there were two smaller ones, perhaps built for sentries. Done with Arani fort, we decided to continue with our journey.

We travel back to NH4, pass through Harihar and reach Dodda Bathi. It was time for breakfast, we drove up the hillock, right till Revana Siddeshwara temple. The place was peaceful, we settled down on the temple steps and unpacked our breakfast items- upit, pickles and black tea.. We had a long ahead of us, more forts!

Arani fort coordinates: 14°36'16"N   75°48'11"E

Aug 17, 2013

Benches at Cubbon Park

During this visit to Bengaluru, I did something never done earlier; long walks early mornings. I would leave home by 4-45 AM and return by 7 O'clock. I walked the streets in Cantonment area I had only driven on during my earlier years. I would reach Cubbon Park around 5-30 when the sky turned light. Walking under the canopy of Cubbon Park was a great experience, I noticed some trees were labelled with scientific names, that would remind me of Botanical garden at Dharwad. The second day I noticed the benches, there were several types.. some interesting designs. I decided to visit with my camera. July 6th I skipped early morning walk, instead left home later with my niece Durga we had work at General Post Office, enroute we took a detour into the park to shoot. I captured only the unoccupied benches except one, here we go-
a modern, cement and steel bench, purely functional
cement seat and granite legs with an artistic touch
this tree closes overgrows the space between two benches
arrangement for an open air conference
an octagonal bench
definitely an ancient creation, simple yet beautiful
another relic bench in better condition
purely functional cement and steel mass produced bench
a pair of lions flank the path connecting Cubbon Park to High Court

We walked around for thirty minutes, then occupied the relic bench, had snacks and water. We had brought a pack of Monaco salt biscuits for our canine friends but none of them would eat. Durga said they don't like salt biscuits. Anyway, the biscuits found a target- a gang of crows :) It was past 10-30, GPO would be open for business, time to end our little excursion.