Aug 9, 2014

Anandgadh fort

Anandgadh fort was one of the hard to reach type. Anandgadh is a hill fort situated in the jungles between Nandgadh and Halashi. The name Nandgadh is derived from Anandgadh.

February 28, 2014
The day started early; Dohara Kakkayya's Samadhi at Kakkeri being the first stop. Second was Anandgadh on the itinerary. At Nandgadh my inquiry for Anandgadh resulted in surprised looks. Then I said there's a temple in the jungle.. the hint worked.. Durgadi Mandir? Yes, yes! Road to Durgadi Mandir was not fit for Tata Indica, only jeeps or bikes can handle that road. How far?  About 10 to 12 kms. I thanked and went into the town, stopped at a shop and inquired again. Sources 1 and 2 gave more or less same information.. I told Prakash the cab driver to drive as far as his Indica could go. The dirt track was narrow and uneven, we crawled at less than 10 kmph. We had actually entered forest area, our path was flanked by paddy fields and woods.. no houses, not a soul around. Couple of kilometers later I saw a tiled roof farm house with signs of life. The house owner, a farmer told that our Indica was go another 500m, from there I'll have go by foot.. 8 kms. It occurred to him that two people had gone on a bike early morning. He pulled out his mobile phone and dialled a number. He spoke to a person called Kemani Patil, who seems to be well known person in Nandagadh. I was asked to wait, soon someone would be coming to pick me. Wow! I thanked the farmer and told him I'll keep walking and meet my guide on the way.

I must have walked couple of kilometers uphill dirt track, I heard a shrill horn in the distance. I guessed it must be my guide, couple of minutes I could hear a bike coming my way. It was Kemani Patil's son Siddu and his Hero CBZ. Siddu was an expert rider, he negotiated the rough terrain with ease. He said he was riding with a pillion here first time! The road went on and on and on.. 15 minutes later the fort hill and temple came into view.

Siddu and his Hero CBZ
I was imagining.. these hills and woods will be great during rainy season. However, it won'e be easy riding a bike on a wet track. Five minutes later we were at the temple. That's Durgadi Mandir, painted recently. Kemani Patil and Tukaram was relaxing in the shade. It seems they come here regularly, some times spend a night here.

Dugadi Mandir
The temple deity is embossed on a boulder over which the temple is constructed.

Just behind the temple are remains of fort wall, extending both sides.

Kemani Patil, Tukaram and Siddu
We went exploring the eastern side first. Kemani Patil and Siddu did not speak Kannada but Tukaram did. Kemani Patil's spoke only Marathi, since the topic was fort and kingdoms, I could catch what he told.

Most of the fort wall has crumbled away with few exceptions like this part. The woods have a variety of wildlife.. bears, rabbits, wild pigs, leopards, etc. On the ground I noticed red insects (see inset) with eye like spots on its back. Curry leaf plants were aplenty here.

Close to the fort wall was a sculpted stone about 2' tall. On the stone was a trident and pair of imaginary four-legged creatures. Kemani Patil said this belongs to Kittur Desai. That means Anandgadh was part of Kittur kingdom. I think it was originally built by Kadambas. Also it was under Marathas.

We came back to the temple, took the bikes and went towards western side of the fort. At one point we parked the bike and went walking. This is one water tank with stone-lined walls.

A little further we reach the fort boundary. Mound in the background is remains of the fort wall. We leave the bikes and walk beyond the wall.

We reach a group of massive standing boulders. Among these boulders is a shrine. Kemani Patil is religious person, he lit incense sticks at the shrine, a quick ritual.

Another view of the boulder.

Clear view of surrounding land. No wonder this site was chosen for a fort. On the horizon is Yellurgad, another fort under Chatrapati Shivaji.

We come back to where the bikes were and walk uphill for couple of minuted and reach a high point. Another shrine here, Kemani Patil and Siddu perform another quick ritual. Tukaram and I walk down the slope taking a short cut to a spot where we would regroup. On the slope were large lumps of manganese. Tukaram mentioned its high grade manganese.. I just wish these hills remain untouched.

A short distance away I saw a set of hooks grouted into the ground. Tukaram  noticed I was looking at the grouting, he said a cell phone company wanted to install a tower here but it was cancelled. Good for birds, insects and many other creatures here. A little further this nest caught out attention. It could be ant nest.

We came back to the temple, parked the bikes and walked towards south-western corner. This gateway is supposed to the original entrance of Anandgadh fort. This is the inside view of the gateway.

The gateway, as seen from outside. For some reason dirt has been heaped into the passage, blocking it partially. The granite blocks has cylindrical holes which once held door shafts.

Close by is another view point called Phadalphadi, most temple visitors relax here enjoying the pleasant breeze. Yellur is visible from here also. Western face of Anandgadh hill is quite steep, natural defence. However, some parts of the face is reinforced by walls.

Kemaani Patil has a practice of setting fire to grass. All that smoke rising from the ground is a result of his work. Tukaram watches his friend in action. To my right is remains of the western wall or.. incomplete work?

Back to the temple, we rest for a while. Kemani Patil asks me join them for lunch at a temple near Nandagadh. On the way back we also plan to visit Thatteshwar temple. Time to leave, we ride downhill. Kemani Patil is also an expert rider. He rode his Hero Honda Passion as if he rode on plain road. About two or three kilometers later we took a detour, this was a surprise. Kemani Patil lead us to an ancient well - this seems to be year round source of water on these hills. Walls indicate this well was created around the same time as the fort.

Back to the main track, we ride back towards Thatteshwar.
My heartfelt thanks to the farmer, Kemani Patil, Tukaram and Siddu. They were wonderful hosts :-)

Nandgadh fort coordinates: 15°33'33"N 74°31'27"E


Guruprasad Bandemutt said...

Hi Siddesh sir..very nice photos and good write up.., Got to know another place from you..Thanks!

siddeshwar said...

Thank you Guruprasad.