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Chitradurga district,Karnataka

Chitradurga district is an administrative district of Karnataka state in southern India. The city of Chitradurga is the district headquarters. Chitradurga gets its name from Chitrakaldurga, an umbrella-shaped lofty hill found there. Tradition dates Chitradurga District to the period of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The whole district lies in the valley of the Vedavati River, with the Tungabhadra River flowing in the northwest. During the British times it was named Chitaldroog. The district was practically ruled by all the well known dynasties that ruled Karnataka.

History and Legends

A rock cut edict of Emperor Ashoka, near Bharamagiri reveals that Chitradurga was part of the Mauryan Empire dating to the 3rd century BC. After the fall of the Mauryans, this land was under the rule of royal dynasties like the Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas. But it really achieved eminence, as a feudatory state of the Vijayanagar Empire, under the dynastic rule of the Nayakas or “Paleyars”, known for their heroic exploits. The most eminent of the feudatory chieftains, was Madakari Nayaka, who after the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire, declared his suzerainty and consolidated his power. This hill fortress built by the Nayakas during the Vijayanagar era, became their stronghold later. In 1779, the fort was captured by Haider Ali, who along with his son Tipu Sultan, was responsible for its expansion and strengthening. After Tipu Sultan’s defeat by the British, the fort came under the rule of the Royal Mysore family.

Chitradurga features bold rock hills and picturesque valleys, huge towering boulders in unimaginable shapes. It is known as the “stone fortress” (Kallina Kote). The landscape looks much like a mischievous giant’s playground, with boulders thrown around, forming silhouettes against the sky. According to a story in the Epic Mahabharatha, a man-eating gaint named Hidimbasura lived on the Chitradurga hill and was a source of terror to everyone around. When the Pandavas came with their mother Kunti in the course of their exile, Bhima had a duel with Hidimba. Hidimba was slain by Bhima and peace returned to the area. Legend has it the boulders were part of the arsenal used during that duel. In fact, the boulders on which major part of the city rests belong to the oldest rock formation in the country.

Timmana Nayaka a chieften under the Vijayanagar empire rose to the rank of governor of Chitradurga as a reward for his excellence in military achievements, from the Vijayanagara ruler. This was the beginning of the rule of the Nayakas of Chitradurga. His son Obana Nayaka is known by the name Madakari Nayaka 1588 CE. Madakari Nayaka’s son Kasturi Rangappa 1602 succeeded him and consolidated the kingdom to rule peacefully. As he had no heirs to succeed him, his adopted son, the apparent heir was enthroned but was killed in few months by the Dalavayis.

Chikkanna Nayaka1676 the brother of Madakari Nayaka II sat on the throne, and his brother succeeded him with the title Madakari Nayaka III in 1686. The unwillingness of Dalawayis to accept Madakari Nayaka III’s rule gave an opportunity to one of their distant relatives, Bharamappa Nayaka to ascend the throne in 1689. He is known as dthe greatest of the Nayaka rulers. Somehow, the subjects of Chitradurga did not experience a good reign of the successive rulers as they ruled on the throne for very brief periods. The Hiri Madakari Nayaka IV 1721, Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka II 1748, Madakari Nayaka V 1758 ruled this area but there is not much to mention of their rule. Chitradurga features bold rock hills and picturesque valleys, huge towering boulders in unimaginable shapes. It is known as the “stone fortress” (Kallina Kote). The landscape looks much like a mischievous giant’s playground, with boulders thrown around, forming silhouettes against the sky. According to a story in the Epic Mahabharatha, a man-eating giant named Hidimbasura lived on the Chitradurga hill and was a source of terror to everyone around. When the Pandavas came with their mother Kunti in the course of their exile, Bhima had a duel with Hidimba. Hidimba was slain by Bhima and peace returned to the area. Legend has it the boulders were part of the arsenal used during that duel. In fact, the boulders on which major part of the city rests belong to the oldest rock formation in the country.

Timmana Nayaka a chieften under the Vijayanagar empire rose to the rank of governor of Chitradurga as a reward for his excellence in military achievements, from the Vijayanagara ruler. This was the beginning of the rule of the Nayakas of Chitradurga. His son Obana Nayaka is known by the name Madakari Nayaka 1588 CE. Madakari Nayaka’s son Kasturi Rangappa 1602 succeeded him and consolidated the kingdom to rule peacefully. As he had no heirs to succeed him, his adopted son, the apparent heir was enthroned but was killed in few months by the Dalavayis.

Chikkanna Nayaka 1676, the brother of Madakari Nayaka II sat on the throne, and his brother succeeded him with the title Madakari Nayaka III in 1686. The unwillingness of Dalawayis to accept Madakari Nayaka III’s rule gave an opportunity to one of their distant relatives, Bharamappa Nayaka to ascend the throne in 1689. He is known as dthe greatest of the Nayaka rulers. Somehow, the subjects of Chitradurga did not experience a good reign of the successive rulers as they ruled on the throne for very brief periods. The Hiri Madakari Nayaka IV 1721, Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka II 1748, Madakari Nayaka V 1758 ruled this area but there is not much to mention of their rule.

Places to visit

  • Chitradurga Fort is a fort that is one of a kind, as it is built on top of hill with stones. The city and district are named for it; the name means “picture perfect”.
  • Chandravalli, archaeological site where painted pottery and coins from the Shatavahana empire and prehistoric times were discovered. The rock inscription of king Mayurasharma dated 450 CE. discovered here gave historians much information about Karnataka’s first Kannada kingdom.
  • Jogimatti Hill Station (Reserve forest)
  • Adumalleshwara, a small zoo near Jogimatti forest
  • Murugha Mutt, tourist spot and fort.
  • Ashoka Siddapura, archaeological site where emperor Ashoka’s edicts were found. Nearby is Ramagiri, a hillock that has mythical associations with the epic Ramayana. A temple dedicated to Rameshwara built in 926 CE. exists here.
  • Brahmagiri village is the ancient site of Ishila, one of emperor Ashoka’s provincial capitals. His earliest rock edicts in Brahmi script and Prakrit language (3rd century BC) containing Kannada words were discovered here.
  • Hiriyur, situated on the right bank of Vedavathi River, is famous for its Therumalleshawara temple. The temple has an impressive lofty gopura and the ceiling of the main hall is painted with scenes from the Shivapurana and Ramayana.
  • Molakalmuru, fortified town of the Kadambas
  • Neerthadi, famous for its Ranganathaswamy temple built in Vijayanagar style.
  • Vani Vilas Sagar (also known as Mari Kanive), an artificial lake built by the Mysore Maharaja across the river Vedavathi. The reservoir has two mantapas built in saracenic style.
  • Gavirangapura, 3 km from Srirampura Hosdurga taluk, with a well known temple dedicated to Kurma, the second avatar of Lord Vishnu.
  • Thamatekallu, with ancient rock inscription and the oldest virgallu or hero stone inscription in Karnataka.
  • Holalkere, known for its 10th-century Jain settlement and 9-foot statue of Bala Ganapathi, a child form of the Hindu god Ganapathi.
  • Doddahottrangappa Hill, with a Ranganathaswamy temple on top
  • Halu Rameshwara near Hosadurga, well known for its temple and named for the milky water in its wells
  • Harthikote, a historic village of Hiriyur taluk, known for the annual Dana Jathra and the Veerabhadreshwara and Revanna Siddeshwara temples.