District: Chitradurga Town: Chitradurga Temple: Temples in the Fort
Chitradurga is a fort town located in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka.
Temples in the Fort – Overview and Architecture
Chitradurga means picturesque fort. This fort was built in stages from the 10th to the 18th centuries by various dynasties of Karnataka – the Rashtrakutas, the Chalukyas, Hoysalas, and the Nayaks who were feudatories of Vijayanagara Empire. This fortress has seven concentric fortifications. It houses a water reservoir, granaries, a masjid and several ancient temples.
Temples in the Fort – History
During the 18th century, the Chitradurga was ruled by the Nayaks, who were the feudal lords under the Vijayanagara rulers. The last of these was Madakari Nayaka V. There is a legendary account of a heroic woman associated with this fort during this period.
This was the time when Hyder Ali was trying to take over Chitradurga. By chance, some of Hyder Ali’s soldiers spotted a crack in the fort where they saw a woman squeeze through. They decided to storm the fortress at this point.
A woman named Obavva was guarding this crevice in the absence of her husband Kalanayaka. She heard some sounds at this crack as the soldiers tried to enter the fort at this point. She happened to be carrying an ‘Onake’ a wooden rod used to pound paddy. As each soldier tried to squeeze through this entrance, she hit him on the head with this weapon and dragged him away, waiting for the next one to squeeze through.
By the time her husband had returned she was surrounded by dead bodies of enemy soldiers, with her Onake covered in blood. He blew the bugle to alert the other guards of the fort and they managed to repel this attack. Her name entered the legends as Onake Obavva. However, her heroics proved futile as Hyder Ali soon managed to seize the fortress.
Chitradurga’s ancient history is evidenced by several inscriptions discovered in this region. However, it gained prominence only during the Nayak period. There are 18 temples on the upper fort and a single huge one at the lower level. There is also a mosque built by Hyder Ali here.
Temples in the Fort – Mythology
Of the eighteen temples in the fort, the most prominent is the Hidimbeshwara temple. It is associated with an incident in the Mahabharata. A Rakshasa named Hidimba lived here, terrorizing the people by killing them and eating their flesh. Bhima, the second of the Pandava brothers, and the strongest of them all, killed Hidimba in a duel, and married his sister Hidimbi. Ghatotkaja was their son. The rocks around the town are said to have been part of the arsenal that Bhima and Hidimba used against each other. The Hidimbeshwara temple displays a tooth of the Rakshasa Hidimba. There is a huge drum here that is said to have belonged to Bhima.
Temples in the Fort – The Facts
The Sampige Siddheswara temple is located at the foothills
The Gopalakrishna temple has inscriptions which date the main idol to the 14th century.
How to Reach the Temples inside the Fort
Chitradurga is located 200 km away from Bangalore. It is accessible through bus services. Chitradurga lies on NH-4 as well as NH-13. The town Chitradurga also has a Railway Station that you can try reaching.