Chandragutti Fort is a historical place that is surrounded by natural beauty on all sides. The fort is located atop a hill that stands between Soraba taluka and Siddapura in the Shimoga district of Karnataka. The rocky mountain bed of the fort has an altitude of about 848 metres. The place is a famous pilgrimage centre in Karnataka as it has the temple of Renukamba situated on the same hill.
Chandragutti was also known as Chandraguptapura in the ancient times.
History of Chandragutti Fort, Shimoga
Chandragutti Fort is an ancient structure. The fort was under the control of the Kadambas of Banavasi (3rd to 6th centuries A.D.). According to an inscription that dates back to 1396 A.D., during the reign of Vijayanagara ruler Harihara II (1377-1404 CE), a local chieftain named Bachanna claims to have ruled over Chandragutti. It is described that the area was later under the control of Keladi Nayakas.
The present day condition of Chandragutti Fort, Shimoga
Nestled high up on the hill and camouflaged by the dense forest surrounding the area, the Chandragutti Fort is a ruined structure today. However, even in the ruined condition the fort is a beautiful place to visit.
A visitor’s quest to reach the fort starts at the flight of stone steps that lead towards the fort from the forest below. On the way up is the ancient Renukamba temple. The path to the fort starts just behind the temple.
The path leads one to the first gateway of the fort. The first gateway has lost much of its walls due to the lack of maintenance and the fury of nature over the centuries. The kotkere or the fort lake can be marked out as it has made an opening in the forest. The second gateway of the fort is a complex structure that has been designed with the intention to block the enemy forces coming towards the fort. It has a place for the shelter of sentries. It has an extended platform from where guards can have a clear view of anyone approaching the fort and soldiers can shoot arrows or fire guns to the advancing enemy forces.
There are two passages that pass through the second gateway. One passage is spacious enough to allow a horse to pass through while the other passage is just wide enough to allow a man to pass through. There are platforms and chambers bordering the passage that were once used as security offices.
The ruins of small houses inside the fort indicate the living quarters of high ranking military officers. There are five ponds inside the fort that were used to store water. There is also a Yenne Bavi or oil well that was used for storing oil inside the fort. The Maddina Patana or the ammunition store of the fort is a small stone structure that has succeeded to withstand the forces of nature and remain in a well preserved condition.
The Kote Bavi or fort well is a pond inside the fort that has very clean water. The fort still has a huge stone bowl that was used by horses to drink water. Durgi Dibba is the highest point of the fort that stands in the northern part of the huge structure.
An interesting thing about the fort is that it has a wall built on a slope that stands right at the edge. It is unimaginable to think how the labourers dealt with heavy rocks and stones while building the wall so near to the edge.
Chandragutti Fort presents an ideal destination for trekkers
A trek to the Chandragutti Fort is a delight for trekkers. The route to the fort passes through a dense forest and offers the opportunity to trekkers to watch various kinds of trees and plants. Stone steps leading from the forest to the fort make the climb easier. But it is the view from the top that is breath-taking. Standing on the highest point of the fort and having a look at the blanket of greenery below is a surreal experience. It is a quiet place with a gentle breeze always flowing. The fort is the perfect location to relax, away from the din and hustle of city life and pollution.
Information for visitors
There are just a few eateries available near the base of the hill on which the Chandragutti Fort is located. As such, it is better to carry food from home or get foodstuff parcelled from Siddapura. The fort is located on top of a hill that is covered by dense forest. As the fort is in a ruined condition, obviously there are no accommodation facilities inside the fort. It is better to be in groups and carry tent items if trekkers want to spend the night atop the hill.
How to reach the Chandragutti Fort
To reach Chandragutti the easiest way is to reach Shimoga first. Shimoga is well connected to Chandragutti through the road network.
The airport at Shimoga is still in an under-construction stage. The nearest airport to reach Shimoga is located at Mangalore.
Shimoga has a railway station that runs passenger trains to Bangalore and some other places. It is one of the cheapest ways to reach Shimoga. The Hubli Jn Railway Station is the nearest major railway station from Chandragutti.
There are several public and private buses that operate between Bangalore and Shimoga. Taxis and vehicles on rent are also available for travelling to Shimoga. From Shimoga visitors can take a bus or hire a taxi to reach Chandragutti. There are several other towns and villages such as Sagar, Sirsi, Shikapur, Siralkoppa, Hangal, Hirekerur, etc from which buses are available for Chandragutti.