Currently known as the Nagara Fort, the majestic Bidanur Fort or Shivappa Nayaka Fort has survived the test of time and happens to be an important part of the history of Karnataka. Situated in the Shivamogga (Shimoga) district in Karnataka Nagara is a village that has historical significance.
The Nagara fort was referred to as the Bidanur fort up to the 16th century. Bidanur was the last capital city of the Keladi Kingdom.
History of Nagara Fort Or Shivappa Nayaka Fort Shivamogga, Karnataka
The small village of Bidanur in Shimoga gained its prominence during 1592-1629 AD under the rule of Hiriya Vankatappa Nayaka the ruler of Ikkeri Kingdom. The Bidanur region was annexed by him amidst his campaign. The worship in the Sri Nilakanthesvara temple was also regularized during his reign.
However, it was during the reign of Virabhadra Nayaka (1629 AD- 1645 AD) that Bidanur attained the status of Capital city. Ranadulla Khan the ruler of the Bijapur sultanate and his forces attacked Ikkeri and captured it in 1560 AD.
The growing economic and political crisis forced Virabhadra Nayaka to abandon Ikkeri. He then built a glorious fort along with a few palaces in Bidanur and made this place his Capital city in 1639 AD. This ruler was succeeded by Shivappa Nayaka under whose reign Bidanur became the hub for vibrant politics.
The successor who followed ruled Bidanur till it was captured by Hyder Ali during 1763 AD. Bidanur was renamed Hyder Nagara by Haider Ali. Several modifications were added to the fort by him. However, the fort was badly hit during the Mysore war due to a fire.
Tipu Sultan the successor of Hyder Ali rebuilt this capital during his reign. The previous glory was never regained and this place was abandoned slowly. Currently, this place is known as the Nagara Fort.
The Present State Of Nagara Fort
The Nagara Fort can be seen while traveling through the Sagar-Hosnagar road in Karnataka. Unlike any other forts in India, the Nagara fort is built on a raised ground that is only a few meters high.
The fort gives you a clear view of its surroundings (In all directions) up to several kilometers. Most of the forts in India are built on hills and/or have water bodies surrounding them. But this fort is neither situated on a hill nor has any water body surrounding it.
The ruins of what was a Durbar Hall and a temple space can be seen within the fort. A dry well, two water ponds, small caves, and several watchtowers can also be seen. Red bricks have been used to reconstruct the fort walls that have collapsed.
Another important area in the fort that is worth mentioning is the Devagange an engineering marvel beyond description. This was the bathing area used by the royals in Bidanur. Devagange consists of 7 ponds of different shapes and sizes and these ponds contain water collected from the surrounding hills. A star-shaped pond and a lotus-shaped pond are the most attractive among these.
The Nagara fort is a perfect spot for history buffs. Covered in greenery the fort looks its best during the monsoons. You can also get some amazing views of the Western Ghats from the top of this fort.
Bidanur Fort Nearby Tourist Attractions
Given below are some of the more popular tourists destinations that are situated close to the Nagara Fort.
- Kollur – 46 Kms from the fort
- Kavaledurga – a distance of 27 Kms
- Kodachadri Hills– 30 km
- Sigandur Temple– 60 Kms
- Jog Falls– 90 Kms
- Agumbe– 60 Kms
How To Reach Nagara Fort in Shimoga
The fort is situated at a distance of 142 km from Mangalore and 384 km from Bengaluru.
Mangalore International Airport, around 142 Kms is the nearest airport. From here, you can take a taxi to reach the Bidanur Fort.
Sagara City Railway Station is 57 Kms from the fort. From here you can travel by road to reach the fort.
All the major cities and towns including Bengaluru, Mangalore, Udupi, Sagara, Kollur, and Thirthahalli have regular bus services to Nagara fort. Both private and public bus services are available. One can also choose to hire a taxi or use one’s private vehicle to travel to this destination.