Sunday, February 19, 2017


During the 9th century AD, a small fort was constructed at Kavaledurga, near Thirthahalli. In the 14th century, the fort was strengthened by Cheluvarangappa, the king of Belagutti. Later, the fort passed on to two brothers, Tholaytama and Mundige, who gave the nomenclature Kauledurga to the fort as it was located near Kauli village.  In the 16th century, the fort came into the possession of a Keladi king, Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka, who constructed seven battlements to fortify the construction, renaming it as Bhuvanagiri Durga. 

 In 1763, the fort was annexed by Hyder Ali and came to be known as Kavaledurga. It is believed that the fort acquired this name from Kavalu Dararu, which was used to address the group of soldiers who were left by Hyder Ali to take care of the fort.  When the fort came under the rule of Tipu Sultan, it became a part of the domain of the Wodeyar dynasty of Mysore. 

Kavale Durga Fort has many interesting stories and fables associated it. It is also a venue where several temples and deities were located. It is believed that many sages performed intense penance on these hills.  In Hindu mythology, this place was known as Parashuram Kshetra and rose to eminence during the Krita Yuga. In Treta Yuga, the sages Agastya and Valmiki were supposed to have stayed here. Legends about the Dvapara Yuga tell us that the Pandavas had stayed here. Bhuvanagiri Durga is also mentioned in the Skanda Purana by the name Kavya Vana and Kapila Durga.

Rainwater Harvesting!

At Kavale Durga Fort, further ahead, you come across a cave-like structure where you can find fresh water round the year. This place is known as Gadaa Theertha, so called because it is believed that Bheema’s Gadaa dug up the place. Two tiny ponds are formed out of rocks in the fort premises.  You also come across a statue of Aadhishesha or the divine serpent. A part of the fort, probably meant to be a storehouse for guns and ammunition, is known as Tupaaki Buruju.

There were seven lakes in the fort, always brimming with water. Evidence of rain water harvesting technology being used has been found. The water flowing from the top of the fort to the bottom, through a specially constructed water channel, was accumulated. Natural water from the mountains was also diverted through the water channel to the lakes. Even today, the water flows from one lake through another through the underground channel and collects in the big lake below the hill where the fort is located, flowing through a channel through the village and joining another bigger man-made lake, ‘Thimmarasa Nayaka na Kere’.

The View.

The most beautiful sight at Kavale Durga Fort is when you stand on the hill and look around.  You can see the Varahi Dam far away in the west, its backwaters and Kundadri Hill to the south and the ranges of hills and forests around you. The hazy background of the Kodachadri peak on the northern horizon adds a touch of splendor to the whole landscape. Viewing the beauty of the sunrise and the sunset from here is simply mind elevating.

There is a Veerashaiva math which was patronized by Keladi rulers at the base of the hill. Devotees throng the math and free food is served here.

The Kavale Durga Fort has been taken up by the Archaeological Department of India which is trying to restore the fort and preserve this valuable heritage site.

Temples In The Fort.

The Lakshminarayana Temple is situated on the top of a huge rock inside the fort. You can see the ruins of the Darbar Hall and the Queen’s private swimming pool, remains of the jail, ammunition house, Ghalige Battalu (or the ancient copper pot used for measuring time) and the stables of the royal horses and elephants. On a monolithic rock is a small temple, the Shikhareshwara Temple, which can be seen from the foot of the hill. The Shikhareshwara Temple has been built on a huge boulder which crowns the summit of the hill. The small shrine and the boulder together appear like a shivalinga. At the third level is the Kashi Viswanatha Temple which is known for its two stone pillars or dwajasthambam in front of the temple. The temple has a mantapam at the entrance known as Tulabhaara Mantapa. A court dancer has been immortalized on one of the walls in the form of a sketch. We can see an Islamic style doorway in Kashi Vishwanatha Temple which indicates that the original doorway might have been changed to the Islamic style during the Hyder Ali period.

The Fort.

Kavale Durga Fort (Kavaledurga Fort) is around 8 km in circumference and had walls which were 30 to 40 feet high, interspersed with watch towers at selected spots. The fort had two different types of defenses with two lines of fortification surrounding the village beneath the fort and five lines of fortification surrounding the fort.  The village fortification has been ravaged, but is visible in certain places. Kavale Durga Fort is an architectural marvel that was built based on astute construction plans. A large part of the Kavale Durga Fort is in shambles with the exception of two fortresses and temples like the Lakshminarayana Temple, the Mylaareshwara shrine etc. There were 15 temples, of which only three temples remain, including Sri Lakshmi Narayana, Kashi Vishwanatha and Shikareshwara Temples.   Two circular bastions forming the gateway to the second level of the fort are known as ‘Nagaari Baagilu’.



If you have been ruing your job, the daily deadlines, and the endless grind, there are places around Bangalore which can give you a good respite. One of these places is Skandagiri, located about 60 km from Bangalore, and a perfect destination for one day outing.

It is beautiful, and adventurous too

Skandgiri, situated 3 km from Chikballapur village, is a scenic weekend getaway that also serves as an adventure weekend getaway. It is a hill with the ruins of a fort which dates back to the 18th century. The fort is in a dilapidated condition, and so is the temple situated close to it, but that takes nothing away from the trek to the top of the mountain.

How to reach Skandagiri

Skandagir is located close to Bangalore. You can take a trip to Skandagiri and back within a day and a half, including the trek to the top. There are regular buses that play from Bangalore to Skandagiri. In order to reach Skandagiri, you need to take a bus from Bangalore and get down at Chikballapur.

From Chikballapur, there are two ways to reach the base of Skandagiri hill. You can either take an auto, which takes about 15 minutes, or you could walk to the base. A walk to the base takes about an hour, but you also get the opportunity to explore the rural lifestyle and the scenic views on the way.

Skandagiri Trek

The trek to the top

The trek to the top of Skandagiri is on the easier side, with a well marked out route. The early part of the trek is pretty dry in terms of vegetation. However, as you start getting close to the top of the hill, you start to see lush vegetation. The top of the hill offers panoramic views of the valley below.

Standing there, on top of the hill, you almost feel like a ruler yourself, with an eye on your kingdom. Although the fort is in a very bad condition, do take a walk around it to enjoy the mysticism surrounding it.

There is a pool of water too at the top of the hill. However, there is hardly any water in the pool now since it has been used as a dustbin by careless trekkers.

There is even a night trek in the offing

Skandagiri hill is one of the few trekking routes around Bangalore where a night trek is possible. The trek to the top of the hill takes about 2 hours, which means if you start at midnight, you should reach the top by 2:00 am and spend a little time camping at the top before the break of dawn.

The best time for the trek

While a trek to the top of Skandagiri is always a great experience, the best time to do it would be in the winter months. During the winter months, the top of the hill is often enclosed in a blanket of mist, making it a really romantic experience.


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