Wednesday 30 January 2013

The fort which no enemy could detect

This is one fort which you have to search to locate. It is amidst high cliffs and there is only one entrance to it. During the medieval ages, it provide safe sanctuary for several kings and rebels.
Its location was so secret, or rather so difficult to track, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb gave up the campaign to disciple a rebel who had declared Independence
Similarly, the Nizam of Hyderabad conducted a war for several months but to no avail. He had to voluntarily withdraw from the campaign as it made no headway and he had not way of storming the fortified bastion.
The fort and its buildings so impressed people that it gave rise to an iconic saying or proverb.  The popular saying in Kannada goes like this,
“Kaalu iddavaru Hampi Noda beku,
Kannu iddavaru Kanakagiri Nodabeku.”
This means people who can walk should visit Hampi and people who are blessed with eyesight should see Kanakagiri. This adage holds true even today and one should see both Kanakagiri and Hampi-one is a feast for the eyes and the other for the legs (This means that even if  you walk miles you will not get tired).  
Today, the fort in Kanakagiri  stands a mute testimony to the glory of the centuries gone by. The fort is called Hemagudda which has been a favourite hideout of  rulers and rebels in times when they were in trouble.
Kanakagiri is situated in Gangavati taluk of Koppal district. It was an important outpost during the Vijayanagar period, It was the capital of  the Palegars or local chieftains of Kanakagiri from the 15 century AD to the 18 century AD.
These Palegars were vassals of the Vijayanagars and  they loved their buildings like the Vijayanagar rulers. Today that love can be seen in the buildings, temples and forts that the Palegars built. The  Hemagudda fort is a labour of love and art. It is located about 20 kms from Kanakagiri in the midst of  towering hills and small mountains.
What the rulers could not do-destroy the fort-our Government has successfully done. Years of neglect and official apathy have put the fort on the endangered list
The Hemagudda fort is adjacent to another fort. This fort is the Kummata Durga fort which belonged to the warrior prince  Gandugali Kumara Rama.
The Hemagudda fort is enclosed by gigantic rocks on all sides and it can be entered only from its entrance in the east. It was this unique location that kept it hidden from the eye, giving it the name of a good hide-out.
Some of the rulers who took shelter in the fort were Peetambari Baharipidda Nayak, the ruler of Surpur. He had come to the fort as he was being perused by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, in  1688. The Nayaka stayed in the fort for an year.
The then ruler of  Hemagudda,  Udacha Nayaka, agreed to shelter Peetambari Baharipidda Nayak as he was sure that the Mughals could never locate the fort.
Similarly, Hire Nayaka, the last ruler of Kanakagiri, waged a war against the Nizam of Hyderabad while hiding in the Hemagudda Fort.  The battle went on for more than three months and the Nizam was frustrated as he lost both men and money. He was forced to give a call for truce.
Even after the war ended, the Nizam failed to locate the fort.
Locals will tell you that the fort was first constructed in the 14th century AD.  The temples of  Shiva and Parvathi, Kanakachala, Lakshminarasimha and Durga Devi were constructed by Udacha Nayaka, the second ruler of Kanakagiri, between 1510 and 1533.
A palace is also seen in the fort with hide-outs constructed in its  walls.
Kanakagiri is also known as Swaranagiri. During the ancient ages, it was the provincial capital of  the southern region of the Maurya Empire.
Kanakagiri has several temples built by the Nayakas. The temple of  Kanaka Chalapathi Gidu is the biggest and it is known for its beauty and elegance. One of the edicts of Ashoka were discovered here. It can still be seen besides the main gopura of the Kanaka Chalapathi Temple.
The Venkatappa Bavi is a royal bath constructed by Venkatappa Naik during  the Vijayanagara period.  This stepped well is surrounded by an aisle on three sides. It also has a temple and shelter for pilgrims.
This place is also called Queen's bath. There are four entrances to enter the well; three through stairways that wind around narrow passages and the fourth entrance is from a regular wide and open stairway. Kanakagiri is just 37 kms from Koppal and 17 kms from Gangavathi. It is well connected by roads

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