A wonder called Channarayana Durga

11th March 2012

The title says it all!! We went to this place without much expectation but at the end it turned out to be an extremely great trip. It was a sort of exploration I would say!! I, Subbu, Krishna and Girish enjoyed every minute of the travel.

About Channarayana Durga
Channarayana Durga is a fort on a hill near Madhugiri around 100km from Bengaluru. Originally built by the kings of Madhugiri, it later fell into the hands of Marathas. But in subsequent years control of the fort changed several times between Marathas and Mysore Wodeyers. The British took over the fort during third Mysore war and then abandoned it. All that is left now is the ruins. But still there is lot left in the fort for restoration by ASI. But no!! There is no treasure left… people looking for that will be disappointed. The golden days and gold are all gone.

Our trip
We wanted to reach Channrayana Durga village early in the morning but could only manage to reach by 9:30AM. We parked our car, took directions from a villager and started the ascent. The trail starts from the village and quickly takes us to the base of the hill. This initial stretch is quite tiring as we have to walk on the rock with no shade. The climb was steep and within few minutes we found ourselves gasping for breath. After about 10 minutes of climbing we reached a small mantapa. Couple of minutes of break and we started our climb again. We could see the fort from here and started moving in that direction. We could see water marking at several places indicating that the hill had few sources of water. It would be quite a challenge to climb during rains as these water paths can become slippery.

It took us about 30 minutes to reach the entrance of the fort. The path we took was the easiest one but still it was quite steep and tough. You can then imagine the plight of soldiers attacking the fort. Clearly lot of intelligence had gone into building this fort. But now we just had to enjoy the cool breeze and the surroundings!!

The tough part of the trek was now completed. We rested for some time and then started to look into the fort. The fort has three stages and we were at the first stage. Here was a pond which would have served as water source for the people in the fort. The water has now turned green thanks to negligence but the pond is located at a picturesque location with backdrop of the second and third stage of the fort. A small Temple next to the pond adds to the beauty of the place.

The place was so serene and silent and we quickly liked the place. There was not a single soul around which meant that we were the kings of the ruined fort for now. We just relaxed on the shore (!) of the pond. It was so relaxing the feeling which simply cannot be explained in words. We had no information about the fort and using the surrounding we started making our own story boards. One intriguing question was how people in those times managed to bring those huge stones needed to build the fort walls. It looked like the area near the pond was used for quarrying purpose.

There were some structures near the pond which looked like horse stables. There were places to store the ammunition and food grains in the second stage of the fort.

From the pond we could clearly see a path that went to the top of the fort though couple of doors. So, we started walking in that direction. The second stage of the fort was the most damaged part. Much of this discredit goes to treasure hunters who have dug up and damaged several structures. Signs of looting and vandalism are abundant. It appears that these things would have occurred in recent years. It’s a shame.

We were now nearing the top of the fort and scenery was getting better and better. The cool breeze helped us to bear the heat of the summer sun. The fort was at the ‘touching’ distance and we felt that we have reached the end of our mission. But we were fooled!! “Who fooled us?” The people who constructed the fort!!

Normally the feeling that we have when we find out that we have taken a wrong route is of frustration. But here we were simply amazed. We had reached the back of the fort and there was no way to enter into!! We concluded that the designers of the fort had made this arrangement deliberately to confuse enemy (And now visitors!). As mentioned before, one could easily see the way to the top from the pond. But it only leads to the wrong side of the fort. It is so steep that is not possible to go to the other side by walking along the edge.

At dead end!!

I had seen few articles on this fort but it looks like most of people reached here and returned back! But we knew that it was the day of exploration. And we started looking at the alternatives.

It was clear that there is no way to enter the fort from the side opposite to pond as the cliff on that side was almost vertical. And the direction we came had led us to the dead end. So, the only way must be on the other side of the pond. We had not seen any path on that side from the pond. And hence we concluded that we need to take a diversion from the second stage. And so we got down to second stage and started walking to the other side.

Last stage of the fort

The ruins were plenty here and the place looked like living quarters of the fort. Not sure whether the king had a palace here. Genuine historians can have a field day here!

We had finally made it to the last stage of the fort. It was a small place which might have used for guarding the fort. The scene from the top was breathtaking. Madhugiri fort, where we had failed to climb two years ago was standing tall. For me it looked like that the monolith was challenging us. It is the only place where I completely failed to climb. That thought still pricks my mind.  The time had not yet come to conquer it. Anyway, that’s a completely different story.

We spent a very long time on the top talking various topics ranging from software architect’s role to Ladakh!! (I and Subbu have not yet come out of that hangover!)  And finally the time came where we had to get down and return back to our Homes. Since we were in exploratory mood, we decided to take a new route that we had seen while climbing the last stage. At this place we found many traces of a kitchen that existed before. A huge stone structure looked like a wheel. But on close examination, we concluded that it was used for grinding. It was really huge.

And a surprise awaited us. The new route took us directly to the pond!! We exited between two boulders to the open area. From the pond, one can never imagine that there is a path though those rocks. Wow!! That was something great.

The final descent to the village was tougher than expected as we had to climb down those steep rocks. Back in the village we were surrounded by little children. When I opened the doors of the car the kids jumped into the car. One guy was super excited and started using the steering.

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