This is the first trip that I did with my fellow Couchsurfers from Bangalore. Of course, we had a nice diversity in the group, four people and three nationalities. Chitradurga is a district in Karnataka and is about 200 km from Bangalore on Tumkur Road. There are KSRTC buses to the destination from Bangalore. But if you decide to drive, it may not be a bad idea as the road is good. There is not much traffic for most of the stretch and you can enjoy driving. There are multiple Kamat restaurants and a Coffee Day on the highway for food stops. Of course, there are some familiar Dhabas as well.
Chitradurga Fort & Chandravalli Caves – Weekend Getaways from Bangalore
Surprisingly, both Lonely Planet and Outlook’s 52-weekend getaways from Bangalore do not talk about this destination. I seriously wonder ‘Why?”. The only place that has information about this place is Wikipedia.
The place has multiple things to offer, there are Chandravalli Caves that are from the BC era. And are truly ancient and give you insights into the way people thought in that era. Built their hideouts and places to capture their enemies. There are places in the caves where the saints would go down and meditate in absolute silence. There are places where kings used to hide out. And there are places where enemies were left in cells with no sound and light, making it impossible for them to escape. The stone carvings indicate both the Hindu and the Buddhist influences.
The paintings have been done using vegetable colors and those colors are still preserved. In fact, the caves are so dark that you almost miss the colors on the walls. We could see some colors only through the photographs that we clicked. There is a rainwater harvesting mechanism to ensure a constant supply of water inside the caves. There are corridors to ensure ventilation in the caves. You wonder at the amazing engineering that was done under huge boulders about 120 ft high. Which is standing the test of time even today after a couple of millenniums?
There is a fort that is about 500 years old and is one of the largest forts I have seen. The fort is made up of multiple layers in a snake-like structure, and the stone talks about the era and the glory it has seen. It has seven enclosures and seven gates that you have to cross to reach the center of the fort. Each door has a name and a story associated with it. There are temples spread out throughout Chitradurga fort which was built by multiple rulers who ruled the place.
Like with most such historical places, there are many stories of bravery and courage hidden in this fort as well. There are places to commemorate those events and people. The layout of the fort will give you how the whole economy was once inside the fort. It would have been the central place from where a lot of action happened.
There is a mythological connection with Hidimba, wife of Bheem in Mahabharata who is said to be hailing from this place. There is a temple dedicated to her father in the fort. To go around the whole of the fort you would need at least half a day. I would recommend reaching the top of the fort around the evening. That is when you can see the sun setting against the fort walls and take some nice pictures.
Watch this video of Monkey Man at Chitradurga Fort
You will get to meet a monkey man who climbs the fort walls just like a monkey. He says he has learned this by observing monkeys in his childhood. He takes seconds to climb the tall walls of the fort. And within seconds he would be back. His aim was to get into the Guinness Book, by making a record in wall climbing.
Jogimatti Forest Reserve
There is Jogimatti forest reserve, where you have to take permission to go. But once you are inside it is nothing but absolute wilderness. You can spot some peacocks and a few birds. There is a viewpoint somewhere in the middle of the wilderness on top of a hill. Which gives you a spectacular view of the valley around it. If you go a little early in the morning, you may not find too many people around. You get just get immersed in the quietness of the place. There are forest department guest houses inside the reserve area, where you can stay.
Vani Vilasa Sagara Dam
And then on your way back to Bangalore, around 50 km away is the Vani Vilasa Sagara Dam. Which is built with some artistic inclination, with carved stones on the walls and a covered place to sit and admire the nature around. You can take a coracle ride. There are islands that you can see from the dam and you would have a temptation to go there riding the coracle. But once you are in the water you realize that they are not so close. From the top of the Dam, you can see a lot of plantations and gardens all around along with a Power grid power station.
On your way, as you approach your destination, you will see a lot of windmills all over the small hills that adorn that area. This was also one of the unexpected things that I got to see on this trip. For the next two days, I kept admiring the windmills all over the place. Especially from the viewpoint of the forest reserve and from the top of the fort.
There are a few hotels where you can stay and a few restaurants where you can eat, but I guess there is scope for much more there. I was talking to our tour guide in the fort and he said they hardly get any non-Karnataka tourists. They would love to have tourists from other places as well. I suddenly realized the amount of influence the guidebooks could have on our choosing the destinations to travel to. You would need to walk and trek a lot though as all the places need some physical stamina.
I would recommend visiting this fort, Chandravalli & Jogimatti for anyone interested in history, nature, and photography.
Recommend you to read the following Travel Blog on Tourist Places in Karnataka.