Chitradurga Fort's formidable defense system

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Chitradurga Fort

The massive structure ahead of me was undeniably arresting. This monument--handed over from one generation to another or from ruler to another--once stood as a seat of monarchy, it clearly defined wealth, power, and dominion in this part of India.

With a land area of more than 600 hectares, I could only imagine how it was made impossible to keep it impregnable against invaders within the 7 centuries under the rule of a reigning king. I could only imagine how much wealth and how many thousands of men were required to keep guard on this huge piece of the kingdom.  More importantly, I could only imagine how the Kings have maintained loyalty among his men and subjects over hundreds of years.

Chitradurga Fort
The 4th Gateway. Granite boulders line up the walls of the fort.

This stupendous defense system was built to use every possible boulder or rock in this craggy landscape. Made from the granite boulders that were cut into exact specification so the pieces against each other. Without any binders at all, it makes one wonder how it has stood the ravages of time and withstand any battle.

Chitradurga Fort
Almost every vantage point of the fort is equipped with manpower, and watch areas.  The stairs are part of the defense system.
It distinguishes itself from other fortresses with its maze-like narrow passages and short 90-degree turns and flights of stairs before it can lead to a poisoned or spiked gateway (which is no longer seen now) that deterred battering elephants to ram the heavy doors. Only the truncheon-wielding elephants can break the gateway but hidden guard rooms were also built that when enemies got too close, they were attacked by surprise. If the truncheons anchored on the elephants were too long, they will not fit into the serpentine passages. The distance between the gates and the wall facing them are so short that invaders cannot step back to take a momentum. Above these corners were archers ready to aim their arrows and soldiers who shoot through gun slits. Other weapons like boulders and rocks can be thrown down at the intruders.

Chitradurga Fort

Chitradurga Fort
Gante Bagilu - this gate is equipped with side room and door where the king's soldiers can get out and ambush incoming enemy forces.

Interestingly, the gates were strategically located at a good distance apart from each other. If the first gate were to be destroyed and penetrated, they have ample time to prepare for protecting the next gate.  The gates were also located higher over the other. This will make its enemy forces be exhausted climbing the stairs. The passages were not only treated as walls but also as ambush areas against the enemy forces.

Chitradurga Fort
Nandi, Shiva and Ganesh. This indicates that people have to be worship first before entering the fort.
Chitradurga Fort
A Muslim architecture inspired Gateway.

Indeed, I had no regrets waking up at 5:30 AM after a tiring day of travel and lack of sleep just to see its ruins and temples and structures that remain intact to this day--and more importantly to learn the stories and secrets beyond and within these cold granite walls and open and secret passages. Less than two hours was not enough to absorb 700 years of history and culture.

Be that as it may, I just allowed my senses to seek, to feel, to appreciate, and to know a little bit about its story--with much awe and wonder.

Here is a slideshow as I walk through the gates 3-7 of the Fort, or you may view the captioned photos individually for additional information.

To be continued...

With a camera at hand and my curious soul, I joined several colleagues to explore this famous and historic fort south of India. This is just a part of a series on Chitradurga Fort. Since the Chitradurga fort is an epic in itself, this deserves more stories in the coming days.

For more photos, Visit Part 2 | Chitradurga Fort in Flickr

This is the first leg of my
Please come back for more stories while exploring and learning about the State of Karnataka in India.

View Hiriyur to Chitradurga in a larger map

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Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.

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