Chitradurga Fort (Kannada: ಚಿತ್ರದುರ್ಗದ ಕೋಟೆ), or as the British called it Chitaldoorg, straddles several hills and a peak overlooking a flat valley in the Chitradurga District, Karnataka, India. The fort's name Chitrakaldurga, which means 'picturesque fort' in Kannada, is the namesake of the town Chitradurga and its administrative district.The Fort was built in stages between the tenth and eighteenth centuries by the dynastic rulers of the region, including the Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas as well as the Nayakas of Chitradurga, feudal lords in the Vijayanagar Empire. The Nayakas of Chitradurga, or Palegar Nayakas, were most responsible for the expansion of the fort between the 15th century and 18th century. They were defeated by Hyder Ali at Chitradurga in 1779 AD. Later the fort was expanded and strengthened by Hyder Ali and his son Tippu Sultan,who succeeded Madakari Nayaka V, the last ruler of the Nayaka clan. The fort is built in a series of seven concentric fortification walls with various passages, a citadel, masjid, warehouses for grains and oil, water reservoirs and ancient temples. There are 18 temples in the upper fort and one huge temple in the lower fort. Among these temples the oldest and most interesting is the Hidimbeshwara temple. The masjid was an addition during Hyder Ali’s rule. The fort's many interconnecting tanks were used to harvest rain water, and the fort was said to never suffer from a water shortage.
A number of inscriptions of the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas and the Vijayanagar kings have been found in and around the fort. These inscriptions trace the history of the fort to the 3rd Millennium B.C. Ashokan period rock edicts found near Brahmagiri also link Chitradurga to the Mauryan Empire during the reign of the royal dynasties of Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas. However, the area where the fort now exists achieved prominence only under the dynastic rule of the Nayakas of Chitradurga or "Paleygars" (called "little Kings") as a feudatory of the Vijayanagar Empire.Between 1500 AD and 1800 AD, Chitradurga Fort witnessed a turbulent history starting with the Vijayanagar Empire; Vijayanagar Empire had got control of this region from the Hoysalas. Vijaynagar rulers brought the Nayakas, the traditional local chieftains of the area under their control as their feudatory, till their dynastic reign ended in 1565 A.D. Thereafter, the Nayakas of Chitradurga took independent control of the region and their clan ruled for more than 200 years until the last of their rulers Madakari Nayaka V was defeated by Hyder Ali of Mysore Kingdom, in 1779. During all these years, Chitradurga Fort was central to the reign, particularly of the Nayakas.Timmana Nayaka or Thimmappa Nayaka, a chieftain from Matti in Davangere taluk, during the rule of Saluva Narasimha, was the first ruler in the hierarchy of the Nayakas of Chitradurga. Initially, he was a chieftain under the Vijayanagar Empire but was soon elevated to the rank of Governor of Chitradurga by the Vijayanagar ruler in recognition of his excellent provence in military service to the empire. His rule covered areas of the Davangere district and Chitradurga district. His rule lasted for a brief period and ended with his incarceration and death in the jail of the Vijaynagar Empire. After him, his son Obana Nayaka or Madakari Nayaka (1588–1602) succeeded him. Madakari Nayaka was followed by a series of hierarchical or other adopted forms of successions of the same clan; Madakari Nayaka V was the final ruler of the clan from 1758 to 1779. Bharamappa Nayaka who ruled from 1689 till 1722 is regarded as the greatest of the Nayaka rulers famed for building forts, palaces, tanks and temples, including several gateways and bastions. He fought several battles against the Mughals.However, it was during the reign of Madakari Nayaka V (1758 to 1779) that the city of Chitradurga and the Fort were besieged by the troops of Hyder Ali. Madakari Nayaka used the fort effectively for defense during three battles that were fought against Hyder Ali. At times he had allied himself with Hyder Ali of Mysore Kingdom and at other times with the Marathas. Hyder Ali attacked the Chitradurga Fort first time in 1760, the second time in 1770 and the third time successfully in 1779 when he defeated Madakari Nayaka. Madakari Nayaka was taken a prisoner and killed. Nayaka's gamble of playing with both Hyder Ali and the Marathas did not work out. He was betrayed by the Marathas and some local Muhammadan officers in his service. Subsequent to his death the treasury at the fort is said to have yielded a rich bounty. It was during one such war that the heroics of Onake Obavva, the wife of a soldier guarding the fort became a legendary event.The dynastic reign of the Nayakas lasted for over 200 years and the Chitradurga fort was their stronghold and the very heart of their province.In the Fourth Mysore War, Tippu Sultan was killed by the British in 1799, and the Mysore Kingdom was reordered under the Wodeyars. Chitradurga became a part of Mysore province. The British considered Chitradurga Fort as a potentially useful base for providing a strong line of defense to Mysore's northern border. Between 1799 and 1809, the British garrisoned their troops in the fort. Later, the control of the fort was restored to the Government of Mysore.Chitradurg Fort
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