Kurugodu, Bellary - Fort, Prehistoric Paintings and Ancient Temples


Kurugodu, Bellary - Fort, Prehistoric Paintings and Ancient temples
A Panoramic View of Kurugodu Fort, Town and Hills
Though traveling to Kurugodu was fairly regular when I was in Bellary, we could never manage to make enough time for exploring this place. The 'Hill Fort of 'Kurugodu' has always been inviting and many of our travel and historical books speak in volumes about it. The level of eagerness to explore Kurugodu reached its highest at one point and culminated with us planning a road trip to Bellary during the holidays of Deepavali, last year. Trust us! This place undoubtedly exceeded our expectations. Our previous day was quite exciting, with the highlight of the day being the prehistoric anthropomorphic sites of Kumathi and Hulikunte. This day, we planned to explore the prehistoric sites of Sanganakallu and Kuppagallu and in anticipation of a really hot day, we started quite early and reached Sanganakallu. As Mr. Ramadasa, our guide for the day who knew every stone of Sanganakallu was held up with other work and promised to meet us the next day, we decided to go ahead to the next place on our list, Kurugodu.
Shiva Mandapa, Kurugodu Fort
A Bird's Eye View of Shiva Mandapa 
History of Kurugodu and Kurugodu Fort: Kurugodu is believed to have been a part of the Kishkindha kingdom ruled by the monkey brothers Vali and Sugreeva during the Treta Yuga (period when Lord Rama ruled the earth). Later in the Dwapara Yuga, this place became the capital of the Kuntala kingdom ruled by the great king Chandrahasa. The town of Kurugodu, surrounded by many small hillocks, proved an ideal environment for the then prehistoric settlement. There is ample evidence given by archaeologists in the form of artifacts to prove that this site was once occupied by prehistoric men. A few cave paintings found here can be traced back to the Bronze Age, with the others belonging to the Iron Age. Though there are no records of Kurugodu's association with the Mauryan empire, findings from the Ashokan edicts at Nittur and Udegola which are in close proximity to Kurugodu confirm that Kurugodu was once under the rule of the Mauryan kingdom. An inscription found here dated to around 2nd century AD confirms that this place was also under the rule of the Satavahanas between 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Subsequently, it came under the control of the Badami Chalukyas after which it gave rise to one of the lesser know dynasty, the Sindhs of Kurugodu. The Sindhs ruled Kurugodu from 7th century till the end of the 12th century, with their descendants seen living even now at Kurugodu. King Ariballi Dagra established the Kurugodu Sindh Kingdom followed by Udayaditya, Chokarasa, Rachamalla I (the most successful king of this dynasty), Rachamalla II and Veerakalidevarasi. The fort of Kurugodu was built by the Sindh kings way back in the 10th century and was later improved by the Vijayanagara Kings. This fort is four tiered, with its bottom most tier of fortification encircling the entire town of Kurugodu and its surrounding hillocks. At a later stage, Hyder Ali captured this fort and post the death of Tippu Sultan, it was left abandoned.
Kurugodu Fort
Kurugodu Fort Walls
Bird's Eye View of Hale Kurugodu
Tungabhadra canal
Tungabhadra Canal Traversing Across Paddy Fields
Kurugodu Fort
Kurugodu Fort
Having been to Kurugodu many times and hence being familiar with its surroundings, we easily found a decent place to park our vehicle and reached the base of the hill. Hereon, two men volunteered to accompany us and guide us along. They informed us about the presence of two routes, one laid with proper steps and the other with a rough path through thorny shrubs, which turned slippery at times. For us, taking the the tougher route was quite an obvious choice. The climb was slightly difficult, though a short one and we reached the first tier of fortification from where there were two diversions, one leading to the Shiva mandapa and the second to the next level of fortification. Reaching Shiva mandapa was quite tricky. It is a small mandapa housing a beautiful Shiva Linga, installed by the Sindh kings who were staunch followers of Veerashaiva dharma. The climb from here towards the second tier was quite easy. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Anjaneya with an inscription carved on stone, of the Vijayanagara Kings. From the top of this hill, we were able to spot many temples on the other side of Kurugodu, and upon inquiring, our guide informed us about Hale Kurugodu or Old Kurugodu, which was once a prosperous town under the Sindhs, but now is in ruins and shambles. They gave us all the details of the temples there. We explored the remains of the fort, most of which were still intact. There are many interesting balancing rocks here. Our descent was quick and we asked our guides if they were also interested in showing us around Hale Kurugodu. Their response was negative and they also went on to advise us not to explore that side of the place as it had turned into a drunkards den and would be unsafe. We thanked our guide and bade them good bye. We stopped by a small shop to buy some snacks and prepare food for our little one. We bought a few fruits here for which Kurugodu is known for. Kurugodu and its surroundings are well known for the excellent quality of Pomegranate, Fig and Papaya they grow, most of which are exported.
Kurugodu Fort
Balancing Rock inside Kurugodu Fort
An Inscription Outside Lord Anjaneya Temple 
Lord anjaneya inside Kurugodu Fort
Lord Anjaneya
Balancing Act by Rocks
Kurugodu Fort
Lord Anjaneya Temple and Fort Walls
Lord Shiva, Kurugodu Fort
Lord Shiva
We decided to explore the temples which we saw from atop the hill and proceeded further. We found ruins of many temples here and a little further on a rock we spotted some red colored paintings. We parked our vehicle to investigate the place and to our surprise, they were indeed prehistoric paintings. We were able to identify the paintings of hyena, bulls, people and many other worn out paintings. So excited we were! It seemed for a second like it was our own discovery! We explored more around this area with an expectation of finding other paintings, but no luck. There was a person working nearby this site and on inquiring him about the presence of any other such paintings around, he looked blank and admitted of being totally unaware about them. HeyI requested him to come along to the rock where we saw the paintings to know if he could recollect having seen similar paintings elsewhere, but his answer was negative. He went on to confess that he never knew about these paintings and its significance, but will keep in mind the same from now on. He suggested us to see a cave temple with some carvings of kings a little further. We thanked him and carried on with our explorations.
Prehistoric Rock Shelter, Hale Kurugodu
Prehistoric Rock Shelter, Hale Kurugodu
Prehistoric Cup-marks , Bellary
Prehistoric Cup-marks 
Prehistoric cave painting, Kurugodu, Bellary
Painting Depicting Hyena 
Prehistoric cave painting, Kurugodu, Bellary
Unidentifiable Cave Paintings
 To be continued….. 

Comments

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...