I got up quite early on sunday and decided not to waste my time on tv/movies. I just wanted to head out. I called a couple of my friends and we decided on the spot to trek Nijagal Betta. One of the main reason was the distance. It is around 70kms from Bangalore and it made it easier for us to comeback. My friends had other plans in the afternoon. By the time we started from Bangalore it was 10:00 A.M, not the best time to start out on a trek with sun beating down at us. We don’t have the luxury of taking a day off for treks, so we decided to go in this condition.
Route: Bangalore (Take NICE road, get off at Tumkur Road) -> (66kms) Dabespet -> (4 km) Reliance Petrol Pump (On Right side)-> Nijagal Betta Foot Hills
There is a well defined pathway up to the top and there are no chances of people getting lost. The trek is quite easy and can be done in 2hours (up and down). We made a quick climb to the top in 30 mins taking pictures along the way. Looking around we realised that there must have been a lot of history here with many ruins of Temples and Fort. A quick glance at the sculpturing pattern showed that it must been part of the Hoysala Dynasty.
As we reached the top there were two adjacent caves which had a Lord Shiva Shrine and a Dargah of Karim Saeed. Its a holy place for both Hindu and Muslim locals. The view from the top is very scenic. One could see Sivaganga from the top of this hill.
People who love architecture would love this place. This ruins has amazing amount of history. I personally love history. For the rest there is nothing much to do on top. There are no good spot to take a nice nap. The whole place is barren and there were way too many monkeys running around disturbing trekkers and worshippers alike. The climb down is quite easy but one must watch out for the steep steps. The decent took us about 20 minutes. The trek was reasonably good. I would call it a very easy trek.
History: The fort is built by Chikkadevaraya Wadiyar in the mid-17th century. This belonged to the Hoysala period, but this has not been verified. There is quite a lot of history/folklore attached to this place. This is believed to be the hill where the infamous battle of Nihagal was fought between Madhava Rao I and Hyder Ali’s vassal Sardar Khan. It is believed that The Maratha empire headed by Madhava Rao I had set out to destroy Hyder Ali and his kingdom. The former was so successful that the only remaining regions were Nijagal and Srirangapatana, Hyder Ali’s capital. However, the Nijagal fort proved to be a very tough challenge and it almost destroyed Madhava Rao.
The Nijagal fort was built at the tip of the rocky mountain. Nijagal resembled an enormous, rocky semicircle placed atop a mountain decked on all directions with gigantic, steep, slippery boulders, effectively sealing it off from any sort of assault. The altitude of the fort was beyond the reach of cannonfire. Physical scaling of the fort was scorched by pouring enormous amounts of boiling oil and water, and excreta from specially-constructed holes (typically) near the top of the fort to make ascent impossible. A Burj/Bateri (an oval-shaped construction made of stone, sand and mortar and served as a watch tower) had guards patrolling round the clock. A large, deep and wide fosse circumvented the base of the mountain and was sprinkled with thorns. Crocodiles were bred in the moat to add yet another layer of security. Besides, Nijagal was never in the danger of running out of water. Three fresh-water mountain streams–Rasa Siddara Done (Done=stream/pond), Kanchina Done, and Akka-Tangira Done –provided ample water supply.
Madhava Rao I took help of Madakari Nayaka, the Nayaka/Pallegar of Chitradurga, to capture the fort. Nayaka soon discovered that there were two entrance to the fort. One which was heavily guarded and impossible to climb. While the other was used by people to go in and out of the town. He decided to use that entrance and attack at night with his Hunter Warriors. Its believed that these men originally descended from hunter tribes that inhabited the mountainous and heavily-forested surroundings of Chitradurga. They were known to be fearless and barbaric.
At nightfall, Madakari Nayaka’s hunter-warriors made a fire out of dried wood not too far from the fort. By its light, they gorged on a heady diet of roasted and raw meat, and liquor and marijuana. Dinner done, they wrapped rugs on their bodies, dangled a rope made of fibre on their shoulders, and secured a bag comprising Giant Monitor Lizards to their waists. When they reached the moat, they killed a couple of horses they had with them, and threw the horsemeat into the moat to distract the crocodiles. They dipped into the moat, swam noiselessly, closing their mouth lest any poison in the water kill them, and climbed on top the other side. They fastened the fibre rope to the feet of the lizards and threw the creatures upon the rocks. Once the lizards’ grip was secure, they began a steady, swift, and silent ascent. In about an hour, Madakari Nayaka’s hunter-warriors were waiting in the pregnant darkness at one of the two fort doors for their leader’s signal.
The hunter warriors entered the fort destroying everything in the path. They slaughtered everything in their way. Madakari Nayaka fought with Sardar Khan cutting off the latter’s arm. The fort was won by Madhava with the help of Madakari Nayak. This defeat was regarded as one of the greatest defeat for Hyder Ali. However, Madhava soon died of TB and it gave enough time for Hyder Ali to win back his lost empire.
A Collection Of Pics:
This to me looks like a watch tower. Iam not sure of its purpose though.