CHITRADURGA Located at a distance of 202 kms Northwest of Bangalore, in the heart of the Deccan Plateau, Chitradurga is recognized as the land of valour and chivalry. The district headquarters town, Chitradurga owes its name to “Chitrakaladurga,” or “Picturesque castle”. This is a massive fortress on top of granite hills that rises dramatically from the ground. Archaeological remains found in the area, trace its history to the 3rd millennium B.C.
A rock cut edict of Emperor Ashoka, near Bharamagiri reveals that Chitradurga was part of the Mauryan Empire dating to the 3rd century B.C. After the fall of the Mauryans, this land was under the rule of royal dynasties like the Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas. But it really achieved eminence, as a feudatory state of the Vijayanagar Empire, under the dynastic rule of the Nayakas or “Paleyars”, known for their heroic exploits. The most eminent of the feudatory chieftains, was Madakari Nayaka, who after the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire, declared his suzerainty and consolidated his power. This hill fortress built by the Nayakas during the Vijayanagar era, became their stronghold later. In 1779, the fort was captured by Haider Ali, who along with his son Tipu Sultan, was responsible for its expansion and strengthening. After Tipu Sultan’s defeat by the British, the fort came under the rule of the Royal Mysore family.
Chitradurga features bold rock hills and picturesque valleys, huge towering boulders in unimaginable shapes. It is known as the “stone fortress” (Kallina Kote). The landscape looks much like a mischievous giant’s playground, with boulders thrown around, forming silhouettes against the sky. According to a story in the Epic Mahabharatha, a man-eating gaint named Hidimbasura lived on the Chitradurga hill and was a source of terror to everyone around. When the Pandavas came with their mother Kunti in the course of their exile, Bhima had a duel with Hidimba. Hidimba was slain by Bhima and peace returned to the area. Legend has it the boulders were part of the arsenal used during that duel. In fact, the boulders on which major part of the city rests belong to the oldest rock formation in the country.
Timmana Nayaka a chieften under the Vijayanagar empire rose to the rank of governor of Chitradurga as a reward for his excellence in military achievements, from the Vijayanagara ruler. This was the beginning of the rule of the Nayakas of Chitradurga. His son Obana Nayaka is known by the name Madakari Nayaka 1588 CE. Madakari Nayaka’s son Kasturi Rangappa 1602 succeeded him and consolidated the kingdom to rule peacefully. As he had no heirs to succeed him, his adopted son, the apparent heir was enthroned but was killed in few months by the Dalavayis.
Chikkanna Nayaka1676 the brother of Madakari Nayaka II sat on the throne, and his brother succeeded him with the title Madakari Nayaka III in 1686. The unwillingness of Dalawayis to accept Madakari Nayaka III’s rule gave an opportunity to one of their distant relatives, Bharamappa Nayaka to ascend the throne in 1689. He is known as dthe greatest of the Nayaka rulers. Somehow, the subjects of Chitradurga did not experience a good reign of the successive rulers as they ruled on the throne for very brief periods. The Hiri Madakari Nayaka IV 1721, Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka-II 1748, Madakari Nayaka V 1758 ruled this area but there is not much to mention of their rule.
The district is hilly, with lots of forts and villages. The district is bounded by Tumkur District to the southeast and south, Chikmagalur District to the southwest, Davanagere District to the west, Bellary District to the north, and Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh state to the east. Davanagere District was formerly part of Chitradurga. The district is divided into Six taluks, namely Chitradurga, Hiriyur, Hosadurga, Holalkere, Challakere and Molakalmuru. It is rich in mineral deposits, including gold prospecting at Halekal, Kotemardi or Bedimaradi, etc., and open cast copper mines at Ingaldhal.