Forts of Karnataka

  • One usually associates forts with the states of Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Here is a quick overview of forts in Karnataka with pictures.

One usually associates forts with the states of Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Till I travelled, did not know that Karnataka has many forts too. They may not be as grand as Kumbalgarh or Raigarh but are interesting nevertheless. Presenting details of some forts.

1. Bidar Fort

The fort is 690 Km north of Bangalore and 150 Km north-west of Hyderabad – was built in 15th Century CE by the Bahmani kings.

There are 30+ monuments inside Bidar fort–teeming with the stamp of medieval Persian art and architecture. The University built in 1460s by Mahmud Gawan of Persia is nearby. Chaubara is situated down the same road.

The name Bidar comes from ‘Bidiru’ meaning Bamboo–which must have occupied the place at one point in time.


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2. Madikeri Fort

Madikeri Fort, also called Mercara Fort, located in Madikeri town, Coorg, Karnataka was founded by Mudduraja in the second half of the 17th century CE.

The palace built inside the fort ny Mudduraja was rebuilt and renovated during the times of Tipu sultan, Dodda Vira Rajendra, Linga Rajendra II and the British.

Madikeri Deputy Commissioner’s Office is located inside the Fort. The other prominent buildings are Mahatma Gandhi Public Library, Kote Maha Ganapathi temple, District prison and the Church (currently a museum under State Archaeological Department).

Outer walls are intact. An interesting fort!

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3. Chitradurga Fort

Chitradurga fort built in stages between 11th and 15th century CE, is located 200 km north-west of Bengaluru.

A moderate climb to different parts of the fort would take us through a number of gates, multiple ramparts, temples, granary, gym, treasury, halls, conference area, couple of (water) reservoirs and the famous Obbava kindi. The adventurous could try climbing up to the security watch point on top of the rocky hill.

A number of inscriptions from the periods of Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara kings have been found in and around the fort. These inscriptions trace the history of the fort back to 3rd century BCE.

Definitely a place where the history lives! Must visit.



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4. Devanhalli Fort

Devanahalli Fort is located 38 kms north of Bengaluru.

The fort was built in 1501 CE by Malla Byre Gowda, a chieftain under Vijayanagara Empire, and reinforced by later rulers of the area. Ultimately it came under British in 1791 CE.

The fort is spread over an area of 20 acres. Venugopalaswamy temple built in Vijayanagara style is prominent amongst the few temples that are inside the fort.


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5. Gudibande Fort

Gudibande Fort is 95 km north of Bangalore. It was built by chieftain Byre Gowda in 17th century CE.

Situated on top of a rocky hill, the fort has seven levels with interconnecting routes and a Shiva temple at the top.

The key aspect of the fort is its rain water harvesting system with 19 ponds at different levels!

The climb is moderate and filled with attractions all along. The views from the top are spectacular.

Other attractions in Gudibante are Byrasagara reservoir, and 1000+ year-old Lakshmi Venkataramana swamy temple built by Cholas.


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6. Manjarabad Fort

Manjarabad fort located 5 km south-west of Sakhleshpur is a star shaped fort built by Tipu Sultan in 1792 CE with the help of French Architects to counter British forces.

The fort located on a hillock at an elevation of 3,240 feet above MSL gives a clear and commanding view of the surrounding areas.

The name Manjara comes from ‘manju’ meaning fog or mist that used to surround the fort often. This military fort had army barracks, armoury, ammunition, gunpowder stores and related infrastructure.

Interestingly the fort is at just one level in contrast to many forts that usually had multiple level structures.


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7. Mirjan Fort

Mirjan Fort, located 11 km north of Kumta and 22 km south east of Gokarna (Karnataka), was built in 16th century CE by Queen Chennabhaira Devi of Gersoppa, under the Vijayanagara Empire.

Rani Chennabhaira Devi, also known as the Pepper Queen, ruled for 54 years (1552 CE to 1606 CE) and used to live in the fort.

The fort is on the banks of Aghanashini River.

The fort had double-walled protection, high bastions and a moat once encircled the fort. The fort is in good shape, thanks to ASI.


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8. Nagara Fort

Nagara Fort, situated 82 Km west of Shivamogga, was built in 1561 by Veerabhadra Nayaka of Keladi dynasty. Later king Shivappa Nayaka (1645-1665) fortified and added many structures to the fort.

Also called Bidanur fort and Shivappa Nayaka fort, this was the last capital city of Keladi rulers.

The fort is built on a small hill overlooking couple of lakes on either sides, vast tracts of greenery, and Western Ghats at a distance.

Fort has ruins of Darbar hall, Palace, barracks, watch tower, associated buildings, gateways, and two water tanks called Akka Thangi Kola.

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9. Savandurga Fort

Savandurga hill is located 48 km west of Bengaluru. It’s one of the largest monolith rocks in Asia.

On top of the monolith rock, there’s a temple and remnants of a fort. Earliest reference to the name Savandurga is available from 1340 CE.

The Arkavathi River passes nearby, through to the Manchanabele dam.

Savandi Veerabhadreshwara Swamy temple and Narasimha Swamy temple are located at the foothills.


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10. Sadashivgad Fort

Sadashivgad fort and Durga temple are located on a hillock on the north bank of river Kali, just across the Kali river bridge in Karwar.

The fort was in existence for long time, though it was named Sadashivgad fort in the year 1715 CE. The fort provided protection to the trade through the sea route during 16th to 18th century CE.

The fort came under the control of Chhatrapati Shivaji on 21 February 1665 CE. The fort is in ruins today.

Shanthadurga Temple, built in 1665 CE, is located in the fort precinct and offers beautiful views all around.



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11. Nandi Hills

Nandi Hills is located 60 km north of Bengaluru.

The ancient hill fortress built by Ganga Dynasty was enlarged and strengthened by later rulers of the region.

During Chola period, Nandi Hills was called Anandagiri (the hill of bliss). Yoga Nandeeshwara Temple at the top of the hill was built during Chola period (11th century CE).

There are a couple of trekking routes to the top of the hill. The Pushkarini (amrita sarovar) on the way to the top of the hill is restored.

Nandi hills is the origin of a few rivers such as north Palar, South Pennar, Chitravathi and Arkavathi.



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12. Badami Fort

It is next to Badami Caves. Badami was ruled by the Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Vijayanagar rulers, Tipu and eventually the British.

The fort has Upper Shivalaya and Lower Shivalaya temples. It is has fort walls though did not click. Waterbody is called Augustya Triya Sarovar. It was built around the 8th century.



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The forts that I saw are at a height but not as high as say Chittorgarh or Gwalior Forts. Karnataka terrain has huge boulders not one big hill like in Rajasthan.

All pictures by author. Matter from author’s blog .

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