Chasing Ruins – Gudibande Fort

It was nearly two months that S was here, but we were yet to meet up. Both of us were occupied with something or the other and we could never make it. This weekend we were determined to make it happen. I had met S during the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, where we had shared a tent together. It was an instant connect. Subsequently, she even visited my home in Shillong. S is quite an inspirational woman. She left her high-profile corporate job to follow her dreams and went on to set up her own homestay at Manali. It’s quite a story and guess I should write about it. Meanwhile check out her fabulous homestay, Firdaws. I haven’t been there yet, but the Instagram pictures are drool-worthy!

We decided to do go for a hike together instead of the usual meeting at a café or in our homes. I just suggested Gudibande Fort and that was it. A joined us too. A and I had just been to Hutridurga the previous weekend.

About 100 Km away from Bangalore, Gudibande is a small town located in Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka. It’s very close to Andhra Pradesh border. On a hilltop of this town is located the 17th century fort that was built by Byre Gowda, a local chieftain of the Vijayanagar Empire. An interesting trivia that we learnt from the Internet is that Byre Gowda was a Robinhood of sorts, who was a messiah for the poor but a terror for the wealthy.

Pic 1: Ruins of the fort wall seen halfway through the climb.

It was a pleasant early morning drive as the car sped through the highway. Seated on the front seat of the car, A was relaying all kinds of information about the fort that he was reading up on his phone. Among other things, the Internet also said that the fort was closed due to the pandemic. We were already on our way and this information was conveniently ignored by all of us.

Soon the car took a turn and we found ourselves passing through winding village roads flanked by lush green fields, dotted by tiny boulder-strewn hillocks in the horizon. Large sections of these fields were dominated by tomato plantations. Certain sections had marigold plantations and the carpets of yellows and oranges were a sight a behold!

Pic 2: Bhairasagara lake filled to the brim. The colour of the water emphasizes the season of monsoon. The conical hillock seen towards the right is where the fort is located.

Soon we arrived at the large Bhairasagara lake. Located just a few kilometers ahead of the Gudibande fort, this lake was part of our itinerary. It being monsoon, the lake was teeming with water. At places, it felt like the water would overflow onto the road at any time. The hillock with the fort stood prominently and distinguishably in the background. After spending a little while by the lake, we decided to proceed towards the fort. The huge expanse of water deserved some dedicated time and we thought we would do that on our way back. Eventually, that never happened as we changed our plans went exploring another fort instead.

Pic 3: Bhairasagara lake as seen from the top. Google says it resembles the map of India. We didn’t quite find that resemblance from any angle though.

Soon we found ourselves at the base of a conical hill, on top of which sits the Gudibande fort. We could see a flight of broad cemented stairs going up, but it was barricaded by a red and white tape that ran across the breadth of the very first stair. A person sitting on a chair under a tree, who appeared like a guard seemed to be monitoring the place. So, the Google Map information was right afterall!

This was not a happy situation after having come all the way. As we wondered what to do, we found a couple of families coming down the stairs. This was our moment, we walked up to the guard-like person and asked if we could go up. He flatly refused. After requesting for a while, he allowed us charging a small sum (read bribe). Yes, we plead guilty!

Pic 4: We passed through a couple of such doorways. I forgot to keep a count, probably three or four.

It was a very easy walk up to the top and we made it in about 45 minutes. Most of the way we climbed through steps, some concrete, some just rocks, some carved out in the boulders. We passed through a couple of ruined doorways and through underpasses created by large boulders that touch on their vertices but widen at the bottom to create narrow passageways.

Pic 5: One with my inspirational wonder-woman!
Pic 6: We crossed several such large boulders that touch on their vertices but widen at the bottom creating a narrow passageway. Notice the indents on the rock right beside the stairs, those would have been used to climb up earlier.

The weather was perfect with a patchy sky covered in floating clouds and no rain or sun. We met a few people who were going down and wondered if they had bribed the guard-like person too.

On reaching the top we realized that we had the entire ruins to ourselves. There was nobody other than us and that certainly was a privilege. We spent a good hour at the top accompanied by the light breeze and the gorgeous views of the plains below. S and I were meeting after a long time and had a lot to catch up on. We found a comfortable place at the edge of the fort wall overlooking the Bhairasagara lake down below, while A went about exploring the ruins all around.  

Pic 7: Just before the entrance of the fort.

Besides the ruins, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva on top, which is believed to be one of the 108 Jyotirlingas that Lord Rama established in various parts of India. A filled us in with this and other information that he collected from Google while exploring the ruins.

Apparently, the fort edifice comprises of seven gateways though we saw only three. Ruined temples, caves sliced deep into the hillocks, and many secret passages that might have served as escape routes for the soldiers constituted the other highlights. Also, there are/were 19 rock ponds that could have been some form of water harvesting system. Again, we saw only a few. Byre Gowda seems to have been quite a visionary as he ruled this place only for three years and managed to leave behind this impressive legacy.

Pic 8: A flight of stairs carved out on the rock just after entering the fort.

A was back, not just with his freshly gained Google information, but with a bunch of dry twigs that he collected while exploring the fort. Those twigs will add glamour to his newly designed living room. S and I were in the middle of an exuberant conversation, but we had to pause. It was time to leave.

Pic 9: That’s where S and I spent our time chatting away.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

17 thoughts on “Chasing Ruins – Gudibande Fort”

    1. First of all my apologies for responding late.
      The ruins that remain as quite well preserved. Probably because of the temple housed in it, I guess. Though that is not necessarily true as many other such hilltop forts have temples but the structure isn’t preserved. well.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That are only a few things in the world better than reconnecting with someone with whom you’ve had a meaningful encounter. And for those exciting conversations to happen at this special place only adds to the excitement, I can imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree with you cent percent on that. And, henceforth this is what I plan to do with people who come over to Bangalore and want to catch up. I mean an outing to somewhere in the outskirts. Provided they have the time and inclination though.
      Thanks for visiting and reading, Bama.
      Though I must apologize for my late response. Been caught up with other things.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Such a wonderful post, made me feel like visiting the place myself. Your zest for exploring the unexplored is so much inspiring! Having S as one of your companion is surely a boost in your endeavour ( having known the wonder girl when she visited your home in Shillong) ! Am sure A too is amazing person. All the best and keep posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Catching up in a beautiful place? How nice is this vis-a-vis the usual cafe especially post-pandemic? It is good to know that you guys “secured” the fort to yourselves for a paltry “fee”! I like the beautiful staircase through the boulders, so unique to the region. Lovely travelogues, Neel. I guess you have adapted well to the current times- exploring locally! I must ask you for a recommendation list for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don enjoy these local explorations, just that not always I find like-minded companions. Going out somewhere rather than sit in a cafe is what I will be doing henceforth, provided the other party is game too. I will certainly provide you a recommendation list whenever you’re here.
      And, my sincere apologies for this delay in responding.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you find more like-minded people. From my own experience, once you have decided you want more of these, you will meet more such people. I will let you know whenever I’m traveling to that region. Take crae, Neel. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats neel for your latest adventure. Gudibande fort look awesome. You really know how to live best in the midst of a pandemic. All the snaps are very nice. Keep exploring !

    Liked by 1 person

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