Chandragutti – Renuka Devi Temple and hike to ruins of fort.

Another off the beaten track destination.

Chandragutti – Temple, legend, history and ruins of a fort. I wonder how many such lesser known spots are in India.

Chandragutti came into limelight in later part of 80s for a rather socially evil practice followed by few section of society, women in particular as a ritual every year. There used to be a annual Chariot festival some time in march every year. Women from some faction of the society mostly from lower strata used to take bath in a near by river ” Varada” and walk up to the temple (about 4 km) nude or barely covered in a procession. It was then protested by group of NGOs and few leaders from the community and this practise has been stopped ever since. It is now offence to do any such activities, by law. The Chariot festival, deity worship continues every year with much fanfare. People from many parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra throng the place during this time of the year.

The legend has it that Sage Jamadagni ordered his son Parashurama to behead his wife Renuka. Parashurama beheaded Renuka Devi and asked for a boon from his father, which he got and through which he got the life of his mother back. The puranic story is long, but I kept it short.

The temple is a natural cave temple. The vestibule is supposed to have been built by the kings of Banavasi. It is on a hillock and the adjoining mud route leads to an old fort, now dilapidated further on a huge rocky hill.

The Chariot – just before we visited the Jatra was over. The chariot is just undressed and ready to be put back in the storage.
Climbing up the hill to the temple base. Lush green surrounds the path, even during the peak summer.
The cave temple up above the hillock.
Some Statues along the road, where faithful ones worship.
The temple building. What you see here is the vestibule the extended part of the temple hall. It was closed during our visit.
Nandi the Bull in front of lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva
The altar to place the Bali or the sacrificial item. No animal sacrifice here.
Maasti Kallu – Mahasati Kallu – the stone inscription in the memory of a wife who sacrificed her life after her husband was martyred for a noble cause (In a war or so) This is usually when the wife goes live on the funeral pyre of the husband who died.
Adjoining mud pathway leading to the fort on the hill further.
After a certain height you see a small lake at that height. It still had quite an amount of water during the hot summer.
Stepping through dense green
There are two levels of the fort. This is where you find the first level. Obviously there were posts with canons to thwart any enemy threat at the first level itself. There lies an iron canon, surprisingly not seem to have rusted despite exposed to rain, sun and air for ages.
It is very quiet except for the sounds of cool breeze, melodies of some birds
The first level of the fort. You see the next level of the fort up there.
Closer look of the ruined fortress
Moving on through narrow steps. Probably the path was better. I do not as to how horses managed the route
Surely there was some kind of building , structure exists once upon a time.
The remnants of the old building.
The water store pot made of stone, probably for the horses.
leading steps leading on to second level of fortress.
The sign of those days, where once kings lived.
The fort is now completely destroyed but some ruins can still be seen.
Steep up way towards upper portion of the fort.
Panoramic view from the summit.
Part of old fort wall
Some royal symbol
There was once a Mantap or a temple over here on top of the summit.
Another panoramic view
It is huge rock on which the fort was based.
Some old building, probably the storage of weaponry and arms
Look around from the top. What would have been the scene about 1000 years ago, now that lot of green has gone.
Ruined fort wall on top
People who come to temple, generally climb up the hill. This was one of such local group . This is where we rested and prepared the snack and enjoyed it.
We were tired and needed some rest and some thing to fill our stomach. Aruna had grand arrangements to prepare “Masala Avalakki” (Spiced rice flakes)

We had left our village in the morning by 0500 hrs and took little less than an hour to reach Chandragutti base. We did not stop for any break. Started climbing up soon. Spent about 30 minutes at the Temple. Again continued the climb. It took an hour to reach the top. So by 0730 hrs we were on top of the fort. We sat and spread out our ingredients. Aruna deftly prepared the breakfast, very tasty and crunchy. Well I poured bowl of curd make it soft. It is strange that we want the dish to be crunchy and we pour curd to make it soft.

I just remembered an anecdote :

We were fond of having biscuits along with hot tea. When we open the biscuits, We expect them to really crunchy. Soggy biscuits were big no no. But we dipped biscuits in tea and ate them. Of late I do not take tea or coffee any more. So no dipping of biscuits.

Another gentleman Subbumava with Arun busy preparing the dish. No fire.
Awesome dish. Just the jaggery, Coconut grating, curd and garnish of Bhujia. Mixed with lemon, chilly and salt. Fantastic.
Climbing down by steep rock.

We rested a bit, moved over and started climbing down and we were back at the base by 0930 hrs. While climbing down we attempted a bit of adventure by taking a steep rock. It was very steep, really steep. But we managed not to roll down.

Quite a steep climb. Do not risk unless you have good footwear and a little familiar with the technique of climbing down the hill.
We at times had to crawl on our seat.
Aruna – my friend and trek lead. He is the one who got me bitten by “Trek Bug” years back and continues to inspire me due to his tenacity, flexibility to adjust himself to the nature and enthusiasm to make a hike enjoyable.

Wow, It was short nice hike. I Imagine the area would be far more greener after the rainy season (During August September) It is not a bad idea to hike here during rains (June July) if you like to get wet and enjoy the Malnad rains.

It is not crowded except during Temple festivals. It is not a commercialised destination. Hence one can really enjoy the natural beauty and feel the green as raw. It is not difficult or risky hike. It is open through out the day. However one must avoid the wee hours or after dark, since there could some wild animal movements here on the hike route.

The top of the fort is about 700 mtr above mean sea level.

Humble request is – do not litter, do not leave behind any waste. Keep the temple premise and the hill as it is, clean and litter free.

Below is the Google view of the area.

Temple and the fort viewed from top. One can clearly see the ruins of fort wall. PC : Google

Temple Time :

0900 hrs to 1400 hrs and 1630 to 1830 hrs. How ever during festivals the temple would be open though out the day, it is said.

Best time to visit

Any time. It rains heavily during June July.

Nearest place to stay :

Soraba, Sirsi or Sagar. Soraba is a smaller town with least options. Sagar and Sirsi or a little bigger towns with some more options.

36 km from Sirsi. PC : Google
20 km from Soraba. PC : Google
40 km from Sagara. PC : Google

Distance from Bangalore

Sirsi – 400 km. Good bus connectivity from Bangalore.

Sagar – 375 km . Nearest railway station. Good train and Bus connectivity from Bangalore.

Published by wander through lens

An avid trekker, traveller, who finally freed himself from a corporate cobweb. Loves lush green, snowy mountains, blue sky and crystal water.

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