Western Ghat's hidden gem: Kavaledurga Fort, Thirthahalli, Karnataka

Kavaledurga Fort is a complex of 5 rounds of formidable fortress in western ghats. Kavaledurga fort is located at about 25 kms from Thirthahalli or 85 kms from Shivamogga. I had never been to this fort so far, though I had traveled in the neighborhood several times. However earlier this month while biking around western ghats on a rented Apache RTR200, I visited Kavaledurga fort. This post shares my findings and photos of Kavaledurga fort.
Visiting Kavaledurga fort takes time- good two to three hours. So be sure to reach there by noon or say 2 PM latest, not late evening like 4 or 5 PM. There is no entry fee, but bike parking fee of Rs 20 was collected. One person asked me if I am visiting for the first time, gave me a 1 minute brief about the fort and asked me to proceed.

Kavaledurga fort is built by the Nayaks of Keladi, who ruled under Vijayanagara kingdom and later became independent. This particular fort is built by Venkatappa Nayaka in the 16th century. Kavaledurga fort has 3 lines of thick fortified walls built with granite blocks. Once inside the fort campus the area is pretty huge with different structures such as temples, storage rooms etc spread over a large campus. Thus I am describing the fort premises in 5 stages or rounds.

Kavaledurga Fort- Round 1:
From the parking lot, there’s about 1.5 kms walk amidst paddy fields to see the first round of fort walls, the most exterior one. Easy to walk, stone paved path begins after we clear the paddy fields.

The first entrance doesn't appear huge or intimidating. Notice immediate turn required to enter the forts- this kind of sharp turns are introduced to discourage enemy charging their elephants or canons from a distance to blast through the entrance.
Official history of the Kavaledurga fort, as per ASI display

Kavaledurga Fort, Round 2
Second round is not very far, may be another 300 meters. These two are just the doors n walls, nothing much to see. If you've to see something meaningful or get a few, you need to reach at least till round 3, about 2 kms from parking lot. If you can't walk this much, no point visiting Kavaledugra fort.


Kavaledurga Fort- Round 3
The 3rd round of fort walls is another 500 meters higher up. This is the minimum you should travel to explore Kavaledurga fort. Here you will see a temple, a giant rock with a mini temple on it and can get good view of the surroundings. Many people thought this is the end of it, but only when you climb the giant rock here, you will realize there're more fort parts further away.

View from Kavaledurga fort from this point as below. Could have got better view during day time or had it not been cloudy.
Kavaledurga Fort- Round 4
Round 4 is another 500 meters away. Here there’re lots of pillars scattered. Indicating existence of some sort of building- may be durbar hall or dance hall, now with roof gone, only pillars remain in position, many erect, few more fallen to the ground. It is also evident rooms were interconnected. At the end of this there’s a pushkarini with seemingly fresh water.



Above: A stone bath tub/water storage facility- may be used by the queen?

Kavaledurga Fort- Round 5
The final round or round 5 of the Kavaledurga fort is another 700 meters away with steep uphill climb. From here we were supposed to get magnificent view of the surrounding, but when I reached there it was all white thanks to the mist coverage. Couldn’t see a thing (so this will be a good excuse to visit the fort some other time). At the top there is remains of a building which was probably a storage room for ammunition, a temple like structure on top of a giant rock. May be there’s more but visibility was poor and it started raining, so I began my descent.

I started my walk at around 2.30 PM and came down by 5 PM. Thus if you’re visiting Kavaledurga be ready to walk 2.5-3 kms uphill and back. Carry enough water, nothing is available up on the fort.

Overall Kavaledurga proved to be a hidden gem I had totally missed all these years. Do visit when you're in western ghats area- Shivamogga etc.

Place to stay: If you're planning a visit to Kavaledurga, Thirthahalli is nearest town (20 kms) with decent accommodation options. 

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