History of Chitradurga

A historical place called Chitradurga

Fight with the demon Hidimba

According to a story in the Epic Mahabharata, a man-eating giant 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 fight.

Influence of the Vijayanagar Empire

Timmanna Nayaka, a chieftain under the Vijayanagar Empire, rose to the rank of governor of Chitradurga as a reward for his excellence in military achievements, from the Vijayanagar 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 Nayaka 1676, 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 Dalavayis 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 the greatest of the Nayaka rulers.  The place experienced breaks in royal administration due to frequent change of rulers

The legend of Onake Obavva


(photo by Jaidev Krishna)

During the reign of Madakari Nayaka, the city of Chitradurga was besieged by the troops of Hyder Ali. A chance sighting of a woman entering the Chitradurga fort through an opening in the rocks led to a clever plan by Hyder Ali to send his soldiers through the hole. The guard on duty near that hole had gone home for lunch and asked his wife to be on guard till he was back.

The wife of that guard, Obavva, noticed soldiers emerging out of this opening. Obavva was not perturbed. She was carrying with her an Onakke (a long wooden club meant for pounding paddy grains). She killed Hyder Ali's soldiers one by one as they attempted to enter the fort through the opening and quietly moved the dead.

Over a short period of time hundreds of soldiers entered and fell, without raising any suspicion. Obavva's husband, upon his return from his lunch was shocked to see Obavva standing with a blood stained Onakke and hundreds of dead bodies of the enemy around her.

The opening in the rocks still remains as a historical witness for the story, beside the Tanniru Doni a small water source which holds cold water all round the year.

Though her sincere and brave attempt saved the fort on that occasion, Madakari Nayaka could not repel Hyder Ali's attack in 1779. In the ensuing battle, the fort of Chitradurga was lost to Hyder Ali. Onakke Obavva (as she is addressed favouritely), like Kittur Rani Chennamma remains a legend and speaks of woman power.

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