Udayagiri was the scene of a number of violent battles between the Mighty Vijayanagar Kings of Hampi and the equally strong Gajapati Kings of Orissa. Finally King Krishnadevaraya, the most able of the Vijayanagara Kings managed to defeat the Gajapatis and drive out them out from Udayagiri. To mark this victory Krishnadevaraya took a sculpture of Lord Krishna from Udayagiri and took it with him back to Hampi and had it installed in a new temple he had constructed. Presently this sculpture lies in the Chennai Museum in Tamil Nadu.
Udayagiri lies just 100 km from Nellore so a couple of weekends back I decided to check it out. The Fort lies at the top of a hill so I heard its quite a climb to the top. This made me doubly excited. Hills plus a fort. Its a combo on offer and I couldn’t resist.
|Our target was reaching that speck at the top
My colleague from work, Dwarka joined me on this trek. We reached Udaygiri by 8am and after a good breakfast started looking for an auto to take us to the starting point of the trek.
After much searching and some dead ends we finally reached the starting point of the trek. There were stone steps rising away, which disappeared into the thick forest after some distance. These were engulfed by shrubs and trees all around. I stopped here and noted the altitude. It was 300 MSL. Time 1100 Hrs. We started the climb aiming to go as high as possible. We had been warned that going in twos was quite risky as there was the danger of wild animals attacking. The villagers had told us that a group of 4 or more is the safest. Keeping this in mind we decided that we will stop whenever we feel its not safe to proceed further.
The day was cool and the sky was covered by a carpet of clouds torn here and there revealing the clear blue of the sky. The sun was peeking between the clouds now and then. Overall it was an excellent day for a hike. So on we went on the stone steps. As we gained some height on the towering cliffs of the hills came into proper view. We were surrounded by the hills on three sides leaving one side offering views of the surrounding plains.The sides of the hills were red in colour, characteristic of the soil in these areas. After about 20 minutes we met another group of hikers resting under a tree. They were a bunch of middle aged guys who looked as if they lost steam and had settled down to have a rest. They inquired about our target and we said we were aiming for the top even though we know it was quite late to do that. Inspired by our intent they decided to join us. They offered us some snacks to eat which proved heaven sent to me later in the day.
So with the middle aged guys joining in were now a team of seven. The trees around us kept getting dense and the top of the hill still looked far away.The stone steps ended near a small water stream. It cannot be called a water stream exactly as it was just a sheet of water flowing over a huge overhanging rock and narrowing down to a trickle of water. The middle aged guys were saying that during the rainy season there is much more water. A couple of them had done this climb before hence the information. Here we rested for a while before moving on. We still had a lot of climbing to do so there wasn’t much time to indulge in long rests. The next stop came at a spot where there was a long fortification running along the side of the hill. There was a gateway through which we entered and found ourselves surrounded by the stone walls on two sides, one wall running along the right and one in the front like two adjacent sides of a square. Here the views of the surrounding plains were stunning. As we stood at the corner of the square I mentioned before, in front us, to the right, was the side of a hill on which stood a lone watchtower jutting out from the undergrowth. On the opposite side, to the left was the gentle slope of another hill making a rough V in the middle offering views of the plains ahead. The sky and the land merged into each other far away.
From here we resumed our climb in earnest,our spirits boosted by the wonderful views. We passed by a number of ruins of other structures scattered here and there. The sky was getting a shade darker and now and then a gust of wind was blowing. Seeing this the middle aged guys were getting a bit agitated. The top was still out of sight and they worried that if they push for the top they wont be able to return to the bottom before dusk. So they had a discussion and decided to call off and head back. Dwarka and myself decided to push on regardless. Luckily for us just as were there standing there another group of three appeared and after a brief talk with them we joined them. Finally after going through another stretch of thick forest, the object of our trek came into view far away. As we emerged from the forest cover into an open land,in front us, there lay a structure exuding a mystical and dark appearance. It was a greyish decaying building rising above the growth surrounding it. At the two front corners stood the sturdy bases of towers. It looked like an English castle and reminded me of the Tintin Comics I used to read when I was a kid. Climbing over the rocks which littered its approach we finally reached it. The time was 1330Hrs. Altitude 856 MSL.
This stucture was a mosque. It stood at the edge of the hill with its front facing the edge. It was a small mosque with one arch in the middle clubbed in between the two towers, the tops of which were destroyed and only the bases remained. The location was breathtaking. We stood here, near the crumbling mosque at the edge of the hill at 856 MSL and took in the views. Directly below us lay the town of Udayagiri. Above, the clouds shone bright white against the clear blue sky. A hazy air hung around the horizon merging the sky and the land indistinctly. Here and there a low hill rose above the haze and revealed itself. The whole land was spread with square cuts of agricultural fields. In all, the view was magnificent. The mosque had a spiral staircase going around one of its towers which I attempted to climb but the dilapidated nature of it made it risky and I stopped midway. After taking some videos from here I climbed down.
We still had the 2 hour climb down and there were chances of us getting lost so without much delay we started our return. It was imperative that we reach the base before it got dark. So we retraced our steps to the best of our abilities as the path had no markers to guide us. By 1530 Hrs we reached the base without any incident and we were relieved. Just as we were going back we spotted the middle aged guys having lunch. They invited us to join and we accepted the offer gratefully. To our tired and hungry bodies this was heaven sent. The lunch comprised rice and dal with mutton fry. It was lip smacking. And a perfect finish to our grueling trek of 6 hrs.
|The Chota Masjid as its called
|View from the steps of the Masjid