By Keerthana Venkatesh
Contributing Author for Spark Igniting Minds
Explore India and one aspect that you are sure to notice is its engineering prowess. Be it the Sun Temple at Konark, or the Ajanta and Ellora caves or the multitude of forts dotting every state, every piece of ancient architecture establishes even more firmly the scientific thinking of the people of those times.
But going beyond all these engineering marvels is one crescent-shaped underground quarters in the Chandravalli Caves nestled between the three hills of Chitradurga, Kirubanakallu, and Cholagudda. A visitor here is so bewitched by the beauty of the Chandravalli Lake that you hardly ever notice a tiny entrance in the rocks that opens up a maze of mystery, wonder, and amazement.
The steep climb up the hillock adjoining the Chandravalli Lake leads you to what looks like something common in the ancient fort city of Chitradurga in Karnataka – a cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, and a resting ground made of solid granite pillars holding up a rocky roof above a granite platform. And then there is that quiet beckoning call that comes from a dark hole where even the faintest of light fears to enter. For sure, you need a bright torch and an informed guide who can walk you through this maze in the belly of the earth.
Delving 80 feet underground, the engineers from pre-historic times of the Iron Age built a whole social system. From a gurukul to a full-fledged bathing area, a dining room, an anteroom, and prison cells, a temple, a treasury – everything were built into solid rock through a confusing maze that only the familiar could navigate through. The bid to keep intruders at bay begins from the front door.
I’ve always wondered why many of the steps leading up to many ancient structures were uneven. At Chandravalli, while we descended the stairs in the darkness, I understood this was a method to check intrusions. Those familiar with the structure knew which steps were deep, and which were shallow. The intruders would lose their foothold for sure, thus, alerting guards.
The first level of the caves comes across as a gurukul. Replete with a raised platform for the teacher to sit on while instructing students, the engineers of those pre-historic times ensured there was no lack of comfort. The seating accompanies a small footstool and a secret passageway for the guru to exit from, in case of an emergency. Strategic placement of lamp holders ensured that once lit, the lamps threw their light across the room with brilliance.
About Keerthana Venkatesh
Keerthana Venkatesh is a passionate writer with a penchant for positivism via thoughts, actions and alternative therapies.
She has worked on the editorial of some of India’s biggest media houses and as content management and marketing head in various corporates.
An avid traveler and a doting mother, she finds inspiration and the energy of positivism through places, people and her daughter which she showcases in her blog titled "This Short Story"!!!