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DISTRICT: Shimoga; TALUK: Hosanagara
LOCALITY: Nagar (Lat. 130 49' N; Long. 750 02' E)
APPROACH: AIRPORT: Bengaluru; RAILWAY STATION: Shimoga; BUS STATION: Nagar
Nagar (anciently known as Bidnur or Venupura) is situated about 16 km from Hosanagara town and is about 85 km from Shimoga. Before attaining historical importance, this place was called Bidarahalli named after a small village. It shot into prominence during the reign of Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka (1592-1629 AD) of Ikkeri kingdom when he annexed this region during his campaign and regularised worship in the Sri Nilakanthesvara temple. However, it attained the status of a capital from the time of Virabhadra Nayaka (1629-1645 AD) who succeeded Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka. Due to the sudden attack of Islamic forces under Ranadulla Khan of Bijapur Sultanate, lkkeri was razed to the ground in 1560 AD inspite of Virabhadra Nayaka’s efforts to contain the onslaught. Since Ikkeri was becoming a centre of political and economic crisis Virabhadra Nayaka abandoned it. He built a formidable fort with beautiful palaces at strategically important point at Bidnur and made it his capital in 1639 AD. Virabhadra Nayaka was succeeded by Sivappa Nayaka (1645-¬1665 AD) who ascended the throne at Bidnur. During Sivappa Nayaka's time this place was buzzing with vibrant political activity. He improved and enlarged it. His successor ruled from here till it was annexed in 1763 AD by Haider Ali who renamed Bidnur as Haider Nagar and now it is called as Nagar only. Haideri gold pagodas were struck here in the mint established by Haider Ali. During the Mysore War it suffered badly due to burning. Tipu Sultan rebuilt the palace and its surroundings. However, it never regained its lost glory and slowly it was abandoned to its present condition.
The fort built of stone masonry is almost ovoid on plan having a series of bastions at regular intervals. Above the masonry wall raises the thick parapet with a series of musket holes. A number of guard rooms are provided in the interior wall. Abutting the exterior fort wall is a deep moat with retaining walls running around. The fort is entered through a steep ramp leading to the main entrance from the north. The gateway is flanked by two bastions and has a sally port on the left side. The ramp through this gateway leads to the tank to the west and remnants of the palace to the south-east. The tank has many compartments and entrances with a flight of steps. Further to the south at a higher level is the famous palace building rectangular on plan, accommodating series of rooms and halls. The large open area to the west seems to have been used to accommodate audience. At the south west corner is a deep octagonal well. A steep ramp provided at the extreme end of the open courtyard abutting the outer fort wall leads to the observatory tower.
The depression further south of the octagonal well seems to be a storage tank to the south east of which is a huge mound probably enclosing a huge rubble structure. Beyond this mound and the observatory is another structure, now in ruins having a vast opening towards south. Considering its isolated and exclusive location, this seems to be the place where the queens and their attendants were accommodated. On the whole, the structural remains scattered inside the fort, though in ruins, represent the meticulous post medieval layout of fort.