Chittoor was at a strategic position connecting the province of Tamil, Telugu and Kannada speaking regions. Therefore the British found it to be an important place to be developed. It was initially made the headquarters for the then North Arcot district. During the British rule in early twentieth century, seeing the importance of the place, a separate district in the name of Chittoor was formed with Chittoor as head quarters.
It should be mentioned that there is no special mention of the present town of Chittoor in any of the inscriptions or other historical records. The exception being that the British called for a meeting of Poligars in the town of Chittoor during mid-1804. There are lots of inscriptions in places like Tirupati, Kalahasti, etc in the present district giving us a lot of information about the rulers who held a position of power over an area covering Chittoor.
Name any dynasty of South India they had this region under their rule. Before British, the Vijayanagar dynasty was the last significant rulers. In the middle of the 16th Century Vijayanagar Kingdom fell into pieces. Members of the royal family started ruling territory where they could sway. Different rerritories come under the rulers who held titiles of Zamindar or Poligar. There were ten Poligars who were powerful in the region.
The region came under the Nawab of Arcot rule during early 18th century and since it acted as a barrier for the invaders Chittoor was known as khilla in Arcots’ parleys. It is said that Abdul Wahab was the Khilladar of Chittoor for Nawab of Arcot. It is worthy to note that Hyder Ali the defacto ruler of Mysore, had his initial training under Abdul Wahab.
During 1780 Sir Eyre Coote, of British and Hyder were at loggerhead to control this region. With Wandawashi in the pocket, British advanced further towards Tirupati. Hyder had to retreat from Vellore unable to face the fire from British force. Coote then marched to Tiruttani via Polur destroying all small forts. Coote advanced to Chittoor and reduced its little fortress, deemed vital as it was reported to be a depot for provision. It was, however, found after its capture that its importance as a depot was false.
This is the only evidence we get that there existed a fort in Chittoor.
Then came the British rule when Poligars were having their hay days. To regulate the administration, a meeting was called with Poligars. In the meeting held by the British with the Poligars in 1804, they laid several conditions to the poligars. One of the most essential terms was that the Poligars should not fortify their territory. Not only that they should dismantle the one which is already there.
Chittoor which had the fort was under the command of a minor Poligar. There is no record available to say as to where the fort was. However, the portion where presently the Government hospital is located is known as ‘khilla’ locally. Looking at the area the Hospital is occupying one could see that it is round in shape which is normally the shape of a fort, and the area it occupies also implies that it was a single unit and there is no patchup. It could safely be said that the khilla which was in existance here had been dismandled or demolished during the latter part of 18th century or earlier 19th centuary. However, the Khilla had left behind an evidence for the future.
Although the Vijayanagar dynasty had come to an end by then, they had revived the high culture of Sanadhana dharma and left behind a tremendous lasting impression about the Sanadhana Dharma in the mind of the subjects where ever they had ruled.
As was their practice they build a temple for Sri Hanuman first in the entrance of the fort they construct. People call the deity of this temple as “Kote Anjaneya,” and Chittoor is no exception to this. The fort of Chittoor also had a temple for Sri Hanuman. There were temples around the fort for other deities also. Nagalamma, Eswaran Muniswaran, Dharmaraja temple are few to mention.
“Kote” was the place from where the entire administrative work was done. It is worthy to note even today at many major cities and towns of India, many of the Government offices functions from the erstwhile fort of the city.
Therefore it is always an area which is busy with activity. Chittoor fort area was also a busy area known as ‘shantha pet’. Since Chittoor is the place of power, people from the villages had to come to Chittoor for getting their work done. Their stay and food were taken care of by the people who maintained Dharmasala near Khilla. In earlier days where transport facilities were inadequate, pilgrims who are on the way to Tirupati were also provided with facility to stay by the roadside Dharamsala. The Dharmasala near Khilla run by the “Kota” family was a popular one those days.
The pundit who was taking care of the poojas in Sri Varadharaja Perumal [Kasi Viswanatha sametha] known as raja koil was staying near the Khilla. This family of priests had a right to do pooja for Sri Balaji of Tirupati also by turn.
Although, there is no more a fort now, but the area was known as kote area. Many of the buildings inside the fort had gone to ruins; the area was covered with thorns and bushes. Practically only the temples in that area were functioning.
It happened on one night on the excellent wee hours in the year 1841. The then priest of Varadharaja Perumal temple was awakened by a strange dream. He was told that He is resting very nearby should be unearthed and reestablished [punar pradishtapana]. The priest could identify that it was Lord Anjaneya who was commanding him to undertake the task. Next morning, the priest went on an expedition in search of Lord Anjaneya whom he had seen in the wee hours along with other devotees. The khilla area where thorns and bushes had grown was thoroughly searched with the help of other devotees. By afternoon he could locate the vigraha of the Lord near Muniswaran temple in the khilla area.
The deity was huge, and with the help of devotees, the priest brought the vigraha near the Kota chatram and on an auspicious day ‘Purnar pradishtapana’ of Lord Kote Hanuman was performed. Kote Anjaneya was renamed as Prasanna Veera Anjaneya. Daily poojas were arranged from then on. The priest’s family continues to perform the pooja for the Lord Prasanna Veera Anjaneya.
The priest who was assigned the task of locating the deity in 1841 was the great grandfather of the present priest. Family is blessed by the Lord to carry on the worship for Him.
Earlier the temple for Lord Hanuman was simple. Garbhagraham, a mandapam and a stone lamp pillar constituted the temple. Huge numbers of devotees visited the temple not only from Chittoor but also from nearby villages. On Saturdays, there will be a surge of people visiting the temple. Then bhajan and keerthan use to be conducted throughout Saturday night in the temple. Since bhajans were conducted, this place was known as ‘Krishna Mandram’. A stone lamp pillar was erected by a family for the benefit of the devotees. On the top of the stone lamp piller a lamp was lighted up every night. This task and cost were undertaken by the same family, thus with the participation of devotees, the temple was brimming with activity.
During the mid seventies, the aging priest could not undertake the journey to Tirumala or go for his turn of pooja to the hills, therefore with the help of others he constructed a sannidhi for Sri Venkateswara in the Hanuman temple premises.
Today the temple had been rebuilt with a generous donation from devotees. The ‘Kota’ family had given the ‘chatram’ area for improving the temple. A large temple for Sri Venkateswara had been built. The temple for Sri Hanuman had been reconstructed.
Today google indicates this temple as “Sri Balaji Venkateswara Swamy Temple”. For a humble devotee like Sri Anjaneya, Lord is always first. The humble devotee of Sri Rama remains to be as modest as He was in this kshetra as ‘Kote Anjaneya’. Even now He is standing in the very same place and blessing the devotees.
When in Chittoor visit this age-old temple located at Eswaran/Sivan koil street.
Sri Anjaneya of this kshetra is ‘ajaanu bhahu’, a gigantic figure standing south facing with His valor seen in the veil. An estimable deity He is.
Although Sri Hanuman is seen to be in standing posture, actually He is pinning down Akshan the son of Ravana with His right leg. The lotus feet of the Lord are adorned with thandai and nupuram. Lord is wearing dothi in kacham style and girdle made of a triple string of muJja-grass. The hip belt holds a small knife. His left hand adorning keauram in upper arm and bracelet in fore-arm is seen resting on the left hip, and in His hand he is holding the stem of sowgandika flower. The flower which is still to bloom is seen above His left shoulder. The bahu-vallayam adds beauty to His shoulders. The yagjopaviitam is seen across His broad chest. He is wearing two malas as ornaments, one of which has a pendent adoring His bosom. With His raised right hand wearing ‘abhaya maura’ He showers blessings on His devotees. The tail of the Lord rises above His head, the end of which is slightly coiled. Lord is wearing ear-studs which are touching His shoulders. Lord is also wearing ‘karna pushpam’ in His ears. Neatly combed ‘sheka’ tied in a knot could be seen on the side of the right ear.
The uniqueness of the Lord of this kshetra is He has a mustache, and a yathurmuki ie, he is facing the devotees directly with both the eyes. His bright eyes are emanating compassion on the devotee. With such bright radiant eyes Lord of the kshetra is a figure that is to be meditated upon.
Lord is seen along with all ornaments a small knife in the casing which adores His right hip as an ornament, a mustache, Akshan pinned by His leg shows His valor as VEERA. Neatly tied sheka, abhaya mudra, sowgandika pushpa and the direct looking glowing eyes only adds beauty to the Lord as a pleasant santha –PRASANNA swaroopi.
Take the blessings of the Lord of this kshetra who bestows Mangalam through His direct looking bright, radiant eyes. New vigor, zeal, and pleasant approach in your endeavor will be felt with the blessings of Pressana Veera of this kshetra.
Ed: August 2019
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SRI HANUMAN THINKS DIFFERENTLY, THINKS FAST, THINKS AHEAD AND ACTS FOR SURE.
Our salutations to this Hanuman who always brings subham - everything that is good - for His devotees and eliminates the bad and the evil. He removes even the traces of bad thoughts and deeds from His devotees. i.e He makes them pure in words, thought and deed.