Keladi Rameshwara Temple

KELADI NAYAKS

Keladi Nayaks were originally feudatory of the Vijaynagar empire. Choudappa Nayak was the original founder of the dynasty 1499 – 1540 who was basically a commander under the emperor Krishnadevaraya, who suggested he should take over as Governor of the territory to protect the interest Vijaynagar Empire.

History of Keladi Nayaks origin :

There is an interesting story on the founders of the Keladi dynasty. The two brothers Chavuda Cauda and Bhadra Cauda were originally residents of Hale-bayal in the Chadragutti pargana. They utilized two slaves Murari and Yadav to cultivate their field along with cows. One day their cow was shedding her milk over an ant hill. The slaves reported the miraculous events to their master immediately. Cauda brothers ordered the slaves to excavate the site. They discovered a small Linga, and the brothers decided that it was auspicious sign and they decided to build a temple on the very spot. After some days while ploughing their fields they came across an old sword which was buried in the field. The brothers kept it safely on the roof top so that they will smelt it, to make a scythe. Later they observed that crows were falling dead on the roof top. Than they realized that the sword had some miraculous power to vanquish enemies. Chavuda took possession of the sword and got it cleaned and polished. This sword was named Nagamuri. When the slaves were ploughing the field after a few days they stuck a cauldron which was filled with gold ornaments and coins. The brothers immediately buried the treasure inorder to secure them away from jealous neighbours. One night Chavuda had a dream that inorder to take possession of the treasures they should undertake human sacrifice. On hearing the dream the slaves volunteered to become volunteers for human sacrifice under the condition that their families will be protected and their names will be immortalized. In the dawn the slaves were beheaded and offered to the goddess as appeasement. The brothers now took possession of the treasure and raised a small army in surrounding villages. Thus the Keladi dynasty was formed. Even today at the enterance the human sacrifical mound is present, which is known as Katte.

KELADI CHENAMMAJI

The greatest ruler of the Keladi dynasty was Shivappa Naik ( 1645 – 1665 ) who is credited to have built the famous Bekal fort and many other forts in the surrounding districts. After his demise there was a vaccum of leadership, later Somshekar Nayak ( 1665- 1677 ) ruled the entire territory. In the initial years he was busy fighting wars to consolidate the territory. He married Chennamma in 1667 and enjoyed a good family life. But he fell prey to vice of a courtesan Kalvathi. He ignored his wife Chenammajji. He started ignoring the administration of an empire. The king moved over to courtesans residence to further his vice of drinking and sexual escapades. Her foster father Bramha Mauta was an expert in Black magic, he took over the mind of the king who now became a puppet in his hands. Somshekar turned mad and started committing atrocities against women. One account states that he had murdered a pregnant women with his own hands. He started lusting at every opportunity and tried to rape women. This behaviour compelled a brahmin Sommayya to murder the king and forever get rid of the monstor. He was however given death sentence by Shiv Bhaktas, who claimed that he had bought disrepute to their creed.

The Bahamani kings were waiting and watching to take advantage of the situation arising out of the king being weak and totally surrendered to vices. They decided to check out the preparedness of the Keladis. Rani Chenammaji became alert because of the spy network. She wore the mantle of a commander and successfully warded off the enemy attack.

In 1679 she took over the mantle from her husband.and started amidst conspiracy in the kingdom for overthrowing a weak women ruler. But she outsmarted all her enemies and hung some of the traitors for treason to teach others a lesson. In fact her commander wanted his son to named as a heir to the kingdom. But she refused and jailed the commander for treason against the Queen.

Meanwhile the war clouds were looming on the border with Aurangazebs son in hot pursuit of Shivaji’s son Rajaram. Against all advice she protected the son of the great Shivaji Maharaj, listened to the tales of horror. She than safely packed off Rajaram to Gingee where he survived till he was recalled by Maharaj. Thus Keladi Chenamma became a firm ruler calling the shots against adversary. She was happy that she was able to set an example to traitors.

She adopted Basappa Nayak who was trained to become the future king. He was trained in warfare, administration and leading the army against enemies. At the age of 16 Basappa Nayak was crowed as the king of Keladi kingdom. Thus Chenamma 1679 – 1697 after a reign of nearly 18 years handed over the strong empire.

Rameswara temple : At the outset as one enters the temple it looks like a residence with an ordinary tiled roof building looming out of the middle of the road. It looks like any other traditional house in most coastal Karnataka with mangalore tiles adorning the roof.

One inside the complex one finds transformation into a ancient structure. The three temple complex houses the Rameswara diety ( Linga and Nandi ), Veerabhadra and Ganesh. The pillars are beautifully decorated with mythical gods and animals. On the ceiling one finds the mythical bird two headed Garudabande.

Inside the temple complex one can find various statues the famous one is of Lord Ganesh and Veerabhadra. If one observes closely statue of Rani Chenamma is also installed riding a horse. Below Lord Ganesh Rani Chenamma is paying respect along with her consorts. On the reverse of the temple complex which is almost facing the enterance a vastu diagram is sketched on full wall panel. There is a huge manasthamba on the back yard of the temple. It seems temple has been altered subsequently according to vastu traditions.

Many a blogs point out that Chenamma ruled for 25 years which may be wrong according to evidence collected from Shimoga Library. Nevertheless it does not belittle one of greatest women rulers of ancient India.

Museum : There is a Museum located outside the Keladi Rameswara temple which is run by the state government. Many a times it is closed on holidays too. 10 to 5 pm is the official timings on the weekdays.

Location : Keladi is just 8 kms from Sagar town on the Sorab road.

Darasuram, architectural finesse

north east 441

The Darasuram group of temples is located around 7 kms away from the kumbakonam railway station. I was inspired by a blogger from Ahmedabad to visit this temple on priority when compared to Navagraha temples which is usually ventured as a matter of religious tourism to get rid of their doshas.

My gut feeling had come true to see the Darasuram unraveling as fresh as a daisy after a heavy downpour. Water was flowing all across the temple, and the water channels outside the temple too has been created to drain the water. This maybe due to the fact that the foundation may get eroded of the temple. The ASI has done a tremendous amount of work to resurrect the temple, which was in absolute crumbling stage. Currently one can find the local people taking a morning walk with pride on the precints of the temple garden.

HISTORY : In the absence of an ASI guide books it is difficult to guess the antecedents of the temple. The temple was earlier known as Rajarajpuram. It obviously means that the temple was constructed by one of the kings holding the title Raja. There are so many Chola kings with the title of Raja,which is commonly bestowed on the rulers of the time. In all probability the temple foundation was laid during the reign of Chola King Kollutunga II ( 1133-1150) and completed during the reign of RAJA RAJA II ( 1150 – 1163 AD ).

Like all great emperors Raja Raja II too had four wives and a retinue of courtesans for sexual gratification. The war of succession among the heirs, imminent attack from the Ceylonese kingdom and rebellion of feudals seem to have lead to the downfall of the empire.

In all probability Darasuram Airateswara temple was completed in 1160 AD and it had approximately taken nearly 15 years to complete from 1145 AD. The construction which begun during the dying days of Kollutunga II and completed during the reign of RAJA RAJA II.

ARHITECTURE :

When an edifice of this nature is built naturally architects have to plan for good ventilation and drainage of rain water accumulating in the premises and to prevent seepage from the roof tops. This aspect was given prime importance apart from natural lighting entering the temple premise.

The placement of Nandi was of prime importance in Chola architecture, at Darasuram Nandi is enclosed in a small mantap. The Nandi is etched in soap stone which obviously seems to have been shipped from neighbouring state. The fact that some of the temples in Hemavathi region seems to have seen plundering for their strong granite structures is the basis of this surmise. On the edifice there is a contrasting effect of the statues installed of Shiva and arthanareswari. These sculptures are in black soap stone.

The façade of the walls seems to have been painted with various depictions and mythological stories during the reign of the Nayaks. They are all in various stages of destruction due to seepage of water and sunlight. It may the natures way of undoing the artificial embellishment.

The main goupuram or vimana stands tall at 85 feet. The frontal mantap is designed as a horse chariot drawn forward as it were during festivity. This inspiration form of architecture had become a hallmark for subsequent rulers to emulate in their temple building activities at Kumbakkonam. The main temple is now known as Airavateshwar Temple. The adjescent temple is Periya Nayaki amman temple or Parvathi.

LEGEND :

Airavat happens to be white elephant of Indira, who worshipped Lord Shiva praying for its health. Even the fabled Yama, ( master of Death ) seemed to have prayed in this temple to get rid of the curse. Lord Yama was cursed by a sage, which lead to burning sensation in his body and he suffered immensely. Yama took bath in a sacred tank in front of the temple and prayed to Lord Shiva to get rid of the burning sensation all over his body. The tank from than on is known as Yamateertham.

Since the elephant worshipped the Lingam, the temple is now considered to be Airavateshwar temple.

INSCRIPTIONS :

The inscriptions embedded on the façade of the wall is a delight for all the connoisseurs and art historians. Most of the inscriptions have lavish praises for the kings of the time for sponsoring the temple’s upkeep by giving grants.

One of the inscriptions state that Pandyan king Maravarman gave grants for celeberating Shivaratri festival and undertaking repair of the temple. During the Tai masam, which was coinciding with Makara shankaranti too festivities were undertaken in this temple.

During the makara times Chola King Rajarajadeva registered a grant of land to meet the expenses of the temple and its upkeep.


UNIQUE FEATURES OF DARASURAM TEMPLE :

1. The idol of single breasted Shiva on the façade of the main temple.
2. Horse drawn chariot sculpture on the sides of the mantap.
3. Gymnastic posture of the comparable to modern circus or gypsies.
4. Lion attacking an elephant ( baby elephant ).
5. Delivery of baby sculpture, helped by attendants in standing posture.
6. Ravana carrying Kailash.
7. Sculpture of Buddha.
8. Saraswathi without Veena.
9. Sculpture of Devi with 8 hands.
10. Two Dwarapalikas at the enterance.

At the enterance there is small mantap which is gives out musical notes, which is now protected against vandalism by secure enclosure. The entire complex is beautifully landscaped with grass and small plants. The gopuram at the enterance seems to have collapsed, now only the side wall remain on the edge of the garden.

During the monsoon the temple look is so fresh and gleaming as if it is ceremonial bath for this temple. We were blessed with plenty of eye soothing greenery and were guided an ASI person who unlocked the museum for our benefit. There were number of statues which seem to have been transferred to Thanjavur museum according to our guide and ASI is in the process of setting up a full fledged museum at Darasuram too. The paintings on the wall ceiling are quite prominent in the museum enclosure too. One has to protect their camera during the rainy season, luckily the weather gods blessed us unlike the previous day ( 4/11/09 ) which was pouring cats and dogs. Darasuram temple is visual treat for lovers of ancient architecture and should not be missed if one happens to visit kumbakkonam,thanjavur or trichy

Madakasira Fort, ascend with a expert guide

 

Just imagine being an amateur trekker risking one’s life that too on a diwali day ( 17/10/09 ) to ascend the impregnable Madaksira fort. Last time around we wanted to trek this fort but could not in lieu of not finding a proper place to park our car safely. Moreover we were in a hurry to reach Pavgada Fort, which was our destination for stay. This time around it was only determination and guidance of 15 year old Hemanth who accompanied us as a guide. We took the unconventional escape route from the fort to ascend which is shorter. Who knew this path would be filled with thorny bushes, unsteady steps and literally a rock face with 60 degree inclination to ascend

 

 

 
Once I almost tripped inside the throny bush pathway shaking me up for the first time. Next time around my wife was complaining of chest pain and she aborted the climb, I am happy she did it on the hindsight with her leather slipper it would have been impossible except with bare foot, which was not worth attempting, she went back to the base of the hillock. I decided we should go further up since we had hired a guide in Hemanth. Enroute I had to take 8 breaks to catch up with the steep ascent, and clicked some lovely photographs of the landscape and surroundings. At midpoint there was a steep rock face without support, my guide lent me a hand to ascend. But it would have been fatal if had transferred my full weight on his I would have dragged him down too. However I managed to tilt my weight on to the rock, in spite of it I had a dodge and landed with a slushy grass with water seepage from the Fort pond on top. We ascended further towards the top. At one place there was nothing to grip it was 12 feet high rock face with 60 degree incline with nothing to grip on the rock face. After studying and deeply analyzing the situation, I decided to risk my life for sake of surmounting the obstacle. This phase is only for professional climbers or to ascend with aids such as rope or railing or even a walking stick firmly held by someone from top. Maybe even a strong camera tripod would have been sufficient, but alas I had only umbrella with me. I just managed to cling on to the wild plants growing on the sides of the rock surface, there was only two gripping branches, and finally my guide lent me a helping hand from the top. This was absolute stunner for a 49 year obese personality.


Enroute I was fascinated by a manly face jutting out of the fort. The contours of the rockcut nose, mouth, teeth and forehead is amazing resemblance may be to a Roman warrior. I clicked snaps from all angle and used my resting time usefully. I gulped some butter milk which was laced with sufficient salt. The weather was becoming extremely hot, that too during winter time. I checked the time was 1 pm in the noon and my stomach was almost drained with energy. The only consolation since I consumed butter milk with salt, it helped to avoid muscle sprain which could have been fatal on such an ascent. But I decided never to descend by this pathway, which would have virtually impossible at the 60 degree inclination point with my rebok shoes, which had limited grip. We decided to travel through the main pathway which is neatly maintained with steps, but circuitous.

At the mid point of the fort, there is the Kings durbar hall, a devi temple and small pond wherein our guide dipped himself to cool his body. The water was greenish indicating unsafe for us. So I avoided taking bath, instead I was clicking away snaps to glory, with the landscape revealing the enterance to the fort and newly built Sai baba temple. I was surprised to find a lone foreigner lady from Finland who accompanied a batch of students from the orphanage at Mankapalli. All of them looked famished since they had ascended through the circuitous path. Even though I was shaken I was not stirred. But i avoided going further up to the highest point of the Fort, wherein a mantap is located with a bell, when struck can be heard down at township.

Location : Madakasira fort is located approximately 160 kms from Blore, one has to travel on NH7 the Hyderabad highway. There are two good places for breakfast, one is Brindavan, in chickballapur another Kamat restaurant at HP petrol bunk after chickballapur town. One has to take a deviation towards left just immediately after the Kondapalli Andhra check post and reach leepakshi and have a dharsan from Lord Veerabhadra to ascend Madaksira fort, which may have saved the day for me on hindsight. Madakasira fort is 45kms away from Leepakshi after Hindupur, where one can have a good lunch in two of the hotels, one his Paaya and other one is Parijata

 

Hampi, a tribute to Krishnadevaraya

 

An iconic king and so little is known about Krishnadevaraya. It is my endeavour to demystify the reign of Krishnadevaraya apart from his various victories in the battlefield, which is well covered in the annals of Indian History. The era wherein Hindu royalty was filled with multiple wives created intrigue, conspiracy and drama was the order of the day. Domingo Paes is probably the only eye witness of for the reign of Krishnadevaraya, during his visit in 1518-1520 to the empire which was later composed by Barros. He has written about his gallantary and leadership qualities but to weave a historical perspective with personal touch would be great dedication on the 500th anniversary of Krishnadevaraya ( 1509-1529 AD) the great.

The wily survivor of dynastic ambition of his step mother, who wanted her son to ascend the throne. She elicited promise from the dying king Vira Narasimha that he will get Krishnadevaraya’s eyes gorged so that he will be unfit to ascend the throne. Despite being a successful general of the army, Krishnadevaraya did not have burning ambition to ascend the throne. When his minister Timmarsu, convinced Krishnadevaraya to prepare himself to ascend the throne because the empire needed an able ruler to fight against the Turks. Timmarasu presented goats eye to convince the king that he had blinded Krishnadevaraya. Under the orders of the general the entire family of his step mother was taken into preventive custody so as to avoid controversy after the Kings demise.

During his crowning ceremony on 29th July 1509 Krishnadevaraya was anointed by holy water from rivers across the Vijaynagar Empire. ( Dates are debatable in the range of 6 months ) The priests conducted elaborate ceremonies to ward off evil spirits and invite the blessings of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The crowning ceremony was studded with grandeur and procession unknown to this part of the world. Krishnadevaraya was crowned by the high priest at the auspicious time. After coronation he inspected the entire battalion of elephantry, horsemen, cavalry marched in unison one after the other showing respect to the newly appointed King. The dancers performed to entertain the royalty. One courtesan was secretly deployed to kill the king on his accession to the throne. Appaji, he chief advisor, was aware of the conspiracy and had a back up plan to protect the king. When the courtesans came to entertain the king at night with a dagger in hand, she plunged the dagger straight into the heart. She struck a dummy and in the darkness felt the splash of the liquid. Suddenly the entire room was lit up and Appaji came and warned the courtesan and let her go free since it was a happy occasion. She was asked to keep mum during her entire lifetime regarding this incident.

Krishnadevaraya undertook a tight regime to keep his physical condition in shape. He used to get up early morning and exercise in the private gym with close confidants. He used to sharpen his skill of brandishing his sword fighting and ride horse swiftly across a short distance. He trained himself in martial arts and climbing the walls of the fort. The stunt which he wanted to badly master was to jump from his horse’s back and leap on to the elephant, which he did eventually after several attempts. In his anxiety to keep his physical fitness at the peak he sought advice regarding his diet. He fell into the trap of wrong advice of consuming half a litre of gingelly oil daily early in the morning on empty stomach, which became the ultimate cause for his untimely death at an age of 42 years after a reign of two decades. It may have been a conspiracy to get rid of Krishnadevaraya after his victory in the battlefield against the sultans. Krishnadevaraya eliminated his trusted lieutant Timmarsu who was suspected behind the poisoning of his son to death Thimmaraya.

The belief that every virgin queen would transmit energy to rejuvenate the king induced Krishnadevaraya to marry as many as 12 queen. Domingo Paes confirms this development stating that immediately on his accession to the throne, he was married to Three queens Thirumaladevi, Annapurna and Kamala devi. He also married his favorite courtesan during his teenage days Chinnadevi, when he was courting her secretly. He had fulfilled his promise at the appropriate time after coronation. The lineage of multiple marriage was almost akin to Lord Shiva’s erotic leanings and mating instincts. “ The belief was current that every virgin queen would transmit new energies to the Raja. Quote Mulk Raj Anand. The successful battle in the bedroom would propel the creative instinct of the king and find solutions to the tickling problem in administering his huge empire.

Despite being satiated personality in terms of sexual encounters Krishnadevaraya was known for his short temper. He was known to have insulted his enemies when they were defeated in warfare. Once he exhorted the Bahamani sultan to lick his dirty sandals as a mark of suzerainty after vanquishing them in the battle of kulburgi when he seized the Raichur Fort. ( May 19, 1520 ) He gathered enormous amount of wealth from the forts of Raichur and Gulbarga after defeating the sultans. He distributed the wealth to the temple trust of Virupaksha and Vittala complex. Some of the best jewelleries were distributed among the queens and courtesans alike to keep them in happy spirit.

Krishnadevaraya undertook guerilla type of activity during the night, he mingled with the ordinary folks and enjoyed a drink in their midst. Thus he gathered many a information regarding the public opinion on his reign. He did his own homework apart from the spy network which used to dish out information which was pleasing to his ears. Once he was given an information circulating in the Bahamani kingdom that soothsayers would warn people that a great king would take over their region and rule with an iron hand defeating the Bahamanis. This was music to his ears which prompted his to invade the Bahamani sultans and annex their territory.

PALACE OF KRISHNADEVARAYA :

How can we really believe Krishnadevaraya really ruled Vijayanagar empire unless we have an idea of the palace he lived ? The key to his greatness is construction of the iconic temples such Vittalla Complex, Hazar Rama temple and Mahanavami Dibba at Hampi. The empirical evidence culled out by Robert Swell is quite exemplary. The primary source of information on the contours of the Palace is derieved from the description of Domingo Paes ( 1518 – 1520 ) who was in awe struck by the beauty of the edifice which was just completed. The second source of information with regard to the palace decorations and interiors emanates from Leepakshi mural paintings. The third source is obviously the contemporary palaces built by the Vijaynagar emperors in the form of Penukonda, Chandragiri and the Nayak’s palace at Madurai.

The palace was obviously divided into the Public darbar area and private residential palace of the King and queens. The interiors of the durbar hall housed the Kings throne, and lavishly decorated wall hangings, such as stuffed Elephant, Tiger, Sambhars and wall paintings of the king hunting, battle scenes, mahanavami celeberations, etc. The ceremonial durbar was meeting place for the visitors and viceroys from other kingdom. The king used to entertain them after the official discussion with lavish parties, with ceremonial fireworks, dancing dramas, fancy dress parade etc. The riches of empire was displayed in the form of fashion parade by the courtesan wearing the jewellery, and elephants decked with precious stones. The visitors were captivated by stunning display of wealth and pomp

Private residential zone was to house a huge harem of courtesans and queens of the time. This area was strictly restricted for outsiders. Paes assumes there were 12,000 women including the ennuchs to please the King. There were 12 queens who were housed in individual chambers. No men were allowed to enter the queens chamber except the ennuchs who guarded them. The king used to place equal attention to all his queen in a sequential progress. This may have bought variety to spice of life. Chinnadevi received special attention of the king in terms of time spent during his voyeurs. Paes even though could not enter the premise managed to gather lot of information secretly, which the King was aware, but he let go the indiscretion. He knew his pompous lifestyle would be recorded in the annals of history.

A blend of Islamic and hindu style was adopted to build the palace and to quell the extreme heat generated during the summer months. The palace and durbar were built with a mezzanine structure with lot of natural ventilation and light. The king used to preside from the durbar hall and the sometimes the royal family members used to watch the proceedings from the balcony. The palace seems to have been fully lit with lamps and flowers during any festivity and the grandest was during dusherra. Why Krishnadevaraya adopted a blend of Islamic architecture is answered by his dealings with the arabs for trading horses prior to Portuguese treaty. This was a calculated move to appease the trading partners, and he may have even employed an Islamic architect is my conjecture.

The palace was well compounded with high boundary walls, since it housed the treasury of the empire. All the diamonds, gold, silver, and gems and stones were stored safely in an underground cellar which was opened only in the presence of the king. The currency chest was separate and it was handled by his trusted minister Appaji.

The closest virtual idea of the palace of Krishnadevaraya can be experienced by visiting Chandragiri and Madurai Nayaks palace. It is the combination of both which formed the crux of the Krishnadevaraya’s palace. The pictures uploaded are of Madurai Nayaks palace which had a close resemblance to Krishnadevaraya s palace.

Gladiators of Vijaynagar Empire :

Krishnadevaraya was constantly urged by his gurus to expand and keep his domain under check. The political strategist were very aware of the danger of the Moghul empire and the Bahmani sultans. He did not trust the Portuguese except for their trading interest. In his quest to build the finest army he recruited gladiators from various regions of his empire. One such was tribe was Mashti tribe who were nomadic tribes with a history of martial skills. They were well built with 6 feet height and well endowed body. Krishnadevaraya used their services in numerous wars against the Bahmani sultans. The role of the community was well recorded by the citation given by the king in 1515 to their ancestors who were recognized as dedicated and loyal soldiers of the Vijaynagar empire.

The authentic citation records an interesting incident which occurred in the presence of the king. Mala challenged the residents of a village in hampi to a bout of wrestling. The stake was fixed as the wives of the entire village to be given as per the directions of the king in case of defeat. The wrestling duel went on for 3 days and each and every villager who combated Mala was floored to the mat. Mala Masthi refused the prize of wives of the entire village unlike the Kauravas. He requested the king to honour with a citation signed by the emperor on a copper plate .

The copper plate is now with Kaki Rambabu, a Mala Masthi of Farijallipeta of Rajanagaram mandal. AP. S. Sudarshan, a teacher from the village, is credited with bringing this artefact to the limelight. Hindu 30TH October 2008

LEGENDARY TENALI RAMAN : The tales of the legendary wisecrack and witty Tenali Raman i am giving a go by just because it is well recorded and covered by historians. Maybe Krishnadevaraya thrived on his wisecracks after a difficult victory in the battlefield.

Naturally the legacy of Krishnadevaraya invited plenty of jealously among the Bahmani sultans who after the battle of Talikota in 1565 plundered and pillaged the palace for the treasures and artifacts collected by Krishnadeveraya after his victorious battles. It is rumoured that the wealth of the Vijaynagar empire was transported to the Bahmani kingdoms for more six months with the aid of more than 500elephants. The very citadel of Vijaynagar was destroyed beyond recognition.

Bandalike, heritage salvaged

What better way to spend weekend getway and series of holidays to dig into our legacy and heritage. It is worth traveling a 1000 kms on a round trip from Bangalore to Bandalike. Enroute if one can enjoy the nature and adventure of trekking it is an added bonus.

Bandalike Temple

Bandalike Temple

Bandalike is currently under final stages of resurrection or renovation by the ASI. After involving in refurbising Angor Wat in Cambodia, ASI has gained substantial experience in bring back the crumbling edifices to unravel the story of the times.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :

According to the Gazette Bandalike is considered to an ancient ruined and deserted village north of Shikaripur. The missing link to unearth the history of Bandalike is provided by an inscription, which mentions that the place was ruled by wise old Chandragupta. There are more than 30 odd inscriptions written in old Kannada and Sanskrit ranging from 834 to 1369 Saka era. The inscription found dates back to many dynasties associated to this place. They are Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Kalachurias, Hoysalas, Yadavas and Vijaynagar Empire. After the defeat of Vijaynagar empire in 1565, Bandalike was subject to rampant arsenal and looting plundering all its wealth. Most probably the earlier vandalism took place at the time of Malik Kafur in 1321 AD, who was a general famous for raiding looting the wealth of all South Indian temples.

My surmise is that Chandragupta Maurya ( 324-298 BC ) when he abdicated his throne in favour of his son Bindusara in 298 BC. due to his conversion to Jainism. His guru happened to be Bhadrabahu. The guru through his nimitt gyan could forsee the advent of a decade filled with famine in the near future in Magadh empire. He alongwith his followers decided to relocate down south. Chandragupta migrated towards south along with huge followers of Saint Bhadrabahu. They migrated first to Bandalike . During their stay they got Basadis constructed in and around Bandalike. They spent 2 years at Bandalike meditating and teaching in the schools. In the meanwhile they were looking for a safe place and they re-located Chandragiri down further south to establish their base. An advance party was sent to establish the infrastructure at Shravanbelagola to settle down. Thus Bandalike is an important heritage centre and deservedly needs resurrection and maintainence.

Malnad fields

Malnad fields

The location is spread over 40 acres of landscape in Sorab taluk of Shimoga dist. which happens to be constituency of our ex CM Bangarappa and our current CM too is elected from nearby Shikaripur taluk. When two heavy weights are present we hope the infrastructure will be developed for tourists to conviniently reach the elusive destination. One has to definitely enquire his way to reach this destination. One approach road is through Shiralikoppa route, next approach is from Belligavi and the final approach is from Chikri route if one is travelling from NH 4. The roads can be treacherous in monsoon with vehicle taking a hit on the underbelly or getting stuck in the muddy swamps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My premise is that Bandalike, Belligavi, Belur and Banavasi must have been an inspiration for Suryavarman to build the world famous monument of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. During his visit to India during the reign of King Vishnuvardhan from the Hoysala dynasty to attend his wedding must have opened his eyes to build an edifice for future generations to cherish. How I wish that Bandalike too is ressurected to that standard ? giving us a glimpse of an era which was rich in using the elements of nature to its hilt.

The complex consists of the main temple which can be a Shivalaya temple with trikuta or gopurams. One gopuram is partially missing. The enterance is guarded as it were by a crumbling Nandi which is hardly 3 feet in height. On the facade of the temple one gets to witness the elementary gopuram or mantaps at eye level, with figures of god and godesses missing as it were. There are inscriptions in old kannada and sanskrit for scholars to re-discover.

Apart from the main temple the complex consists of 3 other crumbling edifices which have been beautifully resurrected by ASI, one is distinctly of Jaina style, another is Shivalaya and last one is probably dedicated to Lord Vishnu. One complex is secluded from this multiplex as it were, which is supposed to be a basadi, which was locked, and i had to climb over the gates to re-discover. One may get mislead by this single monument, have patience to discover the main complex. Only the villagers can guide………like a shepherd guiding the flock. In fact I found a shepherd herding his flock of sheeps grazing the landscape at Bandalike. Another strange feature i found a an old man almost like a ghostly figure in midst of the field. Inorder to confirm that he was not I shouted for direction, and in reply he replied move on. It was just an hunch I drove to the main complex which was the filled with monuments and inscriptions. The greenary and landscaping for a treat for the eyes.

It was an absolute thrilling rendezvous as it were to discover an exclusive destination, which has not been covered in any of the travelouges. I hope you all too will enjoy the journey to this destination called as Bandalike……..a heritage unparalled in history.

 

Chandragupta’s Legacy, Chandragiri

Prolouge 

The inspiration of  Aristotle ( 384 – 322 BC ) combined with the valour of  Alexander the great (  356 – 323 BC )  firmly entrenched the Macedonian empire.   In the sub-continent under the tutelage of  Chanakya (  350 – 283 BC )  the Mauryan empire was born with Chandragupta Maurya ( 340 – 298 BC ) as the emperor by vanquishing the Nanda empire.  In 325 BC it is speculated that Chandragupta Maurya closely observed  the Macedonian Army of Alexander in Taxila.  The young Chandragupta was ambitious and with fire in his belly to overthrow the Nanda tyrant.  After reasonably mastering the technique of Macedonian warfare which had superior edge over the Indian rulers.   He approached Alexander the great to invade Magadh and defeat the tyrant king.  But Alexander refused to trudge another 1000 km to reach Magadh. Alexander smelt the rebellion in his ranks and  had to return because of  mutiny in his forces which was feeling homesick.    

Basadi Complex

Basadi Complex

After the demise of  Alexander in 323 BC Chandragupta overturned the garrison stationed at Taxila.  He influenced some greek soldiers to join the ranks of his army on promise of  huge rewards.  The army trained on the lines of  Macedonian warfare with field cavalry lead by elephant and horses.  The cavalry was fortified with long spears.  Chankya joined the ranks as the chief advisor to Chandragupta Maurya.  He revealed the Achilles heel  of Nanda army.  Thus the deadly combination of valour and wisdom defeated the Nanda king and vanquished him in the battle.  

Chandragupta Maurya consolidated his empire by overthrowing and subjugating lessor known kings and his empire spread far and wide upto Bangladesh in the East and Taxila in the west.  The successor of  Alexander in 305 BC Seleucus Nicator wanted to re-capture Taxila.  Chandragupta was now well versed with Macedonian strategy of warfare, he unleashed terror into the enemy camp with a superior technique.   

The influence of Chankya’s of political diplomacy came in handy to sign treaty with the Seleucus Nicator.  He gifted him 500 elephants which would be useful in fighting his own battle in the West.  In return Chandragupta Maurya extracted a heavy price of  huge territory upto Afghanistan including Pakistan and Balochistan. He was additionally rewarded with marriage alliance.  Seleucus Nicator married his daughter with Chandragupta to firmly entrench his alliance.  In addition to the treaty he dispatched his ambassador Magasthenese to Chandragupta’s court.  Chandragupta gained further friendship milege with Seleucus by dispatching aphrodisiacs to please his consorts. 

Chankya laid a firm foundation for the rulers of the Mauryan empire with his treatise Arthasasthra, which was created for Kings to follow for successful reign.  This classic political treatise was largely secretive and documentation was restricted.  The Arthasashtra was later refined into 150 chapters classified into 15 books.   The broadbased sections relate to National security and foreign policy, administration of justice and crime prevention, policies regarding revenue generation, accounting and economic development.  

Megasthanes describes the routine of  Chandragupta.  The king woke up before the sunrise and worshipped.  His routine after bathing and breakfast was to attend to his durbar and court to dispense justice to his subjects.  He received reports from his spies and sent dictates and directions to his subjects.  In the noon he inspected his troops and examined battle fitness of his men.  Than in the evening he went for hunting to keep himself battle ready.  He maintained a diary of  his activities and decision for posterity.  One of the greatest legacy of Chandragupta was to ensure that his army was well fed and taken care.  The treasury looked after all the needs of his army.  Soldiers were not burdened with any thought and they were battle ready with short notice.  

Manasthamba

Manasthamba

Chandragupta was guarded in his approach. He never slept in the same bed twice, and partook food or drinks which was tested for poison by his aide.  Maybe this was prompted with untimely demise of Alexander the great at young age of 32.  Chankya ensured that Chandragupta devised new techniques to overpower his enemies and avoid traps laid to vanquish him.  He impressed his subjects with grandeur and opulence.  He used to travel in procession during occasion.  He used to ride elephant decked with gold and silver mantaps.  He was decked with fine silk robe with gold embroidery.   Such was the grandeur of  Chandragupta’s reign that his subject felt, here was an emperor who mastered the fine art of  aristocracy and feudalism.  

One day he happened to meet his future guru Bhadrabahu ( 433 – 357 BC )  who became a spiritual guru.  Chandragupta Maurya was inspired by Bhadrabahu to convert himself to Jainism and relinquish the worldly commitments.  The guru through his nimitt gyan could forsee the advent of a decade filled with famine in the near future in Magadh empire.  He alongwith his followers decided to relocate to Chandragiri which was surrounded by multiple lakes.  In 298 BC Chandragupta abdicated his throne in favour of his son Bindusra and relocated to Shravanbelgola.  

Chandragupta lived a life of a hermit and worshipped his guru Bhadrabahu.  His routine was to recite the slokas, and lead a spiritual life day in day out for a period of 7 years.  He followed a routine of climbing the hillock daily and praying and attending discourse of his guru.  Bhadrabahu is considered to last expert of  14 Purvas of Jainism.  Under his tutlege Chandragupta Maurya attained salvation though Sallekhana.  Sallekhana is a jain religious ritual of voluntary death by fasting.  

 

Location : Chandragiri Hillock was natural hideout for people seeking spiritual deliverance.  The small hillock was easily surmountable with steps carved on the granite sloped hillock.  The steps are so designed that even during rain it provides a superb foothold while ascending and with railings laid out it is more safe.  One has to deviate after chennarayapatna towards Sravanabelagola from NH 47 highway proceeding towards Mangalore from Bangalore.  

ASI RECORDS & TEMPLATES @ Chikkabetta : 

Chandragiri is branded as Chikkabetta by the villagers from ancient times.  It has also been variously known as Katavapra( black hill ), Tirthagiri ( signifying teerthankaras ) or Rishigiri ( hillock of saints ).  Chikkabetta terminology stuck because of the bigger Vindyagiri hillock on which the mammoth statue of Gommateswara is located.  This hillock has been subject to patronage from various dynasties starting with Gangas, Hoysalas, Vijaynagar, and Wodeyars.  The hillock is situated 3052 feet above the sea level with a tomb of the jain muni Bhadrabahu.  

Cave on Chandragiri hillock

Cave on Chandragiri hillock

Rain harvesting with Ponds on the hillock, roughly chiseled steps to ascend with railings provided, many inscriptions on the rock surface, trekking routes to the top for viewing the sunrise and landscape around.  This point is also known as the Chandragupta gyaanstal. 

There are 14 basadis in Chandragiri and surroundings : 

Shantinata Basadi :   This Basadi houses the image of  Shantinatha which 4 meters in height.  The basadi is embedded with four pillars in Vijaynagar style.  The identity of the builder is unknown but it can be reasonably assumed some jain patrons during the Vijaynagar empire could have constructed the same.  

Suprashwanatha :   

Parsavanatha Basadi :  The basadi houses 14 feet 6 inches statue of the Teertankara Parsavanatha, which is erected on the Lotus pedestal.  The main image with a serpent hood is hewn from a single block of schist.   The statues sculpted are of mythological importance.  The hall is constructed in honour of the saint Mallisena in 1129 AD, and the chief architect is the Hoysala famed Gangachari.  The basadi also elougises  the achievement of the poet Mallinatha. This kamata parsavanatha  temple is probably associated with Dhanakirtideva according to inscriptions available on the premises. 

Manasthamba :  An impressive 65 feet tall  Manasthamba is installed in the verandah of Parsavanath  Basadi.  This imposing pillar is the tallest in Karnataka with sculptures of Lakshmi, and other goddesses  embedded on it.  The pedestal is three layered platform acting as foundation for the huge structure.   The pillar was erected by Jain traders  in 17th century during the reign Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar.  

Kattle Basadi :  The name is derieved because of the darkness prevalent in the complex.  There seems to be a deliberate attempt to keep the Basti dark in lieu of the harsh sun rays.  The ventilation is kept to the barest minimum.  This has an internal circambulation unlike other basadis  An image of  the first thirtankara Adinatha is found in the sanctum.  In lieu of the linkage to other basadi such as Parsvanatha and Chandragupta the hall is darkened.  .  

Chandragupta Basadi :  This basadi is dedicated to the emperor Chandragupta Maurya, with a south facing enterance.  This basadi is one of the smallest and almost innocuous looking which is attached to Kattale Basadi.  Around 12th century a doorway along with sculptures of Chandragupta and his guru Bhadrabahu was added in recognition of their contribution to the huge complex. 

Chavundraya Basadi :  The architect and patron of  Lord Gommateswara statue on the Vindyagiri began the construction of this interesting Basadi.  It is acknowledged that his son completed the basadi.  This magnificent structure represents the Ganga style of architecture combined with Dravidian architectural features.  The out walls of the basadi is plain but inner walls have been sculpted.  We find the finest creation of artistic excellence with dexterity.  Rows of swans, lions, fishes etc adorn the façade.  A large section of the walls are embedded with Thirtankaras, Yakas, Gandharvas, Elephants, and other relief. The architectural style is repeated on the tower.  The sanctum contains the statue of Neminatha sculpted by the famous Hoysala artist Gangachari.  A narrow stair case is located at  the south east corner,  which needs to be skillfully tackled to ascend to upper storey, which is not for the weak hearted.  A statue of  thirtanakara is installed in the upper sanctum.  It is here the secret is uncovered that this basadi is constructed by the son of  Chavundraya, in dedication of the effort of his father.  

Bhadrabahu cave

Bhadrabahu cave

Shasana Basadi   This Basadi was constructed in 1118 AD by Gangaraja, who has dedicated the same to his wife Lakshmimati.  The Kattale Basadi was dedicated to his mother Pokiabbe.  The image of teerthanakar Adinatha is seated in the sanctum, in a typical yogic posture.  The king Vishnuvardhan granted revenues from Parama for its maintainence.  

Chandraprabha Basadi : 

Savathi Gandhavarna Basadi :  This basadi was commissioned by Shantala, queen of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana.  The term is derieved from the epitaph of  queen Shantala,who was one of the most charming and elegant one amongst the many co-wives.  This basadi was constructed in 1123 AD.  It contains the statue of  Shantinatha who is considered to be 16th thirtankara.  The tower of this basadi has been renovated to prevent crumbling of the structure.  There seems to be some amount of vandalism considering Hoysalas heritage of adorning the temples with elaborate sculpture.  

Mahanavami Mantapa :  This 15 feet long Mahanavami Mantapa is located in front of the Bharat statue and beside Shantinatha Basadi.  It was probably constructed for the royalty to be seated to witness the celeberations during Mahanavami.  

Majjigana Basadi  : It is strange name to adopt.  Maybe it represents the common man concept of simple living.  Majjigana literally means yoghurt rice.  The exterior façade is embedded with flowery designs. 

 Eradukatte Basadi :  The basadi has double staircase to enterence.  Probably the name is derived from peculiar format.   

Bharatha’s unfinished Statue ;  This unfinished statue of Bharat is embedded into the ground.  His phallus is covered by an ordinary stone.  The statue is preserved instead of being discarded maybe in lieu of the damage or crack caused to the thigh portion.  

Iruve Bramha temple :  This small temple or mantap is located opposite the Bharat statue. 

Bhadrabahu CaveThe last guru of undivided Jainism is honoured with a dedicated cave.  It is located outside the Basadi complex.  There is a footprint of the saint which is worshipped by one and all.  An inscription is visible and is covered by glass panel just outside the cave. 

Chandragupta Meditation spot :  This spot is located on the hillock which can be trekked easily. It forms the highest point in the chandragiri hillock.  The view of the shravanabelagola hillock is beautiful.  The magnificient viewpoint of the entire Basadi complex can be viewed in a bird eye fashion.  A good view point for heritage lovers to click.   

The number of  basadis constructed at Chandragiri and its surrounding indicates the patronage of all the rulers of ancient time.  It also indicates the eagerness of  the kings to contribute to fame of the place.  Maybe it served as pilgrimage centre for the high and mighty.  The availability of water with huge ponds may be an added attraction for ensuring the construction activity.

 In and around Shravanbelagola : 

Gommateswara background

Gommateswara background

Jinanathpura Basadi :  This Basadi is built in Hoysala style by king Vishnuvardhana’s commander Gangaraja.  It houses a fine white marbled statue of  Parsavanatha.  This statue was installed in replacement by Bhujabalayya in 1889 AD.  There are number of  bronze metal statues of the 24th Teertanakaras.  

Mangayi Basadi  :  In 1335 AD, this basadi was built by Mangavi who was a disciple of  Panditadeva.  In the entrance there are two beautiful elephants carved with elegance.  The temple is built on the Hoysala format.  In all 3 images are present inside the complex Lord Mahaveer, Shantinatha and Parsavanath.  

Akkana Basadi :  This basadi was constructed in 1181 by Acchiakka who was the wife of minister Chandramouli of Hoysala king Ballal II.  The sculpture on the tower is beautifully preserved.   One can see the teethanakara meditating  surrounded by dwarpalikas and elephant one side and cow on the other side.  

Siddantha Basadi :  This basadi was once a library filled with texts of Siddantha.  It appears to have been constructed during the 10th century of the Ganga reign.  An inscription in Marwadi language points out to the patronage of businessmen.  All the literary texts moved to Moodabidri.

 Overall a trip to this heritage destination is an eye opener.  The local Jain mutt has accommodation for the devotees, but one can be refused accommodation by the caretakers for reasons best known to them.    There one small private lodging Raghu which is just suffice for emergency purpose, otherwise one can drive towards Hassan for a range of lodging options. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure unleashed @ Alibaug, Kuda Caves and Murud Zanjira

 

 

 

 

 

 

murud

For whom the bells toll, Time Marches On………….so goes the Lyrics of  Metallica.  Well when  working in high pressure organization which is filled with activity taking a break almost is a luxury, taken at a risk of displeasing one’s own boss.  I did manage to club the Diwali holidays, to move away from Mumbai, and thus escaping the sounds of deafening crackers being exploded in the apartments.  

We decided to drive early morning to Alibaug via the Panvel, and take a detour to NH17 Mumbai-Goa route.  Enroute through a winding route one reaches Karnala bird sanctuary, where there is a refreshment stop over.   If one reaches early enough one can spend an hour exploring the thickly forested terrain and hillock to spot some birds such as vulture, koel, robin, kingfisher, Owl etc can be spotted.  .  As one treks for one hour, through the karnala bird sanctuary  which is home to monkey, hares, mongoose, monitor lizard etc….Further ahead there is a ruined fort of  Karnala, as one reaches the peak one can have a glimpse of  Matheran and a blurred view of  Bhimashankar from a distance. These spots are trekkers delight since the peak is the shape of Thumbs up sign.  If one has the right equipment  and expertise, one can scale the peak, it is not for novice climbers like us.  This thumbs up formation is supposed to be a volcanic plug measuring 1538 feet height from the Hillock.   

From Karnala we moved via Pen towards Alibaug, and reached the destination around lunch time, we took up an accommodation on the promenade facing the sea.  We filled our belly with nice konkan fish curry preparation along with fried Bombil.   After that we checked out the beach front which was filled with high tide water.  One should be aware of the high tide and low tide cycle inorder to cross over to Kulaba Fort.  The blackish soil gives a different tinge than the normal beach sand.  The Sunset profile on the beach front can be scenic landscape for photo buffs.  

The famous ornithologist Salim Ali did his bird watching in the locales of  Konkan coast, Alibaug serves as a weekend getaway for many a corporate executives from Mumbai.  

One can take a ride on the horse drawn carriages towards the Fort, by walk it might take around 20 minutes brisk walk.  The horse carriages wait for 30 minutes for tourist to take a detour. There are two temples Jai Bhavani, which is the family goddess of  Shivaji Maharaj and Hanuman temple.  There are two cannons installed by the British after the fall of the Marathas, which is manufactured at Yorkshire, home town of  Geoff Boycott.  One has to quickly finish their tour return before the high tide sets in other wise one has to wait for the second low tide cycle to return.   One can approach the hillock by muddy road too, after paying a toll fee. 

Beaches Galore :  One gets to witness plenty of beaches along the coastline, Akshi, Nagaon, Kihim, Versoli beach are some of the popular ones.  One can explore the twin forts of Khanderi and Undheri from Nagaon beach.  One has to hire a boat and cross over, and one of the forts has a military check post where one can be frisked and questioned for ascertaining the genuine ids to avoid illegal activities. 

Enroute to Rewas danda which is jetty for transporting cargo, one can come across Kanakeswara temple which can be reached vide 750 steps, which calls for top physical fitness.  Kanakeswar forest is attached to the temple where panthers are supposed to be scott free along with snakes.  One needs to venture into the terrain in a group for personal safety. 

caves near Murud zanjira

caves near Murud zanjira

The next day we took a blinder of  a decision to cover Murud Zanjira and Harehareswar temple.  We traveled through Rewas Danda jetty and reached a junction with Banyan tree adding to the enigma.  We just enquired the route to Murud Zanjira and were guided rightly so.  Enroute traveling through the hillock we came across a barricaded enclosure which had an ASI symbol of protected monument.  It aroused some curiousity in us, so we moved the car on a muddy terrain away from the main road into the hillock.  We did for safety reason so that nobody can tamper with the car.  We parked the car at a vantage point and broke into the fenced boundary.  We found a neatly laid stairway towards a hillock.  We did not know what to expect, it was an impulsive decision.  As we moved on we enjoyed the scenic beauty of nature and reached the peak  to find a stunning series of caves of Buddhist origin. Alas we did not have any knowledge of its history, but the errie silence was adding to the suspense.  We quickly covered the main caves 6 in nos out of the 34 caves. We took some pictures for posterity.  We returned back to safety of our car and proceeded towards Murud Zanjira. 

Kuda caves and beach

Kuda caves and beach

After a lot of painstaking search like a history professor on the internet I atlast could spot the historical significance of the cave.  The link is furnished below for those who are interested in it s heritage.  The cave is known as KUDA caves. 

We moved around 25 kms from Kuda caves and found there was Dam on one side, which seemed quite huge, the paucity of the time we avoided going towards the Dam, instead we stopped on a hillock from where we could see the beautiful fort of Murud Zanjira, on the hillock it seemed to have ruined walls of a Fort and we found an ancient kings palace which was barricaded from prying visitors. We took some photographs of some stray horses grazing and the ruined fort and than we quickly droved towards Murud Zanjira. 

 

 

Siddi palace

Siddi palace

 

Outlook Clue : 

This great weekend travellers guide published by Outlook gave us some insight into the history of the out of bounds Nawabs palace.  The Siddis ruled this terrain guarding their fortress and palace fiercely.  They claim descent originally from Abyssinia in Africa.  The Ahmedganj Palace belongs to the Siddhi Nawab, which is spread over 45 acres of Land, which contains moque and buried remains of two past rulers.  

The Palace is now under the Nawabs descendent and it is closely guarded for the fear of miscreants ransacking the premise in search of the fabled treasures.  Folklore popular among the people claim that untold wealth lies buried like the pharaohs tomb in Egypt.  The inscriptions on the tomb point to prevalent,  Mori an ancient language spoken and lost to posterity.  Nevertheless one will be lucky to study the rich heritage of the Nawab of Siddhis, if one obtains the permission.

 

Murud zanjira

Murud zanjira

MURUD ZANJIRA FORT :

This impregnable fort is also known as AJINKYA, the Fort has survived the constant attacks from Marthas, Moghuls, Dutch, Portuguese and the British.  The word Jazeera means in Arabic an isle.  The Siddis acted as feudatories of Vijayanagar,  Marathas, Moghuls and Bahamani Sultans.  The fort can be safely assumed to have been built during the Vijaynagar Empire by the local Koli fishermen community.  Later the Fort seemed to have been usurped by Habashi soldiers who acted as merchant vessel dockers at the Fort.  They intoxicated the local fishermen and captured the Fort and subsequently the Siddhis took over the Fort.  From thereon they fiercely guarded the Fort against all invaders.  In 1676 Shivaji unsuccessfully tried to capture Zanjira, later he built forts surrounding Murud  such as Vijaydurg, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Padamdurg, Kasa Fort, etc.  The Siddhis signed a treaty with the British to safeguard their interest against the Portuguese.   

Murud Zanjira

Murud Zanjira

If one wants to reach the fort, one has to set sail in a catamaran across the sea, which is guided by wind sail.  It is a beautiful experience to set sail in an ancient contraption which moves in sync with the velocity of the wind.  Many a bollywood rustic movies seem to have been shot on this locale.  

 

 

Inside the fort, there is a huge tank to collect fresh water from the rainfall, a ruined palace and watch posts located across the fort.  Cannons were originally deployed and now we can get only glimpse of the past with 2 cannons in place.  It is quite hot and humid during most part of the year, better to carry plenty of drinking water, salt and sugar candies along with umbrella.  It is fabled that Charles Shobraj, serial killer was imprisoned inside the Fort for a short duration, away from the prying media.  

The fort raises nearly 90 feet above sea with a deep foundation of 20 feet.  Some claim it was built in honour of  Siddi Johar to protect his guru.  It took 22 long years to construct the massive fort spread across 22 acres.  The fort seemed to have contained a granary to store supplies during the rainy season.  Till 4 decades a school was functioning with 550 families stationed inside the Fort.  The queen Zubeida used to grace the palace and bathe nearby the pond along with her consorts.  Slowly after independence the entire fort was vacated to retain it as a national monument.  Now it is firmly under the safe hands of the ASI as protected monument. 

Acknowledgement : video courtsey MTDC, Onlooker, Wiki, and original stuff

 

 

 

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