Jul 7, 2012

Koppal Fort

Some time 2003
I was traveling by bus from Hyderabad to Dharwad. On entering Karnataka, the route passed through Raichur, Koppal, Gadag.and Dharwad districts. At Raichur I got a glimpse of the fort from the bus-stand while I waited for a bus. At Koppal I was fascinated by the rocky hills. I promised to visit the town and climb the hills. Years later during my research on forts I learned about Koppal fort.

March 17, 2012

The journey from Dharwad to Koppal took about 2 hours and 30 minutes. The hill fort is visible from the main street of Koppal. Finding the way to the fort entrance was easy however driving through the narrow streets was not so easy. Anjaneya temple marked the beginning of fort area. At a street kids were curious to a car. On asking the way to fort entrance, one kid asked me if he could be a guide. That's exactly what I was looking for! Shivu was our guide at Koppal. We found a good spot to park Ravi's Indica. I asked him to stay in the car ...narrow streets, for some reason the car had to be moved.

The approach to the fort's gate at the base of the hill is filthy. I prefer not to describe it ...same problem with many of our forts. Conditions got better as we got closer to the first gateway. 

A concealed gateway Its partially damaged but overall the fort is in well preserved.
Koppala Kote
Different stages of the fort is visible from here. Looks like its a short climb to the top.
Stairway going up along the side of the hill. That's Shivu aka Shivya.
Looking back at the first gateway from the second gateway. The hillock in the picture below is a part of this fort. There's a bastion on that mound and rampart walls emerging from the bastion. To the left a water body is seen. That must be Moti Talab, a water tank just outside the fort walls.
Two flights of steps face each other. The one seen here goes up to a watch point and its a dead end.
As we emerge through the second gateway a water tank filled with green colored water is seen. There's evidence of recent restoration work carried out recently. We walk around the tank on a wide platform. In the background is the peak of this hill.
This is where a young man joined us- Mehboob. He had seen Shivu and me climbing up. His curiosity lead him here. Shivu showed me a inch diameter through hole in one of the dressed in the wall facing the town. Shivu demonstrates me how that hole was used to make a sound which could be heard at the base of this hill.
Slightly above the water tank level is another level with ruins of a mosque and two temples. One of the temples is dedicated to Yellammadevi, rituals are carried out regularly. The bastion in the mid top would be the highest point on this hill.
Looking towards the south. A watch tower can be seen in towards the bottom right. The fort was definitely well guarded. Bahadhur Banda fort is visible faintly on the horizon. When I asked Shivu and Mehboob if they can come to Bahadhur Banda. Yes!
Looking up at the bastion and the summit of this hill.
Gateway to this part of the fort is on the left. Pockets in rocks have been wisely used to store rain water. this portion has close to 5 such tanks. A trademark of Tipu Sultan. Sources say that Tipu Sultan captured Koppal fort in 1786 from Marathas. It is said that Mallasarja Desai of Kittur was imprisoned here by Tipu, however Mallasarja escapes from the prison. Koppal fort was very important to Tipu; with the help of French engineers he made it one of the strongest forts. Four years later i.e. in 1790 Tipu lost Koppal fort to British and Nizam forces. 
Very complex construction. The ditch to the right was used for capturing rain water. Notice the wall; its a dam across the gully. An inscription in Persian can be seen on the opposite wall. Mehboob's story: anyone reading the inscription will know the location of a hidden treasure but the reader's head will explode. Terrific. I assured these guys that seeking hidden treasure was not my interest.
Koppal's lake is hidden among hills. The lake's plan is three pointed. I feel this lake is a home to few migratory water birds. Breeze on this part of the hill was refreshing. At the base of the hill across the lake on the left are small cave formations. Mehboob mentioned they are used as gambling dens.
We reach the summit. The bastion offers a commanding view of the surroundings. Moti Talab is seen. To the left is the white painted stairway leading up to a Dargah. Top of this hill is supposed to be an inscription of Ashokan edicts. The inscription is called as Palaki Gundu inscription. But I wasn't sure of the location because my research showed a different location- very close to Gavimath. But Mehboob was quite confident of the location. Let's see.
The green patch in the center is the water tank on level 1. That's where Mehboob joined us. With watch points like this, surely the fort can be guarded well.
The summit bastion seen from the other side. There's another inscription on the rock face below the walls. Mehboob showed us 4 inscriptions, all Persian.
These walls were surely built during Tipu's rule. This design can be seen at Gummanayakanakote and Gudibandekote also. Notice two studs projecting out from the wall? Both studs have through holes running vertically. I asked Mehboob the purpose of those holes; flag staff is passed through them held there while the flag flies above.
One of the four inscriptions. Compared to Halegannada or Pali inscriptions definitely looks recent. The other difference is Halegannada, Pali or Marathi inscriptions are engraved but the Persian inscription here is embossed.
We spent a good deal of time. Thanks to Shivu and Mehboob- they showed me around nicely. I think Mehboob was pointing at Moti Talab.
All of us were hungry. We woke the sleeping Shivu and went in search of a canteen. We found one in the market area, it was a small one, idli was the only item on menu. Fine, we had idlis and tea. While at the canteen we asked the owner for directions for Palki Gundu. He wasn't sure, neither were to other customers. However one of them asked us to check out a hood shaped rock just behind Gavisiddeshwara Matha. We go in search of Palki Gundu...

PS: these were shot during my recent visit to Koppal.

As seen from Gavimath Gudda.
As seen from Indrakeela Betta. In the background Bahadhur Banda fort is also visible.

Koppal fort coordinates: 15°20'18"N   76°8'59"E

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6 comments:

ರಾಜೇಶ್ ನಾಯ್ಕ said...

wow. nice to see some snaps of this place. Always wanted to visit this place. very well covered with nice details. Good job.

siddeshwar said...

Thank you Rajesh. Part of the credit goes to my guides Shivu and Mehboob.

P.N. Subramanian said...

Beautiful description with wonderful photographs

siddeshwar said...

Thank you Subramanian.

Team G Square said...

Beautiful pictures and amazing description .

siddeshwar said...

Thank you TGS.