May 18, 2013

Fort Vanadurga

December 24, 2012

The road from Gogi to Vanadurga village was almost a dirt track, progress was slow under the blazing sun. At the village a middle age man gave us directions to the fort; its about half kilometer away. Then we asked the man if he can accompany us and show the fort. Without hesitation the answer was yes. Our new friend's name is Madevappa Kasarajjar.

Vanadurga = Vana + Durga ~ forest + fort. It is said that this fort was surrounded by thick forest long time back. Hence the name Vanadurga. However, today there's no forest around the fort, instead it is surrounded by agricultural fields.

This is the fort's entrance. On either sides of entrance gate are Sanskrit inscriptions inscriptions of five lines in Devanagari script (see inset). According to an online source Vanadurga was a tribute by king of Surpur, Piddanayaka to his queen Venkammamba. The entrance is protected by a security complex with a curved path created by crescent shaped walls.

This diagram is the plan of Vanadurga fort. Notice the two complex gateways, its certainly designed to confuse enemy soldiers entering the fort. The outer security complex is a trap.

Enemy forces trying to enter this fort will be subject to surprise attacks, virtually impossible to enter without inside help.

Gateway in the outer wall
This is the space between the two gateways. We are inside the fort yet we are still outside. Enemy soldiers who make it till here are trapped between the gateways.
Inner side of the outer security complex.
Curved entrance of the inner gateway.
Outer side of the inner gateway
The inner gateway is flanked by platforms 5' off the ground. The platforms might have been the used as security offices. A pair of wooden doors remain fixed here. Iron studs and washers reinforced the wooden doors (see inset).

Raised platform flanking the inner gateway
Now we are inside the fort. On our left is Hanuman temple. Notice the slab with inscription on left side of the door. The inscription was unusual; it was a table made of 8 rows and 5 columns with letters in each of the cells.
Inner side of the inner gateway
Madevappa suggests we go around the fort. So we come out of the inner gateway to the space between the outer and inner walls. Madevappa shows us two half buried stones with rectangular holes in them; he believes those stones were made to tether elephants. We'll be going around the fort counter clockwise direction. Close to the north-east corner bastion, is a Hanuman sculpture embedded into the fort wall (see inset).

As we turn around the north-east corner the moat comes into view. This path goes right around the fort.

The moat is approximately 30' wide and 12' deep, covers 3 sides of the fort.

The fort is well preserved except for some collapsed walls. However this wonderful monuments needs care and attention from natural forces.

Collapsed part of the northern wall. We were told that on the other side of the wall is a military barrack.

A crack runs deep in one of the western bastions.

Notice the superior construction work- smooth finish walls.

Madevappa told us the moat is always full, even in worst of summers. It's a source of water for the folks living here. Oh, I forgot to mention; within the fort are 5 or 6 homes.

A secret passage in the southern wall. Notice the stone sizes in the wall- smaller blocks are used at the upper portion while the lower portion is made of larger blocks.

Inside of the secret passage. This might be the weakest point of the fort because the wall thickness is not much.

These ancient structures are believed to be military officers' quarters.

As we were walking by the homes I got a shock- a pink pony! Madevappa said that the pony has been colored during one of the rituals.. probably during Dasara or Deepawali.

Just outside the fort is this temple dedicated to Laxmi. The temple is in ruins, though rituals are performed people hardly visit the temple. It is used more as a gambling den.

We head back to the village and find a tea shop. We note Mahadevappa's address and promise to send his photos.

Vanadurga Coordinates: 16°37'54"N   76°41'35"E
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