Feb 28, 2009

Chitradurga Fort

I've visited this fort two times; once alone and once with Praveen and Nagesh. two visits was not enough to see every part of the fort. According to people and history, once upon a time this fort had seven walls around it. Now we can count just three.

Terrain around Chitradurga is typically hilly... boulder strewn hills. The Palegars made good use of the terrain to hide from their enemies. This snake sculpture is on the left side of the gateway to the fort. From here, the path leading to the inside zigzags and climbs up gradually.

Once past the gateway, we come to a open place. This (see below) is supposed to be grinding stones. Probably to grind flour or to extract oil or grind gun powder for canons. As you see, the entire system is in pretty good condition. Very close to this is a pit carved out of stone which it seems was used to be filled with oil.

The fort had every facility it required for its time; water bodies, soldier quarters, stables, palace, temples, graineries... everything.

Plenty of monkeys too.

In the picture below, you can see a track the right hand top side. This path to the top of the hill is very tricky. People start climb it, go up some way and them get stuck. It's pretty steep and dangerous.

One has to spend two or three full days to see every part of the fort and every single moment would be worth. The beauty is that the fort blends into the nature.

That's Nagesh on the top and in the below picture, Praveen and I are one small speck... tiny blue dot.

This is the famous 'Obavvana Kindi', one of the many the secret passages through which one could go out of the fort. We went exploring into the passage; we climbed down rocks into a stream bed which leads the way out into the open field, out of the fort.


Feb 24, 2009

Bidar Fort

Pictures in this post were shot during two visits 1996 and 2003.

The top most city on the Karnataka map, Bidar is just kilometers from Andhra and Maharashtra borders. Bidar is known for its hot climate and the fort. I saw the fort, for the very first time, in the Kannada movie ‘Bara’ meaning drought. Anant Nag played the lead role. The movie is centered on communal riots and a good part of the movie is shot within the fort. This was some time during my school days.

October 1995. Gulli and planned to tour Karnataka on my Splendor and Bidar was one of the important destinations.

February 1996. We rode from Bangalore through Hospet, Bijapur, Solapur and reached Bidar. Back then the city was just growing out of its original boundaries. We could see new layouts with new constructions. Somehow I have an attachment for that city.

The fort is located on the edge of a plateau and nearly half its perimeter is flanked by a moat, of course it’s dry now.

The moat is literally carved out of a bed of rock. The fort entrance is unique with a very complex security system. There are two gateways in series. The second gateway is designed to confuse anyone new to it and it’s very easy to get lost in the maze of doorways and corridors.

Past the gateways, we the inside opens up. Kings quarters on the left, a mosque straight ahead and prisoner gallows on the right. Also there’s a government office housed in one of the buildings. As we parked our bike and looking around where to start from, a senior government official arrived and the doors to Rangeen Mahal were opened for him. We asked if we could take a look and to our luck we got permission. The decorations in the walls were colorful and intricate set with shiny pearl like shells.

Next, we went into the mosque complex. We met the watchman who was washing clothes in one of the ancient floral design fountains. The watchman pointed out the important things to look for.

We looked around and tried to imagine how it was back then during it’s time... Gulli was trying to act like a king. There was also a small museum within the mosque complex with just few stone carvings and canons.

Just outside the mosque complex gate, there’s an ancient well and just next to it a big bowl carved out of stone.

We moved towards the gallows and dungeons. These thick walled structures have a serious look. These are designed to hold prisoners; tight entrances and small ventilation holes on the roofs. We peeped down into one of the gallows; the floor was at least ten feet down. Now these gallows are in ruins and the floor was strewn with cannons of various sizes.

The fort is not maintained, lots of thorny bushes. We noticed steps leading down… underground. We went exploring little bit but we lost courage as it got a bit too wild for comfort. Probably we were very close to a tunnel entrance. The construction definitely indicates that this fort was highly sophisticated for its time with innumerable places for soldiers to hide.

We came back to our bike, took it and rode deeper exploring… We saw ruins of a half constructed palace. We could see marking lines on column which indicated the place was still under construction.

From here we could see a hamlet. It’s within the fort. The people here are into farming, growing mainly vegetables. We went down there and met few kids who let Gulli draw water from a well which we used to wash our faces.

Cool and refreshed we sat in the shade of a temple chatting away with the kids. Nice peaceful little place it was.

Most parts of the fort is deserted and it’s safe to venture out alone but local people loiter in the gateway complex, mostly students, of course only men, bunking school or who cannot find enough privacy and sleep at home. Also, there are some serious students who come here to study. The place I littered with plastic and all kinds of waste… it’s very sad to this monument in this condition.


As we explored more, Gulli and I discovered something amazing; a massive cannon! We were awe-struck by the size.

It’s difficult to imagine how it would be to fire a shot… the sound and vibrations and the lightning! I estimated the dimensions and the weights-

Length: 13 feet
Outer diameter: 4 feet
Bore diameter: 1.5 feet
Weight of the cannon: 33,000kg
Weight of cannon ball: 350kg

It seems there are five such cannons and these cannons are capable of firing the ball 4km from here. Just try to imagine the speed of a 350kg ball flying in the air and land 4 kilometers away! Just imagine the havoc it could wreck if it landed closer!!

Overall, the fort and whatever you see within it are all created by masters of those times. Everything’s engineered to perfection. I visited the fort again in 2003 with Praveen. I would love to go to Bidar again when I find the opportunity.


Feb 21, 2009

Train journey Delhi to Dharwad

New Delhi, 1978 summer. Annual exams over and our vacation was planned. Mom, Dipi and I traveling in KK Express to Dharwad, a 48 hour journey in those days. Half-way through the journey I got fever. Within hours it was bad and was getting worse. I could not remember much about the journey… it seems that I was talking a lot which made no sense. Looks like I was hallucinating… the train we were traveling entered a skull cave just like the one in Phantom comics. Actually, railway tracks passed through few tunnels. …somewhere the train crashed into another train coming in the opposite direction and our bogie brushed against a bogie of the other train and few British soldiers were tangled and crushed between the bogies and I was screaming “serves them right”. I never liked British people for what they had done to the people of India. I do not remember rest of the journey. Mom told me that I talked more and more and she was scared.

I woke up in German Hospital at Dharwad. When they brought me here, it seems, I was in real bad shape and had put me on drips immediately. Typhoid! Mom had to spend a fortnight at the hospital with me. Mom recalls how she cried till I was admitted to the hospital… Mom’s Love.

One of my cousins was there, right next door, down with jaundice.

I visited the hospital sometime 2006 or 2007 to see my grandfather. Guess what? It was the same ward where I was almost 30 years back. Even now, German Hospital is one of the best hospitals in Dharwad. No frills, no glamor. Simple, neat and clean.


Feb 16, 2009

Kudle beach and Om beach

January 25, 2009

19 of us; Ajay, Archana, Arshiya, Chetana, Farzana, Haseena, Kavita, Manjula, Marina, Preeti, Priya, Raj, Rayeesa, Siddesh, Shilpa, Usha, Vidya, Vilma, Yasmeen.

Like our last trip, we met at Uncle's place and our journey started at 6 30 am. The bus was slow... the orange colored bus driven by Kallayya hardly exceeded 60kmph. Just after Yellapur, we stopped at a restaurant; our driver and cleaner wanted to have tea! After a while, we stopped in a wooded spot for breakfast.

I enjoyed the sandwiches by Vidya and idlis cooked in leaves by Shilpa. We continued with the j_o__u___r____n_____e______y_______.

We passed by Ankola, took left towards Mangalore and after some distance took the right turn towards Gokarna. I saw salt pans after a long time. I regret we did not stop by to take a few snaps. May be next time.

It was noon when we set our feet on the sand! Kudle Beach here we come.

We found a shaded rocky spot and some got into the water while some preferred to watch the water. I went exploring and almost got stuck on a steep rock face.

I managed to take a different route and came back to the group. We settled down for lunch under coconut trees in one of the beach resorts... we had lots of items- salad, chapathi, brinjal palya, peas palya, chatinis, sweets, two types of rice one by Haseena and another by Arshiya. I enjoyed the rice dishes more than anything. We packed up and moved back back to the beach.

Majority of the group played in the water while the remaining few tried to keep a irksome bull away... someone was very very ANGRRRRY!

Around 4 we decided to trek the short distance to Om beach. The uphill trek took the breath out of us.

The view from the top was lovely. Kudle Beach on the right, Arabian Sea straight ahead and Om Beach on the left.

Om beach was crowded, looked more like a town square. We hired two power boats and went for a sea ride.

Everybody just enjoyed it... dipping hands in the water. We passed by several other less crowded beaches... two names I can recall- Paradise Beach and Half Moon Beach. The ride was over sooner than we had expected but we did enjoy it. As the day came towards the end, we all settled down on rocks to watch the sunset.

From there we watched the sun just above the horizon and started back towards our bus. As we climbed the hillock we saw the sun go down into the sea. Bye bye Suryadeva.

Our journey back started off... we had Vilam's cake and chips & snacks and then finally soda. The journey dragged... on and on and on. Finally we saw Hubli lights and our driver stopped to fill in diesel. Those 15 minutes of waiting, for some, it was like one hour. We dropped off Marina and then straight to Uncles house at Dharwad. Ajay and I dropped off Shilpa and Farzana and then Chetana at Amminbhavi. On the way I almost ran into a parked tractor trailer. I'm not sure if Ajay noticed that. Ajay went home on his bike. I was back at home, 1 30 AM Reublic Day!

I've planned to visit the place with my niece Durga, Deepak and Gulli. May be during Durga's summer holidays.


Feb 12, 2009

Jamalgudda fort

Supposed to be one of Tipu Sultan's strongholds. It's a black rock hill with steep faces. First half of the the climb is easy but the second half is steep. The steps are high but hardly enough space for a foot to fit... and very steep. Ascending was one thing but descending was scary, one slip and that's it!

These pictures were taken sometime December 2002, during a visit to Dharmasthala with Mom, Deepi and Praveen. Deepi and I had climbed the hill while mom and Praveen waited at the base. The top was full of tall grass, we could hardly make out what lay ahead of us.

The first time I saw this place was sometime 1992 with Anish. Jamalabad (that's the other name) is about 22km from Dharmastala. We climbed one third way and gave up. Somehow the same had happened with Anish at Shivagange and Savandurga.

Jamalgudda is almost as tall as Shivagange with ruins on the top. The summit is small in area bit offers a fantastic view of the surrounding forest covered hills. Deepi had shot better pictures, may be sometime I'll get them from him and post them in this blog.