Apr 27, 2013

Goshaala at Maliabad fort

December 23, 2012

After Manvi fort we headed back towards Raichur with a stop at Kallur to see Mahalaxmi temple and the historic Markandeshwara temple. Kallur is also prehistoric site but we did not know what to look for. Next on our itinerary for the day was Maliabad fort, 6 kms south of Raichur. I wanted to check for a shortcut to Maliabad but a local man suggested we go via Raichur because the interior roads were in terrible condition. From Raichur 3 kms on Mantralaya we took the right fork which lead to Maliabad village. When we asked for directions to the fort, folks would ask if we wanted to go to the Goshaala..  OK, so there's a Goshaala inside Maliabad fort.

The fort is close to the village; we could see the wall with cotton fields in the foreground and Maliabad hill in the background.

As we move closer to the fort entrance the inner wall comes into view. In this picture below, the outer wall is marked in black and inner wall in white.

A narrow dirt track lead us into a gap in the ruined outer walls and continued little further with Maliabad hill on our left. The path ended with a locked gate between massive inner fort walls. A very narrow gap in the wall was the only way to get past the gate.

This 20' wall is made of just 5 layers of stone blocks, amazing isn't it? And the stones are dressed to perfection, smooth surface offers no grip to anyone attempting to scale the wall.

Makes me wonder how the sculptors managed to match the edges so closely. What we see is just the outer layer.. behind this is another layer and then packed rubble. These walls are solid enough to withstand cannon firing.. I feel cannon balls will bounce off these walls.

So this is a cattle enclosure.. we could see a herd of cows and calves. These are Javaari Aakala ~ Zebu breed. We guessed that this Goshalla protect and preserve Javaari Akala only, no hybrid varieties allowed here. In the background is an unfinished part of the wall. Abandoned stone-breaking activity can be seen (inset).

A partially dressed granite block measuring 5' x 5' x 10' was one of the smallest here. Larger ones approximately 18' long.

The herd seems to be eagerly waiting for the gates to open. This enclosure is L-shaped in plan, so its my guess this might be one of the entrances to the inner fort.

As soon as the gates parted the herd rushed off.. so this is their grazing time. This place looked peaceful, plenty of trees and shade. To the left we could see a small white building.. a man was waving at us, calling us towards him.

This person who called us lives here, away from his home in Rajasthan, managing the  operations of Go Rakshana Samiti. He is responsible for production of cow urine medicine. He tells us a bit about himself: He was a patient suffering from neurological disorder. His family spent huge amounts of money for medical treatment but his condition did not improve. Having lost hopes his family tried every possible medicine and some how they came across cow urine medicine. He believes he cow urine cured him. Now he wants to give a part of his life to help spread the benefits of cow urine. He showed us a booklet titles Cow Urine: Principles & Applications published by by Hare Krsna Rural Life. The booklet has a long list of diseases and conditions which can be cured or controlled by cow urine.

This reminds me of something when we had just moved to Bengaluru late 70s. Our house was situated in a new locality with few houses scattered around. Everyday few kids used to herd cows to graze in the vacant plots. One day I happened to see the kids collect handful of urine and drink ..I was zapped! I was ignorant of cow urine's medicinal properties. However, only the Javaari Aakala urine is considered beneficial, not the other breeds'.

Now we are at the distillery- earthen stoves, wood fuel, earthen pots of various shapes and sizes. The process seems simple but requires the right equipment and timing.

This seems like the pot which gives out the final product.

Earthen pots used for storage and wooden casks transporting to far away places. Right next to the distillery is one of the watch towers and in the background is the hill.

For retail market the medicine is packed in 250 ml plastic bottles- that made me wonder why use plastic to store an organic product? Low cost and safe to transport but the purpose of providing purely organic product gets defeated here.

Our host's living quarters is a single room arrangement. He cooks his own food and other basic needs. The blue text on the building reads: In memory of Late Madishetty Narasayya, donated by wife.

A lovely sculpture of Mahishamadhini found within the fort is placed close to the distillery.

We bid bye to our friend. It was almost noon, Sun was blazing fiercely. On the way our of the fort, Malatesh and I walked for some distance. We wished we had come here early morning, we could have explored the hill too. We found another L-shaped entrance in the inner fort. Here the granite blocks were larger than the ones we saw earlier. The top-most block is in excess of 20' in length. We realized there's a lot more to explore.. we have to plan another visit.

At the village we stopped at Hanuman temple to check out a row of hero stones. Two of them were  leaning on the front wall of the temple (inset).

A young man passing by stopped to inquire our interest in their monuments. His name is Srinivasa Murthy (see inset, right), a history teacher at government school here. He said he could have shown us an inscription on the hill. In the short meeting he told us this fort was built by Rani Rudramma of Warangal Kakatiya dynasty in 1296 CE. Later Maliabad fort became part of Vijayanagara empire during Krishnadevaraya's reign. Krishnamurthy seems to be a resourceful person.

He insisted we see the temple and a large Shiva Linga on the village outskirts, close to the fort wall. First we saw the temple, conditions around it is pathetic. Within the temple is an interesting hero-stone (see inset). Next we saw the 3' tall Shiva Linga made of black granite.

We noted Srinivasa's mobile number and promised to come back and explore the fort properly.

Here's a rough diagram showing the ruins of walls.

Maliabad fot coordinates:   16°8'59"N   77°21'26"E


Apr 24, 2013

Mahalaxmi Devastana and Markandeshwara Gudi, Kallur

December 23, 2012

After Manvi fort, on the way to Raichur we decided to stop at Kallur. These hills are supposed to be prehistoric sites according to Raichur district website.

I'm quoting Kallur description here-

Kallur, in Manvi taluk, is a large village, about 13 miles from Raichur. The village is surrounded on all sides by granite hills except the east and derives its name from the abundance of the boulders on these hills. The village and the hills around are full of antiquities.

The present village, which is a modern growth, is surrounded by an old wall, which appears to be a work of the 13th or 14th century A.D. But the five gates appear to be of Muslim period. Two of them, which are not in much use, have no names. The other three are called after the towns to which they lead, Manvi Darwaza, Kalmala Darwaza and Raichur Darwaza. The gates are more or less in a ruined condition. The superstructure of the Raichur Darwaza, which has been pulled down to construct the chavadi in the village, contained a wooden inscription in Kannada. According to this inscription, which now forms part of the ceiling of the chavadi building, the gateway was constructed by Agha Khusru, a well known Adil Shahi dignitary.

There are six temples in and around the village. Out of these, only the Markandeshwara temple deserves some notice. This seems to be the oldest temple in the village and its hall has some pillars of black polished stone with beautiful carvings on them. A number of inscriptions have been found in this village, most of them belonging to the period of the Chalukyas of Kalyana.

Another interesting feature of Kallur is that there are many large and well-built wells. Five of these wells are very spacious, which have been built of solid masonry and have flights of steps leading to their base. It is not known when and by whom they were constructed. The largest well is 50 feet X 50 feet on the surface and about 120 feet deep and contains sweet water.

We navigated through the narrow streets of Kallur and reached Markandeshwar temple. From there Mahalaxmi temple is a minutes walk. It's a very small temple managed by a family. In fact the poojari's house is within the temple compound. We were allowed to photograph only the deity, the poojari asked us not to shoot pictures of the temple exterior.

This is the gateway to Markandeshwara Gudi.

That's the fort like gateway of this temple.

 The temple is built on a raised platform, situated at the base of one the three hills of Kallur.

Basavanna lying down in front of his lord.

Besides the temple is a Ganapti and a group of serpent sculptures.

Unlike other ancient temples this temple is not entirely made of stone, its a stone structure covered by brick and mortar. The structure's top has four minarets, one at each of the corners. The minarets are Islamic style, the design can be seen at Bijapur, Gulburga and Bidar in buildings built during Adil Shahi and Bahamani times. The temple has a 20+' high monolith pillar.

Outside the temple gateway is a small platform on which this Shiva Linga and Basavaan are installed.

We did not try to explore the gates nor the wells mentioned earlier. I was eager to reach Maliabad fort now.

A short video-


Apr 20, 2013

Manvi fort

December 23, 2012

Manvi town is a taluka headquarter place. It is about 45 kms south-east of Raichur. Mani fort was the first place on our itinerary of the day. The fort is located one of the four or five hills of Manvi. After entering Manvi town limits, we spent 30 minutes to locate the base of the hill from where we could reach the fort. Locality close to the base of the hill range have narrow lanes, we had to leave the car nearly about half kilometer and walk it up to the hill. There it is- Manvi Kote.

Ravi and Mohan mama lead the way. Mama is right opposite the natural shelter which might have been used as a sentry post. The passage between the rocks is the fort entrance. 

Look of these walls reminds me of Irakalgad fort in Koppal district. The constructions styles are similar, builders have utilized the natural rock formations to their advantage.

Half way up the hill is the Dargah of a Muslim saint. On the tomb walls was painted a name which read as Gous Peer Rehmatullah Alai.
These two neighboring hills are on the west of Manvi fort hill. The small white patch on the closer hill could be Mallikarjuna temple.

This the uppermost and innermost part of the fort.

Close to the entrance is a rain water tank.
The tank is about 11' at the deepest point. Malatesh just entered the scene, he was lagging behind because he was shooting videos as he climbed.
Stone pegs driven into holes work as stoppers. This technique can be seen at few other forts such as Madhugiri and Huthridurga.

The uppermost fort is half open space and the other half is a mass of massive rocks. The highest point of the fort is a turret. Unfortunately the path to the turret was blocked by plants and I was no mood to wrestle with shrubs creeping with God knows what all creatures. In the picture below, to the extreme right is a vertical 40' fall.

In spite of near vertical rock faces a wall has been placed here. Perhaps, it covers a gap between the rocks and also it provides a platform for sentries.
The terrain is quite rough, ground surface is hard and loose pebbles make slopes dangerous.

We walk along the edge of the fort.. Mallikarjuna temple on the neighboring hill.

Down below is evidence of quarrying. On one of the rocks we saw a motif of concentric squares connected in the middle on all four sides.

Now we are the north-eastern corner. The corner most point has a small watch tower perched on a rock with vertical faces on 3 sides.

The structure is circular in plan with a narrow stairway to the roof which is about 14' in diameter.

Ravi and mama enjoy the commanding view of the town and the neighboring hills.

On the way down, I stop for a minute to take one last look at Manvi town.

We found a small restaurant right next to Manvi court premises. Breakfast was fresh idli/vade and tea. I happened to talk to local folks trying to find out about other historical monuments which might have got missed out in our plan. The men mentioned temples but I wasn't very keen in visiting temple because forts and prehistoric sites are my interest. Anyway, I thanked them and we left... Maliabad was next on our list.

I tried finding history of Manvi fort but very less was found. Here are few things-
* Mavi is home to Kalmath, Sri Chowdeshwari temple, Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temples
* The other name for Gous Peer Rehmatullah Alai could be Hazarath  Sabjali Sattar Dargah.
* Manvi is the hometown of a great Madhva follower Sri Jagannatha Dasa, author of Harikathamruthasara

Manvi fort coordinates: 15°59'3"N   77°3'0"E

Apr 17, 2013

Roudkunda fort

I discovered two forts from Raichur district website- Roudkunda and Mukkunda. Both are hill forts,  situated in Sindhanoor taluk, close to Koppal-Raichur district borders and also close to Tungabhadra river. Both places are said to be Neolithic sites.

December 22, 2012
It was almost 5-30 PM when we arrived at Roudkunda. We got delayed because of a stop to get the flat-tire fixed and also the interior roads' condition. This was maiden a journey for most of us in Raichur's paddy belt. This entire area is irrigated by canals and economy thrives here because of paddy cultivation. We happened to see neatly formed hay bales - this was something new to me.

Roudkunda has twin hills. This is the western face of fort hill and the village is on the eastern side of the hills. Though the fort hill is not really high its slopes are are steep and not friendly.

We stopped close to the tallest building in the village. We knew it was too late to climb, even with a guide. View of the hill fort was blocked by houses, trees, poles and electrical wires. We had to shoot from a height.. We saw a group of youngsters in the building premises and asked them permission to shoot from the roof. As we spoke we got introduced to Somashekhar Malipatil, he's an employee of the bank housed in the building. Notice the mutilated eastern face of the hill - quarrying. Somashekhar told us that quarrying activity was banned because of village folks opposition.

There are no walls seen at the lower or middle levels of the hill. A lone watch tower sits at the top. According to the district website, this fort seems to be of 16th or 17th century.

Somashekhar treated us with tea. We still had a 2½ hour drive ahead of us to reach Raichur. We exchanged phone numbers and said bye. I promised to come back and climb the hill some day.

March 8, 2013
This was the 3rd of the 4-day trip to Davangere, Bellary & Raichur districts. Earlier in the day we had visited several historical places in northern part of Bellary, after a lunch-break at Shirguppa we moved into Sindhanur taluq, Raichur district. First we visited Mukkunda fort and then traveled to Roudkunda. On the smaller hill is the fort.

At the village, we parked our cab at exactly the same spot during our previous visit. We got directions as to where to start the climb. As Ravi, Malatesh and I walked towards the hill we met two boys who agreed to show us the hill. The climb was really steep. Ravi and Malatesh took one route while I took a less steeper one. In a matter of minutes two more boys joined us :)

Malatesh could not negotiate a narrow ledge and returned to the point where we had separated. He took the less steeper route and joined us.

Some more boys joined us.. we had a platoon guiding us up the hill. The boys themselves were not sure of the path, so we had to explore and find a way to the summit. Ravi who was ahead of us told us he saw a python. By the time I reached the spot, it was out of sight. Finally we reached the summit. This small hill is really wild and tough. Suddenly it occurred to me that we would be responsible for the boys' safety. I looked around, the gang was scattered, kids running and jumping around all over the place. The first thing to be done was to run a head count. They were nine boys. Next, we have to keep them together, so I told them to pose for a picture. The idea worked! That's our gang :-)

 Roudkunda village in the background.

That is the burj ~ tower. Somashekhar had told that young men of the village hoist the Indian flag atop this tower on Independence/Republic days.

The fort is small, apart from this tower there is no other major structure.

Going by the color of the rocks, stones for this burj seems to be sourced from this hill itself. Many of the boys wanted to climb to the top but I was not comfortable taking the entire gang up there. More the doorway was pretty high too.

Walls can be seen only on the western face of the hill. In the background is the bigger hill of Roudkunda. Quoting a para about Roudkunda, from Raichur district official website: The place seems to be an ancient one, since it is one of the important Neolithic sites in the district. To the west of the village, there are two hillocks, one of them having a small fort on it belonging to the 16th or 17th century A.D. Artifacts were found in abundance both in the valley between the two hillocks and on the slopes of the hillock having the fort.

The fort wall seems incomplete, construction might be abandoned for some reason. Roudkunda is surrounded by paddy fields which stretch as far as the horizon.

The gang stuck together. Most of them were excited, eager to show something or the other. They were really happy :-)

We decided to descend while it was still light. Close to the fort entrance was a rain-water tank, we had missed it on the way in. I feel this tank was created first and later the tower.

Going down was easir because we knew the way. However, we had to be extremely alert  because of the steepness. Very close to the base of the hill, Ravi slid down a smooth stretch of rock and the boys loved it. They would slide down, run back up and slide down again and again, yelling with joy :-) it was a great way to end a day.. we had made a bunch of kids happy and we were happy too.

On the way back to the cab, I showed them the video of Malatesh playing the musical rocks at Mudgal fort in my mobile phone. Each of them watched and listened in complete silence. Their obedience touched my heart. Back at the bank premises, we meet up with Somashekhar. We get biscuits of the boys and tea for the ourselves. We promise the boys to send their pictures and say bye to our hosts and friends.. back to Bellary.

Roudakunda fort coordinates: 15°40'38"N   76°46'16"E