May 29, 2013

Mudgal fort - part 1

December 25, 2012

Our journey for the day starts at Raichur. First stop was at Kavital to see Trymbakeshwara Gudi. Second stop was Samrat Ashoka's rock edict at Maski. Next was Mudgal fort. It was 11AM when we arrived on the outskirts.. the fort was visible with still 2 kms to go.

Mudgal fort as seen from 1 km (top)
As we entered the town we were surprised.. the fort was built both on plain land and a hill. That's the eastern entrance of Mudgal fort. On our left is the moat and the hill. On the right was a patch of area which might have been part of the moat.

This is the plan of Mudgal fort; northern part is on plain land and the southern part is built on a granite hillock with a deep ravine running along the south-eastern edge. We started our tour at point A.

Entry to the fort is secured by a complex gateway with a zigzag path. That's the first gate; Malatesh is inspecting the wooden door with iron spikes which are somehow preserved so well. We could also see couple of iron chains fixed into the door-frame (see inset).

Inner gateway flanked by tall watch towers.

Unlike other forts Mudgal fort's gateway welcomes visitors in style. With richly decorated columns and arches the gateway feels like a temple. Sadly the gateway is in a bad condition, the platform floors are covered in a thick layer of dirt. This gateway houses at least two inscriptions; the slab leaning on the column has one.

The second inscription; text seems Kannada is accompanied by Vishnu's Shanka and Chakra. The inscription slab is a part of the wall between two columns.

We are still in the gateway, once you pass the arch you are inside the fort.

Looking back towards the arch. This seems to be added by Muslim kings.

Some where near the inscriptions Malatesh had befriended a local boy- Shah Rukh -who agreed to show us the fort. We decided to explore hill part of the fort. We took our cab as close as possible and parked in the government school compound. Shah Rukh's friend Veeresh joined our group; now we were six of us. From there it was a short walk to the base of the hill, it was a steep climb to the entrance. The high rise walls to the right forms the tower called as Nauras Burj.

At this point I would to quote a para about Mudgal fort from Raichur district website:
The Bala Hisar or citadel is built at the top of the hillock and commands a good view of the interior of the fort as well as of the surround country. The view gives a good idea of the extent of the fort and of the large garrison, which could be accommodated therein. There are several natural depressions in the rock above, which were utilized for storing water. Bastions and walls are built at different points for the defence of the buildings of the Bala Hisar. In the middle also, there is a large bastion, round in form. The hill near this bastion rises in the form of a spur and is detached from the lower parts of the hill by a ravine. There are some natural caverns below the Nauras Burj. The fort is defended towards the south-west by a range of hills. In the western part of the fort is a large cistern called the Hikrani Baoli – about 140 yards in length and 40 to 50 yards in breadth.

Now we are in the citadel ~ Bala Hisar, very close to Nauras Burj. Burj means tower. The tower is built over a random stack of boulders. Notice the large circular shallow pit? We have no clue about the purpose of that pit.

Shah Rukh and Veeresh with  Nauras Burj in background
The entrance to the tower is a 4' gap between two massive boulders, a flight of steps have been built through it. The tower top is a flat area and a small platform at the center which elevates another 20'. Truly the tower offers a commanding view of the fort and the surrounding areas.

View to the east: In the center of this picture, where the wall ends at a boulder- that's where we climbed the wall to enter the citadel. This wall is a partition between the northern and southern halves of this fort.

View to the west: In the top-left of the picture is a large bastion and ruins of a palace.

 Between the ruins and the rock formation (in the middle) is a ravine.which goes down all the way to the base of this hill. I felt this ravine might have been a prehistoric settlement.

The natural gateway of Nauras Burj.

Malatesh imitates a king seated on his throne.

We move to the eastern side of the fort. We pass by several interesting rock formations. Rocks here have a unique texture, short parallel lines cover the surface. Veeresh said that Mudgal granite is very expensive. In fact I remember seeing few quarries close to the town.

Part of the rampart walls climbing the eastern slope of the hill.Part of Mudgal town is within the fort walls. The eastern and northern walls are protected by a moat.

The wall runs along the edge of the plateau. Ahead of us is a huge turret...

..semi-circular in plan. I named it half moon turret. Surely it looks like a command post.
Half moon turret
The article will continue in the next post - Mudgal fort - part 2.


May 25, 2013

Tryambakeshwara temple, Kavital

December 25, 2012

We stopped at Kavital while driving from Raichur to Maski, it was about 7 AM when we entered the village. Kavital was one of the places mentioned under places-of-interest on Raichur district website. Here's the description of the temple we are about to visit.

Kavital, in Manvi taluk, is a large village, situated on the Raichur-Lingsugur road, about 40 miles from Raichur and 18 miles from Lingsugur. There is a hillock to the south-west of the village which has several natural caverns. Along the slopes of the hill, artifacts, iron slag and pieces of ancient pottery were found. To the west of the village is an ash-mound on the top of which, in later times, a temple has been built. The ash-mound marks the site of an old smelting factory. There is an interesting medieval temple in the village, called Tryambakeshwara temple, which has three shrines, two of which contain lingas. There are two Kannada inscriptions in the temple and a beautiful image of Mahishasuramardini in one of the two niches in its western wall. All the three shrines are of a uniform size, each being 9 feet deep and 8 feet broad, and each one has an ante-chamber. Also of a uniform size of 7 feet X 8 feet, connected with the main hall.

The exterior of the temple is plain, but the masonry work is very impressive. The shikharas of the shrines, which are of the Dravidian style, have been built up to about two-thirds of their height in dressed stone, while the remaining portion had been completed in brick and lime. The walls of the temple are built of huge blocks of pink granite, some of which are as big as 15 feet in length, 3 feet in breadth and about 2 feet in thickness. The plinth is covered with earth; but on the northern and western sides, some portion of it, are exposed and these show a frieze representing elephant-fights and other scenes.

The temple is close to the village square, surroundings were clean and tidy.

That's the Trikutachala temple of Kavital; small temple with plain exteriors.

It was a pleasant surprise to see three Lingas on one pedestal. This is the east facing Garbhagudi, The other two Garbhagudis face north and south, both have Shivalingas. Morning rituals has just got over, the poojari welcomed us. We took pictures of the deity with his permission.

Little Basavanna sitting in front of the Garbhagudi.

The poojari told us that three Lingas on one pedestal is a rare occurrence, very few in entire India.

This is one of the two inscriptions. With limited lighting, I could shoot few decent pictures.

This is the temples Sabhamantapa, the meeting place.

A glimpse of the elephants mentioned in the description above. Take a close look at the bottom-left image, when you close the left half you'll see a bull and when you close the right half you'll see an elephant. At the temple entrance is a damaged elephant, its partner too is missing.

Here's a short video-

It was time for breakfast and we were hungry. We found a small family run eatery in the village square. Fresh idli and puri were on the menu. We had a solid breakfast! We did not have the time to visit the temple built on the ash-mound. Anyway, I discovered few other interesting places to see on Raichur-Lingsugur stretch. Watagal is a rocky hill which looks like a tadpole in bird's eye view. It has a small clearing at the top with an ancient in the center. About a kilometer to the west of Kalmala village is a large stone alignment which might have been used as a calendar in prehistoric times. Also close by is a fort at Kotekal village. So much to see :-)

We drive to Maski to see emperor Ashoka's edict and then to Mudgal fort.


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

May 15, 2013

Adil Shahi tombs at Gogi

December 24, 2012

It was about 1-30 PM when we arrived at Shahpur, the second largest town of Yadgiri district. Shahpur hill is much larger than the town itself. Our plan was to visit the fort but the timing was not right. We decided to skip it and plan another visit. We found a Lingayath Khanawali, had a hearty meal and made inquiries about Vanadurga. Our destination was 25 kms away and we had to go via Gogi village which is about 12 kms from Shahpur. Gogi is known for two things- Adil Shahi tombs and Uranium. We decided to stop at Gogi and visit the Shahi tombs.

According to reliable sources the first four 'Adil Shahi sultans of Bijapur had their tombs constructed in a necropolis at Gogi, while the next four each had his tomb constructed in the neighborhood of Bijapur itself- Gol Gumbaz, Ibrahim Rauza, and many others. Adil Shahi Sultans were known to patronize Sufi saints. Quoting few lines from the article 'Sufi Saints in Karnataka' authored by Prof. Maruti Kamble of Karnatak University, Dharwad- A reference to twenty-two famous Sufi saints of Bijapur during the Adil Shahi period are found. (1) Sayyid Chanda Husaini migrated from Arabia to Bidar in the late 15th century and joined the cavalry of King Yusuf Adil Khan and accompanied him to Gogi, seven miles from Shahapur of Gulbarga district. At present his tomb is located in Gogi. Do read the article, its quite interesting. BTW, Gogi is now part of Yadgiri district.

Here are few pictures:
Gateway to Dargah of Sayyid Chanda Husaini
Sayyid Chanda Husaini Dargah mosque
Mosque's minarets

Gateway to Adil Shahi tomb complex
Circular balcony
Inside of the necropolis gateway
Structure housing the royal tombs
A short video of Dargah and tomb complex:

About 5 or 6 kilometers on Gogi-Vanadurga road we saw this brick structure, it seems quite ancient, possibly constructed during Adil Shahi times. This is the hunter's lodge built during Adil Shahi times.

...see you at Vanadurga.