May 1, 2013

Raichur fort

December 23, 2012

We started our day with Manvi fort followed by Kallur, Maliabad fort, Sugureshwara temple at Devsuguur. Raichur fort was the last spot for the day. Lunch was at a Lingayath Khanawali and the owner Veerayya Swami was our friend now. I was glad to hear when he said he would like to join us for Raichur fort tour :-) This is the southern view of Raichur fort. A friend told me this hill is called as Gubber Betta. Cute name for a tough little hill. That stretch of water is Raichur lake.

This is a rough plan of Raichur fort with few details. Veerayya Swamy suggested we start the tour from point D, walk till Mecca Darwaza. As so say, you are our guide.

Looking towards Mecca Darwaza, Gubber Betta is on our left, concealed by a clump of trees. The pit to our right is the moat bed, now its overgrown with grass.

Beyond the moat are buildings which are not supposed to be there. The moat is about 40' wide. This is one of the largest bastions with a cannon. The stairway to the bastion has several sculptures of elephants, one of them is seen here (see inset).

Now we are at Mecca Darwaza, to  our right, out of sight. Within the fort premises is a KSRTC depot and bus-stand. Some time 2003, traveling from Hyderabad to Dharwad, I remember waiting for a bus here and looking up towards the fort ruins and wishing I could climb up. Well, the tome has come.. after almost 10 years!

Veerayya Swamy suggested we ride our cab from here to Takiwale Baba Dargah, we can climb the hill from there. From the base of the hill we are looking up towards the Dargah. A stairway cut out in the rocks. That's Veerayya Swamy. Three kids who happened to be hanging around agreed to be our guides.

That wall, close to the summit looks like a firing point.

 At this point I would like to quote two paras of the fort description found on Raichur disctrict website. The original fort at Raichur, according to a long inscription on a slab on the western wall, was built by one Raja Vitthala by order of Raja Gore Gangayya Raddivaru, minister of the Kakatiya queen Rudramma Devi, in the Shaka year 1216 (A.D. 1924). The walls of this fort are constructed of huge blocks of well-dressed and nicely fitted stones, without the aid of any cementing material whatever. The outer wall, which is constructed of comparatively rough stone masonry, however, is the work of the Muslims, as is shown by the various inscriptions in Arabic and Persian on its bastions and gateways. There are two gateways in the Hindu fortifications (Sailani Darwaza in the west and Sikandari Darwaza in the east) and five in the Muslim fortifications (Mecca in the west, Naurangi in the north, Kati in the east, Khandak in the south and Doddi in the south-west). The outer wall is enclosed by a deep moat on three sides, the fourth (or the southern) side being naturally defended by a row of three rocky hills, all fortified with massive ramparts. Inside the fort-walls, there are a number of old buildings and mosques of considerable archaeological interest, several of them containing inscriptions commemorating their erection during the later Bahmani and the Adil Shahi periods. The inscription referred to above is carved on a gigantic slab, about 42 feet in length, fitted in the western face of the Hindu defence. A number of drawings have been carved on this wall, at least one of which deserves a special mention here.

A little distance to the right of the above epigraph, is depicted the process by which the large inscribed slab was brought from the quarry to the site, laden on a solid-wheeled cart drawn by a long team of buffaloes with men driving and cudgelling the animals and applying levers at the wheels to push the cart forward. The artistic treatment in delineating the line of buffaloes in perspective, and the lively and graphic expression of the strain on them as represented by means of depicting some with tongues lolling out of their mouths, some with bent waists, and others with tails curled and lifted up as is usually seen when these animals are put to extra strain, is indeed a marvel of the art of drawing, particularly when the age of the work is taken into consideration. Further to the right is carved a procession scene of six chariots, drawn by humped bulls with decorative collars round their necks, and a little distance to the south is carved a forest scene with palmyra trees. On various other slabs in the same wall are incised floral and foliage designs as well as numerous figures of men engaged in various activities, and also animals and birds, like bulls, elephants, boars, jackals, cocks, peacocks, geese, etc., all executed in the same delightful manner. The bala hisar or citadel, situated on the middle and loftiest of the hills on the southern side, is approached partly by a flight of steps near the south-west corner of the Hindu wall and partly by a gradual slope which is by no means difficult of ascent. It stands on an irregularly shaped platform and contains mainly, a durbar hall, a small one-arched mosque in Bijapur style, a dargah called Panch Bibi Dargah and a square cistern now filled up with earth.

We start our climb at the base of this wall which is very close to the Dargah. The path was quite steep and narrow at parts. Our guides were like mountain goats, very nimble and fearless. Malatesh was lagging way behind.. shooting videos is a time consuming task.

Looking back toward the Dargah. These walls were constructed during Kakatiya rule.

Now were are half way up the hill. A water tank on our right and a vertical fall to our left. However, the view on the left is beautiful.
Raichur lake.
That's Mohan mama and Veerayya Swami. Our guides were hanging around some where close by, chatting noisily.

Down there is the Southern tip of the fort. Some where there is Khandak Darwaza, the southern gateway.

The path to the hill top goes around the hill counter-clockwise. This is the south-west part of the inner fort. Among those hills on the horizon is Maliabad fort. The summit is a minute's climb from here.

That's the summit and the 21' cannon pointing towards the south-west. On the dead-end of the cannon is an inscription in Persian (see inset).

The turret is damaged and the cannon is floored with its nose in dirt.

At the summit here is a small masonry structure which seems could be a summer house. Also there's a small mantapa which is an indication of a temple's existence here.

The interior might have been a grand sight long back but today its scarred and mutilated badly. On the northern wall of the building is a small window.

From the window our guides showed us this mutilated sculpture calling it aanee kaal meaning elephant legs. We told them it was Basavaanana kaal. Veerayya Swami actually went down there to inspect the ruins. With a sad expression he told us that Basavanna's head is lying down there. Those people have broken our Basavanna. He was genuinely hurt and asked us if there's a way to fix the head. Sadly, the answer is no :-(

Sun was setting quickly. Veerayya Swami suggested we move before it gets dark because this isn't a safe place after dark. We took a different way down which lead to a small gateway. That's Malatesh standing in the doorway. Close to the gateway on a rock was a geometric design (see inset).

Veerayya Swami suggested we visit Navarang Darwaza too. We planned it for the last day's morning of the trip and asked him to join us.

I have plans to come back here to see the sculpturing mentioned in the fort's description on district website. Seems like our friend is also not aware of it, otherwise he would have shown it.

Raichur fort coordinates: 16°12'8"N   77°21'2"E