Oct 26, 2013

Bhasmangi fort

July 7, 2013
Sira-Bhasmangi fort is about 20 kms via Badavanahalli. However turned off the state highway much before Badvanahalli, the road was newly laid and the progress was good for 6 kms. I passed by few small villages, I stopped every time I saw people to confirm the route. I came to a point where tarred road gave away to dirt track. No soul to be seen, I kept driving in the direction of the hill. It was quarter past eight when stopped to take this picture.

as seen from West
After 30 minutes of driving 6 kms through two villages- Basavanahalli and Karpanahalli - I met these four farmers. After speaking to them I decided to park the car and walk to the hill. The uphill path begins on the other side, so I had to walk around the hill now.

as seen from North
Bhasmangi Betta is also known as Basavangi Betta. Sheer face as seen from the base of the hill. To my right is a temple mostly visited by people of surrounding villages. I went left following the dirt path.

The hill is a mostly rocky on the western side and on the eastern side it is a mix of rocks and dirt. On the left here are couple of tall standing rocks. I thought of taking the straight path ahead but scrapped the idea and went around the hill until I saw few houses and people.

The eastern face is not as steep at all. The climb was easy, I was following a well tread foot-path. A hut came into view and its occupant was an old man. There was a second hut like structure, that was a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman (see inset). Close by was a gateway to the fort.

The path outside the gateway is flanked by raised platforms. This fish is facing away from the fort.. wonder if its direction signifies something. Also there was a sculpture of an elephant close by.

Seven minutes later I went through the second gateway.

This must be the halfway point. Here I could choose between two paths - one is straight ahead, climbing along the wall..

.. and the second one behind me. This is more like a secret passage. This one of the gateways linking to the core of this fort.

I realized Bhasmangi fort is quite complex with so many walls, bastions and gateways. Going by the architecture this fort was definitely under Tipu's administration. Brick walls are quite common here (see inset).

The fort had quite a few structures, perhaps used as barracks and storing ammunition.

Water tanks are aplenty too. Notice the bastion with the ramp - a common feature in forts renovated by Tipu Sultan. Looks like French engineers were employed here to strengthen Bhasmangi fort.

That's would be the highest point in this fort. A good portion of the wall has collapsed exposing the earth inside.

A water tank with a brick lined stone-mortar wall. Modern constructions have been employed even for water tanks.

This wall is situated at the edge of the cliff on the southern face. This part has so much thorny bushes it hard to reach some parts. Wish I had some local help..

The core of the fort perched on the summit. Looks solid and formidable. The wall in the foreground is the outer wall. I guess the sloped top is to facilitate easy viewing and also to make it convenient to fire arrows. I wonder if these bricks were made locally or imported.

The surrounding plains consists of red soil, so there are chances these bricks were manufactured locally.

The western wall as seen from the only bastion situated close to the midpoint. The other two bastions at either ends of the wall. The bastion at the lower end is connected to the wall with a unique joint (see inset). Within the joint is a chamber, perhaps used as a arms store or a shelter for guards in wet weather.

Cross-section of the wall shows how closely bricks are packed. I guess these thinner bricks are much stronger than the modern day bricks.

The brick wall end just behind me but the stone and earth wall continues further down till the bastion. I happened to notice the round edge notches (see inset) are quite common here but I do not remember seeing this design in other forts.

One of the four water tanks on this slope. On the horizon are many hills, one of them will be Ratnagiri hill. There are chances that Bhasmangi fort was under Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka's control before it came under Tipu's control. Ratnagiri fort was Rangappa's center and the hill is about 20 kms from Bhasmangi.

I take a short break for breakfast. I had two butter sandwiches, made and packed by mom. Weather was warm with a hint of humidity and dark clouds hovered above. I did not wish to get wet.. still had a journey ahead. I decided to leave, took the stairway along the wall seen while climbing up.

The climb down was non-stop. By 11 AM I was back to my car, one of the four farmers had left. I offered to share the remainder of my breakfast with them, they accepted :) After breakfast, I said bye to them and headed back to Sira and resumed my journey towards Dharwad.

Bhasmangi fort coordinates: 13°44'55"N   77°2'9"E

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