Oct 23, 2013

Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka fort, Sira

Since 1980s many of our journeys on NH4 were during day and while passing through Sira I rarely missed looking at the ancient structure with captivating looks. Somehow I never got an opportunity to stop and see it from close. Several years later I learnt about the fort at Sira, that's when I made up my mind to visit the town. Sira is a town with a eventful history, it has been part of many kingdoms and empires.

Few events from the history of Sira
town founded by Ranagappa Nayaka, chief of Ratnagiri
1638 - 1687under Bijpaur Sultans
1687 - 1757capital of Sira or Suba province under Mughal rule
1757 - 1759under Marathas
1761Hyder Ali's father Sheikh Fateh Mohammed a high ranking officer in Mughal army broke off from the Mughal empire and declared himself Nawab of Sira
1766lost to Marathas
1766captured by Tipu Sultan

July 7, 2013
The journey started at 4-45 AM from Bangalore, I was driving alone to Dharwad. By 6-45 I was looking at Sira fort entrance. Sadly the space around the fort entrance and parts of the fort itself is an open public toilet.

Here's a plan of Sira fort. It measures 290 meters in length (North-South) and 320 m wide (East-West) including the moat. Eighteen bastions are positioned along the perimeter separated by equal distances.

It is believed that Sira town was founded by Rangappa Nayaka of Ratnagiri (in present day Andhra Pradesh). The town was known as Siriya back then. It is also believed that the fort was originally built by Rangappa. It seems when Tipu took over the fort was strengthened with the help of French engineers. The design of the bastions is quite similar to other forts under Tipu such as Bellary, Koppal, Baahadhur Banda, Gudibande, etc.

Walls and bastions have survived several centuries with some damages. The wall in the foreground is the curtain wall for the main entrance. The wall in the background is part of the security complex.

View of the moat and outer-wall which also acts as a retaining wall for the moat. As you see, the moat is not a simple pit, the walls are lined with dressed blocks. A purpose built pit designed to survive forces of nature.

This is the inside view of the entrance from inside the security complex. A large image of a fish was found at on the platform (see inset). Walls are about 20 feet high.

The U-path inside the security complex.

Pass through that gateway and you are inside the fort. There are two entrances, one regular and the smaller passage next to it.

A large hall to receive visitors, perhaps it was an office back then. Perhaps artistically sculpted columns create a friendly welcome.

I did not stop by to check each of the pillars but one of the pillars had an image of a well-built man, seemingly a price or a king showing off his muscular body (see inset, right). One of the outer columns is quite special compared to others (see inset, left). Flanking this structure are two ramps connecting the ground level to the raised platform along the rampart walls.

The inside of the fort is plain and barren except for few ruins.

Bastions flanking the entrance give a commanding view on either sides- inside and outside.

A dilapidated structure.. doesn't seem to be a place of worship.

Close to the southern wall is an open well with a tower to distribute water. I could see evidence of pipelines. A similar structure can be seen on the outskirts of Savanur, another town ruled by a Nawab.

In the southern wall is a small chamber, it was quite dim inside.

Close to the center is a ruined structure which might have been a palace back then.

This is the north-western bastion. The block with a circular hole might have held the cannon. Vandals have dug up the floor.. perhaps in search of treasure.

A neat line of bastions with firing notches.
By 7-30 AM I was done with the tour of Sira fort and I was looking at the hillock on the horizon- Bhasmangi fort was my next destination.

Besides the fort Sira has few more spots with history:
1. Sri Thayi Maramma Devi Temple - an ancient temple situated near the fort, simple in construction, has interesting sculptures depicting various characters from of Hindu legends.
2. Ibrahim Rauza - contains many tombs, it is believed that Aurangzeb's daughter is buried in this necropolis
3. Mallik Rehan Dargah - is the tomb of Mallik Rehan governor of Sira province from 1638 to 1650 under Bijapur kingdom. He was popularly known as Hazrath Mallik Rehan Rahmatullah Alai
4. Juma Masjid - was constructed during the period of Mallik Rehan
5. Khan Bagh - a garden founded by Dilavar Khan, an officer under the Mughals. This garden is believed to have inspired Hyder Ali to create Lal Bagh at Bangalore. Nothing much remains of the garden now.

Since I had Bhasmangi in my sights I did not bother to visit any of the places mentioned above. I wish to come back some day and see them.

Sira fort coordinates: 13°44'35"N   76°54'50"E


BA said...

Hi Siddheshwar,
Thanks for your beautiful post. I have traveled so many times via Sira, but never bothered to see this. It feels good to go inside the fort and have a look at the architecture of those days. Though I wish to visit them in future, I am bothered about the insecurity in bringing family along due to lack of people (visitors) and no security guards around for help.
What's your view ?

siddeshwar said...

Though the fort is on the outskirts it isn't a deserted place. I guess its alright to visit the fort during day time but I'm skeptical if women would agree to go in there ..like I said the fort's entrance is not really a welcome sight. Sadly, Sira town with all its grand history is a mess now.

shashi dhara said...

Hi, siddeshwar,

Thanks for the sharing sira history.

My native is madhugiri but I have travelled so many times to sira.

But I never bothered about to visit, I don't know this much hidden things are there.

Defenetly I will visit to that port.

One thing, if possible you can also visit to Rathna Giri port, it is located iñ ananthpur district and near to madhugiri.

siddeshwar said...

Thank you, Shashi Dhara.

I've visited Ratnagiri fort, it's an interesting place.