Dec 28, 2013

Belgavi Kote ~ Belgaum Fort

Belgaum fort, one of the oldest forts of Karnataka was originally built in 1204 CE by Jaya Raya (also called Bichi Raja) an ally of the Ratta Dynasty. The fort is strategically located on the edge of Western Ghats. The fort has high and thick walls surounded completely by a large moat. Close to the fort is a large pond called Kote Kere ~ fort's lake, perhaps it was an important source of water for residents of the fort. Within the fort are Hindu and Jain temples dating back to Hoysala period and  also a mosque and dargah dating to Adil Shahi time. Also within the fort is Ramakrishna Ashram. Belgaum fort is associated with two great leaders of India; Swami Vivekananda had stayed at Ramakrishna Ashram in the year 1892 and Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned here during the freedom struggle. Currently the fort houses civilian dwellings, a school, government offices, military offices, a monastery and places of worship.

October 5, 2013
It was 6 AM when we reached Belgaum, the city was wet after a overnight rain. By 6-15 we entered the fort through the western entrance.

No doors to be found, just an open gateway.

Here's a rough plan of the fort showing the location of few places of interest.

A road goes around the fort, touching most of the perimeter. We drove along, checking the fort wall, however overgrown vegetation obscured the view of the walls. We stopped at one of the bastions which was fairly well preserved.

The wall was solid, it was built to withstand cannon fire pounding. The bastion was 20' in diameter with 6' high slotted wall along the edge,

This bastion was designed to be used in both dry  and wet weather.

 Notice the sheltered sentry points with artistic windows.

Behind the bastion was a platform with a approach ramp. This is an indication that cannons were stationed here.

We drove along the wall but most parts were out of reach because of vegetation. Perhaps, a visit during dry weather would be ideal. Anyway, we drove towards the center of the fort to check out the ancient temple. The temple is well protected, in fact the gates and doors are always locked. Unfortunately there's no signage; no clue as to when or who built this temple.

Its my guess this temple belongs to Hoysala time. At least one face of the temple has been repaired recently perhaps, 50 or 60 years ago.

We drive back towards the main entrance; this road splits into two and forms a loop along the perimeter. In the background is an ancient gateway with a modern board proclaiming it as 'Guest House'.

Distant view of the gateway complex. The arched gateway is a long passage, on the left is a temple dedicated to Durga Devi. The temple is maintained by military men, hence it is named as Military Durga Devi Mandir. Photography is banned in there. All that decoration is due to Dasara celebration.

On the side is a small stairway to the fort wall and the gateway complex. This wall on the right is the front most part of the gateway complex. Two sets of solid wooden doors reinforced with steel strips and studs can still be seen. The enclosure between the two gateways would have been used to trap enemy forces.

That's the outer gateway of the main entrance.

 View of the moat.. deep and wide. We'll have to imagine how it might have looked five hundred years ago.. a discouraging sight to enemy forces.
These two pictures are from my earlier posts.

Ramakrishna Ashram
Polished pillars of Kamala Basadi
Belaum fort coordinates: 15°51'29"N   74°31'27"E

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