Jan 15, 2014

Fort Samangad ~ Prasiddhagad

October 5, 2013
Having begun the day at Belgaum fort, followed by Kakati fort, Hunnurgad and Vallabhgad. Next was Samangad, we will be entering Maharastra. From Sankeshwar we head towards Gadhinglaj, rain was pouring. By the time we reached the busy town Gadhinglaj, rains had stopped and it was lunch time. We got directions for Samangad and also for a veg restaurant with ample parking space. Sai Prasad restaurant was on the town outskirts, on the road towards Samangad. It was a satisfying meal, we resumed out journey.. terrain was hilly. We passed through sloping fields dotted with ponds, cattle grazing and people going about their chores. As we neared Samangad the terrain changed again, fields made way for woods and the road got steeper. These woods were planted by forest department. A 15 minute drive to the summit, it's not really flat at the top. The hill itself is Y-shaped when seen from air, the fort is situated on the northern fork. A narrow road leads to the fort. That's Mahadwara of Samangad Kille formerly known as Prasiddhagad.

Few known historical events of this fort-
Built in XII century by King Bhoj II of Shilahar dynasty
1667 - Adil Shahis loose the fort to Chatrapati Shivaji
1676 - Chatrapati Shivaji improves fortifications
1688 - captured by Aurangzeb
1704 - captured by Marathas
1884 - captured by British army

Samangad fort in plan has no particular shape. On this screen shot are marked few points of interest.

The fort was developed for tourism since it has an ambiance of a hill station. It's an ideal place for trekking. Within the fort places are marked and a large board shows what's to be see with directions.

The place was peaceful. Weather was cloudy and warm. We parked our cab and Prakash the driver took this opportunity to doze off. I went walking along the western edge, walls were concealed behind vegetation. I could hear peacocks in the vicinity.

Finally a glimpse of the rampart wall :)

The path lead to the northern tip - Vetal Burj. Again much of the rampart walls are hidden. I walked to the center - a point from where the 3 tips of this fort diverge. At the center are several points of interest- Ambabai temple, Hanuman Vihir and Andhar Vihir. The temple is a modern structure, rituals are performed regularly. Hanuman Vihir is an open well. Andhar Vihir is another well- deep, dark and scary. The well is also known as Kaman Baav.

A bridge across the well offers a good view of the well. However, October isn't the right time to be visiting this fort because of plants conceal most walls and view of structures as this is limited.

This well is no ordinary well, it has steps descending into it. Steps were wide and slippery..

This passage is hacked out from the laterite bed, it's a monolith. This isn't a place for people who are claustrophobic.

That's the first landing and also the first turn. Builders have created a platform too, which can be used in more than one way.

The tunnel is much narrower and steeper at the second stage. I decided not to descend since the ground was slippery with water. At the bottom of this tunnel is the second landing and there's water. This well is really deep, I was told there are seven such landings! Perhaps the well is 100' deep. Just try to imagine how the engineers designed and executed it - truly amazing.

After the tour of the well, I walked to the western tip - Konda Burj. I met two men from a nearby village. They told descendants of people who served Chatrapati Shivaji live in a village at the base of this hill. Their family name is Kadam. If interested, tourists can meet the Kadam family.

I followed them to the eastern tip. The surrounding plains were green fields.. a good part of it was sugarcane. It was time to leave, I had another fort on my itinerary. When I mentioned my plan to reach the highway, I was asked to take the short cut via Halkarni and Ullagaddi villages instead of going via Gadhinglaj. This route will save us considerable distance and time. I thank them and leave.

With one last look at the Konda Burj I bid bye to Samangad fort.

The road flanked by grassy plains.
That's the other end of this hill's fork. Fabulous place for trekking in this season.

We drive down the hilly road, pass by an ancient temple.. I wish I had more time :( The route suggested by my friends was good, we reached NH4 pretty fast.

With some research on Samangad fort, I came to know some places I missed seeing- Chor Darwaza, Rama's cave and Shiva's cave temple. Tourists visiting this fort must make their own arrangements for food and water, on the hill there are no such facilities.

Samangad coordinates: 16°10'32"N   74°24'19"E


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