May 31, 2014

Wagangera fort

December 24, 2012
During our visit to Yadgir: After the tour of Yadgiri fort next on the list was Wagangera fort. God knows why I asked for Wadgera instead of Wagangera and drove a while towards Wadgera. That mistake resulted in loss of 1½ hours which in turn upset the rest of the day's itinerary. One silly mistake delayed the visit by 11 months.
November 27, 2013
The second day of the trip. The previous night we had camped at Taylor Manzil, Shorapur. It was experience to be staying in a 19th century building designed and built by Philips Meadows Taylor. We left Shorapur at dawn, Shorapur-Wagangera is barely 8 kms, by sunrise we were navigating through the narrow streets of Wagangera village. Our car went right up to the base of the hill, from there it was five minute climb to the fort gate.

Just as I reached the entrance, a resident of the village came. He had come for a morning walk, introduced himself as Venkatesh Bappargi. He was polite and told me to walk along the fort wall, it would be easier to the fort that way. He also told that Aurangzeb's son was buried here.

Wagangera fort is situated on Shorapur hill range. In fact Wagangera was a power center in the pre-Nizam times. During Nizam rule, administration was shifted to Surpur. Present day Wagangera village is nestled between a large hill and a hillock. The main fort is on the large hill and the hillock also has fortifications which would have little more than a watch tower. Now I'm on the larger hill, looking towards the mantapa in front of the main fort's gateway. That mantapa might have been the place where the king would sit and watch over the lake below.

Scanning the space in counterclockwise.. View of the rampart wall from the main gateway terrace.

A large water tank close to the main entrance.

A large rock formation with a shrine at its base and a sentry nest at the top. Notice the merlon with musket holes.

This shrine is supposed to be dedicated to Venugopalaswamy. Next to this shrine is a small enclosure with few tombs. One of the tombs is said to be Aurangzeb's son and rest could be his family members'.

Again close to Venugopalaswamy shrine is a partially built temple. As you see construction has been abandoned while walls were being built. The space between the two half built walls was meant for Garbhagriha and the circle would have been the center of Sabha Mantapa. Also there was a large collection of semi-finished beams and columns, all meant for this temple. I guess Wagangera was a feudatory of Vijayanagara empire and this temple was being constructed then. Looks like- after the fall of Vijayanagara at Talikoti battle all temple constructions were halted.

This reminds me of the temple at Gandugali Kumara Ramana Kote; the architecture is similar and work has stopped at similar stage.

That's the hillock with watch tower and in between is the lake and dwellings.

Southern wall built over natural rock formations. Within the fort are ruins of several structures which might have been officers' quarters or barracks. This wall has a shoulder wide enough for an armed soldier to walk. As Venkatesh suggested, I walked on the wall, it gave a good view of both inside and outside.

The slopes, walls and the plains below. In the depression is a gateway. Close to the water tank below are two more bastions - that indicates the water tank was within the fort walls. Since there's only one water tank on the hill top it was crucial to have one more within the walls.

Scanning clockwise- that's the fort center and the highest point.

Looking back the path I just tread. At the far end of this wall is the rock formation with the sentry nest.

Another nest - that's where I was a minute ago before I came down here. Venkatesh was guiding me from one point all the while. He asked me to leave the wall and walk down to avoid a gang of langur monkeys on the next bastion. I was glad he was watching over carefully. He asked me to see an inscription on the outside of the gateway and see the rest of the hill. He invited me for breakfast and left.

The western gateway is similar to the main entrance, just above the lintel is the black granite tablet with Persian inscription (see inset).

I climb back to the fort center.. explore the northern side. This side of the fort is called Lal Gadh meaning red rock. Venkatesh told me that hundreds of Aurangzeb's soldiers were slaughtered here and the entire hill top was covered in human blood.. hence the name Lal Gadh.

At the northern most part of the fort is a enclosure.. like a fort within a fort. That's the entrance.

Space within the enclosure is level, couple of rocks at the center. At the far end are ruined structures which might have been dwellings.

Here a piece of ceramic piece caught my attention, it was white with blue floral prints. I feel it might be from the Mughal period.

Looking beyond the fort wall. Quarrying activity on this hill too!!

Having done with the fort, I descend the hill. Back at the village I find Venkatesh's house. I was introduced to his family, a warm welcome. We had a hearty breakfast of dosa, palya and chatni.. I relished the dish, excellent preparation by Mrs. Bappargi.

Venkatesh, sons Madesh & Sachin, wife and mother.
Venkatesh made the visit to Wagangera a memorable event. I thank them and leave for my next destination- Deodurga.

March 9, 2014
Venkatesh introduced me to his friend Kanakappa Waganageri who has done research of his place. He shared some information over a phone call-

Waganageri was formerly known as Karshihalli. Waganageri kingdom was established in 1636 CE by Gaddipidda Nayaka, son of Jakkappa Nayaka Desai.

The three rulers of Wagangeri kingdom are-
* Gaddipidda Nayaka (1636 to 1666)
* Asarangi Pamanayaka (1666 to 1687)
* Pitambari Bahari Piddanayaka (1687 to 1726)

During the rule of Pitambari Bahari Piddanayaka Aurangzeb's army commanded by Diler Khan attacks Waganageri kingdom. In the battle Diler Khan and his soldiers were slaughtered in Waganagari fort, to this day the place of slaughter is called Lal Gadha.

Waganageri kingdom comes to an end in May 1705. Pitambari Bahari Piddanayaka establishes Surpur kingdom.

Waganagera fort coordinates: 16°31'30"N   76°41'42"E

May 24, 2014

Talikoti fort ruins

Talikoti, this little town is has an important place in history of South India. January 26, 1565, in the battle at Talikoti between Vijayanagar and Deccan Sultanates resulted in collapse of Vijayanagara empire. The battle occurred on the plains between Rakkasgi and Tangadgi villages on the left bank of river Krishna in the present day Bijapur district. The much larger Vijayanagara army lead by Aliya Rama Raya was vanquished by the Muslim forces lead by Ali Adil Shah. After the battle, Muslim soldiers looted and killed hundreds of thousands of defenseless Hindus. Talikoti battle was one of the worst in South Indian history.

November 26, 2013
Talikoti is situated on the left bank of Doni, a tributary of river Krishna. While most of the fort is destroyed and walls have vanished, few bastions and walls remain to be seen. Originally the fort had two rings of defense, inner fort and outer fort. While most of outer fort has vanished, some part of inner fort known as Raj Vaadhe remains. This is the gateway to the inner fort.

The gateway is flanked by large bastions.

The courtyard was a busy place.. plenty of youngsters hanging around doing nothing in particular. I inquired about the fort but received an answer that nothing much remains to be seen. I asked them to show me whatever they knew of. We start with Shiva Bhavani temple, opposite the fort entrance. The temple, though an ancient shrine is simple modern structure. A 3' diameter grinding stone is said to be an ancient one.

My guides- second and third from left. One of them is Santosh Chaudary, I cannot recall the other name.

That's the palace building, everything in ruins however, some parts of it has been let out to Khadi Kendra.

The buildings are made of stone slabs typical to this area. These stones are available aplenty in the neighboring Gulbarga district. In fact entire forts have been built with this stone, example Malkhed fort. The doorway is said to be original, sadly its stripped off wood and metal fittings.

These ancient structure of stones might have protected the interior from the harsh summer heat.

Ancient wooden beams and columns. I did not venture too deep inside, not very hygienic in there. This place is in a sad state, some parts are outright filthy.

A large well concealed by grass and thorny bushes.

My hosts take me to another ancient temple, the Garbhagudi is lower than Sabha Mantap level. Though painted the columns are pretty ancient. The deity, Shivalinga is an ancient one and opposite was a black stone Basavanna. At one corner of the temple was a pile of ancient sculptures.

Our hosts at their favorite hangout, next to Shiva Bhavani temple. One of the members here suggested me to see another shrine called Doni Raja temple. Only school boys could be accompanying me there. I thank Santosh and his friend and say bye.

At the fort entrance we meet an elderly resident, a priest at Shiva Bhavani temple.

Doni Raja temple is part of the outer fort, in fact it is on the banks of the river Doni. The bastion seen here is one of the few remaining outer fort bastions.

The temple is ancient, architecture is similar to mosques of northern Karnataka. Many ancient temples are built in this style in Bidar, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Yadgir and Raichur districts.

This is a subterranean temple just behind the 'blue' temple. The boys said there's a tunnel start here. Must be an ancient escape route.

Here's the gang which accompanied me to Doni Raja temple. I thank them and said bye. Lively bunch :)

My next destination was Budhihal. As we exit Talikoti town, we had to go across Doni river. We stopped on the bridge to get a glimpse of remains of outer fort wall.

The day was not normal at Talikoti, businesses were closed as a protest against bad connecting roads. Talikoti streets were deserted, even buses stopped outside town limits. Its true, roads are in bad state in these parts. The same day our journey from Rajan-Kollur to Hunasgi was tiring.. bad roads and heavy traffic was a deadly dangerous combination for smaller vehicles. Hope the protest bore some positive effect.

Talikoti coordinates: 16°28'19"N   76°18'39"E

May 17, 2014

Rayan-Palya fort

This fort was discovered while scanning the area flanking Krishna river near Narayanpur dam. The fort is close to Rayan-Palya village in Surpur talur of Yadgir district. The fort is about 5 kms from Rajan-Kollur's megalithic burial site.

November 26, 2014
I arrive at Rayan Palya around 4 PM and stop at the village square. As usual folks gave curious looks.. who are these strangers in our village. I asked directions to the fort and then if there's anyone who could take me there. As we spoke three boys walked into the square and an elderly man asked them to take me to the fort. Yes! The fort was about 1½ kms away, going by foot was the only option. A irrigation canal marks the village boundary, beyond it all wilderness.. rocky terrain dotted with ponds. The path we took was well tread by cattle. The fort, as you see here, having multiple levels is situated on a hillock next to a large pond.

At the fort entrance; my guides.. 16 year old. On the way to the fort Parashuram Devappa showed me a scar on his cheek which he got as a toddler in a road accident. It seems his village folks were travelling in a truck towards Belgaum to work in sugarcane fields. Just few days back i.e. November 2013, about 22 people from a nearby village were killed in a truck crash near Belgaum.

Parashuram Devappa | Parusharam Hanumanthraya | Basavaraj Kashyappa
Close to the fort entrance is a shrine which looks much older than the fort itself. This location characteristics of a prehistoric site.

Like any other fort Rayan-Palya fort has a number of gateways between the main entrance and the core. This particular gateway is concealed between a wall and a bastion.. like the curved entrances of Shivaji's forts.

A badly ruined gateway.

With every passing gateway we are climbing. Beyond the second gateway and the third gateway is a large open space surrounded by four watch tower at the edges.

The fort is not really wide, barely 100m at the widest point.

All watch towers are similar in size and architecture, looks like they are built during the same period.

Next to one of the watch towers was a small pit. The boys said it was a tunnel entrance which went beyond their village.

This is the third gateway. On the lintel are signs of Sun and Moon. It looks like the fort was part was under Nawab's control. The architecture is similar to gateways at Jaladurga fort.

A shrine at the top most level. The door is low and narrow. Only slim people can enter it.

This is the western tip, a very steep face of the hillock. The boys pointed out to a hillock with a cave shrine, quite popular in this area.

These boys are brave. The other side of the wall is also a 10'  drop.

In the foreground is a subterranean chamber with only one opening - this could be have been used to store food grains or weapons.

The pond looks like it could hold water through the year. In fact the surrounding area has lot of smaller ponds and streams. This pond actually sits in the path of a stream.

The short flight of steps leads to the top, probably the highest point of this fort.

The light green patch is paddy, irrigated by canals from Narayanpur dam. Paddy is a main crop in this area.

Yes, this indeed is the highest point. The fort walls are built of stone and mortar.. a recent construction.
Before we left the fort, the boys wanted to show a 'buttermilk churn'. I was wondering what it would be. Inside one of the bastions is a central support column with diverging flutes. Indeed the column looks like a upside down buttermilk churn :)

Our tour of Rayan Palya was done, we walked to the village. I thanked the boys, noted their address and promised to send pictures. Yes, I sent their photos several weeks later.

Rayan Palya fort coordinates: 16°20'47"N   76°26'26"E