Jul 5, 2014

Shahbad fort

November 29, 2013
We reached Shahabad town outskirts around 8-45 PM, I was hoping to find a hotel but somehow the looks of the town was not encouraging. We missed a left turn to the town and ended up going around the town (I have no words to describe the condition of the road), with some difficulty we reached the town, it was close to 9-30. The town looked as though it was bombed, we could see just ruins every where. I spotted a khanawali, decided to have a meal before it closed. Then I checked out Indian Hotel, the place was chaos, a wedding party had camped there and the wedding hall was part of the hotel building. Forget it. Close by was another one - Karnataka Hotel, the building was dark, no light inside or outside. We drove back to the main road, saw the police station.. thought policemen should help get some accommodation. No such luck, I was asked to drive to Gulbarga - that was the best thing I could do. It was around 12-30 when we checked into a hotel in Gulbarga.

November 30, 2013
Morning we left the hotel by 5-45. First we visited Malkhed fort, drove back to Gulbarga and then to Maratur. Rather than going back to Gulbarga-Shahabad road, we took the inside road linking Martur and Shahbad. We saw number of stone quarries - sources of the famous Shahbad stones. As we entered old Shahbad town, I inquired about the fort, it was easy to find. There we are- facing Shahbad fort main entrance. This spot is know as Ashoka Chowk ~ Ashoka Square, named after emperor Ashoka.
Somehow the village atmosphere wasn't good, people weren't smiling, I could sense hostility. One of the men asked me where I was from. Dharwad. The man responded back "so the case has been moved to Dharwad court, is it?" I was wondering what on earth is this man talking about. Few seconds later I got it; these people thought I was a policeman and I was here to investigate some case. I told the group that I was a tourist, forts are my interest and left..

The very look of the ruins is an indication that the inside can be even more filthy. I decided to go around the fort.

As you see, this fort is another example of Shahbad stone construction. When this ancient structure is compared with any of the recently constructed houses, there's not much of difference. Basically limestones blocks are stacked carefully to form walls. Coming back to this fort, a row of gun slits can be seen in the walls. Shahbad stone technology had evolved long time back.

On this street, one of the families was friendly, I was inquiring if they knew historical facts. Answer was no. Suddenly a drunk man sprung into the scene, he started yelling at me, waving his arms wildly.. who are you? why are you shooting pictures? who gave you permission? I was shocked for  moment but remained calm and let him yell. A minute later I told him my interest is historical monuments, I'm here to see the fort. He threatened that he can have me abducted! I smiled and told him its not easy. I continued shooting. Few minutes later he cooled off and also people around asked him not to behave badly with a visitor. I really did not know how many were trustworthy here.

Upper level of a bastion. Tapering three layered supports hold the overhang.. functionality and aesthetics are hand in hand.

 This is the western wall and bastion.. this side is pretty well preserved.

The fort is oddly shaped in plan, looks like it was expanded on a adhoc basis.

My tipsy friend accompanied me till this corner and asked me to be careful. I thanked for his valuable advice and asked him to quit drinking. This is the rear of the fort, a square bastion occupies the south-eastern corner of this fort.

The rear exit. This fort, once a grand dwelling, a power centre, today is a filthy dump used like a public toilet by half the town.

The eastern wall and a badly crumbling bastion.

 However the bastion top has somehow survived. The overhang is supports are similar to the bastion on the opposite side.

I come back to the front of the fort. A small portion of the fort area is utilized by a primay school - Saraswati Vidya Mandir.

I come back to Ashoka Chowk, Suresh the cab driver was napping, as usual. across the street is this ancient temple with a heavy touch of colours. Local boys wiling away time.

A couple of kilometers from here (on Maratur-Shahbad road) was this limestone quarry. It was amazing to see perfect layers of sheets, as though someone had buried a stack of them.
A couple was at work, they were dislodging a block. Suresh, who was already over by looking at houses was toppled after looking at this quarry. He inquired price for a truckload, he was thinking of business idea.. buy stones here and sell them at Dharwad.

Yesterday I was at the archaeological site of Sannati, looking at the ruins of an Ashoka era Stupa. The Stupa's parts were made of limestone i.e. Shahbad stone. The history of limestone blocks for construction technology is more than 2200 years old. Besides Shahabd fort, Malkhed fort and Maratur fort are also built of limestone blocks.

Close to Shahbad are two shrines- Sharanabasaweshwara temple and Ramanadevi temple.

Shahbad fort coordinates: 17°8'27"N   76°55'50"E

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