Mar 31, 2015

Hankuni fort

Hankuni fort is bout 6 kms south of Humnabad town. Humnabad was ruled by King Ramachandra Jadhav. It is said that Ramachandra Jadhav got a fort built at Hankuni and used it as the kingdom's treasury. The reason for having the treasury away from the capital Humnabad was its safety during raids by enemy forces The name Hanakuni can be split into two words- Hana + Kuni where Hana means money.

October 4, 2014
After Humnabad fort gateway, the next place on our list was Hankuni. We found the village easily, road was good. We has to pass through the village to reach the fort. The village is to the south-east of the fort. As I walked towards the fort a man on a moped joined me.. the man in green lungi, Mallikarjun, a farmer by profession, The gateway seen here is a side entrance. The main entrance is facing east and unusable because vegetation had blocked it.

The fort's walls and bastion about 30 feet tall, are made of hard black granite blocks. The very look of the walls exudes strength, not easy to break through. At the top are slits for firing missiles.

The deep trench ran along the outer perimeter of the fort. Probably it was filled with water infested with unfed crocodiles.

The fort's interior is quite bare except for vegetation, in fact plants have taken over Hankuni Kote.. this is an indication that people hardly venture into these ruins, except for some characters who use it as a gambling den.

Our guide Mallikarjun suggests we walk around on the wall's shoulder, we decide to go counter-clockwise.

Just as were about to start the tour, Srinu decides to join us. All the while he was guarding his bike which was hitched on a rack on his Maruti Swift's rear. The wall's granite block are held by lime mortar.

Srinu is ahead of us, heading towards a stairway to climb up. This fort, though small has a inner fort and an outer wall. A closer look at the structures.. the core structure is made of laterite blocks while the outer is hard granite. Very close to the base of the tall tree in is the fort's entrance. A bunch of people the village had joined out of curiosity.. why have these city folks have come to this godforsaken place would be their question.

We go pas the gate, vegetation was thick on this side, On this side the outside layer of the wall is harder compared to the inner side which is laterite.

A go around the fort in less than 15 minutes and come back to where we started. The highest part of this fort is near the tall tree i.e. close to the fort's main entrance (see inset).

Stairway to the shoulder. I think originally the granite was built, later the laterite wall was added to increase the walls strength and also provide a platform for guards. It is also possible that builders used laterite for cost reasons.. black granite blocks has to be imported while laterite was available locally.

Done with the fort we were ready to leave but our host Mallikarjun insisted us on visiting his home for a cup of tea. His house is a typical village house, a joint property of seven brothers. We relaxed in the frontyard, enjoyed a hot cup of tea while chatting various topics. The boy in black T-shirt Mallikarjun's son, an engineer working with Hyundai in Bangalore. His other son is pursuing graduation.

We thank our host and head towards Jalasangi to see Kalmeshwara temple, built during the reign ofVikramaditya VI of Kalyana Chalukya empire.

Hanakuni fort coordinates; 17°42'53"N   77°8'25"E

To know more about Bidar district check out- What to see in Bidar district?

Mar 28, 2015

Humnabad fort remains

October 4, 2014
Srinu and I left Hyderabad early morning, armed with a list of monuments to cover for the day. This road, a national highway connecting Hyderabad and Mumbai, was in bad shape. One can't really enjoy the drive on this road.. too many interruptions for a smooth drive :( Our first stop was Humnabad, we had breakfast and then went in search of an ancient gateway - the remains of a fort.

This is all that is remaining of Humnabad fort. There's barely any historical information available online about Humnabad. It's my guess this place was known by another name before it became known as Humnabad. It is said that Humnabad was ruled by King Ramachandra Jadhav, a descendant of Dhanaji Jadhav a Maratha commander who had built a fort at Bhalki.

The structure is made of dressed laterite blocks. Laterite is available in plenty in Bidar district. The Bahamani fort at Bidr is entirely built of laterite. This gateway is about 25' deep, having chambers on either sides, Right next to the  gateway is a Dargah which seems to be well visited by local people.

The inside view of the gateway. I spoke to two or three residents of this locality, they had no historical information to offer :(
We move on towards Hanakuni fort, King Ramachandra Jadhav's treasury.

Places of historical/religious importance in and around Humnabad:
  1. Veerabhadreshwara temple
  2. Manik Prabhu temple
  3. Karanja Reservoir
  4. Hankuni fort
  5. Buddha Vihar at Rekulagi
  6. Jalasanghi

Mar 21, 2015

Qutb Shahi necropolis, Golconda

Aug 23, 2014
The Qutb Shahi Heritage Park is one of the most historic medieval necropolises anywhere in the world, comprising over 70 structures; mausoleums, mosques, step-wells / water structures, a hamam, pavilions, garden structures - all built during the reign of the Qutb Shahi dynasty who ruled the Hyderabad region for 169 years in the XVI and XVII centuries. The necropolises is being restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust & Allied Trusts under the supervision of Department of Archaeology & Museums and State Government of Telangana.

The complex is located to the north of Golconda fort. These magnificent structures were erected to the memory of kings of Golconda. Architecture is a fusion of Persian, Pathan and Hindu designs. Of the 70+ structures, there are 30+ tombs of which 10 are noteworthy.

tomb of Abdullah Qutb Shah (VII King)
Abdullah Qutb Shah (VII King)
Birth: 1614 AD
Accession: 1-2-1626
Death: 21-4-1672
incomplete tomb of Mirza Nizamuddin Ahmed
This unfinished tomb is generally known as the mausoleum of Abul Hasan Tana Shah but an inscribed tablet in the sarcophagus of the tomb mentions the name of Mirza Nizamuddin Ahmed, wh died in 1674 AD. he was the eldest son of Abdullah Qutb Shah. He could not succeed to the throne after his father-in-law owing to unfavorable conditions in Golconda fort. The incomplete mausoleum contains two graves. One belongs to Mirza Nizamuddin Ahmed, over the sarcophagus verses are inscribed from Holy Quran and the description reads "Mirza Nizamuddin Ahmed, may his tomb be illuminated joined the divine mercy on 26th safar, Saturday in the year 1085 (1674AD) 4 'O' clock afternoon." The other grave next to his tomb bears no name of the deceased but contains benedictory verses.
tomb of Abdul Hasan Tana Shah
tomb of Begum Hayat Baksh
Begum Hayat Baksh was the daughter of Sultan Mohammed Qutb Shah (V King), wife of Sultan Mohammed Qutb Shah (VI King) and mother of Abdullah Qutb Shah (VII King). This tomb is similar to that of her husband in architectural composition and decoration. The tomb has a square chamber surrounded by a spacious gallery of seven arched openings in each side over a square platform (170'). The upper storey has has five arches deeply recessed on each side and octagonal buttresses at corners. They are decorated with usual parapet and small domical finials at ends as well as above the arch tiers along the parapet. This tomb rises in the form of a pyramid and represents a break from a traditional square types. The design of the interior also shows a departure by constructing the walls of the square chamber about 10 feet thick, skilfully in the form of wide massive arches by using triangular pendentive and resting the domical ceilings on them.

tomb of Sultan Mohammed Qutb Shah
This tomb of Sultan Mohammed Qutb Shah (son of Mirza Nizamuddin Amin) ranks next in splendour and grandeur to that of his father-in-law Mohammed Quli. Its architectural plan and details are so popular and became the model for the later tombs of the dynasty. It stands at the center of an extensive square terrace (176 feet). The tomb has a square chamber (63 feet) and spacious colonnade (20 feet wide), all around the exterior of the chamber in the form of a gallery. The colonnade has seven arched openings on each side and is supported by massive pillars of ashlar masonry. The shape of the dome is three fourths of a sphere and its elongated neck shows a distinct Persian style. The exterior of the tomb was once adorned with glazed tiles. Some pieces of which can be seen on the walls and also on the neck of the dome.

tombs of Taramati and Premavati
Taramati was a favourite singer of Mohammed Qutb Shah who dies in 1625 AD. Her tomb is identical in shape and size to the tomb of Premamati but is devoid of any inscription. The external walls are decorated with a triple arched single stories with motifs and surmounted by a dome.

Premmati (Premamati) tomb was built during the reign of Abdullah Qutb Shah. She was the favorite dancer of the king. The Nastaliq style of Persian inscription on the sarcophagus and sill of the door frame dated to 1073 AH (1662 AD) reads "From all eternity, Prem Mati was a flower of Paradise".
tomb of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah
Birth: 1566 AD
Accession: 5-6-1580 AD
Death: 11-1-1612 AD
The tomb of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah (son of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah) is a magnificent structure built on two terraces. The first terrace (18 feet high) is square (200 feet) on plan and the second terrace is also square (12 feet) and rises 3 to 6 feet above the first terrace. The notable features of the edifice are the colonnades built along the sides of the tomb with openings in pillar and lintel style by using two octagonal stone pillars (28 feet high) in each gallery. Two doors, facing east and south provide access to the square (33 feet) chamber of the tomb. Along the inside walls of the tomb, there are 3 projecting galleries arranged one above the other. the first is octagonal on plan , the second sixteen sided and the third circular, on which the dome rises. The sarcophagus is inscribed with benedictory verses in Arabic language both in the style of Tughra and Naskh. The name of the king is in Persian language. Rich ornamental parapets on the roof and octagonal turrets at the corners in the ashlar masonry are added to make the monument proportionate and symmetrical. The actual vault where the mortal remains of the king are buried, can be reached from the terrace by narrow steps and also from all four directions at the ground level.

tomb of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah
Birth: 1530 AD
Accession: 27-7-1550 AD
Death: 5-6-1580 AD
The tomb of Ibrahim Qutb Shah (son of Sultan Quli Qutb Shah) was once beautifully decorated with tiles of various colors whose remains are still seen on the southern wall. The tomb is built on a square platform measuring 117 feet on all sides. the tombs of Neknam Khan and Prince Mohammad Amin - the sixth son of Ibrahim Qutb Shah also is located on the platform. The façade of the tomb is adorned with false arches. Each side contains 2 rows of 5 arches, one above the other measure 35 feet in height. The chambers of the tomb is square on plan at the floor level. Placing four arches at the corners on the first floor it turned into an octagonal shape and a little high up it becomes 16 sided over which the dome is built. The inscription on the floor of the chamber refers to the name of the king. A narrow passage inside the tomb on the south-eastern corner of the basement leads to the original grave.

tomb of Kusloom Begum
tomb of Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah
Accession: 2-9-1543 AD
Death: 22-1-1550 AD
The tomb of Jamshid Qutb (son of I King) is octagonal on plan, a unique architectural feature. A pair of balconies supported on brackets, one in lower and another in the upper stories. Built on an octagonal plinth over a square elevated platform. The tomb with its bulbous dome is remarkable for the shape arches on its sides and the picturesque galleries with cornice. The king died 7 years after his accession to the throne.

tomb of Subhan Quli (Chote Malik) III King
tomb of Subhan Quli (Chote Malik) III king
This is a small tomb built between the tombs of Sultan Quli and Jamshid Quli popularly known as Chte Malik ki Gumbad. Subhan Quli, as an infant succeeded Jamshid Quli his father. This tomb is square on plan but the dome is ribbed like melon externally. Inner surface of the dome and squinch arches represent simple architecture.

tomb of Sultan Quli Qutb Shah (I King)
This tomb of Sultan Quli, the founder of Qutb Shahi dynasty was built on a square platform (100 feet). The dome is square on plan whose inner structure is octagonal dome rises another 30 feet from the top of the walls. The sarcophagus is inscribed in Arabic of Naksh style with the name and title of the king. The throne verse of the Quran and Shitte Durud contained the names of twelve Imams. There are three other graves in the chamber and twenty one graves outside on the platform.

ancient Hindu Mantap
a mosque
five metal alloy cannon
This cannon could be a product of alloy casting technology. It is said that such an alloy is a mixture of tin, iron, copper, silver and gold. This alloy does not heat up even when exposed to blazing sun in summers.
The Mortuary Bath
This bath was built by Sultan Quili I, while erecting his own tomb, for the performance of ritual bath of the royal dead. It is one of the best specimens of the contemporary Persian and Turkish baths. It contains a number of cisterns for both hot and cold water, connected with pipes for regular supply of water. The 12 faceted shrouding platform is decorated with black basalt.

Few known necropolises of southern India-


Mar 14, 2015

Mortuary House, Qutb Shahi Tomb Complex

During my first few visits to Hyderabad, I got a chance to Golconda fort but for some reason Qutb Shahi tomb complex remained close on those days. Last week of August 2014 I got my chance to enter the tombs complex known for seven massive tombs. However the complex houses several smaller tombs also. Within the complex is a mosque, a fresh water well and a mortuary house. To my knowledge, this is the only ancient mortuary building I've heard of.

October 25, 2014
This is the mortuary house of Qutb Shahis tomb complex.

A small marble tablet has the following inscription on it: This bath was built by Sultan Quili I, while erecting his own tomb, for the performance of ritual bath of the royal dead. It is one of the best specimens of the contemporary Persian and Turkish baths. It contains a number of cisterns for both hot and cold water, connected with pipes for regular supply of water. The 12 faceted shrouding platform is decorated with black basalt.

The building's length is in east-west orientation with two sections. This is the eastern end. This hall looks like a visitors' waiting room. The raised platforms are where people sat. At the centre, on the floor is a small pit, probably filled with burning charcoal on which incense would be sprinkled at regular intervals.

The roof of this hall has a dome with arched vents.. this would ensure sufficient light and fresh air.

Note the icon over each of the crests. A single doorway connects the waiting hall to the shrouding hall.

The shrouding hall has several tanks for storing hot and cold water. Water to these tanks are supplied via a complex system of pipes embedded in these walls.

A small water tank next to an exit. Note the two 2" holes in the wall above the tank - those are the pipe ends from which water falls into the tank. Qutb Shahi kings had employed the services of best engineers available during their times.
Now we are looking at the main part of this building.. the 12 faceted marble shrouding platform. A small channel runs around the perimeter of the platform.. probably to drain water flowing down the platform. That way hall's floor remains dry.

Flanking the platforms are more water tanks. The western wall of the hall is a pair of converging stairways with niches under them. A narrow and low doorway at the top... no idea what's inside it.

West to East view of the mortuary house.

One of the grilled windows.

Outside in the building corridor were two inverted dome-shaped metallic objects. They resembled the tombs' domes. They could either be scale models of the domes or metallic vessels to heat water.

For a royal tomb complex this is indeed a fitting mortuary house.


Mar 7, 2015

Megalithic burial sites of Karnataka

Having spent time researching and touring Karnataka over the last few years, I realized how rich the state is in terms of heritage. The state's history goes back to the times of Chalukya and the areas of Karnataka were active right much earlier. Archaeologists have discovered artefacts dating back to 5000 BCE. Evidences of prehistoric activity are in various forms such as megalithic burial chambers, rock-paintings, petroglyphs, stone tools, pottery, ash-mounds,   Here are some of the known prehistoric burial sites in Karnataka.

Hire Benekal

Rajan Kollur
Galaganatha temple complex, Aihole
Bachangudda, near Pattadakal
Below are the list of sites, click on the hyper-links to see the details of that site:

Siteneareast town/villageTaluqDistrict
Aihole HillAiholeBadamiBagalkot
Galaganatha temple complexAiholeBadamiBagalkot
Kutkankeri hillKutkankeriBadamiBagalkot
?MoodabidriMangaloreDakshina Kannada
Hire Benekal hillHire BenekalGangavatiKoppal
Chikka BenakalChikka BenakalGangavatiKoppal
Indrakeela BettaKoppalKoppalKoppal
Araga GateNagaraSagarShimoga
Yemmi Gudda?ShahpurYadgir
Rajan KollurRajan KollurShorapurYadgiri

There could be many more sites, hope to expand this list.

Mar 4, 2015

Photo of Rani Chennamma of Kittur?

Most historical celebrities' pictures are artistic depictions in the form of paintings or statues. There are exceptions when great rulers have their pictures painted by well known artists and if those paintings survived test of time then we had a chance to see them. Then came photography, invented during the beginning of 19th century, was brought to India by the British and some of our kings, queens, princes and princesses were photographed. Photographs remained private property, common folks rarely got to see ancient photographs. With Internet opening up boundaries people could see the unseen. Curiosity fueled research which lead to discovery of hidden and forgotten photographs.

Few months back a friend from Dharwad called to tell about an article in Vijayavani newspaper October 10, 2014 edition.
ಈ ಸಂಪದದ ಬರಹಗಾರರು ಯ.ರು. ಪಾಟೀಲ.
ಚೆನ್ನಮ್ಮನ ಚಿತ್ರದ ಕುರಿತು ಕಿತ್ತೂರಿನ ಪ್ರಾಚ್ಯವಸ್ತು ಇಲಾಖೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾಚ್ಯವಸ್ತು ಸಂಗ್ರಹಾಲಯದ ಅಸಿಸ್ಟೆಂಟ್ ಕ್ಯೂರೇಟರ್ ರಾಘವೆಂದ್ರರಿಂದ ತಿಳಿದುಬಂತು.
ಧಾರವಾಡ ತಾಲೂಕಿನ ಕಲ್ಲೂರಿನ ಕುವೆಂಪು ಶತಮಾನೋತ್ಸವ ಮಾದರಿ ಶಾಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ಚಿತ್ರ ದೊರೆತದ್ದು.
ಬೆಳಗಾವಿ ಜಿಲ್ಲಾ ಪಂಚಾಯತಿಯ ನಿಕಟಪೂರ್ವ ಉಪಾಧ್ಯಕ್ಷ ಪರಮೇಶ್ವರಪ್ಪ ದಂಡೀನರವರ ತಂದೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದ ಚಿತ್ರ.

The article authored by Shri. Y R Patil carried a photograph which was supposed to be of Rani Chennamma. The author got a hint of the photo at Kittur historical museum and traced it to Kuvempu Centenary Model School (Kuvempu Shatamanotsava Madari Shaale), Kallur village in Dharwad district. Kallur is about 23 kms from Kittur and 20 kms from Dharwad. The photo was originally at Kallur Gram Panchayath office and it was given to Shri. Parameshwarappa Dandin by his father saying that it is Chennamma. The photo was taken to the school so that students could see it.

This lady here could be of anyone.. however it is believed to be Rani Chennamma's because of few reasons;
  1. age of the photo
  2. place where it was found; Kallur village was part of Belavadi Samsthan (Belavadi Malamma was another brave queen who took control of the kingdom) later it became part of Kittur Samsthan. 
  3. The lady is attire is ancient fashion; the saree seems to be expensive silk with gold border. Jewelry includes gold/pearl necklaces, ear ring, and pearl nose-ring. Back then only a person from rich landlords could afford such expensive saree and jewelry.
The author does not confirm the lady's identity but he says it is most likely Rani Chennamma. Author has asked for people's opinion on this matter.

In my opinion the chances of this lady being Chennamma is high because of another reason. Chennamma was friendly with European people, she often has them as guests at the palace. It is said that she spoke English. It is possible that a European photographer might have visited Kittur palace and the queen was photographed. That photo graph somehow made its way to Kallur village...

Coming back to paintings.. here is a collection of paintings of Chennamma created during a Kittur Utsav.