Sep 19, 2015

Fort Midigeshi

December 30, 2011
The day Thane blasted India's east coast I'd visited Madhugiri fort. If not for my brother Deepak and I might not have reached the summit in that wet weather. The top half of Madhugiri hill was shrouded in mist and all we could see was blank white screen with plenty of wind sounds. After the climb and descent, we were exhausted and hungry; had a hearty meal of ragi mudde, anna and hurli saru at a small eatery close to the hill. Post lunch we decided to head towards Midigeshi though we were in no  mood to climb again. Madhugiri-Midigeshi road wasn't so good, journey was slow. Midigeshi was also covered in mist and yes the hill looked big.. no way we'll climb it today. Well, some other day..

December 28, 2014 the day finally arrived. The day started with Chandrayanadurga followed by Ratnagiri fort and last on the list was Midigeshi. Unlike, two years back, today was a clear day, in fact a warm day.

I knew the climb started at the Venkatramana Swami temple at the base of the hill. As I passed through the village's main street, I inquired with a group of people if anyone could show me the fort. People were friendly and appointed a guide.. Hanumantaraya, a shepherd by profession. We parked the cab near the temple. Our climb starts here.. just around the temple.. rampart walls are visible on the slope.

A steep climb ahead. The path was a steep dirt track, there were rocks too,had to careful because of the lose top layer. Hanumantraya was a regular on this track.. I just had to follow him.. the luxury of being led :) About 10 minutes climb, we'd reached the first gateway (see inset), a simple structure of pillars and columns.. also there was a platform. Probably in the village below was another ring of wall long time back..

We are looking towards east.. bird's eye view of Midigeshi village. Venkatramana Swamy temple, the houses and an ancient water tank. on the opposite hill would have been a sentry point for Midigeshi fort.

Little further up.. ruins of a partially constructed temple. I remember seeing such ruins at
Gandugali Rama Kote near Gangavati, Wagangeri fort near Shorapur, probably there are few more.. architecture was same in all places. Looks like Vijayanagara had planned to build temples simultaneously across the empire.. the Muslim invasion put an end to the grand plan. Stone was sourced locally for building fort walls or temples.. quarrying and sizing stone blocks was done on this hill. An example of a stone set to be sized (see inset).

That's my friend, Hanumantraya, a silent fellow. Wonder what thoughts were in his mind at this moment. Turning our attention to the wall.. was the top block has a small stone beneath it.. was being positioned when the work halted?

We resume the climb.. the dirt path ended at the temple, now its only rocky path. This slope is pretty steep but the rough surface provided good grip. At the end of the slop is the temple ruins.

Looks like we are at the final leg of the climb, looking up the steepest part in our path. A flight of rock-cut steps similar to the one at Ratnagiri fort. The stairway snaked up the slope.. no shooting while moving on this stairway.. the steps were sloped down slightly so that rain water ran off and dried quickly. At the beginning of the stairway, on the right-hand-side was a damaged ancient engraving of Midigeshamma, the deity of Midigeshi Betta (see inset). The history of Midigeshi's name traces back to a woman who had hair till her feet. The woman was called Himmadi Keshi. In Kannada Himmadi means heel and Keshi means hair. With time the name changed to Medikeshi and finally became Midigeshi.

At the upper end of the stairway is a passage and a gateway.

Now, these walls built of red bricks seem to be built during Hyder and Tipu's rule. Probably a wooden door existed here.

The arched gateway, tapering stairway and the iconic palm tree of Midigeshi.

Arched gateway as seen from inside. This is one of the narrowest parts of the path to the summit.

The narrow passage has another gateway - this is the last one.

Once out of the gateway, its a short walk to the summit and the mosque. The looks of the platform creates a feeling it was meant for a temple.. probably a partly constructed temple did exist here.. anyway, the mosque has a unique look. The conical minar and its ridges crown are tasteful creations. BYW, my host Hanumantaraya is a smart looking chap.

The inside of the mosque was a mess. Hanumantaraya told that few local boys had started repair on work this structure.. looks like it was abandoned for some reason. Both minars have stairways in them.. very tight passage leading to the roof. My host asked me if I wanted to climb up. Having climbed three hills in a day I was running out of energy.. no mood for any circus.
A short video of the summit.

Flat surface behind the mosque. Midigeshi hill is basically a large granite boulder. This granite boulder has several red patches, some small and some large.. the color indicates presence of iron in this stone. The thought evoked by these patches was blood.. it looks like dried blood.

Close to the mosque is this structure, looks like stone was sourced from this hill itself. This structure is similar to the one at Madhugiri summit. Probably they served as soldiers' quarters or a military office. Its location is carefully chosen.. built next to the natural boulders.. when seen from the plains, this structure is not clearly visible.

Having seen shelters there has to be a source of water on the hill. Hanumataraya was keen on showing two water tanks located on the northern slope, we had to negotiate a steep gradient but a friendly one.. the surface was kind of wavy and rough.. we had solid grip. Little further down claer surface made way for grassy patches. We passed by one water tank on our left and went down further.. another structure.. this one had a chimney and two windows on the front wall. Look where its built.. on a 30 degree slope.

Here's the water tank.. obviously several hundred years ago, this tank would be clean, filled with clear water. Its pretty big and probably deep too. Years of neglect must have brought in lot of mud in to the tank.. imagining if it could be dredged and water level to its max, water would be about 10' to 15' deep.

That was the end of the path. We turned back.. on the way up we paused on the slope for a moment to look back at the gradient.

What a day it was! 3 hill forts from sunrise to sunset.

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