Sep 5, 2015

Fort Ratnagiri - part 1

June 7, 2013
While driving from Bangalore to Dharwad, I'd stopped at two forts- Sira and Bhasmangi, former is built on plain land while the latter is a hill fort. From Bhasmangi fort when you look towards north-east a hill range is visible.. in that area are several forts.. Ratnagiri, Gudibanda, Midigeshi and Madaksira. Towards the south of this group of forts is Madhugiri fort and in the north is Pavagada fort. One of the villagers at Bhasmangi had asked me to visit Ratnagiri but time was a constraint... some other day.

December 28, 2015
I set out from Tumkur with a plan to visit  three forts. Done with Channarayanadurga, we headed towards Midigeshi, however on the way I decided to visit Ratnagiri first and turned towards Rolla village. Rolla is about 4 kms from Karnataka-Andhra border and 2 kms from Rolla is Ratnagiri, a small village with lot of history. The village is surrounded by ruin of fort and moat but the main fort is on the rocky hill. My cabby Vinayak drove towards the hill, the road ended on the village outskirts near a Jain temple and an temple with a Kalyani.. from here I'd to proceed on foot. Few villagers were hanging around, they looked kind of unemployed. I asked one of them if he could show me the fort but he refused.. seemed unfriendly. I decided to move on..

I went past the fort wall and saw another Kalyani (towards left edge of this picture) much larger than the one seen earlier. Further away on the base of this hill were ruins of temples which looked Vijayanagara style. A day ago, I'd mentioned today's plan to my school friends, one of them had asked me to take pictures of the large Kalyani and share it with him. So this should be his Kalyani.. I decided to climb thee hill first and on the way back stop at the Kalyani.

It was around 11 AM, Sun was blazing down fiercely and I was walking alone following the footpath. This is the hill fort's main entrance.. a massive brick wall with an arched gateway- this wall was built during Hyder Ali or Tipu Sultan's rule. It is said that Ratnagiri fort was an important fort in Pandyas and Cholas kingdoms. It was also part of Vijayanagara kingdom, hence the presence of the temples. After the fall of Vijayanagara, the fort might have been under Nayakas. At some point in history the fort fell to Hyder or Tipu's forces. That's when the fort was renovated probably with the help of French engineers. The fort's perimeter is approximately 4.5 kms spanning over plains and two hillocks.

This is one of the lower peaks, besides the main entrance on the hill.

The massive red brick wall must be 40 feet high. Wonder how many bricks were consumed for this wall.. probably a brick manufacturing unit was set up nearby. The main gateway was badly vandalized.. probably by treasure seekers.

Past the main gateway.. a stone wall stands parallel to the brick wall. In this wall is a zig-zag entrance. Probably Hyder's engineers built the brick wall to strengthen the fort's entrance.

The slope ended and I reached some level surface. Here's an artistically created curved water tank wall.

Guess I can call this level 1. To reach the summit I have to pass through at least 3 gateways (two are in view here), reach level two  and then another climb to the penultimate level.

Closer look at the security office.

The gateway exterior and interior.

The second gateway. Looks like these walls were built some time between Vijayanagara and Hyder's time. Rampart walls built on slope, in the background is the neighbouring hillock (see inset).
Closer look of the inner entrance, exterior and interior. Note the steps have been hewn out of the rock itself, beautifully done (see inset). On the left is a raised platform, probably it was the inner security office. The flight of steps takes us up to level 2 of this hillock.

Level 2 has few buildings which were probably used as soldiers quarters or granaries or store houses. These must have been constructed around Hyder or Tipu's time. Wondering what the large circle enclosed in square is.. was it the first process of creating a grinding wheel? Probably the stone around the circle would be hacked away and the inner cylindrical part would be made into grinding wheels.

On level two there's a small temple (see inset), I don't remember checking if there was a deity inside. Time was 11-20, with Sun blazing down and rocks radiating heat I was getting roasted. I was eager to reach the top.. it would be cooler up there. That\s level 3.. see the narrow, steep flight of steps leading to the summit? It would be crazy climbing that bit..

This article will continue in Fort Ratnagiri - part 2.

1 comment:

Ashakiran Kilankaje said...

Your travel storeys are with lot of information and very good to read. Thank you