Jun 4, 2016

Watagal hill and fort

Watgal was spotted on Wikimapia some time in 2012. The hill viewed from air looked like a tadpole.. an elliptical head and a tail. Its another boulder hill heap hill just like Rishimukha Betta of Anegundi. Another interesting thing about it is the natural fort on the hill top.. just like Onake Kindi, again near Anegundi. With little research, I learnt that Watgal was a confirmed prehistoric site.

December 25, 2012
I was touring parts of Raichur, Maski being the most important destination of the day. While travelling from Raichur we turned off at Kavital towards to Maski. Though Watagal was barely 4 kms from Kavital we missed it. Probably it wasn't destined for the day.

January 23, 2016
We were driving from Hyderabad to Dharwad; instead of Koppal-Gadag-Hubli route we decided to take Lingsugur-Mudgal-Ron-Navalgund route. It was around 11 when we reached Watagal. As usual, I stopped and spoke to people and found a guide :) So Mahantesh would be our guide to show Watagal hill. I suggested Pushpa to stay back because of the sunny condition but she protested and joined. Good spirit! We drove through the village and parked it near a temple, under a small Neem tree. From there the hill's base was about 250 meters. These white colored boulders are natural.. our guide confirmed when I asked about them. Another person from the village joined us out of curiosity..

Initially it was a dirt and rock path which gave away to a only boulder path, As you see rocks have been positioned carefully to create a level path. The path we are treading on is clearly seen in the aerial view. That's Mahantesh leading us..

As we walked I asked how the name Watgal got formed. gal ~ kal ~ stone. What about Wat? While our guides weren't sure what to say Pushpa pitched in Watgal could have been Wattidakal originally. Wattidakal means 'heap of boulders.' Makes sense.. isn't it?

Among this heap of boulders, a plant managed to  grow into a tree. That's the strength of plant life.

The gradient wasn't steep, so our climb wasn't strenous but we had to be alert with every step and careful not to trip over. Here's a boulder with a pit.. unsure if its natural or man-made. Probably a combination of both. The pit would fill when it rained and probably the water remained for months together.. The pit's mouth was about 2 feet across. Boulder looks like a shark's snout with a toohless mouth.

Now we are close to the hill top. In the top-middle you can see a bastion.. this indicates the hill was a fort too. Like I mentioned earlier, this is a natural fort. Close by we saw a stone with a polished face. Must be an ancient tool, may be from Neolithic times.

So we reached the hill top, now are standing on ground made of dirt. Here's a looking rock-formation with shelter fit for animals like leopards, bears and even hyenas.

Looking back towards the white-boulder strewn gentle slope of the hill top plateau. My guess is these rocks are kind of granite, probably related to Mudgal granite.

This is the clearing that can be seen in the aerial view which was inhabited long time back. Ruins of stone structures can be seen here. Also here's a shrine. It seems local people offer silver eyes to this standing stone deity for their wishes to become true.

Remains of a water tank made of stones and mortar. This could be built around 500 years ago.

We move further up to a bastion in ruins. We manage to clamber on to the top.. looking around 360 degrees.

Our guides were telling there's another ancient shrine on this hill deep inside a rock-shelter; only one person from Watgal is said to have seen it. God know what lies beneath these heap of stones. Yes, talking about stones.. hundreds of thousands of years ago this would have been a single rock which fragmented over the years. You can see several stones with matching edges which proves that stones disintegrate over time. What was once a monolith today is a heap of boulders and with passing time these stones will disintegrate further and become dirt.

Looking towards west..

On exploring the clearing we decided to turn back towards the way we came. Our plan was to climb towards another shrine. This shrine can be seen from the village, its painted in white lime. This climb was difficult.. reminded me of my adventure at Kappagallu.. the dolerite dyke of Hiregudda.

Some of the spots were quite dangerous. One missed step or slip would end with broken bones for sure. Pushpa was quite brave.. she never once spoke of giving up or turning back. We reached the shrine and next to it is another sentry point of the fort. That's where I'm standing now and looking down..

The clearing as seen from the bastion.
The descent was slower, we has to be very careful while negotiating tricky parts.

We made it back safely to the boulder path. Our guides were really nice to us, patient and caring. We pause our trek for a picture. Mahantesh's lungi is actually very stylish.. a rare shade of blue suits the garment.

A close look at the southern bastion. Its not easily reachable to humans, hence its preserved well. The boulder in the foreground with two niches is different from other stones.. it seems Mudgal granite. How did it get mixed up in this pile?

Back at the village, we thank our friends and prepare to leave. Mahantesh suggests us to visit Basaveshwara temple another ancient shrine dedicated to Shiva's mount Basava. I made note of postal address to send some pictures and said bye to our friends.

Here's one bastion at ground level. Looks like a fort wall was present here long time back, probably the walls' stones are part of houses' foundations now.

We head towards Watagal Basaveshwara Gudi.

Watgal hill coordinates: 16°6'6.4937''N 76°45'1.0238''E


Bharath Kumar said...

Quite an wonderful experience I hope. keep going Sid

siddeshwar said...

thank you, Bharath :)
yes, it was an experience to chreish