Sunday, October 23, 2011

With all the temple touring the first day on my trip, this is a nice break. I had to get up very early and DSC01030started off at 8 AM. It was a nice drive for about 50 minutes. The roads for the most part is good with tree branches covering the sky to give a pleasant experience. There are nice bamboo plantations and coffee estates and are a sure signal that you are entering a nice hill station.

Sakleshpura is at a distance of 40 kilometres from Hassan town and located in a picturesque location. This town lies on National Highway 48 which connects Mangalore with Bangalore.

ManjarabadThe Manjarabad Fort is located just outside Sakleshpura. This fort is reputed to have been constructed by Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore as a strategic defensive location as it commands the approach to the plateau beyond. It is constructed at a height of 3420 feet above sea level with stone and mud in the form of an 8-pointed star with a large moat around it as you see in this Google Earth Image. The fort is constructed in a nice location above a hill and is not visible from the main road. We need to ask the locals for the way to go up. My cab driver was well versed with the area, so i did not had to ask anyone. After a short muddy path uphill, there are a fleet of 250 stairs to the fortified walls.

DSC01038The wall of the fort spans the entire hill and one can have a glimpse even when climbing the stairs. After the stairs, there is a muddy road with walls on either side and the path turns narrow and zig-zag as we move along. This is a very good defensive strategy so that the enemy, not knowing what lay ahead can be attacked by surprise. This kind of construction can be found in forts like Daulatabad (Maharashtra) as well. After passing around 100 metres further, we reach the main entrance of the fort. The entrance is of a typical Mohammedan DSC01040architecture with nice design on the parapet. There are elevated platforms on either side under the entrance.

Once i passed through the main entrance, i enter into a wide passage with small dungeon like enclosures all around. This is one more strategic location where soldiers can hide. The insides of the dungeons are filled with sand with all the ill maintenance all these years. This fort, being in an elevated place receives a lot of rainfall and the walls are always damp with moss growing everywhere. The Archaeological Survey of India need to look into it soon to prevent the DSC01044walls from collapsing. In front, you will need to pass one more entrance to enter the open area. Even the ceiling of this entrance is damp with water dropping from it. I saw that some renovation had been done but clearly that is not enough to protect this monument. Once i passed this entrance and entered the fort, i understood its beauty.

It is said that one of the reasons that Tipu Sultan chose this location is because of the atmosphere. It was 9 AM by the time i was on the top and i still see tDSC01064hink fog all around and it looked wonderful. In fact, the fort is said to have named for the fog (“Manju” in the local language means Snow). I was the only human being in the fort at that time, save for a couple of dogs. I should admit that i was a little scared. I walked around capturing some nice shots. There are strategic view points to keep an eye on all the entrances and also the road down below. There are also nice view points where the Western Ghats are visible clearly.

Clearly this fort was never meant to be a residential place as there are no basements or palaces. This was an ammunition dump during Tipu’s reign. You will see small enclosures on two sides which may DSC01068have been used as a sleeping area. There are stairs that take you to the top of the dungeons near to the wall. There is a wide well in the middle with stairs on all the four sides, which most probably was a fresh water one. Now coming to the interesting part. There are two structures which lead to an underground passage. It is said that these two tunnels lead to the Tipu’s fort in Srirangapatna, which was used in danger. However, the passageways are closed now because of low oxygen levels and some instances of homicides.

One need just an hour or so to leisurely roam around this fort. After a relaxing morning, i returned back to continue my temple journeys across the Hassan District. My next destination was again rarely visited place, but historically important.


Deguide said...

Nice coverage of Manjrabad fort, good to see your profile picture, now it is easy to identify your post.

Sudhagee said...

I must admit that i do not know about the existence of Manjarabad Fort. It appears to be a beautiful fort, and I loved the main entrance.

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