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The first look of the fort itself created a lot of curiosity to explore. As I walked through the gateways, I imagined soldiers guarding the gateways and on watch above and on the sides.. As I mentioned in the previous post, there were cannons on each of the 37 bastions ready to fire at any angle. Some of the bastions are most massively built, and they are generally round of octagonal in shape. The parapets are honeycombed with enclosures providing facilities for firing muskets as well as cannon, both at short and long range.
The walls near the main entrance appear to have been breached and rebuilt. The old portions consist of large blocks of stone laid in lime, but the joints are so fine that lime is not visible. The stone is believed to have been bought from the quarries in the Gulbarga district. In front of the first gate of the main approach there was originally a draw bridge over the moat, but the moat was later filled up for the construction of the road.
The first gateway, called the Mandu Darwaza is somewhat weak in its appearance. It has an inscription carved on a metal tablet that it is built in 1683 by the Mughal Commandant, Mukhtar Khan Al-Hussaini. The height of this door up to the top of the parapet is 36 feet while the entrance arch is 19 feet high. The two small turrets in front of the parapet are later additions The door is fitted with spikes to secure against elephant attacks As you can see in this picture, the passage through the doorway is vaulted and is divided into two compartments by an arch built in the middle of the passage. Beyond the first Mandu Darwaza, there is a courtroom and an other gateway. The Mandu Darwaza thus serves the purpose of a barbican for the second. The court has rooms for guards on either side.
The second gateway is called the Sharza Darwaza, on account of the effigies of two tigers carved on its façade. Such effigies are often found in the forts of the Deccan and their presence apparently signifies the belief that the representations in this form make the building safe from the attacks of the enemy. The Sharza Darwaza is of larger dimensions than the first gateway, the height of the entrance arch being 22 feet. The top of the gateway was originally decorated with a beautiful parapet of trefoil design, the face of which is adorned with encaustic tiles of blue and green patterns tastefully relieved with yellow and white bands. The tile work has decayed considerably, but wherever its intact the colors are extremely fresh and charming.
Below this parapet is a long panel of black stone covering the entire forehead of the gateway and containing an inscription which records the building of the gateway. in 1503 AD. during the reign of Mahmud Shah Bahmani, by Saif Khan Kotwalbek. The style of writing is Thulth, but the letters have been so intertwined that the whole looks like a lace design. There were other inscriptions on the side bastions but most of them perished as they were inscribed on tiles. A few pieces which are intact show that they were in white with deep blue background.
The Sharza Darwaza has a naqar khana (music gallery) in its upper parts, of which the entrance room is rectangular in plan from which the main apartments of the music gallery can be reached. These are three in number and the side apartments have semi octagonal projections which are pierced by tiny windows and thick iron doors. To keep up the old military traditions of the fort, till 1920 music was still played from this gallery four times a day at the beginning of each watch. I crossed this gateway and moved further.
What is saw next is unforgettable…