Away from the madding crowd stand the iconic and historic monuments of Karnataka – the majestic and powerful forts. These towers built in all architectural styles across the state bear witness to rich ancient Nizami culture which the region had.
Kittur Chennamma Fort
Located in the Belgaum district of the state is a fort built in all its majestic glory by Queen Chennamma of Kittur . Displaying the valor of the queen herself, the fort built hundreds of years ago still stands erect in all its majestic glory. For those among you who are interested in stepping into the past to see its shadowy corridors this fort which is also an archaeological site is the best place to visit.
The fort once had a 100 ft high porch which is now reduced to ruins. But even the majestic splendor of the ruins is a worthy site to see. For the star gazers among you, the fort would be the ideal place to visit as there is an ancient telescope inside it through which the Queen used to gaze at the pole star every morning.
A massive stone fort set on top of the Chitradurga Hill, the fort is one of the best places to visit when on a sunset hunt. The serene view from top of the fort will clam your senses. Located just 200 km from the garden city, Bangalore, the fort was built by the Nayakas of Chitradurga.
For those interested in going on an expedition into the past this is the fort to visit as the structure with 19 gate ways is one huge structure. To add to the mystery there are four secret entrances to the fort and 38 posterior entrances. Also the palace which is hidden and used to be guarded by the fort is a magnificent site to see. The fort is also known for its scenic view as it is surrounded by lush green forests dotted with ancient temples. Ekanatha Temple, Hidimbeswara Temple and Chandravalli Caves should be visited when here.
A structure which extends over 38,000 square yards Gulbarga fort is an archaeologist’s heaven. For those interested in long exploratory strolls, Gulbarga is the monument to visit. The main attractions of the fort include beautiful mosques with exquisite wood and stone work. Jumma Masjid built as per the Persian style of architecture is one of the best Islamic structures in the country itself. Representing the cultural richness in the state there are Hindu temples within the structure along with Muslim ones.
The ammunition dumps, stables and ancient carriages are the things to look for in your exploration. Do walk down those hallways, secret passages and grand edifices to get a true feel of the region’s ancient history. What one should not miss when on a visit to the place are the 15 towers and 16 guns preserved for public view.
One of the most powerful leaders of the time, Tipu Sultan was known for his valor. And one of the forts which protected this mighty ruler is the Tipu’s Fort which is built right in the middle of the garden city, Bangalore. Standing right opposite to the city market the fort offers one the bird’s eye view of the city.
The original structure of the fort was built in 1537 and the current form is only the outer wall of the once strong Tipu’s Fort. When here do not forget to visit the palace protected by the structure as the architecture in display is par excellence. The fort follows Islamic style of construction and it has beautiful carvings on its gate walls.
The fort set atop Ballari Gudda was built in 1769. The monument and its serene location would be the ideal place for some exploration. The upper portion of the fort is polygonal structure with many an entrance. The lower portion is the place for arsenal and barracks from where more of the warfare took place.
When on a trip to the place do go in your trekking shoes one will get a chance to go up a long windy climb through narrow mud paths to reach the upper forts. The temple on top of the fort is supposed to have lucky charms. The lower part of the fort has the famous Kote Anjaneya temple. When here, do stay on till the dusk as the fort is lit completely during the nights. A stretch of 2 km is illuminated by 188 special lights in the night.
North Fort, Badami
The fort which was quite dear to Tipu Sultan’s heart has a cannon at its southern end which was place there by his very hands. Set above the most picturesque country locations this fort is the place you would want to visit to spend some time in peace and quiet.
For the spiritual among you the fort could be a pilgrim location as the place is dotted with temples. One of the most important temples to visit when here would be the Shivalaya Temple which is one of the ancient Chalukyan Temples. The Jambulinga Temple and the Bhutanath Temples are the famous cave temples near this fort. When here also visit the archaeological museum in its premises as it has several ancient scriptures and relics which can take you way back into the past.
This 15th century structure situated in the heart of the garden city is a very famous tourist location which captures the real feel of the region which had seen many battles. The fort is constructed in red rock and hence a beauty to just look at. The intricate battlement and baronial gateways will take you to a time back in history where survival was difficult.
For the home lovers among you the ancient royal baths and spacious kitchens and large audience halls would be of interest. The beautifully carved wooden pillars of the fort would be the thing that will catch your eye first. There are Persian couplets which were inscribed to the post. And those mother of pearl inlay works are not to be missed when here.
The 12th century fort, Basavakayana is one of the most ancient forts in the state. The historical town of Basavakalan is known for its archaeological splendor and the fort is set right in the middle of all that beauty. The place which used to have tall erect structures with red polished bricks and wood works is not reduced to majestic ruins. The place is however an archaeological splendor with several artifact and sculptures being excavated from here.
Devanahalli Fort is one of the oldest forts in Karnataka which was built in 1501 by Mallabairegowda. The fort was passed on into many hands and the current fort which we see was built by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Khas bagh is a major place to see near this fort, the birth place of the Tiger of Mysore, great Tipu Sultan. It is located 150 m south-west outside the fort. The palace where Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan resided can also be seen here. The Venugopalaswamy Temple inside the fortress is the oldest temple among the many temples inside Devanahalli fort. The sculptures seen here is similar to Belur and Halebid. Dravidian style and Vijayanagara style statues and stone carvings are another peculiarity of the temples here. This vast fortress is spread over 20 acres and located on NH 7 in Devanahalli, 35 km away from Bangalore city.
Another heritage site in Karnataka which dates back to 12th century is located in the city of Belgaum, the Belgaum fort. It was originally built by Jaya Raya, also called Bichi Raja, in the year 1204 AD who was an ally of the Ratta Dynasty. This beautiful fort is located in a picturesque location in the foothills of Sahyadri Mountains and on the bank of Markandeya River. A major significance of this fort is that Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned in this fort during the freedom struggles. Belgaum city was once the capital of the Ratta dynasty. Later, it was invaded by several emperors like Vijayanagara emperors, the Bahmanis, Marathas and finally by the British. The fort is oval shaped and the construction of this fort can be considered one of the finest examples of Indian architecture. The devotional places inside the fortress shows cultural unification as they show Hindu, Jain and Muslim architectural influences. The Jain temples Kamal Bassdi and Chikki Basadi are must see monuments here as they are the oldest and built in Chalukyan style. Safa Masjid and Jamia Masjid are mosques which show a fusion of Nagari and Persian styles. Two Hindu shrines can be seen at the fort entrance devoted to Lord Ganesha and Goddess Durga. This ancient mounument is situated in Belgaum which falls on NH 4 and NH 4A. The nearest cities are Dharwar-70 KM and Hubli-94 KM.
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