Raichur Fort / ರಾಯಚೂರು ಕೋಟೆ

Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರ ಕೋಟೆ
Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರು  ಕೋಟೆ
A visit to Raichur was pending for a long time and had remained as one of the districts which was less explored by us in the state of Karnataka. Hence we decided to visit the magnificent fort of Raichur at the least. This time we chose to travel by train in order to reduce the driving load and more importantly, to test our ability of having to travel with our little partners!! Raichur is one of the blessed districts of Karnataka in terms of it geographical positioning owing to its location between the two mighty rivers of Krishna and Tungabhadra, making it one of the most fertile regions of Karnataka. Raichur today is most famous for its Thermal Power Station at Shakthinagar situated about 18 km from Raichur and is also known for trading of cotton. This place is of considerable antiquity, right from the prehistoric period to the period of struggle for Independence. The village of Maski is very well known for the Ashokan edicts found here which is believed to have been inscribed in the 3rd century BCE. This is one of the rare edicts where King Ashoka has been referred to as Devanamapriya and Priyadarshi. Also, the Hatti Gold Mines is the only operational goldmine in India and is located in Raichur.
Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರ ಕೋಟೆ
Bala Hisar and Fortifications
Raichur Lake
While 'Raichur' was earlier known by the names of 'Rachavoor' or 'Rachanoor', it was later called as Rayachooru. The Fort of Raichur was in existence much before the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana captured this place in 1150 CE. The fort was built by the Kalyana Chalukyas and later expanded by Raja Vitthala under the able leadership of Kakatiya Queen Rudramma Devi in 1294. The same has been documented in the long inscription found near the second doorway of the fort, inside the Mecca darwaza.
History of Raichur Fort
Telugu Inscription Describing the Construction of this Fort
While most of the fortification was built by the Kakatiya and Vijayanagara Kings, a few later additions and repair works were undertaken by the Bahmanis and Adil Shahis. Though Malik Kafur captured this fort in 1312, it was subsequently captured and strengthened by the Vijayanagara Kings. Post the fall of Vijayanagara kingdom, the Bahmanis occupied this place and was later ruled by the Bijapur Sultans, Mughals and the Nizams.
Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರ ಕೋಟೆ
Top Most Fortification
Fort Wall and Raichur Town
Exiting the Dragon
That Sunday morning after having a  good breakfast at Hotel Udupi near the railway station, we took a rickshaw up to the base of the fort.  The driver dropped us behind the fort which was a slum like colony that slowly crept into the fort area. The ascent from here was quite easy along the well laid steps built during the 15th century. Within no time we reached the first entrance of the fort and a short trek from hereon took us to the top most portion of the fort. The Bala Hisar (citadel) situated here, which is occupied by the durbar hall which is a double three arched and triple domed strucutre. There is a big damaged cannon in the premises.  There is also a small mosque built in Bijapura style, with a single arch and two slim minarets. Besides this is a structure that seems like the remains of a small Mantapa associated with a temple, though no traces of any temple were found around. Behind the durbar hall and amidst the rocks is a beautiful carving of Lord Nandi in a seated position. It was very disheartening to see that only the lower portion of the Bull remained intact with no trace of it's head.
The Cannon
Raichur Fort /  ರಾಯಚೂರ ಕೋಟೆ
Bala Hisar
Small Mosque built in Bijapura Style
History of Raichur Fort
Broken Nandi Murti
We started our descent in the other direction, towards the Mecca Darwaza. On reaching the bus stand, we stopped by for a tea break. While we were walking towards the Mecca Darwaza, I spotted a few carvings on the walls inside the recently built Indira canteen campus. I decided to go ahead and check them out only to find inscriptions in Telugu which speaks about how the large boulders were hauled by buffaloes for building the fort walls. It then struck to me that the official website of Raichur district gave a description similar to what I had witnessed.  It quotes, "A little distance to the right of the above epigraph, is depicted the process by which the large inscribed slab was brought from the quarry to the site, laden on a solid-wheeled cart drawn by a long team of buffaloes with men driving and cudgelling the animals and applying levers at the wheels to push the cart forward. The artistic treatment in delineating the line of buffaloes in perspective, and the lively and graphic expression of the strain on them as represented by means of depicting some with tongues lolling out of their mouths, some with bent waists, and others with tails curled and lifted up as is usually seen when these animals are put to extra strain, is indeed a marvel of the art of drawing, particularly when the age of the work is taken into consideration. Further to the right is carved a procession scene of six chariots, drawn by humped bulls with decorative collars round their necks, and a little distance to the south is carved a forest scene with palmyra trees. On various other slabs in the same wall are incised floral and foliage designs as well as numerous figures of men engaged in various activities, and also animals and birds, like bulls, elephants, boars, jackals, cocks, peacocks, geese, etc., all executed in the same delightful manner".  Hurriedly and with excitement, I went back to bring my wife and two little partners to witness this marvel. My wife was stunned after looking at the carvings! It surely was an amazing experience for all of us to see these beautiful and unique carvings that gave us a clear picture of how the huge sized stone slabs were actually laid one above the other and how the fort wall was really built.
Long Team of Buffaloes Pulling the Rock Slab on a Solid Wheeled Cart
6 Chariots, drawn by Humped Bulls
Notice the Huge Size of the Rock Slabs used for Constructing the Fort Wall
Close up of the Solid Wheeled Cart
Hereon we reached the Mecca Darwaza which has been neatly restored by the ASI and has 2 two security personnel in charge of taking care and maintenance. After entering the necessary details in the visitor's book, we proceeded further. The entire gateway and the fort wall of Mecca Darwaza was built during the reign of the Vijayanagara kings, which is quite evident by the presence of carvings such as elephants, peacocks, Lord Anjaneya and other gods/goddesses on its walls. There are a few cannons belonging to the later period kept for display. We explored further on the other side of the fort wall along the moat and found more Hindu carvings. Owing to the persian inscription found atop the fort entrance, some historians claim that the fort walls were built by the Bahmanis, although it is much clear that it belongs to a much earlier period than the Bahmani rule.
Cannon placed at Mecca Darwaza
Mecca Darwaza and the Moat around it
Elephant Carvings on the Wall of Mecca Darwaza
Lord Garuda
Lord Bhikshatana Murti with various Mystical Animals
Our next destination was the most beautiful fort entrance named 'Navarang Dwara' or 'Navarang Darwaza'. This is probably one of the most beautiful fort entrances we have seen till date. It is a classical representation of Vijayanagara Art and Architecture. However, this place now has been converted into a museum and photography has been prohibited. 
Navarang Dwara, Raichur Fort
Navaranga Dwara
Navarang Dwara, Raichur Fort
Interiors of Navaranga Dwara
Intricate Carvings
After spending some time here, we inquired about Gowdra Mane (the royal house) which supposedly houses many beautiful murals belonging to the 19th century. The ASI staff at the museum were kind enough to give us directions to this place. We managed to find an auto rickshaw with great difficulty and the driver agreed to drop us at the old house. Surprisingly not many were aware of such a place around. After many inquiries with the locals, we landed right in front of this beautiful royal house. The exteriors of the house seemed very grand and we were much excited to have a look at what was in store for us. However, the house was locked for interior repairs and we were informed that the family had shifted only recently to another house in the town. We met the neighbors and exchanged our phone numbers so we could try and visit the house the next time. After watching our curiosity to enter the royal house, the auto driver too turned equally curious about the entire situation! Unfortunately, we couldn't make it into the royal house that day. We had to catch our train and hence requested our auto driver to drop us back at our hotel.
Koti Darwaza 
The Royal House of Raichur
The Royal House - Gowdra Mane
Projected Balcony of the Royal House
References:
1. Karnataka Tourism Gazetteer - Gulbarga
2. Raichur Official Website
3. Journeys across Karnataka

Related Posts:
1. Mulbagal Fort
2. Madhugiri Fort
3. Tumkooru Fort

7 comments:

  1. Excellent sir. Photographs are too good.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also visit Mudgal fort, Maski, Gabburu Rock edicts and temples, Jaldurga fort, Amareshwara, Shaktinagar-Devasugur(sugureshwara temple,sirat-e-jodi bridge), Golpalli falls, Googal-Allamaprabhu gudi, Koppara-Laxmi narayanana gudi, Sajjalagudda matha, Kalluru laxmi temple, Rajalbanda. These are less known places but are worth a visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your appreciation Sunil. We have visited a few of the lesser known places from your given list. Will surely visit the rest whenever possible. Thanks again! Keep encouraging.

      Delete
  3. Awesome pics. Very informative post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi please consider to change the back ground to white or similar instead of black. Eyes remains strained a longer besides the disturbed optical transition from text to images.
    thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Vijay. Thank you for reading through. Yes..suggestion taken...will update shortly.

      Delete
  5. That's a nice fort. Glad to know about it. Gowdra Mane looks lovely.

    ReplyDelete