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Amidst hills & ruins

S V Upendra Charya Jan 29 2018, 23:16 IST

Sightseeing in and around Raichur town is more like trailing heritage sites and structures. Among the numerous heritage sites here, the location of hill fort remains the most preferred tourist spot. Situated atop a rocky hill called Giridurga, the Raichur Fort is surrounded by hillocks, quaint villages and a historic lake named Aam Talab (Mavina Kere).

The fort is about 300 feet above the plains. The Archaeological Museum in Raichur has an exhibit of a Telegu inscription which states that the hill fort was built in 1294 by Gore Gangayya Reddy, chieftain of Raichur during the reign of Kakatiya queen Rudrammanni Devi.

The sprawling hill fort has numerous ruins and remains of religious structures, tanks, caverns, bastions and stone inscriptions in Persian, Arabic, Telugu and other languages. Atop the fort, there is a huge stone slab with Telugu inscriptions, that can be traced back to the Kakatiya period.

The fort comprises inner and outer two-tier circuit walls extending to three sides of the historical defence terrain. The Hindu architectural-style inner fortification has two arched gateways named Sailani Darwaza and Sikkandari Darwaza. The Muslim style outer fortification has five huge doorways named Naurangi Darwaza in the north, Mecca Darwaza in the west, Kati Darwaza in the east, Khandak Darwaza in the south and Doddi Darwaza in the south-east. Except for Naurangi, Mecca and Kati Darwaza, most of the other doorways, once the grand gateways of Raichur Fort, haven't stood the test of time. Ruins, inscriptions, images and archaeological museum exhibits are what remains of these monuments today.

Grand entrances

The Naurangi Darwaza is a Vijayanagar period monument named after its eye-catching entry gate that was once decorated with colourful artwork and sculptures. The monument has courtyards and a small towered defence structure. One can see numerous murals depicting Dashavatara, Ramayana and Mahabharata adorning the inner and outer walls of the 700-year-old Naurangi Darwaza.

The Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage has long been maintaining a museum here. The open-air museum has a rich collection of historical inscriptions, idols and religious sculptures.

The Mecca Darwaza has a small but an eye-catching dome set on a lotus petal design circular rostrum. The Arabic inscriptions attributed to the Bahmani king, Muhammad Shah III, is seen on the walls of the doorway. This doorway was built in 1470 on the orders of the king.

There is a small public library within the premises of this monument. It was opened in 2008, in collaboration with the City Central Library and Raichur district administration. From the terrace of the Naurangi Darwaza, tourists get a picturesque view of the citadel named Bala Hisar which stands on a hill. Built in the 16th century during the reign of Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur, Bala Hisar is a granite monument. It comprises a durbar hall, a small mosque and the Panch Bibi Dargah, dedicated to five women saints. It also provides an overall view of the fort amidst the scenery of the town.

Tourist's delight

Aam Talab is located adjacent to the fort. It is a scenic lake spread over an area of 150 acres and surrounded by hillocks and villages. This 13th-century lake is a major source of irrigation. It is also a popular tourist spot with boating facility and a children's park.

Raichur town has many Muslim monuments of historical importance. The tomb of Pir Sailani Shah, Ek Minar Masjid, Fort Jami Masjid and Jami Masjid are some of the popular monuments. Built by the Bahmanis, the Ek Minar Masjid is said to be Raichur's oldest mosque, famous for its 65-feet high, two-storied Persian style minaret with a winding staircase.

Built by the Adil Shahi dynasty, Fort Jami Masjid is one of the biggest mosques in Raichur. It has two entry points leading to a six-pillared huge mosque surrounded by the ruins of an ancient palace and remains of a fort.

The historical Sikandari Darwaza and Daftakari Masjid are located adjacent to the palace ruins. Next to the mosque, there is a cemetery with graves said to be of the family members of Adil Shahi rulers.

The Bijapur-style Pir Sailani Shah tomb comprises a small shrine decorated with an artistically designed dome, arches and well-trimmed turrets. Named after the saint, Pir Sailani Darwaza is the main gateway leading to the tomb.Besides these famous tourist spots, there are plenty of scenic locales nearby to explore. They include Malliabad, Kallur, Koormagadde, Anegundi, Manvi and Mantralaya.

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