Bhasmangi's stunning landscape

Bhasmangi's stunning  landscape

TRAVEL Bhasmangi is a nondescript village in Tumkur district, barring the presence of a fortress atop a hill. Climbing the hill to reach the fortress can be rewarding, thanks to the spectacular view of the village and  its surroundings on offer, discovers   B V Prakash

The dry belt of Tumkur district is strewn with innumerable rocky hills punctuating endless fields. In ancient times, many of these hills were chosen by lesser rulers and chieftains to build fortresses where they reigned during their heydays.

While many of these hills themselves were unapproachable because of steep vertical cliffs guarding them, the local chiefs made them even more secure by building forts that were impregnable. Some of these forts of yesteryears stand tall and strong even to this day. Bhasmangi is a nondescript village in Tumkur district, northwest of the more well-known Madhugiri.

The town is dominated by a moderately high granite hill with steep slopes on three sides. The top of the hill is a vast plateau enough to accommodate a tiny hamlet. There could not have been a more suitable place to build a fortress safe from the attacks of the enemies. It was one such ruler named Budi Basavappa Nayaka who chose this hill to build a palace enclosed by a strong fort.

But the material used was only mud. In the course of time, 1768 to be precise, Hyder Ali took over the place and reinforced the structure. Steps, doorways and rock solid bastions were added. Brick walls were used for smaller structures like guard rooms and escape tunnels.

Later, as the years rolled on, the fort was abandoned and left exposed to the elements. Unlike many other forts, the Bhasmangi fortress has not lost its character with many of its structures rugged and strong.

The approach to the hill is from the north and can be reached after passing through a few obscure villages.

The few trees near the base provide ample shade. A large well with perennial cool water quenches your thirst after a tiresome journey.

The steep steps one sees here don’t go all the way up to the fort, but to a small temple dedicated to Bhasmangeshwara. Climbing the hill fort has to begin from the eastern side a furlong away. Though the entire hill looks like a monolith, there are some huge boulders with unique rock formations.

The faded path goes up through stone doorways and the steps lead to an open area. All along, you can spot remnants of many stone structures, as also a carved Hanuman on a rock. The hilltop is a rocky plateau with pools of clear transparent water.

Further up is a grinding stone with concentric rings followed by a pair of footprints carved on the rock. At a higher elevation is a large granary and the path to it is through the bushes.

This point offers a stunning view of the village below and the ramparts of the fort.
The summit is crowned with a very large rectangular structure, probably the palace or the living quarters, well guarded by a sturdy stonewall.

On the western side is a small shrine in white with an image of Nandi. It is so huge that it snugly fits into the shrine and one can hardly get inside. An interesting belief associated with this Nandi is that it moves by a few inches, when it rains, or during summer. But the reasons are unknown.

On the whole, the fort at Bhasmangi, though lacking in any historical significance, is still a sign of our heritage and deserves to be preserved.

Getting there

The approach to the place is complicated, and passes through many villages. Bhasmangi is situated at about 130 km from Bangalore.

You can reach Bhasmangi by going westward from Madhugiri (102 km from Bangalore) for 17 km to Badavanahalli cross and then taking a right turn for another 12 km to reach Singaravuthana Halli. From here, a mud road to the left leads to the base of the hill.

Barring water available from a well, there are no shops selling food or soft drinks. You can also visit Madhugiri on the way.

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