Battles won and lost at Mirjan Fort

MIRJAN MAGIC The Mirjan Fort has many wells connected to the outside of the fort suggesting these canal works may have been used for ferrying . Photos by the authors

The town of Kumta in Uttara Kannada district is a unique place to visit. Not only is it covered by dense forests and water falls, but is also home to the historic Mirjan Fort that makes a visit to this town a memorable one.

The Mirjan Fort must have witnessed numerous battles, ghastly episodes of violence and the tears and joys of kings and their subjects. Today, this serene historical site reminds tourists of the glories of the past. The fort is situated on NH17, about 11 km from Kumta, on the way to the famous pilgrim and tourist centre of Gokarna.
Situated in an area of over 10 acres, the laterite-stone-built Mirjan fort has broad steps that lead to the interiors of the fort, where the ruins make visitors ponder over the lost historical significance of the place.

There is a reference to Mirjan in the records of foreign travellers like De Barros, Barbosa, Hamilton and Buchanan. Barros, in whose record Mirjan is referred to as Mergan, was under the rule of Vijayanagar kings. While in 1720 Hamilton referred to Mirjan as a small harbour famous for pepper, cussia and wild nutmeg, in 1801, Buchanan referred to it as Midijoy.

The historical records that are available state that the place was under the governance of Gerusoppa rulers during Vijayanagara times. Soon after the fall of Gerusoppa rulers, Bijapur sultans are said to have conquered the place and Sharief-ul-mulk, the governor of Goa, is believed to have either built or renovated the fort here. Keladi queen Chennamma conquered the territories at a later stage.
The number of wells (as many as nine) inside the fort, the routes connecting these wells to the outside of the fort and the canal works surrounding the fort make one infer that these waterways must have been used for ferrying.  

A secret outlet..
The fort also has traces of a secret outlet, entrance doors, an astounding darbar hall and a market place. The remains of some idols, believed to have been found in the fort, have now taken refuge under the shade of a big tree.

Other places around Kumta
There are a lot of old temples in Kumta. Kumbheshwar, Salt Ganapati, Shantika Parameshwari, Mahalasa Narayani, Shanteri Kamakshi, Kavur Kamakshi, and Shankar Narayan temples are some of them. Many of these feature period architecture and period art forms, especially Kavi Art. There are many tourist places near Kumta. Gokarna, famous for the its beach (originally famous for the temple), is just 20 km. Yana, known for its massive limestone peaks, is just 20 km from Kumta. Kumta town is also well known for its temples. The taluk has four beaches. The beautiful Dhareshwar beach is located five km away from Kumta.

Because the town is located on the coast, it has a moderate climate, with temperatures in the range of 360C to 280C during summer and 260C to 200C during winter. The south-west Monsoon unleashes its full impact during the rainy season.
There are a good number of hotels, from luxurious to budget class ones, suiting  everyone’s purse.

Kumta is well connected by buses. There are direct buses from Bangalore to this town. Tourists coming from North Karnataka or Maharashtra can take buses from Hubli to reach this nature lovers’ paradise.

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