Belgaum’s glory

On the outskirts of Belgaum, near the CBT (Central Bus Station) and the Kotekere water tank is the historical Belgaum Fort. This fort was built by Jaya Raya who had aligned with the ruling Ratta dynasty in the year 1204. As per the style of construction which prevailed during that period, this fort was built of mud and stone and is considered one of the ancient structures in Karnataka.

However, the fort has undergone several modifications and renovations since it was originally constructed. Yakub Ali Khan of the Bijapur sultanate transformed it into a formidable fort with a deep moat, high walls, bastions, battlements and parapets. Several dynasties such as Ratta, Vijayanagara, Bijapur, Maratha and the British have shaped the destiny of this historical fort. 

It is said that Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned inside this fort during the freedom struggle. This fort is built in the  Indo-Saracenic and Deccan style of architecture. It has an oval shape, with walls rising to about ten meters. It also has temples and masjids, making it a fine example of religious tolerance of the erstwhile rulers.

The main gate of this fort was built in the year 1631. The front entrance has the words ‘Military Durga Devi Mandir’, etched in bold and has been renovated and maintained by the military. There is also a Ganapati temple inside this fort. Civilians can step into the temple at the front entrance. Vehicles are allowed to ply inside.

A military recruitment centre is located inside this fort. Also there are a number of schools, offices, and even a private guesthouse inside the fort area. There is a small cafe which serves food and soft drinks. Parts of the fort and the moat are covered with thick vegetation. A mini-forest, with overgrown undergrowth, can also be seen inside this fort. However, installing an information board about the fort would be useful for those who visit this fort. 

D B N Murthy

Temples galore

The small town of Doddaballapur is about 38 km from Bangalore. Most tourists pass by this taluk while heading to Ghati Subrahmanya, Bagepalli or Makalidurga. Doddaballapur houses many temples. The karaga festival designed on the lines of Bangalore’s karaga is held at Mariamma temple and Dharmaraya temple in May-June (on Buddha Purnima day).

The Venkateswara Swamy temple, also known as Prasanna Srinivasa temple, is nearly 300 years old and was built during Mysore king Kantheerava Narasaraja Wodeyar’s reign. The temple is different from other temples and does not have a gopura type structure near the entrance. Once you enter the temple, a beautiful mantapa comes into view.

There are statues of various avatars of Vishnu on top of the mantapa. There are two shrines inside this temple. While the main shrine is dedicated to the deity of Venkateswara, the smaller shrine on the right side is dedicated to Lakshmi Venkateswara.

The sanctum sanctorum, comprising small pillars, has a four-and-half-foot tall idol of Venkateswara. The sanctum sanctorum also houses the idols of Sridevi and Bhudevi.
The brahmotsava festival is held in the month of Magha (Feb-March) and the deities are taken out in a chariot.

Soumya Narayan Achari