Where falling forts whisper history...

Where falling forts whisper history...

Forts speak history. No wonder, they have always fascinated historians, research scholars, archaeologists, conservationists and tourists alike. The undivided district of Gulbarga, including Yadgir, which was once the cradle of two mighty dynasties — the Rashtrakutas in the 9th century and the Bahmans in the 14th century — and which has seen the rule of a number of dynasties, right from the Mauryas of 300 BC to the Nizams till 1948, naturally boasts of many forts.

A number of forts in the district were built from 2nd century BC to 18th century AD. Though some individuals have recorded the details of some forts in their writings, none have attempted to do a systematic study of all the important forts of the district, numbering about 50, and record it for posterity. At a time when most of the forts are on the brink of extinction due to the onslaught of weather and increased human intervention, it is important to study them and record their details. Human intervention has proved to be destructive for the existence of forts as the materials available in them, including huge slabs, pillars etc are being taken away by people for their own use. Even in the 600-year-old famous Gulbarga fort, which has been declared a national monument by the Archaeological Survey of India, human habitation still persists. One can imagine the state of unprotected forts then.

A study undertaken by the history professor of Gulbarga Government College, Shambhuling S Wani, on ‘Defence Architecture of Forts of Undivided Gulbarga District’, is the sole study and reference material available for any kind of research with regard to forts in Gulbarga district. The work involving an extensive field study of defence architecture of 39 important forts has come out with certain interesting revelations. The oldest fort is at Sannati in Chittapur taluk, on the banks of River Bhima. Built during the Shatavahana period in 2nd century BC, this ancient fort, constructed with bricks, has seven gates. Excavations have unearthed a ranamandala and remains of watch towers. The kind of features seen in the Sannati Fort are also noticed in the forts constructed in the latter period. Another ancient fort is in Sagar village of Shahapur taluk, stated to have been constructed by Sagar Chakravarti, an emperor of Sagar kingdom, and is in complete ruins.

The fort at Malkhed in Sedam taluk is one of the most important ones. Situated on the banks of River Kagna in erstwhile Manyakheta, it was built by the mighty 9th century Rashtrakutas who ruled for about 200 years. It is a ‘Jaladurga’, being surrounded by water on three sides, and a hillock on one side.

Among the medieval forts, the Gulbarga fort is most prominent. It was originally built by Raja Gulchand and later expanded and strengthened by Bahmani rulers who shifted their capital from Daulatabad to Kalburgi (Gulbarga) around 1350. Bahmans were the main rivals of Vijayanagar kings and therefore adopted all the security aspects in Gulbarga fort. Constructed in a 3 km area, it is surrounded by double walls. The external wall is short while the internal wall is high and is surrounded by a moat of considerable depth. Inside the fort is the famous Great Mosque, built on the lines of the one in Cardona, Spain. This fort has 15 watch towers, a ranamandal and a ground to train war elephants.In 1421, the Bahman capital was shifted to Ferozabad, about 25 km south of Gulbarga.

 Since Ferozabad was on the banks of River Bhimna, Sultan Feroz Shah thought it fit to construct a strong fort there. However, the capital was soon shifted to Bidar. The same king built a palace for his beloved Farida Begum at nearby Parvatagiri, which later came to be known as Farahatabad. For the safety of his Begum and the town, he constructed a fort around the town.

The fort at Shahapur is the biggest fort of all. From Mohammed Bin Tuqhlaq to Aurangzeb, all the rulers altered this fort according to their needs. The speciality of the fort is that despite being at a very high altitude, on the hills, it has water storage in the middle of huge rocks and boulders. The nearby fort at Yadgir, also on a hill, is said to have been constructed by the Chalukyas. 

The Gosal dynasty of Nayaks who founded the Surapur principality constructed their first fort at Waganageri and when the capital was shifted to Surapur, the Nayaks constructed a huge fort there.

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