Bangalore Fort #makeheritagefun
On 13th march GoUnesco organized ‘make heritage fun‘ event in different cities of India. I participated in the Bangalore event. The idea was to visit state heritage sites. Mansoor Ali took time off his busy schedule to guide us through the sites. He seemed to be a scholarly person, well versed on history of these places. The monuments in the itinerary were The Bangalore Fort, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace and an Armoury; all these within 500m radius. Of these only Tipu’s palace is well known, the other two are lesser known and less visited by tourists.
Our walk started from Bangalore Fort, a silent witness to forgotten tumultuous history of Bangalore. This tour was enlightening from that point of view.
History of Bangalore Fort
In early 16th century, Kempe Gowda, a local feudatory of Vijayanagara Kingdom, during one of his routine hunting expedition witnessed a strange incident: A hound was chasing a hare, after a while the hare stopped and turned back to face the hound. Stunned, the hound stopped, the hare now started chasing the hound which fled from the scene. Kempe Gowda impressed by this bravery, considered this as a good omen. He decided to build a fort in the same place. Only kings could build forts with stones those days; being a feudatory Kempe Gowda built the fort with mud. Bangalore flourished under Kempe Gowda. But with decline of Vijayanagara Empire, the fort was captured by series of rulers including the British.
Bangalore Fort changed hands during 17th century. In 1687, Chikka Deva Raja Wodeyar purchased Bangalore from Mughals (who had captured it for few weeks) for a tidy sum of Rupees 3 lakhs! Can you imagine for 3 lakhs!!! In 1761, Haider Ali reconstructed a stone fort after demolishing the mud fort. He secured Bangalore as Jagir in 1758 and expanded and strengthened it by 1761AD. The fort we get to see now is remains of this stone fort. The fort had 26 bastions of which only 2 remains today.
It was a strong hold of Tipu Sultan. A plaque on the outer wall of the fort marks the place from where the attack was made by British soldiers in 1791. Bangalore Fort was intact with all 26 bastions till 1924. They later started dismantling it little by little till 1930s. Had it not stopped the fort would have vanished completely. The British built a protestant church with those stones. This was later brought down and hospitals (Vani Vilas Hospital and Victoria Hospital) were built with them.
Tour of Bangalore Fort
Our guide Mansoor Ali had taken special permission that enabled us to tour the upper part of the Bangalore Fort. We walked over the two bastions (circular projections) where a couple of centuries back soldiers positioned themselves to defend the fort. The turrets provided cover to the soldiers after firing the canons. It was a good feeling to imagine being a soldier and take cover in the turret while others clapped hard to prove the sound insulation the turrets provided inside.
Prison of David Baird
It was in this fort where Haider Ali, father of Tipu Sultan, had imprisoned Capt. David Baird and 200 British soldiers in 1786. David spent two years in the prison here. The room is dimly lit with just 3 openings for ventilation. The interior walls scribbled by tourists, no wonder they shut off this part from the public. David had made some graffiti on the walls and had written a poem sitting in this very prison. My blogger friend Ami Bhat reciting his poem in the same place where he had written it once!
As the twist of fate was, in 1799 David Baird stormed the southern Indian city of Mysore with his British troops. During the violent battle, Tipu Sultan, the last independent sultan of Mysore, was killed. Captain Baird recognized Tipu’s body among the heaps of dead bodies after the war. Tipu’s death led to the city’s final surrender and it marked the final consolidation of British rule in India. After listening to this sad part of history we moved on with the tour of other parts of the fort. If only the stones could speak what would have they said I wondered as I wandered on.
The Gates of the Fort
We then moved on to ground level. The Mysore Bagilu (southern gate) is huge and impressive with iron spikes in the upper part. There is a small Ganesha Temple inside the fort, which was closed at the time of our visit. The Kengeri Bagilu in the west is completely blocked.The Delhi Bagilu (named so as it faces north, Delhi is 2000kms from this point) and Myosre Bagilu at the south of the fort are decorated with fine Persian friezes. I have captured some of the details. The stones of the wall too have lightly sculpted forms.
A special mention for the beauty and cleanliness maintained inside Bangalore Fort. We were the first visitors for the day and I saw the staff engaged in cleaning there. For all lovers of history this is a must visit. And for those who take pride in Indian rulers and how they died defending our country’s honor and freedom, this monument is holy!
Tickets and Open Timings
There are no tickets for entry to Bangalore Fort.
Duration of tour can be anywhere between half an hour to one hour.
No refreshments or washroom facilities inside the fort.
Plenty of restaurants just outside the fort.
Camera is allowed, thumbs up for that!
Open on all days 8.30AM to 5.00PM.