Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gooty Fort

Gooty town on the NH7 which almost midpoint between Bangalore and Hyderabad ( 252 Kms ) is blessed with a beautiful Fort which stands as a ruined and neglected monument. The Fort spreads over the 3 hillocks, with a lake feeding water to the soldiers stationed at the Fort. Surprising a graveyard at the enterance is filled with monument type edifices embedded with details of the soldier or colonel who have passed away or died with Cholera. This enclosure is well protected by a gate but the fort itself is left to ruin and vandalism, by the locals in search of treasures. The Fort needs urgent resurrection by ASI, otherwise it will vanish without a trace

Gooty is now an important Railway junction between Chennai & Mumbai, with locomotive brake factory, water filling station and stop over for vehicles for tea break or midnight meals. The locomotive auto emergency brakes devised are still used on the Braganza Ghat section on the castle rock section towards Goa. The Braganza ghat has 1 to 40 gradient steep ghat section which necessitates usage of AE Brakes.

There is a clear indication that this Fort belonged to the Vijaynagar Era in lieu of the proximity of the place to Hampi. The Fort seems to have been built by Krishnadevaraya ( 1509-1529), who is reputed to have built many a forts and temples in the area. The Fort area seems to have been mute witness to many a battles. The Fort seems to have been refurbished by Chattrapathi Shivaji ( 1666 – 1680 ). The symbol of Shivaji riding the horse on the fa├žade of the fortress is a clear pointer that Shivaji was responsible for massive expansion of the Fort. Later the Fort seems to have captured by Tipu Sultan ( 1782-1799 ). It is obvious that some of the old temples or monument were obviously obliterated. A small mosque and a grave in the premise of the Fort points to the presence of Tipu Sultan. After the death of Tipu Sultan, the British seems to have taken over the Fort with minimum resistance without bloodshed consider the limited no of graves in the enclosure.

One of the graves in the premises points to the fact the Fort was in occupation of the British from 1817 onwards. Another grave epitaph points to the fact there was cholera in Gooty in 1824, in which many a british soldiers perished.

The Palace in the court yard seems to have been razed to ground by the British and all its wealth seems to have been plundered. The British hatred towards Tipu Sultan is well known fact since Tipu tried to align with the French to stall the progress of British East India company & empire in India.

In hope of a blessed Immortality
Herein Lieth the Remains of M W Mason,
Conductor of Ordinance on this
Who departed this life on the
10th day of May1817.
Aged 52
Leaving a disconsolate Widow
And Large circle of Relations & Friends,
To deplore his loss.

I heard a voice from heaven, saying
Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord,
For they rest from their labours.

Another Grave inscription or epitaph points to break out Cholera in 1824, wherein Lieutant William Grant Gordon 20th Regiment fell victim to Cholera Morbus on 16th July 1824. “ Cold my heart and dull my mind……..” so goes the epitaph.

The Gooty ( Guti ) Fort contains the following enclosures Barracks for soldiers which is ventilated from all four sides due to sultry weather, watch towers on all sides and tanks in all strategic locations. There is mosque which is built to house a saint which is in ruins and needs maintainence and repair to resurrect the original splendour. The entire wall structure of the needs urgent repair, otherwise the Fort walls will be history.

In one of the archway, the pillar are symbols of the Vijaynagar architecture is clearly visible. The domes are typical Islamic style of architecture which have been constructed with limestone, brick and mortar. Chattrapathi Shivaji’s Horse riding symbol is embossed with limestone on the main walls. It is almost in the vanishing state unless repaired.

The influence of Ashoka can also be seen the region with the find of minor rock edict in Yerraguda ( 6 km away from Gooty). This town is an important Railway junction and located strategically. The approach to the fort is through the hamlet, it is always better to undertake the trek early morning to enjoy the sunrise and it is better to carry plenty of water, since it is long trek to the peak watch tower. The entire for spreads over 10 km. A small Shiva temple is located at the enterance of the Fort, which is immersed in water when it rains heavily. The Shiv Ling is located in the adjescent mantap due to flooding of the main temple.

Overall the visit to Gooty Fort will reveal the splendour of the era which were filled with strife and warfare. It is revealation of the strategic warfare techniques adopted from the days of Vijaynagar, Marathas, Tipu Sultan and the British regime.

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