History of Basavakalyana Fort
The Chalukya rulers under Tailapa II founded their capital at Basavakalyana (Kalyana) after defeating the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. The fortress was built by Nalaraja in 973 AD during the reign of the Kalyana Chalukya of Taila II. From 1050 AD to 1195 AD, the fort and the town of Kalyana served as the capital of the Kalyani Chalukya (Western Chalukya). The region of Kalyana became the capital of Somesvara I, the son of Western Chalukya king Jayasimha II. Afterwards, Somesvara II, Vikramaditya VI, Somesvara III, Jagadeka Malla III and Tailapa III ruled over the territory.
However, from the 10th century to the 12th century, the Basavakalyana Fort was later occupied by various rulers from different dynasties, such as, Yadavas, Kalachuri dynasty, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, Gayasuddin Khilji, Adil Shahi dynasty, Sultan of Bidar, the Vijayanagar Empire, Sultan of Ahmadnagar, the Nizams and the Mughal dynasty. Throughout the ages, the structures was modified and renovated several times. From 1163 to 1167, the fortress was ruled over by Bijjala Deva of the Kalachuri dynasty who seized the town and the fort after defeating Tailapa III of the Chalukya Kingdom.
Bijjala Deva made Kalyani his new capital after he shifted it from Mangalavada. He was a follower of Shaivism as well as Jainism. Basaveshwara, the Prime Minister of Bijjala Deva, founded a new faith known as Virashaivism. It was propagated by the king Bijjala Deva. However, within a short period of time, the Chalukya rulers defeated him and regained their territory. Rama Raya of Vijayanagar Empire ruled over the region of Kalyana during the 16th century. He was known as the Lord of Kalyana. The ruler coordinated with the Muslim rulers of the Deccan and strengthened his authority over the Basavakalyana Fort.
He fought and defeated the Sultan of Bidar in 1543 and later handed over the fortress to the ruler of Bijapur. Rama Raya later united with Sultan of Ahmadnagar in 1549 and attacked the fortress. The structure was then occupied by the Sultan of Ahmadnagar. Adil Shah I, the son of the Sultan of Bijapur, allied with King Rama Raya after the death of his father in 1558. Eventually he overpowered the Sultan of Ahmadnagar. Later the ruler of Ahmadnagar surrendered the Basavakalyana Fort to Vijayanagar Emperor Rama Raya, who in turn gave it Adil Shah of Bijapur. However, during the Battle of Tallikota in 1565, Rama Raya was defeated by the all Muslim rulers of the Deccan, namely Golconda, Bijapur, Ahmadnagar and Bidar.
During the 12th century Basaveshwara, the Prime Minister of King Bijjala Deva, began a cultural and social movement from Basavakalyana or Kalyana in order to eradicate the gender discrimination, untouchability and other social evils. He also founded the Virashaiva philosophy. During the rule of the Chalukya Kings, Jainism prospered in the region. The fortress includes several images of Jain deities on the walls. There was also a Jain temple in the premises of the fort.
Architecture of Basavakalyana Fort
Basvakalyan Fort was constructed as a defensive structure and was strategically located in a camouflaged background. As the fort is not observable from the distance, it proved advantageous for the forces in the fort in order to repel the attacks of the enemies. Several massive boulders from the hills were inter-connected and were used as support for the fort walls. It also included many guard rooms and towers or barbicans. It comprised of 3 concentric irregular walls.
The defensive structure consists of seven gateways. The fort entrance includes a solid arch that has balconies on the flanks. These can be reached through stairs on both sides. The central courtyard is guarded by strong fort walls and includes guard rooms. These rooms are merged with the bastions and are mounted by ornamented cannons. Moreover, cannons are serially located along the path to the bastions. There are openings on top of the entrances that were utilized in pouring boiling oil on approaching enemies. A deep moat was also used as a line of defence. The moat surrounded the entire fort. The citadel was situated on a high ground at the centre of the structure.
The primary gateway of the Basvakalyan Fort was called Akhand Darwaza. It was constructed with four slabs of red stone. The building also includes the Rajmahal palace. The ceilings of this palace are decorated with colourful designs. The main wall has paintings of urns and vases. There is also a temple near the palace, but it does not include any idol. The vertical stone columns at the entrance of the temple display a finely carved sculpture. The palace of the queen, known as Rani Mahal, is situated behind the temple. The palace has a dedicated and exclusive path to approach the temple. There is also a pond near the temple.
Apart from these, there are several other monuments and structures inside Basvakalyan Fort, such as, a platform utilized for prayers during Muharram; 2 wells on the western and northeast directions with ramps for the bulls or horses to pull water; a pond with pillar of a fountain at the centre; a gymnasium known as the Talim Khana; a cannon known as Bijli Thopu on the second bastion; a long cannon on a circular armed rampart on the southern wall; and secret passages that lead to underground chambers. These chambers were used in emergency escapes during sudden attacks from the enemies.
At present, Basvakalyan Fort has been developed as a popular tourist destination. It is being maintained by the Government of Karnataka.