History of Belgaum Fort
Belgaum Fort was constructed in 1204 AD and was under the possession of the Ratta dynasty. The city of Belgaum, which was developed around the structure, was used as the capital of Ratta dynasty from 1210 AD to 1250 AD. The Ratta rulers were overpowered by the Yadava Dynasty of Devagiri who occupied the fort. Later in 1336 AD, the Vijayanagar emperors took control over the region and the fortress. However, it was seized by the Bahmani Sultanate under the leadership of Mahamood Gawan in 1474 AD.
Afterwards, the Bahamani Sultanate was divided into 5 separate states in 1518 AD. The territory of Belgaum was incorporated as a part of the Adil Shahi sultanate of Bijapur. In 1519 AD, Belgaum Fort was strengthened and fortified by Ismail Adil Shah of Adil Shahi Dynasty. Later Belgaum was captured by the forces of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who defeated the army of the Bijapur sultanate. However, after the death of Aurangzeb, the region was ruled by the Marathas and Peshwas. Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore, also took control of the fortress in 1776. He was defeated by the Peshwas with support from the British East India Company. The Peshwas then ruled over the region and the fort of Belgaum.
Later as the circumstances changed, the army of the British East India Company attacked the fortress and besieged it in 1818. Eventually the Peshwas were removed and the British occupied the Belgaum fort. Kittur Desai reigned over the town of Belgaum and the fortress under the supervision of the British. During the Indian freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) was imprisoned in Belgaum Fort by the British Empire in India.
Location of Belgaum Fort
Belgaum Fort is located in the Belgaum town in the foot of the Sahyadris Mountain Range. The fortress is built at a height of around 762 m. The fort is also located close to the Markandeya River.
Architecture of Belgaum Fort
Belgaum Fort was constructed with granite stones and mud in an oval shape and includes strong fortifications to resist enemy attacks. It is bounded by a wide and deep moat which was dug in red stone. The outside area of the structure is a wide pathway with bastions that have a length of 32 feet from the bottom of the moat. The internal area of the fort is 800 yards wide and 1,000 yards long. One of the original main gates included 2 large bastions. However this gate is blocked at present. Another gateway includes a guard chamber and is adorned with massive motifs of various birds and animals. It is blocked by large iron doors that were utilised for defence purposes.
The main entrance gate of Belgaum Fort was erected in 1631 AD. There is another gate towards the west which is defended with only a chain stretched across 2 cannons. The structure is influenced by Muslim, Jain and Hindu architectural designs. There are several mosques and temples located in the premises of the fort. There are 2 Hindu temples located at the gateway of the fort. These shrines are devoted to Goddess Durga and Lord Ganesha. The Goddess Durga temple is situated at one corner and the outer walls display paintings of various mythological characters. Goddess Durga is regarded as the goddess warfare and forts.
Belgaum Fort also includes 2 Jain temples in the vicinity. One of the temples is known as the Kamal Basadi as the temple tower resembles a lotus or kamal containing 72 petals. It consists of images of the 24 Tirthankaras and includes an idol of Neminatha. The idol is made of black stone and is installed on a carved stone pedestal. The pillars inside the Jain temple are finely carved and well polished. There are several other images in the temple, such as Bhagwan Adinath, Bhagwan Sumatinath, Bhagwan Adinath under Nagaraj, and others. The temple was built in 1204 AD in the Chalukyan architecture style. The second Jain temple is known as Chikki Basadi and currently it is in a ruined state. The main hall or mandapa is accessed through a staircase. The fa‡ade of the temple includes decorated figures of dancers, musicians and flowers.
Belgaum Fort consists of 2 mosques, namely Jamia Masjid and Safa Masjid. The Jamia Masjid was founded by Sher Khan in 1585. The Safa Masjid is one of the most visited mosques in Belgaum city. It was constructed by Asad Khan Lari in 1519. The pillars of the mosque include detailed inscriptions in Persian and Nagari styles.
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