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Friday, April 15, 2016

Mirjan Fort



We had left early in the morning from Karwar and en-route just following the signboards we visited some amazing temples and beaches viz Gokarna Beach,Om beach etc.Coastal road journey was indeed proving to be amazing. Driving down this NH 17 I noticed many sign boards of Mirjan Fort so naturally I was keen to have a look at it too, but the only challenge was the race with the sun which was all set to go under so I knew I had to make it fast to reach this fort before its dark.So naturally you can understand my relief when I saw this Mirjan signboard.

Welcome sight of signboard of Mirjan Town.

If you are coming down from Karwar,this signboard appears on your left side and moving little ahead from here we took right turn,, leaving the NH17 towards the Mirjan Fort. Our car passed through the narrow village and in no time we were standing right in front of a majestic fort.
Indeed it was a sight to behold !!



A sight to behold !
This beautiful fort  lies amidst the idyllic surroundings of the banks of river Aghnashini. I am surprised to know that how come this elegant looking fort is so less visited spot. As it was evening time the atmosphere around the fort was very picturesque, However the overcast skies and the low light was making my job of capturing good pictures from my humble camera all the more very difficult.




History: 

Mirjan Fort has a long history behind it with innumerable versions.One version is that this fort was built by the queen Chennabhairadevi also fondly known as Pepper Queen or Raina da Pimenta. This title of Pepper Queen was bestowed upon her because in olden days Mirjan  of the longest was one of the coastal port which was serving as important trade centre for export pepper,cinnamon,turmeric ,musk etc. The reign of this queen was one of the longest of female domination in the annals Indian history (1552-1606).
Another version is that there existed a fort here but later it was rebuilt as it appears today by Sherif-ul-Mulkas as a first line of defence to protect Kumta town and Kumta Fort located in the south.


I was very eager to explore this legacy of the Pepper Queen as they say Agaaz aisa hai toh anjaam hoga Haseen...So along my daughter and my wife we entered the fort through this inviting stairs. 



Inviting stairs of the Mirjan Fort 

One of the most noticeable thing about this fort is how well kept it was,thanks to the ASI( Archaeological Survey of India) who are reconstructing and maintaining this Mirjan Fort.

I could feel the aroma of the Pepper queen as I walked through these  stone stairs and came to this door.


The fort is constructed with the Laterite stones, which are available. in plenty in the area. This black stone gives a distinct look to this Fort. 


Laterite stone wall of the fort
We entered through this door and came upon another doorway with the light filtering across giving the historical ambience to the atmosphere. 


Ray of light or History

Climbing through this stairs one realize that One is going to witness some amazing view or should I say a walk into the corridors of the history which will leave us all mesmerized.


Well and the rampants of the Fort.

There are two wells on the fort,this been one of them.And the other well is on the extreme left corner of the fort. 



Second well

These wells were constructed within the fort so as to conserve the water. There are steps which lead to these wells.( for a moment I had this crazy thought that may be the rulers in earlier days may be  having some secret path through these water wells.) 


Step well

Other than these wells the fort has escape routes too for quick gateway in case when enemies attack. Isn't it interesting. 

However these escape routes in current times are closed by the fort authorities.



Escape routes are closed 


There are actually four entrances to this fort and the entire fort is surrounded by a moat which during olden days must be filled with water and if my imagination is not going wild there must be crocodiles swimming in that moat.
Outer walls with the moat

The Fort has a beautiful Watchtower cum Flag hoisting tower. 
Watchtower cum Flag hoisting tower
Right opposite this watchtower one can have amazing view of the first deck of the fort.


Amazing views of the fort

Even after the renovation done by the ASI there are still many ruins within the fort 


Ruins of the fort
But then ruins too have their own beauty especially when the sun is setting , the whole thing gets this gleam of golden veil.



Ruins in golden setting sun

Some more ruins

and there is so much to see and time not being on our side my daughter and me was running like crazy to cover each nook and corner of the fort clicking away to glory. 


My daughter clicking away
While exploring the fort we came across a banyan tree with lots of  stone idols strewn all around the tree base. 


Excavated relics under the tree

I was given to understand that few of the relics were excavated and few were like local deity idols . Honestly I would prefer to find more satisfactory answer to these idols. As there was no one on the fort so I had no way of knowing the truth, Perhaps I'll visit once again someday.


Local Deity or something else
Actually this fort is divided into two parts one is top deck which we just explored and then there is one large courtyard on lower deck. 
Two levels of the fort.

Another picture of two levels

 The photograph above will give you a better idea of the two levels of the fort. I walked down from here and entered another gigantic courtyard.




Gigantic courtyard

This courtyard seems to have a viewing gallery as can be seen on the left of the picture and right across at the end is a platform structure. 


Prayer podium 

This Platform structure could be a prayer Podium or assembly stage( Guessing games never end.History always have many unanswered questions).


Searching for some unanswered question 

In fading light me and my daughter were running back to get out of the fort as we could hear caretaker blowing whistle to remind that its a closing time, but we been incorrigible brats wanted to ensure that we don't miss anything we took our time to check out the gates at the lower level and this is what we found.



Glimpse of the pillar from the door
This fort lies in an 11.8 acre land and my breathlessness was telling me its true because the place was like never ending kind. My daughter kept pulling me saying "Dad not let us retreat as it is getting late". I said "Sweety just one last pic, let me see what lies on the back side of the fort", so I climbed the rampant wall and took the picture.


View on the back side of Mirjan Fort
I was still feeling unsatisfied because I still wanted to see some more but then all good things must come to an end so both of us started to go back as my wife and our host was waiting in the car for us. As we reached the entrance door we were shocked to no end because the front door was locked !!


Me explaining to my host my situation as to
 how I am trapped !!

I called my wife to see if she can catch hold of the caretaker who has locked the door, In the meanwhile I ran up and luckily saw the caretaker walking away we both shouted and waved at him Good for us he heard our cries and turned back and opened the door. I must say close encounter.Phew !! My daughter had good time to play act her fear on finding that we were locked.The first thing she did was to ask the caretaker to take her photo as locked prisoner. I think this craziness is all in genes.


Trapped

It was finally time to say goodbye to Mirjan Fort with a promise that soon I will be revisiting this wonderful Fort again. 


Best time to visit is during Monsoon, as the place will explode in colour of green for you.

How to reach: 
Nearest rail station is Kumta Railway station.
From there one can take any bus which go to Gokarna beach and enroute get down at Mirjan village stop and from there a walkable distance of 1.5 kms to the fort.






   


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