Keeping your country out of war is always smart and good for your health and your country. While wars and battles are always a bitch, not winning them is even more so. Forts can stop an invading enemy outside its walls, or keep the occupants boxed in while taking a pounding from the enemy fire.
They built forts to defend king/queen and country. The way the military leaders used forts to their advantage/disadvantage determined the outcome of war and shift of power. One such fort that saw war and change of power is the stone fort at Devanahalli.
- Location: Devanahalli
- Distance from: Bangalore Airport: 14.2 KM, Bangalore train station: 36.6 KM
- Best time to visit: 9AM to 6PM
- Things to carry: Lots of drinking water, some money, packed lunch or snacks
In 1501, Mallabairegowda established the citadel at Devanahalli which is known as Devanahalli Kote (fort). The story goes that some tourists saw visions of buried treasure at this place. I am not sure if they found treasure or not, but they sure did establish this fort town.
It was a mud fort at first. After the mud fort was built, the occupying rulers further strengthened the fort and made it harder to breach. It was under the control of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan before the British took it during the Anglo-Mysore Wars.
The fort still has a moat surrounding it, and the pulleys to operate the draw bridge. The fort and one of its gates still stands today. The fortress town today is a busy place. There are temples, homes, and shops inside the town.
The Bangalore International Airport is far from the city of Bangalore already, but Devanahalli is little farther from the airport. A little further will take you to this place. The fort has very few tourists visiting it because the government does rarely advertise its existence.
Walking on the ramparts of the fort is a nice experience if you like how forts work. There are loopholes to mount those old rifles. These loopholes will help you look, take aim, shoot to kill.
The people living there go on with their lives and do their daily chores oblivious to the excitement of eager tourists. At first, the founders built the fort with mud. However, Tipu and his father Hyder Ali sandwiched mud between stone walls, further strengthening it.
The mud sandwiched between the stones act like a cushion against cannon fire. Back in the days, forts were blessed and made strong by human sacrifice. In Devanahalli, a pregnant woman was sacrificed to bless the fort and its gates.
Location of the fort
The fort is 12 KM from the Bangalore International Airport. The real estate sector near this place is booming owing to the existence of the airport and the industries existing there. You will see tall buildings, some of them are under construction, and some of them have people living in them.
The entrance to the fort is small enough for cars to pass through. While you pass through it, look at either side at the wall. You will know it was tough and strong.
Tipu thought it was impregnable, and often advertised it that way back in the days. But when the British approached the fort during battle there were some misunderstanding between the soldiers, they opened the door for them, and deserted the battle.
Read further about how the fort really fell to the British.
Lets look at the history
It was during the third Mysore war that the fort fell. The story was that Tipu’s soldiers learned that a better equipped fort in Bangalore was taken by Lord Cornwallis. They thought they lost Bangalore and the Cornwallis was on his way to Devanahalli.
Most of the soldiers deserted the post and escaped the fort. The remaining soldiers tried to hold on and fight but the British and the allied soldiers soon outnumbered them. Soon soldiers opened the gates to the fort and surrendered. This is how the Mysore kingdom and Tipu lost the fort.
After the war, Tipu had to give his two sons as hostage to Cornwallis according to the agreement. After Tipu paid his dues to the British (cost of war), they returned the fort to Tipu along with his sons. Tipu received his sons at the gates of this fort.
Lets look at the fort
This is one of the semi circular bastions. When the Gowdas built the fort, they replaced the square bastions with the semi circular bastions. Imagine the rush during time of war. This place would have cannons, guns, soldiers reloading their rifles and explosions.
Soldiers would keep watch down below and artillery workers would reload the guns. Bangalore was an important city and an integral part of the Kingdom of Mysore, both strategically and militarily. The fall of Devanahalli meant attacks could be easily launched on Bengaluru.
The soldiers would stand at the firing step near the walls. After they shoot, they would duck to safety to reload, and another group of soldiers would take their place.
Today the fort is part of the lives of the people who live here. So young people use the Fort walls to write. I am not sure if these inscriptions will stand the test of time though. The fort has houses in it, and temples, both old and new.
Venugopalaswamy temple is one of the oldest temple inside the fort still in existence. The other temples are the Siddheswarswamy temple, Chandramouleswar temple, and many others.
The controversial leader, Tipu Sultan, some love him, some do not, it is said that he was born at Devanahalli and the spot he was born is marked with a memorial.
Overall, walking the ramparts is a nice experience. The fort tells you the tests it withstood.
Featured image source: Travel Reminiscences