Katgeri fort ruins

February 23, 2012

Katgeri is a small village near Guledgudda in Bagalkot district. Katgeri fort is small, built next to a small lake. The village is surrounded by agricultural fields as far as eyes can see.

We arrived at Katgeri around 7-30 AM. Just outside the village we could see the bastions, a narrow dirt track lead us to the lake bed, it was almost empty. We could see construction activity.. probably dredging the lake bed to increase the lake's volume.

This shallow pool of water might dry up by April end. We could see 3 or 4 types of water birds. This lake if maintained well, will be a nice home for birds. However, on our left was a small brick making unit, almost in the lake bed, the owner seems to have encroached the lake area.

We turn back to the fort. This burj ~ watch tower is the south-east corner of Katgeri fort. The structure has been constructed using small blocks - most forts in Bagalkot district are of this design. I feel stones had to be transported from far away sources and it is easier to transport smaller units. The other possibility- locally available stones were not large enough. A Wikimapia user quotes the fort was built between 13th and 15th century BCE. The user also mentions presence of Chalukyan and Hoysala temples.

The fort is in bad condition; bastions are better preserved than rampart walls. In fact part of the population lives within the fort.

This wall has survived without much damage. Here is a side entrance to the fort, the main entrance is situated on the northern side.

This is the main entrance. New buildings rise as old walls crumble.

Katgeri folks were curious about strangers in their village, that too with cameras. We explained out interest in forts and ancient temples. Few suggested we see Ramlingeshwar temple and couple of hero-stones near the entrance. A small collection of ancient sculptures lying about neglected.

A young man showed us the way to Ramlingeshwar temple situated next to the western wall of the fort. The temple is ancient but every column and beam is covered in paint. This elderly man is the temple priest. He was going about his routine of sweeping the temple floor when we came here. His little grandson was helping him clean the temple.

Now we are looking at the south-western corner bastion. Builders had made use of the lake for security. This trench was a moat. If you look closely at the mound rising from the lake bed, you can see embedded blocks of stones- that was to strengthen the base and also prevent soil erosion during rains.

Katgeri has no dearth for temples. This little collection of ancient sculptures is places in front of another temple, I can't remember the name but its a Vishnavite temple. Just below the window, on the ground is a slab with Kannada inscription on it. It was covered with a hick layer of dust.

The person in white mandangi & panchee (extreme right) took the initiative of having the slab washed. The person with the green towel brought a pot of water and a broom and did the cleaning. We suggested the slab be placed vertically, in reading position. A part of the slab is missing, folks told that it might have been buried below the building. Anyway, we thanked this group for taking a small step to preserve their heritage.

Our shopkeeper friend showed us two more badly damaged inscriptions, lying in a corner next to the Gram Panchayath office :-(

As we spoke I mentioned about a relative with roots in Katgeri. Our friend was happy to hear that and introduced me to my relative's cousins. They invited us home but we had to decline because of time constraint, we still had four forts ahead of us. However, we all had tea and spoke for several minutes. They suggested us to see the collection of hero-stones and inscriptions at the high-school. We thanked them and left.

We went towards the high-school but changed our plans. We'll need time to climb four hills... we cannot afford to spend more time.

Our next destination: Guledgudda.

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