There are some trips which you plan for weeks and months and they flop totally. And there are some very impromptu. This was one of them.
We had planned to attend my husband’s friend’s marriage in Sakleshpur. It was an early muhurath wedding, so we left by 5 AM from Bengaluru. We reached Sakleshpur by 9:30 AM. His friends were still on the way to the venue. While driving to Sakleshpur, I had seen a board about places to visit and Manjarabad fort was listed in them. I always wanted to see this place and had planned several times to visit this place (You know about all the trips you plan with friends and the success rate of implementation :P) . But never got the chance. This time, since we were in the car and we had enough time, I asked if we could go to the fort. Initially he was a bit reluctant and suggested we could visit after attending the wedding. But since his friends weren’t ready(people who were already in Sakleshpur) he was happy to go. I changed the location in the map and we reached a curve in the Shiradi ghat with a board written Manjarabad fort. We parked the car near the shops, where people generally stop for break. The curve was wide enough for cars to park and many cars had stopped for snacks etc.
We asked a shopkeeper how far was the fort. He told us, we need to climb 267 steps for the fort. But we could not see the fort, all we could see was mud road going up the hill. I was skeptical if we have to walk a lot until we reach the base of the fort. The shopkeeper mentioned it wasn’t much. My husband( Mr N.) was skeptical of me climbing in the sari. I was too excited to worry about climbing in the saree :). We wore sunglasses as the sun was glaring on top of our head . Mr N. held a water bottle and we started climbing up the mud road. I tucked the sari a little high( my mom always does that when she has to do some physical activity) to walk comfortably.
We did not see anyone on the way probably because it was a week day . As we started climbing it felt easy in the beginning but as we climbed higher it was tedious. As usual he was ahead of me, turning once a while to see if I was following and at times asking me to buck up. It must have taken 10 to 15 minutes to climb. As we reached the top, we saw a huge stone wall which looked not so old. The place looked quite neat. I am not sure due to less visitors or good maintenance. As we walked further we saw an entrance with a gate. It looked closed from far but the lock was open. We were greeted by a dog scowling and barking. I, as usual was scared of the dog. We dint have anything to feed the dog who was wagging his tail. Mr N. gave the dog a little water. I was amused by this gesture as i was sure the dog wouldn’t bother for water. But I was surprised to see it licking and drinking water. After that gesture of kindness showed by Mr. N we were taken care by the dog as if, it was his responsibility to return the kindness. It followed wherever we went and as usual I stayed far away from it.
The entrance was beautiful with engraved pillars and roof. The roof had the shape that the Manjarabad fort was famous for, the octagon shape. After clicking a few pictures we went ahead to an open space. It was beautiful but almost empty like all the old forts. I always wonder how the fort looked like when it was constructed.
In the center there was a stepped tank in the shape of plus. There was an elevated pathway. We climbed to see the beautiful surroundings. The splendid green Western ghats is all you could see 🙂 (So much oxygen!!). The corners had an oval shaped watch tower. It was like a secret passage, well lit and had space enough to accommodate 5 humans. We saw a fellow in this lonely fort. As we approached him, he asked us about the history of this fort. We both were dumb struck. We dint know anything about this fort other than the fact that it was built by Tipu sultan and had a particular shape. He told us, he was from Andhra and could only converse in English. We lied to him saying that we were from Bangalore and dint know much about the fort.
All the while I was curious of getting the top view of the fort. I looked for any hill at a close proximity from where I could get the view but disheartened as I couldn’t find any. I wondered how anyone got that picture showing the top view. After trying our luck to get a picture from the wall fence we walked through the ground. Two more men came and were talking about the water getting in stored in the reservoir from the stepped tank. The stepped tank looked amazing and as always I was in awe with the skills of our ancestors. Reverse osmosis to purify the water. We returned back and the dog accompanied us till the entrance like a good host.
I was worried about climbing down the steps due to my knee pain. But a friend of mine from Sandakphu trek had told me, “you shouldn’t walk slowly when you get down. It hurts the knee more when you restrain the natural tendency to walk down due to gravity.” So I started running down the steps and the steps weren’t as steep as usually old forts steps would be. So it did not hurt much.
A bunch of girls and a guy who were climbing during the scorching afternoon were amused to see me get down wearing a sari. The guy commented something like “Look at her, climbing in the sari” to motivate those girls I guess (Normal way of motivation in India: Peer pressure :P) I was happy to be a part of the motivation. After a satisfied break of an hour, we headed back to the marriage venue.
P.S: For more pictures click here or on the image below
My take on the fort:
- Good architecture to experience. Inside the fort, there is vast space and some structures to store arms. Outside periphery is sturdy like most forts in India.
- Can become a great picnic spot for families, if basic amenities are provided.
- Need to carry water and food, nothing is available on the top.
- You can park the car on the ghat road(its better as during rainy season, the mud road will be slippery) and bikes can be taken till the start of the steps that lead to the fort.
- A view point, that shows the top view of the fort would be great attraction for everyone and the USP of the fort.
- It was built by Tipu Sultan in 1782, Tipu noticed mist around the fort which is also called “Manju” in Kannada and hence kept the name Manjarabad.
- The fort was used to store arms and ammunition and keep a watch on British and Kodagu army.
- Article here , says that there is mud road that can be hiked for 6 kms to see the top view ( Will try this next time).
- An interesting video gives you a tour of the fort.
- On a clear day, Arabian sea can be seen from the fort.
- A tunnel inside the fort is said to connect to Srirangapatna.
I would love to see the fort during monsoon. The stones may be slippery due to rains, but the greenery adds to the visual treat. Lets see when this wish gets fulfilled. Till then.. Keep travelling 🙂