In the hustle and bustle, and grime and dust of K.R. Market and its surroundings, lies the relic of the once-grand Bangalore Fort ( kote in Kannada).
The ramparts of the fort stretched beyond Town Hall on one side to the Victoria Hospital on the other, say historians. “It is documented that the remains of the kote is a tiny bit — just one-twentieth of the original fort. It has shrunk phenomenally over the century,” says Meera Iyer, co-convener, INTACH, Bengaluru.
She believes the perimeter of the fort was more than 1.5 km, which encompasses later-day structures such as Victoria Hospital, Kote Venkataramana Swamy temple, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, Makkala Koota park, the armoury on the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute campus, Fort High School, Fort Church, Minto Ophthalmic Hospital, and KIMS Hospital. “What remains is just the Delhi Gate [north gate] of the fort,” says Ms. Iyer.
The importance of the fort is visible in the plaque proclaiming the victory of the British Army over Tipu Sultan.
‘Heritage party: paint the kote red’, an improvised street festival, is an attempt to reclaim memories of this lost fort, says urban designer and architect Naresh Narasimhan, who initiated the project. “Unfortunately, what remains is the north gate of the fort, which is a measly 5 per cent of the original fort. Even Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace is now just 25 per cent of what it originally was. Don’t we have to preserve this as a part of the collective cultural memory?” says Mr. Narasimhan.
Whatever is left of it should now be utilised and made accessible to the public, say designers working with urban spaces. “Instead of viewing it as a monument and making it unreachable to the common people, the fort should definitely be utilised as a performance area where community participation takes place,” says Ms. Iyer.
INTACH’s World Heritage Day celebrations this year saw the fort revived for performances after a long time.
It was built in 1537 as a mud fort by the ‘founder’ of the city, Kempe Gowda
It was Haider Ali who turned it into a stone fort in the 1760s
Tipu Sultan too is said to have renovated the fort extensively after a part of it was bombarded by the British
Soon the Namma Metro station in the fort area will open and people will see the fort becoming more accessible. This is the time when the history of the fort and its importance should gain awareness.
Naresh Narasimhan, architect and urban designer
The grandeur of 18th century military architecture is evident with its zig-zag entrances, huge spikes on the door and eye-catching motifs on the wall … The fort carries with it the history of rulers such as Chikkadevaraja Wadiyar (1600s), Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.
Sathya Prakash Varanashi, architect