YOUNG WORLD

Guarding history

M. AHIRAJ

Holding water from ancient times...

Holding water from ancient times...  

BELLARY

This historical fort in the heart of the city of Bellary is sadly neglected by the authorities concerned.

The historical fort is the only major tourist attraction in the city. But hardly anything is done to develop it. The fort is visible much before one approaches the city as it is situated on the rocky hillock.

The fort, which was constructed in the early 16th Century, perhaps just before the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire with Hampi as its capital, by Hanumappa Nayaka, the `paleyagar' (ruler), still retains the age old technique of rain water harvesting.

The fort, covering about a square mile area, built with stones using mortar, has withstood the ravage of time and weather. Visitors are impressed by the engineering marvel of the fort. On the western side, there is a huge rock, said to be the second biggest monolith in Asia, while on the other three sides there is a natural setting of huge boulders and it appears to be `glued' to each other. One had to either use the steps or climb the monolith rock to enter the fort. Reaching the fort, using the steps, especially while passing under the huge boulders, is a novel experience. On entering the fort, ponds of various sizes, surrounding a big building, perhaps the palace of the `paleyagar', greets the visitors. The builders of the fort to harvest rainwater had constructed check-dams, made a provision, including an underground drain with filters, to allow the water from the catchment area to flow into the ponds. Steps have been constructed to some of the big ponds to enable people to fetch water.

The rulers had also built a couple of temples, which are now in a dilapidated condition. The `garudagambha' in front of the temples have fallen down and are yet to be resurrected. All these years, the fort had become a place for unscrupulous elements. Very recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has posted guards and has been collecting entry fees from the visitors. The fort can be converted into a picnic spot and a venue for conducting adventurous sports and if the authorities put in little bit of effort they can develop a garden, illuminate and provide some basic infrastructural facilities.

Harsh Gupta, as the Chief Executive Officer of Zilla Panchayat, made a beginning in this regard during his four months stay here. He, along with the Deputy Commissioner, S. N. Jayaram, got 38 out of the 40 ponds cleaned. His idea was not only to revive the ponds but also to show that rainwater harvesting could be taken up even now.