|Part of Bangalore District|
|Built by||Kempegowda I|
|Initially built in 1537 in mud but later renovated in 1751 with granite stones|
|Controlled by||Archaeological Survey of Karnataka|
Plan of Bangalore Fort, 1792
Bangalore Fort was originally built by Kempe Gowda in 1537 a feudatory of the Vijaynagar Empire and the founder of Bangalore as a mud fort. It was converted into a stone fort by Haider Ali in 1761. It was a stronghold of Tipu Sultan that was captured by the army of the British East India Company led by Lord Cornwallis on 21 March 1791 during the Third Mysore War (1790–1792). Only the Delhi gate of the fort presently exists on Krishnarajendra Road bearing a marble plaque recording the spot where a breach in the fort wall delivered Bangalore Fort to the British. There also exists a wooden palace of Tipu sultan, and his armoury in the old fort area. The fort has provided the setting for the treasure hunt in the book Riddle of the Seventh Stone.
The confirmed history of the Bengaluru Fort is traced to 1537, when Kempe Gowda I (pictured), a Chieftain of the Vijayanagara Empire, widely held as the founder of modern Bangalore (now renamed as Bengaluru), built a mud fort and established the area around it as Bengaluru Pete as his province.
Kempegowda I who showed remarkable qualities of leadership from his childhood had a grand vision to build a new city which was further fueled by his visits to Hampi (now a UNESCO heritage city) the then beautiful capital city of the Vijayanagar Empire. He persevered with his vision and got permission from the King Achutaraya, the ruler of the empire, to build a new city for himself. The King gifted 12 hoblis (revenue subdivisions) with an annual income of 30,000 varahas (gold coins) to his Chieftain Kempegowda to meet the expenses of his venture of building a new city.
Kempegowda moved from his ancestral land of Yelahanka to establish his new principality, having obtained support from King Achutaraya. One version for the site selection process for the fort and the Bengaluru Pete is that during a hunting expedition along with his Advisor Gidde Gowda, he went westward of Yelahanka and reached a village called Shivasamudra (near Hesaraghatta) some 10 miles (16 km) from Yelahanka where, in a tranquil atmosphere under a tree, he visualized building of a suitable city with a fort, a cantonment, tanks (water reservoirs), temples and people of all trades and professions to live in it for his future capital. It is also said that an omen of an uncommon event of a hare chasing away a hunter dog at the place favoured selection of the place and a dream of goddess Lakshmi (Hindu Goddess of wealth) that prophesized good indications of the events to happen further sealed his decision on the place for his capital. Following this event, on an auspicious day in 1537, he conducted a ground breaking ritual and festivities by ploughing the land with four pairs of decorated white bulls in four directions, at the focal point of the junction of Doddapet and Chikkapet, the junction of the present day Avenue Road and Old Taluk Kacheri Road (OTC).
Thereafter, he constructed a mud fort (now in the western part of the city), with a moat surrounding it and which had nine large gates. Building of the mud fort is also steeped in a legend which is a tragic but heroic story. During the construction of the Fort it was said that the southern gate would fall off no sooner than it was built and human sacrifice was indicated to ward off the evil spirits. Kempe Gowda could not accept such a situation nor permit any such event to occur. But his daughter-in-law, Lakshamma, realising her father-in-Law's predicament, beheaded herself with a sword at the southern gate in the darkness of night. Thereafter, the fort was completed without any mishap. In her memory, Kempegowda built a temple in her name in Koramangala. Thus, Kemepgowda's dream fructified and the Bengaluru Pete evolved around the Mud fort called the Bangalore Fort.
In 1637-38, the Bangalore Fort under Kempegowda’s rule was very prosperous and rich. Rustam i Zaman, the commander under the Bijapur Sultanate who was on a war campaign, and after he had captured the Sira Fort close to Bangalore, wanted to capture the Bangalore Fort and the city. However, Kasturi Ranga Nayak who had been given the Sira Fort to hold, prevailed on Rustam i Zaman not to attack the fort even though he, after capturing the town, had surrounded the fort with 30,000 strong cavalry. Kempe Gowda managed to get Nayak withdraw the troops. Randaula Khan, who was not convinced with the action of Nayak in withdrawing the troops, met Nayak in his tent and promised him more rewards and also recognition under the Bijapur rulers, Nayak releneted but advised Randaula not to attack the fort at that time and that he would manage surrender of the fort by Kempegowda eventually. Soon enough he prevailed on Kempegowda to surrender the fort with all its riches without any battle. Rustom-i-Zaman then took over the fort and handed over its management to Shahji along with other territories, which he had recently conquered, with Bangalore as his headquarters.
This mud fort was converted and enlarged into the present stone fort during Chikkadeva Raya Wodeyar's rule between 1673 AD – 1704 AD. In 1761, it was renovated by Hyder Ali who made it strong with stones. A part of the fort was subject to bombing by British army when they fought a battle against Tipu Sultan, son of Hyder Ali. Tipu Sultan repaired the fort later. Inside the fort, there is temple dedicated to Lord Ganapathy.
In March 1791 the Army of the British East India Company led by Lord Cornwallis laid siege to the Bangalore fort during the Third Mysore War (1790–1792). Following tough resistance by the Mysore army led by the Commandant Bahadur Khan in which over 2000 people were killed the Fort was breached on 21 March near the Delhi Gate and captured by the British East India Company. In the words of the British chronicler Mark Wilks “Resistance was everywhere respectable.” With the capture of the Bangalore Fort the Army of British East India Company replenished supplies and obtained a strategic base from where it could attack the Capital of Tippu Sultan, Srirangapatna.
The Bangalore fort, ca. 1791, was described as follows:
Bangalore, like Madras, had a fort, with a pettah, or fortified town, outside it. This lay-out was a feature of almost all the cities or settlements in India, the fort providing a place of refuge for most of the inhabitants if the pettah was in danger of capture. The fort at Bangalore had a perimeter of about one mile; it was of solid masonry, surrounded by a wide ditch which was commanded from 26 towers placed at intervals along the ramparts. To its north lay the pettah, several miles in circumference and protected by an indifferent rampart, a deep belt of thorn and cactus, and a small ditch. Altogether Bangalore was not a place which invited attack.—Sandes, Lt Col E.W.C. (1933) The Military Engineer In India, Vol 1
All that remains of the Fort is the Delhi Gate and remnants of 2 bastions. Dismantling of the Fort started with the British Conquest of Bangalore in 1791 and continued till the 1930s Ramparts and walls made way for roads while arsenals, barracks and the other old buildings quickly made way for colleges, schools, bus stands, and hospitals. In November 2012 workers at the neighbouring Bangalore Metro construction site unearthed 2 huge iron cannons weighing a ton each with cannonballs dating back to the times of Tipu Sultan.
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