“Besides on Sundays and holidays, there are hardly any guests to this historic fort,” says Prema, an aged girl who runs a tea stall proper in entrance of the principle gate of Bidanur fort at Nagara in Hosanagar taluk of Shivamogga district. On weekdays, few travellers cease on the fort for a peek inside earlier than persevering with on their journey.
In any other case, common guests are faculty college students and residents of Nagara, a hobli headquarters. “I earn an honest sum provided that there are an excellent variety of vacationers on the fort. And folks can come right here provided that they’re instructed in regards to the significance of the place,” Ms. Prema factors out. Like Ms. Prema, many residents of Nagara consider that there was no effort to popularise the magnificent fort, as soon as the seat of administration of the Keladi rulers.
Situated amidst the attractive inexperienced mountainous peaks of the Western Ghats sits majestically the Bidanur Fort. A go to to the place throughout the wet season is a delight when mist and greenery cowl your entire floor. The remnants of the palace, durbar corridor (courtroom corridor), and watch towers, amongst different buildings, convey the century-old tales.
Relationship again to thirteenth century
The fort has a protracted historical past, courting again to the thirteenth century. The Honne Kambali rulers, feudal lords loyal to the Vijayanagara Empire, constructed the fort, in line with historians. “Honne Kambali rulers are from Hosangadi, now in Kundapura taluk. They dominated the place between 1218 and 1618, the yr when Venkatappa Nayaka of the Keladi dynasty took over the place,” says Ambrayya Math, a resident of Bidanur (Nagara), who has studied the historical past of the place.
Venkatappa Nayaka was one of the fashionable rulers of the dynasty. He expanded his territory, exhibiting his expertise in warfare. The truth is, traveller Pietro Della Valle, who visited India from Italy in these days, recorded his opinion of Venktappa Nayaka in his letters. He calls him a “good soldier” and likewise mentions his warfare with the Portuguese. The fort was strengthened after it got here beneath the rule of the Keladi rulers. Subsequently, they shifted their capital from Ikkeri to Bidanur in 1639.
Among the many Keladi rulers, Shivappa Nayaka (1645–1660) is thought for his administration, enlargement of the territory, and farmer-friendly taxation system. He occupied Mangaluru, Kundapura, Honnavara, and components of Kerala, amongst different components.
The taxation system
The ruler is remembered for his tax system – Sist (Shist). The agricultural land was divided into 5 sorts, and taxes have been fastened primarily based on the yield. The truth is, he cultivated totally different crops at his royal farms and calculated the tax contemplating the enter price and the yield. This was acceptable to the farmers, and so they have been pleased with the system that was launched. Contemplating his farmer-friendly administration, the Karnataka Authorities has named the agricultural and horticultural college arrange at Iruvakki in Sagar taluk after him.
Curiously, one of many causes of the historic Nagara rebel of farmers in opposition to the Mysuru rulers in 1830 was the taxation system. The individuals, who have been pleased with the system launched by Shivappa Nayaka, rebelled in opposition to the tough system launched throughout the Mysuru rule. A whole lot of individuals sacrificed their lives throughout the battle.
The lady ruler
Keladi Chennamma is one other ruler from the dynasty identified for bravery and administrative expertise. Beneath her rule, the military was sturdy, and she or he gave asylum to Rajaram, son of Shivaji, in opposition to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. She fought in opposition to the Mughals efficiently.
The fort continued to stay the centre of his administration as properly. “The place is surrounded by hilly ranges. There’s a ‘pure fortress of hill stations’, and that made them select this safe place for his or her treasury and armoury,” stated Ambrayya Math. He stated the fort was unfold over 20 sq km and entry into the fort wanted detailed scrutiny. “The rulers of the Keladi dynasty had an excellent rapport with the Vijaya Nagar empire, and therefore they wished to copy Hampi right here. They constructed 365 temples, Mahanavami Dibba, amongst different issues which might be in Hampi as properly,” he stated.
Keladi Nripavijayam, a champu kavya by Linganna Kavi and Shivatatvarathnakara by Basavappa Nayaka information the rule of Keladi kings.
Nonetheless, the downfall of the dynasty got here with Hyder Ali, Mysuru ruler, conquering the place in 1763. It’s stated that the palace was set on hearth as per the directions of the queen, Veerammaji. Later, the queen was taken prisoner and saved in Madhugiri in Tumakuru district. As per the information, Hyder Ali discovered a treasure of 12 million sterlings within the palace after taking up the fort. Hyder Ali renamed Bindanur, Hyder Nagara, and likewise launched cash in his identify. Later, throughout the Anglo-Mysore Wars, the place suffered destruction.
Bidanur, as soon as the capital of the Keladi dynasty, was diminished to a district headquarter throughout Mysore rule. After India obtained independence, the place is just a hobli headquarters. “It’s stated that there have been 1 lakh homes in Bidanur and Laksheshwara Temple (Gudde Venkataramana Temple) was constructed to indicate this. Nonetheless, it’s all historical past now. Now, the inhabitants is just a few 1000’s,” stated Mr. Math.
Following the development of Linganamakki Dam throughout the Sharavathi River for a hydropower undertaking, huge areas round Nagar have been submerged, forcing the individuals to maneuver out. “Proper now there are round 4,500 individuals right here. Those that gave up their land for the undertaking haven’t but obtained an appropriate reduction. It stays a uncared for place by way of improvement. We really feel sorry for the current plight of the place, as soon as the capital metropolis,” says Ravi Bidanur, a resident of Nagara.
The native individuals are indignant with the administration over the dearth of consideration to conserving the monuments and memorial stones. Mr. Math stated there are lots of monuments and memorial stones (veeragallu, mastigallu). “The memorial stones have to be conserved at locations the place they’re accessible. As a substitute of taking them to a museum, they need to be conserved as they inform the story of the place,” he stated.
Contemplating the historic significance and the monuments, Nagara and Hosanagar have tourism potential that is still untapped. Devagange ponds, about 3 kms away from Nagara village, are one such vacationer attraction. That is stated to be the sporting place for the royal relations throughout the Keladi rulers. The ponds, a part of the erstwhile fort, exhibit a pure stream, that by no means go dry. As many as seven ponds have been constructed in a big courtyard. The ponds, every in a unique form, are linked with stone drains.
Each the Bidanur Fort and Devagange ponds are ASI-protected monuments. Nonetheless, there are hardly any efforts to advertise tourism in these locations. Karunakara Shetty, former president of Nagara Gram Panchayat, stated, “The tank subsequent to the fort is an appropriate place for boating. If boating is launched, it can increase tourism.”