Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Mirjan Fort

Our visit to this fort was not a planned one. The decision to visit the place spurted on the spur of a moment and within 30 minutes we were on road en route to see Mirjan Fort. Travelling from Karwar to Mirjan is not a great deal which is only about 35 kms away. But the only problem we encountered on arrival was, it was almost closing time of the fort. So, sadly, we had about 30- 45 minutes with us to tour the whole area!

Spread across an area of 11.8 acre, this fort of historical importance can go unnoticed easily if one is travelling from Kumta to Karwar (Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka).

Given below are some historical events related to the fort and the photographs through my perspective (some of them from husband's too!)

There are many versions to the dating of this fort. 

One version of history states Mirjan Fort was built initially by Queen Chennabhairadevi between 1552 and 1606. She ruled for a long period (for 54 years) under the protection of the Vijayanagara Empire as the queen of Gersoppa (a small town on the northern banks of the Sharavathi River). She was given the epithet "the Pepper Queen or Raina da Pimenta'. 

According to another version, a Bijapur noble Sherif-ul Mulk built this fort as a first line of defence to protect Kumta town and the Kumta fort located to its south. The fort was built or refurbished in 1608 on the south east coastal part of the Tadri Creek.
One more version is that the fort was under the rulers of the Vijayanagar Empire. After the fall of this empire, Bijapur sultans are stated to have captured the fort and Sharief-ul-mulk (the governer of the Adil Shahis), the then governor of Goa, is credited to have either built or refurbished the fort.

Later, it was occupied by the Marathas, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan respectively. In the period between May 1783 and March 1784, the British, under the command of Major Torriano captured the fort.

The fort is built using red- laterite stone abundantly found in this area. One can see both Islamic and Portuguese style of construction in the fort. The fort’s round bastions are an example of Indian forts built by Islamic rulers. The single, tall, lookout tower is characteristic of Portuguese architecture of 1500s.

Mirjan was once a thriving fort for overseas trade. The Dutch, the French and the Portuguese had their trading posts here to export spices, especially pepper. Later, the British had their large warehouse here to store pepper and sandalwood before shipping it out. Mirjan’s other exports were areca nuts, nutmeg, cassia and saltpetre.

(Thanks wikipedia for bringing all the history alive with the touch of a button!)

P.S. These images are personal; please do not use them without permission.

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