India witnessed a great struggle during the British Rule. One of the first struggles or opposition raised against British was at Kittur, one of the famous estate in Karnataka. Kittur Fort at the location remains the most famous historical monument and main attraction for tourists here.
Kittur is situated in Belagavi District. It was the capital of Kittur estate. When we hear the name Kittur the first name one recalls is that of Rani Chennamma, who fought bravely with Britishers to save her estate. The fort is also known as Rani Chennamma Fort. It stands as the evidence of one of the first freedom struggles of the country.
As we turn the pages of the history we come to know that Kittur Fort was built by Allappa Gowda Sardesai, the fifth ruler of the Kittur estate. He also constructed the palace within the fort as his residence. Kittur Fort was built using black basalt rock which was available near Kittur in large quantity. From the same fort Rani Chennamma started her rebellion against the British empire. They excessively interfered in the tax collection of her estate, which was not tolerated by Chennamma, and hence she declared a war against British on December 3, 1824, much before the first war of India’s independence which took place in 1857. In this war Rani Chennamma was captured by British and sent to the jail. After that British Commissioner Chaplin confiscated the wealth of Kittur estate from the fort. Later he sold wooden doors, windows of the palace and destroyed the beauty and heritage of the court. But the legacy of Kittur estate as well as fort remain the same.
The fort was built over an area of 23 acres, and is surrounded by a moat that was earlier filled with water. The walls on both sides of the fort have low height. The fort mainly comprises the Kittur Palace, a watch tower, water cisterns and an archaeological museum. The museum was added to the premises of the fort much later to preserve the relics of the Kittur fort, the Kittur palace and the antiques found in and around Kittur.
The palace of Kittur estate which is in Kittur Fort was built in the Peshwa-Islamic style. There were many rooms in the palace like discussion room, guest rooms, rest rooms, pooja rooms, kitchen in several numbers, and store rooms among others. Moreover the most interesting fact of the palace is, that there is one room called Pole Star Vision room. In the room was kept an ancient telescope through which Rani Chennamma used to view stars. The Kittur Palace also had a grand Darbar Hall or Conference Hall. Rooms too were architectural wonders that were tastefully decorated. Each room had two entrances. Ruins of ornamental archs and decorated shelves found inside the palace provide a glimpse of the lost grandeur of the palace. The large and spacious dining hall was designed to feed at least a thousand people at a time.
The palace had a secret well that was constructed within the premises. Brass pipes built into walls were used for water supply within the palace. The kitchen had stoves, chimneys and wash basins. Various stone containers and tanks were also constructed to store water within the palace. The palace also had an in-built swimming pool.
A beautiful dwara mantapa was built in front of the palace. The mantapa was 100 ft in breadth and 300 ft. in length. It had tall and decorated pillars. There was a dairy in the foreground of the palace. The palace also had a large kitchen garden. A watch tower stood near the palace and within the premises of the fort.
If one visits Kittur Fort, visiting Gokak Falls, Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary, Rani Chennamma Samadhi, Kamal Basti and Belagavi Fort, and Bhimgad Fort are a must. Kittur Fort can be visited throughout the year.
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