The citadel at Devanahalli which is known as Devanahalli Kote (Fort) was built in 1501 by Mallabairegowda and still stands today. The fort was built after the town was founded by some wandering tourists who had a vision of a buried treasure. The fortress town today is a busy place. There are temples, houses, and shops inside the town. The Bangalore International Airport is far from the city of Bangalore already, but Devanahalli is farther from the airport. You go far enough, you will reach this place. The fort has very few tourists visiting it because its existence isn’t advertised. Walking on the ramparts of the fort is a nice experience although the people living there are used to it and do their daily chores oblivious to the excitement of eager tourists.
It was a mud fort. However Tipu, and his father Hyder Ali sandwiched mud between stone walls, strengthening it. The mud acting like a cushion against canon fire. Forts are blessed and made strong by human sacrifice. In Devanahalli, a pregnant woman was sacrificed to bless the fort.
When you take a left from the highway, you will see fields on the side of the road, and farmers working in it.
It is 12 KM from the Bangalore International Airport. The real estate near this place is booming owing to the existence of the airport. You will see tall buildings, some of them are under construction, and some of them have people living in them.
That’s the entrance to the fort. It is small enough for a car to go. While you pass through it, look at either side at the wall. You will know it was pretty tough and strong. Tipu thought it was impregnable, and often advertised it that way. But when the British approached the fort during battle there were some misunderstanding between the soldiers, they opened the door for them, and deserted the battle.
The story is that the soldiers learned that a better equipped fort in Bangalore was taken by Lord Cornwallis, they went AWOL. That was how the fort was lost. The fort was however returned to Tipu at the Devanahalli fort as a terms of the truce where he received his son’s who were handed to the British by Tipu after his defeat at Srirangapanta. His sons were handed to the British until Tipu paid his dues to the allies headed by the East India Company.
After the mud fort was built by Mallabairegowda, it was further strengthened by rulers who occupied it. It was under the control of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan before the British took it during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. The fort still has a moat surrounding it, and the pulleys to operate the draw bridge.
One of the semi circular bastions. The semi circular bastions replaces the square bastion when it was built by the Gowdas. Imagine the rush during time of war. This place will have cannons, guns, soldiers reloading their rifles, explosions. Soldiers would keep watch down below and artillery workers would reload the guns. Bangalore was an important city and an integral part of the Kingdom of Mysore, both strategically and militarily. The fall of Devanahalli meant attacks could be easily launched on Bengaluru.
The ramparts of the fort. The soldiers would stand at the firing step near the walls. After they shoot, they would duck to safety to reload, and another group of soldiers would take their place.
The Fort Today
Today the fort is part of the lives of the people who live here. So young people use the Fort walls to write. I am not sure if these inscriptions will stand the test of time though. The fort has houses in it, and also temples, both old and new. Venugopalaswamy temple is one of the oldest temple inside the fort still in existence.
Tipu Sultan, some love him, some do not. But walking the ramparts is a nice experience. The fort tells you the tests it withstood.