Belgaum Fort, Kannada: ಬೆಳಗಾವಿ ಕೋಟೆ Belagaavi Kote, is located in the city of Belgaum, in the Belgaum district, in Karnataka state, India. It was built by Jaya Raya, also called Bichi Raja, an ally of the Ratta Dynasty, in the year 1204 AD. It has undergone several renovations over the centuries under different dynastic rulers of the region.The fort, built with fine ramparts and a large moat, has a rich history with several historical and religious monuments dated to the Adil Shahi dynasty. It is also notable in modern history because Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned by the British in this fort during India’s freedom struggle..
The fort’s history is traced to the Ratta Dynasty with lineage to the Rashtrakuta Dynasty, (earlier chieftains of Saundatti who later shifted their capital to Belgaum), Vijayanagara emperors, Bijapur Sultans or Bahmanis, Marathas (Shivaji and Peshwas), and finally by the British in that order. Prior to Rattas, Shatavahanas, Chalukyas and Kadambas from Goa have also ruled over the region. The Belgaum fort belonged to the Ratta dynasty from the time it was built in 1204 AD by a Ratta officer named Bichiraja. Belgaum the city around the fort served as the capital of that dynasty between 1210 AD and 1250 AD. Rattas were defeated by the Yadava Dynasty of Devagiri and they briefly controlled the fort. At the turn of the 1300s, the Khiljis of Delhi invaded the region and succeeded in ruining both the indigenous powers of the region, the Yadava and the Hoysalas without providing a viable administration. This lacuna was made good by the Vijayanagara Empire, which had become the established power of the area by 1336 AD.In 1474 AD, the Bahmani Sultanate, then ruling from Bidar, captured the fort of Belgaum under the leadership of Mahamood Gawan. Thereafter, in 1518 AD, the Bahamani Sultanate split up into five small states, and Belgaum became part of the Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur. The Ismail Adil Shah of Adilshahi dynasty reinforced the fort with the help of Asad Khan Lari (a Persian from the province of Lar) and much of the existing structures dates from 1519 AD.In 1686, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb defeated the Bijapur sultanate, and Belgaum came under his control. This was a short-lived control because after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal empire's control declined. With this changed situation, the Maratha confederacy, was taken over by the Peshwas. In 1776, Hyder Ali of Mysore won over this region, but only for a short period. The Peshwas, with British assistance, defeated Hyder Ali and regained control of Belgaum.With changed circumstances over the years, the same British attacked the Belgaum fort, which was under Peshwas control, and held it under siege from 21 March to 12 April 1818, and took control of the fort and deposed the Peshwas. Shivalinga Raju, the Kittur Desai, helped the British in this attack on the fort. As a reward, the British allowed Desai to rule over the Belgaum town and the fort.
Bus Facilities:If you are
planning to start your Karnataka trip with the northern circuit of ancient
cities and fabulous ruins (Hampi-Hospet-Badami-Gulbarga-Bidar-Bijapur), then
Belgaum would serve as the perfect launching pad. Belgaum is connected by road
to most places in south and west India. For the budget traveler, there are buses
plying to places all over the state. Belgaum is connected by road to Bangalore
(502 Km), Saundatti (70 Km), Halshi (36 Km), Panji-Goa (150 Km) and Gokak (60
Train Facilities:Reaching Belgaum by rail should not be much of a problem. Belgaum is connected by rail to Bangalore (via Londa), Mumbai (via Miraj), and Vasco da Gama. Trains take only 15� hrs to Mumbai, going via Pune (10 � hrs), and 13 hrs to Bangalore.
Air Facilities:Belgaum has a functional airport. Flight services can also be availed at Bangalore which is 504 Km and Mangalore is 438 Km.
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