Mirjan Fort – An architectural wonder in laterite stone

The Mirjan Fort is located on the west coast of the Indian state of Karnataka. The fort was built in the 16th century by Queen Chennabhairadevi of Gersoppa. She ruled for 54 years and also lived in the fort. During her reign the port at Mirjan was used for shipping pepper, saltpetre (Potassium nitrate) and betel nut to Surat. The fort known for its architectural elegance, was the location for several battles in the past.

In 1757 the Marathas had seized the Mirjan Fort. The event that led to the capture of the fort was due to the death of Basappa Naik, the last ruler of Bednur, in 1755. His wife has taken control, representing her 17 year old adopted son, Chanbasaviah. Since her adopted son opposed her taking a “paramour”, she got him murdered. This had resulted in a revolt by the agitated local people, and taking advantage of the situation the Marathas had captured the fort.

You can see both Portuguese and Islamic influences in the fort’s construction. The fort’s round bastions, for example, are typical of Indian forts built by Islamic rulers. The single tall square lookout tower along the southern wall is characteristic of Portuguese military architecture of 1500s.

The fort is located on the bank of the Aganashini River. The mouth of the river is 12 km from the Mirjan village. The fort was built over an area of 10 acres with laterite stone. It has high walls and bastions. The fort has four entrances (one main and three subsidiary entrances) and many wells, which are interlinked and with access channels leading to the circular moat (used as defense measure to protect the fort) that once fully surrounded the fort, and leading to the canal works outside the fort’s limits. At each entrance, there are wide steps to enter the fort. The fort which was mostly in ruins was recently restored by the Archaeological department.

One of the bastions of the fort
The laterite built high walls and the bastions
Some of the excavated items scattered around this tree inside the fort
Inside the fort – gracing cattle
The wonderful view around the fort
The wonderful view around the fort
This part of the fort are still in ruins
One of the many wells inside the fort
Steps towards the well
The view of Aganashini River from the fort
Interior view of the fort
The prayer hall inside the fort
The watch tower and the flag hoisting tower inside the fort
Fort interior view
The round bastion and walls
The walls made in laterite stone
Fort interior view
One of the entrances
A secret path inside the fort
More views
More views

During the year 2000-01, ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) carried out excavations in the precincts of the fort. Antiquarian findings also included a gold coin minted in 1652 with inscriptions that attribute it to the Portuguese Viceroy Conde De Sarzedas during the reign of Joao IV, cannon balls, Chinese porcelain, clay tablets with Islamic inscriptions. Seven dumb-bells, 50 iron bullets, coins and designed earth pots belonging to Sarpmallika dynasty were also found during the excavations at the fort.

How to Reach:
It is about half a km from the National Highway 17 and 11 km from Gokarna, the Hindu pilgrimage center on the west coast of India.

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15 thoughts on “Mirjan Fort – An architectural wonder in laterite stone”

  1. It’s fascinating what the archaeological dig found. I do like the way the fort is mellowing into the landscape though. Nature is doing a good job of softening the hard edges.

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