Manjarabad – a mystical fort at Sakleshpur in Karnataka
Away from the hustles of the Bengaluru City, between the Bengaluru-Mangaluru highway, stands at an altitude of 3200 meters, the star shaped fort built by Tippu Sultan in 1792 – the Manjarabad Fort.
The fort is built in 1792, when Tippu was establishing his sovereignty over Mysore, fighting against the British East India Company. At this time even the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad had aligned with the British. The Sultan wanted to make the highway between Mangalore and Coorg secure for his expansion programmes. He built the fort with the help French engineers, as he was in the France alley, fighting against the British. Its strategic location enables soldiers in the fort to see the British army coming from Mangalore. The fort was used to store the arms and ammunitions of Tippu’s army.
It is told that the name ‘Manjarabad’ came from the word ‘manju’, which means mist or fog in Kannada. While inspecting the works of the fort during its construction, Tippu was fascinated with the mist that always clad the mountains and gave the name Manjarabad to the fort.
The fort, when viewed above, looks like an eight pointed star. The external walls of the fort have been built with granite stones and lime mortar while the interior buildings, which accommodate army barracks, armoury, stores and others, have been built with fired bricks. Apart from these, two cellars were built next to a deep well which were underground structures used to store gunpowder, and these rooms remained cool even during summer months
There is a tunnel inside the fort and it is said that it lead to Srirangapatna, and some believe Tipu used to travel back and forth on his horse.
A pond in the center of the fort with cross-shaped steps leading into it was built to harvest rain water, which is supposed to be the only source of water for the inmates, in such a high altitude area. Another unique feature of this fort is that has the only level in contrast to the general forts which are based on multiple levels.
It is one of the few sightseeing places in Sakleshpur that offers an unforgettable view of the Western Ghats. One can also be overwhelmed at the sight of Arabian Sea from this fort which is located at an elevation of about 3200 feet above sea level.
The climb to the hill for a view of the breath-taking monument starts at a curve near Donigal about 6.4 km from Sakleshpur. Climbers have to take a muddy road for a few metres before a concrete path greets them with supporting railings on either side, constructed by the department of tourism.
As per historians, the region was ruled by Palegars, who had their capital at Maninagapura (present Aigoor) and from these Palegars (vassals), Sivappa Nayaka of Ikkeri, annexed the region in 1659. Later, it fell into the hands of Tipu who constructed the fort.
Though Manjarabad has a lauded history and mystical features to attract a large number of tourists, the heritage site has not been in the limelight, as it deserves, says tourists who visit the place.
How to reach:
The nearby airport is Bengaluru Airport. The fort is between Bengaluru – Mangaluru highway. It is 46km away from Hassan and around 5km from Sakleshpur.
Best time to visit:
It is better to visit in the winter season to experience the mist.
Things to do around Manjarabad fort:
There is not much things to do in the fort except the view from the fort and visit the structures around. However tourists can visit the nearby tourists spots in Sakleshpur like Sakaleshwara Temple, Abbey Falls, Magajahalli Waterfalls, Bettada Byraveshwara Temple etc.