Wild Wonderful Karnataka
  wandering on a forgotten fort

Sleeping on the deepest blues,
Caressing the passing dreams,
I seem like a king for a moment,
A living piece of a fading past...

the journey

      Distant patches of green still seemed to pin our eyes on them; the mist lingering over those areca nut groves at nine in the morning remained our constant companion. We rested on the dark rocks, Srinivas speculating that they might well be of a volcanic origin, since they looked like it.
first view of Jamalabad
first view of Jamalabad
resting atop
resting atop
      We glanced once again at the path that we had left back, a path that started as cemented steps that soon transformed into a rough pile of rocks almost a foot higher than the previous one.

Ahead was our destination, the towering granite rock face of the Jamalabad fort, one of the lesser-known forts of Tipu Sultan, built way back in 1796.

      To reach the top took us very little time. Even though we had plenty of stops on the way, we took just over a couple of hours. But the rough steps were high, the incline steep, but the views on the way up were definitely worth it.
spot for a dip
ideal spot for a dip

      As soon as we reached the first length of granite walls, we got to see strewn cannons around, of massive iron broken like biscuits. The final recognizable entry, the path became unclear and strange. Our journey was then through wild grass as tall as us. We got to the wrong side of the peak, excited about the new terrain, but it wasn't late before choosing the stop for our night's stay. On one side of the peak we found a dwelling sort of, presumably ancient, heavily defaced but nevertheless the most sensible place to halt.
through grass
wading through grass
looking far
looking far and beyond
home for the night
our home for the night

straws lit up
      Having decided about that, we rambled around the other parts looking for ruins, which we didn't come across, surprisingly. There is no fort actually. Nothing close to the grandeur that your minds would have conjured of. There are parts of the huge walls, but they aren't everywhere. Srinivas just enjoyed imagining the purpose of such a fort, the way they planned and built it, and of course the purpose of the location - why in the middle of nowhere.

      We retraced our path to the other side, feeling light without our backpacks. The view of the Kudremukh range was just amazing, the greenish brown velvets of the massive mountains took me down the memory lane and it wasn't long before Srinivas fell victim to my adventure tales on the Kudremukh.

      Another little deviation took us to a shady gorge, which somehow felt humid and nice for a short nap. I guess it must have been a water body of some sort during the rains. We got back to our shack; to find out we were out of water and couldn't think of any other place to get it. We decided to tap some from the trickling stream flowing next to the steps, just before we hit the entry to the top, before it got dark. We rushed down; looked at the water trickle onto the rocks in mere drops. We didn't have a choice. We took turns to hold the bottle close to the rocks and in twenty minutes we had a bottle of water.

sunset 1

      The evening brought out nice colours in the sky, and at this place, one can witness both sunrise and sunsets in their most dramatic forms. The tall grass formed a nice foreground as we sat on the rocks and looked at the western skies. The night was silent and calm and we had no problem lighting up a fire for dinner. The view of the night landscapes kept us occupied till late in the night, as we talked and lay on the warm rocks.

Sunset 2
grass on the roof

      The light woke us up in the morning; it was six thirty already. We loafed around once more looking for possible photographs; the sun seemed to go up very fast. We finally packed, cleaned up the place and started on our way back; we passed the trickling stream again, stopped a while and climbed down till our knees were shivering uncontrollably. We passed the cannons again, that grass on black rocks and looked behind… and we were wondering again.


trekkers notes

      Jamalabad Fort is a part of the Kudremukh Wildlife Sanctuary, which means you need permission to go there. But as with every other place, you can do without it also. It is only good to spend a day on top, but it is nicer you if you can stay a night there, so that you get to see the sunset and the sunrise.

      Reach Dharmastala early morning, take a bus to Belthangady (or reach there directly, since buses going to Karkala stop there), and from there take a bus going to Killur and ask to the dropped off at Jamalabad cross. From there it is a road that leads you to the base, you cross a big stream on the way, ideal for a nice dip! At the start is a checkpoint, a guard who collects fee and mostly refuses permission to stay on top. Getting water might be a problem as there is no proper water source on the top, except for a pool of dirty water. The trickling stream I mention is the only source of water for the whole stay. So in summer do take that extra bottle of water.

      The shack is easy to find, every inch of it is defaced with graffiti. It can easily fit in fifteen people. The weather is good, never unruly since the altitude is only a mere 1700 ft, and it isn't very cold up there.

~~ Vivek M

(all photographs ©vivekm)