(Read Part 1 here)
The fort complex has a main defensive triangular outer wall which encircles all three forts. Whilst the Rajagiri fort has its own outer wall, the outer wall of Krishnagiri fort is the main outer wall. Semi-circular bastions, which can hold armed defenders, have backup artillery bastions located close to the main outer wall for mounting heavy cannons. This is seen in the case of Rajagiri & Krishnagiri forts.
The Rajagiri fort has an outer wall running all around the lower fort, whilst the citadel is protected by multiple rows of curtain walls running at lower elevations (where the natural advantage of a vertical rock face is not available) , and at the summit.
The fort complex is representative of evolution of fort design. In the pre-Nayaka phase, the walls were erected by interlocking wedge shaped blocks of granite without any binding material. Bastions tended to be rectangular in design. With the advent of artillery in the early 16th century CE, the walls were made thicker and bastions assumed a circular or semi-circular shape. This enabled the structure to withstand the destructive effects of cannon fire. The gates of the earlier period were now protected by having a fortified enclosure ahead of it, as seen in Rajagiri fort. The moat design was retained as the first line of defence.
Water and food supply management
The Nayakas devised a technology to convey water from a large water body, Chakrakulam, located in the outer fort, to the inner fort, using gravity flow and siphoning methods. The water was conveyed to various locations in the inner fort using sealed earthenware pipes. This method of conveying water is found at various sites associated with Vijayanagar rulers. On the other hand, the Carnatic Nawabs used a different technology to convey water to different areas of settlement. The water supply system had five water reservoirs at various locations along the supply route, and earthenware pipes. A large water body, the Chettikulam, was the source of supply. The pipes were positioned at different elevations, opening into the tower’s inner wall for discharge .Water accumulated in the 1st tower would then flow by gravity into the discharge pipes to supply the reservoirs and fountains in the outer fort area. The openings in the inner wall could be plugged in order to regulate water flow. Epigraphic evidence attributes their construction in 1723 CE to Nawab Sadatullah Khan. The technology was identical to the one used by the Deccan sultanates.
Food storage was vital for sustaining a large population and the military garrison stationed in the fortified enclosures. Granaries were therefor built for storage of grain. They can be seen at Rajagiri as well as Krishnagiri forts.
Temples constructed by the Nayakas or their successors have an architectural style centered on the main deities in Hindu iconography, whilst maintaining local traditions and influences. The influence of the Pallava and Chola era styles is seen in the shrines. Some highlights:
The Venkataramana temple in the outer fort premises is a brick and granite stone structure dedicated to Vishnu and his consorts. It was constructed in 1550CE by one Muthiah Nayaka. The east facing entrance is surmounted by a seven storied Gopuram or spire. There is a smaller Gopuram (also called the vimana) constructed over the inner sanctum. There are east facing unadorned shrines, with two of them dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s consorts. A Prakara surrounds the temple complex.
The Sadatullah Khan Mosque, built in 1723 CE, stands in the outer fort. The façade of the prayer hall has seven arches with lobed profiles, surmounted by an arcaded parapet, and flanked by octagonal finials with domical tops. A small court with central pool in front is raised on the arcades.
Author and Photographs: Ganesh Iyer Web Editor: Kshitija Pande