Gooty Fort

Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh

#Historical and Heritage


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The Gooty Fort, also known as Ravadurg, is a ruined fort located on a hill in the Gooty town of Andhra Pradesh, India. The word Gooty is derived from the town's original name, Gowthampuri.

At a distance of 5 km from Gooty Railway Station, 52 km from Anantapur, 97 km from Kurnool, 311 km from Hyderabad, 425 km from Vijayawada and 265 km from Bangalore, Gooty Fort or Gutti Fort is a hill fort located at Gooty in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Gooty was center of power struggle and witnessed several wars in the medieval period. Sri Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire has enhanced the fortifications and added several sections in the fort. Bahmani Sultans have also occupied the fort for some time. After the fall of Vijayanagara Empire, this place came under the rule of Qutb Shahis of Golconda and Hyderabad Nizams. Later, it came under the rule of Hyder Ali in 1773, then Tipu Sultan and over a period of time it fell into the hands of Hyderabad Nizams. The fort was briefly occupied by Maratha forced under the command of Morari Rao. This place was gifted to British by Nizam for the maintenance and became part of Ceded region under Madras Presidency.

Previously this place was known as Gowthampuri and later renamed as Gooty. The earliest inscriptions on the walls of this fort date back to the 7th century. As per the inscriptions, the place was called as Gadha meaning Fort while an inscription of Bukkaraya mentions this place as King of Forts.

Gooty Fort is one of the oldest hill forts of Andhra Pradesh. It fort was made of granite rocks and the domes were constructed with fine stone, mortar and Lime ensuring the sustainability. Built in the shape of a shell, this fort actually comprises of 15 small forts with different gateways. The out wall with bastions connects all the gateways of smaller forts. The fort also features two imposing buildings, one of which is a gymnasium, while other is a barrack. On the edge of the cliff, there is a pavilion of polished limestone called Morari Rao's seat. 

The fort of Gooty is an amalgamation of Hindu-Islamic architecture. Various wells were created at the top of the hill. There are several temples within the fort like the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Nageswara Swami Temple, Hanuman Temple, Jyothimma Temple and the Ramaswamy temple. There is also a Dargah inside the fortification. There are several ruined structures on the upper level of the fort.

The citadel of the fort is constructed on the westernmost circle of hillocks. It offers a panoramic view of the town below and the sunset here is amazing. The fort is approached by a well laid paved path from the bottom of the hillock. It takes approximately two hours to explore the fort. 

History

Eight inscriptions have been found on the rocks close to the Narasimha temple located within the fort premises. These inscriptions are seriously damaged, but appear to be from the reign of the Western Chalukya king Vikramaditya VI (r. c. 1076-1126 CE). The earliest of the existing fortifications and other structures can be dated to the late Chalukya period.

The fort later came under the control of the Vijayanagara Empire. During the reign of Venkata II (r. c. 1584-1614), the Vijayanagara lost the fort to the Qutb Shahi dynasty. The Mughals appear to have controlled the fort after their conquest of the Qutb Shahi capital Golconda. Around 1746 CE, the Maratha general Murari Rao captured the fort, and made it his permanent residence eight years later. He repaired the fort, and commissioned the stucco ornamentation of the small gateways.

In 1775 CE, the Mysore ruler Hyder Ali attacked and besieged the fort. After two months, Murari Rao was forced to surrender, as he ran out of water supplies. The fort later came under the control of the East India Company. Its administrator Thomas Munro was buried at the cemetery located at the foothill.

Architecture

The fort is located on a group of hills that rise up to 680 m above the sea level. The hills are connected by lower spurs. The citadel of the fort is located on the westernmost hill. The summit of the citadel has two buildings, apparently a granary and a gunpowder magazine. The ruined Narasimha temple is located near the summit. On a 300 m high cliff, there is a small pavilion called "Murari Rao's seat", which provides a panoramic view of the town below. It is said that the Maratha general Murari Rao used to play chess and swing here.

The lower fortifications comprise a series of ramparts, which are conneceted by gateways and flanked by bastions. Numerous reservoirs excavated on the rock clefts were used to trap the seasonal rainwater. 108 wells were also dug within the fort walls.

There are several ruined buildings within the fort, including granaries, store rooms and magazines. Some of these were used as prisons by the East India Company administrator Thomas Munro.

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