Left Gokarna finally – could have stayed on much longer. Especially when you are at Swaswara, a CGH Hotels property.
First stop was Mirjan Fort – and a 15 minute halt turned out to be a comedy of Indian bureaucracy. First I couldn’t find the entrance gate – I went all around till I spotted it, all secured.
Eventually found the caretaker who gladly opened it – but on seeing my cameras, he said I could not use them. Why? Because he did not have tickets for use of camera. Some monuments charge for cameras.
I offered the money for the camera ticket, and told him he could issue me one on a later date. I did not need a receipt. No, he said, he will lose his job.
I have come all the way from Delhi to shoot this fort, how could he do this to me, I persisted.
Sympathetically, he called up his senior officer and explained the situation to him. I could just imagine an exasperated official at the other end giving his consent to the bumpkin of a character.
Smilingly, he said he has secured permission and I could shoot. But not too many. I felt like throwing the guy over the ramparts. But better sense prevailed.
And then the caretaker was all talk. He wanted to know who I was, where I lived in Delhi etc. He was in the Armed Forces himself, posted in Delhi for many years. Peeling potatoes I assumed. Now please leave me alone.
Sketchy historical records credit the construction of the fort to Queen Chennabhairadevi of Gersoppa under the Vijayanagar empire from 1608-1640 A.D. The fort may have been witness to many a battle, changing hands amongst various rulers including the Marathas and the British.
Excavations in 2001-01 revealed a number of laterite structures belonging to the medieval period spread over 10 acres (4 hectares).
Antiquities discovered during the excavations include a unique gold coin issued in A.D. 1652 by the Portuguese Viceroy Conde De Sarzedas besides cannon balls, Chinese Porcelain, clay tablets with Islamic inscriptions.
Mirjan also served as an important trading port, principal trading items being pepper, wild nutmeg and saltpetre (also spelled saltpeter).
It is beautifully set along the Aganashini river, a tributary of the Sharavathi river. Do make a stop if you happen to be passing by.
The fort is located south of Gokarna town, 21 kms (13 miles) away, half a mile off the National Highway 17. It is well signposted.
Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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