Thursday 10 January 2013

Crawling through a majestic cannon

It is not only a store house of myths and legends but also a veritable treasure trove of Ayurvedic herbs. If visitors and pilgrims flock to the fort to see the many gateways, wells, secret passages and cannons, budding Ayurvedic Vaids, students and countless self-styled doctors roam about the hilly terrain along woth botanists searching for herbs and plants of medicinal importance.
The fort here has many places and spots associated with the Ramayana-such as the footprints of  Rama and Sita and a temple consecrated by Rama and the place where Sita stored vermillion and Kumkum.
However, in recent years, the fort here has become famous for another thing. If you are not a local and or if you are visiting the fort for the first time, you will be surprised to see a peculiar event.
You will find a queue of  people-both males and females-standing before a majestic cannon.
Even before you stop to understand what it is, you will find couples crawling through the cannon and coming out from another end. This is the  famous Pillala Firangi cannon.
According to legend, if childless couples crawl through the ancient cannon, they will get a child. With this legend becoming popular in recent years, the number of people crawling into and exiting out of the cannon is increasing day by day.
Despite its fame, the majestic cannon, a classic instance of the medieval metallurgical craftsmanship, is crumbling. The fort too is in ruins but it makes for a majestic and breathtaking view.
This is the famous Ramagiri fort in Karimnagar district of  Andhra Pradesh. It is in Kamarpur village, 60 kms from Karimnagar city.   
The fort is believed to be a veritable store house of  myths and legends and it has been associated with several dynasties including the Sathavahanas, Kakathiyas of Warangal , Vijayanagars of Hampi, Nizam Shahis of Golconda and the Nizams of Hyderabad.
The Sathavahanas and the Kakatiyas used the fort as their military warehouse. The fort is so built that it can be reached only by foot. 
It is also believed that the art of manufacturing cannons through forge-welded technology flourished in the region during the medieval period.
Also called Ratnagarbha or Ramagiri Khilla, this hill fort is also known as the unconquerable fort in Telangana. The hills surroundings the fort are botanically important as they contain many herbs of medicinal importance. The flora and fauna of the place too deserves special mention.
The fort has a breathtaking view of the Maner and Godavari rivers merging with each other. Built of  stone, the fort has several bastions and its runs are spread over a vast area. The surrounding greenery and eye-pleasing scenery have given this fort and the hill another name-Aram Giri or the hill of pleasure.
Some of the must see monuments of the fort are the Linga consecrated by Rama for his prayers. Rama had come here along with Sita and Lakshmana during vanavasa and he installed the Linga as he wanted to pray. 
There are foot prints nearby the lined and these are believed to be that of  Rama and Sita. There is also a small pond on the hillock which was built for Sita.
The pasupu kumkuma of Sitamma are small depressions or shallow pits on the ground. These were used by Sita for placing and storing  saffron, turmeric and kumkum.
The Sita Ramalayam is a temple dedicated to Rama and Sita.
Go around the fort and take in the temples, ammunition dumps, gateways, ruined walls, buildings, bastions, mosques, tombs Prataparudruni Kota, horse stables, elephant sheds, prison, a huge dining hall, an enormous hall, secret passages, narrow paths, guns, cannons and even cannon balls. And if you are a sport, go through the Firangi cannon.
The ruins are named Chitrakota, Tratikota and  Nimmakota.
Interestingly, there are many wells in the fort, which have been constructed by successive rulers. Some of them have unique names such as Topubavi, Nallakayyabavi, Pasarubavi, Haribavi, Achchammabavi, Ammagaribavi
This fort is on the way from Karimnagar to Manthani. One needs to follow the Karimnagar-Manthani road till Begumpet village. The fort is around 2 kms from there and it can be reached only on foot. The nearest railway station is Peddapalli which is on the New Delhi-Kazipet line.

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