At the Bangalore Fort, Standing Only

The Bangalore Fort

A kitten was at the northern door, a slender orangey thing nosing at the cracks that age had caused on solid wood, looking to get out of this remnant of a fort that had besieged it. It is a smaller portal compared to the one in front, but large enough for an elephant to come in—and good enough to keep a cat from getting out. The thing mewed in momentary fear, but when I returned a while later after having taken a picture of the bastion it was gone, having found a breach somewhere.

As regards myself, I was seeking the dungeon, to find the plaque that marked the breach that Cornwallis achieved in 1791. In that small enclosure I couldn't find it, though I went round and round, looking and looking. I asked the lone young guard who, when I entered, was seated on the plinth of the white Ganesha temple that greets you at the main entrance. He had only Hindi, and I failed to translate the word dungeon to him. I turned to a gaunt lady who sat by him, who had wrinkles so deep they evoked history in this already historic place. With a mouth full of chewed betel all she could tell me in Kannada was, "what's on show here is all there is to see," and she pointed to the board outside where, "everything about this fort is written."

But I'd read the board, and it had promised the presence of the plaque, but there weren't directions on it, no map. Learning from the board that David Baird had spent some time in the selfsame dungeon, I was twice keen to get to it.

Resigned, I went into the inner courtyard and took pictures of the walls and the lawns and came to the outer enclosure and began to shoot an alcove framed by lovely floral lines when the guard came up from behind and said most respectfully that photography wasn't allowed with BIG cameras. "You may use your phone, instead," he offered in concession, and ran back into the inner yard to check what a few others who'd gone in were doing there that wasn't allowed. I settled in the alcove that I'd been trying to photograph, sat on its sill and opened four pages on the fort that I'd printed off the Internet. I'd read but a page and the guard reappeared, somewhat out of breath, and said without any loss of deference, "Sir, sitting here is also not allowed."

He was young, and he had a fresh clear honest earnest face, and there was no option but to obey him. I stood in the sun, there being no shade in the hour I was there, but it was quiet and peaceful with the din outside muffled and distant on account of the thick fort-walls. I read with tranquil mind the remaining three pages on the fort that I'd printed from Deccan Herald Online, a story by Meera Iyer of Intach.


Slideshow of some images of the fort