Rock climbing in Bhongir fort

 

I came to know of the Society to Save Rocks in the Hyderabad literature festival held last month. Natural geological formations like rocks have always fascinated me and I immediately signed up for the society’s membership. My purpose in this respect was dual: grab the opportunity to get up and close with rocks and to know more about the society’s contribution in saving the deccan rocks and to explore how and in what ways I could pitch in for the noble cause.

Bhongir rock climbing came as the first opportunity in this regard when me and my husband joined the enthusiastic group of rock walkers to climb the Bhongir’s fort in the town of Bhuvangiri on 17th Feb 19 at about 50kms from Hyderabad city. It was not the first climb of its kind, having seen several forts but to be going as part of save rock society made all the difference. Undoubtedly, each fort or monument in India is unique with respect to its history and structure.

The Bhongir fort made on a huge egg-shaped monolithic rock makes it indeed a spectacular sight. As you climb up, you go on a climb of history, first the million years of history of rock formation and then the human history when the fort was built and later faced ravages of time. Inscriptions reveal that Bhongir fort was built by ruler of Chalukya dynasty in the 10th century AD, who were a few centuries later overpowered by Kakatiya dynasty. In the 15th century the fort came under the siege of Bahamani Sultans and Qutab shahi dynasty.

Today what remains of fort is the ruins and remnants of history, and a testimony of the display of human intelligence to use natural resource to its best in the times when none of the technologies of today was existent or known in the world. Probably earth or the creator of earth has been very kind in sprinkling across its surface such rocks, valleys and greens for humans to survive and sustain their race. The rulers used the high and mighty rock formations to build forts and protect their kingdoms from invaders.

Climbing the rock, we can witness history in all its glory. For us it helped that we had a photographer member Ashok kumar who has been photographing unique rock formations and displaying them in different galleries across India. One cannot help feeling awestruck by the lintels and arches among the fort’s ruins that run along the natural curvature of rock. Ashok pointed us to something that in normal circumstances we would ignore. One can spot trees dotted across the surface or crevices of rocks, and on top of a lintel. These trees too seem to have withstood the ravages of weather over years and decades, drawing water and nutrients sparingly from the rocks, in such heights and spaces, evident by their stunted growth. Their stems and branches have acquired a unique silver colour with almost no leaves, looking as beautiful and ornamental as Bonsai style crafted plants. Most of all they offer an important lesson of survival and adaptation for us humans to emulate.

At the midway of the climb, the rock gets flatter and the sudden appearance of flat stone walls and an ornate cubicle shelter gives a big relief for the chance to relax the tired muscles. Looking closer, the egg-shaped rock looks also like a long dolphin. We can see from further climb that these walls belong to an open storage brick box which I guess could have been used for storing military armaments. At a far distance on a jutting rock we can spot a lone canon resting along with scattered greenery.

Further climb takes us to the peak of the rock at more than a height of 500 ft. On the peak the ruins with a marvellous fortress architecture speaks volumes of the glory of the military capabilities of a bygone era. One gets mesmerised with the arches, the door traps, the basement of secret passages with continuous arches and the staircases to the top with crenulations on the walls. Another artillery canon sits very close on a separate rock space in front. Equally breath-taking from the top is the view of the Bhuvangiri town below.

All of us had emptied many water bottles by now and to dispose the plastic bottles someone had found a dustbin- what must have been an open carved bath tub of the royal people. I was intrigued how plastic now a bane to our environment and earth has found its way to the top layer of the history.  After many group photographs of the exhilarating moments, we went down the same route and all along I couldn’t take my eyes off the trail of plastics that the visitors to the imposing fort had left.

I only hope and pray that these plastics find a proper disposal place and removed from the precincts of the fort sooner than later so that they don’t become part of the history of erosion or chemical changes of the beautiful Bhongir rock and the little trees that are finding their life among the rocks don’t become extinct.

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