It was raining heavily the previous evening. We had deferred our visit to the fort the previous evening, hoping that it will not rain in the morning. We checked in at Hotel Durga International, Sakleshpur, only three kilometres from the fort. The spacious room, though sparsely furnished, had all the basic amenities. It was not a fancy hotel but served a fairly decent dinner. The beds were quite comfortable and we slept well.
It was still raining lightly when we climbed the 250 steps to reach the fort at 7.15AM. A rusty lock hung from the gate with no human in sight. A board at the gate proclaimed that the fort will be open from 8AM to 5PM. The three of us huddled under one and a half umbrellas (one was broken beyond repair) we had with us and passed the 45 minutes at our disposal making small talk. We were pleasantly surprised when a dishevelled man appeared out of nowhere, walked purposefully to the gate and unlocked it. It was still five minutes to eight. We profusely thanked him, entered and promptly stepped into a puddle.
This eight-pointed-star shaped fort was built in 1792 by the legendary Tipu Sultan. His French general had designed and planned the construction. It is said that there was thick fog when the Sultan first visited the fort. He named it Manjirabad (fog means ‘manju’ in Kannada).
Manjirabad is a small fort. A flat ground on top of the hill is enclosed by stone walls. Some stable like structures, too small to house horses, are built along the wall. They probably housed the soldiers. Evidently, the animals were left in the open. The only significant structure is the plus-shaped well and two underground rooms close to it. These rooms were used to store gun powder and arms. Anybody who has seen the magnificent North Indian forts would hesitate to call Manjirabad a fort.
The fort has a clear view of the surrounding area and one can see for miles around on a clear day. It is said that sometimes even Arabian Sea is visible.
There is nothing much to see in the fort itself. But the view is bewitching.