Massive Ratnagiri fort

At the Karnataka Andra border near Madhugiri, situated is the massive Ratnagiri fort. It has a great history spanning from the time of cholas to Nayaks to Vijayanagar to Hyder Ali. This fort was in my backlog for a long time. After climbing the Madakasira fort in January this year, Wido and I had decided to climb Ratnagiri. So, when Wido announced that he would be in Bengaluru in October, a trip to Ratnagiri fort was planned. Wido’s colleague, Santosh also joined this trip.

View from the top

Like previous trip, I went to Airport to pick up Wido and Santosh proceeded towards Ratnagiri. The route we followed was Airport->Chikkaballapura->Tondebavi->Madhugiri->Ratnagiri. The road was mostly good except for the some stretches between Chikkaballapura and Tondebavi where road construction and rains had damaged the roads. The total distance was about 130 km.

Ratnagiri fort seen from the village

At the village, I tried to park the car and walk but the villagers insisted on driving further. The path was narrow and zigzag and it went inside the fort. Apparently the walls of the fort extended to the plains and part of the village was inside the fort. After reaching a dead end, we parked the vehicle and started our walk.

Car parking

By then few kids from the village had come near us. For them, Wido was the prime attraction. They were very proud hen I told that he had come from US to see the fort in their village. They volunteered to accompany us throughout the trek!! Being energetic and talkative kids, they were a nice company. Very soon they got our names and started calling “Aravind Anna”, “Wido brother” and “Santosh brother”!! 

Ratnagiri boys with Wido

After passing through some of the houses, we entered into the fields. A temple at the village looked big and old but was renovated recently. A kalyani next to the temple provided a glimpse of the past. The litter inside the pond indicated the level of importance given to historic structures. 


We could see a lone temple at the base of the hill. It was away from the route to the base.

Temple at the base of the hill

Very soon we were at the base of the hill. The massive brick wall was an imposing structure. It looked like a new addition to the fort. May be built during Hyder Ali days. Couple of sections before the brick was slippery due to rains but was not dangerous. Once you cross the brick wall, the continuous climb over steps begins.

Arc shared wall

It was an amazing walk. The recent rains had made the entire area green and many ponds had come up all along the way. At one of the gates there were some nice carvings. Unfortunately fortune hunters have damaged a lot by digging. The word “Ratna” would have definitely attracted lot of fortune hunters who are a bane to our society.

Carvings at the gatewaty

After crossing about five doors, we reached the second stage of the fort. Here there were two buildings which looked like the store room for ammunitions or grains. There were remains of the small temples at this stage.

Second stage of the fort

To reach to the last stage, we had to cross the narrow and steep steps. From the photos, it looks scary and dangerous but in reality, it turned to be an easy climb. The steps were wide enough and chances of slipping was less though we were cautious at certain places which was wet. If it is raining, it is risky to climb this stage.

Final stage of the fort

The steep steps

This is how it looks from the top of the steps.

Steep steps

A little bit of climb and after crossing the two storied gateway, we were at the top of the fort. A pond and a conical bastion was seen. The kids took us through a very narrow hole leading to the outer wall of the fort. It provided nice view of the surrounding area. If not for kids, we could not have found this narrow hole.

Two storey gateway

The fort spans across the two hillocks and said to have a perimeter of about 4.5 km. The other hillock had very few structures but looked formidable. Kids mentioned that the climb to the other hill was very difficult due to lack of steps and the rains had made the path very slippery. 

Fort walls

After spending good amount of time at the top of the fort, it was time to get down. The cloud cover had increased and some of the nearby areas were already receiving rains. 

At the top

Ratnagiri fort is one of the most formidable fort in the area. It is a pity that ASI has not taken any steps to maintain it apart from putting a board which itself is in a bad state!! Villagers though proud of the fort do not put importance to the maintenance. 

Responsibility as understood by ASI

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