- Gandhari Kota reflects tribal culture
- Tourism dept fails to promote it, say locals
Situated on the border of Bokkalagutta village in Thimmapur panchayat of Mandamarri mandal and Popularly known as Gandhari Kota, it is located on the Mancherial-Mandamarri route, three km from Bokkalagutta. Locals and people of surrounding mandals visit the fort for ‘vana bojanam’.
Gondu kings ruled besides Odde kings and Reddy kings stayed there for some time. However, locals say that these kings built the fort to protect themselves from attacks by the Kakatiyas.
However, writings, statues, architecture and the temples located inside suggest that the fort was built by tribals. Though it is huge, the actual size is not known as forest covers its one end.
There are different tales why the fort is named ‘Gandhari Kota.’ Locals state that the Pandavas and the Kauravas had some association with the place where it is located.
The kota’s main attraction is its architectural design. It has beautiful sculpture, temples and defence constructions. One of its major attractions is eight-foot Ekasila Naga Seshu idol with 10 heads. Writings of the Odde kings carved out in rocks are seen just opposite the idol. Three wells near the Naga Seshu temple are known as “Savathula Bavulu.” Though old, the wells have water even during summer.
Gandhari Maisamma temple is located in the fort. It also has idols carved out of rocks of Kala Bhairava Swamy, Lord Siva, Lord Ganesh and Hanuman.
The fort is a major cultural centre of tribals, who regularly pray and conduct festivals there. Every Sunday and Thursday, tribals, including Gonds, Mannas, Koyas and Nayak Podus offer special prayers to Maisamma.
They believe she will fulfill their wishes. They offer special prayers every year seeking good rainfall. After securing farm yields, they first offer prayers in the temple before reaping the benefits.
Once in two years, tribals celebrate a ‘jatara’ in the fort in the ‘Karthika’ month. They spend the night inside and fulfill vows to the Goddess through animal sacrifice. Tribals from MP, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra take part in the ‘jatara’. Without a road even local tribals are finding it difficult to reach the fort for the ‘jatara’.
The ‘Nagara Gundu’ built in the fort for security reflects the engineering acumen of those involved in the construction. Steps can be located even now. There is also a path exclusively for horses and elephants. The three main entrances to the fort look similar to those built by the Kakatiyas.
The historic fort is facing threats, as miscreants have been carrying out excavations to locate hidden treasure. The excavations are resulting in landslides.
Locals complain that the Tourism department is not bothered to protect the structure.
They regret that no road is being laid to the fort. No guide is available. They feel that boards should be displayed at different places giving historic details.