Bengaluru’s ancient fort in ruins

Arts & Culture

The Old Dungeon fort in Bangalore is a sight for sore eyes with graffiti on its walls and filth littered in the prison cells inside.

Yamini Chincholi

Bengaluru’s main fort is a victim of negligence and littering. Visitors have scratched their names into the age-old walls and littered the animal cages and cells in the fort.

“As it is, there isn’t much left of the fort. The upper levels of the monument are banned to visitors due to possible suicides,” said the security head Mr. Rajendra Pandey. Two people are allotted for maintenance, but Mr. Pandey was seen clearing a pile of mud himself.

Outside the fort was a pile of construction and demolition (C&D) waste from the renovation of the ancient Ganesha temple in the fort. The temple had gained attention last year for the seeping roof. Though the renovation was to be completed by July 31, work is still going on.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has declared the Bangalore fort to be a centrally protected monument of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological sites and remains Act, 1958.

The Conservation Assistant, Bangalore Circle, ASI, Mr. Gautam said, “The protection given to the fort is sufficient for the public of this time. The graffiti on the walls has reduced by a lot. To avoid illegal activities and littering, the jail cells have been locked permanently.” He added that the ASI Bengaluru Circle department is carrying out a Swacchta Pakwada (programme for maintaining cleanliness of public spaces) from September 16 to 30 in the Bangalore Fort. Mr. Gautam also pointed out that people need to be educated about the need to protect monuments of value. Only ticketed monuments have CCTV cameras and toilet facilities.

Visitors to the fort largely show disappointment. Prema Jankinath, a visitor said, “The fort is not well advertised and the (Tipu’s Summer) Palace is better known. There isn’t much to look at, not much to maintain.”

[/media-credit] One of the walls of the Old dungeon fort

Experts say that the ASI needs funds and people. “There are many administrative problems in the ASI. The main problem is a shortage in manpower. New rules have been implemented by the ASI that helps in effective administration but it is also bound by the usual government limitations.” said Dr. Shobha V., the Assistant Professor of the Ancient History and Archaeology department of the University of Mysore.

There are signs in the fort warning that smoking, littering, writing or scratching on walls and spitting around the premises is a punishable offence with imprisonment up to two years or with fine up to Rs. one lakh or with both. The 200-400 visitors the fort attracts in a day have blind-sided these rules.