If you are passionate about obscure and remote historical monuments, there can be no better
If you are passionate about obscure and remote historical monuments, there can be no betterdestination than Koulas (also spelt as Kaulas or Kowlas) Fort. Located close to the Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka borders, the citadel is way off the tourist circuit and there are hardly any other attractions in the vicinity. However, the massive fortification, spread over 6sqkm, is worth a visit especially for those interested in hiking and history.
Koulas, located amidst the dense forests of Jukkal mandal, was built in between the 13th–14th century under the reign of the Kakatiyas – as is evident from their insignia on two gateways. In the sixteenth century, various Muslim rulers captured the fort, but later, it came under the control of Gopal Singh Gaur, a Rajput ruler who also seized the forts of Kandhar and Mahore in Maharashtra. Ultimately, Koulas fell under the dominion of the Nizams. It is said that the descendants of Sonekunwar Bai – a queen who reigned over the region in 19th century – live in Koulas village and until some years ago, leased out agricultural land in the vicinity of the fort.
A dirt road off the Sangareddy- Nanded highway ends about 500 metres before the fort. Here, there are three temples dedicated to Yellamma, Shiva and Ganapati and an ancient tank. The present structures of the temples are modern constructions. In the fields nearby, visitors enjoy grand feasts – as evidenced by the mounds of chicken feathers and broken alcohol bottles (In fact, there is a Telugu sign here instructing tourists not to smash or litter bottles). An unmarked trail through fields and forests takes you up till the moat of the Koulas fort. The Koulas nala (stream) flows around the battlements here and historically served as a moat, though it is likely to be dry outside the monsoon season.
The fortification, built in a three-tier system, has two main entrances and as many as 52 bastions. Most of the structures inside – various temples, a dargah and a granary, among others – are in ruins. The Rama Temple, built of black and white basalt stone in the 17th century, is adorned with exquisite carvings and was restored in the past decade. The Kasikund Temple, built by Rajput kings, has a fresh water spring. There are also temples dedicated to Hanuman and Balaji. It is said that there were about 10 cannons inside the fort though later, most were shifted to police stations in Nanded and Bichkunda. However, four still remain – the most notable amongst which is the exquisitely crafted Navgazi tope (Hindi for cannon) atop a bastion. There are two natural reservoirs inside the fort, which once provided water to its inhabitants.
There is an Ashtabuji Mata (also known as Jagadamba Mata) Temple behind the fort, where the Rajput rulers went for benediction before embarking on a battle. There are also two mosques in the surrounding forest. As you exit to the main highway near Koulas Fort and drive towards Hyderabad, you will come across a picturesque lake, a few kilometres ahead, on your left. The desolate water body is a pleasant place to break a long journey.
As is the case with many other tourist attractions in Nizamabad, it was Asok Kumar, the then district magistrate, who made efforts to promote tourism at Koulas Fort. Although some of the overgrowth around and inside the fort was cleared off, the fort is still largely difficult to access.
TIP The 5-km-long mud road off the NH 161 is quite bumpy. There is no signage leading to the fort and you will have to ask locals for directions. Although there is a trail, it is possible to lose your way in the dense forests. Visit the fort early so that in case you get lost, you have time to make your way back
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
It is better to hire a taxi and make a day trip to Koulas Fort from Nizamabad or Hyderabad as there are no hotels in the vicinity. Stock up on food as there are no eateries or shops around the fort, although there are a few dhabas on the Hyderabad highway. For stay options in Nizamabad,
AROUND KOULAS FORT
Nizam Sagar Dam (36km)
One of the biggest irrigation projects that have been built before independence, the Nizam Sagar Dam is the primary source of drinking water for the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The reservoir, built across the Manjira river, spans an area of 22,000sq km and irrigates about 2,00,000 acres of agricultural land in the district.
In 1923, Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, built the dam after displacing 40 villages that fell in its catchment area. Many statesmen like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru visited the reservoir in the 1940s. The banks of the lake are also a popular spot for fishing. A good resource for angling in Telangana is the Hyderabad Fishing Club (W deccanangler.com).
When to go October to March is the most comfortable time for travel, as the weather is pleasant
Central Reservations Office
Department of Tourism
NSF Shakar Bhawan
Opp Police Control Room
Tel: 040-2980140, 66745986
STD code 040
Location Koulas is at an altitude of 1,000ft on the Balaghat range
Distances 172km NW of Hyderabad, 80km S of Nizmabad
Route from Hyderabad Via NH 161
Route from Nizamabad Via Nizamabd-Varni-Banswada road upto Banda Renjal. From here, turn left to go to NH 161 via the villages of Sitaram and Shantapur
Air Nearest airport: Hyderabad airport (177km/ 3.5hrs) is well-connected by flights from home and abroad. Taxi costs ₹4,200
Rail Hyderabad Railway Station (170km/ 2–3hrs approx) on the Secunderabad-Manmad line has links to almost all major cities such as Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad and Bhopal. Another rail option is Nizambad railway station (85km). From Nizamabad, taxi costs ₹15 per km – do negotiate your return fare in advance
Road Follow NH 161 via Sangareddy, and Nizampet after which the highway curves left (near the Jukkal-Kallakal Road exit on the right) for Pitlam and Madnor and on to Koulas Fort Road
Bus Two buses, one at 4.00pm and another at 7.00pm leave Hyderabad’s MGBS for Pitlam, from where you can get an auto for Koulas Fort. The journey takes about 3hrs and the fare is ₹120– 130. From Nizamabad, Koulas Fort is about 85km. A bus from Nizamabad drops you at Madnor, 10km away from the fort; book an auto from Madnor for the return journey
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