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Mirjan Fort – A red fort on Karnataka’s Coast

Reflecting Islamic and Portuguese styles of architecture, this fort has many stories attached to its beginning. This red fort lies in Kumta Taluk and just a stone's throw from the coastal highway NH 66. ~Come, get lost in this ancient fort in North Karnataka. >>

Mirjan Fort in Karnataka

Mirjan Fort in Kumta had been calling out to me since the time I was planning that week-long road trip along the Karnataka Coast. I was longing to see and walk through an ancient Fort in India (it had been a while since I did that) and probably show it to SonnyBoy too, if he showed the least bit of interest towards an age-old structure of this kind. But while I was charting out the trip, I came across a blog post (out of the very few bits of information on this fort) that spoke of how deserted and ominous this place seemed even in broad daylight.

How to get to Mirjan Fort

Mirjan Fort Road

That post made me have second thoughts about Mirjan Fort; especially because we were travelling with little ones. But then on that drive from Gokarna to Murudeshwar, I felt a gnawing desire to see the fort just as we were nearing Kumta. So I asked hubby if we could just drive towards the fort and see the outside of it at least. He didn’t seem to mind so we turned off the highway and into a narrow road in a pretty-rustic setting and found ourselves outside a massive structure that might have been a red one. Now several shades darker thanks to the rains and almost-dry lichen, the Mirjan Fort still looked mighty and impressive.

Parked outside those tall walls of another age, were a couple of school buses and a few cars, making it quite an anachronistic sight. But that was great news for me, as that meant we stood a chance to get into the fort and see all of it for ourselves.

So my then 5-year old and I walked right in talking about moats and canons and high walls and war and enemies and all of that. I’d given him a little briefing on what a fort was and he was more than interested to get in and look around.

Mirjan Fort seems to have been built with red stones and to have been partly rebuilt while some parts remain in ruins. A tour of this fort was like a walk through history. I could imagine the number of people who toiled to construct this sizable fort with its bastions, merlons and even a well. I could imagine it as a seat of defence with its canons and draw bridge and all.

We walked around the ruins, went down the steps that led to the well, up the steps to the watch tower, and tried to get a peek at the water in the well.

Half an hour later, I was so thankful that we weren’t the only ones with plans to walk into those tall enclosures in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it was just a stone’s throw from the highway yet it seemed just that — the middle of nowhere, but in the middle of a lot of greenery.

About Mirjan Fort

An information board in the middle of those ruins inside the fort told me that this fort sprawled over 11.8 acres of land, dates back to the 1600s. And that it came up under Shareef-ul-Mulk, a governor of the Adil Shahi dynasty who ruled from Ponda near Goa between 1608 and 1640.

However, if you go online look up the history of this fort that’s said to reflect Islamic and Portuguese architecture, there are different versions of its origin.

How to get to Mirjan Fort

Mirjan is located between Gokarna and Honnavar. This fort in Kumta Taluk is around a half hour drive south from the temple town of Gokarna to be a bit more elaborate. The sign board on NH66 (Panvel-Edapally highway) that is supposed to direct you to the fort is quite a small one that you are likely to miss. You might want to turn to Google Maps (or a navigation system of your choice) to guide you to Mirjan Fort Road (the narrow, unassuming road that you see in the picture above).

Mirjan Fort

Mirjan Fort: The exterior

Karnataka's Mirjan Fort

Mirjan - A red fort in Karnataka

Mirjan Fort, Karnataka

Watch tower, Mirjan Fort

The watch tower, Mirjan Fort

Inside Mirjan Fort, Kumta, Karnataka.

The inside of Mirjan Fort

Karnataka's Red Fort

Steps to the well, Mirjan Fort

The steps to the well.

Bastion, Mirjan Fort

Mirjan Fort, Bastion

Inside Mirjan Fort

From the watch tower of Mirjan Fort

The view from the watch tower.

More posts from the KA Coast —

Karnataka Coast

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20 Comments on this post.
  • Indrani
    20 July 2017 at 11:36 am

    Wow! Totally new to new to me.
    It still looks impressive.

    • dNambiar
      20 July 2017 at 10:01 pm

      You are interested in forts, aren’t you Indrani? You should go see it when you head to the coast. A part of it is in ruins. But still there’s a lot to see. And the greenery you see from the top of it, is such a refreshing sight.

      Thank you for coming this way, Indrani. 🙂

  • technophilo
    20 July 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Hello Madam,

    Its really great to know that you visited the beautiful Mirjan Fort and captured beautiful pics. The fort was believed to be built during the period of Sarpamallika and Chennabhaira Devi of Gerusoppa (popularly called as Pepper Queen by British). This fort was used as a temporary godown for storing pepper and sandal wood. Also, the place Mirjan is precisely 13 Kms from Kumta on the way to Karwar/Gokarna. On a personal note it is my mother’s birth place. Guess you missed Gerusoppa and Keladi.

    A write up I made on this some time back is here: http://www.technophilo.in/2012/09/visit-to-mirjan-fort-kumta-karnataka.html

    Thanks for the nice write up.

    regards,
    technophilo

    • dNambiar
      20 July 2017 at 10:06 pm

      Hey Technophile,
      Thank you so much for that information. I read about it but there was little about it at the site. Although they do hint on a fort having been at the same place earlier than its’ Mughal days. I guess history from back then is a little vague. It, being your mother’s hometown, I’m sure there’d be a lot of local stories too, right? That must be so interesting.

      Thank you so much for the link and your comment. I’d love to read your post on Mirjan fort.
      Thanks again and welcome here. 🙂

  • rupam { xhobdo }
    21 July 2017 at 2:47 am

    Amazing. Great to read. Thanks for all pics.

    • dNambiar
      21 July 2017 at 7:26 am

      Thank YOU, Rupam. 🙂

  • Sapna
    21 July 2017 at 4:38 am

    I love seeing forts. Added to my list of places to visit during my Gokarna trip.

    • dNambiar
      21 July 2017 at 7:26 am

      Awesome!
      Have a great trip, Sapna. 🙂

  • Tales of Travelling Sisters
    21 July 2017 at 10:21 am

    We have travelled in this highway so many times and we had no idea about this magnifient fort! Thank you for writing about this Divya, next time we are in North Karnataka we will plan a trip to this fort…:)

    • dNambiar
      22 July 2017 at 2:59 am

      This must be your route home, right. The fort is pretty close to the highway. Next time. 😉
      I’m already looking forward to your pics and post. 🙂 Have a great trip, girls. 🙂

  • Monika Ohson | Traveler In Me
    23 July 2017 at 3:31 am

    I find these unexplored or less explored forts a lot! Thanks for sharing D! The fort looks massive and pretty kempt. Is it under ASI or some similar body that probably maintains it?

    • dNambiar
      24 July 2017 at 12:51 am

      It did look very well-kept. I believe the Mirjan Fort IS under ASI supervision.
      If I’m not mistaken, the information board I saw there was put up by ASI. 🙂

      Thank you for coming this way, Monika. 🙂

      • technophilo
        25 July 2017 at 2:32 pm

        Yes it is under ASI supervision. Earlier around fifteen years back it was an abandoned place. Even people were afraid to move that side in day time. Thanks to the efforts of few localites and the Government that made this place a tourist place.

        • dNambiar
          26 July 2017 at 10:56 pm

          Oh yeah. I’m sure an abandoned fort is not a comfortable place to be in. Nice to see that ASI has taken Mirjan Fort under its wings. 🙂
          Thank you so, so much, Technophilo. 🙂 Will come by your blog, soon. 🙂

  • magiceye
    24 July 2017 at 1:27 am

    Wonderful post with beautiful images and interesting narration. Perfect for a virtual tour!

    • dNambiar
      26 July 2017 at 10:57 pm

      Thank you so, so much, Magiceye. I hope you are having a good week. 🙂

  • Mridula
    26 July 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Didn’t hear of it before! Glad you went instead of continuing on the highway!

    • dNambiar
      26 July 2017 at 10:58 pm

      Now you have. 😉
      Oh yes! So glad we thought of checking it out. Even better that I got to go in and explore it for a bit.

      Thank you so much for your visit here, Mridula. I hope you are doing well. 🙂

  • Sangeeta
    5 August 2017 at 4:05 am

    Wow. This is now marked on my list. Such a wonderful find.

    • dNambiar
      7 August 2017 at 2:02 am

      Nice!!
      Enjoy exploring the fort. I look forward to reading about your trip. 🙂

      Thank you for coming this way, Sangeeta. 🙂

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