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PostPosted: 20 Nov 2009 22:57 
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Thanks Airavat for the explanation. Can it be so too that the army contingent besieging the fort need not to be big enough as bulk of the army of the king (resisting in the fort) must have been decimated before the king and other took refuge in the fort to make the last stand. The Rajput king must have met the invading army in a battlefield before retreating back to the fort. In this case the number of armed people inside the fort must not be large to keep a big army outside. The bulk of the forces were anyways contributed by chieftains around the place so the threat of a big attack from inside the fort must not be big. Once you control the area around the fort you can just wait without actually laying a physical siege (but can be technically called a siege).


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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2009 12:29 
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Kamlah Garh in Himachal Pradesh was the strongest fort in the hills after the famous fort of Kangra. It was built from 1625-30 by the Rajput rulers of the Kingdom of Mandi. Kamlah Garh is actually a network of six different forts: Kamlah, Chauki, Chabara, Padampur, Shamsherpur, and Narsingpur, all standing on the mountain range known as Sikandar-ka-Dhar. The fort was never captured all through the 17th century.

As the Mughal empire collapsed local officials attempted to create their own kingdoms. In 1745 Adina Beg, the Mughal faujdar of Jalandhar, who employed Sikh soldiers in his army attempted to capture Kamlah Garh but retreated when he saw that the fort was too strong to be taken. Another neighboring ruler, Sansar Chand of Kangra imposed tribute on Mandi but could not capture Kamlah Garh.

Sansar Chand bought Sikh aid to repel a Gorkha invasion and paid the price by the loss of his own power. Mandi state began paying tribute to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After his death in 1839 the Sikh army became more and more difficult to control and the Lahore court diverted their attention by arranging a campaign against Mandi and Kulu, under the French General Ventura. Ventura invited the ruler of Mandi, Balbir Sen, to his camp and treacherously imprisoned him.

Balbir Sen was sent to Amritsar and confined in Gobindgarh Fort, which was bitter irony, since his ancestor Siddh Sen had helped Guru Gobind Singh and received from the latter a blessing:

Mandi ko jab lootenge, aasmani gole chootenge. "If they ever loot Mandi, fiery meteors will rain down from the sky."

While Ventura captured Mandi town and some other forts, Kamlah Garh held out and was besieged in September 1840....for the first time by modern artillery. The approaching cold season caused many deaths among the besiegers but by November the outer fortifications were captured, and the garrison finally capitulated when additional troops from Lahore reinforced the besiegers. Kamlah Garh was garrisoned by Sikh troops and the silver murti of Devi in the fort was taken away to Lahore.

In 1841 the new Maharaja Sher Singh released Balbir Sen from confinement, along with the silver murti, but imposed an increased tribute of 4 lakh on Mandi, which could only be collected by oppressing the farmers. With the outbreak of the Anglo-Sikh war in the plains, the people of Mandi rose under Balbir Sen and drove the Lahore troops out. Kamlah Garh alone held out till the end of the war.

Mandi is located along the route to Rampur-Bushahr and Tibet and is known to Tibetans as Zahor. The nearby Rewalsar lake is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs. It is said that Padma Sambhava went from Mandi to Tibet and is depicted in Tibetan murals wearing traditional Mandi clothing.


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PostPosted: 22 Nov 2009 01:26 
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Fort in Ramnagar, Jammu

There is a Sheesh Mahal there that contains many paintings of Basohli school of art.


Bahu Fort, Jammu

Built by Raja Bahu Lochan (original structure 3000 years old ?) and later improved upon by Dogra rulers.



Bhimgarh Fort in Reasi, Jammu


An historical fort named as Bhimgarh Fort, but generally also known as ‘Reasi Fort’ is located in the town of Reasi on a hillock approximately 150 meters high. As per local lore initially the fort was made of clay which later on was reconstructed withstone masonry and was generally used by the royal family for taking shelter during emergencies.


Sorry, couldn't find good photos to go with the post. Will try asking friends if they have any.


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PostPosted: 24 Nov 2009 07:22 
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DAULATABAD and AURANGABAD

The original name of Daulatabad Fort was Devagiri, and it was built in the 12th century by Yaduvamsi Kshatriyas, also known as Seunas. The kingdom of Devagiri covered much of modern day Maharashtra and had conflicts with its Hindu neighbors in the north like Malwa and Gujarat, and with the Kakatiya kingdom in the south-east. Towards the end of the 13th century Alauddin Khalji raided Devagiri, imposed tribute and made the Seuna rulers his allies. With the wealth of Devagiri, Alauddin financed his takeover of the Delhi Sultanate from his uncle Jalaluddin. Devagiri was the base for Turk expansion into southern India and was eventually annexed to the Delhi Sultanate when its ruler Singhana attempted a rebellion.

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Devagiri was renamed Daulatabad (abode of wealth) by the Turks and much of the construction dates from this period. In 1327 Muhammad Tughluq made Daulatabad his new capital because of its central location, and because it gave him better control of the newly conquered territory in the south. But in doing so he forced much of the Delhi population to move south with him, and consequently in the words of a contemporary writer, "All around Deogir, which is infidel land, there sprang up graves of Musulmans."

Delhi was restored as capital in 1337. In 1345 many of Tughluq's nobles broke out in revolt and sought refuge in Daulatabad fort. Muhammad besieged the fort but had to retire for suppressing another rebellion in Gujarat, after which he died in 1351. The southern nobles founded the Bahmani Sultanate but chose a new capital city Gulbarga, located further south. Daulatabad remained an important fort in the sultanate; a Bahmani minister, Mahmud Gavan, started the construction of an observatory at Daulatabad, but after his murder the Bahmani Sultanate broke up. The fort of Daulatabad came under the new Sultanate of Ahmadnagar, which covered western Maharashtra, and recruited Maratha chieftains in its army.

The Islamic states in the south had direct contact with the outer Muslim world through ports like Dabhol, Goa, Chaul, and Rajapur. To these ports embarked the all-important horses and soldiers from Iran, Iraq, and Ethiopia who built the military strength of the sultanates. When a new danger rose with the formation of the Mughal Empire in the north, Ahmadnagar was defended by its Ethiopian general Malik Ambar. He founded a new capital called Khirki close to Daulatabad fort; this was burnt by the Mughal invaders. In 1636 the Ahmadnagar sultanate was extinguished, Golconda made to become a vassal state, and even Bijapur submitted. Maratha officers in Ahmadnagar, like Shahji Bhonsle and Kheloji Bhonsle, were also defeated.

Dualatabad became the capital of Mughal Deccan, but Aurangzeb chose to build a new capital at Khirki, which was now called Aurangabad. The sleepless aim of the Mughals was to extinguish the sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda and capture their rich territories. But closer to Daulatabad arose a new threat in the form of Shahji Bhonsle's son Shivaji. The latter took full advantage of the Mughal-Bijapur wars to tenaciously build up his kingdom until it was in a position to challenge both those powers. The Mughal wars with Shivaji did not affect either Daulatabad or Aurangabad; but the situation changed under Sambhaji Bhonsle.

From 1679 to 1681 Auranzeb had invaded the Rajput kingdoms of Jodhpur and Mewar, imposed jaziya on the Hindu populace, and consequently all the resources of the Mughal Empire were concentrated in North India for the war against the Rajputs. Finding the field clear, Sambhaji launched a daring raid on the Aurangabad suburbs in 1681, after which the Mughal viceroy began constructing a wall around the city, which was completed in 1683. Aurangzeb's 25-year campaign in the Deccan saw the capture of Bijapur in 1686, and of Golconda in 1687. Sambhaji was captured and executed in 1688, and most of the Maratha forts fell to the Mughals. The captive kings of Bijapur and Golconda were housed in the Daulatabad fort till their deaths.

The Deccan Wars were extended further south into the Carnatic, the Marathas resorted to guerrilla warfare, rebellions sprung up all across India, and Mughal nobles began to dream of setting up independent kingdoms, while the Mughal treasury was drained to exhaustion.

Daulatabad and Aurangabad passed to the control of the Nizams of Hyderabad. His French ally Bussy lodged his modern army at Aurangabad. In 1763 the Nizams shifted their capital from Aurangabad to Hyderabad in the south-east. A British cantonment was established at Aurangabad but the city remained with Hyderabad state till Independence.


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PostPosted: 29 Nov 2009 20:18 
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Have been able to find all Forts listed (on Google Earth) and available on Wiki, this forum and others, almost 100 forts so far.

Kumbhalgarh was the hardest to find on Google Earth, what a location!

Thirumayam is "near" Pudukottai, TN is hard to locate.
Also Kamlahgarh and Mandi.
Couldn't locate Bayana near Bharatpur either. Help!

Bandhavgarh fort is almost invisible.

The history I find is all googled and the few books I have. Kalinjar, I think has the most fascinating history and is the oldest of the lot, it seems, that is still standing (somewhat).

No book covers "all" the forts I have compiled in a couple of days at home. What a shame!


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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2009 10:51 
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The Battle of Wandiwash
Quote:
The Battle of Wandiwash was fought between Anglo-French forces in 1760 to gain control over the Vandavasi fort.

The English forces led by Eyre Coote overpowered the French forces led by Thomas Arthur de Lally at Vandavasi on January 22, 1760. Historians regard this as a decisive war which triggered the imminent fall of French forces in India altogether and paved the way for a full-fledged ‘British Raj.’

The 250th anniversary of this battle falls on January 22, 2010. However, little is being done to protect the remains of the battle, the mutilated earthen walls of Vandavasi fort, the disfigured moat which serves as a storage for sewage and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a number of cannons scattered around the town. If maintained well, these archaeological objects, apart from being a repository of historical facts, would serve as a tourist attraction as well.

. . . in the Battle of Wandiwash, natives served in both the armies as sepoys. Hence, irrespective of which side gained victory, fall of India to European invaders was inevitable then. This is because of insensitivity of geopolitics of the day and lack of foresight on the part of native rulers. Sociologists feel that lessons learnt from such episodes will help.


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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2009 11:38 
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Sridhar, ..just wondering what kind of shell was fired by cannons in the 1500 - 1700 AD... usually it seems to be a iron ball ?? was there any explosive inside it and what kind of trigerring mechanism ??


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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2009 20:31 
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Airavat,

There is a family lore in my family passed on from generation to generation that I wanted to validate with available facts, if any.

My family descended from Birat Guha, a warrior from Kannuj, who served under Adishur who established the Sen dynasty in Bengal. Birat’s descendents served later Sen rulers and Ballal Sen granted the title of Kulin to the family.

After Bakhtiyar Khilji’s defeat of the Sens (in the guise of horse traders – most Indian rulers imported horses from Balkh/Kamboj – and Bakhtiyar was mistaken for a horse trader), the members of the Sen dynasty migrated to Himachal and established kingdoms there.

Bakhtiyar later led an invasion to Tibet, where he encountered the Mongols and was slaughtered with his entire army. I saw paintings at the Tawang Monastery that the monks told me were of Chengiz Khan, whom locals revere. Bakhtiyar’s homeland – Afghanistan – had fallen to Mongols during that time.

Birat’s descendent – Protapaditya – fought Akbar and defeated by Man Singh. Wounded, Protapaditya was taken in a cage to Delhi to be displayed to Akbar as the Bengal Tiger. En-route at Benaras, his loyal men slipped in some poison and Protapaditya committed suicide rather than face humiliation before Akbar.

Incidentally, the Kali Temple at Amber Palace, Jaipur, was brought there and installed by Man Singh from Bengal during this campaign. It originally belonged to Protapaditya and called Jessoreshwari after the province of Jessore that was Protapaditya's capital. Man Singh prevented the deity from being sacked by the Mughals and took it to Amber. Even today, its priests are Bengalis.

Your reference to the Sen’s of Mandi brought back many questions in my mind that I haven’t found any answers over many years.

1. Who were the Guha’s of Kannuj (called Kanya-kubjya those days)? There is no historical record before Birat Guha.
2. Any historical linkages of the Sen dynasty of Bengal in Himachal?


Last edited by tsarkar on 29 Dec 2009 20:53, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2009 20:52 
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Remember some more...

Protapaditya established a strong riverine fleet of fast boats called Chipis that harassed the Mughals and prevented them from crossing the rivers that criss-crossed Bengal. He lead a coalition called baro bhoyars (12 landlords/zamindars) that also had many Turks and Afghans serving under him. The first Portuguese arrived at Bengal at around the same time. Metal weapons and firearms were highly ineffective in the damp, humid, wet and rainy climate of south Bengal, so common soldiers carried bamboo bows that were as tall as a man. Today, the technology of both those boats and bows are have been lost.


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PostPosted: 30 Dec 2009 13:21 
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The same Kali is also called as Shila Devi.. legend has it that it commanded Maan Singh to release her from a slab of stone ... the Kali was accompnied by her priest and his decendants have continued to serve her everafter.

another legend has it that Protapaditya failed to worship her on the final day of battle so the anguished Lady of Jesssore commanded Maan Singh to take her away...

Maan singh had been initiated into Kali rites in varanasi by a bengali guru.

Maan singh built her a temple in amber, Sanga baba in Sanganer, Hanuman in jaipur, Govind Dev in Vrindavan....


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PostPosted: 30 Dec 2009 14:01 
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Airavat wrote:
DAULATABAD and AURANGABAD
aah! brings back memories. I lived in Aurangabad for 5 years and must have visited the Daulatabad fort atleast 10 times. Its been 14 years since i was there last, but I can still walk the entire fort complex blinded folded.

I remember the local guide telling me, the Daulatabad fort is the 2nd hardest fort to capture in India after the fort of Chittorgarh. Is that true? The fort is supposed to have 7 rings of walls around it and has a deep, crocodile infested mot around it.

Added later: There exists a Bharat Mata temple (perhaps the only one around) within the fort complex which has survived through the multiple Muslims rulers over the centuries.


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PostPosted: 30 Dec 2009 14:39 
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tsarkar wrote:
Your reference to the Sen’s of Mandi brought back many questions in my mind that I haven’t found any answers over many years.

1. Who were the Guha’s of Kannuj (called Kanya-kubjya those days)? There is no historical record before Birat Guha.
2. Any historical linkages of the Sen dynasty of Bengal in Himachal?


Yes there are. As per tradition Bir Sen, a scion of the Bengal Senas, migrated to the upper Sutlej valley and founded the Kingdom of Suket in 765 CE. Bir Sen's younger brothers founded other royal lines; Giri Sen in Keonthal and Hari Sen in Kishtwar (now in J&K State). Around 1000 CE Bahu Sen, a younger prince from Suket, established a separate line of rulers who founded Mandi state.

The Senas in Bengal overthrew the Palas and established their kingdom only in the 11th century, but their clan had moved into Bengal from the south much earlier (they were called Karnata-Kshatriyas), hence the foundation of kingdoms in HP in the 8th century. Literary evidence from other states in HP and J&K indicate that these Sen kingdoms had been established before 1000 CE. They all are Chandravanshi Rajputs and while the immediate members of the ruling family bore the surname Sen, other members of the clan use Singh. The clan names take after the name of each state: Suketia, Mandial, Kishtwaria, etc.


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PostPosted: 30 Dec 2009 17:36 
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Daulatabad was indeed one of the most interesting forts that i visited.... there is a dark chamber enroute to the main fort and within that you get a draft of air... as you naturally follow the draft.. you will slip and into the water moat quite a distance below !! lot of ingenious things to confound the enemy !


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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2010 06:49 
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The fort of Mehrangarh looms large over Jodhpur city. The history and other details of the fort can be read in the Mehrangarh Museum Trust site. But some overlooked info on the founding of this impressive fort pertains to a conflict between two Rajput clans, the Rathods of Jodhpur and the Sesodias of Mewar.

In the 14th century the Delhi Sultanate was dismembered and western India was dominated by these two Hindu kingdoms. The Sesodias captured all the important Rathod strongholds, including the capital Mandore, while Rao Jodha sought shelter in the desert portion of Marwar. Jodha took advantage of Mewar's conflict with the Sultans of Gujarat and Malwa to recover his patrimony. A peace treaty in 1458 ended the conflict between the two Rajput clans, and Mewar went on to defeat the allied Muslim Sultans in the south.

Rao Jodha now looked for a more secure place for his capital and found it in this 400 ft high perpendicular cliff. The initial fort was Chao Burja, with only four bastions, and the later expansion took place in the 17th century under Maharaja Jaswant Singh, the implacable enemy of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.


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PostPosted: 31 Jan 2010 19:58 
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2 forts near Mumbai to get facelift for tourists
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MUMBAI: Two coastal forts, including one built by erstwhile Portuguese rulers not far from Mumbai, will be renovated and transformed into major heritage and tourism attractions within the next three years.

Vasai Fort and Arnala Fort are just 10 km apart on the western coast of Thane district, around 25 km north from the heart of Mumbai. Under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), they are already popular destinations which see weekend picnickers from across Maharashtra.

ASI's Mumbai Circle Superintending Archaeologist M S Chauhan told IANS that while work on Vasai Fort has already begun, work on Arnala Fort will start soon after various formalities are completed.

"Initially, we will take up restoration of the dilapidated structures in both forts, which will take up a lot of time. Then, we will follow it up by developing the gardens and other facilities around them," Chauhan told IANS.

Vasai legislator Vivek Pandit said the people of the area do not merely want repairs of the two forts.

"In fact, we want that the two forts should be made of international standards and we enabled to put Vasai on the world tourist map. It will do a lot of good for the people of these backward and undeveloped areas," he said.
....


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PostPosted: 14 Feb 2010 23:00 
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Vellore fort, where the queendomers were challenged...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-Po51PNMtQ&NR=1


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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2010 15:46 
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Airavat wrote:

Rao Jodha now looked for a more secure place for his capital and found it in this 400 ft high perpendicular cliff. The initial fort was Chao Burja, with only four bastions, and the later expansion took place in the 17th century under Maharaja Jaswant Singh, the implacable enemy of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.


Do you have any references for Jaswant Airavat? What else did Jaswant Singh build at Mehrangarh?

Peter


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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2010 15:51 
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ramana wrote:
I have always been fascinated with Indian forts and would like to start a thread on them. Will start collecting data on them here.


My favourite is Ranathambore fort. Some blurb is given here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranathambore,
http://hindurajput.blogspot.com/#Hammir_Dev_Chauhan.


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PostPosted: 07 Mar 2010 05:35 
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peter wrote:
What else did Jaswant Singh build at Mehrangarh?


Peter, follow this link Meherangarh Museum Trust

Image
Bidar Fort excavations

The excavations in some portions of the sprawling 15th Century Bidar Fort constructed by Sultan Ahmed Shah of the Bahamani Dynasty has revealed the existence of a 150-meter-long tunnel cutting through solid laterite soil. It is assumed that could have been used by the women of the harem as an escape route in the event of an attack on the fort by enemies.

The tunnel dug in a zig-zag form has at least two deep wells without protective walls. This could have been dug to trap enemy warriors who may have followed the escaping royals to give them enough time to escape. The height of the tunnel suddenly narrows down and one would have to creep through the passage to escape to the moat at the other end of the fort. Mr. Anandtheerth said that the height of the tunnel had been deliberately narrowed to fool enemy warriors and in the dark interiors it would be hard for them to locate the end of the escape route.


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PostPosted: 12 Mar 2010 02:50 
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There is a slide show on Rediff about few forts.

In pictures: Historic wonders of India

Enjoy

Ankit


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PostPosted: 13 Mar 2010 08:56 
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Hanumangarh or Bhatner in North Rajasthan

Originally built by the Yaduvamsi Bhati Rajputs, who later also founded Jaisalmer, the fort of Bhatner lay on the Delhi-Multan road and has seen a tripartite struggle for possession between the rulers of Bikaner, Delhi, and foreign invaders.

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The Ghaznavid invaders captured the fort in 1004 but lost it to the Chauhans who ruled Bhatner for the next two centuries. The Delhi Sultanate held Bhatner for a century-and-a-half and when it was dismembered in 1360 the Bhatis recaptured their fort.

In 1398 Timur fought Dulchand Bhati and handed over Bhatner to his general Chigat Khan. But the foreigners were defeated by Bhiru Bhati who recaptured Bhatner. In continuing conflicts with Chigat Khan’s son, Bhiru Bhati converted to Islam. The fort was later captured by Chayal Rajputs.

In 1527, the ruler of Bikaner, Rao Jait Singh conquered Bhatner from the Chayals. The same year Mughal invader Babur had conquered Delhi and Agra, and his son Kamran attempted to expand his rule south from Lahore. The Mughals gained control of Bhatner but were defeated near Bikaner by the Rajputs, who mounted a surprise night attack on the invaders' camp. Kamran fled back to Lahore but his chhatri (royal umbrella) was captured and is still preserved in Bikaner.

In 1614, with the help of Joyias, Hayat Khan Bhati attacked and captured Bhatnair. Even though the Mughal empire was well-established by this time, the rulers of Bikaner tried to exert their power over Bhatner several times.

In 1801 Maharaja Surat Singh of Bikaner invaded Bhatner and made the Muslims their tributaries. In 1804, when Jabti Khan Bhati turned rebel, Maharaja Surat Singh sent an army under the leadership of Amar Chand Surana to gain control over the Bhatner fort. As the Bikaner army captured it on Tuesday, the auspicious day of Lord Hanuman, the name of Bhatner was changed to Hanumangarh.


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PostPosted: 17 Mar 2010 07:52 
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Kangla Fort restoration in Manipur

According to Cheitharol Kumbaba, the royal chronicle of Manipur, the Kangla housed the royal palace ever since Nongda Lairen Pakhangba ascended the throne in 33 CE. The royal chronicles have many references to the construction of the Kangla by successive kings of Manipur. One chronicle records that in 1632 Khagemba constructed a brick wall at the western gate of the fort. It appears that the art of brick-making was imbibed from Chinese prisoners captured during the Chinese invasion of the western frontier of Manipur.

The Burmese occupied Manipur from 1819 to 1826, a period known in Manipuri history as "Chahi Taret Khuntakpa" (Seven Years' Destruction). One of the structures marked for renovation is the temple of Govindaji, constructed by Maharaja Chandrakriti Singh in 1869. It is a rectangular, late medieval period, brick-and-Burmese teak rafter structure with a portico, a sanctum and covered circumambulatory paths. After the conquest of Manipur, the British removed the marble slabs paved in the temple and sold them in a public auction. They also removed the gold leaf of the temple dome.

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A file picture of the Kangla Sha, the sculptures of two dragons (called Sha in Manipuri language), which were destroyed in the Anglo-Manipur war of 1891.


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PostPosted: 02 Apr 2010 12:15 
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Bandhavgarh Fort (580 acres) is perched on top of the 811 metre high Bandhavgarh hill in eastern Madhya Pradesh. Originally part of the princely state of Rewa, the fort contains icons and structural remains from as far back as the 3rd Century CE. The main construction of the fort happened with the Baghel Rajputs (originally from Gujarat) who colonized this territory and gave its present name of Baghelkhand.

The region mostly remained immune from the flood of the Turk invasion in the Gangetic plains. The Baghelas assisted the Sultan of Jaunpur against the Lodi Afghans of Delhi. In 1494 the Baghelas fought Sikandar Lodi, and four years later the Lodis invaded Baghelkhand but failed to capture Bandhavgarh. The fort sheltered Humayun's wife during his conflict with Sher Shah, and a grateful Akbar issued silver coins in the name of Bandhavgarh.

However this bonhomie did not last; Raja Ramchandra Baghela gave shelter to the Afghan chieftain of Jaunpur from the Mughals. Later Akbar demanded the famous musician Tansen from the ruler of Rewa. After the death of Raja Ramchandra confusion reigned in Bandhavgarh with a minor ruler in charge; so in 1597 Akbar sent an army to capture the fort. The Baghelas built a new capital at Rewa even though Bandhavgarh was restored to them by Akbar. As the Mughal empire collapsed the Baghelas came into conflict with the neighbouring Bundela chieftains.
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The fort was inhabited till the 19th century when the rulers of Rewa declared the extensive forest around it a preserve with strict rules on hunting and felling trees. Bandhavgarh Fort has some man-made caves carved out in the natural sandstone rock of the hills; naturally cool they were used as horse stables and guard rooms. The same rock has been used to carve some of the nine avatars of Bhagwan Vishnu.

The fort contains 12 water tanks for the supply of fresh water to the garrison. The perennial river Charanganga originates from one of these large tanks and seeps down through the mountain to the swamps below. In more ancient times Bandhavgarh has been held by Vakataks, Maghs, Bharasiva Nagas, and Kalachuris.


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PostPosted: 10 Apr 2010 14:09 
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Agra Fort and other buildings along the Yamuna River in 1722.

The present fort was constructed by Mughal Emperor Akbar in red sandstone. Prior to that Agra was a dependency of the more prominent fort of Bayana, which was captured by Maharana Sanga of Mewar leading up to the Battle of Khanua. With its thick walls and towers, double ramparts, and moat, the Agra Fort had strong defenses and the first conflict here broke out within.

Rao Amar Singh Rathore of Nagaur was insulted by the Mughal paymaster-general Salabat Khan, a brother-in-law of emperor Shah Jahan, and in open court the Rajput chieftain pulled out his sword and killed Salabat. He then fought and slaughtered other nobles and Mughal soldiers till he was surrounded and killed. Amar Singh's clansmen camping outside the fort then mounted several attacks to recover his body and cremated him with due rites.

In the legend that later developed around this story, Rathore was said to have escaped from inside the Diwan-e-am mounted on his horse, which jumped down from the Akbari Darwaza. In the British period this gate popularly acquired the name "Amar Singh Gate" and a sandstone icon of this horse was built nearby.

The first siege of the Agra Fort was carried out by the usurper Aurangzeb in 1658 against his invalid father Shah Jahan, while the elder son Dara Shukoh had escaped to Delhi. Guns were mounted on the latter's mansion north of the fort walls, and on the terrace of the Jama Masjid in the west. The bombardment failed to target the garrison of 1500 and only broke portions of the prominent towers and palaces. The musketeers shot down those who tried to scale the walls. Aurangzeb then captured the Khizri Gate, which opened out to the Yamuna River, and stopped the supply of fresh water.

Three days later Shah Jahan surrendered the fort and sent a taunting couplet to his son:

Praise be the Hindus in all cases,
As they even offer water to their dead,
And you my son are a wonderful Mussalman,
As you cause me in life to lament for water!


Aurangzeb held his formal coronation at Delhi and did not visit Agra till his father was alive. Under his descendants Delhi became the capital of the fast crumbling Mughal domain. The next siege of Agra took place in 1761, after the Battle of Panipat. Delhi had been captured by the Ruhelas and the nominal Mughal emperor Shah Alam was living as a refugee in Awadh....finding the field clear Suraj Mal the Jat ruler of Bharatpur besieged Agra and captured it after one month.

In 1773 the Jats lost Agra to Mirza Najaf Khan, who was the Wazir of Shah Alam and had a semi-modern army from his association with the British. In 1784 the Maratha chieftain Mahadji Sindhia was appointed Wakil-e-Mutaliq by Shah Alam and Agra was garrisoned by his soldiers. After Mahadji's death in 1794 a civil war broke out within his army, which was suppressed by the French General Perron. All of Sindhia's northern possessions now passed into the hands of Perron and his European officers till the Anglo-Maratha war of 1803.

Agra Fort was held by Colonel George Hessing, a Dutchman, and Colonel Sutherland, a Scot. Like other Europeans in Sindhia's service, they planned to desert to the English, but the Purbia and Ruhela troops at Agra imprisoned them and fought under commandants of their own race. Unfortunately there was no single leader prominent enough to command the different troops and Agra city fell on 10th October 1803 after a battle in which 228 British and 600 Purbia troops were killed.

The fort was besieged next by General Lake and surrendered on 18th October. During the 1857 revolt Agra city was besieged and sacked but the fort remained one of the centers from which operations against the Purbia and Ruhela sepoys were directed.


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PostPosted: 11 May 2010 06:03 
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Two articles on Jaisalmer Fort.

Kolkata Mirror: The land of Sonar Kella
Frontline: Fort full of life


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PostPosted: 11 May 2010 07:35 
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The Forts of India by Virginia Fass is a good book. Has a foreword by the Maharaja of Jaipur. It has pretty good descriptions of the architectural differences between the Maratha Forts as opposed to the Rajput forts, etc. Very interesting reading.

This thread brings back vivid memories of my trip to the Kumbhalgarh and Daulatabad forts during my last visit to India in 1994.

Spent a day each at each fort, wishing i had more time, trying to imagine the people who visualized and built these places and the history that was etched in every stone there.

Anyway... the above book lists the following forts individually and very good pictures and descriptions of each of them.

Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Amber, Ranthambhor, Bundi, Kishangarh, Gaur, Hari Parbat (Srinagar), Patiala, Gwalior, Kalinjar, Ajaigarh, Mahoba, Charkhari, Garhkundar, Orchha, Datia, Samthar, Jhansi, Talbehat, Deogarh, Chanderi, Mandu, Daulatabad, All the Maratha Forts, Gulbarga, Bidar, Golconda, Bijapur, Vijaynagar, Vellore, Gingee, Tiruchirapalli, Seringapatnam, etc. etc...

For the folks who have intrinsic knowledge of the history of some of these forts... sally forth!!

I'm sure that there are hundreds if not thousands more forts besides these big and famous forts in India.

Is there an authoritative encyclopedia of every fort in India, possibly with the history associated with each place?? Would love to add such a tome to my collection.


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PostPosted: 16 Jun 2010 08:52 
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Chitradurg Fort

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Chitradurga fort, which lies 200 km from Bangalore, was the symbol of the power of the Nayak Palegars, feudatories of the Vijayanagara kings. It took eight centuries to complete before it was taken by Hyder Ali's soldiers and his son Tipu after which the British briefly occupied it.

It commands a magnificent position on a hilltop, and the Nayaks used this vantage well. It was strategy at every turn: in the zigzag of the pathways which prevented the attacker from easy access, in the embrasures for weapons aiming exactly at eyes or heads and in the seven gates each with its own defence mechanism from the clanging bell to poisoned swords which fell upon the enemy.

Stretching for eight km, it has seven circumambulations which gave it its Kannada name of Yelu suttina kotte, 19 gateways, four secret entrances and 50 warehouses. Boulders all around present a formidable sight — dramatic, impregnable and harsh.


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PostPosted: 19 Nov 2010 02:13 
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Hindu reports:

DD to Broadcast 26 part series on Forts of India

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Revisit the great forts of India



Jiby Kattakayam



Doordarshan series highlights sublime character of structures






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Bundi Fort
In a new light: The 26-episode documentary series, “The Forts of India”, takes the viewer on a journey beyond the narrative of battles, victories and defeat. Here (above) is a view of the Bundi Fort.

NEW DELHI: Doordarshan is telecasting a 26-episode television documentary series -- “The Forts of India” -- showcasing the rich legacy of forts and fortified cities in the country.

The first episode of the series was telecast on November 14 highlighting the Chittorgarh Fort. The series goes on the air on Sundays at 8-30 p.m. on DD National. The next episode on November 21 will focus on the Daulatabad Fort in Maharashtra.

The other forts covered by the series include the ones at Agra, Bundi, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaisalmer, Ranthambhor, Jhansi, Gwalior, Patiala, Jodhpur, Gingee, Golconda, Bijapur, Bidar and Mandu. The series will culminate on May 8 with Delhi's Red Fort.

The documentary series has been conceived by G.S. Chani, Gyandev Singh and Pushpesh Pant. The documentary makers say the series was inspired by the idea that forts are not merely a subject of specialist interest but are of significance to students of military history or architecture.

Each episode takes a long lingering look at the building and highlights the prominent landmarks or characteristic features of the fort. The makers claim that an imaginative recreation of the past supplements the historical narrative utilising folk forms prevalent in the region where the fort stands.

The story of the fort is told in the “local voice”. When the episode focuses on Golconda it is “Barra Katha”, the traditional folk theatre form in that part of Andhra Pradesh, which narrates the story of the fort and its protagonists. The Golconda episode will feature the poetic compositions of Quli Qutab Shah to bring to life the romance between him and Bhagmati.

“Shooting the documentary has been the experience of our lifetimes. Our rigorous research spread across many universities, museums and other institutions has ensured exceptional authenticity to our production,” say Mr. Chani, Mr. Singh and Dr. Pant.

The trio state that the story of a fort cannot be restricted to the narrative of battles, victories and defeat. “These have been an integral part of the life of our people and continue to do so. These compounds have for generations reverberated with soulful singing, graceful dancing and joyous celebrations in which the general population participated enthusiastically.”


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PostPosted: 19 Nov 2010 07:36 
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Bundi has many undiscovered treasures because it is not on the main tourist map. The style of construction is almost entirely Hindu with many animal motifs, like the elephants, rectangular pillars rather than rounded columns, and square brackets instead of curved arches.


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PostPosted: 11 Dec 2010 23:15 
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Many Indian forts, palaces at risk of disappearing

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2010-12-11 14:50:00

New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) Three hundred photographs and texts of more than 60 forts of medieval and colonial India have been compiled by photographer Joginder Singh and noted conservationist Amita Baig, who says there is 'a very real risk' that in another generation, these heritage structures will disappear.

The new heritage compendium, 'Forts and Palaces of India', showcases the country's 5,000 years of archaeological heritage.

'I started work on the book 25 years ago. It is a culmination of my life's efforts to preserve and promote Indian heritage,' Baig told IANS.

Published by Om Books International, the pictorial anthology was launched by the Nawab of Pataudi, Mansur Ali Khan, and his wife Sharmila in the capital late Friday.

Baig, who for the last 25 years hasd been committed to the preservation of the country's cultural heritage, has promoted new methods for the protection of historical sites. She has been at the forefront of the conservation movement in India, facilitating conservation with stakeholders' partnership.

She was the director-general of the architectural heritage division at the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) before becoming an independent consultant. Baig is currently consultant to the World Monuments Fund for its India programme.

'India has thousands of forts. In Maharashtra alone, there are 1,300 forts. I have just touched the tip of an iceberg. Each fort needs its own book.'

When asked about her favourite fort, Baig said the 'Padmanabhapuram Palace Fort - a mud and wood fort - in Kerala is the one I like most'.

'I feel it's a sad reflection of our perceptions of conservation and management that concern about the quality of monuments supersedes that of the citizen. There is today a very real risk that in another generation these beautiful forts and palaces which have kept our heritage and culture intact might not be there.'

'Hence there is more of a reason why it is now that we must understand the need to conserve these. My book depicts the richness of such monuments in India and even presents how they came into being,' Baig said.

Explaining the dynamics of her conservation work, Baig said her work tried to bridge the chasm between an inherited colonial system of protection and a more inclusive one - vis-a-vis forts.

'The fundamental difference lies in the fact that Indian forts were built to protect the people while the colonial forts were built to fortify themselves from the people'. As a result, partnership and inclusion as concepts in preservation of forts were missing in the country.

'For example today, the Jaisalmer Fort is heavily encroached with hotels transplanting homes. And exploitation of heritage is rampant. After 20 years of struggling to build a consensus for solutions to save the Jaisalmer Fort, a small group of youngsters called the Desert Boys stepped in and said they would fight to protect the 'kila'...for me the Desert Boys are the success story,' she said.

The book with its opulent photographs - a labour of love and extreme hardship by photographer Joginder Singh who travelled around the country for two years - divides the forts into 10 categories.

The heads include Rajput Forts, Bundelkhand Fort, Sultanate Fort, Southern Kingdoms, Mughal Forts, Maratha Forts, Sikh Forts, Hill Forts, Eastern India and Colonial Settlers.

Some strategic forts covered in the book are Jodhpur (Mehrangarh) Fort, Jaisalmer Fort, Bikaner, Bundi, Jaipur, Deeg, Tughlaqabad, Feroze Shah Kotla, Bidar, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Daulatabd, Golconda, Gaur and Hazarduari.

Ajay Mago, publisher of OM Books, said he started work on the book three-and-a-half years ago as an exercise to promote heritage tourism in the country.

'Initially, we had thought of sourcing some photographs from the archives and commissioning a few. But the quality of two did not match. Hence, we commissioned Joginder Singh to shoot all the photographs to retain uniformity in quality. We have covered nearly 70 percent of the forts,' Mago told IANS.

He said a sequel would follow soon.

Architect-photographer Joginder Singh said, 'I don't know if I have grown as an architect or a photographer in this project - the forts and palaces captured in the book have a very high degree of craft that respond to location and were built with a lot of attention to detail.'

The book is priced at Rs.3,000.


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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2010 07:43 
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The island fort of Janjira

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Janjira, often known as Murud-Janjira or simply Murud, is the most remarkable of the so-called marine forts that dot the Konkan coast between Mumbai and Goa. Most were built beside the sea atop hills or overlooking strategic bays. Located near the mouth of a broad creek, Janjira is an island fortress with almost a kilometre of perimeter walls rising sheer from the Arabian Sea.

By the 1490s, the Abyssinian family that eventually created the small princely state of Janjira had already possessed the island. The current fort, which replaced an earlier wooden structure built by local fishermen, was begun in the early 1500s and continually expanded until the 1720s by a succession of Siddi overlords and rulers. In addition to being mercenaries, they seem to have prospered from piracy and from the transport of Muslim Haj pilgrims from India's Deccan to Mecca via the Horn of Africa.

Janjira, it seems, was never successfully taken even by the Dutch and British navies, although there are numerous tales of how it was attempted. The Maratha hero Shivaji reputedly tried several times - some sources say 13 - without success. His son inherited that obsession and commenced an ambitious undersea tunnel from the shore. When that failed, he began constructing Padmadurg, his own considerably smaller island fortress that you can still discern a little farther out at sea to the north-west.

India's Invincible Island


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PostPosted: 25 Dec 2010 01:26 
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Warangal Fort :

Royal Remanant


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Kush Mahal inside the old Kakatiya fort is a repository of tales and idols

The sun disappears into a thick blanket of clouds as we reach the portals of the old Warangal Fort. There is an unmistakable nip in the air. A lone push cart ahead of us enters the arches of the old Kakatiya capital. Driving around the old settlement, I am lost in an era that goes back to several centuries.

I take a deep breath as I look at the remnants of the old Kakatiya Fort. Surrounded by a green fabric, the ruins are spread on a vast expanse of land that looks like a massive ground. The four Kirti toranas or pillars of victory encircle the strewn sculptures. However, our story is not about the Kakatiya monuments, but about a simple mahal that stands almost diagonally opposite the fort.

Pages from the past

Built in the 16th Century, the Kush Mahal stands out amidst ornate pillars and tall toranas that fill the old settlement. The small monument, now a museum, was apparently built by the local governor, Shitab Khan, who captured the Warangal Fort from the Bahmani rulers. It was believed to have been built over a Kakatiya palace, and was probably used as an audience hall. It is today a repository of idols excavated from the area.

I was, however, taken in by the story of Shitab Khan, born a Hindu — Sitapati Raju, in modern day Andhra Pradesh. He joined the army of the Bahmani Sultans who invaded Warangal in the 14th Century, and eventually, rebelled against them when the Sultanate split into smaller kingdoms. He took over the reigns of Warangal from the Bahmani kings, but was eventually defeated by the founder of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, Quli Qutub Shah who established a separate kingdom in Golconda. While Shitab Khan was believed to have escaped to Orissa, he left behind inscriptions in and around Warangal that speak of him.

I climb atop the mahal, and take in the entire view. Kush Mahal may be the only surviving royal monument of this period here, built this style. Although an inscription speaks of Shitab Khan's rule at the entrance, the sloping walls of the mahal suggest that it might have been built around the 14th Century, during Mohammed Bin Tughlaq's reign. The huge hall is filled with broken idols from Hindu and Jain temples. However, the most beautiful part of the mahal is the wall panels.

Tranquil setting

The silence in the old town comes as no surprise as you walk around. Historians say the Kush Mahal was probably built on the site of a Kakatiya palace as well, as it is right amidst the ancient fort. But then, irrespective of the facts and figures, the sheer beauty of the old settlement is breath-taking. Like several other monuments tucked away in lost towns and hamlets, this too has seen the ravages of time...


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PostPosted: 25 Dec 2010 10:02 
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DABHOI in GUJARAT

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Ananda K Coomarswamy, a noted scholar of Indian art, has written: "Probably the best remains of any medieval Indian city are those of Dabhoi, twenty miles south-east of Baroda (Vadodara), and Jhinjuwada in the northern angle of Kathiawad. Both these cities were provided with powerful defensive walls in the time of the powerful Solanki kings of Gujarat, probably about 1100 AD......The gates of Dabhoi are more elaborate. Like all Hindu gates, the arch is formed of overlapping (corbelled) horizontal brackets, covered by a massive lintel. These gates and those of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh are the finest now, among those standing in India." Dabhoi, the ancient Darbhavati, mesmerizes the visitor with its sculptured beauty.

Jhinjuwada and Dabhoi: Examples of the very best of Hindu architecture


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2011 05:41 
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Torna Fort:

Torna, the first fort captured by Shivaji at the age of 16, still retains its old world grandeur. The sheer size of the fort is overwhelming. Over a mile in length, the Torna fort is gigantism personified, and yet it has managed to retain a certain distinctive military fort look that has been characteristic to forts in Maharashtra. The fort which has a temple dedicated to Menghai Devi, was originally built around the 13th century and acquired the reputation of a tough fort. The fort was captured by the Mughals in the 18th century, with them having to undergo numerous difficulties to achieve the same.


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2011 11:27 
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Hawk AJT over Bidar Fort in Karnataka.

The construction of Bidar fort is credited to Sultan Ahmed Wali of the Bahmani kingdom between 1428 and 1432 AD. It is believed that engineers and architects from various countries were involved in designing and building this massive fort that has a 5.5-km defence line with 37 huge polygonal bastions. A part of the fort is carved out from bedrock. The fort is unique in having a triple moat defence, inspired by Turkish design.

This fort became a model for other forts such as Bijapur and Golkonda. It also has massive magazine storerooms and underground escape routes in case the fort had to be abandoned. The fort has interesting structures such as Takht Mahal, Tarkash Mahal, Rangeen Mahal, Gagan Mahal, Shahi Matbakh, Diwan-I-Am, Solah Khamb Mosque, and Naubat Khana, which served various needs.

After the collapse of the Bahmani kingdom, Bidar came under the control of independent sultanate of Barid Shahi dynasty in 1538 AD. However, during 1619 AD. Bidar came under the control of Bijapur sultanate. It was Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who invaded south India to capture Bidar during 1686 AD. Successive dynasties added their own structures or modified some of these during the course of their regime. Down below, in the valley, is the Bomma Gondeshwara Tank. The outer fort walls extend for miles and a few ruins can be seen. Being at a higher level, a panoramic view of the surroundings can be viewed from the fort.

Deccan Herald


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2011 11:43 
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Airavat, Do we have enough data to characterize typical Indian forts by size, location, and types of fortifications?


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2011 11:22 
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Forts and Palaces of the Western Himalayas has the most detailed classification of any online source.


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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2011 10:24 
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PATIALA FORT

The outer fort, protected by a moat, is Qila Mubarak and the inner fort is Qila Androon. Originally a simple mud structure, the fort was expanded and strengthened with brick and stone, as the Sikh rulers of Patiala came into prominence in the 18th century.

In the previous era, Patiala was part of the Sarhind division (faujdari) in the Delhi province (subah) of the Mughal empire. Mughal authority was broken by the Persian and Afghan invasions, and in 1757 they ceded the Sarhind division to Ahmad Shah Abdali. Sarhind henceforth became a part of Punjab. Abdali carried out repeated campaigns against the Sikh misls but failed to crush them, and in the end he had to bestow the status of an autonomous vassal to Amar Singh of Patiala, with the title of Raja-i-Rajgan.

Patiala History


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PostPosted: 01 Feb 2011 10:55 
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Relations of Patiala and other Sikh principalities with the Mughals, whose power had been revived under the European-trained infantry and artillery of Mirza Najaf Khan, are described in detail by Jadunath Sarkar here:

Fall of the Mughal Empire: Vol 3


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PostPosted: 08 Feb 2011 05:46 
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Forts and the future


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