Showing posts with label Mughal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mughal. Show all posts

MP Diaries - Asirgarh, Gateway to Deccan

Asirgarh, a hill fort in Burhanpur of East Nimar district, Madhya Pradesh is located in the Satpura range, 259 meters high from the base and 696 meters above sea level. Asirgarh was an invincible fort of the medieval times covering an area of 60 acres at the summit of the hill. The fort was regarded as the gateway to the Deccan and the emperor who had the authority over the region not only had access to the Deccan region but also had a control over land and water routes and could regulate the inland and foreign trade that resulted in a prosperous economy. The west side of the hill is well defended by three lines of defenses namely, the lower most Malaigarh, middle most Kamargarh and the top most Asirgarh. Over time, the fort was ruled by many dynasties and the fortification was strengthened. The fort comprising of strong walls and bastions had mainly seven gateways.
Asirgarh Fort , Burhanpur
Asirgarh Fort 
Asirgarh fort finds a mention in the epic Mahabharata as Ashwatthamagiri. Firishta (Persian historian) derived the name of Asirgarh from Asa Ahir, to whom he attributes the foundation of the fort; but this is speculative as the name Asir is repeatedly mentioned by the Rajput poet Chand. It may have come from the Asi or Haihaya kings who ruled the Narmada valley from Maheshwar. The literary sources proclaim that from 9th to 12th century, the fort was under the dominion of Tak and Chauhan Rajputs. In 1295, the fort was a stronghold of the Chauhan Rajputs and was captured by the Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khilji after retreating back from his Deccan campaign. Later in 15th century, the fort was held by the Faruqi kings of Khandesh and taken by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1600 who opened the gateway to the southern India. After the decline of the mughals, the fort was controlled by Nizam, Peshwa, Scindia and Holkar. In 1904, the fort was transformed into a British cantonment under the command of General Doveton. The legendary freedom fighter of Sambalpur (Odisha/Orissa), Veer Surendra Sai along with his family members and followers were brought here against the charges of revolutionary movement against British. They were kept here as state prisoners until the death of Veer Surendra, after which the rest were released. The Persian inscriptions of Akbar, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb found here speak volumes about their association with this fort. 
Persian Inscriptions
Jama Masjid
The Jama Masjid was constructed by the Faruqi ruler Adil Shah IV in the year 1590. The masjid is entered by three elevated arches that open into a quadrangular courtyard that is surrounded by elevated arcaded colonnades (a series of arches supported regularly spaced columns) on three sides with a prayer hall on the west. The arched cloister of the prayer hall has a qibla at its center. The two ends of the prayer hall are supported by two lofty minars.
Jama Masjid Asirgarh
Jama Masjid 
British Cantonment
On the southwest side of the fort, structures, cells and cemetery of the British period is present. These underground cells were for the prisoners made captive by the British. Topographically, the hill was a natural barrier for the intrusion and extrusion that resulted in a difficult prison break. Apart form many patriots, revolutionaries of kuka movement headed by Guru Ram Singh were also detained here in the year 1872. Of the kuka revolutionaries, Rur Singh and Pahar Singh died during their confinement whereas Muluk Singh, during his last days was sent back to Punjab in the year 1886.
Queen's Lake (Rani Ka Talab)
Portion of the British Cantonment
Mahadev Temple
The legend says that, the son of Guru Drona, Ashwatthama of Mahabharata worships this ancient Shiva temple every day. The temple was constructed in 18th century in the Maratha style of architecture. The temple comprises of a garbhagriha and a mandapa. Close to the temple are a baoli (well) and few rock-cut cells and passages.
Lord Mahadev Temple
Phansi Ghar (Place of execution of criminals)
British Cemetery Inside the Fort 
Moti Mahal
The beautiful palace of Moti Mahal was built by Shah Jahan, which is now in ruins and neglected. This two storeyed palace was built for his beloved wife Moti Mahal, where he spent private time with his queen.
Moti Mahal
Moti Mahal 
Inside Moti Mahal
References:
1. Krik Kitell
2. Travel Magic 
3. Saini Online 
4. Imperial Gazetteer of India.

MP Diaries: Burhanpur, Origin of Taj Mahal

After a long travel of 1255 km, on the evening of 27th December at 8:50 pm we entered Madhya Pradesh, crossing the border check post at Ichhapur. We were about 200 km away from Indore, our first destination  as per plan and were way behind schedule, thanks to the very bad roads across the state of Maharashtra. It  had been a long and tedious drive of about 400 km from Latur to MP border via Lonar crater lake (one among the very few places we have visited twice in the same year). It was late in the evening, we were extremely hungry and so we decided to halt at the next town for the night. Burhanpur was the next big town and luckily we managed to find an accommodation  that night. River Tapti welcomed us to the town of Burhanpur.
Garden Maintained By ASI
Diwan-e-Khas
 Burhanpur is the south eastern gateway to Madhya Pradesh and the first place we visited in MP. None of the books we carried had any information about this place and only on googling did we realize the rich historical past of Burhanpur. We decided explore Burhanpur the next morning and hence shortlisted Shahi Qila among the many places which were worth a visit. We woke up to a foggy morning and waited for it to clear. As the fog cleared, we were greeted with the sight of two pairs of Indian grey horn bill. Sadly, the camera was in the car and we decided to keep an eye on the tree where the birds were foraging. By the time we reached the car, they had moved on. We checked about the timing of Shahi Qila from the hotel staff and the ignorant owner informed us that the gates open only after 9 am. After we reached Shahi Qila, we realized the gates were open much before 9 am  and that all the ASI monuments remain open from sunrise to sunset.
Shahi Qila, Burhanpur
Shahi Qila 
  The history of Burhanpur dates back to the Rashtrakuta period but none of the structures built during that era survive any longer. The excavations around this place have revealed about its association with the Rashtrakutas. The credit of founding the town of Burhanpur goes to the Faruqi King Nasir Khan during 1400 AD and remained in the clutches of Mughals till the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 AD. Later the Marathas, under Peshwa Bajirao conquered this town and brought it under their rule. The British then took control of this place from the weakening Maratha empire. About 3 km from Burhanpur is the village of Lodhi which houses the Dargah-e-Hakim which is considered to be a holy place for Muslims belonging to the Dawoodi Bohra sect.
Raj Ghat
Mosque
 'Shahi Qila' or the 'Royal Palace' was built during the period of Faruqi King Adil Khan II. The palace, originally being a seven storeyed structure is situated on the right bank of river Tapti, with much of it now in ruins. It is believed that Shah Jahan spent a considerable time in this town during his regime as a Mughal emperor and contributed by adding  buildings to the Shahi Qila, like the Diwan-e-aam (hall for public audience) and Diwan-e-khas (hall for private audience). The 'Hammam' or the 'Royal Bath' was specially built for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal where she enjoyed a luxurious bath in scented water. The Hammam houses a bath place in the middle and carries beautiful frescoes on its honey-combed ceiling, a few of which have managed to survive.The paintings in Hammam are exquisite work of art. It is believed that the design of  the Taj Mahal was inspired by one of the painting depicting a monument on the ceiling of Hammam. The Hammam exhibits a perfect blend of Persian and Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan also originally planned to build the Taj Mahal on the banks of river Tapti but due to non availability of white marble, he later shifted the site to Agra. Mumtaz Mahal died in Burhanpur while giving birth to her fourteenth child and was buried here for several months till the construction of Taj Mahal and her mortal remains were then transferred to Agra.
Hammam or Royal Bath
Paintings on the ceiling of Hammam
Other places to visit around - Kali Masjid, Bibi Ki Masjid, Jama Masjid, Kundi Bhandara (medieval age water lift management), boat ride in River Tapti.
Distance from nearby major town - 175 km from Indore.
Accommodation - We stayed at Hotel Panchavati, a budget hotel which was good for over night stay. The hotel serves only vegetarian food. Only e-wallets are accepted here. Another option for lodging would be Hotel Tapti Retreat maintained by MPSTDC.
Where to eat - Many road side eateries offer Poha, Jalebi, Samosa and other snacks. Our breakfast of Poha and Sev along with bread and omelette at Tapti Retreat costed us Rs.250/-. Cards are accepted here.
References -
1. RBS Visitors Guide India - ''Madhya Pradesh"
2. Wikipedia 
3. Beyond Lust

Discovery of India - Ahmednagar Fort

Ahmednagar Fort
Entrance to Ahmednagar Fort
Ahmednagar is a district located in Western Maharashtra. One of the major attractions here is the fort built in 15th century which played an important role until the pre-independence period in India. This is where India's first Prime minister Shri Pandit Jawarhar Lal Nehru was imprisoned and during his imprisonment, wrote the famous book of "The discovery of India". This book gives an account of India's cultural wealth, historical significance and philosophy as perceived by the great Indian Freedom fighter. The fort currently lies under the  control of the Indian Armoured Corps Center and School, Ahmednagar. Built in an octagonal shape, this fort is considered as one of the best designed and the strongest of all land forts in the Indian sub-continent.
Leaders Block of Ahmednagar Fort
Pandit Jawarhar Lal Nehru
Pandit Jawarhar Lal Nehru was Imprisoned here
Pandit Nehru's  Room
The Ahmednagar  fort was built by Ahmed Nizam Shah in the year 1490 A.D. The name of this city is attributed to Ahmed Nizam Shah, the founder of the Nizam Shahi Dynasty who established the town after defeating the Bahmani Sultans. Later the fort and town, both fell into the hands of the Mughal Emperor Akbar  in the year 1600 A.D in spite of the valiant efforts of Chand Bibi, the princess of Nizam Shahi to save her territory. The fort was sold to the the Maratha King, Peshwa III in the year 1759 A.D. after which it went into the  hands of Shindia's in the year 1797 A.D. Finally in 1803 A.D, the British captured this fort under the leadership of General Wellesley and it remained with them until independence.
Preface of the Book"Discovery of India"
The List of Freedom Fighters who were Jailed here
 On the 9th of August 1942, Shri Pandit Jawarhar Lal Nehru along with 11 other freedom fighters namely, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (iron man of India), Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant, Acharya Narendra Dev, Acharya J B Kirpalani, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Asaf Ali, P C Ghosh, Pandit Harekrishna Mahtab, Shri Shankar Rao Dev, Dr B Pattabhi Sitaramayya and Dr Syed Mahmud were imprisoned here for their involvement in the Quit India Movement until April 1945. The block in which they were imprisoned  is known as the 'Leaders Block' and is being maintained exactly the same way as it was, during their stay here. All the paraphernalia used by Pandit Nehru during his imprisonment are displayed here.
Ahmednagar Fort
The Fort Wall and Moat 
 Bastion 
The Skillfully Laid Steps

Indian Flag Flying High
Though the movement inside this fort is restricted due to the control of Army, the outer fort walls and the Leaders block are accessible with least difficulty. As we approached an Army officer for taking permission  to walk around in the fort premises, he replied positively with a word of advice to stay within the said limits. We  had a chance only to visit the leaders block after which we could walk along the outer walls of the fort  for some distance. We thanked the Army officer in charge and circumvented the fort as we drove, only to find out that most of the fortification still remained intact. 
Cannon 
Fort Gateway

There are many other places to visit around Ahmednagar such as the Chand Bibi Palace, Meherabad, Cavalry Tank Museum, Rehekuri Black Buck Sanctuary, Shani Shignapur, Shirdi and so on...

Click here for location