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Palamu Forts
[[File:{{{image_name}}}|250px|Part of Palamu Fort]]
Part of Palamu Fort
Location Daltonganj, Jharkhand, India
Type Cultural
State Party India

The Palamu Forts (Hindi language: पलामु किला) are two ruined forts located around 22 kilometres (14 mi) south east of the city of Daltonganj in the Indian state of Jharkhand. These two large forts are located deep in the forests of Aurangabad on Sher Shah Suri path near Daltonganj. The original fort on the plains and the other on an adjoining hill are attributed to the Vanvasi kings of the Chero dynasty. The fort in the plains had defences on three sides and three main gates. The fort was constructed by Raja Medini Ray. The architecture is Islamic in style, which reflects Daud Khan’s conquest.[1][2][3][4]

GeographyEdit

The first fort is in the plains and the second fort is in an adjoining hill[4] and both overlook the meandering Auranga River (also known as Ornaga River[3]) in Palamau. The river looks like jagged teeth due to extensive rock exposure in the bed of the river which may be the source of the name 'Palamau' meaning the "fanged river." [3][1] They are in a densely forested area of the Betla National Park.[5] The forts are close to each other and lie about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Daltonganj.[6]

HistoryEdit

The old fort in the plains which existed even before the Chiro dynasty was built by the king of Rakshel. However, it was during reign of the King Medini Ray (1662–1674). (also spelled Medini Rai) the Just, who ruled for thirteen years from 1662 to 1674 from Medininagar in Palamau, which was then his capital, that the fort was rebuilt into a very extensive and formidable defensive structure.[7][2] He was, by far, the most famous in the whole Chero line of tribal kings and was known for his "just" ways of ruling his kingdom.[8] His rule extended to areas in South Gaya and Hazaribagh and Surguja. He attacked Doisa now known as Navaratragarh (33 miles (53 km) from Ranchi) and defeated the Maharaja of Chhotanagpur. With war bounty he constructed the lower fort close to Satbarwa, and this fort became famous in the history of the district.[1][2]

The Mughals, during the reign of Emperor Akbar, under the command Raja Man Singh, invaded in 1574, but subsequently his contingent at Palamau was defeated in 1605 following the death of Akbar. During the reign of Shahjehan, Ahmad Khan who was the Subedar of Patna and Palamau tried to impose a tribute on the Chero rulers which they refused to pay. This resulted in three attacks in series by the Mughals.[2]

Daud Khan, who launched his invasion starting from Patna on 3 April 1660, attacked south of Gaya district and finally arrived at the Chiro forts on 9 December 1660. The terms of surrender and payment of tribute were not acceptable to the Chiros'; Daud Khan wanted complete conversion of all Hindus under the Chiro rule to Islam. Following this, Khan mounted a series of attacks on the Chiro forts. Chiros defended the forts bravely but ultimately both forts were occupied by Daud Khan, and the Chiros fled to the jungles. Hindus were driven out, the temples were destroyed, and Islamic rule imposed.[1]

Following the death of Medini Ray there was rivalry within the royal family of the Chiro dynasty which ultimately lead to its downfall; this was engineered by the ministers and advisers in the court. The rulers who followed Medini were Raja Pratap Rai, Raja Rudra Rai, Raja Dikpal Rai, Ranjeet Rai, Devi Batesh Rai and Jai Ksihan Rai. Jai Kishna, who died while fighting an adviser, was followed by the 12th ruler Chitrajeet Rai in 1770.[9] Chitrajeet Rai's nephew Gopal Rai betrayed him and facilitated the Patna Council of the British East India Company to attack the fort. When the New Fort was attacked by Captain Camac on 28 January 1771, the Chiro soldiers fought valiantly but had to retreat to the Old Fort on account of water shortage. This facilitated the British army to occupy the New Fort located on a hill without any struggle. This location was strategic and enabled the British to mount canon supported attacks on the Old Fort. The Chiros fought valiantly with their own canons but the Old Fort was besieged by the British on 19 March 1771.[10] The fort was finally occupied by the British in 1772. The Cheros and Kharwars again rebelled against the British in 1882 but the attack was repulsed.[2]

FeaturesEdit

Fort in the plainsEdit

The old fort was built over an area of 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi). It has three gates with rampart of 7 feet (2.1 m) width. The fort has been constructed with lime and surkhi mortar. The external boundary walls of the fort, all along its length, is built with "lime-surki sun-baked bricks", which are flat and long bricks. The central gate is the largest of three gates and is known as "Singh Dwar". The court room, located in the middle of the fort, is a two-storied edifice, which was used by the king to hold court. The fort had an aqueduct bringing water to meet the needs of people and animals within the fort but now seen in a ruined state. After entering from the second gate, the fort had three Hindu temples (attesting to the fact that Medini Ray was a religious Hindu king) which were partly modified into mosques after Daud Khan occupied the fort after defeating Medini Ray.[11]

On the south-western part of the fort, which is surrounded by hills on three sides, there is a small stream called the Kamadah Jheel which was used women folk of the royal family for their daily ablutions. Between this stream and the fort there are two watch towers (dom kilas) located on the hill top which were used to track any enemy intrusions. Of these two towers one tower houses a small temple of a goddess called Devi Mandir.[12]

Fort on the hillEdit

The fort which is situated on a hill to the west of the old fort was constructed by Medini Ray in 1673, two year before his demise. This fort is superior in its construction compared to the old fort as seen in the features of the entrance gate known as Nagpuri gate. This gate has fine carvings which is said to be an adaptation of the Nagapuri style which Medini Ray copied after he defeated the Nagpuri king. The main gate to the fort follows the Nagpuri gate, is of smaller size and has stone pillars on both sides. There are inscriptions on these pillars written in Arabic/Persian and in Sanskrit attributed to Banmali Mishra, the guru of the king. The inscription states that the fort's construction was started in the month of Magh, in 1680 Samvat according to the Hindu calendar. He started building this fort for his heir Pratap Rai. However, Pratap Rai made efforts to complete the fort at Betla but failed as he did not have the same vision as his father. The fort has remained incomplete.[12][2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Palamu Fort". National Informatic Centre. http://palamu.nic.in/palamufort.html. Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "History". National Informatic Centre. http://latehar.nic.in/history.htm. Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lahiry 2014, p. 7.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sinha & Singh 2003, p. 14.
  5. Singh & Benanav 2013, p. 1244.
  6. Circle 1904, p. 11.
  7. Lahiry 2014, p. 7, 24.
  8. Lahiry 2014, p. 24.
  9. Lahiry 2014, p. 29.
  10. Lahiry 2014, p. 30.
  11. Lahiry 2014, p. 25.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Lahiry 2014, p. 27.

BibliographyEdit

Coordinates: 23°53′41″N 84°13′58″E / 23.8946°N 84.2328°E / 23.8946; 84.2328

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