Sunday, 10 January 2016

12 th century Daulatabad fort, India

The Indomitable Daulatabad Fort,

Daulatabad Fort,
 Centuries ago the Indian rulers of various regions  had to depend heavily on their forts to safeguard  their kingdoms  from invading armies. As there were innumerable rulers with powerful armies, vying with  one another to expand their rule, the ruling classes came up with many innovative ideas to face sudden attacks, long siege, etc. In India there are thousands of  big forts of great antiquity that witnessed lots of battles and rise and fall of many powerful dynasties. The strong fort at Daulatabad in the state of Maharastra is a very old fort built atop a hill and was a mute spectator of many powerful rulers.

Capture of Devagiri Fort in
The Magnificent Daulatabad Fort, built by Yadhava g, general Raja Bhillamraj   in the  12th century stands on a hill in Daulatabad city, Maharashtra,  once known as 'Devgiri (hill of Gods).' It lies about 16 Km  NW from Aurangabad. Once a stronghold of Yadav rulers, it changed hands,  involving many dynasties within the Deccan with the passage of time through several centuries. In the 6th century, evidences prove, it was an important upland city on the caravan route and it was  Muhamad Tughlaq (r. 1325-1351), Sultan of Delhi who changed the name to Daulatabad, meaning the Metropolis of Fortune. Beginning in 1327, he ordered the entire population of Delhi to move over to  Daulatabad,  their new capital and later shifted the capital back to Delhi because of scarcity of water.
Canon, Daulatabad Fort,
In the history of Mogul rule in India, among the many rulers Tughlaq was known for his eccentricity and antics. He was also known to shift capital and his subjects according to his whims and fancies. His weird  behavior and unproductive plans caused lots of trouble for the subjects.   During the  reign of Ramachandradeva, son of Krishna, Ala-ud-din Khilji invaded and captured Deogiri in A.D. 1296. However, Ramachandradeva was allowed to rule from here as a vassal  in A.D. During the raid of Malik Kaufer in 1306-07 and 1312 Ramachandradeva and later  his son Shankardeva were killed and the city Deogiri and the  fort were annexed by the Delhi slave dynasty. Later this region was controlled by the Bahamani rulers Hasan Gangu in A.D. 1347  and Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar in A.D. 1499. By 1633 it came under the full control of Moguls.

Built on a 200 meter high conical mesa or hill, it was the most powerful fort in the  medieval period. The fort is well protected  by  deep moat, initial  steep rock slopes  running around the hill, besides it has three encircling walls - Amberkot, Mahakot and 
 with bastions at its foot beefed up by  complex defense system. The entrance to the gate is  through the outer wall followed by a series of gateways with heavy doors and courts. The only means of access to the top is by a narrow bridge, with passage for not more than two people side by side. About midway the access gallery  has steep  stairs and at top it is covered by gratings. In case of war it is meant to form a hearth of fire and the flame will be kept going to prevent the entry of enemies. The main gate is huge and strong and the walls are thick pierced by openings for  artillery. Yet another feature is the outer main door is studded  and heavily spiked  against elephant attack.So are the many doors in the fort. The other succeeding gate is defended by watch tower.

The Mogul ruler Aurangazeb installed a massive gun called ‘Menda Top’ for additional defense.  Puzzling defense in this fort is a series of endless maze of  curved passage corridors  with certain gradient. Upon the entry of enemies,  blazing torches will be  pushed upon enemies or  hot oil is poured down his path that can trap the forward  moving enemies.

The fort itself is on top of a steep hill with sides dropping to the bottom dangerously. It is a tough job to cross the  40 feet deep moat that has lots of  crocodiles  first and then to scale the steep hill. The fort has the unique distinction having been remained undefeated in numerous battles centuries ago..