Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Historical Gates of Mandu Fort, Madhya Pradesh - the biggest one in India


The gates of palaces, forts, etc., fascinate me and I hold them the most important parts of the structure. The gates of forts, in the past centuries, played no less role in the case of wars. They had to be strong, sturdy  and was good enough to withstand the impact caused by ramming of elephants. The decoration such gates is a sign of elegance and affluence because the majesty of the inside structures in a kingdom  can be gauged the way the entrance gates are designed and embellished with artistic works. In the by-gone era of uncertainty when invasions or raids by rulers against others were common, it was the gates that offered security and protection to the royal family as well as people living inside the fort. The historical gates of Mandu are unique aesthetically and architecturally built to safeguard the massive fort.

 Mandu in Dhar  district of the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh was once a flourishing city, now uninhabited place and in ruins. Located at 35 km from Dhar city,  it was part of the Tarangagadh or Taranga kingdom in the 11th century. The word "Mandu" is believed to be a corrupt form of "Mandapa Durga"in  Prakrit. The inscription  dating back to 612 VS (555 CE), suggests that Mandu was a thriving town in 6th century and later under the Paramaras it gained prominence in the 10th and 11th centuries. 

 In 1305, the Muslim ruler - Sultan of Delhi Alauddin Khalji (c 1267- 4 Jan. 1316) captured Malwa and cleansed the place and the Hindus were either killed or forced to convert to Islam. Being a fanatic Muslim ruler, he had no compassion for others, not to speak of  his own relatives. A nephew and a son-in-law of his predecessor Jalaluddin, on 20 July 1296, Alauddin had Jalaluddin killed after pretending to greet the Sultan, and declared himself the new king.  Jalaluddin's companions were also killed. The unfortunate thing is he paraded his father-in-law's severed  head on a spear in his camp to create fear among his arch enemies. A tyrannical ruler, to whom compassion is an anathema.  Later, this region was ruled by several Muslim rulers and the kingdom changed hands many times. Among the Muslim rulers, succession to the throne was marked by bloody violence and  killing. After Mogul Emperor  Akbar's quiet rule, this place  came under the control of the Marathas.

Mandu is  built  on a  hill top (altitude 633.7 m) 100 km from Indoor city, covering a vast area of  20 sq in the Vindhayan Mountain range. The fortress town, once called the city of joy  on a rocky outcrop is a historical place and is known for its architecture and workmanship, protected by 12 Darwazas. In the bygone-era  it was a well fortified fort with  thick walls, openings  and necessary gates; they  were built in several part of fort for daily and military use. These heritage sites need protection and proper restoration, as they are the silent sentinels of  various historical events that occurred in the forts, palaces, etc in the past.  Most of them are in a damaged condition, Reason: Negligence on the part of  governments (central and state), besides vagarious of weather, time, not to speak of vandalism by the anti-social people in the society

Separated from the main plateau of Malwa by a deep  and wide  ravine called Kakra Khoh encircling  it, the fort  was protected by a 45 km long rampart punctuated by 12 main gates namely , Alamgir Darwaza , Bhangi Darwaza , Kamani / Kabaani Darwaza , Gadi Darwaza , Delhi Darwaza , Rampol Darwaza , Tripoltya Darwaza , Tarapur Darwaza , Bhagwaniya Darwaza, Jahangirpur Darwaza , Lohani Darwaza and Hathya Por Darwaza; the most fortified part of Mandavgad (original name of Mandu) is in the north part. Among the  gates, the  most beautiful and notable  is Delhi Darwaza, the main entrance to the fortress city. It has  a series of gateways well strengthened  with walled enclosures and  bastions such as  Alamgir Darwaza and Bhangi Darwaza, through which  Mandu can be accessed. Smaller gates were built to give  additional protection to the big gates.


Alamgir gate, Mandu. indiaunveiled.in/
Alamgir Darwaza was a single arched gate with a Persian inscription on its wall. Parapet wall is made of well-decorated arches.The  design is a simple, but conventional one. The height if the arch is 11 meters and the passage is 9.5 m x 4 m.
Alamgir Darwaza, Mandu, MP.  en.wikipedia.org
Kamani gate (Darwaza), Mandu. indiaunveiled.in/
It is followed by Bhangi Darwaza  named after a scavenger who was sacrificed to the spirits for successful completion of the fort. It is not in good shape and is roofless.  The Kamani Darwaza has twin arches. Also called as Kabaani Darwaza because during the war, only through this gate  the bodies of  the enemies were dropped  over into the deep gorge. 
Gadi Darwaza, Mandu,madhya pradesh en.wikipedia.org.
The next gate called  Gadi Darwaza with two arches one above the other was  built in the 15th century and is on the  northern side of the hill. The flanks are provided with 14 openings between arched decorations on the wall  to enable the archers to attack the invading army. There was a security room attached to the gate complex.

Dilli (Delhi) gate, Mandu. indiaunveiled.in/
Banghi gate,indiaunveiled.in
The main entrance gate of Mandu, Delhi Darwaza is a nice red-colored sandstone structure with amazing decorations displaying the Malwa architecture. There are security rooms in the inner arches. Yet another striking feature is 8.4 meter tall arch spanning 4 meters made of red sandstone.  Asharfi Mahal was one of the oldest and unused Rampol Darwaza with security rooms built by the Hindus and the vaulted  roof was built by the later Muslim rulers. 

Across Andheri and Ujali Baodis was  Hathya Por Darwaza guarded by two elephants. The images are damaged. The ruins of a lofty Tripoltya Darwaza is noticeable at
Jami Masjid -  in front of eastern facade of the mosque .

Bhagwania Darwaza, named after Bhagwanpur village (5 km from here), is  in the south wall of the fort facing the Nimar valley and has two entrances, the inner being larger than the outer one. There are massive walls covering the uncovered passage between these two gates. There are security rooms with gabled roof. 
Lohani Darwaza,  made of red sandstone on the western side of the hill, had some kind of connections with the outer gate and security room on the right side of the passage. The gate is in ruins.

Tarapur Darwaza is located on a 300 meter high hill top and the village Tarapur is in a quiet and serene place in the plains; tourists access the hill through stone-steps.

Jahangirpur Darwaza lies in the midst of a thickly forested area.The remains of damaged fort  east and south are not easily accessible today because of thick forests.


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