Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Historical Alamgir Gate, Mandu, a part of the biggest fort in India - Madhya Pradesh

Alamgir gate, Mandu Fort, MP

Alamgir gate, Mandu fort, MP
 Steeped in history, Mandu in  Madhya Pradesh has a spectacular but ruined citadel that is not easily accessible by the enemies, part of the reason being its location atop the high plateau.  Forming  an important military outpost by virtue of its strategic location  in an impressive  naturally-protected place  in the Vindhya hills surrounded by a ravine on all sides, every year it attracts tourists from India as well as abroad. The fort is 82 km in perimeter and is believed to be the biggest in India. What is so special about this big fort? Deep ravines cut into the sides of the 20 sq. km plateau (633 meters high)  occupied by the fort. The ruins are spread over an area of 21 sq. km. Besides its tough location,  mention may be made of the fort's high thick walls mostly consisting of small boulders, rubble, cobble, etc., stretch as far as  59.5 km (37 miles) long and the Narmada river blocking the way for the enemy's approach to the fort. Visitors can see  beautiful palaces, mosques, tombs, etc  amid the lush green gardens, lakes and woodland within the confines of  walls. Dilawar Khan Husain Ghuri (ruled 1401-5) had first redesigned the fort and begun the work and later Mahmud Shah I Khalji (ruled 1436-69) completed the work that had been left behind by the early builder.  It is an ancient stronghold as this region was prone to attacks from the Muslim rulers of NW of India.

In 1902 Alamgir gate, Mandu Fort
Toward the end of the 10th century, Mandu became a prominent place under the Hindu ruling dynasty of  Paramaras  that controlled  the province of Malwa with their capital at Dhar. In 1305 the Sultans of the Delhi Sultanate  displaced the Hindu rulers. The Hindus were either killed or forced to become Muslims under threats to life.Alauddin Khaliji (c 1267- 4 Jan. 1316) was a notorious Muslim fanatic. He had his own father-in-law ruler Jalaluddin killed and paraded his head on a  spear in his camp to instill fear among his enemies In 1401 Dilawar Khan had a row with the Delhi sultanate and broke away from  it. He founded an independent sultanate with Mandu as the capital of the Malwa region.  Between 1405 and 1531, Mandu saw several developments such as palaces, gardens, lakes  etc., and it was the golden age of the new capital  and the fort was renamed  ‘Shadiabad’ (City of Joy). It was during this period there was an infusion of Islamic architecture characterized by elegance  and simplicity. This gave rise to Mogul architecture with fusion of Hindu building style as in Delhi and Agra. 

Alamgir gate, Mandu fort, MP
What the visitors see here at Mandu are the the remnants of 12  gates of the great fort, of them only  seven survived.  Located at vantage points, the soldiers from these gates were guarding the  place 24 hours a day, on the look of the sign of any approaching column of an enemy's army. Through a system of acoustics, I believe, they will inform the palace  and other gates of the approaching danger.  Designed in such a way, the  soldiers  could see  at long distances, looking for any  movements

 The barbican in front of Alamgir  gate  has  a walled enclosure with two square bastions built at flanks. The height of the  arched building from the bottom level to the top of the Kanguras is 11 m. The covered passage is about 9.5 m x 4 m. and there are four arches. The three inner ones support barrel-shaped roof. The outer  portion of the building  is characteristic of  a flat roof, covered with slabs. The architecture of  the gateway is  as simple as it it can be , but for a band of carved masonry along piers of the outer arch of some parts. It is a conventional design. 

 Mandu is 35 km from Dhar and 100 km from Indore, MP.