|old fort, Surat. tourisplaceindia.blogspot.com|
|Surat fort, nativeplanet.com|
|Surat castle, Surat, Gujarat. timesofindia.indiatimes.com|
|Restored colonial English style room, Surat Fort, suratmunicipal.gov.in|
The Old Fort was built in the 14th century by Mohammed Tughlag (alias Ulugh Khan; died 20 March 1351), the ruler of Surat at that time. Concerned about the attack by the Bhils – the local tribal of the and others, Tuglak wanted his town fortified. as a precaution.
Though there are many research studies on the growth and development of Surat in the medieval period, a general consensus, in terms of historical perspective, has been that because of its strategic location on the coastal area of what is now part of the Gujarat state, it was considered as one of major ports of international importance centuries ago. No doubt, way back in 1514, quite impressed by its location and other facilities, the Portuguese traveler Barbosa expressed his view that Surat was a great trading center dealing with all kinds of merchandise. and it could handle many cargo ships from Malabar and other ports providing large revenue to the ruler.
|Surat fort,Gujarat, restored heritage water tank. suratmunicipal.gov.in|
|Portuguese India Armada. wikiwand.com|
Quite perturbed by the unprovoked attack by the Portuguese who had far better artillery and fire power, the then ruler of Ahmedabad Sultan Mahmud Shah III ( reign: 1538-1554; of the Muzaffarid dynasty He had to battle frequently with his nobles who were interested in independence and was killed by one of his servants), was keen to have a strong and sturdy fort with better security measures built. The ruler chose Safi Agha, a Turkish soldier who had been given the noble title of Khudawand Khan to build the fort.. Emphasizing much importance to defensive measures against the strong enemies and to retard their offensive move, the fort was built on an irregular square in plan in Portuguese style on the banks of the Tapi river.
The height of the Fort wall was 20 Gaj (Yard) and 15 meters wide at each corner there is a large round bastion having 12. 2 meter height and the thickness of the wall was 4.1 meter. To facilitate the counterattack against the invading army, the builder improved defensive elements by installing the cannons at certain vantage points. Another feature is the masonry work was made stronger by mixing iron stripes to give better bonding, besides filing the joints and gaps in the walls with melted lead. The iron strips will hold together the masonry work.
As the Surat castle was falling apart due to poor upkeep and lack of proper maintenance for a long period, in the year 2015, the Government of Gujarat ordered the Surat Municipal Corporation to carry out the conservation and restoration work. After various preliminary studies done by some agencies, the restoration work on the Surat fort began in 2015 (?). It was planned to undertake the Chowk Bazaar heritage square project in three phases. The first step was taken by the city authorities to develop this square that included Surat castle and other seven heritage structures that needed immediate repair and restoration. Somani Construction company was in charge of this project and it was completed in the middle of 2018 at the cost of Rs.20 crore.
|Restored building Surat fort. Surat. suratmunicipal.gov.in|
Second phase of restoration work would cover the moat and the third phase would focus on external structure and other seven sites and it was expected to be completed within 18 months time,. The estimate was Rs.32 crore. .An interesting feature of this project was making provision for recreation for the people of Surat and the construction of 4.5 km non-motorized road for walk along the river bank. . Earlier, the municipal office was housed in the fort in the recent past.